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Tag:Cleveland Indians
Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:53 pm
 

Short Hops: 3 thoughts on the Marlins (and more)

The Florida Marlins are off to the best start in club history, Josh Johnson is pitching like a Cy Young winner and Anibal Sanchez is threatening to re-visit No-Hitter Land. A lot is going right for the Marlins, and it couldn't be coming at a better time. This summer isn't just about this summer for Florida. With a new stadium set to open in 2012, these aren't your typical cut-rate Marlins. They need to stir interest and sell tickets and bring a strong product into their new ballpark to set a solid foundation.

This isn't to say the Marlins are looking to flex their financial muscle. But they're definitely looking to win, and behind Johnson, Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco, they've got three starters going in the right direction. And, in Leo Nunez, they've got one closer consistently nailing things down.

Three thoughts on the Marlins as they tangle with Philadelphia this week:

1. Johnson is incorporating a slower curve with the help of Marlins pitching coach Randy St. Claire in an effort to work deeper into games. He's thrown more than 200 innings in his career just once, in 2009, and both Johnson and the Marlins would like to get him to that level consistently. Already, he throws a fastball, slider, sinker and change-up. With a fastball that already kills at 94, 95 m.p.h., the curve that is clocked around 77, 78 is leaving hitters with little chance.

2. The Marlins are off to their best start with All-Star Hanley Ramirez off to one of his worst, which bodes well for them for later this summer. Because, as one scout says, "Hanley will hit. He always hits." The man who has hit the most home runs of any major-league shortstop since 2006 started the season with none in his first 23 games. He's currently hitting just .195 with one homer and 13 RBI. While the Marlins wait, first baseman and team leader Gaby Sanchez, plugs along as one of the game's most underrated players.

3. Without question, the biggest difference in this year's Marlins is at the back end of games. Florida's bullpen is second in the NL with a 2.59 ERA. Last year's Marlins ranked ninth in the league with a 4.01 ERA and ninth in saves (39). This year, Nunez's 11 saves (the Marlins' total) are tied for third in the NL. Brian Sanches, Randy Choate and Ryan Webb have been instrumental in the improvement.

-- The Marlins are expected to pursue a third baseman at some point this summer, but veteran Greg Dobbs has been outstanding there in the wake of the fractured elbow prospect Matt Dominguez suffered late in spring training. Dobbs' steady glove and .359 batting average and .411 on-base percentage have eased some of the Marlins' pain.

-- One scout, who was in Seattle for this weekend's White Sox-Mariners series, on Milton  Bradley being designated for assignment Monday: "He was going through the motions. Good for Jack [Zduriecik, Mariners' general manager]."

-- Among the reasons to believe Cleveland is for real: On Monday, the Indians' +48 run differential was best in the majors. Next-closest in the American League: The Yankees, at +38. Next-closest in baseball: St. Louis at +44, followed by the Phillies, who were even with the Yanks at +38.

-- Those watching closely the final two months of last season know that Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson's 5-0 start is no fluke. Masterson's 2.86 ERA from Aug. 4 through season's end in 2010 ranked ninth in the AL. Currently, his 2.11 ERA is fifth in the AL. "The last six weeks last year, he was able to repeat his delivery more often," Indians manager Manny Acta says. Part of that is, pitching coach Tim Belcher has helped him institute a series of checkpoints in his windup and deliver, which allows the 6-6 Masterson to be more efficient at making in-game adjustments. It's also allowed Masterson to reduce his walks. Over 47 innings pitched this year, he has 34 strikeouts and just 13 walks.

-- The Twins' -68 was by far the game's worst run differential. Nobody's even close: Next-worst are the Dodgers and Houston, each at -35.

-- One scout on the Cubs: "They have no speed, and not much power."

-- The Padres have been shut out a stunning eight times in 34 games, twice as much as anybody else (the Nationals, Red Sox, White Sox and Athletics each has been shut out four times). Indications are, Petco Park is getting in the heads of newcomers like Brad Hawpe (signed over the winter) and Ryan Ludwick (acquired at last July's trading deadline) and others.

-- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Petco, where he's also managed several games as Colorado's skipper: "I think the worst damage it did when it was first built was to the home team. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth you could hear from across the other side when this thing was first built. I think it's been tinkered with since. I think perception is so huge in this game. The first thing hitters look for are flags and distances. Actually, I just try and get them focused saying, 'Look at all that grass out there. There's room for all kinds of hits. Let's focus on that.'"

-- More Hurdle on Petco Park: "I've got to believe if you put Tony Gwynn in here, you know what? He'd get a lot of hits in here. I do believe that, unfortunately, there's this thing called the male ego, and if that number's big out there [on the outfield fence] and you think, 'I’m still going to hit it out', before you know it, you're doing more grunting and manipulating your swing just to try and hit it out rather than just hit it hard."

-- Outstanding: Angels outfielder Torii Hunter's at-bat music for his first trip to the plate at home each night is the theme from Sanford & Son, the old television show. It started as a joke last week when Hunter was in a slump.

-- Great line from Larry Stone, the excellent baseball writer for the Seattle Times, on the rise of Justin Smoak: "The Mariners are trying to coax Pat Meares out of retirement so they can do it with Smoak & Meares."

-- White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen on counterpart Mike Scioscia earning his 1,000th win managing the Angels on Sunday: "You manage for 100 years, you will have 1,000 wins." Seriously, Guillen added, "I think it's a great thing, especially when you manage the same ballclub."

Likes: The "20 Greatest Games" on MLB Network is a cool feature. Watched the network's treatment of Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Jack Morris' 1-0 classic for the Twins over Atlanta, with Morris and John Smoltz in studio. It's worth seeing. ... White Sox outfielder Mark Teahen says he still keeps in touch with some of his ex-Royals' teammates -- the few left from when he was there. ... Glad to see LaTroy Hawkins (shoulder surgery) back in Milwaukee's bullpen. ... Latest CD rave: The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love. Man, that woman can sing.

Dislikes: Gatorade used to be so easy. You worked out, you sweated, you rehydrated. But now, there's Gatorade for before your workout (Prime), during/after your workout (Perform) and post-workout (Recovery). What if you drink them in the wrong order. Then what happens? ... So now Kate Hudson is in this Something Borrowed? Does she choose her roles, or handlers? And to think, there was such hope for her after Almost Famous.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You're the reason I changed to beer from soda pop
"And you're the reason I never get to go to the beauty shop
"You're the reason our kids are ugly little darlins'
"Oh, but looks ain't everything
"And money ain't everything"

-- Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn, (You're the Reason) Our Kids Are Ugly

 

Posted on: May 8, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Sizzling Sizemore leading Indians

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- This might sound funny, but the fact that Grady Sizemore has hit so well since returning to the Indians lineup on April 17 is almost a bonus. What Cleveland was celebrating upon first welcoming back the three-time All-Star was simply what he brings with him into the clubhouse.

Sizemore is one of a handful of elite players in the majors whose mere presence makes everyone around him better.

"You see the way he plays the game, the way he runs out every ground ball, the way he's diving all over the place," designated hitter Travis Hafner says. "He's the first one here every day. Him and Shin-Soo Choo are our two best players, and when they play that way, it just sets the tone."

Maybe something like a team's best talent always hustling should be taken for granted, but anybody who's watched Detroit's Miguel Cabrera "run" to first at times knows that the tone can be set in the wrong direction, too.

"Obviously, what he's done speaks for itself," outfielder Austin Kearns says. "But just his presence every day, how he goes about his business, how he plays the game ... it's the way it's supposed to be done."

Though the Indians dropped Sunday's series finale in Anaheim 6-5, they still earned a split on their West Coast trip (3-3) and have won nine of 12, and Sizemore on Sunday went 3 for 5 (including a homer and a double) and continued to spark the Tribe after a tough, tough year.

Micro-fracture surgery is not a first choice if you're an athlete facing the knife. It's a nasty injury with a long, tedious rehabilitation. Sizemore had the surgery on his left knee last June and hadn't played since last May 16 [aside, of course, from a minor-league injury rehab assignment just before being activated in mid-April].

Sizemore says, as Tom Petty once did, the waiting was the hardest part.

"I think just the time away from the team while you're rehabbing, it's frustrating," says Sizemore, 28. "The amount of time it takes.

"Every case is different. I didn’t really have a set program. You're really going month-to-month. We had a general outline, and I was constantly going back to the doctor to get re-examined and see where I'm at."

How many times? Too many to count, Sizemore says. But it was every five or six weeks for the past year.

Baseball-wise, the most difficult part of coming back after missing so much time, Sizemore says, is, "it's all difficult. The hardest part was probably stuff you can't simulate in games -- balls in the gap, rounding the bases hard, having to come to a complete stop when you're running."

Of course, by roaring off to a 10-4 start before Sizemore's return, the Indians didn't make it any easier on the poor guy.

"It was fun to watch, but it made the time I had left to return that much harder," Sizemore says, smiling.

But now, it makes things that much easier -- except, perhaps, where the outfielder's future is involved. In the final season of a six-year, $23.45 million contract, the Indians hold an $8.5 million option on him for 2012 (with a $500,000 buyout), though that becomes a player option if he's traded.

Though his long-term future in Cleveland seems doubtful, at this point, he's probably safe from any stealth July deals.

"I'm just trying to get through the weeks right now," Sizemore says. "It's the furthest thing from my ming right now. My biggest thing was to get back on the field, and not look past tomorrow."

Likes: Hitting streaks. ... Derek Jeter passing Cal Ripken Jr. for most games played at shortstop with one team. And after his two homers Sunday and boosting his average up to .276, maybe now he's earned another grace period. ... Rookie phenom debuts, and Eric Hosmer's mother, father, brother, aunt and uncle all flying into Kansas City from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for his debut on Friday night. ... Tom Hamilton, now in his 22nd season as the radio voice of the Cleveland Indians. Always great fun talking with Tom. ... Friday Night Lights back on television. Four shows into its final season and I'm still debating whether to just pick up the entire season on DVD. If I get the DVDs, I can rip through all 15 episodes. But not having the DVDs slows down the process and forces me to savor each episode for just a little longer. It's such a great show.

Dislikes: Awful, awful stuff in post-tornado Alabama. Here's a list of ways you can help.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers
"And they've been known to pick a song or two
"Lord they get me off so much
"They pick me up when I'm feeling blue
"Now how about you?

-- Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:38 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 5:39 pm
 

Love Letters: The Boston Stinks (or Not) edition

I picked the Red Sox to win the World Series this year. They started 2-10, so a bunch of folks flooded me with notes. So now, with the Red Sox having won five of their past six and charging toward .500 (10-12) I'm sharing those notes (along with some reaction to other things). As for Boston, how about now we just see what the rest of the season brings?

From: Jeff P.

Scott you're high. The Red Sox won't even make playoffs.

Not high. It's Mountain Dew.

From: Shawn

Your Red Sox pick isn't looking very good.

Great thing about Boston is, so far nobody's noticed I picked the White Sox to win the AL Central, too.

From: Voodoo

BoSox worst team in baseball at 2-9.

They've gone 8-3 since then, and I noticed I haven't heard from you.

From: Rebecca

If the Yankees are the best second-place team $200 million can buy, then it follows that the Red Sox are the best last-place team that 160 million can buy!

It followed for about a week. So you've got that going for you.

From: Jeff

Really ... you think predicting Doc Halladay as a Cy Young winner [last year] was impressive? Come on ... and Boston? Lots of hype, but no pitching help.

Matter of fact, I think picking both Halladay and Felix Hernandez for the Cy awards in pre-season last year, and correctly picking Zack Greinke as the AL Cy winner coming out of spring training in 2009, is darned impressive. Yes.

From: Chuck

Season predictions: BoSox will grab most trophies, including W.S. Heh, heh, heh.

I hope all you folks taking the time to needle check back with me six months from now.

From: Amie T.
Re. These Virginia sluggers miss more than they connect

Come on, Scott! What was it a slow news day or something? If you compare the amount of talent in all college and professional sports that come out of the Tidewater area, my hometown, and compare it to a few MLB guys who strike out a lot -- the strikeouts are but a small drop in the bucket. Have you ever spent a spring weekend observing at any organized Little League baseball park in Hampton Roads? What you would see is dedication and love of the sport. We are a hard-working, military and industrial community -- very blue collar -- and we deserve better than this. I have always enjoyed reading your articles, but I take GREAT exception to this! You can do better.

Loosen up, Amie. The column was written in good fun, and it's clear that Michael Cuddyer, David Wright, Justin Upton and the rest enjoy teasing each other. They're class acts and you're lucky to have them.

From: Mike C.

As a point of interest, the Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge played for U of Virginia Commonwealth. I enjoy your columns.

Yes he did, and thanks for bringing him into the conversation, Mike. But he's not nearly as adept at whiffing as the others!

From: Bill H.
Re. Baseball the best medicine for Padres coaches battling cancer

Scott,

Great story on the Padres coaches. The kind of behind-the-scenes piece you do really well. I enjoyed your spring training reports, as always.

Thanks, Bill. And the best part is that bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds learned the other day that the tumor on his pancreas has continued to shrink, so hopefully he'll be a candidate for surgery soon.

From: Joe W.
Re.: Oblique injury is in, so beward of the sneeze

Acid wash to skinny (jeans)? Even your 80-year-old community college prof would have picked up on your lack of concern for details. Don't rush the color, Scott.

Must admit, I've never been scolded before over the subject of blue jeans. But I feel lucky to have a job where that sort of thing can come up.

From: Jim B.
Re.: For a team with no expectations, Indians are making headway

Hey Scott,

Pitching and defense win games. The Tribe has had great pitching and defense this year. Signs are that Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson will take their excellence deep into the season. Expect Carlos Carrasco to be good all year, too. The injury bug is always an issue for pitchers, and it will likely bite them this year, too. Being a young staff does suggest less risk. With David Huff waiting in the wings, they have a high-quality backup ready to enter center stage. Over the long season, depth becomes important. After passing the quality arm test, the starting rotation will have to pass the endurance test before they can be considered top-notch.

True. But, at least, so far, so good.

From: Matt B.

Mr. Miller,

Indians fan here, getting the MLB package on cable. Trouble is, I can't watch my team when they play the O's or the Nat's because somehow Cary, NC -- near Raleigh -- is in the viewing market for D.C./Baltimore. We are approximately 300 miles from the D.C. area, or 73.12 hours if you drive it. Plus, there are no cable stations in my area that show either Nats or O's games. Does MLB care about its fans?

I think the answer is yes, but you sure couldn't tell it by the blackout areas on the Extra Innings package. That's long been controversial and so much of it seems to make no sense. I'm pretty sure that the blackout areas and TV areas were drawn up for MLB by untrained monkeys. I'll pass along your complaint.

Posted on: April 14, 2011 8:53 pm
 

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

Cabrera Tales, and other outtakes from the red- (downgraded from white-) hot Indians. ...

-- The last time Orlando Cabrera played second base for more than one game in a season, it was 1998, he was 23 and the name on the front of his jersey said "Montreal."

So other than the fact that he needed a job and spring training was about to begin, what possessed him to agree to move full-time from shortstop over to second base and sign with Cleveland this season?

"It was a matter of playing every day," says Cabrera, now 36. "I know I can do the job [at shortstop], no doubt. But I don't want to move over to second base for a guy I don't respect at shortstop."

Asdrubal Cabrera is not that guy. Orlando respects him a bunch.

"This kid is going to be one of the elite players at this position for many years to come," Orlando says.

The switch to second seems to have rejuvenated Orlando as well, and not just because he's batting .295 with a .333 on-base percentage over his first 12 games.

"It feels like when I just came up to the big leagues," he says.

-- Without using the word, designated hitter Travis Hafner likens Orlando Cabrera and his veteran skills to a quarterback.

"He's brought a lot of leadership," Hafner says. "He's really helped solidified the middle infield. Both he and Asdrubal have played great up the middle. Both are swinging the bat well. That's been a big part of our success."

-- Justin Masterson (2-0, 1.35 ERA), 26, who was one of the key pieces acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade two summers ago, starts against Baltimore on Friday night as the Indians open a brief, three-game homestand before heading back out for a seven-game trip to Kansas City and Minnesota.

He's got a pretty good handle on the process these Indians will go through if they can keep winning.

"It goes from people saying, 'Who cares about these guys' to 'Oh, it's not going to last too long' to 'Oh, they've put it all together'," Masterson says. "We're not trying to prove people wrong. We're just trying to do what we know we can do.

"We know we're talented. We just have to ride the highs and not stay too long in the lows."

Likes: Figuring out which early surprises are for real in the game and which are mirages is always one of the fun parts of April and May. ... Cleveland manager Manny Acta, looking to build on some promise the Indians showed during the second half of last season, sounds a lot like Bud Black and the Padres last summer as they were winning 90 games following an August-September surge in 2009. That's not to say these Indians will win 90, but one thing in their favor is, the White Sox, Twins and Tigers all are kicking it around a little bit early in the season. No dominant teams right now in the AL Central. ... This video showing Tim Lincecum pitching in super-slow motion. ... The latest from the Drive-By Truckers, Go-Go Boots. Country blues, and it sounds so good. Used To Be a Cop is tremendous, and have alwayed loved the Eddie Hinton number, Everybody Needs Love.

Dislikes: The Bonds Trial. Manny. It never ends.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Riding in your top-down Mustang
"Taking me out to the beach
"Your eyes matched the skies
"I believe I saw your shadow looking like 1967
"Percy Sledge on the radio
"Or maybe Spanish songs
"All my troubles swept away
"The ocean on my scraped-up knees
"You could never stand to be away from me too long"

-- Drive-By Truckers, I Do Believe

Posted on: February 9, 2011 7:02 pm
 

On the spring comeback trail

Former NL Cy Young winner and White Sox ace Jake Peavy is not the only impact player looking to prove this spring that he's past a debilitating injury. Here are six others:

Chipper Jones, Braves: Strong early indications that Atlanta's leader is recovering well from major knee surgery last August. Just ask the baseballs: Jones has been hitting in Atlanta since the first of the year, and the legend already is growing. Earlier this month, he literally knocked the cover off of a ball -- ala Roy Hobbs in The Natural -- in a Turner Field batting cage.

"There might have been a stitch or two loose," says general manager Frank Wren, who was away on the Braves' Winter Caravan at the time and was told of the feat by club president John Schuerholz.

Where there was talk last summer that Jones' torn knee could have been a career-ending injury, now the Braves are expecting him to be full-go on the first day of spring training.

"I think we all expected him to be back performing at a high level," Wren says. "You're talking about a very gifted player. All the hard work he's put in, you can just see it. You can see it with your eyes."

Justin Morneau, Twins: The 2006 AL MVP did not play after July 7 last year -- one day after Peavy went down -- because of post-concussion syndrome. The Twins missed him badly during their first-round playoff loss to the Yankees, and there's still a weird vibe about this whole situation. Such as, Twins GM Bill Smith told Morneau to skip TwinsFest a couple of weeks ago so he could stay home and concentrate on his conditioning. And as of the end of January, Morneau still had not resumed baseball activities.

What to expect from Morneau this spring?

"We have pledged patience, and we only want him to go when he's ready," Smith told colleague Danny Knobler a couple of weeks ago. "If that's March 1, April 1 or July 1, that's what it will be. We only want him to go through this one time. We don't want this to become a rollercoaster."

Smith says the date he has circled is April 1, because that's Minnesota's opening day. But it sounds like it's in pencil, not pen.

Brandon Webb, Rangers: In danger of falling permanently into the "Whatever Happened To..." category, Webb has a chance to become Texas' sleeper this summer and help ease the Rangers' pain following the departure of ace Cliff Lee. The 2006 NL Cy Young winner, Webb has made only one big-league start since 2008. And that lasted only four innings.

Arizona was hopeful Webb would have helped last year's club, but he couldn't make it back to the mound following shoulder debridement surgery in August, 2009.

"There's obviously a risk, an unknown anytime a guy is coming back from surgery," Texas GM Jon Daniels says. "But the timeline, the 18-months-out from surgery when you think a guy has a chance to bounce back, lines up with the beginning of the season.

"We're betting on the guy."

The Rangers like what they see so far: Webb has been on a conditioning and throwing program, he's worked over the winter with Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vazquez and he's talked with pitching coach Mike Maddux about what everyone expects. His heavy sinker is made-to-order for the Ballpark in Arlington.

"We're going to push him more on the conditioning side than anything," Daniels says. "If he's ready to go, I'd expect him to be in the rotation."

Kendry Morales, Angels: We haven't heard from Morales since his game-winning grand slam last May beat the Mariners and Morales suffered a broken leg when he awkwardly landed on home plate. The injury required immediate surgery and Morales, who led the Angels at the time with 11 homers, 39 RBIs and a .290 batting average, was done for the season.

The injury was one of many things that wrecked the Angels' season, and after a rough winter in which they failed in their quest to sign Carl Crawford, a big comeback season from Morales is a must. The hope is that he can replicate a 2009 season in which he crashed 34 home runs, compiled a .569 slugging percentage and finished fifth in AL MVP voting.

"We're anticipating him to be full go in spring training," manager Mike Scioscia said at the winter meetings in December. "Obviously, once you get on the field and get into some more extensive activities, you're going to take it slow. Does it mean he'll play our first spring training game? I don't know yet. When he comes into spring training, we expect he'll be full go for all the drills. And if not, we'll adjust on that."

Joe Nathan, Twins: The Upper Midwest report on the Twins' closer sounds more promising than it does on Morneau. Nathan, sidelined the entire 2010 season following Tommy John surgery, has been throwing off of a mound and was throwing breaking balls by the end of January. Smith described Nathan as "very upbeat" and noted what a big boost it would be to have a fully healthy Nathan along with experienced closer Matt Capps late in games.

Carlos Santana, Indians: He could have been Buster Posey, or Jason Heyward. Instead, things weren't exactly smooth for the baseball Santana, whose rookie season was ruined after his June 11 recall when he suffered a torn lateral collateral ligament in his left knee during a home plate collision with Boston's Ryan Kalish on Aug. 2.

One of the many bright lights in a stunningly good rookie class in 2010, Santana has been cleared by Indians doctors to resume full baseball activities during spring training. Barring any setbacks, Santana could start playing in games when the Cactus League schedule begins on Feb. 27.

The Indians, losers of 93 games and the worst-drawing team in the majors last season, are not expected to contend in 2011. But in Santana, one of the brightest young prospects in the game, and center fielder Grady Sizemore -- also recovering from left knee surgery -- Cleveland's season could gain traction (or slip into the ditch) depending on how this duo progresses in Arizona this spring.

 

Posted on: January 5, 2011 9:25 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 9:26 pm
 

Love Letters: The post-Christmas edition

In a perfect world, one would not begin the New Year with an apology. But here goes: I've made plenty of jokes in the past about the Rally Monkey. I had never written about New York Gov. David Paterson until zinging him in my Christmas column for improperly accepting Yankees World Series tickets. Problem was, never even thinking about the fact that Paterson is African-American, I trotted out another Rally Monkey joke. Plus, I referred to him "Peterson" instead of "Paterson." A couple of readers rightly jumped on me, and all I can say is, I apologize for the typo in his name, and especially for the unintended tasteless joke. Didn't mean it that way, but that's how it turned out, and, ugh. My bad, and my regrets. On with this week's letters. ...

FROM: Rick B.
Re: Christmas tidings for those naughty and nice around MLB

As an ex-New Yorker, I don't think Gov. Paterson has served the state well. However, the rally monkey to me came across as racist. I don't know what you meant, but it's what and how it was said.

See above. That may be the last Rally Monkey joke for me.

FROM: Eric B.

A. NY Governor is David Paterson, not Peterson. B. James Brown lyric is, "Sometimes I feel so nice, I want to jump back, and kiss myself." You conflated I feel good with the true lyric and jump up instead of back. Don't channel the Godfather unless you can feel it.

I thought I was feeling it. Turns out, maybe I really didn't know what I was feeling that day.

FROM: Andrew S.

Hope your Christmas was a joyous one for you and yours, Scott. Always enjoy reading the musings from one of baseball's tireless columnists! My Christmas wish for the O's: Don't mortgage the farm system, but somehow find a way to make a splash still this offseason if for no other reason than to show the big boys in the AL East the Birdies are coming back to roost.

I could feel the nostalgia and frustration in Orioles owner Peter Angelos' statement Wednesday congratulating former O Robbie Alomar for election to baseball's Hall of Fame.

FROM: Kurt K.

Hi Scott,

First off, a Merry Christmas to you and your family! I normally don't respond to articles, but I wanted to let you know that your "Christmas tidings for those naughty and nice around MLB" article was great! It was very well written and I really like you stressing the importance of class and sportsmanship. Those are some of what is great about the game of baseball. These things seem lost in the other pro sports. Anyway, keep up the good work. Merry Christmas from Switzerland, Kurt.

If it's up to me, the behavior of Detroit's Armando Galarraga and umpire Jim Joyce will be remembered for a long, long time. The way each man handled such an unfortunate situation was the highlight of the 2010 season.

FROM: Rick
Re: If playoffs ain't broke, don't fix 'em with expansion

It is either playoff expansion or a salary cap. I guess Bud Selig sees this as an alternative because he knows the league will never have a salary cap, at least not under him, and it allows small-market teams to make the playoffs.

It's too easy, though, isn't it? And this solution only patches a surface wound. No depth there.

FROM: Terry F.

Baseball has a tight postseason? How do you figure? Baseball teams playing in the World Series have more off days than they have scheduled game days in October. How is that a tight schedule? I would characterize it as a laid-back schedule. Teams play when they get around to it. Personally, I believe that baseball's current post-season is a total disaster.

I was writing in relative terms, Terry. It had been tight up until a couple of years ago, and comparatively speaking, it's far more tight than, say, the NBA. But that was part of the point of the column, too: It needs to be tightened even more, and it needs to REMAIN tight.

FROM: Frank D.

As usual, terrific writing and a very good solution. However ... unlike you, Selig isn't competent, nor logical. He is the worst commissioner in the history of North American sports. This cretin has canceled a season, stood idle while steroids have ravaged the sport's credibility and records and has allowed for unprecedented spending without a real obstruction, tipping the balance in favor of a handful of teams. He has taken the All-Star Game, once a fun event, and turned it into a game where an exhibition determines home-field for the sport's crown jewel. He's a weak, incompetent joke.

Your punches are harder than anything I saw thrown in The Fighter last week.

FROM: Paul

The problem with baseball IS the Yankees & Red Sox. I was once a big-time baseball fan. Seeing other teams compete every year made the game fun and varied, but over the last 15 years, seeing the Yanks & Sox every post season truly made the game boring. Is their rivalry and press coverage any different than say, Brangelina? Or Kate Gosselin? Lindsey Lohan? Over-saturation kills everything.

Baseball seems to think that shoving those two teams down our throat is good for the game. It's not. I'm a football fan first now, primarily because in any given year, with some good draft choices, a team can compete for a playoff spot and be contenders for a long time. Sadly, no matter how well the Indians, Padres, Royals or Pirates draft, their window to compete is short and their rebuild to contender status long. Baseball = boredom these days. Give me the NFL.

I think the next poll we do should be asking how many folks think the Yankees and Red Sox need to check themselves into rehab, prefarably in an adjoining room to Lohan.

FROM:
Christopher from Toronto

Scott,

Love the piece and I think you're bang on. Leave things the way they are. If one game could tell us something, the season would be 82 games.

I'll have you know that I think "bang on" is a very underrated term that I wish were used far more often. "Wanker", too.

FROM: Nathan P.

Scott,

Money will ruin the baseball regular season one day. How do you think guys get paid $150 million contracts over five years? It's all about advertising. The NBA ruined its regular season; the season should be shortened to 40 games. The NFL will expand to 18 games, which is way too long. Just accept it. It's too bad that's the way it is: a pennant used to mean something. Now most people don't know what a pennant is.

I think I had one hanging on my bedroom wall once upon a time. ...

FROM: CHISOX1958

I am a huge fan of baseball. But, as far as expanding the playoffs go, let's get real. This isn't hockey or basketball, where every lame team gets in.

Or, perhaps, the NFL, where the Seahawks not only qualify, but host a playoff game with a 7-9 record? Interesting how there is very little outrage about that.

FROM: Frank L.
Re.: Cleveland loses a true, rare legend in Feller
http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/story/
14447735/cleveland-loses-a-true-rar
e-legend-in-feller

Your article was right on after the initial sentence -- but the opening was insulting. To mention a hero in the truest sense of the word [Bob Feller] with a draft dodger [John Wayne] is very distasteful. Marion Morrison had no place in that article. You have really ruined my day and possibly many other vets of WWII.

(Signed)
A Feller fan since 1937

Say what you want about Marion Morrison. But where Wayne is concerned, I was simply comparing Feller to some of the same values people in general associate with the characters Wayne played. That part of it holds up.

FROM: Jerry K.

As a lifelong Indians fan whose first game in 1946 at age 8 was pitched by Bob Feller, I say you summed it up perfectly. Especially as to CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee, who are not bad guys but are corrupted by the owners' greed.

Alex, I'll take "Corruption for $100 million plus, please". ...

Posted on: October 15, 2010 8:40 pm
 

Mariners hire a manager? Yawn

Who's the next manager of the Seattle Mariners in three or four seasons? Manny Acta?

For the second time in six years, the Mariners have dipped into the Cleveland discard pile to hire a skipper. Mike Hargrove in 2005, and Eric Wedge, according to several reports, on Friday.

Following a bitterly disappointing 2010 season, the Mariners could not have made a more uninspiring hire.

Last time anybody checked, the Indians weren't exactly overstocked with World Series-winning managers.

But it goes beyond what surely will be an avalanche of Cleveland jokes.

Wedge is a good teacher and a fine organizational person.

As a manager? His 2007 Indians team blew a 3-1 advantage to lose the ALCS to Boston, then they largely underachieved over the next two seasons. Which, much as he didn't want to, pretty much forced general manager Mark Shapiro's hand to fire him.

Wedge had his moments in Cleveland, but he never could get the Indians past that certain point. The roaring 93-65 season of 2005, when the Indians nearly overtook the White Sox in the AL Central, was followed with a crash-and-burn fourth-place finish in '06.

He comes across as uptight, and he's a zero as a personality. Which, is no small thing in today's game. The manager is the face of the organization. Hiring Bobby Valentine, now that would have given the Mariners personality.

Wedge just leaves them knee-deep in anonymity and, largely, irrelevant. And if they don't win, that will include in their own town.

(On another note, guess this means Milton Bradley does not fit into the Mariners' plans for 2011. The Indians were forced to trade him in 2004 after Wedge removed him from an exhibition game for not hustling and Bradley went ballistic. The volcanic explosion was spectacular, complete with Bradley dressing and leaving the ballpark during the game via cab ... even though his SUV was in the parking lot. He came back to retrieve it the next day).

Posted on: July 31, 2010 3:51 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2010 4:22 pm
 

Yankees acquire Cleveland's Wood

Undeterred by a slim relief market and exorbitant prices, the Yankees have found a deal in Cleveland to acquire closer Kerry Wood.

The deal has cleared the last hurdle, approval by the Commissioner's Office, and Wood is on his way to the Bronx. The Yankees will send a player to be named later or cash to the Indians.

The Yankees also reportedly will cover $1.5 million of the $3.6 million the Indians still owe Wood on his $10.5 million 2010 salary.

The Cleveland closer is the third player scooped up by the Yanks in the past 24 hours, following Houston's Lance Berkman and Wood's former teammate in Cleveland, outfielder Austin Kearns.

Wood simply will add depth to a Yankees' bullpen as they gear up for the stretch run. In 23 appearances for the Indians this season, Wood was 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA and eight saves in 11 opportunities. He recently returned from the disabled list, where he was placed because of a blister on his finger.

 
 
 
 
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