Saturday, February 7, 2009

Smorgasbord Saturday (The Baseball Edition)

Update 12:35 pm, 2/8/09: It appears that Andruw Jones has agreed to return to the minor leagues in an agreement with the Texas Rangers. I have never figured out what happened to Andruw's stellar career, but maybe this is the rebirth of his career as he has hoped. Also, Ryan Howard has agreed to a three0year fifty-four million dollar contract with the Phillies.

Sports Illustrated
online is reporting this morning that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers. Pay-Rod or A-Fraud as he has come to be known by his detractors has had a rough couple of months as Madonna's marriage fizzled and he was implicated as the cause and while former Yankees skipper Joe Torre's book hits shelves with various statements about A-Rod not being a team player. However, as was stated in the SI story by John Hart (Texas Rangers' general manager in 2003 and now advisor to the Rangers), "the climate that we have today, you don't have much shock anymore." Unfortunately, this is true of Major League Baseball in a post- Mitchell Report world. These allegations certainly don't surprise me.

In other baseball news, the Atlanta Braves appear to have offered Tom Glavine a contract for the 2009 season. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'd love to see Glavine finish his career in Atlanta. And, my favorite catcher of all-time, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is reportedly talking with the Florida Marlins about a return. It made me sick when Pudge went to the Yankees and I'd love to see him go back to the team he went to the World Series with. That angry and ecstatic image of him holding the fall after a plow at the plate is one of the greatest images in the last twenty-years of baseball. After all, it did earn him the NLCS MVP award... There will come a day when the Marlins are more than just the NL East spoiler.

Of course, if Pudge leaves New York there will be the issue of who to put behind the plate at the new Yankee Stadium. If they really can't put Joe Girardi back in a uniform, I really don't think they're at a loss. Any club would be safe with a Molina behind the plate and the Yankees have one, Jose.

After a few weeks of constant trade and Yankee domination, the trade rumors and contract signings have slowed. Arbitration is a bit harder for the free-agent market. Still no contracts for Ben Sheets, Manny Ramirez, or Adam Dunn. Manny appears to be wanted, but in this market who is willing to dish out that kind of cash? The Yankees, except they've spent nearly everything they have. No, you're right, they still have more. What was I thinking?

My favorite player of all time, the great Hammerin' Hank Aaron celebrated his 75th birthday this past week. This week also marked the birthday of baseball legend Babe Ruth. For me, the home run record never changed hands. For everything Bonds was as a young player, the talent and the natural athlete, he squandered whatever I once thought of him and the steroid cloud that follows him necessitates the continuing reign of Hank Aaron as the home-run king. As I was reading this story at MLB.com, I was reminded of the dignity, decency and class of Hank Aaron. There's an entire generation of baseball fans and Braves fans because of what Hank did. Happy belated birthday, Mr. Aaron!

We're only a few weeks away from the opening day of Spring Training. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be in Lake Buena Vista, Florida! Just after opening day at the training camps will be round one of the World Baseball Classic. You can check out the schedule here or wait until I post one closer to game one.

Wrapping up this smorgasbord is a reminder that the Rob Kirkpatrick book on Cecil Travis, a truly amazing man who was devoted to two loves--his country and baseball, is coming out on March 1st. The historian in me marvels at the events that defined the life of Cecil Travis and the baseball fan in me can't believe he was never inducted into the baseball hall of fame. I can't wait to read this book!

On this cold February morning, Spring Training is sounding pretty heavenly. Get out there and enjoy your Saturday!

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