Wake me when it’s time for pitchers and
catchers to report.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote an interesting article about beanings today, and it made me think of how baseball has taken the game away from the players and moved it into the hands of executives and umpires. For example, Brewers GM Doug Melvin – who was understandably irked by the beaning of Brewers CF Carlos Gomez in the head – proposed that the MLBPA levy a $25,000 fine on pitchers who bean any hitter in the head. That’s well and good, but it brings up a larger point: the players have had their own safety taken out of their hands in recent years by the commissioner’s office and the umpires.
Once again, it’s the third most interesting time of baseball season (after Opening Day and the playoffs, of course). Trade deadline a’ coming! Already, Ruben Amaro has proven his ineptness, Jim Hendry hasn’t done anything remarkably stupid (yet), and Ken Williams of the White Sox has a tranq dart loaded and ready for Adam Dunn. But enough of that, let’s get to business.
A week or so after the ASG – time for NL second half predictions.
News broke today that Piniella will retire at season’s end. Lou’s logic was typical Lou – “I’ve been in the game since 1962. I want to go home” (I’m paraphrasing). Now the hunt begins for a new manager, and the Tribune already has some very interesting names up.
The Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Phillies, and intimated their intentions for the second half with a stellar series. However, the series also told us what a long road it is to contention. The Cubs dominated Philly, and – Marmol meltdown aside – should have swept a four-game series against a really good team (and defending NL champs). Still, any Cubs fan would have taken 3 out of 4 coming into the series as a great sign. Yet – just to point out how hard it is to advance in the standings in baseball – the Cubs left Bastille Day 9.5 back, took 3 of 4 from the defending league champs, and as of 19 July are still 9.5 back. For baseball novices, that’s why you don’t want to be behind two teams in the standings. Generally speaking, on any given day, it’s irrational to expect the Cardinals AND Reds to lose simultaneously given their performance to date this year. As per usual under La Russa, the Cards swept a good Dodgers team to begin the second half. The Reds took 2 of 3 from a good Rockies squad, yet still fell out of first place – a big psychological blow, as the Reds were shut out for the 11th time – most in the majors. So the Cubbies have some work to do, and taking 3 of 4 from the Phillies is a great start.
One of the best things about baseball is the fact that over 162 games, the best teams will advance to the postseason. One of the worst things about baseball is that a team that wins 97 games gets no advantage over an 85-win wild card team in a short series, generally speaking. But I digress.
I’m not an AL fan generally. I think the DH is an abomination in regular-season play, a position where aging hitters go to die. I’ll spare you the rest of my opinions on that. But as a general rule, I don’t see many AL games. That being said, from what I have seen, here are my choices for the most-deserving AL All-Stars for 2010.
Finally, ‘Z’ reached the end of his line with me. I’ve stood by the guy ever since he came up. He has electric stuff and I used to love his penchant for getting legitimately angry very time an opponent had the gall to get on base against him. Today, however, was despicable. If you haven’t seen the replay, or didn’t watch the game, today Juan Pierre gets a hit down the right field line, on a play where Derrek Lee was understandably pinched in to combat Pierre’s good bunting ability. The ball shoots past Lee – and this precise play is what has made Pierre a good MLB player for a decade or so – and Pierre winds up with a double. After the inning, after Z implodes and gives up 4 runs, Z screams at Lee and the two have to be separated. First off, as a former athlete, I understand you have those moments where things don’t go your way and you want to play all 9 positions at once, when your teammates can’t seem to make one play behind you. This wasn’t one of those moments. Lee was doing what every other MLB team does when Pierre is up with no one on base. Second, I’m tired of this **** from Z, time and time again. It’s old. It’s immature. For the past seven years or so we’ve heard the same old song and dance about a new and improved Zambrano. Only to have this same nonsense come up again and again. I understand the frustration when you’re playing like crap in a crap division, and you lose to teams consistently that have no business beating you. Unfortunately, that has been the Cubs’ calling card for the past two years. But I’m just fed-up with this ‘woe-is-me, I’m-Nolan-Ryan-and-I-can-do-what-I-want nonsense. ‘Z’ has proven, in his career, to be a decent, middle-of-the-road MLB pitcher. No more, no less. That’s the truth he has to come to grips with. Until he proves otherwise. Maybe he’ll harness these mindf***s he has one day, but honestly, I’m sick and tired of waiting for it. He’s been around long enough. He’s had every chance possible. Now is the time to do something.
The All-Star voting has begun, so I thought I’d chime in with my early roster for ‘most deserving’ NL All-Stars.