A conversation about MLB, on the field, off the field.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

From the basement March 30 07

I get a lot of email from MLB.com because I'm a subscriber. Overwhelmingly it never gets my attention, but today somehow I did take notice. The purpose of the email is to promote their initial Civil Rights Game. I never opened the email although I've blogged about the subject before. I don't think they should be patting themselves on the back. Don't get me wrong, the integration of the game took it to a new level of skill and athleticism, but MLB integrated the game not out of some devotion to Civil Rights but a devotion to the bottom line, it was good for business.

No matter how hard I try, I can't keep track of everybody. I read EVERY boxscore of the regular season, I read ALL the transactions, majors and minors year round, I read all the Baseball America Top 10 prospect lists, I read the daily Fantasy update on ESPN ( if the roto geeks don't care nobody does ), I watch baseball both Triple A and big league, hell I even watched some of the Caribbean Series on my PC this winter. But still I fail to follow it all. Alejandro De Aza is the Marlins starting centre fielder to begin the season. Up until a handful of days ago I hadn't a clue who he is. Well professional baseball geek Rob Neyer admits to not knowing this guy either until very recently so I feel a bit less inadequate.

Jay Mariotti - Chicago Sun Times - Selig & steroids

Read a column from the March 29 Chicago Sun Times by Jay Mariotti which I couldn't disagree more strongly with. In Jay's words, "Make sure I have a vomit bag when Bonds passes Aaron. It will be one of the darkest, seamiest moments in American sports history." Ooooh, he's really steamed, what venom, what outrage! ".....baseball was brought back from the dead by the steroids era, when juiced-up sluggers were duping us with Home Run Derby." How can a sportswriter ( as opposed to a geek in his basement ) admit to being "duped" by the presence of steroids in MLB? Which sport was he watching? Which locker rooms was he visiting? What players was he talking to? Who didn't know? The more pertinent observation would be that nobody cared. The question to ask is why does the press care now?

In this same column there are the following quotes from Gary Sheffield's forthcoming "book". I use quotation marks because I would bet everything we own that Mr. Sheffield did not write a 'book", I'm guessin it is "as told to". Anyway, the always outspoken Sheffield is 100% right when he "tells", ''The '94 players' strike had made fans angry. The World Series was canceled. After that, attendance was down. But when [Mark] McGwire started the home run mania, attendance came back. The owners understood that the sudden spike in homers wasn't accidental. All baseball knew it. But baseball is run on money, and home runs meant money. Baseball turned a blind eye."

More steroids

George Mitchell wants to start "interviewing" current players. The MLBPA has long been the strongest and most unified of all the unions in North American pro sports. I wonder though if this steroids investigation might split apart the membership. I suspect there will be some clean players who will roll over on some of the dirty ones out of bitterness and retribution. Can't blame em.

Today Buster Olney writes what I think and hope I have been writing here. If the Mitchell report concludes that Bonds is / was dirty ( and it is certain to ), Selig & MLB will use it as justification to officially stay as far away from him as they can. I.E. they will not formally acknowledge him as the record holder. Mr. Olney doesn't go on to say this, but I predict that the official scapegoating of Bonds will be the beginning of the end of the steroids controversy.

Gambling was rife within MLB at one time. Everybody in the industry was aware of it's existence for years, there was a scandal and a very famous player was publicly humiliated by MLB. Can anybody guess what I'm talkin about? Does anybody see any correlations?

Jose Canseco is being ridiculed in the press again, the latest, he's at the centre of some reality TV thing blah blah blah. Jose was always an easy target because he is gauche, conceited, huge and he never met a microphone he didn't like. But the guys who get blackballed out of the game, Canseco, Caminiti & Rocker, are the guys that can tell the truth. You can't tell the truth if you want to remain close to the game, be a spring training instructor, be a broadcaster, coach at any level, be invited for old timers day, get invited to the owners box, or even look former teammates in the eye again. Caminiti & Canseco told the truth about steroids after they knew they had burned their bridges. Rocker told the truth about the farce that is sensitivity training when Ozzie Guillen got his wrist slapped last season over an anti gay slur. Yeah they're all nut jobs but that doesn't mean they weren't telling the truth.

MISC

Baseball's chattering classes keep hammering away at MLB over the DirecTV deal. An oft repeated criticism is that it is a bad business move because they are antagonizing their most hardcore fans. MLB revenues have more than quadrupled over the past 10 years to in excess of 5 BILLION dollars annually. How can sportswriters question this industry's business acumen?

Evidently the Orioles are considering opening the season with 13 pitchers. 13 pitchers in April, with off days and rainouts? I disagree with this approach, quantity does not equal quality. There are not enough innings to keep 13 pitchers sharp, particularly in April. As well, by the time you get to the 12th and 13th guys how effective do you expect them to be? On the other hand, maybe this is the natural evolution of the DH. I think the big staffs are more common in the AL for obvious reasons. Why have position players on the bench if they never play? Ultimately in the AL, where do you get more value, the 13th pitcher or the 2nd backup infielder or outfielder who practically never plays?

I blogged that a lot of us thought that Michael Bourn would play CF and hit leadoff come opening day for the Lynx. Well, we're wrong, he'll start the season on the bench in Philadelphia, although there is speculation that he could supplant Pat Burrell in LF at some point this season. Bourn's name is in both Buster Olney's & Peter Gammons columns today. Why is he suddenly getting this high profile attention? He isn't in the Baseball America Top 100 prospects, in fact he's rated #7 on the Phillies list and their system is considered thin. The baseball writers really need the season to start. I still think he'll be in Ottawa this season at some point, he needs to play.

Baseball writers have always made fun of the very unique manner in which players hurt themselves. On that theme, Joel Peralta missed some of camp this spring after poisoning himself eating "cow tail".

As I predicted, the PA is filing a grievance against the Padres over the release of Todd Walker.

The Indians are handing 3rd base to Andy Marte. I predict he'll end up in Buffalo this year. They would be a better team if they move Blake to 3rd and played Garko most days at 1st.

Sammy Sosa is leading the Rangers with 5 homers this spring. Let this serve as an example of the worthlessness of spring stats. Sosa will not finish the year in the bigs.

Canuck update

More bad news about Corey Koskie. Koskie has left Arizona, gone home before the end of spring training and he didn't play at all. Poor bastard, it looks more and more like his career is over.

I hope that Eric Gagné's career does not end in the same fashion as fellow hoser reliever Jeff Zimmerman.

Former Lynx
I'm disappionted that former Lynx Luis Terrero isn't breaking camp with the White Sox. I thought he played outstanding for the Lynx last season, I think he can be a fourth or fifth outfielder in the bigs.

Former Lynx David Newhan is breaking camp as a Met, I'm surprised he's not starting the year in New Orleans. He was very vocal about not wanting to play here but I don't think anybody noticed. I thought he might get booed after his remarks hit the papers but I never heard anything. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, you have to care a bit to boo.

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