In Japan, Baseball News Travels Incredibly Slowly

The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is sooo 2004. The teams haven’t faced each other in the playoffs since that fateful ALCS with each winning a World Series since then. The main protagonists in the rivalry are all gone: Curt Schilling, Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez, Pedro Martinez, and Jorge Posada are now retired or overpaid non-factors (Hi, Alex!). Theo Epstein, Tito Francona, and Joe Torre have all moved on. The last few seasons have cemented the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays as highly-successful franchises who can knock-off either team. Yet, this is news to Bobby Valentine. Evidently, they don’t air “Baseball Tonight” in Japan: Read the rest of this entry

Angels Waste No Time In Pissing Off Albert Pujols

If baseball fans ever wanted to hate a team because of its name, the sheer stupidty of doing business as the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim” would suffice. Yet 10 years ago, it seemed this n’er do well franchise was becoming a force to be reckoned with: with one of the game’s brightest young managers, deep pockets, and a stocked farm system, the Angels seemed poised to challenge the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for American League superiority. Alas, that never happened.

The front office made a series of bizarre personnel decisions affecting the Major League roster while simultaneously failing to develop many of their prospects. Meanwhile, the young genius manager became old, obstinant, and controlling quite fast. Each off-season, fans sat around and waited for the Angels to do something stupid: trade for Vernon Wells, sign (and subsequently re-sign) Bobby Abreu, add another Southern California region to their name, etc. Despite the astute hire of Jerry Dipoto as the team’s GM, observers in 2011 weren’t disappointed when the team committed over $300M to free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. At the time of the signings, Pujols was coming off of the worst season of his career and Wilson had just finished only his second season as a full-time starting pitcher. Both players are over the age of 30, so there ain’t a lot of ceiling left. Owner Arte Moreno (seriously, dudes named “Arte” or “Artie” just can’t be trusted) predicated the signing of Pujols as not just a significant event for the team, but rather a cultural phenomenon for Hispanic baseball fans, Angels fans, and oh hell, all of Southern California in general. In other words, “I’ll market anything to make money off this.” I guess he should have checked with Pujols about that first:

But one segment of the [Pujols marketing] campaign has run afoul of the player’s wishes. The Angels have 20 billboards around Southern California with Pujols pictured in an Angels uniform alongside the Spanish words, “El Hombre.”

Pujols has asked not to be called that in deference to St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who was referred to as Stan “The Man” during most of his 22-year career.

The Angels said they did not consult Pujols or his agent before launching the campaign. It was planned shortly after the Angels signed Pujols to a 10-year, $250 million contract in December.

Big surprise. Maybe the marketing people should have done a little research — it wouldn’t have been hard since the quite-respectful Pujols has mentioned his preference not to be referred to in that way over and over and over again.

Chalk this up as just another example of how this would-be juggernaut franchise just can’t seem to get out of its own way (Sound familiar, Dodger fans?  Seriously, what’ s up with LA baseball?). Not a good omen. At least they have 10 more years to figure it out.

Mark Cuban is a funny, smart, charming, and successful NBA owner. Most NBA fans wish they had a guy like Cuban running their team. Most NBA owners appreciate the attention (and revenue) he’s driven to the league. Most MLB owners, on the other hand, wish he would just go away. And so it goes with Mark Cuban’s efforts to infiltrate the Billionaire Boys Club known as Major League Baseball.

Anytime a MLB team gets put up for sale, ”media reports” link Cubes to the deal. First, it was the Pirates. Then the Cubs. Then the Rangers. Now, the Dodgers. As Cuban told some crappy off-shoot of ESPN:

“It all comes down to price… It’s important to have more than enough money to pay players and invest in the organization.”

At this point, one might think Bud would finally take pity on the guy, right? After all, if Cuban can transform the Dallas Mavericks from basement dwellers to regular playoff contenders to world champions, surely he deserves a shot at saving one of baseball’s greatest franchises?

Well, as my aunt used to say, “Dream on Alice, it’s a long way to Wonderland.”

Cuban, for all his success, is a loose cannon. Major League Baseball, much like THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE™, is not very quick to implement change or accept being held in derision. Their ownership is anything but progressive. Cuban is the exact opposite. This scares Bud. To wit:

On Cuban possibly buying the Cubs, according to MLB sources:

“There’s no way Bud and the owners are going to let that happen, zero chance.”

When Cuban sought ownership of the Rangers, the incumbent administration (read: MLB-backed bid) repeatedly lobbied to throw out Cuban’s bid, going as far to suggest if Cuban’s group won the auction for the team, there was only a “50-50 chance” MLB would approve the deal; thereby sending the asset back to bankruptcy court (and royally pissing off the team’s creditors). According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, there would have been “significant opposition” to Cuban controlling the franchise.

Throughout these trials and tribulations, Cuban has said all the right things. He’s professed a willingness to step aside and allow baseball people to run the show. He’s intimated he’d be willing to spend the money necessary to field a competitive team.  As someone who cares about the “sanctity” of the game as much as anyone, I think he’d be an excellent addition — his commitment to winning and innovation would be more than welcome in a sport that is still afraid of instant replay.

Unfortunately, from field to front office, baseball is a game that moves incredibly slow, even more so when there’s money involved (which makes even more sense to bring in Cuban, a self-made billionaire). Allowing Cuban to own one of baseball’s crown jewels is a long shot at best, even at any price.


So yesterday, good friend and fellow Deuce of Davenporter Turd Ferguson posted this. And while I respect his opinion on many, many sports-related matters, I have to take him to task on what he wrote about my beloved Major League Baseball. If his article appeared on any other respected website, I’d do the same. So Turd, no hard feelings. Read the rest of this entry

I rarely write about baseball, mostly because it’s just not that appealing to me. If the ratings are to be believed then I far from alone. I can pretty much predict all the teams that will be in it every season. Oh, sure, some “smaller market” clubs can break through here and there, like the Detroit Tigers, or the Tampa Bay Rays (or the Milwaukee Brewers), but we all know that the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, and Braves are almost assured to be in it and that they get the dominant coverage.

It doesn’t even matter that there have been five different clubs that have won the World Series the last five years; including a “small market” St. Louis Cardinals team. It was pretty lame for me to watch Indians Pitcher Cliff Lee face off against former Indians pitcher CC Sabathia in Game 1 of the 2009 World Series but that’s not the worst for me, either. It sucks that every August, just as the division races heat up, wealthier teams swarm like vultures and just scoop up players from other teams that either a) can’t afford to resign them or b) aren’t playing for anything. That’s bad, but not the worst, either. That’s not what I hate the most about baseball. No, the worst in when one of those clubs DOESN’T make it; because then we have to hear about all the time.

Case-in-point; the Red Sox absolutely collapsed down the stretch to piss away the AL East division crown and slip out of the playoffs. No big deal, right? The Cleveland Indians were in first place at the all-star break, and shit the bed as well, it happens. But, this is the Red Sox, why how will WE EVER BE ABLE TO WATCH THE POSTSEASON WITHOUT THEM!? ESPN has been running constant coverage of the Red Sox; interviews with David Ortiz; “analysis” from fake bleeder Curt Schilling; and grainy footage of Terry Francona in dad jeans leaving the Red Sox podium. I have heard more about the “lack of chemistry” and “too much partying” in the Red Sox clubhouse then I have heard about the entire rest of the postseason. Baseball players party ALL THE TIME. It’s not like baseball is a grueling sport to play. But because the Red Sox cleaned out their lockers last week we MUST HAVE ANSWERS!

That’s wrong; that’s part of why baseball is awful.

Do you think the NFL yammers away when the Cowboys miss the postseason AGAIN? No, they move on; because they rightfully recognize that the to sustain interest in the sport you have to look for more compelling stories then just the same stuff with the same teams. In 2007, Alex Rodriguez opted out of his $252 million contract with the New York Yankees just before Game 4 of the World Series. It pissed off a lot of people because it took away interest from the game. Not ESPN; they ran 24/7 coverage and moved the two teams playing in the World Series to the back of the bus. More Yankees stories, YES PLEASE? (claps like a seal)

It illustrates the other thing I hate about baseball. ESPN is a huge part of the problem. They spent years building up the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry to some obnoxious crescendo. It helped that they had willing participants; why, who could forget Pedro Martinez, who grew up in the Dominican, and started his career with the Expos, throwing down former Red Sox bench coach Don Zimmer, who looked curiously like Don Rickles. Or the footage of A-Fraud Alex Rodriguez and Jason Veritek sissy-fighting was played thousands of times. In the process of building up this phony rivalry, they managed to make the game stale. How much breath and footage can be wasted on this? ESPN plans to find out.

Look, I don’t give a shit that Theo Epstein is going to go try to fix the Chicago Cubs, another team that doesn’t do shit every season but we have to hear about it because Michael Wilbon likes to remind people that he once lived in the midwest more than 30 years ago. GMs move teams all the time. I don’t even care that Terry Francona is being made the scapegoat for the collapse of his team; doesn’t that happen with EVERY coach that gets the door? I just know that everytime one of the “evil empire” teams misses the postseason ESPN runs about a thousand stories; and an angel gets it’s wings. I also know that many more people would rather watch pre-game coverage of an early season NFL game when airing opposed to October baseball.