With spring training in full tilt, here are some initial observations from the around the majors:
Prince Goes Veggie:
It was announced that Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder was becoming a vegetarian.
The day of the announcement, stock prices of large meat processors crashed. How eating more veggies will transform into even more power remains to be seen. This will last until Prince goes about two weeks without homering or until on the first road trip he joins his teammates at Ruth’s Chris. Somehow, the BIG salad won’t hack it as he sees the others consuming huge, juicy, succulent steaks.
Barry “US” Bonds:
He’s not even on a team yet he still captures attention with all kinds of speculation. Will he play this year? If so, with whom and where? Will he go to Japan? Will he go to Tampa Bay? Who cares? I hope the only place he goes to is the pen.
A-Rod Lauds Derek:
The first week players reported, Alex Rodriguez predicted that he feels that Derek Jeter will win the league MVP this year. Right away the press was on him, calling the remarks condescending and an insincere attempt to close an apparent chasm between the two. Last year there was the big report about a supposed falling out between them. Why must the press always try to create controversy where none exists? He had a monster year in a sure to be HOF career, he signed a 10 year extension proclaiming his desire to remain a Yankee. LEAVE THE MAN ALONE!
Clemens – Keep Away:
The embattled Roger Clemens has mentioned that he will show up at the Astros camp in Kissimmee to throw batting practice. Advice: keep away. There is no logical reason for him to be there. It will only be a major distraction. He should try saving his reputation by other means. The Astros should not enable this.
Lidge on the Edge:
Pity Brad Lidge. From the time he lost the World Series to the White Sox, he lost his closers role, won it back, injured his knee which required surgery, signed with the Phillies to become their closer and re-injured the same knee on the first day of spring training requiring more surgery. It’s not his electric arm, it’s his confidence and this won’t help. Here’s hoping he can bounce back and have a good year with his new team.
Carl Pohlad Meet Peter Angelos:
The last in a series of off season blockbuster trades saw Eric Bedard take his breakout year to Seattle where he immediately became the ace of the Mariners’ staff. The Orioles fans can’t be pleased about the salary purging going on. They will be hard pressed to beat out the RAYS for last place this year. The great fans in Baltimore deserve better.
How Big Will The Unit Be?
He turned 44 in September. He has battled a back problem that should now be considered chronic. He was limited to 10 games last year. This will be his 21st year in the majors. And he will make $9.1 million this year, tops on the team. Randy Johnson is in the phase of his career where he knows he’s near the end of the line but is in denial and will try to hang around as long as he can. We have sadly seen this much too often with great players. They don’t know when to quit and force their teams to sometimes make unpopular decisions. Randy Johnson is a first year HOF shoo-in. He has nothing more to prove. He surely doesn’t need the money. He should quietly walk off into the
Will David Wells?
The same goes for David Wells who will turn 45 in May and is still seeking employment. Rumor has it that the pitching challenged Cardinals are considering signing him.
This is pathetic for both sides. There are better younger pitchers available. As for Wells, he is in an extreme state of denial. Unlike Johnson, he will never be near the HOF unless he is a visitor. The desperate Cardinals could do better auditioning some of their prospects.
A Fat Guy’s Dream!
Word out of Miami is that the Marlins are holding tryouts for a new team of cheerleaders consisting of fat men. To be dubbed the Manatees, the team hopes to recruit 7-10 fat guys to wiggle, shake and cheer during Marlins’ weekend home games. They will complement the regular female cheer team the Mermaids. If you’re interested you should already be eating, er, training. I know a place where there will be a lot of unconsumed sausages to help in your regimen – Milwaukee. Since Prince Fielder became a vegetarian, the supply of these tasty treats has surged. Everyone cut footloose!
Looking out my window at the knee-high snow drifts and with temperatures cold enough to ice fish in your bathtub, it’s hard to believe that pitchers and catchers report in just two weeks.Up here in the North, spring fever arrives around the All Star break. Spring break is the time between when the last snow pile melts and the arrival of the duck’s nest in my garden. So here I am talking baseball at a time I won’t need to tuneup my lawnmower until May.
Even so, the countdown to “report” day is like anticipating winning the lottery. Despite weather only a penguin would love, we all know that the first “real” pitch is around the corner.
But there is still a major distraction that will overshadow this dawn of a new season like the dark side of the moon. I’m referring of course to the upcoming hearings from players and their enablers before Congress. This is such a mess. And it will linger longer than it will take the Marlins signing a star free agent. It has already jeopardized the once in a generation career of Roger Clemens. Miguel Batista must testify whether he committed perjury regarding his statements about steroid usage. If he is found guilty will there be a prison sentence or will he appeal it until he retires? Will the Astros seek reparations? I think not, they were overbearing enough to trade for him; they should suffer the consequences.
And what about our hometown team the Milwaukee Juicers? With each passing signing of a doper – Mota, Gagne, Cameron – the more disillusioned I’ve become. I’d rather lose than use cheaters. This will never be solved unless clubs make a sincere and concerted effort not to sign those found to have used. But it will never happen. Like NCAA coaches who put their programs on probation for violations then skip town only to remerge with an even better job, teams will disavow any wrongdoing if it means a tainted player can bring one more win to their team.
And the fans? They could care less that there has been rampant cheating. They’ll rattle the turnstiles all year. What a statement about our society. (OK. So I’m among those hypocrites with my partial season ticket package – but I go not to endorse this behavior, not to look the other way, but to enrapture myself again with all of the innate actions of the world’s best sport – one I cannot cleanse from my soul no matter how dirty things get. That’s the difference between hard core fans who truly know and love the game and those who go out to imbibe and could care less about what goes on both on and off the field).
I hope that this is my final diatribe about this soiling of the game’s integrity but I doubt it.
As “report” day approaches there will, as usual, be much to talk about, much to complain about, much to write about the season ahead.
But I know that this will continue yet through another season and corrode all of the exciting things that will surely happen. And I know I will continue to belabor the point because I believe a voice is needed in defense of all the players who did not cheat and of all of the fans who share my feelings about this malodorous time in the history of our great game.
Well after a winter respite, I am looking eagerly to my second year here at Kenn’s Korner.We begin the 2007 season as spring training gets into full gear. This should be a time of anticipation as each passing day brings us closer to opening day. It should be the time of year to ponder off-season moves, injuries that have yet to fully heal, players that should’ve been traded and were not, and potential strengths and weaknesses of our favorite teams and where we think they will really finish.
I could start by ridiculing the Cubs for their signing orgy; hey it’s the Cubs. They could have the key to Ft Knox and it wouldn’t help.
I could continue by lambasting the BoSox for the outrageous sum spent just to acquire the RIGHTS to Dice-K (not one pitch thrown yet and already a nickname?)
And I could laugh along with everybody else at the Gil Meche signing by the Royals. Boy, would I like to have his agent at raise time.
But the real purpose of this initial commentary has nothing to do with any of this. It has to do with a media that has gone absolutely off the deep end. The players have hardly broken a sweat and the reporters are scrounging around looking for controversy. I’ve noticed three distracting stories already.
The first of course is the fact that Mr. Narcissism, Barry Bonds has reported to camp. So we will now be subject to all Barry, all the time. I am sooo sick of it. He is hardly worth a column inch and yet there they are – swarms of reporters eagerly awaiting for something to happen.
The second is the Dmitri Young story. Never an All-Star, but a solid player, Young ran into some personal hardships last year that forced the Tigers to release him just prior to playoff eligibility. Of course, Young is bitter and has mentioned that he deserved more support from the Tigers during his time of trouble. Jim Leyland jumped in and like a good corporate soldier took the full blame for this caper. So, OK, there are hurt feelings but let’s move on already. This is much ado about nothing.
Finally, and not surprisingly, the biggest news comes from Tampa where the media seems to want to create a feud between Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. So they are not the best of friends anymore. That doesn’t mean that they do not respect each other. That doesn’t mean that they are not good teammates. They each have matured to the point where there are more important things in their life than being worried about how much each one likes the other — as if this was some high school scene.
The real story ought to be how shabbily the Yankees treated one of their best players over the past 20 years. To summarily dismiss Bernie Williams without so much as an acknowledgement is weak. It certainly can’t be about the money. He took a huge paycut last year to return. Now they want to give him a minor league contract with no guarantee of a roster spot. That’s insulting. It will be interesting to see if they treat Mariano Rivera the same way after the season when his contract expires.
This is the real story that needs to be covered. But it’s not as sexy as A-rod and Derek feuding even when they are not.
Is this what we will have to tolerate this year? Why can’t we just Play Ball!