Sunday, January 24, 2010


The signing of Shane Victorino to a three-year deal gladdened this fan's heart. Victorino is one of those appealing players who brings flare and excitement to the game.

The signing of Joe Blanton to a three-year deal may not have gotten the heart pumping nearly as rapidly but it, too, was a good deal for the Phils. At various points last summer, prior to the arrival of Cliff Lee, Blanton was the Phils' most reliable pitcher. Reliability is what this signing is all about.

Speaking of Lee, the more I contemplate what might have been, Halladay, Hamels, Lee, Blanton and a fifth starter, the more I wonder why Ruben Amara traded the lefty. The Phils remain a team built to win now and Lee's presence in the rotation, giving them great experience and a nice balance of righties and lefties, would have made them a very tough team to beat. Of course the biggest question mark remains the closer and perhaps Amaro is counting on Phillipe Aumont down the road. The problem with that scenario is that Aumont appears to want to start not come out of the pen.

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The HOF snub of the best overall DH in the history of that misbegotten role, Edgar Martinez, highlights again the need for MLB to decide once and for all whether both leagues or neither should embrace the position. Everyone knows the biggest obstacle to getting rid of the DH is the players' union. And everyone knows the NL isn't going to adopt it. MLB has to make the DH a major point in the next collective bargaining agreement.

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Gary Matthews senior is going to see much more of Gary Matthews junior this season thanks to the trade of the latter by the Angels to the Mets. Why did New York acquire the mediocre outfielder in the first place? Probably because management still believes, without much foundation, that a change of scenery that includes the Big Apple, is always good for improved performance. As I wrote, "without much foundation"!

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The Dodgers' signing of Vicente Padilla underscores two conflicting points: there isn't enough quality pitching in baseball to fill most spots in any starting rotation and there are still plenty of people who believe Padilla will one day fulfill his promise. As far as Shane Victorino is concerned, the Dodgers already had sufficient head hunters on their roster.

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Give Ferguson Jenkins a lot of credit for saying what a lot of players felt but few said publicly about the enhanced performance of Mark McGwire and others, namely, that pitchers felt cheated.

Now we need beat writers from the steroid era to come out and say they, too, contributed to the deception by refusing to write about a problem they knew existed. Don't hold your breath.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Move On!

If there is anything worse than a ballplayer who was juiced on steroids finally admitting his usage albeit in a qualified prepared "confession" it's the sanctimonious chorus of media hounds who wanted more blood in the water.

Mark McGwire's carefully prepared mea culpa before a national television audience (on MLB's channel, by the way, clearly an installed base far less than, say, that of ESPN) wasn't sufficient for a lot of folks who wanted a prostrate, guilt-wracked, shell of a man to plead for his future Hall of Fame votes. Forget it! He admitted using PED's though stopping short of saying they helped his power numbers and that's all he could be expected to do. Did these PED's help him to the temporary record he set for home runs in a single season? Probably. Will his long-term use of these substances prevent his entry to the HOF? Probably. Did he wreck the game? No more than a lot, a whole lot, of other players who were his contemporaries.

But here's the rub: the game wasn't wrecked. It has prevailed. Baseball has a lot of other problems, some of them much bigger, to solve. The people who clamor for truth and reconciliation commissions, many of whom looked the other way at the height of the steroid era, are the ones who need to search their souls now. In private.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hall Of Shame Ammended

The best second baseman of his era and one of the best of any era did not get elected to the Hall of Fame today. Shame on the voters.

Roberto Alomar deserved to be a first ballot entrant but there must be enough writers out there who were watching another game when Alomar played to deny him his due.

The best designated hitter in the history of the game was also denied enough votes as baseball continued its shcizophrenic attitude toward the role of the DH. It would be interesting to see how many NL writers excluded Martinez from the ballots. Going forward, only AL writers should be allowed to vote for DH's and those players who spent the majority of their careers in that role should need only half the required votes for entry. Go ahead, Bud, fix that one!

Bert Blyleven was also denied entry for the umpteenth time as a sufficient number of writers continued to believe he should indeed be punished for playing for a lot of lousy teams.

Congratulations to Andre Dawson, who was no more feared as a hitter than Martinez ever was and whose stats aren't as good as those of Don Mattingly, who got scant attention yet again.

Next summer's induction ceremonies should be the least exciting in memory.