March 2009

Rule 1: Know the Rules

Hey, maybe Major Leaguers can explain the NFL’s overtime rules to Donovan McNabb — and McNabb could explain the World Baseball Classic’s mercy rule to the Major Leaguers. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

In reality, just how self-absorbed do you have to be to not know stuff every fan planted in a couch knows? …
Not to imply that the Indians expect great things from new closer Kerry Wood — but the access road to their new Spring Training Complex in Goodyear is Wood Boulevard. …
Brewers manager Ken Macha, the former A’s skipper, told me the Giants faced a tough decision after the 2006 season — re-sign Jason Schmidt, who had won 78 games for them in 5 1/2 seasons, or make a play for Barry Zito, six years younger and coming off a 16-win season.
The Giants invested in Zito, and have gotten a 21-30 record in the first two seasons of their $126 million commitment. But that’s still far better than the one win Schmidt has given the Dodgers in the first two seasons of his $47 million three-year deal. …
While on the subject of contract ouches … how about the Dodgers paying Juan Pierre the same $10 million this season they are paying Manny Ramirez?
I love Pierre’s game and work ethic. Don’t get me wrong — but those contracts reflect the economic differences between 2006, when Juan signed his five-year deal, and 2009.
Above everything else, run production rules baseball (or should). Last season, Pierre produced (runs+RBIs-homers) 71 runs. Manny produced 72 just in his two months with the Dodgers, and 186 for the season. …
Major League players are doing their best to help the ailing newspaper industry’s chief albatross, advertising revenue. Pat Burrell was the latest to take out a full page ad to thank Phillies fans for their support during his nine seasons in Philly.
Burrell was following the examples of Trevor Hoffman’s love letter to San Diego fans, and John Smoltz’s farewell to Atlanta. Now if GMs could deal a few more entrenched and sentimental veterans … nah, nothing can save the myopic newspaper inustry. …
My favorite Classic quote: DR-killingNetherlands manager Rod Delmonico claiming that “I don’t have big names, but I’ve got some long names.” Stuifbergen,Engelhardt andVan’t Klooster could all give Saltalamacchia a run for his spelling-bee money. …

Given this extended Spring Training schedule, this season’s World Series teams will have played a minimum of 218 games and a maximum of 226 (if each rung of the playoffs goes the distance) between Feb. 25 and Nov. 5.


But wait, that’s not all! …

The only thing Ivan Rodriguez’s marketing is missing is a barker like Billy Mays.
All spring, the unemployed catcher has been saying that whichever team signs him would be getting a great deal because he was in such great shape. Pudge even compared it to winning the lottery.
He stepped up the salesmanship in Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic opener, going 4-for-4 with two homers with a “Best Buy” come-on on his jersey.

billy-mays-for-zabada.jpg

I am told that Best Buy is a corporate sponsor of Team Puerto Rico, but I don’t buy it. That was just another pitch from Pudge. … 

Jacoby Ellsbury may be happy in Ft Myers to have the Red Sox’s centerfield job all to himself, but he isn’t the only one relieved that the firm of Ellsbury and Crisp has been broken up. Coco Crisp looks like a different player in Surprise. Not just the .471 average for the Royals. He’s swinging more aggressively and playing looser.

If K.C. becomes as big a surprise (no pun intended) as I think it will, Crisp will regain the high profile that got squashed in Boston. … 
One game into the Indians’ return to Arizona, Cleveland skipper Eric Wedge conceded that Cactus League games tend to be more high-scoring than exhibitions in Florida (due to the dry air) but expressed confidence that his pitchers’ psyches would survive.
Yeah, well they may be on the critical list after allowing 80 runs in the first 10 games. Combined, the Tribe and its opponents have put up 139 runs in those games. …
With this extended spring training, do you realize that a team that has to play a maxed-out postseason will have played 217 games February through November? … 
Dang, wasn’t No. 1 available? Jet Blue Airways observed Manny Ramirez’s return to th Dodgers by offering Southern California fans discounted one-way tickets at $99 — an homage to Manny’s uniform number. … 

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