Let us consider baseball this morning. The Cleveland Indians announced the hiring of Terry Francona as their new manager. Francona had a very successful run as the manager in Boston; prior to that, he had a less than successful run as the manager in Philly. This is the point where I would normally say that the talent on the field is more important than the guy in the dugout “pulling the strings” or “pushing the buttons”. However, in Cleveland, the hiring of Terry Francona may have been a very smart move given this sidebar to the news:
According to a report, Albert Belle said that he would like to be the manager of the Indians and hoped that someone in the front office would give him a call for an interview.
I do not have room enough here to list all of the reasons why having Albert Belle as a major league manager in 2013 would be a bad idea so let me give just a Cliff Notes version:
He has been out of baseball since 2000.
He has never managed in the minor leagues.
As a player in MLB, he was suspended for using a corked bat.
While still in college, he went into the stands to go after a heckler.
He spent years of his career refusing to give interviews or talk to the media.
By comparison, Terry Francona looks like Casey Stengel here. By comparison, Vlad the Impaler might look like a better choice for the Indians…
Switching gears, here is an item from Gregg Drinnan’s column, Keeping Score in last Saturday’s Kamloops Daily News:
“Two of the biggest games of the MLB season were played Wednesday – Texas at Oakland, Boston at the Yankees – and Rogers Sportsnet showed neither in its entirety. Instead, we got soccer and the Blue Jays, and a meaningless game between Detroit and Kansas City. . . Sportsnet is one of the reasons why baseball fans in Canada have XM Radio.”
That item tells me that questionable programming decisions made by sports media are not limited by international boundaries.
Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun had this interesting comment over the weekend:
“I know all the talk of the great AL MVP race was between Cabrera and Mike Trout, but consider this: The Rays played .635 baseball when Evan Longoria was healthy enough to play — 47-27. When Longoria didn’t play, Tampa was a .488 team. Those are impressive numbers, considering no AL team played better than .600 ball in the season”
I have to admit that I too limited my thinking regarding the AL MVP to a comparison of Cabrera and Trout. I had not realized the impact that Evan Longoria had on the Rays – positive when he could play and negative when he could not.
The 2013 MLB schedule is out and it has some interesting twists in it. First of all, there will be interleague play every day; that is a mathematical consequence of the fact that there is an odd number of teams in each league; there is no way to avoid that circumstance. The Players Association wanted a more balanced schedule; I am not sure they got it:
Teams will play 19 games against division rivals. Because 19 is an odd number, it one team in each rivalry will have a home field advantage in 10 games and the other in only 9 games.
Teams will play either 6 or 7 games against the other teams in their league. Immediately you can see that cannot be a “balanced schedule” for everyone.
Teams will play 20 games of “interleague play” along the lines we have become accustomed to.
I proposed a balanced schedule several months ago; let me reiterate. Recall, that each league has three divisions of 5 teams each:
1. Each team plays the other four members of their division 18 times – 9 home and 9 away. That accounts for 72 games.
2. Each team plays the ten teams in the other two divisions of their league 6 times – 3 home and 3 away. That accounts for 60 games.
3. Each team plays the five teams in one of the divisions of the other league 6 times – 3 home and 3 away. That accounts for 30 games.
Total is 162 games.
It is that third condition that changes every year. Let us say that the AL East teams in 2013 would play all five teams in the NL East as their quota of 30 interleague games. Next year, the AL East would play the teams in the NL Central and the year after that the teams in the NL West. Each year, the opponents change; however, in any given year, the teams in a division will play identical schedules.
Obviously, my idea is too logical. Now if Mr. Spock were the MLB Commish…
Finally, since today has been a baseball day, let me close with something from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“Popping champagne corks for winning a one-game wild-card playoff? Really?
“So what’s next, Coppin State cuts down the nets for winning a March Madness play-in game?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………