May 25, 2013
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Monday, May 11, 2009
There is still the small matter of getting the Giants and Major League Baseball on-board with allowing the A's to move into San Francisco's territory, but in the meantime, San Jose leaders are laying the groundwork, both procedurally and rhetorically:
Tuesday, for the first time, the San Jose City Council will vote on a handful of principles meant to shape any future negotiations with the A's. While those provisions hold the promise for some form of city contribution, they also make clear such an investment would require a citywide referendum and could not include San Jose's strapped operating funds.
Lots of talk in there about the (a) legal need for a public referendum if any city money is to be spent; and (b) the desire for a referendum even if there isn't.
It's so early in the game that none of this may ever matter, but at least for now everyone is saying the right things. I guess what strikes me the most is that the political culture of the Bay Area basically demands public input be heard with respect to what stands to be a mostly private project, while public input is basically ignored almost anywhere else in the country, even where the public is putting up all of the money.
A pool and a porch will be prominent features at the Marlins' new ballpark.
More details will come out eventually, but for now I'm struggling to think of what's less essential to the enjoyment of a baseball game than a swimming pool.
After a brief detour to deal with Manny-mania, I finally finished the Selena Roberts/A-Rod book over the weekend. I originally had thoughts of dissecting the sucker, but upon its completion I realized that, despite all of the hype (to which I helped contribute, I'll admit), writing a highly-detailed takedown would represent a massively disproportionate response to a book that is lighter than air and dumber than a bag of hammers.
The big bombshells -- allegations of pitch tipping and expanded steroid use by Rodriguez -- are essentially unsupported. The book cites 19 unnamed sources, but quotes and facts are attributed to these people hundreds of times, most heavily in these controversial areas. If Rodriguez had a "quid pro quo" with opposing middle infielders as Roberts charges, why doesn't Roberts or the anonymous sources name them? If Rodriguez "may have" used steroids in high school, why doesn't she get a quote from, say, Doug Mientkiewicz about it? After all, he was A-Rod's high school teammate and friend. (Oh, that's why. Query: did Roberts ask but simply not like the answer she got?).
In light of these basic journalistic oversights -- and many, many more -- one has no choice but to dismiss Roberts' reporting even if they were inclined to believe her in the first place, and stood willing to overlook the evidence countering these charges that has emerged in the past week. Baseball may go through the motions of investigating Rodriguez over this stuff, but that's only because P.R. demands that they respond somehow. There is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- in this book that could form the basis of even the most rudimentary of disciplinary charges against the guy.
But you know what's even crazier about these anonymous sources? The fact that many of the anonymous sources themselves don't even have the goods on Rodriguez. Rather, Roberts has to resort to innuendo and unearned supposition in order to even support the most anonymous and oblique steroid or pitch tipping claims. Lots of passages read like these:
In reading this book one might be tempted to call Roberts a muckraker, but I strongly caution against such a charge, because no respectable muckraker would use anonymous sources that were so weak and equivocal.
But for all of the anonymous source hoopla, I think the book's biggest failing is Roberts' hackneyed theme in which she argues, time and again, that A-Rod's manifest character problems are attributable to his father leaving home when he was a kid, which led to his subsequent search for strong male role models (coaches, steroids dealers, Boras, etc.). I'd say that whole line of the book reeks of sophomore psychology class, but most sophomores wouldn't beat the theme into the ground the way Roberts does. What's worse, there's nothing to back this up other than (1) the fact that, yes, Rodriguez's father left the family when Alex was a boy; and (2) page after page of Roberts giving voice to what she believes to be Rodriguez's thoughts at given points of his life. She doesn't even go into anonymous source land here. She simply says stuff like "Alex searched for meaning constantly as if the right catch-phrase from a self-help book could ground him in a normalcy he at once longed for and feared." Um, OK, except there's no one who supplies any facts to support a "search for normalcy" or any of the other emotional drama Roberts ascribes to him anywhere in the book. It's all half-wit, pop-psychology invention. As I've written numerous times in the past two weeks, Roberts has not earned the benefit of the doubt with her previous reporting, so she's certainly not entitled to the benefit the doubt with this purported clairvoyance either.
So, yeah, the layers of fail are numerous here, but maybe the best part is when Roberts criticizes Rodriguez with this tidbit:
“Friends say he fanned his breakup with his wife by giving his friends permission to plant disparaging items about Cynthia in the tabloids attributable to ‘sources close to A-Rod.’ “
That's right: Roberts actually criticizes Rodriguez for planting blind items. It was at that moment that I put the book down, realizing that I had a frickin' life to lead.
The best I can say about Roberts' book is that it suggests that Alex Rodriguez is an interesting enough character that someday someone will write a good book about the guy. This one certainly ain't it, though. Not by the longest of shots.
I had meant to get to this when it ran last week, but Manny Mania kind of took over. Anyway, Maury was interviewed in USA Today, and he talks about his site, the business of baseball, and a few other things.
Nice exposure for Maury.
On April 30, 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appeared at the World's Fair, stood in front of NBC's cameras, and became the first U.S. president to appear on television. Two weeks later, Bill Cosby was given a pilot, and "Law & Order" was launched two weeks after that. True story.
Angels 4, Royals 3: Torii Hunter's catch in the ninth was sick. After the game, Hunter said that it was his second best of all time, with number one being the one in the 2002 All-Star game where he robbed Barry Bonds of a homer. But unlike the 2002 All-Star game, someone won this game, and it was the Angels, who have taken 10 of 13 and now stand poised to take over first place by, oh, Tuesday or so.
Tigers 5, Indians 3: I was listening to this one on the radio as I worked out in the yard, and it was really nice until the color guy followed up a Jhonny Peralta hit with the classic "two of his last three hits have gone to the opposite field, and that's a really good sign for him," shtick. Dear Lord there is nothing I hate more than that opposite field rebop. If a guy is struggling, "he has to take what the pitcher is giving him" and hit it to the opposite field. When he does, it's a "good sign." If you took that line of commentary away from the broadcast teams, the broadcasts would have about 50% less verbiage. Probably worth noting that just about every announcer who trots out this line is some former slap hitter from back when slap hitters used to hold on to jobs on Major League rosters, but these days, just about everyone can jerk the damn ball to left field, and they probably should be. Peralta himself is someone who is at his most useful when he's hitting 25 homers a year rather than trying to poke it the other way. Yeah, a hit's a hit, but if you really want a good sign from him, shouldn't that sign be him turning on a ball with authority? Anyway, that's what I was thinking as I was spreading the mulch. Well, that and wondering why Kelly Shoppach was first-pitch swinging in the ninth when Fernando Rodney had no clue where the ball was going.
Cubs 4, Brewers 2: The Cubbies salvage one on an otherwise horrific weekend in Milwaukee. Carlos Marmol gave up a double, balked the runner to third, and then threw a wild pitch to let him score. Still, based on how things have been going lately, that's some solid relief work for Chicago. Ryan Freel pinch-hit in the ninth and singled but was picked off second base. His injury in Baltimore came on a pickoff throw to second base. What's he doing down at second base that's drawing all this attention? Wouldn't he be better off staying a step or two closer to the bag?
Mariners 5, Twins 3: Nick Blackburn shut out the Mariners for seven innings, giving up only five hits and a walk while striking out six. Then he left and they played the eighth, and that's when things got ugly. Griffey hit a two run homer that inning, and according to the game story, it went "through a hole in a banner advertising a $25,000 giveaway for such a feat." Hit bull, win steak?
Blue Jays 5, Athletics 0: The Jays have won seven of ten and have the best record in the junior circuit. They've been getting lots of great performances this year from pitchers you've never heard of, this time Brett Cecil (8 IP 5, H, 0 ER, 6K). It's getting the the point where they could run your aunt Tilly out to the hill and get a quality start out of her. Same goes for anyone who faces the A's, actually.
Astros 12, Padres 5: Miguel Tejada (3-5, 4 RBI), Carlos Lee (3-4, 4 RBI) and Ivan Rodriguez (4-4, 2 RBI) all had big days. Then they went home, watched Matlock and fell asleep in a chair.
Mets 8, Pirates 4: Meanwhile, the Mets can't seem to lose. Ian Snell thought the Mets had the Pirates' signs: ""They hit some good pitches. I found out later they had our signs . . . That's baseball -- there's nothing wrong with it." Well, unless Pirates' shortstop Brian Bixler was tipping them while dating Madonna and searching for father figures, I suppose.
Giants 7, Dodgers 5: L.A. drops two of three to San Francisco after losing to the Nats on Thursday. It's not Juan Pierre's fault, though, as he's 9-17 with three doubles, four RBI and a couple of walks since taking over left field for Manny. A combined 0-16 with five strikeouts from Matt Kemp, James Loney and Andre Either really helped do the Dodgers in in this one.
Rockies 3, Marlins 2: The win was nice, but Troy Tulowitzki "tweaked" his left quadriceps in the sixth inning. That's the same muscle that cost him a big chunk of last season. I enjoyed watching Tulowitzki play so much in 2007, so here's hoping he doesn't turn into one of those guys who break out of the gates and then are never the same again.
Diamondbacks 10, Nationals 8: Ryan Zimmerman went 3 for 5 with a home run to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, but it wasn't enough as Arizona banged out 17 hits to give A.J. Hinch his first win as the Dbacks' manager. First win as any kind of manager, actually.
Rangers 7, White Sox 1: Vicente Padilla (7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER) posted his second good start in a row, and Hank Blalock hit two homers. The White Sox aren't scoring any runs lately, and now they go to face the Indians, who haven't scored any either, so it should be a riveting series, with lots of advice about how guys should be trying to hit the ball the other way.
Yankees 5, Orioles 3: Johnny Damon's homer in the seventh gets Joba off the hook, as the Yankees win for just the second time in eight games.
Cardinals 8, Reds 7: Micah Owings smacked a two-out pinch-hit homer in the ninth to tie the game and send it into extra innings. Unfortunately, Edinson Volquez, who got the start, pitched like Micah Owings, necessitating the rally in the first place. Home runs all over the place in this one, which is kind of what really sucks about Great American Ballpark. Just too many dingers. It feels like Arena Football there sometimes, and it really messes with a baseball fan's chi when there's really never a possibility of a nice, purifying pitchers' duel going down. By the way, I switched to this one on the radio when the Indians-Tigers game ended. Got to it just in time to hear Jeff Brantley going on about how Daniel Herrera "shouldn't have come into the game trying to strike out Chris Duncan. Instead, he should have been trying to get ahead of the hitter, and then gone for the strikeout." If you have any clue what the hell that's supposed to mean, please let me know, because I have no idea.
Braves 4, Phillies 2: It was the Casey Kotchman show, as he goes 3-5 with two doubles and three RBI. Fittingly, this weekend's return of Brian McCann is met with an injury to Chipper Jones.
Red Sox 4, Rays 3: Papelbon let two reach with a one run lead in the ninth and then fanned Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford. Sorry for the comparison Sox fans, but as a Braves guy, this gave me flashbacks to John Rocker's glory days. He used to do that kind of thing twice a week.