Ken Griffey, Jr. found his way back to Seattle last week despite his
obvious decline in market value. What does it say about a team when
its best shot at putting fans in the seats is to sign a dilapidated
hero of old on the cheap? Will this be a trend? And ultimately, Is it
fair to the fans?
Dilapidated hero of old? I don’t remember you saying that when Griffey was playing for the White Sox last season. In fact, if I remember correctly, you were pretty excited about it. That statement is more than silly. It’s ignorant.
Here’s the deal, Mr. Lung. The Mariners are terrible. They lost more than 100 hundred games last year. But they’re also a proud franchise and a franchise that was built by that “dilapidated hero of old” that they just signed. This signing isn’t about turning the franchise around this season or building a playoff team around Junior. It’s about restoring some pride to the franchise and letting Griffey play his probable last season back where he began. It’s good for the team, it’s good for the fans and it’s good for Junior.
Now, if you want to look at the signing from a pragmatic standpoint, it still makes sense. After all the problems Griffey has had physically, he’s probably not going to be playing 162 games in the outfield. He’s also not the same player defensively that he was while playing with the Mariners back in the day. And that’s a liability in the National League. It’s the same problem the Giants ran into with Barry Bonds (along with, well, you know, that “other” problem). It didn’t make sense for Griffey to go to the Braves.
But Junior back in Seattle? That makes sense. When he’s healthy, he adds depth to their outfield and even when he’s not able to go at full speed, you can still include his bat in the DH spot. Yes, you’re right. Junior is not the same player that we grew up watching. But he’s still a formidable threat and it’s a win-win situation for the Mariners.
Now, as for your other question, about this being a trend for players to return to the teams they started off with, I don’t know if it is but I can think of worse things. It makes sense that Griffey should end his career in a Seattle uniform. It would make sense for Smoltz and Glavine to end their careers in Atlanta. It’s how we know them and it’s where they belong. I’m sure that if the Cards ever traded Pujols away, you’d still want him back, even if he wasn’t in MVP form. In many ways, free agency has gutted baseball but every once in awhile it works out in our favor. This is one of those times.
Every time I sit down to read the news these days, it seems that one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse is leering out from behind the story. Wildfires in Australia, cholera in Zimbabwe, war in the Middle East and famine here, there and everywhere. Even in the United States we are far from immune to these problems. Unemployment is out of control, no one knows where the financial crisis will ultimately leave us and despite the situation, Congress still can’t seem to figure out how to work together.
But I think the problem can be traced back deeper. No, Mr. Huckabee, it’s not the “anti-religious” forces within the country. And thank you for your input Bristol but it’s not because of teenage pregnancy and the unrealistic idea of abstinence. No, my very exact calculations based on the careful use of a divining rod and an ancient gypsy monkey paw have placed the sewing of the seeds of this crisis on September 9, 1992.
Oddly, another event took place that same day. Could the two be related? It seems too perfect to just be a coincidence. And since there was only one way to find out, I flew the RSBS interns in from Chicago and set them to work. And by the end of the day, in typical RSBS fashion, they came up with several interesting conclusions.
In much the same way that lax regulation allowed the housing market to become overheated, Bud Selig’s single-minded focus on increasing owner revenue allowed a bubble to develop in the baseball market. This enveloped the entire spectrum of baseball related services, too, from the price of seats at a game to the inflated salaries earned by players. But, as fans start tightening their belts, the teams are going to have to figure out some alternate way to keep the money coming in. Perhaps they’ll do it by offering better deals on ticket prices or attempting some new way to keep the concessions moving. It’s a pretty safe assumption that the owners won’t be seeing the same kind of money they did in the past, though. Soon, they might even have to start applying Verizon math to make ends meet.
Additionally, the confluence of decreasing revenue streams and the steroid situation will hit the free agent market pretty hard. The current log-jam in the credit markets came about as a result of toxic assets floating around the banking sector with no one knowing who would take the hit at the final reckoning. It’s like Barry Bonds floating around the periphery of MLB, trying to convince someone to take a chance on him. In the halcyon days of 2005, someone would have been willing to take the risk on both the fancy financial instrument and Mr. Bonds but the market is too tight right now to justify adding such huge liabilities to the books. Free agents will be signed to short-term contracts with PED stipulations, the union will call foul and soon we’ll have a breakdown, just like what we’ve seen in the credit market.
On the bright side, baseball still does provide a quality product so it won’t turn into a situation like that facing the automakers:
At the same time, though, the tendency of owners to rely on municipal largess to rejuvenate the flagging fortunes of their franchises has backfired, a similar situation to what we’re now seeing at GM and Chrysler. Just look at the two new ballparks in the Bronx and Queens, payed for in large part by taxpayer money. As a result of the current economic situation, both teams are struggling to find the sponsorship and financing they need to finish off their end of the bargain. And once again the burden will fall on the shoulder of the taxpayer and the consumer because all the effected parties are “too big to fail.”
The question is, what do we do with these conclusions? Do we continue to chant the Selig mantra, sticking our heads in the sand and claiming that we did all we could do and no one would listen to us? Do we follow the new administration’s path and throw lots of money at the problem in hopes that it will break up the jam? Me, I think there’s a simpler answer. It’s time that the leader who got us into this mess admitted his culpability and fell on his own sword. Healing cannot take place until the tumor has been removed. For that reason, Bud Selig must go.
-A (with special thanks to DK)
I remember listening to NPR while driving to work one spring morning and hearing a wonderful rendition of the famous poem, Casey at the Bat. It was read by James Earl Jones and the recitation was accompanied by some orchestra. Sure enough, it was Opening Day and it felt like the perfect way to start the baseball season.
But that was a different time. That was spring of 2002 when maybe we weren’t quite as naive as we had been but we were far enough removed from the strike and still unaware of the steroid scandal. I’m afraid that if I were to tune in my radio on Opening Day this year, the poem would be quite a bit shorter and might go something like this:
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for most baseball fans that day;
Canseco had become a sage with allegations of tainted play,
And when McGwire admitted using, and knowing Bonds had done the same,
A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought with optimism that was waning as of late,
“The game might still have purity now, with A-Rod at the plate.”
But, the sneer has fled from A-Rod’s lip, the eyes are filled with tears;
He sports a shirt and sweater as his soul to us he bares.
And now Gammons forms the question, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of A-Rod’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout;
But there is no joy in baseball — mighty A-Rod has struck out.
Only this time it’s not just the Mudville nine that lose. It’s all of us.
If you are one to eschew the daily fear mongering and perpetual bad news infecting our world today, then I highly recommend you avoid reading the Chicago Tribune first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, for me, the Tribune has become that thing I love to hate. My self-inflicted aggravation is just one of the many results.
But today, I came across a titillating article by Stacy St. Clair which boasted and celebrated the harmony, the togetherness, the complete reciprocal adoration between Barack and Michelle Obama — our nation’s first couple. Reading it made me feel good.
As the day went on, news broke of Alex Rodriguez — our collective fallen hero — and his stunning confession of guilt regarding his usage of banned performance enhancing drugs in 2003. The image of Rodriguez discussing the issue with Peter Gammons flickered on my computer screen. I was overwhelmed with sadness.
My thoughts immediately went back to the Obama article and I couldn’t help but ask myself: Is anything what it seems anymore?
Alex Rodriguez put on a great front. Despite Jose Canseco’s self-righteous smear campaign and associated agenda, I never once questioned Rodriguez’s proclaimed innocence. At no time did I suspect Rodriguez to be tainted in even the slightest of ways, for A-Rod was our hero. He was the one targeted with pulling us out of the steroid era forever. He was the one endowed with replacing Bonds as the all-time homerun king. He was the one who seemed like the most talented, most gifted, most touted ballplayer I have ever witnessed play the game.
What you see is not always what you get.
John Edwards seemed like a family man.
Pete Rose seemed like the consummate all-American baseballer.
Eliot Spitzer seemed like a hard-nosed crime-stopper.
The Wizard of Oz seemed like an all-powerful wizard.
And it turns out they were all just… like… us:
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
What you see as the title to this post is what the kids are calling an
“emoticon”. This emoticon in particular represents a most nihilistic
and defeatist yawn — a yawn so stretched and bored, so laggard and
languid that it cannot be adequately expressed through the four-letter
This is what happens when I see Barry Bonds in the news again.
Are there really any more surprises left in this drawn-out saga of a tale? Were there really any surprises to begin with regarding Bonds’ overtly obvious transmutation from skinny dude with loads of talent to Markus Ruhl wannabe who happens to swing a bat?
At this point… does anyone really care?
Methenolone, nandrolone, exogenous testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, epitestosterone, shouldireallygiveahootsterone.
If only Barry would have heeded the warnings set forth by his trainer and confidant, the late great Sergei Akmudov:
Finally, we have come to the point where self-inflicted mutilation is certainly more interesting than any Bonds story to date.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews led off its December 15th
broadcast with the teaser line “Pay-Rod” next to a photo of a
disgruntled, egomaniacal Rod Blagojevich — a clear shot at the
shortcomings of Blago’s esurient character aimed to compare him to
Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez. The joke here is obvious: pay to play. But MSNBC got this baseball-politico comparison wrong and as the de facto authority on such surreptitious simile, allow me to tell you why:
demands and receives big money because he is arguably the best player
out there; simple supply-and-demand economics only follow suit.
however, does not. His record low approval rating (even prior to
Patrick Fitzgerald’s accusations) rivaled only that of our Dear Leader
Bush. His refusal to live in Springfield has long angered tax-payers
and politicians alike. His swashbuckling appropriations of state funds
caused him to be a Chicago Tribune target. And let’s face it: his
But the most appalling of all Blago character traits is his cocky swagger, his self-righteous talking points, his relentless refusal to come clean — to face the Federal music and tell the public what exactly is/has been going on.
In other words…
Rod Blagojevich is the Barry Bonds of politics.
Marion Barry is the Josh Hamilton…. and…
David Duke is the Ty Cobb… and…
If we’re going to throw out catchy baseball player references in
relation to controversial politicians, MSNBC, let’s make sure they’re
accurate, shall we?
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
You know, I could sit here and cry about how my favorite player from my childhood is on the Hall of Fame ballot but won’t make it in just like my friend Mr. Lung. And the thing is, I really could. I mean, not only did Alan Trammell play for one of the best Tigers’ teams ever back in ’84, he also has the same first name as me(!), even if he does spell it incorrectly. But, it’s just not in me.
It really all comes down to what Mark at MLBlogs had to say, “These plaques go next to those of
Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial.” As much as I loved watching Trammell at shortstop, turning those sweet double plays with Lou Whitaker and as great as his ’83 and ’84 seasons were, I can’t really say that he belongs next to those names.
Now, I’ll admit that it’s a little more difficult to say the same thing about McGwire. Even if he is a juiced up steroid junkie who probably can’t touch his hands together over his head, he was exciting to watch. More than that, McGwire rewrote the record books until Barry Bonds came along and really started flexing his PED-built muscles. And like Mr. Lung says, there are definitely some incorrigible characters in the Hall.
However, the one thing you don’t see in the Hall are cheaters. Shoeless Joe Jackson has the third highest career batting average in the majors but you won’t see his name in Cooperstown. Same goes for Pete Rose even if it is the result of something that didn’t happen on the field. If you’re going to bar these guys and their amazing records, I don’t have a problem with keeping Mr. McGwire out, too.
This whole debate is ridiculous, though. We all know that Rose should be in the Hall and, even if he was a cheat, there’s no dismissing McGwire’s ability and contribution to the game of baseball. In the end, it’s just sad that a no-talent ^ss-clown like Michael Bolton, uh, I mean Bud Selig should be able to keep people from even coming up for a vote. Let Rose on the list and then let the sportswriters decide if he merits entry. Same goes for Bonds when he becomes eligible. The Hall of Fame does not exist to serve the whims of the Commissioner. It’s there so that fans can celebrate the greatest players to ever step on a baseball diamond. That means you, Rose. You too, McGwire. And what the hell, get on in there, Bonds.