Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Mitchell Report will be an Oedipus-complexing fraud…

It figures, it just bloody well figures. Initially I was going to write a happy little post about the Twins-Devil Rays blockbuster. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are starting to scare me. They are sick with young high-ceiling talent and now they’re starting to accumulate some pitching. However, I’ll let my old THT cohort do the heavy lifting on this subject. Aaron Gleeman does a nice job dissecting the deal. Be sure to wander over and check it out.

While I’m going linking stuff I’d like to point you to Maury Brown’s Biz of Baseball where he tipped me off about what is to come. Expect it before Christmas--probably some time in the next three weeks. Maury’s article is the pragmatically named Could MLB Get a Pass on the Mitchell Report? and he sums it up best here:

Based on reports, the Mitchell investigation will offer up a forward looking set of recommendations, and not address how the PED culture in baseball was allowed to permeate. In other words, baseball may be given a free pass for matters in the past and present, with only the named players as ones being held accountable.

If this is indeed the case, then many, this author included, will be ready to paint the entire report as a sham.


Here’s the thing: anabolic steroids were very good for the business of baseball. Fans flocked to the ballpark to watch epic home run hitting, they bought cable and internet packages etc. It also allowed star attractions to recover more quickly from injury for a time. Bud Selig and baseball management in general looked the other way.

Like any employer, they want maximum production out of their workforce and PED gave them precisely that. In other industries, employee safety is often compromised because creating a safe environment costs money. It is much more profitable to ignore the well-being of their workers. Therefore, management could not care less if players were ruining their health. If it meant health problems down the road for these athletes--who cares? They won’t be producing revenue at that point anyway.

After AP writer Steve Wilstein received a major backlash for reporting Mark McGwire’s androstenedione usage the media did likewise and simply pretended steroid/hGH abuse wasn't there. Besides, why ruin the exciting story of milestones falling just to report the truth?

The MLBPA was not about to allow testing because publicly they were concerned about players right of privacy. On the other hand, they privately wished to protect the salary bar at all costs even if most players wanted an even playing field.

Players with eye-popping numbers received equally eye-popping deals. Those contracts pushed the salary bar up, up and up to new, never before seen heights!

It didn’t matter that their constituents did not wish to feel obligated to put such substances into their body just to get or retain a big league job. While management eagerly sacrificed player health for money, the union did likewise--to protect their cherished salary bar. In a mind-boggling bit of devotion to monster contracts, a poll conducted by USA Today revealed that 17% of the players were against independent steroid testing, while 79% were in favor while 44% stated that they felt pressure to juice to keep their jobs.

Well, that’s interesting; it would be the perfect time to touch base with their constituents to see how strong the feeling was--right? Wrong, shortly thereafter, MLBPA executive director Don Fehr told the senate not to consider unsubstantiated newspaper reports as fact.

Ultimately, it took congressional pressure to get both sides to act upon the problem.

It appears Mitchell will ignore all this; he will simply make some recommendations to ensure this never happens again. As a bonus, he’ll out some players who will bear the brunt of the public’s wrath and probably take a financial hit with their next either contract or loss of endorsements.

Bottom line? It took years of research and millions of dollar to find a few scapegoats for baseball’s steroid era. It almost sounds like something a politician would do--doesn’t it?

What a minute…

Best Regards


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Mike Gill Show...

I thought it would be fun to inflict on you poor folks my preparation for my weekly appearance on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show (no, I don't think you've suffered enough). I just got the topics for discussion. Today, they are:

  • Johan Santana ... will he be traded to (1) the Yankees or (2) the Mets?
  • Mark Prior ... Does he have anything left? Is it worth taking a shot on him?
  • Mike Hampton is hurt again. Can the Braves count on him? Some say the Braves are now the team to beat in the NL East. Thoughts?
  • What did Torii Hunter’s deal do for guys like Aaron Rowand and Andruw Jones? Does the Hunter contract price the Phillies out of the Rowand market?
  • Is there any team you think has done well this off-season--so far or not so good?

Well, I cannot see the Twins simply taking the draft picks for Santana--not when they can get some ready major league level talent in return. Both clubs have some nice young talent and need starting pitching. Both will be opening new ballparks soon and having Santana as the jewel of their rotation would be a coup. The trouble is, to land a talent like Santana requires the worst method of player acquisition. When you try to sign a free agent--it costs money. If you wish to make a trade--it costs players. When you’re trying to land a superstar on the verge of free agency from a ‘small revenue team’, first, you have to cough up the young talent they crave; then you have to ante up on an extension so you don’t lose him the following year.

Since Santana will be looking at $20 million per, the Yankees become the favourite. The question is, will they be willing to relinquish the talent the Twins are eyeing: Joba Chamberlain, Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy? NY Sun writer Tim Marchman feels that they are expendable due to the uncertain nature of pitching prospects. However, is it reasonable to give up 2-3 cost-effective starting pitchers to pay $20 million a year plus the 40% luxury tax for somebody--however talented--that could blow out his rotator cuff at any given time?

Ditto the Mets; I’m sure the Twins would accept guys like Lasting Milledge, Philip Humber, John Maine etc. but is it wise to pay the awful cost for acquiring a player in this manner?

I’m guessing the Yankees will likely win the Santana derby. They usually seem to win these things it seems.

As to Prior--why not? It’s not going to cost much to sign him most likely because of the unknown quantity of his surgically repaired arm. Throw a few million his way; if he gets close to his old form--you've gotten a steal. If he doesn’t, it’s a pretty small ‘sunk cost.’ I’m surprised at the level of angst this question is generating in some circles.

As to the greatest booster of the post-Columbine Colorado educational system (Mike Hampton), well whoopdee-dingle-doo. I can’t help but wonder if an arm wrestling match between him and Carl Pavano might result in a double-header at the nearest funeral parlour. His career is dead, buried, saponified, fossilized and soon to be in a museum exhibit dealing with the aforementioned sunk costs.

The Braves the class of the AL East? They’ve got three good starters in Tim Hudson, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz (although Glavine and Smoltz could fall of a cliff at any moment and will the 300-game winner have anything left in September?). I don’t see much of a bullpen. Chipper Jones is a year older. Nobody knows who will play CF and they dealt away a pretty solid Edgar Renteria. The Mets and Phillies are still around and nobody knows whether Miguel Cabrera will move or not or where he may end up and who the Marlins might get in a trade. The Marlins’ GM (Larry Beinfest) is a genius and he might be able to get some pitching for the slugger.

Waaaay too early to tell. They’re not the best team in the NL East right now but there’s a lot of off-season to go yet.

As to Hunter/Jones/Rowand … Hunter got what I figured the market would give him--no shock there. I would expect both Rowand and Jones to get a bit less. The Phillies can easily afford Rowand. I think Scott Boras might be looking for a shocker contract for Andruw Jones simply to salve his off-season wounds. I’m guessing Boras will wait for Rowand to sign since that would leave him with the best CF option still on the market. Remember Magglio Ordonez? He was still on the market in February 2005 and suddenly BOOM--five years/$75 million from the Tigers. Expect a similar type scenario unfolding for Jones.

Has any team really had an incredible hot stove league? Not yet, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Lowell and Curt Schilling all stayed put. I have no idea what the Milwaukee Brewers are doing. They lost their closer Francisco Cordero to the Reds. They dealt their catcher Johnny Estrada for Guillermo Mota and signed Jason Kendall. Mind you, Kendall will be easier on the clubhouse’s ears. They lost Scott Linebrink to the White Sox (four years??).

Uh … yeah.

The Angels will have pretty good OF defense with the addition of Hunter but don’t expect pitchers to give Vlad Guerrero pitches to hit just because Hunter is behind him. The addition of Jon Garland will help; I guess they’re not doing too badly thus far. The Phillies are doing alright. They retained J.C. Romero’s ground ball talents and the trade for Brad Lidge also gives them a No. 2 starter by getting Brett Myers back into the rotation. Getting RHP Ryan Madson and RHP Scott Mathieson back will help as well (activated from the 60-day DL).


I’d like to post a link to Jonathan Hale’s Hardball Times column on A zone of their own. Jon writes both for the Jays Nest and The Mockingbird (where yours truly has found himself in Jon’s crosshairs a couple of times). No biggie however, he’s a fellow Jays fans and a handy guy to bounce thoughts off. He’s more sabermetric in his approach whereas I’m more middle-of-the-road. Regardless, its always top-notch feedback and his work is always very thoughtful and well presented. I hope it’s not his only contribution to THT. He may be the only baseball fan who despises April home openers … he can’t stand all that bunting. --Hi Jon! ;-)

To see more of Jon’s work just follow the links on the left side of the page.

I’ve got both Tim Raines HOF columns in the system (both MSN and THT) and Tom Tango continues his hard work on the flagship site for Tim Raines fans. Check his latest additions.

Best Regards


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Of interest....

A couple of things have popped up in my inbox that I thought deserve a mention. To start with, Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball noted:

In the two-plus seasons since the cancellation of the '04-05 NHL season, the 30 league franchises have increased in value an average of 23%, while the league has gone from an operating loss of $96M to a profit of $96M, according to Ozanian & Badenhausen of FORBES. The average team is now worth $200M. The "surge in team values and profits is due to the salary cap" included in the new CBA, which lowered player costs from 66% of revenue to 54% since the '03-04 season. The "stronger Canadian dollar" is another reason. However, the CBA "has hurt the bottom line of some small-market franchises by establishing a minimum team payroll in addition to a salary cap." The Wild and Predators had payrolls of $24M during the '03-04 season and turned a profit, but both teams finished '06-07 "in the red because of their increased payrolls." The following presents Forbes NHL franchise valuations for '07 (FORBES, 11/26 issue).

This is probably the number one reason owners love salary caps. The ‘not overspending on players’ is the public reason, but in all three leagues clubs look for ways around the cap to upgrade their rosters. While certain teams are little more than welfare queens (and aren’t clubs that worry about going over a set limit) others are already rich, but they haven’t had their faces splashed across every paper in the western world with the World Series/Lombardi/Stanley Cup/Larry O Brien trophy in their clutches.

Everybody loves free money and salary caps are great for that. As we see above, once a league has full cost-control the value of almost each and every franchise increases. Soon the New York Yankees will be moving into a new stadium. While they are putting a lot of their own money into it, they can deduct those costs from their revenue sharing obligations. In short, they will get a huge revenue spike, a equally large increase in equity and other teams will see less Yankee revenue in their own coffers.

What will that mean for the Yankees’ payroll? It’s a thought that sends shivers down every team in MLB and take every wrinkle out of Scott Boras’s Dockers. As you know, player markets are set by the highest bid so if a player lands a landmark deal that becomes ‘the market.’ The Yankees will be paying about $27.5 million per year for Alex Rodriguez. They have the revenues to support such a deal. It also makes $27.5 million the approximate market for players of that ilk for teams that don’t enjoy the Yankees revenues.

Again, we see the potential for the Yankees to increase the costs of doing business for other clubs while distributing less revenue to them.

This is why MLB will be pressing for a hard cap before much longer. One, it increases equity, but it also improves cash flow since the Yankees can only drive up the market for players so far. What folks forget when looking back on the Collusion-era of the 1980’s is that it was directed as much at George Steinbrenner as it was the MLBPA. Unless Steinbrenner was on board it never would have worked since he was constantly setting new market levels for talent. With ‘The Boss’ under control, so was the salary structure.

In the same vein, a salary cap is also targeted as much at the Yankees as it is the players union. If the Bronx Bombers aren’t spending $200 million on players then there’s less reason for the Red Sox to spend $150 million or the Blue Jays to spend $90 million. Bud Selig knows the MLBPA has lost its center of consensus. He repeatedly tries to keep the union reeling whether it is through the steroid issue or something else. He knows that his best opportunity for a hard cap is coming soon. He twice has gotten a luxury tax that gets progressively more onerous. Most teams treat is as a cap--the Yankees don’t. They will pay an additional 40% for A-Rod’s next deal. They can afford it. Selig knows that the Yankees have the revenues to absorb such hits and realizes there is only one way to slow their spending--a hard cap.

In this year’s Hardball Times Annual be sure to check out “The Decline and Fall of the MLBPA”--it appears that Don Fehr and Gene Orza may have to capitulate on a cap since they lack the muscle to prevent it. They were pragmatic regarding the steroid issue realizing that re-opening a collective bargaining agreement twice would net them a better deal than having Congress do it for them. Expect a similar approach to a cap; a collectively bargained cap will have a higher ceiling than one imposed upon a broken union. They can look to the NHL and NBA to see what happens if they fight rather than negotiate.

Baer Market

For those of you following the whole Crashburn Alley vs. Bill Conlin episode, Philadelphia’s Daily Examiner interviewed Crashburn Alley's Bill Baer. There the blogger explains his busy week. Speaking of which, I expanded on why Jimmy Rollins wasn’t a terrible MVP pick on MSN Canada and my finally being able to give Alex Rodriguez some off the field props.

I was also privileged to offer up my thoughts on Barry Bonds for Maury Brown’s ‘Voices of the Game’ along with Brown, Fred Claire (Former VP and GM of the Dodgers), Ken Davidoff - (National baseball writer, Newsday), Jordan Korbritz (Staff member, Business of Sports Network. Former owner of the Daytona Cubs Baseball Club, and the Maine Guides Baseball Club), Tim Lemke (Sports business reporter for the Washington Times), Rob Neyer (Author and Senior baseball writer for ESPN), Roger Noll (Author and Sports Economist, Stanford University), Jayson Stark (Author and Senior baseball writer for ESPN), Paul Swangard (Director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center) and Andrew Zimbalist (Author, consultant, and Sports Economist, Smith College). I feel like one of those Sesame Street’s “one of these things is not like the other.”

Best Regards


"Rock" solid doing the Tango...


I just received an e-mail from a gentleman best known as “Tango Tiger.” He wanted to let me know that he is starting a Tim Raines for the Hall of Fame site. He gave me a preview of it and it is going to be terrific. Check it out for yourself but don't bother clicking any of the links on the left--they're not live yet.

Perfect timing too.

I am currently working on an MSN Canada column dealing with Raines’ candidacy. The biggest problem with him is perception. Bill James once wrote that as time went on players would become known more by their stats than anything. There is nothing wrong with his numbers but the current offensive environment makes his totals look less than impressive.

Raines also suffers from a lack of milestones; he didn’t get 3000 hits, or 900 stolen bases, or 1500 walks etc. He was the prototypical underrated player; he did a lot of things very well but not one thing extremely well. He is overshadowed by players in most traditional categories--even stolen bases. Although he is fourth all-time in modern major league history in that department, he never topped 100 thefts in a season constantly being overshadowed by Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman’s 100+ SB years.

Often it is said that if you have to make a Hall of Fame case for a player, he probably doesn’t belong since HOF talent is relatively easy to spot. Alex Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer while Troy Glaus probably is not. Like most guidelines, there are exceptions. After time passes and memories fade with players’ final seasons hanging on being the freshest of them, people forget how incredible certain players actually were--especially if they played in smaller media markets. In recent years we have seen articles about whether Frank Thomas, Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar etc. are Hall-worthy.

How soon they forget.

In such cases, you’re not so much making a case as much as you are reminding people just how special they were back in the day. This is the situation with Tim Raines; I watched “Rock’s” career in its entirety and there was never any doubt about what I was witnessing. Just to give you a small preview of coming columns at MSN and the Hardball Times, consider the following: While it seems odd now, there was a time when Raines was compared to Rickey Henderson. It may seem silly now when you look at Rickey’s 3055 hits, 2295 runs scored, 2190 BB, 1406 stolen bases or for that matter, 297 HR and 1115 RBI--a fine career for a three-hole hitter yet alone a leadoff batter. However back in the 1980’s when both of them were still young pups in their 20’s it wasn’t so absurd. From 1983-89:

Player BA OBP SLG Runs SB SB%
Rickey .290 .401 .449 803 552 84.6
Raines .308 .398 .456 710 429 87.1

Obviously, Henderson is, and will always be the hallmark against which all other leadoff men will be measured against. Regardless, it’s interesting to note that while Henderson was the more prolific base stealer, Raines was the better overall hitter and the difference widens a bit more when you compare their totals against their respective league averages.

Henderson played over three more full seasons worth of games than Raines and had “Rock” managed to play that long, he may have gotten to 3000 hits himself as well as 200+ HR and possibly 1700 runs scored. As it is…

Rickey .279 .401 .419 127
Raines .294 .385 .425 123

No, I’m not saying that Raines is in Rickey’s league. What I am implying is that Raines is a lot better than most people remember. For example, Lou Brock--the modern NL stolen base king and member of the 3000-hit club is well qualified for the Hall of Fame, but consider:

Brock .293 .343 .410 109 938 75 11235 3833
Raines .294 .385 .425 123 808 84 10359 3977

*Times On Base

Despite almost 1000 fewer plate appearances, "Rock" reached base almost 150 times more. Once he got there he stole bases far more efficiently. That puts Raines somewhere between Lou Brock and Rickey Henderson as far as a discussion of the greatest leadoff men of all time--easily Hall of Fame territory.

So bookmark Tango’s site (or use the link provided at the top of the list) and I’ll keep you posted on when other Raines’ columns come out from yours truly and Mr. Tango.

Best Regards


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Conlin and on and on…

I have a few last bits of synaptic flatulence that I would like to relieve myself of regarding this issue. Let’s get the easiest out of the way--I wrote previously:

A man who demands First Amendment rights and uses that platform to suggest denying those same rights to others should not be employed by a medium where exercise of those (rights) is deemed necessary.

Am I advocating his firing? Absolutely not, that is one of two things that can happen under this scenario. The other is, he can step back and reassess the seriousness of his current viewpoint. In his line of work, it should be obligatory to comprehend the importance of the rights he enjoys and how they apply to others regardless of his opinion of their point-of-view.

I’ve been surfing blogs dealing with this and some have questioned Crashburn Alley’s posting Conlin’s e-mails. Did he act properly? Well, I am going to exercise my freedom of opinion and say I didn’t see anything wrong with doing that. I write for a respected online magazine as well as a mainstream outlet. I get a lot of feedback. When I respond to messages, I do it with the understanding that it may well go public. It’s part of the evolution of the online community and we have to deal with it.

It does mean sometimes I have to step away from the computer, grab a cold drink and put my feet up and cool off if somebody has--in my opinion--been unfair or unnecessarily mean-spirited. It’s worth taking a few minutes out of the day to calm down and remind myself to ignore the snark and focus solely on the points made rather than the other person’s presentation of their point of view on the subject under discussion. It’s always helpful to ask precisely why I am taking myself so bloody seriously all of a sudden … sticks and stones as it were.

Finally, when I’m ready to address the points I sit down and type the response. Before I send it out, I occupy myself with something else for a few minutes whether it’s of a professional or personal nature. When that’s done, re-read the message to see if any negative emotion leaked into what I wrote and that my response is of the sort that would make me inclined to allow a hearing. If so, make any adjustments and off it goes without worrying about how it will read if it does become public.

It really isn’t all that complicated.

In the time it took to invoke Hitler and pamphleteers, it would not have been any more difficult to reply as to why Rollins was his MVP pick. I feel that while Rollins wasn’t the optimal choice, I do think it was a defensible one and it’s not difficult to do either. The history of the award has demonstrated that it is not an honour of pure statistical achievement and that subjective criterion does matter. In addition, other things are part of value that is not found solely in statistics.

To use an example, Dick Allen probably has a Hall of Fame set of statistics but he’s not a popular candidate because of the negative non-statistical value he brought to his teams. If a superior statistical career can be denied baseball’s highest honour because of subjective issues then doesn’t it make sense that the MVP work the same way?

Further, a lot of tangible things will not show up on certain statistical evaluations--OPS+ and ISO for example do not account for games played. Were you aware a player posted a 495 OPS+ in one season and didn’t win the MVP? Of course, John Paciorek played in only one game that season. An extreme example to be sure but it does illustrate that being in the lineup every day does add to a player’s value to his club.

Depending on position, these will not show up in the stats either: not turning what should be a routine double play and breaking up a double play. Missing the cut off man or throwing to the wrong base may be not recorded as an error. Only passed balls and wild pitches are recorded but we don’t know how many opportunities a catcher had to prevent these--we only know the pitches missed. An error by the pitcher may help his ERA in a big inning. A bunt hit when the infield is back and napping only counts as an infield hit and the batter receives no extra statistical credit for being observant.

These will eventually factor in to actual wins and losses.

As to Rollins, he did have a remarkable season: he played every game, was 30/30, enjoyed a rare 20/20/20/20 season. For those to discount its value, suppose you have two Cy Young candidates with about identical numbers. Which do you think will catch the voters' eyes more: the pitcher with a couple of two hit/0 BB shutouts or the one with two no-run, no-hit/2 BB games? Well, since 20/20/20/20 has only happened four times in major league history, it will grab their attention. Further, Rollins stole over 40 bases at an 87% success rate. Finally, he set a record for most total bases by an NL shortstop in the 130+-year history of the league and is perceived to have led his team to an improbable post-season appearance.

It sounds like Rollins enjoyed a remarkable year so it doesn’t sound unreasonable for a writer who saw most of the shortstop’s season to say ‘He’s my MVP in 2007.’

The thing is should the MVP be the player with the best combined offensive and defensive numbers? If so, what do you do if such a player was so sociopathic in the clubhouse that the rest of the otherwise talented club tensed up, played poorly because of it and they won just 70 games when they were pre season favourites to go all the way? Do the numbers still carry the day?

As of 2007, subjective factors (including the writer’s opinion of what precisely constitutes value) as well as statistical accomplishment are what make up the MVP. As Bill James wrote when mulling Phil Rizzuto’s HOF candidacy--he felt handicapped because he only had the numbers to go by and since he wasn’t there he really wasn’t 100% certain whether those numbers captured his actual full value to the club. Generally, we only have the numbers and get to see a candidate if he’s on our team or playing against it. The writers--despite their imperfections--get to know a bit more subjective data due to interacting with the team on a regular basis.

My point?

Everybody has holes in their perception of what a certain player contributes to a given team. We have to be patient and allow things to evolve until we get a more optimal system for understanding what is valuable and what is not. For those who feel we have that now, bear in mind that we felt the same way 30 years ago. Three-decades hence, our current measures may be obsolete.

As to Conlin, he made a bad choice. He could have chosen to make his case for Rollins with the caveat that ultimately they will end up agreeing to disagree if for no other reason that they had different vantage points in assessing who was most valuable. Instead he decided to dismiss and ridicule someone with a differing perspective. It should come as no surprise that his perspective and judgment are now being called into question.

An MVP vote (in the world of baseball) is a sacred thing since it’s inscribed ‘forever in the guide.’ Therefore, those who are privileged to possess it are under obligation to use it wisely. This entails being able and willing to defend it should be asked why he made the choice he did.

Conlin chose his career and his perceived opinion of the questioner as the defense. I do not think it unreasonable that they be able to explain their reasons in a more intelligent and civil manner.

Best Regards


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bill Conlin is not an anti-Semite…

I do not know who wrote that his remarks to Bill Baer were anti-Semitic or how he got that idea. Racism/anti-Semitism didn’t even register on my radar screen when I read his now notorious:

"The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called “Pamphleteers.” They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO. Shakespeare accidentally summed up the genre best with these words from a MacBeth soliloquy: “. . .a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. . .”

At any rate, here are some comments dealing with history from the readers at Crashburn Alley:

  • Wait a second. Weren’t those pamphleteers back from Colonial times also the ones who loudly supported and wrote articulate reasons supporting American Independence (Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, et al.)?
  • Ben Franklin wrote a pamphlet or two as well, but I’m sure Hitler would have gotten rid of him too.
  • By the way, does Conlin realize that the “Colonial pamphleteers” he’s comparing to bloggers were the ones who instigated and led the American Revolution? So he’s placing bloggers in the company of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Alexander Hamilton…and siding with Hitler and King George III.
  • Conlin probably needs a bit of a history lesson, as Hitler did get rid of pamphleteers, such as Sophie Scholl.
  • ... So he advocated wiping out bloggers? Just what has Conlin done to feel he’s the almighty?
  • ... not only that, he was comparing blogger to colonial pamphleteers, too. And what good did THEY ever do us, with their “throw off the shackles of the Crown” and their “these are the times that try men’s souls”? And really, what have THEY done for us lately?

What Conlin was advocating is more insidious that simple prejudice. The thing is, to target a race or ethnic group is asinine for the simple reason that people cannot choose their parents or the nationality of same. The purulence of Conlin’s opinions are far worse than simple drooling, slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging swing-set-too close-to-the-house, riding the short bus to school, phallucranial, testiculacking racism/anti-Semitism.

This is about freedom to think, believe, and speak as you wish. This isn’t singling out a single group but crossing every type of people. Conlin is stating that people whose thoughts do not line up with his own should be silenced. One can conclude by his remarks that he supports the decision of executing Sophie Scholl. Scholl had an opinion that was out of line with the philosophy encouraged in Germany during the time of the Third Reich. She differed from the accepted wisdom held by the authorities in the 1940’s and steps taken to ensure that her voice not be heard again.

Conlin, in an attempt to exercise damage control, manages to do the unthinkable; sound even more pompous than previously:

"I think I’ll let the words I wrote after the death of my dear friend and colleague, the former local Associated Press Bureau Chief Ralph Bernstein and the nearly half century relationship my wife and I have had with Ralph and his family through good times and bad represent me against any contrived and baseless attempt to slime me as an anti-Semite. I was a speaker at Ralph’s Memorial service. Quite obviously, the Hitler line was used in a satiric response to what has turned into a concerted assault on my Jimmy Rollins column and on my career. It was quite obviously used in a personal e-mail. I did not publish the insulting things said about me. As editor of the Temple University News in 1960-61, I received death threats from the White Citizens Council after writing an editorial denouncing Gerald L. K. Smith and his anti-black and anti-Semitic hate-mongering newspaper “The Cross and the Flag.” I was one of the most outspoken critics of Marge Schott’s blatant anti-Semitism to the point some of my columns had to be toned down. Ditto my stand on Al Campanis, a friend, by the way, and Jimmy The Greek Snyder. I also had a long and close relationship with the late, great Dick Schaap, who wrote about my impact on The Sports Reporters at length in his autobiography, “Flashing Before My Eyes.” I am heartened that both a clear conscience and the First Amendment will be at my side.”

Out of one side of his mouth, he wishes to silence the free and open expression of ideas and out of the other side, he wraps himself up in the First Amendment. What he is saying is that freedom of expression should be limited to those who think and feel as he does. For those in accord with his thought-process deserve First Amendment rights, for those who differ--a visit with Johann Reichhart for a demonstration of his deadly skills.

What he fails to address in his ‘defense’ is that few were calling him racist/anti-Semitic. The issue is his denying basic rights to those of differing points of view. Where the Third Reich was noted for book burning, Conlin is advocating blog-burning. If certain ideas conflicts with his view of how things are then those writings should be destroyed and the persons penning/typing those opinions should be silenced.

A man who demands First Amendment rights and uses that platform to suggest denying those same rights to others should not be employed by a medium where exercise of those (rights) is deemed necessary. It is a contradiction, once a group is denied those protections then that freedom no longer exists. We are either free or we are not; Conlin is advocating “not” since his freedom is protected on the basis of his choice of employment. His ideals are the reason behind men like Thomas Paine, Sophie Scholl, and Alexander Hamilton etc.

Conlin also wrote “It was quite obviously used in a personal e-mail.” This tells us that since he felt his opinion would not be made public, he could indulge his desire to deny dissenting points-of-view a place is contemporary society.

This is beyond a debate about sabermetrics and traditional statistical measurements. It is about a man who feels fully qualified about playing the role of judge, jury and executioner as well as the standard-bearer of what is acceptable thought. It is far, far, more disturbing than simple prejudice. He has said in effect that rights and protections are to be only conferred on those who think and feel as he does.

Those who demand First Amendment rights and protections should defend those rights and protections, to do otherwise is to urinate upon everyone who has fought threats to those freedoms from outside and within.

I just hope Bill Conlin remembered to zip up and wash his hands after he finished doing just that.

Best Regards


Friday, November 23, 2007

Baseball’s fiscal succubi …

Guess what?

Marlins may play in Puerto Rico in '08

Where have I seen this before? Yup, MLB’s Ren and Stimpy are at it again--brand new crap, same old sphincter(s). Jeffrey Loria and David “can’t see the lawn for the blades of grass” Samson are taking their second club to Puerto Rico (what is it about Loria and RICO anyway?) as a ploy to get into the pants of the politicos in South Florida. Get those naughty (and frankly disturbing) thoughts out of your head--I was talking about reaching for the wallet and not the change purse.

At any rate, here is the Coles Notes version of recent events. In 2004, there was a $30 million funding gap between the team and the region’s combined funding and the proposed cost of a new stadium for the Marlins. By 2006, the difference had risen to $60 million or as I had written last August the cost of signing Kevin Millwood or Paul Konerko for five years service.

Come earlier this month after it was known college football was leaving the historic Orange Bowl, the $50 million tabbed to renovate the stadium was no longer needed. $50 million worth of free money is available to close the gap. It is sooooooo close--can’t you just taste it?

As usual, the only thing tasted was the back of MLB’s hand. Bob Dupuy was so full of beans over the revelation he allowed them to digest somewhat so he could release a cheek-vibrating bit of synaptic flatulence to South Florida:

"The last thing you want to do is build a brand-new ballpark down there and have the team fail. Everybody recognizes that. The level of contribution the team makes has to be commensurate with what they believe they're going to be able to generate from a new ballpark and be viable."

A few of weeks after allowing the stench of this proclamation to dissipate it was announced that the Marlins were taking their bats and balls to Puerto Rico.

If a team can’t survive in the Miami market, it is not because its size (around top 12-15 of MLB marketplaces), it’s not because of the stadium, or the product (two World Series champions), or the weather. It is because it has dealt with some of the most inept, corrupt, purulent, incompetent obnoxious management this side of Enron.

They are so far into overdraft in their goodwill account in South Florida it will take years to get it into the black. Back around the 2005 All Star break, Bud Selig was in rare form about the Marlins (a riff from a THT notes column):

Bud on the Marlins: “They keep saying they still think they're going to get something done, they need to get something done…If they're optimistic and hopeful, I am, too…I'm always concerned about teams that need new stadiums, and it's obvious they do. That's not a secret somehow there has to be the political will and the private-sector will to get a stadium built. I mean, they are struggling mightily.''

Well, the Marlins are five games out of the wild card. Guess what? Is it possible that maybe the fire sales (real and threatened), the threat of moving the team to Las Vegas, the bad mouthing of the team and stadium, the broken promises (“We‘ll build our own stadium!”), the lies (“We’re losing our shirts! Our accountants say so!”), the sleaze (taking away the All-Star Game), and the insulting of the fan base (“Miami will never be major league until they cough up several hundred million in corporate welfare”) might have something to do with those struggles? Do you think that trying to rip-off the taxpayers with yet another boondoggle will build up any goodwill?

Bud on a Marlins’ move: “There isn't anybody at the front of the line for moving. There isn't anybody moving anywhere right now.

Translation: Wanted—city willing to pork over a half-billion dollars in corporate welfare. Must be willing be bend over a table and like it. Must not be overly concerned with pennant races, playoff baseball, and championships, while giving priority to luxury suites, club seating and high ticket prices. Must be willing to provide references from the citizenry in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Colorado. Intelligent people and discerning consumers need not apply.

If MLB hadn’t been so obsessed with squeezing every last dollar out of South Florida, the Marlins would be in a new ballpark right now. However Selig and Co. are still threatening that if the Liaria and Sam(son of a)… have to put too much of their own money into the pork, er park, they wouldn’t have enough left over to field a competitive club. Yup, on one hand, baseball’s revenues are over $6 billion, the Marlins receive revenue sharing that outstrips their payroll expenses, plus the exploding revenues from MLBAM and they’re still demanding to be allowed to grab South Florida by their ankles and shake them until every last penny comes tumbling out. Therefore, it’s off to Puerto Rico in search of money that would be devoted to schools and public services but Selig thinks should be earmarked for the wealthy.

Rotting Fish…

Other than a rousing game of limbo…
The Bible, David, Samson vs. natural selection
Is Larry Beinfest History’s Greatest Monster?
Please Stop Hitting The Hot Button
Battered Fish
Dumb And Dumber
Blackmail Black Knights and Black Humor

R.I.P. Joe Kennedy and condolences to his family and his year old son. Your daddy was a big leaguer. You'll be proud of him. Become a man your father could be as equally proud. That's the finest way to honour his memory.

Best Regards


An addendum... (Goose-stepping to the oldies)

On Baseball Think Factory Baer’s blog post about Conlin has been posted. It has also received a rather disturbing update. Quite frankly, I’m flabbergasted … Conlin writes:

"The only positive thing I can think of about Hitler’s time on earth–I’m sure he would have eliminated all bloggers. In Colonial times, bloggers were called “Pamphleteers.” They hung on street corners handing them out to passersby. Now, they hang out on electronic street corners, hoping somebody mouses on to their pretentious sites. Different medium, same MO. Shakespeare accidentally summed up the genre best with these words from a MacBeth soliloquy: “. . .a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. . .”

I guess that in Conlin’s world free speech is only for those with diplomas. I have a feeling these words are going to come back to haunt Conlin professionally. This isn’t something written by the mind, it is from the heart. As I mentioned in the previous post, can you imagine the reaction in the media if a ballplayer said this about the press?

This is beyond simple blogger vs. media; it’s about free speech and intolerance of views that differ from their own. Less then two weeks ago this part of the world paused for a time to commemorate Remembrance Day. It’s when people take time out of their lives to pay tribute for those who died in the belief that they were fighting for freedom. What is often forgotten is that threats to freedom can originate from within a nation as well as outside of it.

Many totalitarian regimes control the press in their countries so there is no forum for dissent or criticism of the authorities. Here, Conlin longs for a world where only certain voices can be heard and dissenting ones silenced whether it is heard on a street corner or a web site. His fondest wish is that only certain points of view be heard and those opinions originate from what he perceives to be the intellectual cognoscenti--of whom he perceives himself to be a member.

It also serves as a reminder that prejudice isn’t just about ethnicity, religion, nationality, socio-economic or otherwise. Intolerance is also about snuffing out those opinions that differ from their own--something Conlin deeply desires it would appear.

This is the person supposedly working in a forum where freedom to express events without repercussion is considered sacred? He uses that very forum to encourage the curtailing of freedom of speech? Here’s the thing … if we ever reach the point where we, whether private citizen or members of the media, are no longer free to report the news or comment about the world around us Bill Conlin has forfeited any sympathy for whatever plight comes upon him. He who eagerly would place the noose of silence around those who differ cannot complain when the trap door is beneath his feet.

Utterly, and totally reprehensible.

Best Regards


Barry Bonds vs. Bill Conlin…

I do not get it--I just don’t.

As most of you know, I am a columnist for probably the most ‘mainstream outlet’ in Canada. Yeah, I am a little biased toward bloggers. I never went past high school and got to where I am by teaching myself and allowing me to be taught by others. Even though I have gotten where I hoped I’d be I don’t consider my education complete--not by a longshot.

One of the things I did along the way was blog and this represents my second foray into the blogosphere.

Obviously, as a Blue Jays and Phillies rooter I read up on the various blogs by like-minded fans. I don’t limit myself to just those either; if I need information or insights I am not shy about reading up on the sites blogging about other teams. I also frequent sites that cover off other aspects of the game whether it is the business, legal, statistical side etc. of major league baseball.

Anyway, I was catching up on a favourite Phillies site (Crashburn Alley) and noticed a post describing the author’s (Bill Baer) interaction with Phillies columnist Bill Conlin.

I am not going to dissect the column because it isn’t about that, but rather Conlin’s treatment of Baer.

What struck me about it was the sheer hypocrisy. How often have we read rip jobs by writers about Barry Bonds as well as other media-unfriendly players? The biggest complaint about such ballplayers is their arrogance and how they treat the media as unworthy of their time or like the end of a canine’s digestive process on their shoes.

The way I see it, writers like Conlin have no claim to sympathy because they treat those they feel are beneath them (read: bloggers) in exactly the same manner. For those of you who didn’t read the link, here is an excerpt:

As many other “cyber-geeks” did, I decided to send Conlin an E-mail.

Hi Mr. Conlin,

Hope all is well. My name is Bill as well, and I run a blog called Crashburn Alley. Needless to say, I’ve read many of the blogs bashing your article, such as Fire Joe Morgan and the discussion at Baseball Think Factory.

So, I’m not going to bash you since it’s already been done. And hey, I already picked on your colleague Marcus Hayes.

I do want to ask you, though, what makes Rollins better than New York Mets third baseman David Wright as a National League MVP candidate?

Wright hits for more power (.546 SLG to Rollins’ .531), gets on base at a higher rate (.416 OBP to Rollins’ .344), fields his position about equally as well as Rollins fields his (shortstop is defensively more demanding, however, but not enough to make a huge difference), and has comparable speed to Rollins (34 SB, seven less than Rollins’ 41).

The Sabermetrics really make the case for Wright, but I know you’re not a fan of those and won’t waste your time with them.

What does Rollins do better, besides being a hairline better than Wright defensively and on the basepaths (whereas Wright is more than a hairline better than Rollins at getting on base and slugging, the two things a hitter is paid to do)?

My personal top-five NL MVP rankings would go Wright, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Rollins, and Matt Holliday.

It’s a bitter pill for me to swallow — to make the case against Rollins — being a die-hard Phillies fan, but I try to be objective. I don’t even think Ryan Howard deserved the NL MVP award last season over Albert Pujols.

Thanks for your time,

Bill B. (Crashburn Alley)

Conlin deftly dodges my questions and stated facts with a simple response.

Know what, pal? Bash this. . .Tell your bloggers, my career against theirs. . .

If I felt like being smarmy, I could have pointed out to him that this is just an appeal to authority. A statement is not any more right because someone more important is saying it. For instance, is 2+2=4 any more correct if Albert Einstein says it than if George W. Bush says it?

Anyway, I let him know I was disappointed in his failure to address any of my points.

Well, Mr. Conlin, I have to say that I’m disappointed. I know your colleague Marcus Hayes responded with little tact, but I guess it’s a trait of those who work at the Daily News.

I will take it by your evasion of my questions and the facts I’ve stated that you are unable to make any legitimate case for Rollins over Wright for MVP. But, hey, whatever helps you sell papers.

You have given me an easy decision, with your tactless, factless response, not to ever buy a newspaper from the Philadelphia Daily News or to watch their program on Comcast SportsNet, at least until you and Mr. Hayes resign, or in a more likely scenario, are fired.

Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

– Bill B. (Crashburn Alley)

Note in my initial E-mail to Conlin that I identified myself as a Phillies fan, and in both E-mails, I linked him to my blog. So, there should be no confusion that I am a fan of any other team but the Phillies, right?

Wrong. He responded thusly.

Don’t you need to contact the 30 electors–including the two Mets beat writers–who failed to give write a single first place vote instead of a commentator who does not vote for the awards. You’re a Mets fan and you had your little bubble of arrogance and smugness burst. Your team choked big time, an epic gagaroo. At least the 1964 Phillies had an excuse–they were probably no more than the Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Dodgers and Giants that year. One question: When a Mets team chokes in a forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a gagging sound? Next time bring more to the table than wishful fan numbers that bear no semblance to reality. I wonder how it feels to be the Phillies bitch.

That would hurt so much… if I was a Mets fan. I’m a Phillies fan making an objective case for David Wright.

I often wonder how many sportswriters are practicing Christians. I am not going with this in the direction that you may think. Here is the reason for my question; had they lived in the period of time would they have been disciples of Jesus? I’m sure most writers would say yes, but their attitude indicates that they most likely would not. No, it’s not because of a lack of applying ‘The Golden Rule’ but this:

The Jews then were astonished, saying, "How has this man become learned, having never been educated?"--John 7:15

"You mean he has deceived you also?" the Pharisees retorted. "Has any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them."--John 7:47-49

Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.--Acts 4:13

Simply put, unless Jesus and his disciples received what was perceived as the ‘proper education’ of that time, what they said had little value in the eyes of many. If they had not had a certain degree of schooling their opinion was worth far less than those who did. Chances are good they would not have become Christians in the first century because degrees or diplomas carried more weight with them than what was being said.

It’s the same thing today; many sportswriters view the opinions of those that they view “uneducated and untrained” as unworthy of their time pointing to their diplomas as proof rather than addressing points that differ from their own. They have more in common with the scribes of that time than the ‘mob’ that followed Jesus.

Another failing is that a degree in journalism is not the same thing as understanding the nuances of the game of baseball. These writers with their ‘degrees’ proclaimed the following as indisputable facts:

  • Free agency would end the game of baseball.
  • That indentured servants making anywhere from $6000-$10,000 a year were pampered, spoiled, ungrateful malcontents that should be willing to play for free for the privilege of playing in the major leagues.
  • Publicly financed stadiums are a huge boon to a local economy.
  • That baseball doesn’t suffer with a problem regarding performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Many teams were on the verge of bankruptcy.
  • The commissioner of baseball is neutral respecting the labour management issues of the game.
  • People of African-American descent couldn’t succeed in the big leagues.
  • The Florida Marlins, Minnesota Twins, Oakland A’s can’t assemble competitive teams without a publicly financed revenue-generating ballpark.
  • Eight credentialed, educated journalists covering baseball thought the career of a player who was (at the time) first all time in home runs, RBI, total bases and extra-base hits, second all-time in hits, third in runs and intentional walks, with two batting titles, three Gold Gloves, league MVP, batted .305 in just under 3,300 games, was a 20-time All Star and hit .362/.405/.710 in the post season (.364/.417/.600 in World Series) didn’t have a Hall of Fame career .

Of course these things must be true--they have diplomas, they’re journalists and they must be believed because of the education they received!

A degree in journalism does not mean they’re educated in law, labour and collective bargaining, economics, statistical analysis, history etc. all of which affect the game of baseball.

Yeah, I’m a little peeved. A diploma or working in a certain trade is not a rebuttal to somebody’s dissenting opinion. It wasn’t almost two millennia ago and it isn’t in the 21st century. I didn’t get the same job as Bill Conlin because I attended university and got a degree. That of itself should speak pretty clearly of how vital it is to have such a thing. Just because I do not have a framed piece of paper does not mean I did not receive an education, it means that I got my education by different means.

A lot of fans and baseball bloggers have their own expertise in the various issues of major league baseball. I have used that knowledge to add to my own personal database. I also fully acknowledge that I have a lot still to learn and the opinion I hold in 2007 may not mean that I will have it in 2017 anymore than having the same point of view I held in 1997. Regardless of whether it is snarky or polite, all substantive feedback is appreciated. I realize my limitations and act accordingly.

Feel free to check out the blogs listed in the sidebar to the left. More will be added as time goes on. They all have one thing in common: I learned something from them that I had not considered before and expect to learn from them again in future.

So next time you read an article about an arrogant ballplayer treating the media with contempt, just remember this--some of those very writers have behaved no better.

Best Regards


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yada yada yada …

Finally, weeks of Googling paid off. One of the reasons I wanted to use this blog as an archive is because MSN Canada wisely doesn’t bother archiving my old columns. Oh, they’re still there in the site somewhere but my system crashed a few months ago taking my bookmarks file (that served as my archive) with it. It was pretty easy to get most of them back but one remained elusive, it was my third column that was built off the Jack Wilson-to-the-Jays rumours last summer.

It finally came up after using various search engines and combing the site.

I have just submitted this week’s offering there which gives me three yet-to-be published articles. One is dealing with A-Rod’s return to the Yankees; one is a 'look behind/look ahead’ piece on the Blue Jays and one dealing with the 2007 MVP vote. For the most part, they’re not terribly time-sensitive so I am not overly concerned about when they run.

I was hoping to get my THT column up before the site shuts down for the American Thanksgiving but it was not to be. I got it in on time but I’m guessing they wanted Keith Scherer's Barry Bonds – A guide to help you cut through the noise article to be given as much attention as possible. Keith was kind enough to lend his talents and expertise to THT this week so it’s pretty understandable that they wish to have the focus on that rather than my latest rant about what has happened to free agency rights.

Ah well. The rant will keep for a few days. I’m confident the universe can carry on in the meantime without its presence on the web.


Actually, it will represent my 150th Hardball Times column. It got me reflecting on what THT did for my career. After struggling to keep going as site after site I was writing with dot-bombed, promised contracts never materialized, and the only offers coming in were of the ‘stock in the company’ variety I decided I would walk away. I thought I was putting a good product out there but the marketplace disagreed.

I finally decided to take one final shot. I started a blog to get my name back out there in early 2004 and by year’s end I was added to the Hardball Times staff (with thanks to Larry Mahnken for the assistance plus his running some of my work on his excellent Replacement Level Yankees Weblog). The good folks at Baseball Think Factory kept the spark alive (thanks guys) and now here I am again.

Enough soul baring…

It has been a different off-season. In three notable cases: A-Rod, Mike Lowell, and Curt Schilling, it seems that players aren’t using top dollar as the main criteria for where they will play in 2008. Each looked to where they would be happiest in making their decision. We have already touched on Rodriguez and Schilling in earlier posts so I’ll reserve my comments to Lowell.

Here is a guy that turned down a guaranteed fourth year at about $13 million because being a Boston hero and hitting in a lineup featuring Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz plus a shot at yet another ring was more important.

Ditto for Schilling.

I’m not advocating players leave money on the table; it’s just that all too often it seems that players defer their freedom to their agents or the union. All too often we hear about players who went for top dollar only to be miserable in their new location. Sure, money is important, but it doesn’t guarantee happiness--it never has. The thing is this: as a family man, job offers of $35,000 a year and $60,000 a year isn’t really a choice at all. Were I single it would be different but life’s responsibilities mean I have to make my choice on sheer economics even if it means I have to leave a place where I (or a family member) are happy living.

When you see the numbers players can earn, I don’t envy the dollar amounts for their own sake, but I do wish I could make a decision where I don’t have to take economics into consideration at all. Big time free agents will have no problem paying the bills or paying for proms, weddings etc. regardless of where they ultimately end up. They will not have to take a step down in their circumstances no matter where they are playing.

To see them making a decision where it seems they subordinate favourable circumstances for lucre is a terrible waste of free agency. That is what drives me crazy. They can have their cake and eat it too but settle for choking down cake that does not taste very good to them.

I’m hoping that the MLBPA can keep the player marketplace as open as possible. The money is there and it is sufficient enough that when a player becomes a free agent he can sit down and plan what will be his best set of personal circumstances according to his preferences and not to what the wishes of his agent or the MLBPA might be.

As Phil Garner once mulled during the strike of 1981, free agency wasn’t strictly business to many players. It was a cause, it was about freedom and rights respecting their careers. The MLBPA has turned free agency as more of an economic ideal than an ideological one. Ideals unite, economics divide and that is why the MLBPA is reeling. I hope that they can right their ship before they become the next NFLPA.

Best Regards


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Recommended reading...

For those interested in the whole Barry Bonds saga and baseball’s steroid issue, there is a thoughtful piece written by D.K. Wilson for the Chicago Sports Review entitled The Essence of Bonds.

One point the author fails to understand is the importance of collective bargaining as it pertains to the rules of the sport. Wilson writes:

You see, Bud Selig holds a dirty secret: Steroids were banned from the game in 1991. Did you know that John Feinstein? How about you, Howard Bryant? Jeff Pearlman, Joe Strauss, did either of you know? Do any baseball writers know? Buster Olney? Peter Gammons? Any of you? You must know this:

In 1991, Faye Vincent, commissioner of baseball at the time, issued a policy that labeled steroids illegal when taken for the purpose of enhancing performance. However, no major league testing of steroids was established, so players continued to use and reap the benefits.

If not, you couldn't have talked with's Tom Farrey and found this out:

In truth, steroids have been banned in baseball since 1991 -- in a policy baseball officials made little effort to publicize. A source provided a copy of the seven-page document to ESPN The Magazine on the condition of anonymity. Titled "Baseball's Drug Policy and Prevention Program," the memo was sent to all major-league clubs on June 7 of that year by then-commissioner Fay Vincent. He spelled out components of the program, and ordered, "This prohibition applies to all illegal drugs and controlled substances, including steroids." (bolding and italics by author)

Any rule prohibiting PED usage is a subject for collective bargaining, not unilateral decree. Vincent himself remarked about the 1991 memo:

"I don’t remember much about the circumstances and I don’t remember who really pushed for it. But, I can speculate that it came out of an awareness that for people who were not in the union—not protected by the Union agreement—that steroids might be a problem. I think that we had become to realize that there were a variety of other compounds floating around that were dangerous. We’d heard rumors about Jose Canseco. I think we thought that steroids and the like were basically a “football problem”, but we did think that they were dangerous. And so for at least coaches and managers and everybody else in baseball we thought we ought to go on record and say that this is bad stuff and we don’t want it getting a toe-hold in baseball."

"I think it was really our attempt to be on record, if this was our universe, if we controlled the whole thing, this is what we would do. And we did it, but we did it only for the people that were not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement." [italics mine]

Simply put, the rule against steroids didn’t apply to the players because the rule had never been formally collectively bargained. This is key; here’s an excerpt from Marvin Miller’s autobiography, A Whole Different Ball Game:

Before 1966, the owners had a unilateral right to do, literally, anything they pleased; they could change the rules in the middle of a player's contract and say, "Here are the rules that now apply to you." The owners routinely tied players to documents-the Major League Rules, the Professional Baseball Rules, the league constitutions and bylaws-without even giving them copies of what they were agreeing to be bound by. The first basic agreement, in 1968, required that players at least be given copies of every document that became a part of their contract. Then we insisted that the owners had to advise us of proposed changes. Later, we insisted and obtained agreement that no rule would apply if it conflicted with a provision of the basic agreement.

We had them put that language in a big box in the major league rule book to make clear to anyone who opens it that any rule which is inconsistent with the conditions of the basic agreement is null and void. But we still weren't home free; we would negotiate something in the basic agreement, and the owners wouldn't change the blue book-the book that encompassed the Major League Rules and the so-called major league agreement. And since the rules weren't brought up to date, you had owners and general managers saying, "How was I to know I couldn't follow this rule? I followed it for thirty years, and it's still here." Over time, the language protecting the players' contracts and the collective bargaining agreement became stronger and stronger until the leagues finally understood that any time they wanted to change a rule affecting the players' rights, they had to negotiate the approval of the Players Association. The same became true of any playing rules that could affect a player's career. [italics mine]

The fact that Selig re-released it is meaningless since it was not collectively bargained. The reason no player was disciplined for steroid use is because there was no basis for doing so. There was no rule that stated in no uncertain terms that PED usage would result in sanction. It is the reason Congress took an interest in MLB’s drug policy. The agreement in 2002 regarding steroids was the focus of the U.S. Government since it was the first time baseball had clear guidelines about PED.

It’s something to bear in mind when you read the article. As I said, it’s a good read otherwise--very thought provoking.

Best Regards


An actual Blue Jays post!…

For a blog, I wished to use to vent about the Blue Birds they have given me precious little to write about this off-season. There are a couple of issues I can touch on so let’s work with what we have, shall we? Josh Towers will be offered arbitration. I doubt he’ll get $3 million considering he has a 6.50 ERA over his last two seasons. I see it as harmless; of course the Jays could simply non-tender him but pitching does have some value. He has a career BB/9 of 1.51 (1.85 in 2007) and whiffed 6.4/9 this year. He’s dynamite from the windup but he is absolutely destroyed pitching from the stretch. In 2007, opposing batters hit at Royce Clayton levels (.266/.301/.339) off Towers from the windup but they mashed like Matt Holliday from the stretch.

What can be done?

One option is having him speed up his delivery from the windup with men on base. Another is having a catcher with a cannon to work when Towers pitches. A third is have him work on various pick off moves to keep the men on base guessing--or all three. I think the Jays are at the point in time where pitching from the stretch is quite simply not an option. You cannot have a pitcher who opposing batters completely mauls (.350/.380/.632) once runners get on base. Even if they run wild on Towers, it is hard to steal home. Finally, with his precision he should be able to come inside fearlessly. He absolutely needs to keep hitters off balance and uncomfortable in the box if he hopes to be successful. I hope that the Jays can try some of these things during spring training.

Further, they can showcase him in spring training provided he enjoys some success. As a fly ball pitcher, he could probably give close to 180 league average innings in a big NL park like AT&T, Chavez Ravine, Petco, Shea, RFK or Dolphin Stadium. Towers has a career GB/FB ratio of 1.03 after posting a mark of 1.33 in 2007. Whether he’s learning to get more ground ball outs or last year was a fluke remains to be seen; nevertheless, for less than $3 million the Jays may have a potential trade chit.

It is an O.K. gamble to offer arbitration.

The Jays also claimed OF Cody Haerther (.303/.363/.474 in just under 1500 minor league AB) from the Cardinals for outfield depth. On the one hand, we have enough outfielders however other than Matt Stairs, the Jays had an abysmal bench last year. The Jays gave over 1300 AB to guys who were barely replacement level (.233/.275/.325) in 2007 so Haerther might be a potential bat off the bench. He has a better track record than the recently released John-Ford Griffin does (.262/.342/.454 minor league line) so who knows?

Speaking of which, a minor trade brought Marcos Scutaro over from the A’s. My west coast contacts speak well of him. He’s your prototypical ‘scrappy’ ballplayer although he does possess some on base skills (.350 OBP in 365 AB in 2006). His career line of .259/.320/.384 while not awe-inspiring is a step up from the “.233/.275/.325 club” of last season. I hope that the Jays won’t have a bench where you wish you had pinch hitters for your pinch hitters in 2008.

A-Rod vs. Maggs

To open, obviously the BBWAA got the AL MVP vote right but Magglio Ordonez was not a completely brain-dead choice to garner a couple of first place votes, even though the votes he got were for the wrong reasons. Consider:

A-Rod .314 .422 .645 183 95 85 177 83 708 428
Maggs .363 .434 .595 216 76 82 167 73 678 405

We see that not only was Ordonez on base more often but he reached there via contact rather than the walk. With men on, a walk isn’t as good as a hit since a base on balls only moves up any base runners 90’. A hit can move runners a lot further and unless the bases are loaded a walk will not plate a run. Also noteworthy is Maggs struck out over 40 fewer times than A-Rod. Factor in that Ordonez played better defense than Rodriguez and you can see some justification for somebody giving Ordonez first place votes. Don’t get me wrong, I would have noted for Rodriguez myself however, I could see why somebody in good faith could have given the nod to Ordonez.

I see that Jimmy Rollins was named NL MVP. As I wrote last Sunday, it is not has bad a choice as a lot of the sabermetric crew will make it out to be. It should be noted that had the Mets not collapsed and the Phillies missed out on the NL East, David Wright most likely would have come away with top honours (Zero first place votes? 4th?? What's with that?). It is the classic ‘to the victors belong the spoils’ situation. I am biased and freely admit that the decision makes me happy as seeing Willie Stargell cop the hardware back in 1979 (yes, I am that old). Thirty years from now folks will look back at the numbers and wonder what the BBWAA was smoking when they voted (some will be doing that even as I write this) but make no mistake, Rollins did have an awesome season. Don’t forget, he set the National League record for total bases by a shortstop in 2007. Rollins defenders three decades hence will be able to point to that record, winning both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger and not missing a single game while doing it as justification for winning the 2007 MVP.

Of note, both MVP this year hold their respective league records for total bases by a shortstop--go figure.

Congratulations to both.

Best Regards


Sunday, November 18, 2007

How the mighty have fallen...

Schadenfreude is not something of which I like to partake. Lord knows I have screwed up on numerous occasions and loath the idea that my misfortune has made somebody’s day. With that being the case, I strive to be empathetic whenever possible. I figure if I wish for folks to be in my corner when my fortunes are in a bear market that I am obligated to act likewise.

At the same time, I have made no secret of my dislike of Scott Boras’s modus operandi. He is a showman who has never shied from the spotlight even if it hurts the people that pay his salary. Agents ideally should be like umpires in that if they’re doing a good job you do not even notice they are there. A number of reports indicate that players that hire Boras must understand that he needs complete freedom to handle negotiations in whatever manner he sees fit.

Finally, it appears, some players are beginning to feel that they feel that they’re working for the agent and not the other way around. How hard would it have been for Boras to get $300 million guaranteed from the New York Yankees? Had Boras used the full 10 day period prior to when a decision on Alex Rodriguez’s opt out needed to be made, chances are the Yankees would’ve offered an extension that totalled $300 million when added to the final three years of A-Rod’s pre-existing deal.

It’s obvious that Rodriguez wished to remain in pinstripes so why all the drama and ill feelings?

I guess it was about Scott Boras wishing to hit another financial grand slam as he did seven years ago. I have no doubts that he was confident he could get at least a $350 million contract and probably felt that $400 million was within reach. As we discussed a couple of days ago, Boras gunned for a quarter billion dollars in 2000 and got it. I can’t see him thinking that his $350 million baseline meant he was actually looking for $275 million. He saw the revenues in baseball and he had one of the game’s great players in his stable and still young enough to produce. Boras thinks he is so much more cunning than every GM and owner in the game that he could easily get the bidding up to the levels he envisioned.

It begs the question though, suppose the bidding got up around the $350 million mark without the Yankees part of the process. I’m inclined to think that he would convince his client to take the offer even though he wanted to remain with the Bronx Bombers.

That’s the problem. Who is working for whom here? Kenny Rogers stated quite clearly that he wished to stay in Detroit. Where did all this ‘return to Texas’ and shopping the Tigers’ offer come from? In both cases, Boras would look for top dollar and hoped his client would take it despite his preferences.

Who is the MLBPA working for nowadays--the agents or the players? It’s easy to understand why Marvin Miller thinks little of Boras. He is getting to the point where free agent players and draft picks are more about his career as an agent than the players he represents. Shouldn’t the union be telling Boras to back off a bit? They won’t do that of course because Don Fehr and Gene Orza care more about the salary bar and their own ideologies than what the players may wish for their careers. Suppose for a moment that a club went nuts as Tom Hicks and put a mind-blowing offer on the table … say 10 years/$400 million. Let’s say that team is the Washington Nationals. Will Boras and Fehr recommend that A-Rod take the Nats offer or maybe see if he can return to New York?

Sadly, we know the outcome of that situation--and it is pathetic. The players need another Marvin Miller. The MLBPA and certain player agents have become the new team owners and GM’s of the post Messersmith/McNally era--they have too much control over where free agents decide to play and that is so very wrong. Soon a salary cap will come to baseball and quite possibly NFL-type non-guaranteed contracts unless the union pulls itself together. It is time for other players to stand up and take their careers back from servitude to the salary bar.

Bottom line … yeah, it looks good on Scott Boras and I hope it is not his last indignity. He may be enriching his clients over the short term but over the long term, it is going to cost the players plenty.

On to other matters ….

Probably the number one problem Barry Bonds will have in trying to prove he never knowingly ingested anabolic steroids is this: His physique and bodily changes indicate long term usage. It is one thing to claim that he thought Greg Anderson gave him flaxseed oil under his tongue and to rub on his leg. It is quite another to state that it happened multiple times over several years. A couple of cycles of THG and or hGH will not produce the long term effect observed on Bonds hence it’s pretty obvious he will have a difficult time explaining how he unknowingly ingested steroids so many times over an extended period.

All of us notice when our body changes. Our old clothes don’t fit as well either being too loose or too tight, we have trouble squeezing our frame into certain situations where we never had problems before. In Bonds’ case, it would be a stretch to think that your hat is too tight despite the fact you are no longer sporting hair to be a little bit odd. I am about the same age as Barry Bonds and when these changes happen, I, like most, look for reasons why. Am I eating properly, am I burning fewer calories? Do I need to exercise more? Is it I’m just getting older? Is there anything I can do about this? We rarely just shrug our shoulder and say ‘Oh well, c’est la vie’ especially if our body is the primary tool of our trade.

Bonds underwent an extreme bodily change above and beyond the extra weight we tend to add as we age. It’s very difficult to believe that a professional athlete undergoing such a metamorphosis would not stop and think ‘Just what have I been taking anyway?’

Bottom line, despite his lawyer’s rhetoric, he will probably suggest Bonds cut a deal and not take a chance on a jury trial. The deal you make for yourself is generally less onerous than the deal forced upon you should you choose to fight a very difficult battle. Had Pete Rose walked into Bart Giamatti’s office and said ‘Mr. Commissioner, I have a problem and I desperately need help, here is what has happened …’ chances are he would be in the Hall of Fame and working in some capacity in MLB. In that scenario, Rose would serve a suspension of probably less than five years, be vilified by members of the press for a short time but be ultimately forgiven. Now he is a pariah.

If Barry Bonds admits guilt, cuts a deal and explains that his ego and desire to be the best got the better of him. While it doesn’t excuse what he did, a lot of players were juicing. Therefore, to regain his status as the best player in baseball he felt he needed to level the playing field. In time, chances are he would be viewed much like the hero of a Greek Tragedy. A god brought down by his own hubris only to find redemption and forgiveness in humility. We don’t want our heroes to be gods, we wish them to be just like us since it means that we all have potential greatness within our mortal coils. That’s why we’re so forgiving to the truly repentant, it assures us that indeed we are not unlike those to whom we look up.

Will Barry Bonds learn from the past? Doubtful, another human trait is that we feel that our own circumstances are somehow unique and past lessons simply don’t apply. It is Einstein’s very definition of insanity--doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Barry Bonds lives in the same insane world we all do.

Best Regards


Saturday, November 17, 2007

No Fehr for Barry Bonds?…

A lot of folks are bemoaning the timing of Barry Bonds’ indictment. They say ‘Why couldn’t this happen before he broke Hank Aaron’s record?’ The thing is, it may well have come at the worst possible time for one Barry Lamar Bonds. Here is the thing, there has been a lot written about how his career is not just over, so are his Hall of Fame chances. Initially I thought the first part was likely if for no other reason than by the time all these legal procedures have run their course, Bonds may be too old and rusty to play. I thought the whole ‘Barry Bonds will be banned for life a la Pete Rose and ‘Shoeless Joe’ was little more than overwrought rhetoric.

Then it hit me.

Bonds filed for free agency. This means he is not employed by major league baseball. I assume this also means he is not under the protection of the MLBPA--a private citizen as it were. Unless I am misunderstanding, the fact that he is not under contract, ergo not subject to the collective bargaining agreement means if Bud Selig were to ban him for life then Bonds would have to seek legal redress rather than arbitration.

Of course, perhaps a player has to file retirement papers with both the league and the union before he is outside the umbrella of the MLBPA. I will have to touch base with some folks and find out what is what in this regard. If Bonds is not covered by the CBA, he will have to fight a permanently ineligible ruling in court.

So maybe the whole ‘blew his chance for the Hall of Fame’ has some legs.

To me, it is absurd. I always laugh when people talk about the clause in HOF voting about character, integrity and sportsmanship. Allow me an analogy, up to very recently certain statistical baselines generally guaranteed a spot in the Heroes Gallery whether it is 3000 hits, 500 HR or 300 wins. So then, what is the baseline for ‘character, integrity and sportsmanship’? Ty Cobb was not only a charter member of the Hall of Fame he was also the number one vote getter … so there ya go.


The thing that bothers me about all this is the fact that a lot of tremendous players have been nasty to the media. The BBWAA members realize that to not vote for players like Eddie Murray, Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Rod Carew etc. would reveal them as small and petty. Barry Bonds has given them an out to deny a player honours due to his prickly personality--and its steroids and a grand jury indictment. This is something tangible they can point to as why they voted no when in reality they went thumbs-down because Bonds acted like the south end of a north bound mule blowing kisses into their faces.

Of course, Bonds could fight an attempted Selig banishment on antitrust grounds that may obligate them to settle out of court on a finite suspension. The Mitchell Report may prove that Bonds was simply one of a vast number of juiced players in which case the media may hold their noses and vote from him or risk looking like total hypocrites.

The Bonds Market...

Switching gears for a moment…

I have got to go waaaaay off-topic. At Baseball Think Factory (my cyber clubhouse), a primate (AKA a poster) named Gaelan made a terrific point about sample sizes. I’ll post it without editorial comment but I want it here so I can always find and reference it:
Everyone here knows the power of sample size. The larger the sample size the more reliable your statistics. It is because of sample size that things like MLE work. The problem with any sample is that it is based upon the assumption that for any sample that is drawn from events across time, the thing that is being measured (in this case ability) has not changed. In many cases this assumption turns out to be valid which is why statistics have any use at all. The problem is that there is no way of knowing, on the basis of statistics alone, whether this assumption is valid. Which is another way of saying that statistics are not self-grounding. It stands to reason then that an intelligent observer would want to ground those statistics in meaningful first hand observations.

For example there are many instances that we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that a player's ability has changed. For instance:

1) when a player is young and developing their skills
2) when a player is old and losing skills
3) when a player is injured
4) when a pitcher learns a new pitch

In all of these cases the assumption that underlies statistical analysis is not reasonable. Circumstances have intruded and disrupted the sample size that gives statistics its power. Moreover if you are making a decision worth millions of dollars you don't have the luxury to wait and let the player build a new sample size. You need to make a decision now and the sample size you have is not reliable.

This should be obvious. It's well known that pitcher projections are much less reliable than the projections for hitters. The hard core stat bias is to say that this is due to luck. A more reasonable explanation is that the "true" ability that is being measured has actual variance (dead arm, hurt arm, new pitches, etc.). A smart man will send someone to watch that pitcher and not rely on unreliable projections.
Finally, my recent columns are up (oh no, not again!) although I have still got a couple in the hopper at MSN. The Hardball Times piece is the culmination of my search for baseball’s 100/100/100 men that I entitled The 300 Club. I was actually disappointed in the final result (the column itself); the research was fun and all but I couldn’t give it the oomph (oomph? Who says oomph anymore away from the loo?) I had hoped.

The MSN column was dealing with the Bonds indictment and how Barry Bonds made himself Baseball's Fall Guy for the steroid era. I also did one on the A-Rod negotiation where I can finally give the man some props away from the diamond. I have ranted here often about what has happened to free agency and I am thrilled that Mr. Rodriguez had the epiphany that he could go wherever he wanted on whatever terms he found satisfactory. Read the Wall Street Journal’s account of Mr. Rodriguez taking the reins from Scott Boras and deciding for himself where he wished to play in 2008 and beyond. Again, all I can say is--well done.

Best Regards


Friday, November 16, 2007

Dear Yankees fans…

Unless you have been off-planet the last couple of days, you no doubt know that Alex Rodriguez has decided to stay in pinstripes. While I realize that he is a polarizing figure, it doesn’t change the fact that he truly wanted to remain a member of your favourite team. A quick caveat: I am a Blue Jays fan and as such, we have to deal with his bat for the next decade if we ever hope to see the post season again. I am writing this as one baseball fan to another.

Yes, he allowed his agent to do some pretty stupid things however, giving Scott Boras free rein has always worked for him in times past. This time, for whatever reason, Boras thought the off-season marketplace was conducive to a $300-$400 million contract and was likely of the opinion that it would come from the Yankees. To get this deal however a few hoops had to be jumped through, the biggest of which was getting your team involved in a bidding war with Boston and both LA teams.

Evidently, Rodriguez wished very much to stay with the Yankees. So much so that Boras announced the opt out before they even had a chance to make an offer. Boras was concerned that a face-to-face meeting with the front office and the Steinbrenners would end up with A-Rod saying ‘Where do I sign?’ before other clubs had a chance to weigh in with their offers. He instructed Rodriguez to not return calls and, to make sure nothing could prevent him from entering the marketplace, he announced the opt out before the World Series concluded. Yes, part of that was calculated on Boras’s part (and it backfired) but part of it was to not give your ex and now third baseman a chance to sign an extension with New York.

After seeing the fallout from Boras’s strategy, A-Rod decided that if he wanted to stay with the Yankees he had best make it happen himself. Rodriguez had been down this road once before with Boras and it landed him a bowel-loosening contract with the Texas Rangers who were never a serious choice until his agent told him so. Rodriguez knew that both his agent and the players union would attempt to convince him to sign with whichever team made the largest offer. Boras wasn’t looking for a contender, he was looking for a pigeon. After the desired contract was secured and buyer’s remorse set in after a season or two, then a trade could be engineered to a contending team if his new club looked like they were still a ways away from making the post season.

Alex Rodriguez the apparently grabbed the reins from Boras and built a bridge back to the Yankees. While it’s tempting to think that this was all a ploy by Boras there are some things that need to be considered.

To begin with, A-Rod didn’t sign with Texas until late January 2001. His agent is big on making teams sweat and the longer the bidding goes on and the higher the contract goes. This didn’t happen; it’s November 16 and it looks like they’ve come to terms and are just hammering out the details. The Yankees offer wasn’t shopped to other clubs. Finally, the deal signed in 2000 was a ten-year contract averaging $25.2 million per year. Despite inflation, the lower value of the dollar and the fact that revenues are far higher than they were in 2000 his new ten-year pact averages just $27.5 million annually.

Yes, it’s a new record but in context, it’s not as shattering as the deal signed seven years ago. People forget that when Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the Cincinnati Reds he gave what was viewed as a hometown discount. That discount was still the largest total package given to a player up to that point in time. In 2000, the second largest deal was Manny Ramirez’s with the Red Sox for eight years/$160 million--almost $100 million less than A-Rod’s deal with the Rangers. Rodriguez’s new deal is just a bit over a quarter of the spread from his old contract despite inflation and the game’s record revenues.

It’s a nice package to be sure, but not a Boras masterstroke. Some are claiming it is, that Boras deliberately bid high so a lesser figure would seem palatable and reasonable. That’s not what happened in 2000. Seven years ago Scott Boras primed the public for a ten year/quarter billion contract and got it. Bear in mind that $200 million was his stated baseline the previous time; this time it was $350 million. He topped the first baseline by $52 million and fell $75 million short on the second.

Bottom line Yankee fans, just put Scott Boras and his machinations out of your mind. Alex Rodriguez loves it in the Bronx and wants to win a World Series there. He manned up, swallowed his pride and did what was needed to don the pinstripes in 2008 and beyond. He is a helluva ballplayer and proved to this cynical Blue Jays fan that his heart is indeed pinstriped.

I hope all of you will ignore the media’s vilification and realize that you’re the fans he wishes to play in front of for the rest of his career. Opening Day 2008, get on your feet, put your hands together and welcome the prodigal son home.

Best Regards


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Holy flurping snit!...

Things are happening fast. I’m getting overwhelmed with updates, links you name it. I’ll come right out and say it now, the things to follow may change as more things come in. As a media hack, this is where the fun is, the adrenaline pumping, following every lead, following up every message, seeking confirmation or denial. Every time I refresh my web-mail there’s more stuff in it and the worst are from folks who think that I have some scoop or inside knowledge and am I willing to share it.

I’m impressed that they think I have that kind of access and or clout (I do not) and I’m just following the twists and turns as they are. Granted, I admit I’m probably getting information more efficiently since I’m being told precisely where to look for things yet I’m still trying to figure it all out.

At the same time, I feel a little guilty since I’m forced to depersonalize human beings into bits of news. Whether folks deserve what happens or not, it doesn’t change that lives are going to be affected. Some may enjoy seeing players get their comeuppance whether it’s Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez, but in the case of Bonds both friends and family will feel the fallout as well--and not just the enablers or sycophants either.

So far, the three big things that are happening are:
  • Alex Rodriguez has agreed to the outlines of a new deal with the Yankees. 10 years/$275 million plus incentives.
  • Barry Bonds has been indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice. The key phrase is: “During the criminal investigation, evidence was obtained including positive tests for anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing substances for Bonds and other professional athletes.
  • Greg Anderson has been released from jail.

Was Anderson finally released after testifying? Did the Feds get the evidence without his assistance so they released him since the grand jury is now over? No idea, we’re going to have to wait. At least there will be plenty to write about in the coming days.

As to A-Rod, I have no idea if this part of a Boras machination or Rodriguez just decided to take matters into his own hands. The fact remains that his aggregate annual compensation remains where it was before the opt-out with seven years added (although I doubt the contract is structured thusly).

I’m sure the pundits will tell us who won, who lost, who caved etc. and will depend largely on where they get their information. To me, at least as far as my current information goes the winner is Alex Rodriguez. While I’m sure he’ll be savaged my many in the media who will gloat that he was forced to return to the Yankees with tail tucked between his legs I won’t be among them.

I’ve stated often that the original ideals of Marvin Miller and men like Curt Flood and others were about player freedom. Simply a situation where, when a contract expired, a ballplayer could pick his next destination using whatever criteria was important to him and negotiates the best deal he could.

A-Rod finally decided to do just that.

He wanted to stay with the Yankees and made it happen. Don’t forget, back in 2000 he didn’t sign until well into January and Scott Boras is always patient waiting for bidding to go as high as possible. The fact that this happened so quickly in the free agent period tells me that this was not a Boras ploy but a step by the future Hall of Famer to sculpt his own destiny. He decided he wanted to remain a Yankee, sought out the Steinbrenners and asked for a chance to make it happen.

For the first time in many years, I am impressed with the man off the field of play. He’ll still be well compensated (as well he should) so there’s no need to feel that he is a beaten cur--far from it. A-Rod pulled a Carpe Diem, he seized the day, the initiative what-have-you and did what he wanted. He didn’t do what Boras wanted or perhaps what the MLBPA wanted, he took the rights that many sacrificed so he could have them and he used them.

Unless we find out this was a clever Boras ploy, count on a column in the very near future where I will give the man full props and probably drop a couple of snarky remarks about writers like Mike Celizic and some New York scribes who will doubtlessly write that Rodriguez finally got his comeuppance.

Alex Rodriguez stood up and exercised his right to choose and made it happen not caring a whit how others might view it. All I can say is: Well done Mr. Rodriguez, you did Marvin Miller and Curt Flood proud because they fought so you could choose and you listened to your heart and your heart only in making your choice.

Best Regards