There is a window out to the world here in Curmudgeon Central and today that window looks out on a cold and rainy day where almost all the leaves on the trees have fallen and the grey clouds are thick and low. The weather forecast is for this to continue for at least the next 36 hours. If one were given to depression, this is a day to go and curl up in a ball and nap. Or … you could think about baseball and springtime and sunshine. I shall choose to think baseball today.
After the White Sox and the Cardinals – - recent World Series champions – - chose new managers who had never managed a baseball team, I thought that might become a trend in MLB because a lot of what happens in sports is “copycat” behavior. The third datum in the managerial sweepstakes comes from the Cubbies who signed Dale Sveum to be their manager and he is a “tweener” in this analysis. Sveum has managed the Brewers in the past albeit for only about a dozen games. So is he a “newbie” or is he a guy with previous experience? Cubs’ fans do not care and have not focused on that aspect of this selection. From what I read in the Chicago papers, here is a synopsis of Cubs’ fans’ reactions:
If he is Theo Epstein’s choice for the job, then he must be the single best person for the job that has ever existed on this planet.
That puts pressure on Sveum to succeed with a team that has not been a World Series champion in more than a century; but at the same time, he comes to the job with a reservoir of goodwill amongst the fans. At his introductory press conference, Sveum was asked what he saw in the Cubs’ team from the perspective of the Brewers’ dugout where he had been the bench coach trying to beat the Cubs. In a spasm of candor, he mentioned things he did not see:
“…running balls out on a consistent basis and playing the game hard for three hours … you just don’t see that looking over from the other side.”
Memo to Cubs’ fans: If this is the way he is going to communicate as a manager, be prepared to hear some things about your heroes that you have never heard before.
Memo to Cubs’ players: Unless his introduction was all façade and bluster, be prepared to play the game with a lot more intensity this year than you have in past years.
I ran across this note in the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:
“The Minnesota Twins are close to checking a second item off their offseason to-do list after agreeing to terms with free agent Ryan Doumit, who hit .303 with a .477 slugging percentage for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season and would immediately become the team’s second catcher.”
What caught my eye here is that there are not a lot of teams whose second catcher would hit .303. In fact, there are some teams where the second catcher struggles to hit .203. Then again, there are no other teams that have Joe Mauer as their first catcher. Mauer is the best hitting catcher in the game.
Seattle Mariners’ outfielder, Greg Halman was stabbed to death earlier this week in Rotterdam and his brother was taken into custody by the Dutch police as a suspect in the matter. Halman was 24 years old and had a short stint with the Mariners last season after spending seven years in the team’s farm system.
Within the reporting on these events, I stumbled on this brief paragraph:
“[Police spokeswoman Patricia] Wessels said the officers arrested Halman’s 22-year-old brother. She declined to give his name, in line with Dutch privacy rules. She said the brother was being questioned by police.”
Talk about adhering to the letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law… Unless Halman has twin brothers who are 22 years old, I think Ms. Wessels pretty much identified exactly whom the Dutch police had arrested and begun questioning.
This tragedy comes on the heels of the events in Venezuela involving the kidnapping of Nats’ catcher, Wilson Ramos, and his subsequent rescue without harm. For those folks who believe that “things happen in threes”, I would suggest that this is not a good time for a baseball player to be traveling overseas or visiting relatives there.
Reports are that MLB and the MLBPA are on the verge of agreeing to a new CBA that would last through 2016. If that happens, baseball will have experienced more than 2 decades of stability on the management/labor front subsequent to the events that caused the World Series to be canceled.
My long-suffering wife arranged for us to go to a social gathering recently and I became a party to a discussion about who was in the baseball Hall of Fame and who was not. Various folks there took umbrage at the exclusion of players like Ron Santo and Dick Allen; I said that I thought the worst exclusion was that Marvin Miller was not in the Hall of Fame. [For the record, I would put Dick Allen in the Hall of Fame but not Ron Santo - - but I do not have a vote so it really does not matter.] When I got home, I decided to look at the people who are in the MLB Hall of Fame as “executives” or whatever they call the category of folks who are not players or umpires.
In that category, I came across the name Morgan Bulkeley. Trust me, I had never heard of him before this search. Here is the bio that the Hall of Fame provided:
“Already a respected member of the Connecticut business community, Morgan Bulkeley became involved in baseball as an executive with the National Association Hartford Dark Blues in 1874. With the creation of the National League in 1876, Bulkeley agreed to serve as its first president, where he helped to enhance the image of the game by targeting illegal gambling, drinking and fan rowdiness. He would later serve as mayor of Hartford, governor of Connecticut and then as a United States Senator.”
Because I knew nothing about Mr. Bulkeley, I decided to look further into his achievements within baseball to see why he was in the Hall of Fame. It turns out that he was the president of the National League for one year. That’s it. He was involved in the formation of the Hartford Dark Blues and associated with that team for 2 years and then president of the National League for 1 year.
Based on that résumé, he is in the Hall of Fame while Marvin Miller is not in the Hall of Fame. Obviously, I do not get it…
Finally, here is an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“The formerly penurious Marlins are the talk of MLB with their reported offers to free agents such as Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes. I don’t wanna say the Marlins aren’t used to spending, but when the corporate wallet used to open, it creaked like a rusted gate and moths flew out.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………