ARod, Selig, Bosch, Yankees, CBS: Nuke ‘em All

I know, you’re tired of talking about Alex Rodriguez and his war with Bud Selig and Major League Baseball over his use of Performance Enhancing Drugs.

nuke2Me, too.

Still, we all knew we were going to have to go through another bombardment of stories about the subject whenever the arbitration system played itself out and a final decision (and I use that term loosely, because I’m not all that convinced this decision is “final”) was announced concerning ARod’s suspension for using PEDs.

That decision came down over the weekend and the tie-breaking member of the panel ruled that a reduction from the MLB-imposed 211 game suspension would be reduced to 162 games. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that baseball plays 162-game seasons.

As I read and heard the details of the decision, I couldn’t generate even a little bit of enthusiasm for it. Even the promotional spots during CBS’ NFL Playoff game Sunday afternoon for the big “60 Minutes” interview of ARod’s one-time PED supplier, Tony Bosch, couldn’t get me to care about what any of the parties had to say. I wasn’t even going to watch the interviews that CBS magically had conducted, edited and prepared for airing the same weekend as the announcement of the arbitrator’s ruling.

I channel surfed a bit after the football game ended, but I found nothing I really felt like watching. So I watched “60 Minutes.” After the half-hour segment in which Bosch, Bud Selig, Selig’s likely heir as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and ARod’s attorney Joseph Tacopina all got face time, I came away with one thought on the whole thing.

Nuke ‘em all.

I don’t believe any of them. Every one of them is lying or, at best, not revealing the entire truth.

Bosch is the embodiment of sleaze.

Selig did nothing to change my feelings about him. I thought he was a sanctimonious, incompetent ass before and his small bit of camera time on the show reinforced that view. Manfred is nothing more than a Selig lap dog.

Tacopina has a job to do, I know. If serial killers are entitled to the best legal representation they can afford, then certainly a baseball player who finds himself on the opposite side of the Commissioner of Baseball deserves the same. But he still came across as a slimy lawyer representing an even slimier client.

CBS and their interviewer, Scott Pelley, couldn’t have possibly created a more one-sided piece than what they ended up airing. I grew up watching Mike Wallace and others on “60 Minutes” play hardball with interview subjects. Bosch, Selig and Manfred got slow-pitch Nerf balls.

What a joke.

Some media are saying there were no winners in this debacle – that it made everyone look bad. I disagree. There was a winner. The New York Yankees escaped the “60 Minutes” segment without so much as seeing anyone have to answer a question over their obvious motives for wanting Rodriguez to be assessed the longest possible suspension.

But, as everyone who is not a Yankees fan knows, any time the Yankees win at anything, everyone else loses (at least everyone else who isn’t in the business of making money from the Yankees winning a lot of baseball games).

In fact, the Yankees are having one helluva party right now.

With Rodriguez’’s suspension, they’re off the hook for the $25 million salary he was due for the 2014 season. That means they can either spend that money on someone who, unlike Rodriguez, is actually still good at baseball or they can use the savings to meet their stated goal of remaining below the league’s luxury tax limit for payroll this year.

There’s a bit of speculation over how the team might manage to keep the player out of their Spring Training camp without violating the terms of the player agreement negotiated with the MLBPA, but here’s a point I haven’t seen mentioned in the media: If the Yankees manage to qualify for the postseason, I don’t think there’s any reason they couldn’t activate Rodriguez at that point.

Would they want the pariah in their clubhouse and in their dugout?

Don’t kid yourself. If there’s anything the Yankees organization wants more than to rid themselves of as much as possible of the stupid contract Rodriguez was handed by George Steinbrenner on his way to his everlasting resting place, that thing is winning another World Series. If they believe Rodriguez can help them get that with his bat in the postseason, they may posture and moan about it, probably telling the world that they’re only doing it because they “have to” for legal reasons, but then they’ll suit him up.

[NOTE: A review of the actual arbitrator decision, now made public as an exhibit in Rodriguez's lawsuit against MLB and the MLBPA, clarifies that his suspension is for the entire 2014 regular season AND the 2014 post-season.]

As Ed Thoma at Baseball Outsider reminded us in his piece on Monday, this isn’t the first time the Yankees have attempted to escape responsibility for a badly thought out long-term contract. In 1990, Commissioner Fay Vincent banned George Steinbrenner from baseball for life* after an investigation revealed that the Yankees’ owner paid a sleazeball informant to provide dirt on Dave Winfield in the hope that it would provide sufficient grounds to void his contract.

* As it turned out, “for life,” in this case, turned out to be a bit over two years, after which Vincent gave in and lifted the ban. Too bad Pete Rose couldn’t have had the same kind of “lifetime” ban. Even more so, it’s too bad Steinbrenner didn’t have the same kind of “lifetime” ban that Rose has had enforced upon him.

So one Commissioner banned a Yankees owner for life for paying a scumbag for dirt on a player, in an attempt to void the player’s contract.

Now, over 20 years later, a different Commissioner pays a different scumbag for dirt on a player, in an attempt to suspend that player for a full season of games, far more than anything called for under the terms of the current negotiated drug plan with the players’ union. In doing so, the Commissioner gets the Yankees off the hook for $25 million of salary owed to the player otherwise.

But I’m sure that’s just a very happy coincidence for the Yankees.

I agree with Thoma’s conclusion. The lesson here is that, if you want to get off the hook for your stupid decisions and get out of a contract, you don’t take action yourself – you get the Commissioner’s office to do it for you.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel at all sorry for Rodriguez. He made his bed and he can lie in it. He’s about as unlikeable a player as there has probably ever been in baseball (and in a game that’s given us Ty Cobb and Barry Bonds, that’s saying something).

But this action by MLB sets a dangerous precedent and the next player they decide to go after with another “the ends justify the means” vendetta may not be someone as universally despised as Rodriguez. Now, when that happens, they will have precedent on their side and it will be challenging, at best, for the player or the union to do much about it.

In addition, as John Paul Morosi pointed out on Monday, Selig’s actions seem to have turned the players and their union from allies in his war against PED use in to adversaries again. While clean players and the MLBPA have been on board with tougher testing and attempts to clean up the game, they certainly are not going to stand by and let the Commissioner unilaterally blow past the penalties called for in the negotiated agreement. Frankly, nor should they.

Morosi speculates – and I think he’s right – that Selig’s actions, by turning the relationship with the Players Association in to something much more adversarial in nature, pose a risk to future labor peace.

Those who have stood up most often to defend the overall record of Bud Selig’s reign as Commissioner have consistently pointed out that he has overseen a long period of relative stability in labor relations. In many minds, the labor relations peace alone is more important than his failures (including, perhaps most damning, the way he and the rest of the league turned a blind eye to PED use in the first place).

It would be ironic if one of his last, and most dramatic, actions as Commissioner turns out to undo whatever previous good he may have done in the labor relations area.

Anyway, you can tell me you hate Alex Rodriguez; or you can tell me you hate Tony Bosch; or you can tell me you hate the lawyers involved; or you can tell me you hate the Yankees; or you can tell me you hate Bud Selig

I’ll agree with you.

- JC

Everyone Needs a Break

Considering the lack of any games of real importance going on in Major League Baseball at the moment, there sure seems to be a lot of “stuff” flying around the perimeter of the game, agitating the media which, in turn, agitates the masses (or is it the other way around? I’m honestly not sure).

I’ve tried to get fired up about some of it or at least interested enough to give a damn about any of it, but it’s just not happening. But I’ve been embarrassingly absent as a contributing member of this group of bloggers lately, so I’m determined to say SOMETHING about at least a few of the items that have passed for “news” in and around the Twins and the rest of MLB the past few days.

R.A. Dickey’s snub

Dickey deserved to be the starting pitcher for the National League in the All Star Game. He knows it. So does Tony LaRussa. So does Buster Posey, the catcher that the voters erroneously voted to start behind the plate for the NL.  He deserves to start more than Matt Cain does. Even Matt Cain knows it and apparently said so out loud. In fact Dickey deserves to start more than Posey does, but that’s immaterial, I guess.

He’s not starting for one reason and one reason only. He throws an 80 mph knuckleball. Posey has seen it as a hitter, I would imagine, and since he’s apparently never caught even a 60 mph amateur version of a knuckleball, he’s none too anxious to learn how to catch Dickey’s for the first time in front of 40,000 fans and at least a handful of people who tune in to watch the ASG on TV.

As a former knuckleballer myself (though I doubt mine ever even reached the 60 mph level), I should be outraged at the injustice of this discrimination against Dickey. But I’m just not. Hopefully, he got to spend some time yesterday working in the bullpen with one of the NL’s catchers so neither party gets embarrassed out there when Dickey inevitably enters the game.

I’m really happy for the guy because he’s a great story, but I just can’t get worked up about the fact that he’s not starting the game.

Reggie’s dis of Bert, Puck and other Hall Members

I really stopped caring what Reggie Jackson said about anything the day he became a Yankee, but if there was one of these items that did get under my skin a bit, it was Jackson spouting off about how certain recent Hall of Famers didn’t deserve the honor of being enshrined in Cooperstown. The first Tweets I saw indicated he specifically referred to Bert Blyleven and Kirby Puckett. The next Tweet I saw pointed out that Reggie’s results when facing Bert in their careers were… well let’s just say that Reggie didn’t get to Cooperstown based on how he hit against Blyleven.

Bert Blyleven

Eventually I saw that Bert himself Tweeted that Jackson had called to apologize, relying on the old, “my comments were taken out of context,” line of BS. But whatever, at least the guy apologized. He apparently did likewise to others that he lumped in to the “unworthy” category. Again, however, I just couldn’t get too worked up over this. After all, as much as I loved both Puckett and Blyleven as players, I have to admit that their on-field HOF credentials were both marginal, so while Jackson should probably keep that kind of opinion to himself, he’s entitled to it and it’s not an altogether unreasonable opinion. I don’t think the BBWAA gets it right all the time, either, and I’m actually a “big Hall” guy.

I did care enough, however, to seek out the actual SI article that the quotes came from. I came away thinking that it’s really too bad he said the stuff he said about the HOF, because the rest of the article is very good. Ironically, the underlying theme of the article is how Reggie has changed and no longer prone to making outlandish comments and feeding an oversized ego.  Then he has to go and say that he’s going to get up in front of the HOF dinner next year and tell the other members that they all need to do something about keeping guys like Puckett, Blyleven, and others, out of their club in the future. It’s a shame.

Now we read that he’s been invited to stay away from Yankee Stadium for daring to say that A-Rod’s accomplishments are tainted because he admitted to using PEDs. Again, should he have given that quote, considering he’s still collecting a “special assistant” check from the Yankees? No. But he’s not exactly alone on an island with that opinion.

Anyway, it all just seems like more drama than it really should be.

Royals fans dis Cano

Speaking of things that are made bigger than they should be, apparently thin skinned Yankee fans took a major exception to the way the Kansas City crowd treated Robinson Cano during the Home Run Derby Monday night. Fans booed Cano loudly when he was introduced, mostly because after originally publicly stating that putting Royal Billy Butler on the Derby team would be the right thing to do, he changed his mind and didn’t select him after all. Of course, I think just the fact that he’s a Yankee makes him worthy of a pretty loud boo, but maybe Kansas Citians need more than that.

Anyway, not only did they boo him beforehand, but lustily cheered every “out” Cano made when the defending Derby champ came to the plate for his cuts in the first round. They got lots of opportunities to cheer, too, because Cano got completely shut out. No home runs in 10 cuts. With his dad pitching to him.

Anyway, Yankee fans apparently lit up Twitter with comments bashing KC fans’ treatment of Cano. I guess it’s easy to see why they’d be upset, though. After all Yankee fans are generally so well known for how politely they treat players of other teams, right? I guess the rest of us are all just supposed to acknowledge that anyone associated with the F’ing Yankees is entitled to be shown due respect.

Yeah, this is another not-so-big deal to me. Get over it and move on.

Prince Fielder wins the HR Derby

Yeah, I enjoyed watching the Derby. Prince Fielder can hit a baseball a LONG way. I also love the remodel job done on the stadium in Kansas City and it remains very high up on my list of favorite ballparks, so I enjoyed seeing it host the event. But neither the Derby nor the winner matter to me at all.

Mauer the lone Twins representative at the ASG

I’ve covered this before. Mauer deserves to be at the ASG, in fact the voters screwed up voting Ranger Mike Napoli as the starting catcher. I’d have liked to see Josh Willingham go, but there are just a lot of All Star worthy outfielders and very few catchers. And when you’re on a team that appears headed to its second consecutive 90+ loss season, you probably will just get one representative. Joe was the correct choice and anyone who doesn’t think so, while entitled to their opinion, is simply wrong.

By the way, Napoli is one of THREE former Cedar Rapids Kernels on the AL All Star Game roster. Napoli joins two other former Kernels (both now with the parent Angels) Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout. Trumbo represented well in the Derby Monday night and Trout is… well… if you don’t know who Mike Trout is, then you clearly care less about Major League Baseball than I care about the Home Run Derby.

Home Field Advantage

It’s been a decade now since the infamous tie game that led Bud Selig to decide that the ASG should matter more and declared that the winning league’s representative in the World Series would have home field advantage.

Bud Selig

I swear I have heard this thing bashed on every sports talk show for a week. I feel like I should care, but I don’t. It’s not a perfect solution to the trend of these games becoming poorly played and poorly managed exhibitions, but after the sham of a Pro-Bowl the NFL put on a few months ago, MLB needs to make sure the game counts for something if they want players to give any kind of effort whatsoever… or even bother to show up.

And at least it gives me another excuse to post my favorite Bud Selig picture of all time.

That’s it… enjoy the All Star Game if you care to watch it. If not, hold on tight and we’ll begin the second “half” of this exciting Minnesota Twins season in a few days!

-          JC

The Braun Legacy (in theatres soon)

I realize I’m several days late to the party in terms of discussing the arbitrator’s ruling in favor of Brewers’ star Ryan Braun, but it took me a while to come to grips with exactly how I feel about it. I’ve now done that and I’ve concluded one thing for certain…

I want the movie rights.

Before you scoff, remember that Hollywood made a successful movie last year about Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. Sure, it helped that Brad Pitt starred in the movie, but if Aaron Sorkin can put a winning script together centered on the value of on-base percentage, imagine what he could do with the mystery surrounding Braun’s urine sample!

Most accounts of the Braun issue begin with that sample he provided last fall. But to set the stage, we need to go back much further. Let’s run the opening credits for our film over scenes of Congressional Hearing Chambers and various players, MLB executives and Players Union representatives being challenged by our duly elected representatives, intent on ridding baseball of performance enhancing drugs. Then we’ll kick off the first scene of our movie in a conference room where MLB’s Commissioner and The Executive Director of the Players Union ponder what can be done to get Congress off their collective backs.

The Commissioner is desperate to impose a drug enforcement program with teeth, but the Union insists that any program must include pesky safeguards to assure any tests performed are accurate and that players are afforded due process. There’s particular sensitivity to confidentiality issues, in light of the fact that the last time the Players Union agreed to “confidential” testing by baseball, MLB’s mishandling of the testing data resulted in test results being widely publicized.

In the end, the two sides come to an agreement. The testing program includes protocols assuring that samples will be secured from the time they’re given by the athlete up through and including the time tests are performed in the lab. Players will have the right to have an arbitration panel (consisting of one MLB representative, one Union representative and one “independent” arbitrator) hear appeals, and all of this will be confidential until the process is completed and any penalties enforced. The scene ends with everyone slapping one another on the back and telling one another how smart they all are.

Now, we fast forward a couple of years and introduce our Midwestern hero… a talented ballplayer with a sterling reputation who has just helped his team (and coincidentally, the very same team that the MLB Commissioner used to own) to a playoff run and has been voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player in the process. There’s only one problem… it seems Mr. Clean was so stupid that he had no idea he might be tested for PEDs during the playoffs and filled himself with so much juice that he tested positive for unprecedented testosterone levels right in the middle of that playoff run.

How do fans find out about this? Is it announced by MLB, along with the requisite 50-game suspension, once the appeal process had been completed? No… America finds out from a National Sports Network (we’ll use a “fictionalized” name to protect ourselves from being sued by the real network, but everyone will know exactly who we’re talking about), thanks to an anonymous source who leaks news of the positive test before the star player can have any appeal heard. Ah… intrigue!

Our hero subsequently (and loudly) proclaims his innocence. But then, don’t they all? The repercussions are swift and loud, especially from those appearing on the aforementioned National Sports Network that broke the story. How can we take back his MVP award? We can’t? Why not? Heisman Trophy winners have had their awards repossessed and the NFL has had a re-vote when a “cheater” won a similar postseason award. The good of the game requires correction of this travesty!

Though the appeal process moves forward, the assumption is that this is just a formality. After all, no player’s appeal has ever been successful… has it? Well, not that anyone knows of. But then again, if the confidentiality of the process is maintained, how would anyone know if prior appeals were successful? The player certainly won’t say anything and undermine his own reputation and MLB would have no interest in admitting a failure of the testing program they tout as being the best in professional sports. But those are just dry details, so we’ll leave them out… after all, the National Sports Network says no appeal has ever been successful, so it must be so!

Taking dramatic license, our appeal hearing takes place in a hall much like what we’d expect to see at the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than some bland conference room. In a scene reminiscent of something from “My Cousin Vinny,” the player’s counsel gets the part-timer that MLB entrusted to promptly FedEx the urine sample to the lab to admit that, instead, he took the sample home with him because FedEx isn’t open on Saturday. But did he not store the sample in a secure, cool place, as called for by the league’s protocol? Well, not exactly. He left it on his desk in a Tupperware container for the weekend. The camera focuses on the Commissioner, sitting at the table with the league’s lawyer, as he nods and whispers, “That seems reasonable to me.”

Of course, the predictable plot twist unfolds as our hero is acquitted… I mean he wins his appeal… and the half of the courtroom donning Brewers jerseys stands and cheers, while the suits on the other half loudly voice their displeasure using multi-syllabic words nobody understands.

Now, the hero stands at the courthouse steps, smiling to the cameras as he reminds everyone, “I told you I was innocent!” His supporters, across the country, rejoice and call for apologies to be made (mostly via Twitter).

The Commissioner, however, rails at the injustice. He blames the “independent” arbitrator (apparently not having expected him to behave as though he actually were independent) and loudly declares that the evil ballplayer escaped justice on a technicality.

Of course, the media falls in line behind the revered Commissioner and echoes the “escaped on a technicality” refrain. This is especially true of virtually every celebrity talking head employed by the National Sports Network.

A significant number of ballplayers rise up in vocal support of the hero (again, mostly via Twitter), but they are roundly criticized by the media for daring to support a cheater who’s “beaten the system.” Soon, even a number of players are voicing their displeasure at the “verdict.”

Maybe I’ll make viewers leave the theatre without being told the end of the story, leaving them with as many questions as answers. None of those questions will be bigger than, “what happened to that sample?”

Or maybe I’ll take the “Oceans 11” approach and run quickly through a montage showing how the guy who collected the urine was actually a Cubs fan and how he and a steroid gulping bodybuilder friend of his substituted a testosterone-juiced sample for the player’s in the hope of seeing the rival star suspended.

Better yet, do you remember “Clue”? Maybe I could create an alternate montage that some movie-goers would see… where the hero turns out to be dirty as hell and promised the urine collector 100 grand if he found a way to make the sample unreliable.

The options are endless. I can make up any story line I want because nobody knows what really happened. Face it, this kind of thing is an Oliver Stone wet dream. I’ll make millions!

But seriously, folks…

Whatever happened, aren’t those strict protocols in place for a reason? And isn’t that reason to assure that tampering cannot happen? Given the stigma that goes with even being suspected of using PEDs, don’t we want to be absolutely positive no tampering took place before we brand any player a cheater? Isn’t that also why they’re supposed to protect the confidentiality of the player until the process is complete?

This case never should have come to public light, but once the circumstances did come out, Bud Selig should have stood up and said, “We established protocols for drug testing that are intended to assure that tests are accurate and that samples are secure from possible tampering. In this case, Ryan Braun’s urine sample was not secured appropriately and thus may or may not have been tampered with. In such a circumstance, we must assume he is not guilty of using PEDs.” If Selig felt compelled to rant, he could rant about whoever leaked the results to the media.

That would have been the right thing to do. But, of course, he didn’t do that.

Our film project may leave the audience wondering what happened, but unfortunately, I think most of us know what the future holds for Ryan Braun’s reputation.

Bud Selig didn’t do the right thing in this situation, but he isn’t the real villain. That dishonor goes to whoever leaked the test results and to those in the media who innitially ran the story on the basis of that anonymous source.

Think about that the next time you read someone from the “real” media pontificating about the lack of journalistic ethics and integrity of bloggers. I know I will… and, for me, that will be the Braun Legacy.

- JC

One More Decision Bud Selig Won’t Make

Admit it… as soon as you read yesterday’s post about Bud Selig and the decisions he is incapable of making, you knew this was coming, didn’t you?

Yes, I’m going to rant… again… about broadcast blackouts and how MLB doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about fans throughout Iowa and parts of Nevada (and a few other states) where fans are literally prevented from watching just about any team they care at all about play baseball on cable television or the internet.

I won’t rehash the issue in its entirety. You can click here to read all about it or just type “blackouts” in the search window at the top of our site to bring up any number of my previous rants on the topic. Here, I’ll just provide a little updated rant.

At a Hot Stove banquet the week of Twinsfest, I had the pleasure of listening in on a Q&A session with a panel that included Twins President Dave St. Peter. With encouragement from a fellow Twins fan and blogger who shall remain nameless (other than to say he has a view from Section 219 of Target Field for several Twins games a year) and emboldened by the beer or five I had during dinner and the following couple of hours, I asked Mr. St. Peter whether the Twins would ever address the crazy “blackout” issue that prevents me and my fellow Iowans from seeing Twins games either on cable television or via the internet.

St. Peter admitted that Iowa was in the middle of a “Bermuda Triangle” (his words) and that he and the Twins would like to see the situation changed, but the matter is dictated by MLB’s broadcast rights policy and any changes would have to come from league headquarters. He also suggested I write to Iowa’s Congressional delegation.

Frankly, I was surprised someone in baseball would actually encourage a fan to complain to my Senators and Congressman about MLB (because certainly he must be aware that such a complaint would naturally include a suggestion that baseball’s anti-trust exemption be considered for review), but I let the matter drop at the time.

I didn’t bother to let him know that I had already written a polite letter (really… I CAN be polite when I want to be… and when I think it might be more productive than being brutally honest) to Commissioner Selig a couple of years ago about the blackout policy and got exactly the kind of response I expected. That is to say, no response whatsoever.

I also didn’t point out ot Mr. St. Peter that this issue has been raised by far more influential people than I, such as former MLB president Bob DuPuy, who lobbied for an end to the blackouts… in 2008… with no effect whatsoever.

Of course, I don’t really expect Bud Selig to step in and make a decision regarding the broadcast blackouts. After all, we’re talking about a guy who is seemingly paralyzed by inaction regarding any decision at all that might not be 100% okie-dokie with all of the owners and all of the Networks, so it’s not logical to think he’d make a decision on this matter either.

Then again, considering the decision he did make on the whole All-Star Game/World Series home field thing, maybe we’re all just better off waiting for the next Commissioner anyway. After all, Selig will retire when the latest “last” extension is up in two years, right?

Yeah… right.

- JC

~You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant~

Bud Selig: The Peter Principle Inaction

You might think the headline was a typo… that it was meant to say, “Bud Selig: The Peter Principle In Action.” Nope. I meant it exactly as I typed it.

You’re all familiar with “the Peter Principle,” right? It’s the organizational principle that states, “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Here’s the Wiki synopsis:

The principle holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently. Eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions. Peter’s Corollary states that “in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out their duties” and adds that “work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.” “Managing upward” is the concept of a subordinate finding ways to subtly “manage” superiors in order to limit the damage that they end up doing. (emphasis is mine)

There’s a very strong example of the “managing upward” corollary sitting atop Major League Baseball.

I wasn’t at all surprised last month when MLB announced that Bud Selig’s contract had been extended two years. Disappointed? Yes… but far from surprised. In fact, I’ll only be surprised if the MLB team owners eventually do kick Selig out of his office while he’s still breathing. 

Why should they? The owners with the most clout (read: owners of teams with the greatest revenue streams) have been successfully “managing upward” for years. If they hired a new Commissioner of Baseball, there’s a pretty good chance that he or she would come in and expect to be able to make decisions in the best interests of baseball. The big market owners sure don’t want that.

Sure, paying a guy $23 million a year to make no decisions might sound like a lot of money, but each team’s share of his salary is less than the price of a below-Replacement Level Player. That’s chump change (an appropriate turn of a phrase in this case) to the bazillionaires who own MLB teams.

But wait, didn’t Bud Selig lead baseball through an unprecedented era of labor peace and didn’t he implement the toughest drug testing program in professional sports? Yes… of course he did. If you actually believe he “decided” any of that, rather than those decisions all being made as part of collective bargaining sessions. I’m sure there was not a lot of unilateral decision making by the Commissioner in those sessions, folks.

Bud Selig

Then again, Selig’s fingerprints did seem to be all over the Mitchell Report. You remember the Mitchell Report, right? It was Bud’s response to being called in on the carpet by Congress for providing impotent leadership on PEDs. Imagine that… perhaps the most impotent body of “decision makers” in the country criticized Selig for his lack of leadership. That ought to tell you something. The Mitchell Report itself was the kind of work product you would expect from a group with no subpoena power and which leaked almost as many names that ultimately did NOT show up in the report as those who did. (I’m betting Jeff Bagwell still would like to know who he should see about that little matter, since so many HOFvoters seem to think he was “named” in the Mitchell Report.)

Still, maybe we’re being a bit unfair. After all, drug testing and labor negotiations are huge and complicated matters. No one person could have stepped up and unilaterally made the kinds of decisions necessary to work through those issues. Commissioners’ decisions are more geared toward the less complicated, “keep the trains running on time” issues that pop up occasionally, like… well… like how to determine home team in the World Series, I guess. After all, he stepped up and made a great call on that matter, right?

In that vein, here are a few more decisions that you would think the Commissioner should be able to take a swing at:

Playoffs:

The big news in the off-season was that the Astros will be moving to the American League in 2013, as part of a realignment geared toward bringing consistency to the number of teams in each league/division and in scheduling. As part of the reorganization, we’ll have two wild card teams in each league that will play one game against one another to determine which of the wild cards will move in to the Divisional Series. Personally, while it’s been widely criticized, I’m on board with that. But we’ve been waiting for months to find out whether the new playoff format will be implemented this year or not.

Selig apparently wants it implemented now. But there are scheduling challenges and clearly the Networks and the people who would have to address those challenges would have easier lives if MLB waited until 2013 to implement the new format. So, the only way the format will be changed this season is if Bud Selig stands up and says, “just frigging get it done!” Yeah… THAT’S not gonna happen.

So we’ll just continue to sit around and wait without a resolution until it just becomes too late to make any changes and Bud will shrug and say, “I tried.”

The Oakland/San Jose Athletics:

The A’s play in a really bad excuse for a ballpark in a community not inclined to do much to change the situation. Several years ago, their owner decided he wanted to move his team down the road to San Jose, where a new stadium could be built and a “genius” GM like Billy Beane could finally compete on a level playing field with the rest of the league.

The problem is, San Jose is considered part of the “home market” of the San Francisco Giants and the Giants aren’t crazy about letting the A’s move in to “their” market. The Giants gloss over a few things, of course, such as the fact that the reason San Jose is part of their home market is that they asked the Athletics to relinquish THEIR rights to San Jose years ago when the Giants were contemplating moving there, themselves. Then they got a new downtown stadium in San Francisco and their plans (or was it a threat?) to move ended. So now that the Athletics want to move there, instead, the Giants won’t give back the rights to the area.

Sounds like a call that a Commissioner should make, right? After all, we’re talking about deciding a matter in the best interests of baseball.

But Selig couldn’t bring himself to make a decision like this without knowing all the facts, so he established a group to study the matter… THREE YEARS AGO.

Today, there’s still no word from Selig on the issue and, by God, A’s owner Lew Wolff is pissed off and tired of waiting. Word from the Commissioner’s office in December was that a decision was coming by February (no word on whether or not Selig has allowed his staff to flip the calendar pages past January 31 at MLB headquarters).

Still, how important is this to Wolff, compared to the prospect of having a Commissioner who might actually WANT to make decisions? All you need to know is that Wolff voted with his peers to extend Selig’s contract two more years. Maybe you’ll have that decision sometime in 2015, Lew.

Compensation for Theo Epstein:

Last fall, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein was hired by the Cubs to run their team, despite having time remaining on his contract with Boston. The clubs apparently agreed that they would work out compensation later and that, in the unlikely event that they couldn’t work out a deal, the Commissioner would decide.

That was in October. This is February and, surprise, they can’t reach agreement on fair compensation. Boston wants every player in the Cubs organization who’s got a chance of ever being good (yes, both of them) and the Cubs think two old catchers masks should be sufficient.

Of course, what Selig SHOULD have done at the time was is say, “BS! Come to an agreement now or forget about it.” But he didn’t. So now he’s faced with making a decision that will certainly upset one team owner or the other.

So, in true Bud Selig fashion, he’s dragging the process out as long as possible in the apparent hope that people will forget about it. And he may be right… the other 28 owners would like him to forget about it. The last thing they want is for a precedent to be set giving the Commissioner the authority to settle such things.

There is one more little decision that I’d like to see the Commissioner step up and make, but this post has run on long enough for today, so I’ll save the last point for tomorrow. Those of you who’ve been reading my stuff here for a while can probably already guess the issue I’d like Mr. Selig to address, but I’ll leave you with a little hint:

~You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant~

- JC

 

Two More Years. Oh… Goody.

I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the man who put off dealing with PEDs until Congress forced him to and still can’t make a decision about whether baseball should or shouldn’t use a Designated Hitter, yet again has failed to make a decision in the best interests of baseball.

Bud Selig

Despite his previous vow to retire as Commissioner of Baseball at the end of his current contract, which expires after the upcoming season, Bud Selig has now apparently changed his mind and will have his contract extended an additional two years.

As this piece in the New York Daily News over the weekend pointed out, it’s hardly surprising that Selig would decide not to walk away from his $20 million a year gig (and some of you thought Joe Mauer wasn’t worth his contract!).

- JC

To DH Or Not To DH? There’s NO Question

This is how my mind works at times.

I read a simple Tweet… in this case from Joe Posnanski… and the next thing I know, my mind is moving from point A to point B and all the way to about point R.

In the wake of the MLB AllStar Game Tuesday night, Posnanski posed the following question, via Twitter:

So wait because Venters got outs and Quentin made outs, David Ortiz won’t start in 4 World Series games? Still don’t understand.

Obviously, Joe isn’t fond of the practice of awarding home field advantage in the World Series to the representative of the league that wins the AllStar Game. Hardly a revolutionary viewpoint, I know.

But you know what? No matter what method MLB uses to determine home field advantage in the Fall Classic, the result will be the same… whether it’s David Ortiz or Travis Hafner or Jorge Posada or, better yet, Jim Thome… a critical member of the AL representative in the ultimate contest to determine the champion of Major League Baseball is likely to play a reduced role for his team.

If you read my posts here often, you have probably figured out I have limited respect for Bud Selig. The truth is, it’s not just Bud… it’s Bud and everyone else who determines baseball policy that just make me shake my head almost on a daily basis. These people have no clue how to address problems. They’re all about treating symptoms, not finding cures for underlying issues. If these guys had been in charge of polio research, you’d have the best iron lung in the world, but no polio vaccine (blatant “West Wing” ripoff quote).

The problem isn’t that the AllStar Game determines home field advantage in the World Series. The problem is that MLB continues to force two teams who play by significantly different rules to compete against one another to determine the championship.

It’s long past time to put an end to this nonsense. It’s time for Bud Selig to step up and tell the National League that they WILL adopt the Designated Hitter.We all know it’s going to happen eventually. Sure, there was a time when it might have been possible for baseball to turn back the hands of time and force the American League to drop the DH, but those days are long gone.

I know there’s a stubborn resistance to the DH by fans of National League teams. That dumfounds me a bit. It’s bad enough that they seem to enjoy watching pitchers flail helplessly with a bat, but don’t they realize their best hitters are almost all destined to end their careers in the American League? Is that really what they want?

Let’s say you’re a St. Louis Cardinal fan. You’ve got the biggest star in baseball playing first base for your team right now, but he’s coming up on free agency. He expects to get paid fair market value and rightfully so. But that market value is higher in the American League than it is in the National League and, unfortunately, your team plays in the NL.

Albert Pujols will be 32 years old when next season kicks off. An American League team can offer him an eight year contract and figure that, if it turns out that age catches up to him a bit and he can’t continue to play competent defense, he could spend the last few years of that contract DHing. The Cardinals don’t have that luxury.

Bud Selig

So, Cardinal fans, when Albert ends up turning his back on you because an AL team is able to offer a longer contract than St. Louis reasonably can or should, don’t blame Pujols. Don’t blame the team he signs with. Blame yourself for not wanting the DH to “taint” your NL game. Blame your owner and his friends who refuse to adopt the DH.

Or better yet, blame the guy I blame for everything that’s wrong with baseball.

Blame Bud Selig.

- JC

Things That Make Me Go “Hmmm”

George Carlin

I was a big fan of the late George Carlin back in the days of my misspent youth. I mean, I liked Bill Cosby and Gallagher, too… but Carlin always made me laugh. My favorite part of his stand-up routine was when he’d come up with the “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”. You know what I mean… like “Why don’t you ever see the headline ‘Psychic Wins Lottery’?”

Well, since Bud Selig and the other geniuses at MLB decided we should all take what seems like a month off between the end of the LCS and the World Series, I thought this would be a good time to share some of what I’ve read lately that made me go “hmmm.” So that’s what I’m going to do. Below are a few things I found interesting and links to where you might read more.

I’ve been a big fan of Zack Greinke and have been up front for some time about wishing there was a way to get him in to a Twins uniform. So this tidbit from Seth Stohs’ post on Sunday caught my attention:

Speaking of the offseason, the Zack Greinke rumors are already in full gear. Apparently the Twins are among the teams that Greinke would accept a trade to. There is talk that due to his social anxiety disorder, he would prefer to stay in a small market. Travis Aune (of) TravisTwinsTalk.blogspot.com tells me that he has heard rumors of a potential deal involving Greinke and David DeJesus coming to the Twins in exchange for Kevin Slowey, Delmon Young and Aaron Hicks.

Zack Greinke

Greinke is due $13.5 million for both 2011 and 2012. DeJesus gets $6 million for 2011. Together, that’s about $12 million more than the Twins would be paying Slowey and Young next season (Hicks would remain a minor leaguer for at least another year with the Twins). I’m not sure the Twins have room for that kind of payroll bump, but it’s an interesting thought.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are chomping at the bit to get moving on making sure they don’t fail to reach the World Series two years in a row. Frustrated, I’m sure, by not being able to throw gazillions of dollars at Cliff Lee while Lee is still pitching for his current team, the Rangers, in the World Series, the Yankees decided to do something immediately to begin the process of fixing their team… they fired their pitching coach, Dave Eiland. Right, guys, it wasn’t your overpaid, underperforming, arms that cost you the World Series berth you feel entitled to, it was your pitching coach.

Coincidentally, while the media seems to have determined it’s a foregone conclusion that Lee will be a Yankee in 2011, those classy Yankee fans at Yankee Stadium may have screwed up GM Brian Cashman’s plans. According to USA Today, it seems Cliff’s wife Kristen was none too impressed with how she was treated at Yankee Stadium during the ALCS.

Perhaps the Rangers’ greatest sales pitch simply was having Kristen sit in the visiting family section at Yankee Stadium during the playoffs. She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.

“The fans did not do good things in my heart,” Kristen says.

“When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it’s hard not to take it personal.”

Wouldn’t it be a gas if the typical Yankee fan behavior turned out to be a critical factor in Cliff Lee telling the Yankees  to “shove it” and staying with the Rangers?

While on the subject of the Yankees, I’ve read the following “rumors” about Cashman’s offseason plans (beyond the obvious intent to throw money at Cliff Lee):

  • While Derek Jeter’s value on the open market to teams other than the Yankees would be about $7 million on a one-year deal, the Yankees are likely to sign him to a 3-year contract for about $45 million. HOWEVER… as part of that deal, they should let him know that he should no longer expect to always hit in the top two spots in the order and he should be made aware that he’ll not be playing shortstop every day. He may transition to other positions, including possibly DHing. (Where do I sign up for a gig that gets me paid, by my current employer, twice what I’m worth to anyone else, on the condition that I accept the fact that I won’t be working as much?)
  • One writer speculated that Jeter would begin transitioning to 3B, with Alex Rodriguez beginning to DH.
  • Jorge Posada will not be catching as much next year but would be used as the primary DH. In fact, the Yankees may carry three catchers including current part-time catcher Francisco Cervelli and uber-prospect Jesus Montero, with the plan being to gradually get Montero MLB catching experience and using both Montero and Posada as DHs.
  • In an effort to figure out how to justify spending even more Steinbrenner money to bring in Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth for 2011, there’s speculation that the Yankees might trade current RF Nick Swisher or… if the Yankees find no takers for Swisher and his $9 million contract… move Swisher to DH.

All of which has me wondering just how soon Bud Selig will be proposing a new rule allowing the Yankees to use five DHs in their line up.

Mike Sweeney

Finally, I’ve gone several weeks now without linking to a Joe Posnanski “Curiously Long Post” so I’m going to link/recommend two of them that should be considered “must reads”. One is about Mike Sweeney (caution… if you’re anything like me, reading this may make you feel inclined to wish the Twins would offer Sweeney a non-roster invitation to Spring Training, just to see if they could wring a little more magic out of him as a right handed DH/PH) and the other is actually a re-post of an article he wrote about accompanying Tony Pena on a trip to his native Dominican Republic several years ago when Pena was the Royals’ manager. I have to admit, I loved the way Pena ran a team from the catcher position and wish there was a bit of Pena’s fire in Mr. Mauer.

That’s all for now! – JC

Let’s Have Another Game 163… EVERY Year!

A little over a month ago, as the season was moving in to August, I looked in to my crystal ball to forecast that the Twins and White Sox would finish the season tied for the AL Central Division title with identical 92-70 records, sending the teams in to yet another Game 163 to settle things. Since we’re now heading in to the final four weeks (and eight series) of the season, I decided to check in on these teams to see whether I need to adjust my forecast.

I know this will come as a terribly disappointing shock to all of you, but I was wr… wrrrr…. wrrrrrr… wronnnn… not entirely correct. There will be no Game 163 this year between the Twins and Sox. According to the advanced analytical formulas I applied to the two teams’ remaining schedules last month, and adjusting for actual performance, the Twins will finish the season with a 95-67 record, while the Bitch Sox limp to the finish line at 91-71… and that assumes they can dupicate the Twins’ sweep of the Royals this weekend, which I’m no longer all that certain they can do.

So, as much fun as that extra game at the Dome was against the Tigers last season, we will not be repeating the experience this October. Bummer, eh? For a while I was even dreaming of scenario where there would be a Game 164… where the Rays and BitchSox would have to play for the Wild Card spot after the Twins disposed of the Sox in Game 163.

Of course, it’s still conceivably possible that the Rays will collapse to the point of allowing the Sox to tie them for the Wild Card. And as much fun as it would be to see all of the smartasses in the media who’ve been talking like the Wild Card couldn’t possibly go to anyone outside of the Almighty AL East proved wrong, the Rays would have to pretty much lose every series through the end of the season to drop down to the number of wins I see the Sox scraping together. But hey, I’ve been wrr… wrrr… not 100% accurate with my predictions before so, it could happen! Then, at least we’d all have a really interesting game to watch while we waited a couple of days for our Twins to begin their inevitable march to the World Series.

There’s really nothing like a “win or go home” game, is there? It’s something we take for granted in the NFL playoffs and the NCAA basketball tournament, but when it comes to baseball (or the NBA or NHL for that matter), the very nature of their playoff series is such that you seldom have the dramatics of a game where both teams need a win to avoid seeing their seasons end short of a championship. A Game 5 of a Division Series or a Game 7 of a League Championship Series or World Series, yes those are rivoting. But far, too rare. (Quick… what’s the last Game 7 you can recall watching? Can’t remember? Don’t feel bad… of the last 14 postseason series, only 1 has gone to a deciding game… and out of 105 series since the introduction of the Wild Card, only 18 have gone the distance.)

But that Game 163 has provided that drama the last two years, too. And not just for Twins fans. Do you realize that last year’s Game 163 was the most watched game of MLB’s regular season? That’s not because Detroit and Minneapolis are huge TV markets, folks. 6.5 million people watched that game on cable television. Why? Because baseball fans all over the country knew it as a “sudden death” game (or at least it turned out that way for the Tigers).

Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a couple of those games EVERY season? (OK… maybe just for the benefit of our own health around here, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to let a few other teams take a turn with the Game 163. It doesn’t need to be the Twins every year!)

Well Tom Verducci, over at SI.com, has figured out a way to do just that. In this column, he proposes one tiny little tweak to MLB’s playoff system that would (a) make the last month of the season a lot more interesting for fans of a lot more teams, (b) force teams to put more emphasis on winning their division instead of locking up the Wild Card and coasting through the final weeks, and (c) guarantee that we’d all get to see at least two “sudden death” games every post-season.

Verducci proposes adding a Game 163 in each league by adding an extra Wild Card spot… and holding a one-game, winner-moves-on-loser-goes-home game the day after the final game of the regular season. No “two days to rest up”. The team with the fewer wins gets their asses on a plane after their last game and heads out to play the other Wild Card team for the right to face the Division Champion with the best record. Do you think the threat of being one-and-done AND having to use your #1 starter while your potential next opponent sets their rotation wouldn’t make managers go all out to win divisions?

I admit part of the reason I like this idea is that I don’t think there’s enough of a “penalty” for Wild Card teams. They don’t even have to play the Division Champion with the best record if that team is from their own division. So they don’t get home field advantage, big whoop.

You can (and should) read Verducci’s whole column to get a full dose of his arguments why this set up would make sense, but for our purposes, let’s just look at what kind of effect it would be having on the American League if that system were in place this year:

  • Instead of everyone handing two playoff spots to the Yankees and Rays, with no more on the line than home field advantage in the ALDS, those two teams would be fighting over which gets assured of a “best of five” ALDS series and which has to roll the dice on one game against another Wild Card team.
  • Instead of the White Sox being consumed with catching the Twins (OK, I admit they’re ALWAYS consumed with catching the Twins) or hoping for the unlikely total collapse of the Rays, they’d have a legitimate shot at the second Wild Card even after the Twins stomp out their Division Title hopes next week.
  • Instead of the Red Sox playing out the season, they’d have a half-game lead over the Bitch Sox for that second WC spot.
  • And get this… Toronto would be just 5 and a half games out of a Wild Card spot, as well (and who knows how much closer they might be if they hadn’t felt like they were eliminated back in, what, May?).
  • Even fans in Detroit and Oakland would still be paying SOME attention to their teams instead of watching them play out the season (or more likely NOT watching them play out the season once football season starts).

Tell me there wouldn’t be a lot more excitement among MLB fans if these scenarios existed! And as an added bonus, if you’re the Blue Jays and Orioles, now you don’t have to break Spring Training every year knowing you have no chance to make the playoffs. All you have to do is finish 3rd in your division and have a better record than the runners-up in the Central and West. If you can’t even do that, then just STFU.

Down in Class AAAA (known by some as the National League), those Division races in the East and West would be much more intense AND fans in Colorado and St. Louis wouldn’t be quite so ready to tune out.

Perhaps the best thing about this plan is that it doesn’t have to add a single day to the playoff calendar. No off days between the end of the regular season and these Wild Card play-in games. You don’t like the idea of spending two days traveling and playing an extra game while your potential next round opponent is resting up and waiting for you? Win more games next year and win your damn division!

The bottom line, for me, is that when September and October rolls around, I’m not ready to stop watching baseball. I like football. I watch it. College and NFL. But it’s crunch time in Major League Baseball and fans are tuning in for frigging PRE-SEASON football games intead of watching what should be the most important weeks in MLB’s calendar.

Finally, Verducci also ran his proposal by Bud Selig. Bud thinks things are fine the way they are. Of course, he does. He ALWAYS thinks things are fine the way they are. Even if I didn’t like this idea, the mere fact that Selig was not supportive would tell me it’s a brilliant idea. If Bud thinks it’s wrong, it’s GOTTA be right!

Just one more reason why Major League Baseball needs Jim Crikket (or at least Tom Verducci) as its new commissioner. – JC

All-Star Game – Who’s on First? I Don’t Know. He’s on Third and I Don’t Give a Darn. (Do You?)

Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First” routine is not only the funniest comedy bit ever done about baseball, it also seems to just about perfectly describe my feelings about the MLB All-Star Game.

It’s a bit sad, really, because (“Because” plays CF) I used to love this game. I got so excited when I found out I got 2 tickets to the 1985 All-Star Game in the Metrodome that I swung a pool cue around and broke 3 beer bottles sitting on a nearby table (the game itself was a bit of a yawner as the National League won 6-1, but I didn’t care). I also remember watching Pete Rose slam in to Cleveland catcher Ray Fosse on television and a number of other great All-Star moments over the years. I never missed the game unless I was playing ball myself.

I don’t really even know why (“Why’s” the left fielder) my feelings changed. It may have been the infamous tie game and the sight of Bud Selig’s “What can I do?” shrug (“What” is on second) that ended the 2002 All-Star Game in a tie. That event led to Selig declaring that home field advantage in the World Series would go to the team representing the League that wins the All-Star Game. I never quite understood how that prevents teams from running out of pitchers in extra-inning All-Star Games, but on the list of Selig decisions I don’t understand, this one probably barely cracks the top 10.

It just feels to me like, for all the bluster about the game, even Major League Baseball doesn’t exactly know whether to take it seriously or not, so why (“Why” is still in LF) should I?

It is refreshing that many of the players still care about it… and I’m willing to give most of them the benefit of the doubt and believe it’s for reasons that go beyond the ASG bonus that many of their agents have had included in their contracts. I feel good for guys like the D’Backs Chris Young, who (“Who” is at 1B) clearly is excited about going to Anaheim for his first ASG. And while I guess I was ambivalent about the whole “Should Steven Strasburg be an All-Star?” question, hearing that a poll of 50 current players resulted in a unanimous 50-0 “NO” vote told me that these guys do care about who (“Who” is on FIRST!) represents them.

Of course, as a Twins fan, it feels good to see two of our guys voted in as starters for the first time since Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew in 1968. That was two years before starting rosters were turned back over to fan voting, by the way. I think a lot of Twins fans have begun to take Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau for granted, but this not only serves as a reminder that we are watching two potential Hall of Famers on the field together daily (not to mention shoe-in HOFer, Jim Thome this season), but also demonstrates that the Twins have gotten the attention and appreciation of baseball fans all over the country. Together, Mauer & Morneau have made Twins baseball relevant.

I think it’s great that Delmon Young is included in the “final 5″ vote, even though his chances of winning are slim & none (and you should definitely go vote for him… I did). It’s not that he isn’t deserving, but Kevin Youkilis is such an obvious omission from the AL roster, that I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t double the votes of any other name on the list. To be honest, I thought Francisco Liriano probably deserved as much consideration as Young, if not more.

I don’t know (“I Don’t Know”… third base!) yet which reserves were voted in by the players/managers/coaches as a whole and which were chosen specifically by the ASG managers (the Yankees’ Joe Girardi and Phillies Charlie Manuel), but if it turns out that they chose ARoid over Youk and Ryan Howard over Joey Votto, I think it’s time to take the right to pick ANY pitchers/reserves away from the respective managers.

And don’t be surprised if Girardi replaces CC Sabathia (can’t pitch in the ASG ‘cuz he’ll be pitching Sunday) with Andy Pettite instead of Jared Weaver, who (“Who” is the guy on 1B) not only is more deserving, but the game is being played in his home ballpark. As it stands, only Torii Hunter will represent the Halos. But then an All-Star Game with only FIVE Yankees playing really wouldn’t be an All-Star Game, would it? (UPDATE: Girardi didn’t wait long… he’s named Pettitte to replace the injured Clay Buchholz.)

As for Manuel, if he’s the one responsible for picking Omar Infante over… well… just about everyone else in a National League starting lineup, I think someone needs to require Charlie to undergo a thorough mental health evaluation. That choice is flat out bizarre.

Finally, on the subject of All-Star Games, it really is unfortunate that Twins prospect Liam Hendriks will miss the All-Star Futures Game. (New Britain’s Ben Revere is also representing the Twins organization.) This game gives some of the top prospects in minor league baseball an opportunity to showcase their talents and compete against many of the other top prospects, in addition to giving fans across the country an opportunity to see future stars in action. Hendriks had an emergency appendectomy on Sunday and will be out of action for a month or more. The Aussie has been very impressive (1.76 ERA and 0.845 WHIP) in 16 starts this season, split between Beloit and Ft. Myers. I saw him shut down Cedar Rapids early in the year (7 Ks in 5 shutout innings)  and was looking forward to seeing him match up against the other minor league stars. Get well soon, Liam.

So, am I alone in my general indifference to the All-Star Game and who (for the last time, “Who” is on first!) participates? We don’t have a Twins game to look forward to until tomorrow (“Tomorrow” is our pitcher) night, so let’s do a poll, shall we? I’ll cast the first vote… and I don’t give a darn (Oh, he’s our shortstop!). – JC