May 23, 2013
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Ever work in retail? I worked at the office supply counter at the Ohio State Bookstore for a couple of years when I was in college. The worst thing ever was when it was five minutes from closing, you were all set to bust out of there and go throw back beers at Larry's (RIP), and then some departmental secretary came in with a purchase order for six of everything, ruining the whole deal. It kind of felt like this:
With mere hours remaining before the ball drops, so to speak, for the new MLB Network, veteran sportscaster Bob Costas has joined the party.
Costas isn't the devil or anything, and his role on opening day, as it were, isn't terribly big, but I certainly felt like the MLB Network was saying something important by not including the Shadow Commissioner before now. Like it could go its own way and forge its own path instead of relying on Costas to give it his perceived gravitas. Including him now is like the Oscars going back to Billy Crystal all the time because they don't have any other ideas. Sure, he's fine. He does a professional job and everything. But hiring him isn't exactly a profile in creativity or vision.
Ever want to know what it's like to be a scout? Here's one guy's experience.
My guess is that it's a fake article. Why? Not a single mention of cigars, cheap whiskey or pork pie hats. Based on all of the baseball movies I've seen, scouts always have that stuff.
You may still think that Selig and Fehr are liars, but Congress doesn't:
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said Tuesday that it was satisfied with the explanations provided by Commissioner Bud Selig and Donald Fehr, the executive director of the players union, about the accuracy of their testimony and that of other high-ranking baseball officials before the committee in 2005.
In related news, Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens' requests for similar absolution remain un-acted upon, mostly because Congress cannot stop laughing about it.
It's four in the morning, the end of December. I'm writing you now just to see if you're better. New Albany is cold, but I like where I'm living. There's music on Market Street all through the evening. OK, I'm sorry for that Leonard.
Given the holiday and the drinking and the revelry and whatnot, it will be a bit slower than usual in these parts today, but things should get back to normal soon. In the meantime, have a safe and happy new year, everyone.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In this corner, you have a Jayson Stark report in which an anonymous source claims that the Dodgers have called Adam Dunn's agent either because they've moved on from all of the Manny drama, or because they want to pressure Ramirez.
In this corner, you have a Bill Shaikin report in which Adam Dunn -- along with several other corner outfielders -- is only mentioned as a possibility while Ned Colletti goes on record saying that "Manny is the first choice" and never confirms that Dunn's people have been called.
So who's right? Is Colletti actually hot for Dunn as Stark says, or is all of this just hot air?
Before I answer that, I feel compelled to note that these kinds of dueling reports are one of the biggest reasons I hate the hot stove season. While on the surface everyone is playing GM and that's kind of fun, what's really going on is media tea leaf reading and scoop envy, resulting in a bunch of noise that ultimately means very little. Manny Ramirez will sign somewhere, and when he does there will be interesting things to talk about. Adam Dunn will sign somewhere, and when he does, there will be interesting things to talk about. Until then, it's all yammering and spin, and I get enough of that with my day job.
But since I've gone this far, I'll weigh in on all of the nonsense by saying that I think the Dunn thing is non-Dodger wishcasting and that Colletti probably hasn't even called Dunn's people. After all, if he had, why would he say to Shaikin that "Manny is the first choice?" If he actually did want and ultimately signed Dunn, publicly stating that he was a second choice at best would be an awful way to start out Dunn's days in Los Angeles. At the same time, if a Colletti call to Dunn happened but it was really intended as a bluff, saying that Manny was the first choice would undercut its bluff value. Unless your level of interest in Dunn is nil, saying anything about Manny in this situation makes no sense. Against that backdrop, I can only conclude that Colletti's statement about wanting Manny is genuine, and maybe comes off more nakedly desperate than Colletti intended it to be. Indeed, it's all but an admission that he isn't considering anyone else despite the filler provided by Shaikin.
So what of Stark's report? Note that the source of the alleged Colletti-Dunn call wasn't a Dodgers official. It was "an executive of a team interested in Dunn." Query: Why on Earth would such a beast want to make public reports that a team other than his own is interested in Dunn? Sure, I suppose it doesn't truly risk jacking Dunn's price up because Dunn himself would know if another team was actually calling him, but f you were really interested in Dunn, wouldn't you nonetheless want there to be some perception out there that he's totally unwanted by anyone excpet you? The only situation I can see such a leak making sense is if Dunn was the kind of guy your fanbase is clamoring for and would be upset if you didn't land. Hey, I like Adam Dunn more than a lot of people, but he ain't one of those guys.
Here's an idea: Stark's anonymous source is fibbing about being interested in Dunn. Maybe he's really interested in Manny Ramirez, and by leaking the idea that Colletti is talking to Dunn, he's attempting to poison whatever is left of the Manny-Colletti relationship, thus increasing his team's chance at landing Manny.
OK, that's all pretty much meaningless yammering spin of my own, so I'm no better than anyone else.
God, I hate this time of year.
If, at around 9:30 this morning, you did a Google News search for "baseball," these two articles would have showed up right at the top:
1. "Yankees’ spending could hurt baseball"; and
2. "The Marlins, not the Yankees, are Killing Baseball."
The first article is an editorial from a somewhat venerable newspaper of record in a somewhat venerable eastern industrial town. The second article appears to come from some random twentysomething blogger with interesting hair. My guess is that far more people read the paper every day than read that blog. Which is a shame, because the newspaper editorial is full of baloney, and the blogger, who actually marshals some facts and cogent arguments, is pretty much right.
This makes no sense, but a deal obviously didn't happen, so it probably doesn't matter anyway. And the more I think about it, the more I believe that it's a leak, the sole purpose of which is to make those Red Sox fans who care about such things think that their team is actually doing something this offseason besides being lapped by the Yankees.
Things to think about as you stand upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below:
Hold on babies, the holidays will soon be over and before you know it, some actual baseball will happen again.
Monday, December 29, 2008
A Red Sox fan urges folks to hold their fire when going after the Yankees' offseason largess:
As a Bosox fan, the most important thing each summer aside from Boston winning is New York tanking, and it’s my hope that despite the influx of new talent, the aging Jeter, Posada, Damon and Rivera (the best closer in MLB history will, one of these years, falter) won’t be able to keep pace and once again the NYC media will dump on the Yanks. Such a summer occurrence is far better than even a bumper crop of silver queen corn and sweet & sour plums. Nevertheless, even though I was disappointed the Sox owners—obviously one of baseball’s wealthiest franchises, with the fourth largest payroll in ‘08—couldn’t complete a deal for Teixeira, I don’t fault the Yanks for attempting to field the best team possible.
The author, Splice Today's Russ Smith, is a friend of ShysterBall, and I hold him in highest regard. And indeed, on this point, I agree with Russ. That said, a Sox fan defending the spending of the Yankees is sort of like one CEO defending the reasonableness of another's benefits package. Yes, it may mean something, but it is a sentiment that doesn't exactly resonate with the masses because it's been a long time since the Yankees and the Red Sox were different beasts in any real way.
As an economic and competitive issue, I really don't care how much the Yankees spend. Many people view this as a political or even a moral issue, however, and while I don't agree with them, I understand why they feel the way they do and why they won't be deterred from booing.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, anyway. It's a pretty good list, although many Cubs' fans may disagree that "Heartbreak at Wrigley" was one of the "best" stories of 2008.
Off the top of my head, here are a couple of additional things I'd include if I were the sort to make end-of-year lists:
The advent of instant replay: It's possible that its adoption was inevitable, but the fact that it was implemented in the middle of the season was quite a thing, no?
Cliff Lee's monster season: The guy was hurt and demoted in 2007 and had to fight for a spot in the rotation last spring. While many have tried to deflate his accomplishments a bit by noting that he didn't exactly face the toughest competition this season, there wasn't anything he could have done about that, and the fact is that he was unquestionably dominant all season long.
Maddux hangs 'em up: Maybe it's retrospective in that he didn't announce it until the season was over, but Greg Maddux's swan song is kind of a big deal.
Mussina too: Ditto. I draw the line before Salomon Torres and Todd Jones, however.
Big, early contracts: They've been happening for a few years now, but Evan Longoria signing a contract a mere six games into his Major League career set the new standard for pre-arbitration long term deals. In this environment Ryan Braun's deal, which came less than a year after his debut, seemed almost like an insult by comparison.
Lidge-riffic: Maybe this is a subset of the Phillies winning the World Series, but I found Brad Lidge's 48 saves in 48 chances (including the postseason) to be far more impressive than K-Rod's 62 saves.
The Dodgers leaving Vero Beach: Maybe it's not that important in the grand scheme of things, and maybe the traditional arrangments between teams and spring training towns truly ended a long time ago, but the end of Dodgertown will probably be viewed as a signpost of sorts when there are only like 5 consolidated spring training facilities one day. The Dodgers-Red Sox exhibition game that drew 115,000 fans to the L.A. Colliseum was less important, but it was pretty neat too.
Retreat to Milwaukee: Hurricane Ike sending the Cubs and Astros to Milwaukee wasn't worth all of the Astros' whining, but it was pretty remarkable all the same.
I'm sure there is some stuff I'm forgetting.