Astros Have the Weapons

Last season the Houston Astros drove a jalopy with two hubcaps missing to the World Series and won it. In 2018, they will be riding in a limousine the way champions do these days. Will it make a difference? In the day of zillionaire ownership and multi-millionaire hired help, will these guys be hungry again?


The La Mirada Angels just completed an off season that has scouts, pundits, and ordinary average guys thinking they might give the champs a real challenge in their own American League West division.Every other team in this division looks like wankers in comparison. One thing is certain: the Oakland Athletics with Billy Beane will once again lead the league in unabashed bullshit.

Jose Altuve, who will turn 28 in May, is the kind of baseball player that every player, every scout, every manager, and every fan who works in the yard every Saturday wants on their team. Does he remind people of Joe Morgan? Yes, except he’s a nicer guy. He’s plenty mean on the field, and he just signed a contract that will keep him from worrying about losing his Green Card and getting separated from his family and deported to Venezuela. Maybe, if he keeps it up, he can buy Venezuela.

With Carlos Correa , who is 23, at shortstop and George Springer , who is 28, in center field, Houston appears to be strong up the middle for some time to come. Brian McCann and Evan Gattis are serviceable at catcher, and most of the Astros hit well now that Marwin Gonzalez has joined the party as the left fielder. They missed Jake Marisnick‘s outfield defense in the playoffs last fall, and Yuli Gurriel will need to continue to hit well to make up for his defense at first  and offensive dugout behavior.

It was not a great show of confidence last summer when Dallas Keuchel whined about the bosses not getting help, but he pitches better than he talks. Of course, the bosses did come through with obtaining Justin Verlander, so the whole staff is better. So it all looks good, but let’s remember that a year ago everyone seemed to agree that the Chicago Cubs were the new dynasty. Stuff happens. Injuries occur, some players slump, others come from out of nowhere to become the next big thing. That’s why they make the schedule.

As for those Knotts Berry Farm Angels, it looks from here as though they just got a new batch of familiar names to become disappointed about. Yes, we have good new defense with Ian Kinsler at second base and Zach  Cozart at third, and Mike Trout has definite help up the middle with catcher Martin Maldonado and shortstop Andrelton Simmons, but who is going to pitch? Shohei Otani could be the next Frank Tanana or maybe the next Ricky Nolasco or Tyler Skaggs. We don’t know yet. They’ll finish fewer than 20 games out.

The Seattle Mariners are trying to get by again with some fairly good veterans like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Jean Segura and they have added an interesting player for the top of the lineup in Dee Gordon, who is making strides at a new position in center field. They have been flirting with contention in recent seasons but it is looking as though age and inconsistency are relegating them to a .500 record at best. They used to have pitching but little offense but now it’s more like the opposite and, in that yard, defense should rule. They are deep at catcher but should consider signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia since they have Marc Rzepczynski in the bullpen.

The once fearsome Texas Rangers are gathering rust on their stars and  the jeeps are losing tread on the tires. They have once impressive lefties on the mound like Cole Hamels and Matt Moore and the admirable but aging Adrian Beltre at third base but boy howdy they sure strike out a lot. Manager Jeff Banister gets a lot out of them but everyone should keep their bags packed.

The Oakland Athletics have some good young players but fans who have followed them the past decade or so have to be wondering , “For how long?”  The baseball fans of Oakland are being conned by the management into thinking that these promising players are going to be ready to win it all when that new stadium gets built but guess what? They don’t even have a site to build on yet and the revenue sharing dough seems to be enough to keep ownership content. It’s a sad tale to tell for the once proud franchise.


Sometimes I’m Wrong

Despite what the Tweeter-In-Chief says, most reporters who don’t work for Breitbart really do try to get the facts as correctly as possible. This is especially true when it comes to something highly important to national security, like baseball. However, no one, including Dan Rather and yours truly, is perfect. That’s why it is vital to have  zealous fact checkers out there to set us straight. Today, we will salute these people who have relatively unimportant jobs like heart surgery and jet engine repair and present to our readers some of the issues that they have helped us with to our everlasting delight.


First, we have Lester from Salem Oregon:Say, Mr. Anarchy, you were really kind of a dork when you were complaining about the commissioner of MLB. His name is actually Rob Manfred, not Manfred Mann.  Thanks, Lester.  I think I was blinded by the light.

Carolyn from Zelienople, Pennsylvania was also helpful. You dismissed the idea of starting an extra inning with a runner on at second base as though it was ridiculous. Now the smart people in charge of the minor leagues are going to do just that. Now, say if if Aaron Judge makes the last out of the ninth inning he can be at second with Gary Sanchez leading off the tenth. That makes a lot of sense to those of us who have to be up at 5 AM the next morning to drive a bus.  Gosh, Carolyn, I hadn’t thought of that. Back when I was a bus driver, if I had been out late drinking the night before, I would just stay up all night, at least until I punched the time clock. You’re right. The integrity of the game means nothing compared to having alert, sober drivers on our roads.

Hector from Chicago, Illinois made a very important point.  Your disdain for the use of designated hitters and closers reveals more about you being set in your ways and inflexible about change, which is a natural occurrence as we age, than it does about the needs of the baseball consuming public. Get with it! If MLB was run by old fogies like you, we’d probably still have spitballs and no batting helmets. Not all change is bad, Gramps.  That is so perfectly correct, Hector. For instance, now, whenever I see Alex Rodriguez an my immobile device, I change the channel.

Finally, Ivanka from Moscow, Idaho was refreshingly honest.  So there you were saying that Barry Bonds ought to be in the Hall of Fame after all but many of us think these criminals should pay back everything they made while they were cheating and be banned from  working in baseball ever again. At least Pete Rose never cheated.  Ivanka, I think that’s a safe bet.

Do Wah Diddy Diddy

It has been brought to my attention by an agent who may or may not be associated with the office of the commissioner of major league baseball that, in order to avoid a subpoena from the subcommittee on rules, regulations and ticket prices and. also. to avoid being branded a weenie, I ought to consider altering my belief that there are simple solutions to the paramount issue of pace of play. So I said sure.

At first I was a bit reluctant, mostly because it hadn’t been made clear to me that pace of play really mattered that much to the average baseball fanatic. However, the agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity since he hadn’t been authorized to address anyone with Anarchy in their title, brought out a huge folder with charts and diagrams that showed, somewhat to my satisfaction, that many viewers at home, if not in the stadium seats, were nodding off after the three hour mark in games even though much of the hard work of watching  had been done for them: counting pitches, computing every player’s up to the minute OPS, identifying who sang God Bless America, etc. So there was little doubt that Manfred Mann was correct and that we all should be losing sleep until this matter got settled or else face the horrifying prospect of a pitch clock.

Consequently, I have rescinded my previous argument that all we needed to do was trim the number of pitchers allowed on the rosters to ten. I now have other ideas. First, how about reincarnation? The game will speed up post haste with every team adding the reincarnation of Bob Gibson or Sal Maglie or Allie Reynolds to pitch for them. That way, when fuss budget batters go into their choreography in and out of the batters’ box they will soon be on first base after getting drilled. There’s some action for you. Get in there and hit. Also, imagine the chagrin a modern day manager will feel as he ponders going out to the mound to take that pitcher out of a game. Now we’re saving time.

We could use some help from the umpires as well. It’s an old story, but the high strike is not being called. Batters know it  and that’s why so many are adapting their “launch angle” swing since anything above the belt  or even lower has a good chance of being called a ball. Pitchers know it and avoid the high hard one just like some avoid going inside.  Walks and homers and strikeouts can put anyone to sleep by the fifth inning.

What the commissioner and the owners won’t talk about is the ever increasing amount of time being spent selling stuff between innings, during ubiquitous pitching changes and every other chance they get. Maybe baseball should do like American football and basketball and have a halftime break. Just have one advertisement for 60 seconds between innings and save the rest for a 20 minute half time extravaganza after the top of the fifth inning. Look, if we are consuming all of the food and beverages they have been selling us during the game, we are going to need a nice comfort station break. This way we won’t miss so much of the action. As for the people actually in attendance at the yard, hell, it’s like being at an amusement park these days anyway with restaurants, bars, arcades etc. so who cares? They could trot out Justin Bieber or some such as “entertainment” if necessary and hardly anyone could tell. This might be the mighty Quinn to solve it all.

The agent indicated he was satisfied that I had diversified. Now, about that runner at second base to start an extra inning. I think it should be the manager. Bruce Bochy, Clint Hurdle, Mike Scioscia, yeah. Now we’re talking.


Do the Relatively Right Thing Eventually

Baseball commissioner Manfred Mann and the Cleveland Indians Baseball Club LLC have announced that, at long last, the grotesque, shameful caricature mascot Chief Wahoo is going into retirement. The offensive cartoonish mug will no longer appear on the uniforms of the baseball team. To the best of my memory, the ugly mug had quietly disappeared once before until the Jacobs brothers bought the team in 1986. It would have been somewhat appropriate if the nickname had been changed as well but you can’t have everything, can you? Bill Veeck  is considered the culprit who originally endorsed using Wahoo as a symbol and that’s too bad because it tarnishes the reputation of the man who also broke the color barrier in the American League by signing Larry Doby, one of the all time great ballplayers.

But wait, there’s more! Wahoo is not going away until 2019. As usual, correcting massive mistakes takes time and we must be patient. Plus, there still exists a warehouse or two full of merchandise to sell and now the price can go up. This bold move has inspired other humanitarians to take similar action. For instance, the Stand Up Comedians Guild has announced that, as of November 2020, jokes about fat people will be eliminated and, further, misogynistic references to wives, mothers-in-law, and girl friends will be dropped by Mother’s Day 2021. How proud we will all be when, eventually, some of these embarrassing facets of our ever evolving culture are made a little bit less so. Today, Cleveland can be proud of having one of the best teams in the major leagues with one of the best managers, Terry Francona. Terry’s father, Tito Francona of New Brighton, Pa. was a very good player in the majors for 15 seasons with several teams and had some of his best seasons for Cleveland, notably batting .363 for them in 1959. Tito passed away just a few days ago.

The commissioner also continued MLB’s farcical feigned interest in the Oakland Athletics and their claim to wish to provide a better yard for the team to play in, again, eventually. Bay area sports writers assigned to cover the A’s are going along with the pretense that they are building a young core of players that will be able to contend when they finally replace the once adequate ballpark that was ruined several years ago to appease the Davis family that owns the Oakland Raiders before Al Davis’ son decided to screw everyone by moving to Las Vegas. Both the Raiders and the A’s have very loyal followers who are, it must be assumed, taken for granted by the greedy owners. Now the basketball Warriors, insufferably lousy for such a long time, have become perhaps the most solid franchise in the NBA, so they are also abandoning Oakland to move back across the bay to San Francisco. So long, Oakland, it’s been good to loot you.



My friend Franklin is quite unusual. Basset hounds are different from most other dogs anyway, but Frankie is different from most , if not all, basset hounds. He likes ball. In fact, if you say the word “ball” his entire demeanor changes. He suddenly goes on red alert with his eyes open wide and his tail  upright and arcing. Yes, there are thousands of golden retrievers that behave this way, we all have seen it, but bassets? Every other basset hound I have ever known, and they are more than a few, would respond to a thrown tennis ball with half closed eyes and an expression that said, at best, “’re kidding, right?”

We had nothing to do with his obsession.  We adopted him several years ago and it came with him. Perhaps he had been sent to some suburban re-education camp and somehow been brainwashed or reprogrammed. Anyway, he’s good. He can handle the short hops. Our son has a dog that is incredibly athletic and also loves ball. That dog runs and leaps and has tremendous speed and reflexes, so he makes me think of Willie Mays at his best. Frankie makes one think more of Cal Ripken Jr. when he was getting ready to play third base instead of shortstop. He reads the ball off the chucker very well, has limited but sure range, and gives it all he’s got. It’s difficult for Frankie when my son’s dog joins us because his Edgar Martinez type speed is no match so it helps to send two balls in completely different directions. Otherwise, even though he’s a very good sport, Frankie loses interest when most of the balls are getting grabbed by the competition, sort of like playing right field when Sandy Koufax pitched.

I don’t think that it is necessarily fatigue, but after a few minutes of hard chasing, Frankie starts a friendly game of keep away. This is when it is just him playing,with no other dog competition. This is not entirely bad, because not only do I utilize the chucker rather than pretend to be Nolan Ryan or Roberto Clemente like the old days, but also the lungs ain’t what they used to be so I have a chance to catch my breath. He will put both balls in his mouth and pretend that they have become chew toys. If I walk up to him and act like I want them he will saunter off with both balls between his teeth like the captured rabbit they should really be and have a time out. Then, when we both are breathing freely again, he will suddenly drop them and sound off loudly. That lets me know that the game can resume.

It’s not like going out to the ball field with my young friend and playing for hours. Still, at this stage of the game, it is plenty good enough.

This, That, and the Other Thing

Maybe it’s always been fake news but we just didn’t know it. I’m more inclined toward the George Orwell way of looking at it than the President Tweety, self serving method, but perhaps all of the people in charge of everything just aren’t very good at their jobs. Now, on the whole I am very grateful for the existence of, which keeps us informed up to the minute with all things going on in the world of baseball that the commissioner’s office endorses. I found the site to be very useful in its early days as because I could be at work doing my shipping and receiving gig and keep track of all the current games at the same time. However, over the years it has sort of degenerated into a big commercial venture that is constantly selling caps, shirts, tickets, and, well, bullshit.


For instance:a few days ago, they ran a feature about all of the big league players who hit the very first pitch they ever saw in the majors for a home run. This was especially interesting to me because I was pretty sure I knew one of them. Indeed I did and there was his name–Chuck Tanner! On April 12, 1955, Tanner, who is now more famous as the manager of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979, indeed hit the first pitch he saw for a homer. It was Opening Day in Milwaukee. Tanner was pinch hitting for Warren Spahn and he smacked it off Gerry Staley of the Cardinals and Milwaukee went on to win, 4-2. But wait. According to our MLB.con, I mean com, He was pinch hitting for the Milwaukee Brewers. Wrong! It was, of course, the Milwaukee, formerly Boston and before long Atlanta Braves that Tanner played for that day. Come on you guys! I’m not going to purchase a jersey with Gus Zernial‘s name on the back until you start getting things right!

Speaking of crocks of manure, this “pace of play” concocted controversy doesn’t smell very good. The commissioner says that he is willing to drop the absurd “pitch clock” scheme so long as the average time of game gets down under three hours or so. Simultaneously, the ridiculous idea of putting a runner on second base to start the inning if a game gets to the eleventh inning has once again emerged. The commish is way disingenuous with this malarkey. As readers of this space are tired of reading, the best way to speed up games is to limit the number of pitchers on the rosters so that managers no longer have countless opportunities to relieve their stress and hemorrhoids by trudging back and forth from the mound to bring on another hard throwing mediocre reliever. Besides, what’s the hurry? Play more day games. Almost everyone who has been priced out of buying tickets to the game can still afford the technology it takes to record the game and watch it when they feel like doing so. Not long ago, writers waxed poetic about the beauty of the game without a clock, pastoral this, green grass that, you know. Football has a clock but the so called Super Bowl still takes twelve hours to finish and none of the fools slurping lousy beer and horrid pizza gives a damn. Get real! If the competition from football which, absent greed, would never exist is what bothers the owners, maybe they could doll up baseball in other ways. Get John Madden or some such in the ESPN or FOX booth talking about “Smashmouth Baseball” and show lots of fight clips. Players could create stylish home plate dances every time they score a run. There could be scantily clad cheerleaders of both genders doing routines between innings. Get creative!

Almost one hundred per cent of the time, this reporter will side with labor in any labor-management disagreement. It’s a little more difficult when it involves millionaires versus billionaires but the general concept remains the same. However, I’m not so sure about the current accusations of collusion that player agents and Tony Clark are barking about. When players, and J.D. Martinez is a good example, get past the age of 30 and are not becoming so much as they have been, it’s probably not a good idea to add them to your team for lots of money and a long time. It does seem as though there are teams that don’t look like they care as much about winning as they do selling tickets. That has always been true, especially if you go back to the days of Clark Griffith, Charles Comiskey, and a lot of other guys who had ballparks named after them. Currently, Pittsburgh and San Francisco seem to fit that description. What Derek Jeter said about the Marlins makes sense, especially with hard economic times surely on the way. We’ll see.


All right, look, now I’m angry and I’m not going to hold it in. My doctor says it’s not healthy to repress the feelings and the old arteries ain’t what they used to be anyway. The selections for the baseball Hall of Fame for 2018 have been made. Chipper Jones, sure, no problem. Jim Thome, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, and deserving, too. Vladimir Guerrero, I can dig it. The pollsters tell me I have eight or nine steady readers and each of you will no doubt remember my view of Trevor Hoffman. The guy was good. Won 61 games, lost 75. The catch is that he was a very special kind of relief pitcher, that is, a “closer”. He compiled a career earned run average of 2.87. That’s a lot better than a guy he is going into the hall with, Jack Morris, but Jack Morris was a real pitcher. Morris won 254 games and lost 186 in his eighteen big league seasons. He pitched 175 complete games without looking over his shoulder to see if help was on the way. Between 1982 and 1988 his season totals for innings pitched ranged from 235 to 293 and two thirds.He pitched the seventh game of the World Series in 1991 and shut out Atlanta, 1-0 in ten innings. Trevor Hoffman had a huge number of saves, 601. When that statistic came along, it represented finishing a victory after not giving up a lead and facing either the tying or winning run (potentially) with your first pitch or else finishing the game with at least three innings of work while holding any lead for whoever was the winning pitcher. Those were actually saves. What we have today is equivalent to the Deutsche mark after World War I. Expert commentators, and I’ll have some steam about that right after this, tell us that pitchers who “close” games  are so full of courage and poise that they would walk blindfold across an interstate highway if it paid as well. And, you know, not everyone could handle that.

Maybe Hoffman deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. I’m not really arguing against that. However, if he gets 79.9% of the vote and Omar Vizquel gets 37%, something is wrong. These guys voting that way, I’m telling you, they never took grounders. Maybe he played for too many teams or something. I don’t get it. Ask any pitcher not named Jose Mesa who ever played on the same team with Vizquel if he deserved to make the hall. My goodness.

ESPN has been going steadily downhill as a network for at least 20 years, ever since they merged with Disney and began incorporating Mickey Mouse into professional sports, but they really threw a barf bag at us today. Alex Rodriguez, who replaced Pete Rose as the Criminal Studio Analyst at FOX, the Oliver North School of Ethics, will next season replace Aaron Boone in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball. Holy Toledo, I may have to start watching Game Of Thrones or something instead. This is tragic. Why couldn’t  he have been made manager of the Yankees instead? Heavens to Murgatroyd.

Finally, and then I’ll have a beer, the Commissioner made another lame attempt to “speed up” games, probably because pollsters told him that short attention span Americans have other things to do, not that there exists any shortage of those things right in the ballpark. Here is the answer, once again for your enjoyment: LIMIT THE ROSTERS TO TEN PITCHERS. Okay, we could compromise  and make it eleven if they would also increase the roster to 26 from 25. That’s it, problem solved. I think I feel better now.

The Business of Ball

Our friend John would lean on the butcher block at our family market with his eyes half closed and his hand rolled cigarette two thirds finished and burned out. His drinking was over for the day. When he was feeling better, he would tell us , between wheezes, how he was going to move to Arizona for his asthma. When my youthful exuberance and stubborn good cheer got too annoying for him, he would cough up some phlegm, use some choice foul language and slowly, gasping for air, explain the facts of life for me. At age eleven, I was convinced that professional baseball was the best possible way to escape the drudgery I saw most of the adults I knew going through. You could get paid good money for playing a game. Most of the reading material I was devouring at the time told stories of heroes and good sports who all had the disposition of Stan Musial and thanked God for the honor of representing the good people of (fill in the city, mine was Pittsburgh) by playing this great game of ours.

“No, no. no” John said. “It’s business and it’s just like every other damned thing.” he grumbled . Of course, John was right, and I know that I’m not the only bugger who has been banging his head against the wall all these years wishing that he was wrong. Now, of course, Mr. Nutting and his henchman Mr. Huntington have brought that message home in a very loud and clear manner to the Pittsburgh Pirates followers, who seem to have a strong gathering of angry former loyalists who would like to barbecue the two of them to go with some Iron City suds. First, pitcher Gerrit Cole was shipped out to the world champion Houston Astros. That was tough, although, at 27, Cole had really only had one good season for the Bucs. Then, however, the excrement hit the propeller blade of the Good Ship Buccaneers when Andrew McCutchen, who recently named his first born child Steel, and who became the dreadlocked face of a rejuvenated Pirates team just five years ago, got traded to the San Francisco Giants for a crab sandwich and an espresso.

So yes, we all know it’s a business. Those of us old enough to remember leisure suits will recall that the Giants traded the greatest player of them all. On May 11, 1972, Willie Mays was traded, at age 41, to the New York Mets for Charlie Williams, a pitcher who would need to pay to get into the Hall of Fame. It’s a fact that Willie was, in baseball terms, old. He was batting .184 with one double and three runs batted in for the Giants in 19 games and, yes, the feeling was that maybe he should retire. Willie got somewhat rejuvenated back in New York, where his storied career had begun in 1951. His old foe Gil Hodges had recently died at age 48 and had been replaced by another old foe, Yogi Berra as manager of the Mets. In his first game back in New York, Mays hit a game winning home run to beat the Giants, 5-4. On May 21, he hit another game winner to beat the Phillies, 2-1. That was the Mets’ eleventh straight win and they stayed in first place for a while before finishing third in the division, 13 and a half games behind Pittsburgh. Mays totaled 8 homers and 19 RBI in 69 games for the Mets in that strange season, the first ever marred by a players’ strike. Yeah, strike—business.

Even in the totally business, monetize your grandmother’s diary type world that we live in these days, some guys just shouldn’t be traded. Am I right, Curt Flood? The other player, Evan Longoria, that the Giants recently traded for in their bid to retain season ticket holders, should also never have been traded, although one might say that, if the owners of the Tampa Bay Rays cared at all about baseball or their fans they would never allow anyone to play in that disgusting yard. You build a team around certain great athletes who also happen to be solid citizens if you are thinking for the long term, which, of course, no fool does anymore.

Billions of dollars in gate  recepts, television rights, and “gear” sales add up to millions of dollars in salaries. It could all come crashing down, but that sort of thinking is verboten. As so many things do, it reminds me of a job I once had. It was in a cannery. We did pears, brussels sprouts, and I don’t know what else. My job was to sit on top of a ladder. The cans ran along a fairly complicated metal highway above most of us, and, in a Charlie Chaplin movie sort of way, it was my job to notice when the can traffic became snarled due to a can turning sideways or some other thing that would cause collisions and usually result in spillage, dents, and other forms of chaos. Upon noticing this, my first task would be to yell at the top of my lungs so that a person I never saw would stop the line. My second task would be to unsnarl the traffic and make sure everything was back on line. My third task would be to yell at the top of my lings again so that the unseen person could start the line again. This was seen as a favored job to have and, as a male, it went to me so that all of the women working there could stay “on the line” and get sick from the combination of steam, cold air, and fruit and vegetable odors. If the cannery had not wanted this cheaper alternative, they would have invested in a newer, more efficient set of machinery. At $4.90 an hour, I was kind of the David Freese or John Jaso alternative and they were still making money. Of course, they never won the cannery pennant.

It’s a relative scale but we are talking about the same kind of decision making. Spending large sums of money on talent does not guarantee success or else the Yankees and Dodgers would be in the World Series every year, just like the old days. It’s probably a good thing McCutchen is gone because it is hard to imagine that organization getting lucky again for a while. I could be wrong. Perhaps rather than be spared an Ernie Banks type of career as the Bucs languish, Cutch will miss out on another successful “re-tool”. We shall see. He’s a free agent next year. Just please don’t go to the Yankees or Dodgers, okay, Cutch?

The Hall On Steroids

Joe Morgan is a Hall of Fame ballplayer and a person I have great respect for as a player, a broadcaster, and a human being. Willie McCovey, the second best number 44 from Mobile, Alabama in baseball history, is also a man that I have the greatest respect for, not only for his accomplishments as a player but also his achievements as a man of integrity. Those two are friends, but they have publicly disagreed about a matter that concerns all of us baseball loving nimrods.

The annual Hall of Fame brouhaha is upon us as the barren trees and  chilly air are mimicked by the sports pages barren of box scores or anything worth noting except for European football news. McCovey has said that it is a sin that Barry Bonds is not in the hall while Morgan has made it clear that no steroid users should ever darken the doorsteps of Cooperstown because they have been “cheaters”, whether or not that fact has ever been proven or admitted.  It is, alas, still a mess.

Months ago I wasted not breath nor ink but mere cyberspace attempting to make the case that all of us self righteous and upstanding citizens should be lamenting the use  of performance enhancing drugs (psst–can I get some?—) not because their use is cheating, but rather because their use is destructive to the body and soul of the user. My point was that if enhanced performance is the objection, then such things as good nutrition, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and staying away from Twitter might also be considered “cheating”. For purposes of avoiding long, boring debates that get nowhere, we shall today omit the discussion of amphetamines, greenies, yellows, reds, etc. that were all the rage in the playing days of Morgan and McCovey.

Barry Bonds seems to generate the highest percentage of steroid hate feelings among those suspected of growing big heads. This is probably because he is an arrogant prick, although Roger Clemens also fits this description. Of course, it may also be because his hair free head is  black. Indeed, there is no shortage of arrogant pricks in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps, as in the case of Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, there could be a special Criminal Element Wing in the Hall. It is generally suspected that the year 1998, when Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs and Mark McGuire hit 70, Greg Vaughn 50, Vinny Castilla 46, Rafael Palmeiro 43, Jose Canseco 46, Ken Griffey Jr, 56, and Juan Gonzalez 45 was the time when Bonds decided to sort of join the club. This is just speculation, but a big crowd of people have been speculating. So let’s do this: let’s look at Bonds’ career through 1998.


At that point, Barry Bonds had accumulated 391 homers,445 stolen bases,and three Most Valuable Player awards. Those are reasonable Hall of Fame credentials. So am I saying that Bonds should be in the Hall? Yes, and for those who put a large weight on character issues, we could also add Dale Murphy or somebody. In the whole of his career, Bonds won two batting titles, batted .298, won 7 MVPs, 12 Silver Slugger awards, and 8 Gold Gloves, which may surprise some of you who had only witnessed his final few seasons. There were 762 home runs, 2,558 walks, and 1,996 runs batted in. For those of you still seeking punitive damages, we should then also consider banning some managers, owners, and a commissioner who all knew what was what.

One more cantankerous note: if Omar Vizquel doesn’t make the Hall of Fame, razing the building should be seriously considered. More on that in the future.


Rich Get Richer

It’s nothing new. Mama may help. And Papa may help. God loves the child that ‘s got his own. Trump knows it. George Steinbrenner knew it. Derek Jeter knows it. Of course, it’s a little different now in the major leagues of organized baseball. Benchwarmers make the kind of money that All-Stars in the past could only dream of and owners of cellar dwellers are raking in the kind of dough that Connie Mack and Charles Comiskey could not even when they had World Series teams.

Giancarlo Stanton finally had the kind of season that folks have been waiting for him to have in 2017, and now he will be playing half of his games in that P.O.N.Y. league park in the Bronx. So now the comparisons roll in to the glory days of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris and people will be expecting 130 home runs and 270 runs batted in between Aaron Judge and Stanton in 2018. Plus, the Yankees still have Gary Sanchez and most of the supporting cast from the surprising team that almost got into the World Series this past season.

You can see the Marlins point of view. With Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Dee Gordon and other pretty good players they won 77 games and finished twenty games behind Washington while paying Stanton Pablo Escobar kind of money. Perhaps Starlin Castro, while not having the most popular surname in Miami, can prosper at last in his new surroundings. He will never be a Bill Mazeroski type second baseman just like he was never going to be Omar Vizquel at short, but he can hit.

Teams, particularly the Giants and Cardinals, that pursued Stanton enthusiastically may be disappointed, but the whole free agent route to success has to be somewhat discredited by this time, especially since the attack on the middle class is now going full bore and the number of people able to afford high priced tickets, beer, and  purported food plus all that paraphernalia will soon be dwindling. Stanton set a personal record in 2017 by appearing in 159 games. He played 145 in 2014 and 150 in 2011 but otherwise it has been 100, 123. 116, 74, and 119. Players generally do not get injured less frequently as they grow older. For you glum San Francisco fans out there, ask Hunter Pence.

Even though there are just rich and richer teams now, the smart money seems to be going in the direction of building with youth. I think that will be good for the game. The Fullerton Angels signing of Shohei Ohtani is much more interesting to me. Now they can carry 14 pitchers and two designated sitters. But he is only 23, and here is hoping that he finds success. Of course, I would play him in the outfield and use him in relief, but what the hell do I know?