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Monthly Archives: January 2006

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While former shortstop Alex Rodriguez was honored at a dinner held by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writer’s of America on Sunday night, the Red Sox have reportedly picked up a shortstop of their own, another Alex, Alex Gonzalez (who will presumably be backed-up by Alex Cora). Gonzalez will join Josh Beckett to help give the Yankees warm memories of the 2003 World Serious. A lousy hitter–who has displayed some pop over the course of his career–Gonzalez is known as a fine defensive player.

Bookish, Baby

Every year, Bronx Banter correspondent Christopher DeRosa puts out an annual for his friends called “The Baseball Procrastinator,” in which he chronicles the previous season in baseball. DeRosa includes sharp and entertaining book reviews in his annual–my favorite part, to be honest. DeRosa doesn’t only cover books that were released last year, he reviews books that he just simply got around to reading. Well, I find them so enjoyable that I asked if he’d modify a grouping of this year’s batch for you guys here at Bronx Banter. He has, and so here they are. Enjoy.

2005 Readings in Baseball

By Christopher DeRosa

Bill James Handbook 2006 (Cabrera cover)

They do a great job with the leader boards in this book. They’re so extensive that they’re not just a vehicle to see who did better than who, but to see how different players play the game.

You can use the Handbook to break down questions like, who was a better leadoff hitter, Derek Jeter or Johnny Damon? Not only overall, but specifically as a leadoff hitter, Jeter gets on base more than Damon, .391 to .367. Another job of the leadoff hitter is to take some pitches. Jeter led the AL in pitches seen with 2883. Jeter also led the league in ground ball to fly ball ratio. Is that someone you’d want hitting first, or second with possibly a man on? The book has a new baserunning report. Who scored a higher percentage of times when reaching base? Damon, 38% to 34% for Jeter. But Jeter was much better going first-to-third, doing so in 42% of such opportunities (18/43) vs. 19% for Damon (6/31). Jeter was also better at scoring from second base, 15 times in 21 chances, as opposed to 22 out of 34 chances for Damon. Damon did score 7 times in 10 chances from first base, Jeter 5 times in 10 chances. Damon was the better percentage base stealer, 18-1 vs. 14-5.

More Yankees: It’s fun to see Mariano’s across-the-leader-board domination of the reliever stats. He led the league in save percentage (91.5), relief ERA (1.38), lowest opponents’ batting average (.177), lowest opponents’ on base percentage (.235), lowest opponents’ slugging percentage (.230), retiring the first batter faced (.831). He was also 4th in he league in opponents’ batting average with runners on. He was the 3rd hardest pitcher for lefties to hit (.177), and the 5th hardest for right-handers to hit (.176). No one else was so high on both lists. He was tied for 3rd with 43 saves, tied for 4th with 7 relief wins, 10th in relief games (71), and 7th in relief innings (78.1).

After years toiling near the bottom of the league, Derek Jeter has moved all the way up to 2nd in the AL in range factor, and he won his second Gold Glove! After watching him all year, I don’t really think he deserved it, but it is a kind of funny payback for yet another season of relentless Jeter-bashing from the baseball hipsters.

Jason Giambi took the most pitches in the AL (Abreu led the NL). He led the league in secondary average, at .523. He had the highest offensive winning percentage of any AL hitter other than Travis Hafner, ahead of Manny, A-Rod, and Ortiz. He was the most effective hitter in the league versus sliders. Not bad for a guy Selena Roberts wanted them to release.


Anything Left in the Tank?

Will Mike Piazza end up in San Diego? If he does, at least it will continue his streak of playing for team’s with pitcher-friendly home parks. Over at ESPN, Alan Schwarz has a good piece about how Piazza and Frank Thomas can still be productive.

The Long Thaw

While Johnny Damon anticipates the upcoming WBC games (and Mariano Rivera lets out a long sigh), Murray Chass examines the state of affairs in Boston:

Last Thursday, announcing that Theo Epstein would return to the team’s front office 12 weeks after he walked away from his role as general manager, club officials issued a statement that made them sound so full of themselves that they must have been inflated like hot-air balloons.

John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein all released statements to the media:

The statements totaled an astounding 2,500 words. If they were printed in their entirety in this newspaper, they would take up three columns, or half a page. Henry & Company could have used a good editor.

For much of the past 12 weeks, the Red Sox had been widely viewed as having a dysfunctional front office. I disagreed. Epstein’s departure, I believed, did not throw the front office into a malaise that rendered club executives ineffective and incapable of performing the team’s off-season personnel activities.

With those statements, though, the Red Sox are beginning to sound dysfunctional. Their verbosity runneth over, and they tripped all over their words. Maybe that’s what happens when you put executives from Princeton, Yale, Amherst and Wesleyan in a room together.

Meanwhile, while it is not likely that we’ll see Mike Piazza in pinstripes this year, he’s not completely out-of-the-picture yet either. Accoding to The Daily News:

“I have not made a decision,” [Yankee GM, Brian] Cashman said. “We’re still going through it. I’m obviously evaluating Mike and seeing if he fits where we’re at at this point in time.

“I don’t have a need for anybody, but that doesn’t mean you don’t constantly evaluate what’s available and the price they’re available at.”

Too bad the Big Hurt was already nabbed by Oakland; Piazza would have looked great in the Green and Gold.

Enjoy The Silence

The Yankees signed Aaron Small to a one-year, $1.2 million contract yesterday. In doing so they avoid an arbitration hearing and fell just shy of meeting Small half way. That’s what amounts to big news out of the Bronx these days. Things have been dead quiet since the team signed Miguel Cairo back on January 5.

That’s in stark contrast to what’s happening 200 miles Northeast in Beantown. The eight-player, three-team deal that was to bring Coco Crisp to Boston has hit the skids after Guillermo Mota failed Cleveland’s physical (this despite passing Boston’s physical when the Sox acquired him from Florida in the Josh Beckett trade back around Thanksgiving).

Meanwhile, the man who will be responsible for sorting all of this out will be none other than Theo Epstein. Less than three months after leaving his post as General Manager, Epstein has not only returned to the team, but reclaimed his position as GM, putting the lie to fact that Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington would share the job (Hoyer has been bumped down to assistant GM and Cherington has been made VP of player personnel).

It all makes one wonder exactly how involved Epstein really was during his 84-day exile. Here’s what the Sox have done in Theo’s “absence”:

  • Re-signed Mike Timlin for 2006
  • Released Gabe Kapler
  • Filled out the 40-man roster with minor leaguers
  • Traded for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota, sending top infield prospect Hanley Ramirez and three pitching prospects to Florida
  • Picked up reliever Jermaine Van Buren from the Cubs for a PTBNL
  • Swapped Doug Mirabelli for Mark Loretta
  • Dumped Edgar Renteria on the Braves for top prospect Andy Marte
  • Clamed reliever Jamie Vermilyea in the Rule 5 draft
  • Non-tendered Wade Miller and Chad Bradford
  • Signed John Flaherty, J.T. Snow and reliever Rudy Seanez to one-year deals
  • Signed Mota for 2006
  • Signed Tony Gaffanino, who had unexpectedly accepted the Sox arbitration offer, to a one-year deal
  • Signed Julian Tavarez to a two-year deal with an option for 2008
  • Re-upped Bronson Arroyo for three years
  • DFAed Tim Bausher
  • Signed Willie Harris to a mL deal and invited him to spring training

That doesn’t include the still undetermined Coco Crisp deal.

While it’s very tempting to dust that list for Theo’s fingerprints, one tends to wonder if the “boy genius” would have left his club with Alex Cora at shortstop and a battle between Adam Stern and Willie Harris in center just 23 days before Pitchers and Catchers.

By the way, the last six items on the above list occured between the Cairo and Small contracts. Myself, I don’t mind the silence.


According to published reports, Mike Piazza’s agents have contacted the Yankees. While The Daily News writes that the Bombers have no interest in the Mets’ former superstar, Brian Cashman tells Jon Heyman in Newsday:

“We’re fairly set. Our designated hitter spot is taken by Bernie Williams and Andy Phillips. But I’ll keep an open mind,” Cashman said. “I’m always open to consider any possibility that may help the ballclub.”

My co-writer Cliff Corcoran has been in favor of the Yankees’ signing Piazza for months now. You know that Met fans would hate to see Yazzie in the Bronx. I’ve always loved the guy, so I think it would be a lot of fun to see him in pinstripes, playing for Joe Torre, but I don’t think it’s likely to actually happen.

Meanwhile, the News has a little puff piece on Aaron Small.

Change is Gunna Come

The noted baseball economist Andrew Zimbalist addresses the Yankee Stadium issue today in The New York Times:

Plans to build a new Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx have kicked up a small storm of local protest. Many people who live near Mullaly and Macombs Dam Parks, where the new stadium will be built, are concerned about what it will mean for their neighborhood, and rightfully so. But the crucial public policy question here is whether there will be a net benefit for residents of the Bronx and the other boroughs. The answer is yes.

Meanwhile, The Boston Herald reports that the Sox are close to finalizing a deal that would send Andy Marte (the guy they got from Atlanta in the Edgar Renteria deal) and Guillermo Moto to the Indians for center fielder Coco Crisp. The Phillies are also involved in the works and they’d send cf Jason Michaels to Cleveland. The Herald also reports that Boston is close to signing Alex Gonzalez to play short stop.

Crisp would be a much cheaper option than Damon for the Sox (Crisp isn’t elligible for free agency for another four years). He doesn’t walk all that much, but he had a good offensive season last year, and he does have some pop. With the acuisition of Julian Tavarez–who looks almost comically evil, like the villian who ties the girl to the tracks and twirls his mustache–Mota is expendable. Gonzalez isn’t a great hitter but a fine defensive player. The Sox had to do something to fill in the gaps.

What do you think? If this goes down, how much does this improve, or hurt, Boston?

I Just Can’t Quit You, Baby

Man, I just can’t help but chuckle at this one. The once and future King, Theo Epstein, winner of the Hot Stove Sarah Bernhardt Award, will return to the Boston Red Sox next week according to the team. The Boston Globe reports:

Epstein’s exact role and title had not been completely determined as of last night. Nor had it been decided exactly how co-GMs Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington would be recast. The club, in a release, indicated only that Epstein would be rejoining the Sox in a ”full-time baseball operations capacity, details of which will be announced next week.” However, expectations within the organization point to Epstein returning as the lead decision-maker within baseball operations, with Hoyer and Cherington working under him.

Dan Shaughnessy, the polarizing columnist who is most closely identified with the Red Sox than any other writer (with all due respect to Peter Gammons), writes:

Here’s an inside look at how it works over at Fenway these days. The Red Sox are afraid of what is written about them in the newspapers and what is said about them on WEEI. That’s why we got this vague, preemptive strike just after the dinner hour last night. Nothing has changed since Theo left and no one knows how the new arrangement is going to work, but owner John W. Henry figured it was better to put out a press release saying ”all is well” than to read more speculation about weakness at the top.

Embarrassing. The people in baseball operations were working hard as usual late last night, trying to plug the team’s holes in center field and shortstop, when Epstein called them and told them there was going to be an announcement that he’s coming back next week. No one knew quite what to say to their former boss. There’s been no discussion about who will report to whom. No one knows how this is going to work, and Theo has burned some bridges with his own people. But John W. Henry loves him. So he gets to come back. The only certainty is that Theo will report to CEO Larry Lucchino, according to Henry.

Tony Massarotti adds:

Just 15 months after arguably the most glorious sports celebration in Boston’s history, the luster officially is off the ownership and management at fabled Fenway Park. In this soap opera, president Larry Lucchino first made the mistake of arrogance. Then, owner John Henry committed the blunder of passivity. And now, Theo Epstein is committing perhaps the most inexplicable transgression of all.

In the face of better judgment, he’s coming back.

Time for group therapy at 4 Yawkey Way.

The Red Sox, like the Yankees in previous years, have become equally, if not more, entertaining off-the-field than they are between the white lines. David Pinto thinks that the Red Sox keep finding ways of turning themselves into the Yankees. “Boston’s front office is a soap opera,” writes Pinto. “New York’s front office is the calmest and quietest I’ve seen it since George took over. Who’d have thunk it?” I don’t know how or if any of this mishegoss will impact the Sox on the field (remember, the Yanks had some winning teams during the Bronx Zoo Era), but Pinto’s right. Who, indeed, would have thunk it?

Soul Man

Rest in Peace, Wilson Pickett.

If You Build it…

Creaking forward?

Picks and Pans

I’ve got a piece up over at SI.com about some of the moves I’ve liked and haven’t liked this winter. ‘Course I had to narrow it down some, but thinking more specifically about the Yankees and the rest of the AL East, what have been some of your favorite and least favorite deals?

Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)

The Yankees have exchanged arbitration offers with their two eligible players, pitchers Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small. When last I poked my head out of my hole to see if winter had passed, I estimated their 2006 salaries at $4 million and $1 million respectively. Turns out I was closer than even I would have thought:

Chacon’s request: $4.15 mil
Yankees’ response: $3.1 mil

Small’s request: $1.45 mil
Yankees’ response: $1.025 mil

It seems to me that Small is the more likely to lose his case due to his irregular career path and the fact that the Yankees regularly bounced him into the bullpen, including for the ALDS in which his coin finally came up tails. Much to my surprise, the owners have won the majority of the cases that have made it to arbitration (as the arbiter can only chose one figure or the other, most cases are settled before reaching arbitration with the two parties agreeing on difference-splitting contracts). From 1974-2004, the owners had a .573 winning percentage in arbitration cases. At any rate, the total difference between the offers made by the Yankees and the requests made by Small and Chacon is $1.475 million, or less any member of the Yankees’ 40-man roster who has reached his arbitration years will make in 2006 save for Mike Myers ($1.2 mil), Miguel Cairo ($1 mil) and Kelly Stinnett ($650K). Small will join that group regardless of how his case is decided in February.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

No Mas

According to Jack Curry in The New York Times, it appears unlikely that Alex Rodriguez will play in the WBC after all. This is getting silly; either yer in or out. Rodriguez’s coy deliberation has become a bore. Let’s move on.

Eyes of the Prize

Just a quick time out here to honor today’s holiday. Last week, Taylor Branch’s third, and final installment of his ambitious Martin Luther King, Jr biography was released. “At Canaan’s Edge” follows the highly acclaimed “Parting of the Waters” and “Pillar of Fire” to make up probably the most comprehensive study of King’s life to date (“Bearing the Cross” by David Garrow is another excellent study of MLK too). Branch is an outstanding writer and I’m sure his new book is fascinating.

Here is an excerpt of King’s celebrated “Letter from Birmingham City Jail,” dated April 16, 1963.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant ‘Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you no forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.

I Thought They Were the Same Thing

So I’m at the supermarket yesterday when I see a mother talking to her son, who must have been all of five years old. She’s pushing their shopping cart and he’s hanging off the end of it, and I hear her telling me, “G-elt, not Guilt. They’re different. Guilt your born with, gelt is something you are given.” (For those who don’t know, gelt is the Yiddish word for money.)

I started chuckling to myself as she continued.

“Guilt is something mommy feels when she doesn’t get you a present that you want. Gelt is what mommy uses to buy you that present.”

Now, I started laughing. The mother made eye contact with me and I said, “Now, I like that.”

“Ah, the life lessons we’ve got to teach every day.”

As they turned the corner to the next isle I heard her kid say, “I like that, I like that.”

Nerd Seed

There is a piece in the Times today about the continuing popularity of the Strat-O-Matic baseball board game. I never played it as a kid. I have a vague memory of maybe having it once, or possibly I saw it at a friends house, but it never interested me. Too many numbers, too much abstraction. I was a much more tactile kid. Dungeons and Dragons never appealed to me either–it required a leap of faith, of imagination that was too remote for me to identify with.

I was usually playing baseball instead–hard ball with a team or whiffle ball in the back yard. If I played any baseball games they were usually on the computer. My brother and I used to go at it on the Commodore 64, and I remember buying Intellivision from a classmate when I was in junior high just so we could play the sports games. I used to keep boxscores of these games–not long ago I was leafing through an old Roger Angell book and found a boxscore I had kept around 1984-85, the Mets (my brother) vs. the Angels (me, cause of Reggie)–but that was about as far into the numbers as I went. Still, I now know a lot of baseball heads who were ardent Strat-O-Matic fans. Were you one of them?

A Delicate Balance

One of the most compelling aspects of baseball is the balance it requires of its participants–players, managers, owners, and fans alike. For the past couple of years, I keep thinking about Greg Maddux and his philosophy of throwing softer rather than harder when he’s in a tight spot. Back in August of 2004, Mark Prior told Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci:

“He’s helped me tremendously,” Prior says. “I’ve always gone harder whenever I’m in trouble. He’s got me thinking, Go softer when I’m in trouble. I never thought that way before, and it’s helped me develop confidence in my changeup.”

In an earlier profile (August of 1995), Maddux told Verducci of a game in 1988 against the Cardinals, when he was still pitching for the Cubbies. Maddux lost in the 11th inning when Luis Alicea hit a fastball for a seeing-eye single with the bases loaded.

“I pitched 10 scoreless innings and lost because I was afraid to throw a changeup,” he says.

“Now,” says [then Giants pitching coach, Dick] Pole, “if he gets a full count on you with the bases loaded, he’ll throw a changeup. That s.o.b doesn’t even care about walking in the tying run.”

I love the idea of doing something that seems instinctively wrong, counter-intuitive, but at the same time makes all the sense in the world. After all, how many times do we see a flame-throwing reliever over-throwing when he’s in a jam late in the game? In this case, going with a softer pitch like a changeup, shows a greater sense of confidence and strength than going with a power pitch.

I was reminded of this recently when I read Peter Guralnick’s outstanding book on Southern Rhythm and Blues music, “Sweet Soul Music”. Willie Mitchell, who was responsible for producing most of Al Green’s major records, is like the Maddux of music. Mitchell’s wonderfully full and warm production style helped make Green a star; moreover, he knew how to harness Green’s talents (like many soul singers, Green had strong gospel roots). Mitchell tells Guralnick:

“Well, you see, after we had done ‘Tired of Being Alone’ and ‘I Can’t Get Next to You,’ I said, ‘Al, look, we got to soften you up some.’ I said, ‘You got to whisper. You got to cut the lighter music. the melody has got to be good. You got to sing it soft. If we can get the dynamic bottom on it and make some sense with pretty changes, then we gonna be there.’ He said, ‘Man, I can’t sing that way. That’s too soft. That ain’t gonna sound like no man singing.’ We had the damnedest fights, but I think ‘Let’s Stay Together’ really sold him that I had the right direction for him musically, ’cause, see, all the things I told him turned out to be true. Like ‘Let’s Stay Together’ he didn’t like at all, but when we put it out, it was gold in two weeks. So we softened and softened and softened.”

…Willie Mitchell and Al Green would soon take soul music–real, unabashed, wholehearted soul music–to quiet, luxuriantly appointed places it had never been before.

A terrific example of what Mitchell describes can be found on Green’s “I’m Still in Love with You,” the album that also features “Love and Happiness” and “I’m Glad You’re Mine.” The last cut on the first side is called “Simply Beautiful,” and the song has a special feel to it that is hard to describe. Intimate is the best word I can come up with. Anyhow, a record producer friend of mine explained to me a few years ago that the unique quality of the record was achieved by Mitchell turning up the recording levels on all of the microphones in the studio, and then getting Green and the musicians to play as softly as possible. Softer than soft. The results are subtle but powerful. It’s like Green is right in your ear–and it is a devastatingly emotional love song.

In the black-and-white world we currently live in, where being “hard” is virile, powerful, masculine, and being “soft” is nothing short of an insult, it’s great to remember than vulnerability is often the greatest sign of strength, the most powerful tool, no matter what art form you are talking about.

Dip, Dip, Dive

Goose Gossage was understandably upset that he wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame yesterday. He told Jack Curry in The New York Times:

“Right now, I don’t think I’ll ever get in,” Gossage said. “Why would I feel good about this? Because Sutter got in, that’s supposed to help me? Let me tell you, I don’t have to take a back seat to anybody.”

…”I was a pioneer in how the bullpen is used today,” Gossage said. “I did the work it takes three guys to do today. Don’t compare what Mariano does today to what I did. It’s two different positions.”

Regardless of how he’s currently feeling, I say Gossage will eventually make it. But he isn’t alone in his criticism of the results. Joe Sheehan ran some telling numbers in his column the other day proving that Gossage was a better pitcher than Sutter. His conclusion?

Gossage had Sutter’s career and another ten seasons of work…There is absolutely no rational argument for having Bruce Sutter on a ballot, but not having Rich Gossage on it as well. You can vote for Gossage alone, you can vote for both or neither, but all ballots that list Sutter and not Gossage are fundamentally flawed, and reflect a lack of understanding of what the two pitchers accomplished in their careers.

Rob Neyer adds:

The voters certainly can’t be supporting Sutter because of his value; if they were voting for value, they would have Gossage ahead of Sutter, because Gossage so obviously was more valuable than Sutter. They must be voting for Sutter as a “pioneer” — a pioneer of the split-fingered fastball (even though he didn’t invent the pitch) and a pioneer of the save situation (even though he was just following orders). Voting for Sutter but not voting for Gossage is simply an irrational act. Nothing personal; I act irrationally at least a couple of times a year, so I can’t exactly hold that against my esteemed colleagues.

Meanwhile, Bruce Sutter was overcome when he learned that he was headed for Cooperstown:

“It’s been 18 years since I threw my last ball,” Sutter said in a conference call. “I didn’t think it would affect me as it did. When I got the call and was told I was in, I gave a ‘thumbs-up’ to my wife and sons and then I broke down and cried.


A False Spring

Or something to that effect is what we’re currently experiencing in New York, which is uncommonly warm at the moment. Last night, I could swear that I was smelling those first signs of spring through the chilly air. Then I had to remind myself, “Dude, we’ve still got plenty of Old Man Winter ahead of us, relax yourself Chester.” Still, pitchers and catchers will report before long, won’t they? In fact, there was an encouraging photograph in the Daily News today–that of David Wright taking batting practice at a Mets mini-camp clinic down in Florida. I hope that Wright becomes to the Mets what Derek Jeter has been for the Yankees–not just the leader of the team, but a guy who has bonafide and sincere passion for the game (right now Wright’s youthfulness, talent, and disposition suggests that good things may be in store for the Mets).

But the hubub of the day will come later this afternoon when the Hall of Fame announces if they’ll be electing any new members this year. It appears likely that nobody will make it, though Bruce Sutter and Jim Rice may be close–while Bert Blyeleven and Goose Gossage are entirely deserving. The Hall of Fame is an endless source of kibbitzing for baseball fans. What do you guys think? Anyone get in today? And if so, who’ll it be?

Staying Put?

While all remains quiet in Yankeeland (with the exception of the Alex Rodriguez-WBC affair, which Bob Klapisch updates today), the biggest story in the AL East during the past several weeks has been whether or not the Orioles and Red Sox will swap Manny Ramirez for Miguel Tejada. At it stands this morning, Tejada has rescinded his trade demand (Ramirez has been doing the cha-cha around his desire to be in Boston all winter long). Which is not to say that things won’t change again–the latest gossip had Tejada going to the Phillies for Bobby Abreu, but for the moment, it doesn’t look as if Tejada will replace Manny as David Ortiz’s partner in destruction next season. Which is just fine by me.

I’ve rooted for Tejada for about five years now, ever since I read “Away Games,” really. If he went to Boston, my ability to pull for him would be seriously compromised (which is funny because he plays for a division rival now in Baltimore, but it just ain’t the same, is it?). For now, he’s a-stayin.’ Next week, it could change again, right?

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver