There’s no other way to slice it. This has been a boring offseason, hence my relatively long absence from this space. Not much has occurred since the 2018 season ended a few months back and pretty much everything that has occurred hasn’t required too much opinion or analysis from anyone.
But that does lend itself to really looking forward to opening day (soon) and spring training games (very soon). So with that, in mind, let’s do a quick review of what’s been going on this winter, as scant as the interesting topics may be. In no particular order, in case you haven’t been around…
The owners are colluding. Again.
Young players in their prime, who are virtual locks for the Hall of Fame are still unemployed. There is some sentiment that perhaps the owners collectively all got smart at the same time. That perhaps they all started listening to the smart kids in their front offices instead of getting advice from the angry old men who used to play a long time ago. Maybe they learned their lesson from the Jacoby Ellsburys, Chris Davises and Albert Pujols of the world.
That sentiment would be wrong. Read “The Game”. Read “Lords of the Realm”. Read “The Giants of the Polo Grounds”. Read “Field of Schemes.” If the last 150 years or so of baseball history have taught us anything, it’s taught us that a) players always have and always will cheat, bend the rules, insert whatever term you like, and b) owners have never all collectively gotten smart, ever. Not once.
The reason about half the league has already shown they aren’t even going to try this season, and the reason Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Craig Kimbrel, and Marwin Gonzalez are unemployed is that owners don’t like spending money and they’re holding the line together to be sure they don’t. Period.
Owners, LOL, part 2:
It was recently reported that the Yankees made an offer to Machado in the neighborhood of $220 million for 7 or 8 years (first reported by the Score, I believe). And many writers and fans, too many to list and cite, chimed in with the position that if Machado turned that down, then Yankee fans couldn’t complain. The logic being they made him a fair offer, one in “the middle” of offers according to 12up.com, and that it was his choice to go elsewhere. What could the richest team in baseball do then except turn its palms upwards and shrug?
Cough, bullshit, cough…
This reeks of 2013. Make Robinson Cano a low ball offer that you know he won’t take. When he walks, say to your fans, “Well, we tried…” Bullshit. Other teams try to be in the “middle”, the Yankees (should) get who they want and ignore those they don’t. I’m was as big of a George Steinbrenner critic as anyone, but I’m thinking he’s rolling over today and rightfully so. This spend money on role players, ignore future Hall of Famers in their prime, let’s fight for 2nd place with Tampa approach is unseemly for an organization with the Yankees’ history and resources.
All the while, little Hal lectured us on how we don’t understand his “costs” and “expenses” and we should consider those things before criticizing.
Yes, Hal, I have considered that and I’ve reached the conclusion that you’re a condescending dullard.
Hall of Fame
Speaking of the Hall of Fame, baseball rebounded a little with the election of Mariano Rivera along with Edgar Martinez and Mike Mussina. Edgar’s and Moose’s election was long overdue and will help reduce the pungent scent of Harold Baines getting enshrined with them.
Looks like the Designated Hitter is coming to the National League in a few years. This has been covered to death here and other places, so just a quick review: A) There is nothing fun about watching a pitcher give away an at-bat. B) We know the pitcher is going to bunt FAR more often than not – that is not strategy. C) Anyone with an IQ over 65 can figure out and implement a double switch. Stop acting like it’s complicated. D) When deciding when to take a pitcher out or leave him in the decision is an obvious one most of the time. It’s actually a more difficult decision in the American League where the pitcher doesn’t bat, so you actually have to think about when to remove him. Again, this is not a high-level strategy session. E) Kickers don’t get behind the center and send the QB to the bench every 9th play in football, Tiger Woods doesn’t let his caddie take every 9th shot, and nobody pulls their queen off the board and plays with a pawn every 9th move in chess. Everywhere else, that would rightfully be described as silly. But in baseball, “strategy”. Good riddance to watching David Price and Clayton Kershaw bunt in the World Series while Jackie Bradley Jr. and Matt Kemp sit on the bench.
Check the Mets!
It flew under the radar, but the Mets’ hiring of Russel Carelton is a fantastic move. Russel is extremely knowledgeable about the game and is going to help the not so Amazins big time.
In football, you can get busted and suspended for using PEDs, return and succeed at the sport’s highest level and at sports’ biggest event and you’ll be celebrated. You’ll be presented with a trophy on television and put on a pedestal (literally) for all to admire.
In baseball, you can be one of the best players to ever play – maybe the best – do something that the majority of other players did in your era to perform well (PEDs), and you’ll be shunned. No hall of fame for you.
My only wish is that the baseball industry just…stops…shitting on itself. Stop complaining about the game. Stop complaining about the habits of great players of the past. Celebrate the game, celebrate its history.
It’s not that hard. The NFL is doing just fine.