MLB in Cuba

Sometimes, a baseball game comes along that reminds you of why you love the game so much.

Today, watching the exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban baseball team, reminded me of not just why I love baseball, but why I love sports.

Yes, the baseball game was almost like a prop in a larger political scheme, but let’s not undermine the magnitude of this game. For the first time since 1998, Major League Baseball played a game in Cuba, a country with whom the USA has not had a great relationship (to put it lightly). After the travel ban to Cuba was lifted, MLB made the decision to play a spring training against the Cuban National team.

Sitting side-by-side for the first part of the game was President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. Seeing these two leaders laugh and cheer on their country’s respective teams was a sight for sore eyes. Slowly but surely barriers are being broken down and relationships are being mended (and two presidents actually did The Wave). Regardless of your political affiliations, you have to admit that it is pretty cool that Obama got to watch a baseball game in Cuba. Yes, the Cuban government needs to change, and there is understandable trepidation over reaching out to Cuba. I don’t want to get political with this post, because that will just piss people off, but it was encouraging to see these two countries building bridges, even if it was over something as simple as a game of baseball.

Sports are wonderful because they are one of the best ways to unite people. During the Olympics, athletes from all over world are united and the entire world watches. We don’t look at athletes from different countries and think about how much America is supposed to hate them – we marvel at how fast they can run, swim, ski, or skate. In a way, sports bring out the best in humanity because it allows us to bridge the divides in our everyday life. It can be a small gesture, like talking about the Yankees with the man sitting next to you with whom you would never normally speak, or it can be as important as playing a baseball game in Cuba.

No matter what horrific things are happening in the world, no matter what stresses we are facing, no matter how hard life can get, we have sports to momentarily take all of that away. For three hours, fans are united in cheering for their teams, their favorite players, and coming together for a wonderfully unique experience unlike any other.

Man, thank God for sports.

You’re Kid-ing me

Adam LaRoche walked away from baseball yesterday because his 14 year-old kid was no longer allowed to hang out in the White Sox clubhouse everyday.

Wait, what?

At first, when I read this story, I had a hard time believing that this was really true. I mean, who forfeits $13 Million/year because you can’t find a babysitter? Then I remembered it’s Spring Training and who gives a crap about someone’s kid hanging out in the clubhouse? The more I thought about it, the more I understood why LaRoche was upset. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the White Sox higher-ups are making a mountain out of a 14 year-old mole hill.

Baseball players play 162 games every year, which means 81 of those games are on the road. About two-thirds of their home games are played at night and they don’t get home until well after 10pm. If you’re doing the math (which I’m not, because math sucks), you can see how little baseball players get to see their families. In fact, many players live in AZ or FL during the off-season so they can spend more time with their families during Spring Training. Many families don’t even live in the same city of the player’s team. Long story short, baseballers don’t get to see their kids that often, so it makes sense that their kids would hang out during Spring Training.

If your kid is well-behaved, I don’t see a huge issue with them in the clubhouse during Spring Training. If they stay out of the way and don’t cause a ruckus, who cares? The argument the White Sox front office used is “what other job allows for your kid to be there?”. My responses to that is: what other job forces you to hardly see your family for half the year?

Most of the other players in the clubhouse had no issue with LaRoche’s son being there, but I could understand why you might. You can’t say bad words in front of him, and you can’t tell your gross hook up stories in front of him, but that’s not the end of the world! At no other job do you get to swear freely or divulge the weird things you do when you’re not on the clock.

I guess what I am getting at is that it really isn’t a big deal to have kids in the clubhouse during Spring Training. If your kid is acting like the Tasmanian Devil, then yeah, find a daycare, but if your kid is well-behaved and stays out of the way, then enjoy the bonding time! Goodness knows you don’t get to watch your kids grow up while you’re on the road. You don’t get to tuck your kid in every night during the season. So go ahead, let your kid hang out in the clubhouse, all these stuffy writers and front office people be damned!

The White Sox have a valid argument, sure. You want to set a precedent and create a professional environment. Adam LaRoche was, in my opinion, dumb for walking away from the $13 million he was set to make this year. The whole situation is dumb if you ask me, but hey, I don’t make the rules.

However, if Adam’s kid every even looks at his dad wrong, Adam can be all like “I quit baseball for you”. Boom. Mic drop.

 

30 Games

A few quick thoughts on Yankees’ relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s 30-game suspension…

  1. 30 games seems a bit low.
  2. It seems like it was a negotiated amount, but that’s just me.
  3. I have a lot of respect for Rob Manfred, even though I don’t agree with his punishment.

To expand on my first point, I was expecting him to be suspended for about forty-five games. Given the harrowing details of his alleged crime (gun shooting and choking are the headliners), I was surprised the he will only have to sit out a little over a month. However, I will admit, as a huge Yankees fan, I am a little pleased I get to watch him pitch as soon as May…

I feel like his suspension was negotiated because he has elected not to appeal. He just wants to get it over with and there is no way MLB wants to start the 2016 season with a lawsuit. Not only that, but a suspension of 45 days would delay his free agency by a year. This means that after the 2016 season, he is eligible to be a free agent (and he will get PAID this off-season). I think had he been suspended for longer than 30 games, he would have absolutely appealed the decision. People also are saying that if his free agency was postponed for a year, that is a win for the Yankees, who many felt made a grave mistake pursuing a man who was accused of DV. I don’t care if it would be a “win” for the Yanks – a longer suspension still sends a message that DV is not okay.

Though I don’t agree with the length of the suspension, I have nothing but respect for Commissioner Manfred’s reasoning. In the statement he released, he made it abundantly clear how important the victim was in his consideration. He said the use of a firearm impacted the severity of the suspension, as it should. It is so so so so so important that we do not forget the victims of these domestic disputes.

Chapman is going to be suspended without pay for 30 games. Fine. I have no tolerance for a man who puts his hands on a woman (or visa-versa), but this is a good start. The NFL looked ridiculous for it’s handling of Ray Rice and Greg Hardy, and I don’t think MLB will be viewed the same way. In a way, this is a big win for baseball.

Final quick thought: The Yankees should donate Chapman’s salary for the games he will miss to Joe Torre’s Safe At Home domestic violence foundation.

 

 

If I Were a Big Leaguer…

Okay, so I saw a great article on USA Today called 27 Things I Would Do If I Were a Major League Baseball Player and it was amazing!! Not only was it super funny, it got me thinking about what I would do if I was a baseball player. Obviously, I’m terribly un-athletic and a girl, so, you know, no baseball for me, HOWEVER!! it is still fun to think about. When I was little, I thought for sure I would be the first female pitcher to break into the bigs, but then I grew up and grew steadily more uncoordinated. I don’t think they allow you to be a big league pitcher if you trip over your own feet while walking to the mound.

Anyway, here are some things I would do if I played baseball. My gender is a non-factor, so all of these are mostly just going to be about me being a turd and slowly annoying all of my teammates…

1) Wear a fake mustache some days just to freak everyone out. 

I’m my mind, this plays out like “Oh, who is that very attractive, yet slightly feminine-looking man in the dugout? Oh! That’s just Hannah! What a silly goober! Gosh, we love her so much!”. In reality though, it would probably be like “Goddammit, Hannah’s wearing the fake mustache again. Oh my God she is so annoying. Why does she have to distract from the game like this?”

2) Wear the bubble gum bucket like a hat whenever I had the chance.

Let’s face it: I would probably be a bench player at best, or perhaps that awful bullpen go-to when the game is already a blow out. I feel like I would have sufficient time to goof off in the dugout/bullpen, so I might as well look like a stud and rock a bubble gum helmet.

3) Make those gross loud grunting noises that bros do when they lift.

I HATE going to the gym because some men decide to yell and grunt and make unnecessary noises when they lift weights. If I was on a team, I’d go work out and make those noises, too, just to show all the men how annoying that is. Then, one by one, they will stop and everyone can finally work out in peace.

4) Bat flip every single time I hit a home run.

I love a good bat flip. I would love nothing more than to bat flip, stare down the pitcher, and yell “YOU GAVE UP A HOMER TO A CHICK, BRO!”. It would thrill me to watch him get pissed but not be able to do anything.

5) Dance whenever I was on base.

I would dance my butt off every time I wait on the bases. I’m not fast, so I couldn’t steal a bag, which would give me a lot of time to just chill out and dance. Keep one foot on the bag, do the stanky leg with the other.

6) Have like, 100 different walk-up songs.

Everyone deserves to hear every song Bruce Springsteen ever released.

7) Give all of my teammates decorative soaps.

Lots of showering = a great need for soap. I might as well make sure the soap smells good. And it would be hilarious to see their reaction when opening it. “Oh wow! You got me a gift that’s so amaz-oh. Soap shaped like a sea shell. Thanks, I guess.”

8) Name my bats after major leaguers.

“Yeah man, A-Rod really came through for us today.”

“What do you mean? He’s been retired for years!”

“Nah, bro, my bat! I named my bat A-Rod.”

“Ugghhh, Hannah…”

9) French-braid my teammates’ hair.

If you have long hair, watch out. I’m a french-braiding machine.

10) Give a TON of butt pats.

Have a good game? Butt pat. Have a terrible game? Butt pat. Tell a funny joke? Butt pat. Show up for practice on time? Butt pat. Grab a new piece of gum from the gum bucket/Hannah hat? Butt pat.

11) Touch Adrian Beltre’s head.

Few men dare to touch Beltre’s dome. I am not afraid. I will touch it and it will be glorious. I can only assume the heavens will open up and my hand will be caressed by an angel.

12) Make Orbit be my best friend.

The Astros’ mascot has a pension for pranks and I have to get in on that. Just when you thought you were safe, Hannah and Astro team up for epic pranks. But you can’t get mad because we are both too adorable.

13) EAT ALL THE CHURRO DOGS.

I would play in Arizona sometimes and insist that dozens of churro dogs be brought to the clubhouse for my personal consumption. I’d hate myself afterwords, but oh Lordy it would be worth it. I regret nothing.

14) Pull a Marshawn Lynch on occasion after games.

I’m just here so I won’t get fined. God is good. God bless.

15) Mercilessly troll other players/fans/trolls on Twitter.

“Hey Jose Fernandez! You should have struck me out w/ 3 pitches instead of 4! Hahahaha”

#HannahSucks

16) Lay down a bunt at least once a game.

Hey, realistically I won’t be a homerun-smacking ballplayer! But, I bet I could lay down a sweet bunt once in awhile. And it would be hilarious because players would be so mad! But I’d just be chillin’ there on first like “Yeah I bunted, but it worked. Suck it!”

17) Talk enough smack to start a bench-clearing brawl, but run away and hide

I’m a coward, what can I say? I’m all bark, no bite. I’ll talk trash until I see a 6’5″ dude trying to plow me into the ground. Yeah, no, nope, I’m good. Hannah out.

18) Tater-trot around the bases when I homer.

Not only will I bat flip, but I will trot around the bases like I got nothing better to do. Like, yeah, I sent that ball 350ft away, I deserve to mosey around the bags. Sue me.

19) Make a big deal about retiring, then getting pissed when no one cares.

Let’s face it: I was a jerk during my major league career, so the only thing people will be celebrating is me leaving. Do svidaniya, nerds!

20) Retire and start a goat farm, causing me to become more and more well-liked once I start posting adorable goat pictures.

Is there really an explanation needed? Goats are the best.

2016 Story-Lines…

BREAKING NEWS: We are officially in our last week without baseball until November. I am feeling warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about the sound of baseball bats smacking homeruns…

2016 is going to be a super awesome season, I can already tell. There have been so many unbelievable surprises in the the off-season (Zack Greinke to AZ?! David Price to the Red Sox?! The Cubbies signing EVERYONE?!) that I can just tell 2016 is going to be a year of baseball to remember.

Let’s take a look at some of the story-lines I will be closely following:

What will Rob Manfred do about the Domestic Violence offenders?

With Aroldis Chapman, Jose Reyes, and Yasiel Puig in trouble over some serious domestic violence allegations, second-year commissioner Rob Manfred has quite a task ahead of him. After watching the NFL royally botch the punishments of several players accused of DV, you can bet Manfred has no intentions of following their model. So, several key questions come up: How long will the punishments be? Will they be with or without pay? When will Manfred announce his decision? He said he was going to announce suspensions before the season, so I would expect it to come down any day now, especially with Spring Training starting next week. I am so opposed to DV that I don’t really think you should be playing the game if you lay hands on a woman, but I’m not the commish. I have no idea what he will do, but I hope his punishment is lengthy and sets a precedent.

How will the NL West shape up?

This division had the craziest off-season of any division in baseball and it will be SO FUN to watch the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Dodgers duke it out all season. AZ improved leaps and bounds, but so did San Fran. The Dodgers are still favored to win the division, but even if they do, it will be a hard-fought title. But really, no one can get their hopes up because it’s an even year. That means the Giants will win the World Series, much to the chagrin of literally everyone who doesn’t live in the Bay Area.

Can the Cubs finally de-throne the Cardinals in the NL Central?

After stealing the off-season with some incredible signings, the Cubbies look poised to over-take the Central Division. Sadly, my dream of them fulfilling the Back to the Future prediction of “Cubs Win 2015 World Series” was crushed by the Mets. But, could 2016 be their year? Maybe the prediction should have been “Cubs win 2016 World Series”. I mean, what does Marty McFly know anyway? Not that he had any say in them winning, since he was in 1985, but whatever. Let me have my Back to the Future nerd-out moments! Sigh. I’m just gonna make like a tree and get outta here…

Will Bae-Rod still produce like he did last year?

If Alex Rodriguez’s workout videos are any indication, the man looks ready to mash. The man is also 40, so his health will determine his mashing abilities. As a Yankees fan, I can only hope that he treats baseballs like he treats potatoes. And by that I mean I hope he mashes them. Get it? Mashed potatoes? Mashing baseballs? Get it? Get it?! Regardless of his baseball/potato mashing abilities, the Yanks need him to be productive again this year. Actually, they need all of their old farts to be productive this year.

How sucky will the AL West teams who aren’t in Texas be?

Frankly, I’m not worried about the Astros or the Rangers because they will probably have good seasons. I am, however, wondering just how good the Angels, Mariners, and A’s will be. The A’s were a basic dumpster fire last year and they didn’t do much to improve. The Angels are hosed because Mike Trout can’t play all nine positions at once. To be honest, the Mariners are probably the best of the bunch and could win the division if they live up to expectations. But I also said that last year, so what do I know?

The Mets spent like the Yankees this off-season, but will they be better than the Yankees in 2016?

Please, God, no. Please no. I am not emotionally prepared to have the Mets be better than the Yankees two years in a row. It can’t happen. *whispers* I think it will happen *sobs*

Will players be able to plow into each other at 2nd this year?

Yes, it’s always been frowned upon, but after watching Chase Utley break Ruben Tejada’s fibula last season, you just knew things were gonna change. MLB has a new rule that is set to be implemented in 2016, but will it work? I hope so, mostly because I don’t want to see any more bones broken when it could be avoided. Breaking up a play is one thing, maliciously plowing into the second baseman is a whole other story.

Will the Nationals fall below expectations again? WILL BRYCE HARPER GET CHOKED OUT AGAIN?

These are both very important questions. I will say no, they won’t suck again, and it’s possible Harper gets choked out. I doubt it, but it’s possible. While we are at it, who will be worse in the NL East this year: the Phillies or the Marlins? Who wants to take bets?

Which teams will surprise us this year?

No clue, but I can’t wait to find out!

There are SO many more things I am excited to see unfold this year, but these are the big points that I am following a little more closely. I can’t wait for Spring Training to start next week. It’s been a long, hard winter without baseball. I need it to come back. I need a good excuse to wear my swag to work every day, whether my boss likes it or not. I need you, baseball.

 

 

 

 

 

Rooting for the Laundry

Boy, I am in one hell of a moral quagmire.

My dear, darling, beloved, pin-striped Yankees have just added the best reliever in baseball to their bullpen. The Yanks now boast the only three relievers in baseball who had 100+ strikeouts in 2015 and all of them throw over 100 mph. The dominate three are Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and a guy who just happens to be under investigation for some horrific domestic violence charges.

The Yanks’ latest addition, Aroldis Chapman, has been accused of domestic violence charges that includes (but is not limited to) choking his girlfriend, pushing her against a wall and firing a gun eight times in his garage. Basically, he is accused of the stuff human garbage piles are made of. It seems as though, with this trade, the Yankees have undone all of the good work Joe Torre has done in bringing domestic violence issues to light (check out his DV outreach foundation, Safe At Home, at joetorre.org).

All of their good karma seems to have been burned up.

The price for Chapman was too good to pass up. The Yankees sent four minor prospects, only one of whom is close to major-league ready, for a man who is arguably the best reliever in baseball. When two teams backed out of trades when these allegations surfaced, Chapman’s price was driven way down. The Cincinnati Reds were desperate to get rid of him and I don’t blame them. The deal for Chapman is risky because we are not sure how many games he will miss due to suspension and he is in the last year of his contract.

As a baseball move, it was a brilliant no-brainer. As a moral move, it makes you wanna barf.

So how am I, as a woman and a huge Yankees fan, supposed to react to this signing?

In my other blog earlier this year, I wrote a scathing critique of the Dallas Cowboys and Greg Hardy. The big difference is that I have no attachment to the Cowboys. I hate them, in fact, so it was easy to skewer them. Now, I am forced to ponder how to root for my team while still being disgusted with Chapman. I am SO EXCITED for the Betances-Miller-Chapman three-headed monster that will be the bullpen, but I’m sick about what Chapman has allegedly done. I don’t want him playing for my team, but I really want him playing for my team.

Cheering for the Yankees does not mean I cheer for domestic violence. Cheering for the Yankees also does not mean I am ignoring the awful things Chapman has allegedly done. Perhaps I am simply rooting for the laundry, as Seinfeld coined so appropriately. I root for the Yankees, but I won’t root for Chapman. He will get support through osmosis until he can prove to me that he is changed. If he takes the Ray Rice route and owns up to what he has done and takes steps to better himself, perhaps I will cheer for him genuinely.

Until then, I am going to die of happiness because of the amazing bullpen the Yanks boast, but I am also going to hate myself a little.

Oh, and by the way, don’t think that PED use and domestic violence are the same thing and warrant a similar suspension. Nope. Nope nope nope. If you think that, you’re wrong. I’d rather see DV offenders suspended for 80 games and PED users suspended for far less. I’d rather have someone cheat than have them put their hands on a woman. When I have kids, I’d rather them look up to someone like A-Rod or Ryan Braun instead of Greg Hardy or Aroldis Chapman. But whatever.

 

http://www.pinstripealley.com/yankees-editorials-opinions-analysis/2015/12/30/10687970/mlb-aroldis-chapman-yankees-brian-cashman-trade-domestic-violence ………This article by Pinstripe Alley was wonderful and perfectly describes how I feel about the trade. 

 

 

 

Draft Kings and Pete Rose

Yesterday, it was announced by Major League Baseball that Commissioner Rob Manfred has decided not to reinstate Pete Rose into the game of baseball.

Okay, that’s fine.

I get it: Pete Rose gambled and that’s a big no-no in the game of baseball. Let’s move on.

However, the more I think about it, the more I start to feel a little unsettled. As I watch more and more commercials for Draft Kings, the “Daily Fantasy Sports Operator” (or as I and the state of New York call them, a gambling company), the more I get a bad taste in my mouth.

Don’t you find it interesting that MLB and a GAMBLING organization are in an exclusive partnership?

Don’t you find it interesting that MLB has, since 2013, had a small stake in the GAMBLING company? Meaning, of course, that whenever Draft Kings does well financially, so does MLB?

Don’t you find it interesting that experts on ESPN, Fox Sports, and other sports networks, who APPLAUDED Manfred’s decision, have fantasy segments on their networks, telling fans what players they should spend, er, I mean GAMBLE, their money on?

Isn’t it interesting that Draft Kings grew exponentially since signing a partnership with MLB? And by “exponentially”, I mean going from $2 million in April 2013 to nearly $300 million by October 2015? (Thanks Forbes for the #’s)

Isn’t it interesting that MLB abhors gambling so much that it banned Pete Rose for life, but the same league who banned him are in an official partnership with Draft Kings?

I don’t know about you, but I smell hypocrisy and it doesn’t smell good. If MLB wants to continue to draw a hard line stance on gambling, it needs to cut ties with Draft Kings. Plain and simple. Yeah I know, it’s not illegal to play fantasy sports online, but come on. It’s gambling. I don’t care what the courts say, it’s gambling.

MLB won’t let it’s players or front office peeps use the website, yet they have a partnership with them…hmmm… Why get into a partnership if your players or front officer workers cannot enjoy the benefit of said partnership? What is MLB was all like, “We have a partnership with Gatorade, but no one can drink the Gatorade”?

MLB needs to ditch Draft Kings ASAP. It’s easier said than done, but they can’t expect to have Pete Rose’s ban taken seriously if they are still buddy-buddy with Draft Kings.

Draft Kings isn’t some shady back alley, nor is it an iffy mob underworld, but this is a very fine line baseball is walking. MLB can’t just walk the walk with Rose, it also has to talk the talk and ditch their affiliation with a GAMBLING company.You can’t denounce gambling and say it’s bad when you are a direct beneficiary of a GAMBLING company.

You can’t have your cake and ban it, too.

 

 

 

Shock the World, Arizona

About 24 hours ago, it was seemingly a two-team race to sign the most coveted prize on the free-agent market: Zack Greinke. The Los Angeles Dodgers were the favorite to re-sign their right-handed ace and keep the knock-out 1-2 punch of him and fellow (multiple) Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. There were also talks in San Francisco that the Giants were trying to sign the ace. The two NL West powerhouse teams were battling over Greinke and no one was surprised.

Then the Arizona Diamondbacks came in and shocked the world.

As first reported by Fox Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal, the D-Backs were offering Zack Greinke a monster deal to come pitch in the desert. Just how monster? Well, Greinke is going to make $206.5 million dollars over the next six years, which can pay for: my college loan debt 14,750 times, 1,894,495 Zack Greinke jerseys, 8,641 2016 Ford Mustangs, and 24,294,117 churro dogs.

But why would he want to sign with the D-Backs? After all, they have been viewed as one of the three doormats of the NL West, along with the San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies. Perhaps it was the lure of the fresh new uniforms the D-backs rolled out a few days ago. Perhaps it was the lure of being able to eat a churro dog anytime he wants.

Or, perhaps, he sees what a great team the Diamondbacks are becoming.

In 2015, the D-backs ranked in the top eight in the majors in runs, slugging percentage, OBP, stolen bases, and extra-base hits (thanks to ESPN.com for the stats). In the National League, only the Rockies scored more runs. ESPN’s Aaron Boone commented last night that the D-Backs defense is on-par with the Kansas City Royals, which is a big compliment. Truly, the weak area of the team was the rotation. They did not have a number one pitcher, or number two for that matter. Adding Greinke gives the D-Backs a lot of reassurance in their rotation.

Of course, getting paid $206.5 million dollars doesn’t hurt either.

It’s kind of a surprising move for the D-Backs to offer such a high contract. They were not a team known for breaking the bank for any reason. But, signs that they were wanting to spend big money came along a few days ago when they supposedly offered free-agent Johnny Cueto a 6-year $120 million deal, which he ultimately turned down. This is a team that, for most of its young existence, has done a great job of relying on their own player development to get the job done. The problem, though, is that for the last three or so years, the players in their farm system were not ready for the big leagues until this past year. 2015 was a special year for the D-Backs because they got to see how good their farm system was. The position players were trickling into the locker room and making a big impact. With several top-ranked pitching prospects on the cusp of being big-league ready, the D-Backs are looking good for years to come. Over the last few years, they have also been shedding pay roll so they could financially make a big move like this. Now, armed with a new 20-year TV deal worth nearly $2 billion dollars, this small-market team is sending a strong message: our time to win is now and we will spend money to make that happen.

Aside from vaulting the team into the post-season conversation, the signing of Zack Greinke does so much more. This signing sends a jolt through the fan-base, showing them that sticking with the team through the lean years and the continuous rebuilding could be well worth their recent suffering. When I got that news alert on my phone last night, I got chills. I was sure I might throw up from excitement. I also began to wonder how long it will be before I can buy a Greinke shirsey. Now, maybe Chase Field will start filling up again. Now, maybe more free agents will want to sign in Arizona. As a D-Backs fan and native Arizonan, I would find myself frustrated with the constant “rebuilding” process and I questioned why the D-Backs operated with such financial frugality, even though they had money to spend. The last few years have been tough, but signings like this make me feel optimistic. That feeling I had last night was a feeling I haven’t felt about the D-Backs in a long time.

I finally felt tangible optimism.

Sure, I’ve been optimistic about this team before, but this is different. This is a feeling that the organization as a whole is turning a corner and that the next few years are going to be really fun to watch.Will they regret his contract five so or years down the road? Probably. I’ve said before it’s stupid to give pitchers over thirty more than a five year deal, but I am a post-season craving D-Backs fan. I’ll deal with it.

So, pending a physical, Zack Greinke will be a Diamondback and I can’t wait.

*****

FYI, Buster Olney of ESPN gave a pretty interesting take on LA’s position in his Insiders column today. Here’s a snippet since not everyone pays for a subscription to the Insiders columns…

“…what is odd about the Dodgers’ parting with Greinke is that, besides their monster deal with Clayton Kershaw, they don’t owe a lot of money to other players beyond 2017. In 2018, they’re on the hook for about $42 million, toAdrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Brandon McCarthy, and in 2017, they’re set to be in the last season of deals with Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Alex Guerrero.

The Dodgers, however, would not give Greinke a sixth year in their offer, sticking to a reported $155 million over five years, and when the details of the Arizona deferrals are completed, it could turn out to be that they were outbid by about $35 million to $40 million by a division rival.

The Dodgers’ front office has signaled for weeks that it wanted to go young, but now the Dodgers have to live out that vision, which will be difficult. George Steinbrenner’s Yankees learned three decades ago that a team cannot be the financial bully in the room, with fans expecting an annual shot at championship, and step away from the table for a year or two at a time. Any rebuilding effort must be made on the fly, in concert with an effort to win, and that is the challenge.

And while you can debate the merits of a giving a 32-year-old pitcher a sixth year on top of a five-year offer and walking away from a deal over the difference of $30 million, there is no debating this: Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw propped up the Dodgers last year. When either of those pitchers started, L.A. was 43-22, and when anybody else started, they were 49-48.

The Dodgers might sign a cheaper alternative to Greinke, someone like Johnny Cueto or Scott Kazmir, but now the pressure on Kershaw will be even greater, and the same will be true for first-year manager and front man Dave Roberts, whose coaching staff was already in place when he was hired. They will be the first to feel the brunt of the fans’ frustration if the Dodgers drift backward in the standings and fall behind the Diamondbacks and Giants.

But that unhappiness would trickle upward, quickly, and the politics of failure would manifest, with a course change inevitable, despite the best-laid plans of December 2015. Former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington knows all about that.

A storied franchise sold for $2 billion just lost one of the three best pitchers in baseball over the sake of $30 million or so five years from now.” 

espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/insider/post?id=11788

 

 

 

 

 

Big Bucks in Beantown

Leave it to the Boston Red Sox to pull an Evil Empire-esque move.

Yesterday, news broke that the Boston Red Sox offered marquee southpaw David Price a record contract. Get this: Price is set to make $217 million over the next 7 years.

Yep, Boston took a page out of ol’ Boss Steinbrenner’s book of free agent spending.

Well, actually, last year was the start of an Evil Empire-type series of signings in Beantown when the Sox signed Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Of course, I am sure they would love to take those signings back. Pablo the Panda was about as productive as a regular panda would have been and Han-Ram quickly showed that he was not a man destined for the outfield. Panda and Han-Ram were signed to spark serious offense, but the Sox had one of the worst team batting averages in all of baseball in 2015. Which is why, to some, throwing money at another big-time free agent seems foolish, especially considering how strong their farm system is.

However, I think it was wise for Boston to spend big money on a pitcher. Not $217mil, but I do think they needed an ace. Price is worth a lot of money, and I don’t take issue with him making about $31 million a year. However, I DO have an issue with the length of his contract. Price is 30 years old, so it would naive to think that he would still be worth so much money four or five years down the road. Did the Sox learn nothing from watching the Yankees suffer through the end of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez’s monster contracts? Goodness knows the Yanks could use the cap space to get better and younger talent.

I guess I should have prefaced that I do not favor contracts of more than five years for ANYONE over the age of 30 in baseball. I think it is flat-out fiscally irresponsible. Yes, the players like job security, but do they like being a liability later on in their contract? Players are not ignorant to the fact that they are not holding up their end of the contract in the latter stages of said contract. Regardless, I just don’t think teams should offer long-term deals to older players – As a Yankees’ fan, I have seen this backfire A LOT.

I think David Price is a fantastic pitcher and worth the gobs of money he is going to collect. The dude has a career ERA of 3.09, a career WHIP of 1.13, and has amassed 1372 career strikeouts. Not only that, but he has a career win-loss record of 104-56.

But my goodness the Sox were silly to sign him for so many years.

If the Sox are going to tap into the Yankees’ fondness for throwing money at big-time players, they should also remember that there is a price to be paid (pun totally intended) for big-time spending. The Sox will probably be cursing themselves in about five or six years when Father Time eventually catches up with David Price and they can’t move him.

In the end, if I have learned anything from this signing, it is that if I ever have a son, I am tying his right hand behind his back and forcing him to pitch left-handed.

 

 

Baseball is Over and I am Sad

We have officially entered the saddest, most horrible part of the year.

The off-season.

If you are anything like me, you are probably in serious baseball withdrawals. I mean, I went from watching 2-3 games a day to watching none and I honestly have no idea how to fill my time. What am I supposed to do now, watch basketball? I only care about basketball during the playoffs or when the local team wins so I can get half-price pizza from Papa Johns. Anyway, I would like to talk about the World Series. I’m a week late, I know, but I’ve been busy nursing a sick cat back to health and sulking through a two-week long rainstorm. Neither one of those are made up excuses. Sadly.

Okay, first of all, I am sooooooooooo happy the Mets and the Royals were the two teams in the World Series. It was weird not having the Cardinals or the Giants as a major player, but if we are being honest, I was glad they were not there. It was nice to see some fresh teams coming out of the National League! BTW, how amazing was it to see the Cubbies in the postseason? For the first time a while, I had no rooting interest in what team won the World Series. I would have loved the outcome either way.

Even though it only went five games, this was one of the more entertaining World Series I have seen in quite some time. It was dramatic, energetic, unpredictable, and fun. The crowds at Citi Field and at the K were incredible. The pitching was incredible. The offense was incredible. And, even more than that, the story lines in this World Series were incredible:

  • Daniel Murphy going from en fuego in the NLCS to el cabra (a goat. And yes, I did Google translate that) in the WS
  • Matt Harvey pitching like the hero NYC deserved in Game 5, but pitching long enough to see himself become the villain
  • Eric Hosmer half-stealing home plate in Game 5, after the Royals came up 90 ft short in Game 7 last year
  • Edinson Volquez pitching, unaware of his father’s death, then pitching a gem in Game 5

And that’s not even all of them! Also, can we just talk about how the Royals scored most of their runs late in games? Like, they are the biggest procrastinators ever. Well, either that, or the Mets have a really sucky bullpen.

This series had everything we as baseball fans love and adore. Actually, the entire postseason was one of the best I can remember. The drama was there. The high caliber of play was there. The passion was there. The underdogs were there. The fallen giants were there.

Looking back and reflecting on all of it, I gotta say, we were very spoiled with the 2015 postseason. It was magical, plain and simple. I can only hope that 2016 will give us another amazing season!

But, for now, I will have to settle for watching football and hoping that A-Rod tweets more so I can get my Bae-Rod fix until Spring Training.