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Thursday, September 10, 2009
I was complaining yesterday that the absence of Hank Steinbrenner makes the Yankees kinda boring, even if his absence is actually a very good thing for the Yankees. I feel the same way about Bud Selig's stubborn refusal to say silly, indefensible things in recent years. He was interviewed at length today, and didn't say much of anything to angry up my blood.
Hey, who wouldn't like a salary cap, but we tried and failed and it's probably not essential anyway, he says. Yeah, a lot of rich teams are doing well this year, but that doesn't always happen, and things are generally cool on the competitive balance front. While the Mets and a few small market teams are making themselves look foolish this year, there isn't anybody out there these days who is totally running their franchise into the ground, he says. Obviously we can quibble with all of the generalities Selig offers, but we're well past the days when he used to declare that black was white and then get outraged when he was trampled at the next zebra crossing. It's almost enough to make me pine for 2002.
The one thing he does offer -- and which he has offered repeatedly since the middle of summer -- is that the owners are going to push for an international draft and a hard slotting system during the next round of CBA negotiations. I've gone on about this elsewhere, but my view is that the international draft is a theoretically defensible idea that, in practice would be very bad , and which might be hard to implement because foreign countries and teams that have spent a lot of money developing their international operations wouldn't welcome it. At the same time, the hard slot is a theoretically bad idea that in practice may work out OK, and that will be much easier to implement because the players would probably welcome it. I predict that Bud and the owners will bat .500 on this one.
So there we are. The state of the game is generally OK. The economy sucks, but it didn't seem to hit baseball quite as hard as people were predicting last winter. There is some labor stuff ahead, but mostly we're going to sit back and laugh as the NFL tears itself apart next year.
It's boring, but I'll take it.
Angels outfielder Torii Hunter was named the recipient of the 2009 Branch Rickey Award. The award is given out each season to honor those players who do the most to set the single game record for stolen bases allowed, to crush the independent minor leagues, to deal sharply with players renegotiating their contracts and business partners attempting to buy them out, and to those players who do their best to integrate baseball.
More Whicker: He blames the Internet! Hey, if you've got nothin' else may as well do that. I am a bit miffed though. The Poynter article says that "Slate's Jack Shafer called Whicker's piece 'the worst sports column ever written.'" I called it that first! I demand to be recognized as the first person to launch into hyperbole! The universe demands it!
Now back on planet Earth:
Also, the Poynter article notes that the Jaycee thing wasn't the first time Whicker has done this. In 1991, he wrote a similar piece regarding former hostage Terry Anderson that began "Cleaning out the notebook while hoping Terry Anderson didn't have overdue library books . . ." As I said yesterday, stay classy Whicker . . .
Cardinals 5, Brewers 1: Albert Pujols hits two homers and Adam Wainwright throws seven shutout innings to claim his 18th win. Tony La Russa was asked after the game if Pujols should win the MVP. What's Tony say? "Those are the kind of questions that are distracting and I don't answer them." Pujols is hitting .331 with 47 homers and 124 RBIs and is the most important player to the St. Louis Cardinals since Musial retired and you can't go way the hell out on a limb to say that, yeah, in your considered opinion he's the MVP? Christ on a crutch, Tony, this is why so many people can't stand you.
Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. walks in the winning run-- or losing run, depending on how you view these things -- in the ninth. Before the winning/losing walk, however, there was a runner on third, and Torre offered intentional passes to two Dbacks to load the bases. I've never understood that move, especially with less than two outs. Colorado is 2.5 back.
Astros 2, Braves 1: I'm guessing that after this one, Javier Vazquez took young Tommy Hanson aside and told him that this is just how pitching for the 2009 Braves goes, ya know? Eight innings, no runs, no walks, seven strikeouts, no decision and the team loses because they simply can't score any runs. Oh, and Rafael Soriano is a shell of whatever he was for those handful of games over the past couple of years when he actually looked good. Bobby Cox: sit everyone down who has a future with this team, play out the rest of the season with whatever organizational soldiers you can muster, and regroup for 2010.
Marlins 6, Mets 3: The Mets took their team photo before the game, with Jose Reyes, Johan Santana and Carlos Delgado in uniform. I hope the stadium was closed to the fans at the time, because if not, that's pretty damn cruel, ain't it?
Twins 4, Blue Jays 1: After a stellar start his last time out, Roy Halladay's nightmare second half continues. Well, nightmare is a relative term -- he pitched well despite taking the loss -- but when Carl Pavano outshines you, it's not your best day. The crowd -- 11,159 -- was the smallest in the 20-year history of Rogers Centre/Sky Dome. In the Jays' defense, the Leafs' rookie team was playing a preseason game in Kitchener last night.
Red Sox 7, Orioles 5: A pinch hit, three-run double from Victor Martinez helps the Sox maintain their two-game lead over Texas. And if you'll pardon the partisanship here, allow me to say that in light of the thirteen pitchers used and the 3:41 it took for this nine-inning affair, I'm rooting like hell that the Rangers eke these guys out so that I can get to bed at a decent hour once the playoffs start.
Phillies 6, Nationals 5: And your closer is . . . Ryan Madson. This despite the fact that Manuel sorta kinda put his support behind Lidge on Tuesday night. Having Manuel say that and then send Madson out is the baseball equivalent of having your boss tell you how much he likes you and then turning around and deactivating your keycard.
Padres 4, Giants 2: If the Giants want to look anywhere when trying to figure out why they never caught the Rockies this year, they can look at their 6-9 record against the Padres. Heath Bell is tied for the league lead with 27 saves. Not bad for a team currently in a dogfight to avoid last place.
Yankees 4, Rays 2: Another one of those silly three-inning Joba Chamberlain starts doesn't prevent the Yankees from handing the Rays their eighth straight loss. And oh yeah, Jeter tied Gehrig for the team lead in hits. I know no one is really tracking that, so I thought I'd remind everyone.
Cubs 8, Pirates 5: Carlos Zambrano wins for the first time since July 22nd as the Pirates just go through the motions and their fans await Steelers and Penguins season.
Rangers 10, Indians 0: I'm guessing Marlon Byrd would like to hit against Cleveland every day (2-4, HR 4 RBI). Esteban German, too, as he went 5 for 5. Fausto Carmona lasted two whole thirds of an inning, and from the looks of him, if the Indians are planning on entering spring training 2010 counting on him to be in the rotation, they're deluding themselves.
Rockies 4, Reds 3: The Reds take the lead on a Scott Rolen homer in the top of the ninth, but lose it on a Francisco Cordero meltdown in the bottom of the ninth.
Royals 5, Tigers 1: Break up the Royals, as they've won three in a row. Verlander takes the loss, which is relevant only insofar as it relates to his Cy Young chances. Fernando Rodney probably has a beef with the suspension he was given, but one wonders why he didn't just accept it and sit these games out against the Royals. He appealed, however, and allowed himself the opportunity to give up three runs on two hits with a walk in a basically meaningless game.
White Sox 4, Athletics 3: Tons of zeros put up by the bullpens in this 13-inning affair. Octavio Dotel's three scoreless innings to end it were the most important.
Angels 6, Mariners 3: Jered Weaver allows two runs in six and a third, and the Angels, unlike the Dodgers, keep their lead over the upstart team behind them.