As Jeff pointed out yesterday, the signing of Matt Holliday does not mean that the Cardinals have lost sight of Pujols and his impending contract year. If anything, it shows that they are clearing the air and setting up a supporting cast so they can make sure he stays put. However, I’d like to see something else happen.
See, at this moment in time the Tigers are also clearing out contracts. Granderson and Polanco are gone and despite the money they have tied up in some pretty mediocre pitching, the Tigers will have some wiggle room in 2011.
How perfect would it be if on the five year anniversary of the Cardinals beating the Tigers in the World Series, the Tigers could return the favor in pulling off the coup of the (admittedly brand new) decade by landing Pujols?
Now, I’m not saying it’s probable. I’m not even really saying it’s possible. I just think the idea of Pujols with an old English “D” on his chest is magical. And the thought of Jeff’s lurid fantasies about Albert also involving a navy blue hat with a big white “D” on it makes me smile.
I had the opportunity today to read through President Obama’s address at the Nobel ceremony. Imagining the words being spoken in his particularly cool baritone, I enjoyed the ebb and flow of the sentences as they entwined themselves together, growing into ever larger and more noble thoughts. And then I stopped cold. It hit me square between the eyes. Barack Obama is to politics what the New York Yankees are to baseball.
See, with the Yankees it’s not so much that they spend billions of dollars to buy the best players. It’s that they take the best players away from rival teams so they can’t be hurt by them. CC Sabathia has their number as a member of the Indians staff. So, give him a year in the NL and then snap him up. Problem solved. Curtis Granderson was part of the Tigers squad that knocked the Yankees out in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. Bring him on board, stick him in center field and he won’t be knocking you out again. The list goes on and on, all the way back to Babe Ruth himself.
So how is this like the President? Simple. Look at the speech. At a time when Republicans sense blood in the water and start to churn in anticipation of the kill, he co-opts one of their key arguments and makes it his own. How bold was this move? Well, consider that this was the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize and then consider that he said this:
To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism
— it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the
limits of reason.
That’s more than bold. That’s straight up brass cojones.
Don’t take this argument the wrong way. I still have no love for the Yankees. But I can appreciate them for the same reason I can appreciate the President. Because they’re stone-cold killers. And that’s saying something when you’ve just accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.
Pop quiz. What do Smokey Robinson, Curtis Granderson and The Jackson Five have in common? If you guessed that they all got their start with Motown, you’d be right. But if you guessed that they all got out of Motown as soon as possible, you’d also be right. I mentioned the other day that life had gotten a little bit more sucky when Pla-Po left for Philadelphia. Well, it’s going to get a lot more sucky when Granderson leaves for the Yankees. Thelma Houston had it right when she sang “Don’t leave me this way.”
There is an upside, though, even if it’s just my imagination. As much as I like Granderson and enjoyed watching him play, he sure struck out a lot and seemed to do it at inopportune moments. Not only that but they say this Austin Jackson fellow can play some ball so maybe it will turn out to be a good thing. But even if this is all true, as another Motown discovery put it, ‘It’s so hard to say good-bye to yesterday.”
The thing is, and this may come as a surprise to some of you, but I don’t have a whole lot of control over what happens in the Tigers’ front office. You’d think that Dombrowski would be monitoring this blog to see what I think but it just doesn’t work that way. Apparently he makes his decisions completely independently of me. And even though he may know what he’s doing, he has definitely left myself and other Tigers fans channeling Marvin Gaye when we ask “What’s going on?” I’m pretty sure I’ll be asking that question again the first time I see Granderson in pinstripes.
The birdsongs and pollen currently filling the air in our nation’s capitol have led to the unleashing of a slightly more nefarious force as well. That’s right, as spring slowly turns into summer Dick Cheney has emerged from his sarcophagus (conveniently designed to look like a man-sized safe) and taken to the airwaves. His reason? Newly minted President Obama is making the US less safe.
Now, I love Dick, Cheney that is, as much as the next guy but this is a little out of control. Guy won’t talk to anyone for 8 years, even goes so far as to have his residence removed from Google maps, but now he’s showing up on every news program between here and Utah. What gives?
Listening to Cheney’s arguments is like a less funny version of this:
But, on the bright side, he gets it about as right as the Cleveland announcer on Friday night who called Sizemore’s shot gone. Oops.
Obviously this week’s headlines have been dominated by the Manny Ramirez saga. It now appears that his people are trying to persuade the public that his positive test was rooted in medication he was taking for “personal health issues” (translation: erectile dysfunction), even though science tells us HCG is a drug predominantly used by men coming off steroid cycles. My question to you is this: if a man makes $25 million a year, what difference does it make if the plumbing works or not?
Only a few things in life are more emasculating than needing “performance enhancing drugs” in the bedroom. For instance, wearing a pinky ring and owning a Microsoft Zune. Seriously man, all you need is a Zima in your other hand and you’d have the trifecta. Getting back to the point, though, if Manny is telling the truth and he was prescribed HCG for that reason, it makes sense that he would have tried to keep it on the DL. I mean, if you’re watching baseball one day and decide that Cialis is right for you, you probably aren’t going to keep that bottle of prescription pills in the medicine cabinet next to the Benadryl and Preparation H.
The problem with this new Manny saga is that it’s hard to know what he is thinking. Or if he is thinking. The man is an enigma, a mystery wrapped in a riddle. Could he be telling the truth? Of course. Could he have been knowingly juicing and covering it up? Of course. It’s not like A-Rod where momentary disbelief gave way to “Yeah, he’s kind of a d!ck and that doesn’t really surprise me.”
But, to go back to your original question, does an immodest amount of money make up for impotence, I think the answer is pretty clear when you consider that the treatment of ED has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Clearly there’s a need, manufactured or not, and clearly corporations are doing all they can to market to that need. When Mike Ditka schills for you on national television, you have obviously filled a very specific niche.
However, I think the more important question is, what does this new revelation do to the game of baseball? And at this point, I think it’s difficult to know. For me, it doesn’t really have much of an affect. Manny’s enigmatic personality allows me to put off making hard decisions like that. Obviously he shouldn’t have been taking a banned substance but, like he said, he’s also passed 15 drug tests over the past few years. Is it really possible that every single one of them could have missed something this big?
Baseball has been suffering since the A-Rod story broke. And Manny’s suspension and positive drug test are not going to help. But there are also so many positive story lines in baseball and so much to enjoy that I find it hard to concentrate on the negatives. I mean, I know you saw Verlander’s 2-hit gem and Granderson’s catch the other night. That’s what baseball is all about. And if Manny has to sit 50 games in order for us to refocus on that, well, that’s life. Hopefully that’s enough time for him to go see a real doctor and get some Viagra.
A loaded topic like this can really only take us in one direction: The weirdness that is the World Baseball Classic. Pedroia and Jeter trotting off the field together after a put-out at second base? That just doesn’t look right. Wright and Rollins manning the left side of the infield? Did I miss something?
Now, I realize that this weirdness can also happen during the All-Star Game but that’s a once a year freak-fest where the players wear odd uniforms and the outcome has taken on a disproportionate level of importance.
This is the World Baseball Classic, the World Cup of Baseball. I want drama. I want to watch MLB teammates like Curtis Granderson and Magglio Ordonez whip themselves up into a nationalistic fervor so intense that they come to blows and then both demand trades. I want Jeter to talk about the toxic environment created by the presence of Red Sox players and former Yankees. I want David Wright and Jimmy Rollins to use this forum as an excuse to decide the NL East crown in the most logical fashion possible, pistols at dawn on the pitcher’s mound.
But no. Instead we get stories like this, where injured players are sticking around and other players are happy to sit the bench or take limited playing time just for the honor of being part of this team. Where’s a T.O. or a Latrell Sprewell when you really need them? Can we really allow this love fest to continue unabated?
However, there is still hope for the Scrooges among us. So far the US team has made congeniality easy by eking out a win over Canada and then pounding Venezeula. But what happens when they are faced with real challenges by way of Puerto Rico or Japan? Only then will we see what these players are really made of and what happens when vexing developments explode inside cramped locker-room havens.
But until that time I’m going to swallow my bile and cheer like a pre-pubescent girl at an early 90’s New Kids on the Block concert as the announcers rattle off the Pedroia to Jeter to Youkilis inning ending double-play. USA! USA! USA!
After barely surviving the sucker punch that was 2008, 2009 appears to be treating the Michigan diaspora a little better. For instance, this past week we learned that Curtis Granderson will be representing the USA in the World Baseball Classic. Now, I’m not saying that Granderson is the best center fielder out there but he has developed into a talent to be watched over the past couple seasons and it’s nice to see him get a little more recognition for that. It was also nice to see the Red Wings take down the red-hot Blackhawks on the ice at Wrigley Field on New Year’s Day.
However, there was another red-hot piece of news that truly warmed my heart as an American and current denizen of our nation’s capitol. Although it was never really in doubt, President-elect Obama reconfirmed yesterday that that we truly share the same values. Now, I’ve mentioned the DC institution and National’s ballpark mainstay, Ben’s Chili Bowl, before but it bears repeating that this place is beyond amazing. And when I watched footage yesterday of Mr. Obama’s visit to Ben’s, I realized that here this man is in touch with the nation’s stomach in a way we haven’t seen since Clinton’s first term. I mean, here is a guy who appreciates the chili-cheese half-smoke and unabashedly supports a single baseball team. Could anything be more American?
Now, I know that the months ahead are going to be difficult for Obama and his team. In fact, one might even compare it to the torment that is the line at Ben’s around 2 in the morning on a weekend. But, if the past week is any indication, maybe we are seeing change we can believe in. I just hope that CG and the Tigers offer me a little of the same.