Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Ozzies , less Harriettes

More Ozzies , less Harriettes

                   Derek Jeter is such a great guy, isn't he?I mean , just listening to him speak you can tell he is a decent, honorable man who always knows what to say when...I'm sorry , I fell asleep for a second there.Of COURSE Jeter's a great player and by most accounts, a good person , but MAN is he boring...I mean , so was Joe Dimaggio , and he was no slouch( however, he slept with Marylyn Monroe, which made him slightly more interesting) , but the problem these days is that there are way too many people in baseball who act like Derek Jeter. Meaning, they are bland. When I  hear most of these players and managers give an interview,  it's like listening to a robot... their responses are straight out of that scene in "Bull Durham" where Kevin Costner is telling Tim Robbins how to give an interview: "Give 110%", "We came to play" etc.Where are the Bill Lees? The Reggie Jacksons? The Mad Hungarians?...hell , I'd even settle for the early 90's John Kruk(who was hilarious as a player , but somehow forgot how to be funny as an analyst).Thank God for Ozzie Guillen.

        Yeah, I know he said those stupid remarks about Castro a while back, but baseball needs him now more than ever. He rarely thinks out what he's going to say, and that's refreshing in these days of Jack Webb impersonating , straight laced , "aww shucks"  baseball  "personalities".Ozzie's a throwback to the 70's, when players and managers didn't care what you thought , and would say what came to their mind. In 1976, when asked the question about whether or not The Yankees were really like the Bronx Zoo, Oscar Gamble replied , "They don't think it be like it is , but it do"...earlier in the decade, when asked if he smoked pot or not , Bill Lee was quoted as saying ,"No, I sprinkle it on my pancakes" could go back to the 30's(Dizzy Dean),50's(Yogi Berra)to get great quotes as well, but the 70's also had crazy people like Al Hrabosky , AKA "The Mad Hungarian", with his intimidating fu manchu and wild mound antics( he would turn his back to the batter, stew for a few seconds, then pound his glove and have the most psychotic look on his face).The closest thing we have to that today is The San Fransisco Giant's Brian Wilson, with his fake beard and even faker confidence(which is funny), but alas, he is out for the rest of 2012.

              Ozzie's managing the Miami Marlins now , which may bring his exposure down a bit. His years as the Chicago White Sox manager put his insane rantings in a large market town.(If he managed The Cubs , it would have been even  more out of control , as they  have a bigger following).Some of his rants are now legendary.His opinion of  the right field bleachers at Wrigley Field: "You're going to take batting practice and the rats look bigger than a pig out there...I think the rats over there are lifting weights"...On getting fired :"I'm not a quitter.When I want to quit , I'll do a lot of stupid things to make sure they fire me and get paid"... He's a quote machine...I can only imagine if they had Twitter back in Earl Weaver's day...that would be F bomb city.But of course, that's the problem, too much exposure.Everyone is in everyone's business, and are all too afraid of looking silly.Manny Ramirez never was afraid to look the fool, but he's pretty much gone now too.(well, he was always pretty much "gone" anyways).

            Now if we're just going to concentrate on manager's personalities ,there's a few that stand out: Bobby V from the Red Sox is quite a character, although they're ready to kill him in Boston because of their awful start.(maybe he should put on that disguise again).Jim Leyland from The Detroit Tigers is sufficiently crusty and old school.Charlie Manuel from the Phillies can be counted on for an entertaining ejection now and then.Joe Maddon from the Rays is pretty eccentric , I guess...There are a few more who veer from the norm from time to time , but the fact that I can't name a lot of them off the top of my head says something. I mean , not everyone has to be a screaming lunatic like Billy Martin or Earl Weaver , or throw out Yoda-isms like Jimy Williams , but a few more non-conformists wouldn't hurt.For now , we still have Ozzie , whose Marlins , as we speak ,  are in last place in the N.L. East., which might be a good thing for us(and a great thing for Nationals/Braves/Phillies and Mets fans), because an irritated Ozzie is an entertaining Ozzie, and after all , baseball is supposed to be entertainment.The ghost of Bill Veeck would agree with me.  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Most Valuable Player?

Most Valuable Player?

             I'd like to start off today with a couple of trivia questions.First, who is the only player to win an MVP award and never be selected to the All-Star game?Second, who was the last player to win an MVP award while being part of a championship team?The answer to both:Kirk Gibson.His 1988 MVP season, which I'm convinced was given to him because of that one World series home run(even though the powers that be always claim the decision is always made at the end of the regular season),was unspectacular, to say the least.I mean 25 homers,76 RBI's and a 2.90 average aren't exactly world beating numbers(although he did somehow score 106 runs and steal 31 bases),and most people will say Daryl Strawberry and his 39 homers deserved the award.I myself think Gibson's team mate Orel Hershiser should have won it, although, as always, there are people who vote on these things who believe a CY Young award is the only thing a pitcher should win(Making Justin Verlander's 2011 season even more remarkable).

               So let's examine why it is that a championship team never has it's league's MVP on it anymore.One reason, I believe, is that too many teams can make it into the playoffs(and hold on to your horses, people,this postseason will have even MORE Wildcard's getting closer and closer to the NBA, for Chrissakes...),another reason is that everyone is realizing that pitching wins championships, although the last CY Young Award winner to lead his team to the top was Randy Johnson in 2001.Another area is the TEAM concept, as in getting players that compliment each other.Also, when there's a number of good players on one team, sometimes they can cancel each other out in the voting(Hellllooo Albert Belle),and someone from a lesser team gets in(Helllooo Mo Vaughn...I figured I'd stick with the same year,1995).

        It may be starting to turn around, though.In 2010,Josh Hamilton won the award for the pennant-winning Texas Rangers, a feat not accomplished since the Giant's Barry Bonds in 2002(Big difference, was getting off drugs(Hamilton) and one was most likely on them(Bonds, well,PEDs, anyway...).This year, so far,The Rangers look unbeatable, at least in the AL.In the NL, the Dodgers look to finally have their shit together(and Matt Kemp looks MVP bound),which would be a weird way to have it come back, another Dodger.Of course, this is all speculation, and it almost never works out the way the way you think it would. Like last year, for instance ,who thought ANYONE could beat that Phillies pitching staff?Who thought the Cardinals would win it all?Who thought my Red Sox would super-choke it down the stretch,making the 2007 Mets collapse look quaint by comparison?Maybe there's a baseball psychic out there, who knows...

                      There are 5 teams to never have had an MVP.All 5 are expansion teams(dating back to '62)Mets,Nationals(Formerly The Expos)Marlins,Diamondbacks,and Rays(the only AL team).Out of those 5, 3 have had CY young winners (Mets , Expos and Diamondbacks)and the only one to have never won a pennant among them are the Nationals/Expos(The Mariners,also an expansion era team,are the only other team never to have won a pennant).What does this all mean.Probably nothing.The Marlins have never won a division, yet have two World Championships, while the Expos had the best record in baseball in 1994, only to have to strike kill it.As of this writing,The Nationals are having a good year.Whether they're good enough to break the 43 year old curse, only time will tell.I tend to think no, but I also was planning a Tigers/Brewers World Series last year.Would have made Prince Fielder's move to the Tigers this year even more awkward.

          I truly believe though ,that the MVP of last season's World series was the mute button...  not hearing Joe Buck and Tim McCarver pretentiously over analyse the games made them more enjoyable..The MVP for the NFL's Pro bowl was whoever decided to cancel that borefest...The MVP for the hockey playoffs(all of them)will most likely, not be from this country... The NBA's season MVP will be...sorry,I know too many people from Cleveland to speak his ,lets see if this year breaks the MVP curse in baseball, because the only other curse left ain't doing it this year(Sorry,Theo)...                  


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ummm...The San Jos-A's

Ummm...The San Jos-A's?

                Connie Mack, when are you coming back?If the former manager/owner of the Philadelphia A's were alive today, I don't know what he would make of this.His Athletics moving to their FOURTH city...supposedly ,anyway...rumor has it that San Jose is the front runner to land the team, although other bids have come from Sacramento and Freemont(Freemont?Really?),leaving their fans in Oakland in a sort of New Jersey Nets kind of limbo.Too bad, they have kind of an interesting(if very young)team.The Cuban defector alone is worth the price of admission.As of right now, the A's are ,I believe, the only team left still playing their home games in what is unofficially a football stadium(Oakland Coliseum),so maybe a baseball-only park would help, but I'm not sure that's happening.The only ones who are happy with the pending move are the owners of the San Fransisco Giants, who would have the area's fan base all to themselves(Oh, and San Jose).Question is:How did it get to this point...

                     Well, starting in 1901, the Philadelphia A's were one of the original 16 teams in the newly formed AL/NL format.About a decade in, Connie Mack's team had the first of it's 2 mini dynasties, with players like Rube Wadell,"Home Run" Baker,Eddie Collins and so on.(Their infield was called the "Million Dollar infield", a price that today wouldn't even land you a back-up shortstop)After that team won a few pennants and titles, he sold his players off and spent the next bunch of years in the second division(A tactic future A's owners would follow,unfortunately), only to re-emerge in the late 20's with an even scarier team ,consisting of more hall of famers like Jimmie Foxx,Micky Cochrane,Al Simmons and Lefty Grove, who again would win a few more pennants and titles.After this team was dismantled however, they wouldn't see a pennant for a long, long time.

After years of little success, the team moved to Kansas city in 1955.These teams were fairly unsuccessful and mainly nondescript.In fact, the only thing that comes to mind about The KC A's is that the Yankees got Roger Maris from them(and had sent Billy Martin to them earlier).In 1960,Charles O.Finley bought the team, and would eventually move them to Oakland, but not before he convinced Brian Epstein, manager of the Beatles, to have the fab four play in his park in KC.(In the book,"Beatles, a Hard days night",there's a part where Finley is discussing money with the Beatles manager, while in the back round John Lennon is saying "You paid too much for us, Chuck"....would have loved to be a fly on the wall there)...

                 Finally, in 1968, the team moved to it's current location(for now) in Oakland.The seeds of the franchise's third dynasty were already there:Catfish Hunter,Reggie Jackson,Rollie Fingers,Vida Blue etc.,a team who would win 3 straight Championships from 72-74(and would have won more, if not for free agency), then spent the late 70's as maybe the worst team in baseball, no offense to Dave Chalk and Mitchell Paige... Local boy Ricky Henderson came up in 1979, and along with crazy ass Billy Martin ,would make the team exciting for a bit(especially if you like stolen bases).But "Billy ball"(a fancy way of saying "Burn your pitchers out")wouldn't last long, and they would again sink to the bottom, only to emerge when the steroid twins showed up, along with recovering alcoholic and future hall of famer Dennis Eckersly(Not making fun, I love Eck, and he showed a lot of bravery to recover),Dave Stewart,Carney Lansford and such...again,3 straight pennants from 1988-1990...although ,it must be said that the 2 teams that beat them,the Dodgers and the Reds, were 2 of the WORST teams ever to win a World Series...only one Hall of famer on either team(Barry Larkin)...that team faded as forward to a decade later...

 1974 World Series,Game Two
                    The early 2000's brought on Billy Beane and his Moneyball(haven't read the book or seen the movie, but I get the gist),and while it's a great story, it did kind of lead to what is happening now, as in, the impending move.Number crunching may be a great way to deal with a limited payroll, but I'm not sure it gets the asses in the seats.As it is,the A's are still,Championship-wise, the third most successful team in baseball. with 9, trailing only the Yankees and Cardinals, so the franchise will continue,and if it's in San Jose, so be it...hey, the city has supported a hockey team, after all(I could go a rant about warm weather cities with hockey teams, but I'll spare you ...), so it may not be as bad as I'm making's just,I like baseball,at least, so all this moving around gets a little unsettling.I've been to both Oakland and San Jose, and liked them both, so in conclusion I'd just like to say...Freemont?Really?...