Saturday, March 15, 2003

I received a little boost today. The CEO of the company I work for often has his leadership read books that he thinks are helpful. The current edition was started today and was written by a consultant who started out working with athletes. His job wasn't to work with their swing, dribble or golf swing but rather to work with them on energy management. The main idea so far is that you don't manage time, you manage energy.

That's not the good part yet. The good part was that he mentioned that athletes don't have it nearly as tough as those of us who work year round instead of seasonally and have to handle stress and energy all day instead of a focused few hours. That felt good. Why? Because despite my innate knowledge that these people are human, I haven't been able to help idolizing them for most of my life. No, I'm not the type to chase for autographs, but I will passionately celebrate with the athlete I root for when they reach levels of achievement.

Let's face it, I wish it was me out there taking my hacks against Maddox. I'd show them all how to be patient and just poke it to center field...wait...right field away from Jones. But it isn't me so there is a transference that takes place. Part of me becomes the star and the star represents me. Since I could never do it myself, I put those who could a little higher up than me.

Then this author comes along and says that I have it tougher than Chipper and he knows because he's worked with both. Well alright!

Okay, speaking of tougher, can anyone tell me how Oakland has been to the playoffs three straight years and still not have enough money to sign Tejada? Granted, they won MORE games without Giambi than they did with him, but how long can you consistently dump your best players and stay competitive. I would think that they would keep the core up the middle. The pitching is certainly outstanding and you will need to try to keep those three at least together. But then you keep arguably one of the top three shortstops in the game and a strong catcher and strong center fielder and you have a shot every year. Something stinks and someone should check those books.

And lastly, there is great sadness in learning of Tug McGraw's brain cancer. Remember, I am a Yankee fan so the Mets were lower than Toronto on the map. But Tug was the heart and soul of many of those great Met teams. And he had so much fun doing it. At least Tug never got cheated on the fun scale. And he sure has a pretty daughter-in-law. I'm rooting for you, Tug. I hope you can beat this thing. You gotta believe, kid.

Friday, March 14, 2003

I hesitated all day to discuss the latest Pete Rose speculation. Rose has probably been discussed more often than Michael Jackson's nose over the years. What more could I possibly add to that discussion? Nothing I'm sure except one more voice of opinion...the voice of one fan.

I must say that I am not unbiased in this discussion. I dearly hated Rose when he was playing. I mildly hated him when managed. And I thought he was a juvenile delinquent in an adult body once he was evicted from the game. I will step back from my bias and give an opinion that I haven't really seen before and it is that we have been discussing whether Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame and in baseball as if that is one issue. But I believe we have two issues here and not one.

Rose was caught dead to rights in his gambling habits. The fact that he never fessed up and never admitted that he had a problem makes him unfit for baseball. I don't believe he belongs in Major League Baseball in any capacity. He deserves no sympathy in that fact at all. Sympathy is usually reserved with those who have attempted to come to grips with their demons and reach out for help. Rose has never reached out for help. All he reaches out for is one last straw to fend off the IRS and sell one more questionable memorabilia item. Why is now any different? I don't see any difference in his demeaner now than I did ten years ago. No, Pete Rose does not belong in baseball.

But, oh, he does belong in the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is reserved for the game's greatest performers. Notice that I didn't say the game's greatest talents. Rose wasn't one of those guys. But he scratched and he clawed and he worked to make himself one of the most influential players in history. He ranks right up there with Ty Cobb as a maniac in a baseball uniform. His 44 game hitting streak was probably his finest accomplishment, but the way he helped his teams reach championships and the different positions he played to All-Star level should put him in the Hall of Fame.

A history and a showcase for the game's greatest performers isn't a list of those beatified or a quest for canonization. The Hall of Fame is a history and a showcase for the games greatest performers. I met Bob Feller once. He wasn't a nice man. This isn't a new argument. The Hall of Fame is littered with bad boys from all decades until the present. Rose belongs in the Hall just as the other bad boys do because it was the level of performance that puts him there. Rose didn't destroy the game. He destroyed his interaction with it and his credibility to be able to participate in the game again.

And the brilliant thing about this argument (if I don't say so myself) is that everyone wins. Those who have a Dante-like joy in seeing Rose in the Inferno still win because Rose stays out of the game for the things he did. Those who believe in the true understanding of what the Hall of Fame means get what they want too and put him in there.

And for pity sakes, if Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, isn't it about time that Shoeless Joe Jackson was brought into the Hall as well? Unlike Rose, Jackson was acquitted for his crimes but is still banned. Even the players who were a part of the scandal knew he wasn't involved. But that's an old argument too.

It's time for Rose to enter the Hall of Fame. It is not time to pardon him in baseball itself.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

I had to change the name of the joint. A simple Web search yesterday showed another site was using the name I formally chose. To be polite, I have changed mine. I will lag one day before I change the URL of the site so that my loyal readers can find me. Tomorrow, the URL will change to

With that news, I have also decided that Thursday will be my day off. For one thing, it's a good TV night and for another, I don't want this to become a drag to do every day and a day off a week will keep it fresh and fun. I hope you don't mind.

I will take a moment to celebrate with Bob Uecker. A .200 hitter in the Hall of Fame? Sure, why not...especially since he came from "just a little outside" of the norm. Congrats, Mr. Uecker!

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

It's impossible these days to link to a sports site and not be confronted by ads for fantasy baseball. To be sure, fantasy baseball has been around for quite a while now and I have been somewhat intrigued. I was scared to try it out because I don't like the feeling of not knowing what I'm doing. For a stat freak, fantasy baseball seemed to be a dream come true.

A coworker helped prod me along into the fantasy world this past Winter with a fantasy football league. Football is my second favorite sport and is another passion, so I let my coworker bring me along. It was a small league of only eight teams so there were enough great players to go around. It was safe as the site didn't get much traffic and I didn't have to feel stupid. To my surprise, I did well and most of my strategy decisions worked out great. I came in second in the league (or maybe third, but first among my coworkers!).

It was true that it was a stat freak's ultimate fun, but fantasy sports has a definite sinister side. Playing the on-line game changed my whole perspective on the real game. My whole purpose for watching and rooting in the game was changed completely. Yes, I wanted the Patriots or the Bills to win, but dang, I hope they win 35 to 33 so that the running back on the other team ran for 200 yards and scored four touchdowns. It totally changed my view of football. It was fun, but it was evil.

My coworker friend recently asked me about joining him again in fantasy baseball. I am hesitant. Football is great and I love it...but baseball is sacred! Seeing how fantasy football changed my perspective on that game, I can understand a little better now how dangerous gambling is for pro players and managers. If Pete Rose did happen to make bets on baseball, wouldn't his strategy and perspective change in a similar way to playing fantasy baseball. Perhaps to the max it would, yes.

Okay, so I sign up for fantasy baseball. The Yanks are playing the Marlins in an interleague game. Clemens is pitching and now has 299 wins. I don't have him on my fantasy team but I've been watching him pitch for eighteen years and desperately want to witness this culminating moment in his career. It's the fifth inning and the Yankees have a 4-1 lead. There are two outs and Clemens is laboring a little and has walked two to load the bases. Ivan Rodriguez is up and I DO have him on my fantasy team. Ivan hits a smash toward third and it smacks viciously into the third baseman's shin. He collapses in a heap and the ball careens into foul territory up the left field line. One run scores and it's 4-2. Two runs score and it's 4-3. Jeter is chasing the ball down and cuts in front of Hidecki. Does he know the Japanese words for "I got it"? Anyway, he gets the ball just as Lowell is rounding third and passes the third base coach. Jeter plants his right leg and fires home and falls backwards in the effort. The ball screams toward home and Posada is poised to receive the ball. Lowell is thinking he might have to crash into Posada...or should he hook slide? The ball arrives the same time as Lowell. I gasp and jump up but now my whole universe is upside down. The fan of the past would be screaming: "TAG HIM! GET HIM!" and I would be praying to preserve the Clemens lead...

But this is the new fantasy baseball reality. My mind is doing flipflops and I'm trying to see if Rodriguez got to second base before Lowell reaches home. After all, a double is more points. Do I root for Lowell to score so that Rodriguez gets three RBI? Now I am rationalizing that Clemens will get another chance to win his 300. It won't be tonight because if Lowell scores and ties the game, Torre's going to come out and yank Roger.

Jeter's throw is perfect. Posada blocks the plate beautifully and Lowell's a dead duck. Roger pumps his fists in the air. He runs over and high fives Jeter. I should be jumping up and down in a delirium but I'm doing a quick calculation instead wondering how many points Rodriguez got for the play. Oh man...this is messed up.

I'm not going to play fantasy baseball. Football is okay...but baseball

And now a quick note about the Mesa/Visquel flap: Threatening to kill someone is serious business. Mesa has already plunked Visquel in a game. Was that attempted murder? I don't care whether this is a stupid disagreement or not, you can't take words like that lightly. The last I heard, Criminal Threatening was still a crime in this country. This situation needs some serious intervention and I don't know what the answer is but you can't have a star player in America's game making statements like that. Whoah...

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Another of baseball's fascinating sidelights is the transaction wire. When you've followed the game for decades, the transaction wire is a mini-drama of life, death and injury...yes. But it's also a place where dreams die, dreams come true, potential becomes a bad word and some strong talent never gets a real chance. Like singing in front of Simon on American Idol, it's a tough gig.

Today, Bruce Chen and Dennis Tankersley were released and demoted respectively. Since I read the transactions yesterday and Chen was sent to the minors and today he was released, without seeing a story on the subject, it's a safe bet that he refused the demotion and asked for his release. Wasn't Chen once the great hope of the Atlanta Braves farm system? Did he ever really get a full shot? His first three years, he was 8-2. The last year of those three years, he went 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA. Now four years later, he is released. Yes, the transaction wire can be tragedy.

Dennis Tankersley was sent to the minors today. Once a can't miss prospect, doubt has to enter his mind as he has missed again. Will he make it back this time? Will he fade into obscurity? Time and the transaction wire will tell. For now, he has to look at his stats on as a pitcher with a lifetime 8.06 ERA.

In contrast, Josh Hamilton was also sent to the minors today. Hamilton is still considered a top prospect and is still listed among the top ten prospects in all of baseball ( How many more Spring Trainings will go by before he is the next Dennis Tankersley or Bruce Chen? But for now, he is "just getting more seasoning." He's "just not ready." Millions are spent drafting and signing these legendary prospects. Why not just let them play? Bruce Chen never pitched more than 84 innings in a season. One of the top prospects in the country can't get 250 innings or 500 at bats? Ryan Anderson of the Seattle Mariners was sent back to the minors three days ago. He's never even made it to a major league game. Three years ago, he was the next Randy Johnson. least Hamilton is still high on the list. Good luck, Josh.

And then the transaction wire reads: "Albert Pujols - signed" Yeah, Albert! Way to go, young slugger. Good kid. Works hard. Wants to learn. Respects those who came before him. Came out of no where and becomes a star. That's what makes the transaction wire unique and special to baseball. For every Bruce Chen, there's a Mike Piazza: drafted in the last round as a favor to his dad. Now he's one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time.

Oh, and if you want some real transaction wire fun, look at the Blue Jays on March 8. They signed ten players that most of the baseball world doesn't even know. Which one will be the next Albert Pujols? That's party life on the transaction wire. In contrast, Ben Rivera, who was 20-12 in his first two years with the Phillies in 1992 and 1993 was released by the Yankees after trying to make it to the major leagues for the first time since 1994. The transaction wire just said he was released. Ben may never pitch again as the real story shows he was released because he has a: "recurrent tear of his reconstructed ulna collateral ligament in his right elbow ("

And so goes the roller coaster life on the transaction wire...

Monday, March 10, 2003

Today's biggest headlines include David Wells accepting a $100,000 fine and the toxicology report due soon on the unfortunate Oriole pitcher who passed away. Pretty depressing stuff for Spring Training.

First, the debate over ephedra is overdue. Of course it takes a death to point out the need for the investigation, but at least the response is the correct one. MLB and the players association have a responsibility to its players to give them the best information and protect them from situations that will harm them. But let's take this a little further.

It's okay to ban substances, but what of the hundreds of other legal substances. Each club has a medical staff, conditioning coaches and trainers. Why aren't questions asked about what a player is taking before allowing them to participate in any conditioning activity, whether it be warmups or anything else. Heck, if a player is taking Nyquil, the medical staff should know about it and make adjustments in conditioning activity. A player is not going to admit to taking illegal substances which is why you need random testing, but they should be screened for legal substances. These players are worth millions to the teams. You would think it would take more care with that investment. The unfortunate fact here is that players are always going to look for an edge and have to be protected from themselves and the system.

And what was David Wells' crime? His crime was writing and releasing the book while he was still playing and still playing on the team he wrote about. But if I were him, I'd think a little bit about his first amendment rights and how he can be fined for expressing his thoughts?

And it's amazing that more of these types of books don't come out. We aren't stupid anymore. We know that people aren't perfect. Do we really expect our players to be? Did Jim Bouton's book tarnish my feelings for Mickey Mantle. Not really. All it did was make me wish the Mick took better care of himself so that he could have excelled longer. But wasn't Bouton's book really entertaining? It sure was. So was Sparky Lyle's and Ron Luciano's. More power to you, David.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

A true baseball fan loves statistics. The depth and history of statistics are truly what separate baseball from other sports. You don't see the thousand page stat perspectives for other sports as you do with baseball. Statistics are also what make games like Stratamatic Baseball so much fun.

The funny thing about stats and those types of games is how you can really mess things up by those enigmatic players who seem to put up great numbers every year but only in small doses.

One of my early favorites in that category was Ron Bloomberg of the Yankees. Besides being a great trivia question (who had the first hit as a designated hitter?), Bloomberg and a couple of great seasons with the Yanks where he only had 300 or less at bats. He was a free swinger from the left side who was never really given a chance to hit lefties. He was also a terrible fielder which is why he was perfect for the DH role. In fact, he once dropped the third out of a triple play attempt as a first baseman because he was so excited about the possibility.

Anyway, Bloomberg was a great Stratamatic player because YOU are the manager in that game and you can run him up there for 600 at bats and he would have 140 RBI for you.

Pitchers can do the same thing. Take a pitcher like Dennis Lamb a few years ago. He had a season where he went 11-0 or something in long relief with an ERA in the low twos. You could pitch him as a starter for 35 starts and he's win 25 games for you.

There have been a lot of players over the years who made you wonder what would happen if they ever got a chance to play full time. Some of those in today's rosters include Bill Mueller (now with the Red Sox), Jeremy Giambi (also with the Red Sox) and Buddy Groom. Ron Coomer used to be in the same category.

It's fun to speculate with Stratamatic players but you have to wonder what would happen if the real managers would ever give these star part-time players a full time chance.