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Monday, January 26, 2009
This is why it's a sucker's game to follow the offseason rumor mill:
The New York Yankees and Andy Pettitte are close on a deal that will bring the veteran left-hander back for a year, Major League Baseball sources told Buster Olney on Monday.
Pfun Pfact! Barring any other major signings, Pettitte will now be the 12th highest paid Yankee in 2009, coming just behind Robinson Cano and just ahead of Xavier Nady.
Anyway, I'd venture a guess that there were approximately 576 articles written about this song and dance over the past three months, with the majority of them talking about how poisonous the relationship had become between the player and the team. All of that's out the window now. For his part, Pettitte's misreading of the market early in the offseason probably cost him several million dollars, but he has made so much money over the years that he won't miss it.
There was a time when every boy wanted to play ball for a living, and until they could, they'd play ball outside all day.
At some point, every boy stopped playing ball outside all day, and began to play action-oriented computer baseball games inside all day.
At some later point, every boy stopped playing simple action-oriented computer baseball games and started playing roto, fantasy baseball, and computer games with GM modes so that they were simultaneously pretending to be ballplayers and general managers.
That phenomenon has now reached its logical extreme.
On Tuesday, 2K Sports will release its MLB Front Office Manager, and for those addicted to the stat-heavy pastime of running fantasy leagues, being a Major League Baseball general manager may never get closer . . .
Given the direction we're heading, at some point they'll make a game where players simply sign checks, grouse about labor costs, and sucker municipalities into paying for new ballparks.
(thanks to Pete Toms and Crowhop, who sent me the identical link withing approximately 7 seconds of one another)
All of you deluded Braves fanboys who thought that Dayton Moore was dumb enough to trade Zach Greinke for Jeff Francoeur and a bucket of warm spit (or should that be reversed?) can finally kiss those dreams goodbye:
The Royals reached agreement Monday morning with right-handed pitcher Zack Greinke on a four-year contract that buys out his first two seasons of free-agent eligibility.
Let's forget for a moment that I was one of those deluded Braves fanboys, and say that for the first time this offseason, the Royals did something right.
We already had one presidential post, so why not another?
Yesterday Newsday had a nice rundown of the highlights of presidential baseball trivia. My favorite tidbit: Grace Coolidge -- Calvin's First Lady -- kept her own scorebook.
If paintings are any guide, she was quite a looker too. If I had been born 100 years earlier, I would have married that woman.
What all of the cool kids will be wearing soon:
The Chicago White Sox are aiming to release a President Barack Obama-themed version of their cap in time for the start of spring training.
Given that the proceeds are supposed to go to charity, this is pretty cool. But -- and I say this even though I'm as big an Obama guy as anyone -- how lame will this hat be if Obama totally face-plants on the job over the next four years? It would be like having a lower case "a" Braves cap with "Carter" on the back circa 1979, no?
Then again, a lot of guys made money selling those "Nixon: tanned, rested and ready" shirts back in the 80s, so what do I know?
(thanks to Pete Toms -- proud owner of a Louis St. Laurent Montreal Royals model -- for the link)
FanHouse's Andrew Johnson proclaims the Rangers to be the next Rays:
Trying to find the next Tampa Bay Rays a year after their meteoric rise to the top of the American League is a bit of an insult to what the Rays accomplished in 2008. Going from worst to first in one season just doesn't happen very often in baseball.
I think Andrew is right that the Rangers are going to be very good very soon, but I kind of hope this "The Next Rays" thing doesn't become a new meme in baseball. You know and I know and Andrew knows that good teams don't arise overnight, but there's a wide swath of fandom and mediadom that probably doesn't understand that. I'd hate nothing more than for baseball to become like football, where people expect some team to come out of nowhere every season, with the identity of that team serving as the offseason's primary parlor game. Such a dynamic creates impatient fans and is a disservice to the scouts and front office folks who put a lot of damn work into turning losers into winners.
Here's an interesting article about Astros' President Tal Smith's second gig -- or maybe first gig; it's hard to tell -- representing teams in arbitration cases:
When it comes to salary arbitration in baseball, Smith has seen it all. He argued his first cases in 1974, the year baseball adopted the process, when he was an executive vice president with the New York Yankees.
I suppose that's right inasmuch as one only views conflicts of interest through the prism of player-owner relationships. But don't teams compete too, or is that merely a quaint fiction designed to placate the fans? Because I don't think it's that hard to imagine a situation in which a person who works for one team doesn't give his best when representing another team -- say, in his own division -- with the result being that the competition gets stuck with a much higher payroll obligation than it might otherwise have.
Is this a real risk? Eh, probably not, and it may not even be worth the trouble if it was. But there are a lot of folks out there who believe that appearances of a conflict of interest are nearly as bad as conflicts which actually come to fruition, so I don't know if we can dismiss it that casually.
Whatever the case, I find it interesting that the President of a major league team so readily identifies players as the opposition/competition as opposed to other teams.
A couple of questions about Joe Torre's new book:
1. Why write it now? No matter who has the moral high ground, doesn't this sort of thing wear better after you retire?
2. Why the detached, third person narrative and cursory handling of his early years with the Yankees? I'm certain there's a very interesting first person story inside Joe Torre that speaks to all he did and all he felt in his life. If so, and if you're going to write a book now, why not write that one?
3. Michiko Kakutani reviews sports books? She's probably the highest caliber book reviewer in the country. If Salinger or Pynchon come out with something new, she'd be on it. So I ask: isn't that a bit of overkill for Joe Torre? Heck, I review sports books for a New York paper too. Which leads me to wonder: why am I not getting invited to any parties with Michiko Kakutani?
I like Joe Torre, so I'll probably read this eventually, but I do find both the timing and the apparent content of this book to be rather curious.
The prosecutors in the Roger Clemens perjury case have already called Kirk Radomski before the grand jury, so one presumes that they intend to use him as a witness at any criminal trial against Clemens. They need to rethink that now:
One week before Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens testified before a House committee at a contentious public hearing last February, McNamee sat down for a deposition with committee investigators.
Interesting, but this presumes that Brian McNamee had any credibility to begin with. Oh sure, he may be telling the truth about some specific things related to Clemens and Clemens may very well have lied himself, but as the experts quoted in this story and any practicing attorney knows, credibility is a much larger and much more amorphous concept than the simple matter of whether a given statement is perceived to be true or false.
As I noted back when this story didn't make me physically ill, Brian McNamee has always had a problem with the truth. He lied to Clemens' people before the Mitchell Report was out. At least twice. He lied to the media about whether he was involved in steroids. He used to lie and tell people he had a PhD when he didn't. St. Petersburg, Florida police claimed that he lied to them several times in connection with the investigation with an alleged incident of GHB-fueled date rape. Oh, and then he stiffed the law firm that represented him in that investigation, using the old "my dog ate those legal bills you sent me" defense. According to that same ESPN article, he lied about why he was let go from a teaching position at St. Johns, telling people that he was a victim of the steroid investigation when, in reality, he had a one-year contract that was up and not renewed long before the steroid news hit the papers.
The Kirk Radomski contradiction noted by Schmidt in yesterday's story is certainly a problem, but it's nothing new. McNamee is an admitted drug dealer and a serial liar, dating back years. Does any of this make Roger Clemens any more credible? Of course not. But when your star witness in a perjury case is himself a demonstrated liar and arguable scumbag, you have a serious problem with your case.
(thanks to Jason at IIATMS for the link)
The Yankees are sanitizing their new home with some sort of specialized disinfectant coating in order to prevent staph infections. Infectious disease expert Paul Sax, M.D. wonders if they'd be better off simply scrubbing the place down with some Comet. Then again, these are the Yankees, so if they're going to solve a problem, you can bet your life that they'll do so in the most unnecessarily expensive way possible. While they're burning money, they might as well give all of their players a curative galvanic belt too.
By the way, Dr. Sax is not just a Harvard Medical School professor and the Clinical Director of the HIV Program and Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He's also a ShysterBall reader going back to the old Bull Magazine days. But before you say anything, if you think that I'm offering up this little tidbit simply to make me seem smart and special by showing off how brainy and accomplished my readership is, well, you're 100% correct about that.