Thursday, December 13, 2007

Clubhouse Talk

The Mitchell Report drops today and it is more anticipated by many than the latest Beyonce CD or High School Musical 3. Sources have reported that there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 names of professional baseball players named in this report, and many of them are high level names. I am all for cleaning up the game, I don’t care about the gaudy Home Run numbers and personally, you can call me a liar if you want, I prefer a good 4-2 game and pitcher’s duels are always a blast to watch. The first couple innings you’re angry at your team for not putting any runs on the board, and glad you’re pitcher is keeping them in the game but after about 3 innings all of a sudden the mind-set changes and you know you’re watching an incredible defensive game.

The millions (somewhere in the ballpark of 20 million) dollars could have been much better spent finding ways of steroid education and cleaning the game rather than paying a New York Mets ball-boy for info. But I digress. The report that comes out today will be a major moment in, not just baseball, but professional sports. Players, other than Bonds, will now be subject to the same sort of accusations and questions. So here’s my problem with the report. From what I’ve heard/read, this draws very similar connections to the McCarthy trials we all should be familiar with. I have read in multiple outlets that if Mitchell called a player and his agent, and they did not return the call/answer his questions, they are named in the report. That doesn’t seem like solid research to me.

The question at hand, now that we know it names names and that it names a lot of them, how does it affect the game? Will it negatively affect free agency? I think it will. Look at the Tejada trade the other day. The ‘Stros acquired Tejada from the O’s for 5 young talents. Tejada has been involved in Steriod rumors in the past, and I personally think his name will be on page 1, right underneath Bonds. Does that trade, or ones like it, go down after the report comes out? It’s still early but it will be interesting to see what happens.

The Cubs made a couple of moves yesterday. First signing the left-handed bat to play right field they have been after all off season. Kosuke Fukudome, who according to Lou Pinella, has been described by scouts as a mix between Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. Now I’m gonna stop right here and ask, why does he have to be compared to two Japanese players, aren’t there any other players who he could be compared to? Anyways, I just found that a little funny.

Fukudome’s walks per plate appearance is admirable at under 8, so his OBP should be pretty good seeing as how he’s a career .305 hitter. Unfortunately The Cubs skipped a step with Fukudome. Instead of getting a young talent who has an incredible season or two then has arm problems (Wood, Prior) they’re getting a guy who’s been in the league awhile and is already coming back from arm problems (played 81 games last year with bone chips in his elbow). Reports say he should be 100% by Spring. I’m excited for this guy. Not just as a Cubs fan but imagining his first time in a bar when a woman asks his name, he responds with Fuk U Do Me, and is immediately slapped across the face. I just wish Harry Caray was still with us to butcher his name.

Also in Cubs news Mark Prior was not re-signed by the club by the deadline last night which means the touted former All-Star with a history of arm problems (scoped right shoulder last Spring) made 3.75 last year for appearing in 10 ½ innings in spring training. His agent said he should be ready to play by May which in agent speak means somewhere after the All-Star break. I think he still has a solid future and wish him the best. I wish he would have given some consideration to the Cubs trying to keep him without having to pay a king’s ransom since they don’t know when he would be able to suit up.

Hall of Fame ballots are out and it’s time to consider some players. First and foremost, yes vote for McGwire. Even though he has as much admitted his use of steroids look at what he did for the game. The Strike almost killed the game attendances at all park not labeled historical landmarks were obscenely low. No one cared about baseball. In 1998, that magical summer, he and fellow slugger Sammy “the cork” Sosa brought people back out to the yard, and to watch the games. They raised the interest back up, and McGwire, never lied about it, not once. I didn’t like McGwire that season, he was the enemy, a Cardinal and the one beating Sammy for the record. If you want to asterisk his 70 by all means go for it, give the record back Maris. Records don’t matter, that summer was an amazing thing to be a part of as a fan.

With that said, why isn’t Goose Gossage in the Hall yet, hopefully this year will change that with the less than incredible talent on the ballot. I’m torn on Rod Beck, the man had a few great seasons and more than a few off-diamond problems. But he was a good player and a great clubhouse guy, we need more guys like Shooter in the game today. The man lived in a RV behind the stadium one year. I think Travis Fryman might have to wait another year, but he had a very underappreciated career. Other than that, guys who don't need to be debated and should be in, Chuck Knoblauch, Tim Raines – absolutely in (top 50 in at least 5 offensive statistical categories, 5th in stolen bases), Jim Rice, and “the Hawk” Andre Dawson all deserve a statue in Cooperstown and if blogging counted as the BBWA those would be my votes this year.