Tag:Barry Bonds
Posted on: February 19, 2012 6:05 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 6:12 pm
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Hensley hopes to make different SF history

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Hang around long enough, you never know where the wind will blow you next. And so it is for right-hander Clay Hensley, who is in camp attempting to win a job in the San Francisco bullpen.

The six-year veteran already has a place in Giants lore: He was the pitcher who served up Barry Bonds' record-tying 755th home run on Aug. 4, 2007.

"It's not something I want to be defined by," Hensley said Sunday morning. "I wasn't the first guy to give up a homer to him, and I wasn't the last guy.

"It's not that big a deal to me."

Maybe not, but Hensley's name will remain permanently stamped on the baseball trivia pages. Bonds' 755th, which tied home run king Hank Aaron, came in Petco Park of a game won by the Padres, 3-2. Bonds rifled a Hensley pitch over the left-field fence to tie Aaron, then hit record-setting No. 756 four nights later in San Francisco against the Nationals' Mike Bacsik.

Hensley, who went 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA in 37 games (nine starts) for the Marlins last year, signed a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Giants over the winter. He does not arrive as an unknown: The Giants drafted him in 2002 out of Lamar (Tex.) University, and Bruce Bochy was the Padres manager in two of Hensley's four seasons pitching in San Diego.

"Am I going to go around signing pictures of 755?" Hensley said good-naturedly Sunday. "Probably not. But I did get a nice bat out of it."

Yes, Bonds sent over a bat -- but not the bat.

Sunblock Day? A little on the cool side at 63 degrees (darn right that's cool, we have high expectations here), but mostly sunny and bright.

Likes: At a benefit in late January, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery and friends raised $60,000 for the Bryan Stow Fund. And attention Deadheads: Check out this cool video of Bob Weir and Flannery doing the Grateful Dead classic Friend of the Devil at the show. "Bob let me sing," Flannery said, beaming. ... Tim Lincecum, a ghostly shade of white, describing why he's happy to get out of Seattle and land in Arizona. "I need the sun. I mean, look at me." ... Totally charmed by Hugo, the Martin Scorsese 3-D flick. And I'm not much for 3-D. ... Go-to place for lunch during spring camp: Subway. It's quick, reasonably healthy and light enough that I can usually get in a late-afternoon run without paying for my lunch sins.

Dislikes: Bronx cheers to the Giants, who have told the nice lady named Kay, who sits outside of their spring clubhouse and checks media credentials, that she cannot read or knit while manning her post. Something about needing to be professional. It's spring training, for crying out loud. Besides, I was looking forward to learning what she was knitting this year.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"She must feel it's awkward
Oh, I said it's Arizona"

-- Arizona, Kings of Leon
Posted on: July 23, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Blyleven on K list: "Clemens did it illegally"

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- One of the big reasons I've cast an annual Hall of Fame vote for Bert Blyleven for the past decade is because, until a few years ago, the Dutchman ranked third all-time on baseball's strikeouts list and ninth all-time on shutouts.

Chew on that one for awhile. It is beyond impressive.

Anyway, while Blyleven is still ninth in shutouts, he's now fifth in strikeouts after both Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson went around him.

"I look at Johnson, Johnson did it for real," Blyleven told me when we talked recently. "Clemens did it illegally, I think. It is what it is, kind of like Hank Aaron. It's a completely different thing but, you talk about Barry Bonds, to me, Hank Aaron is still the Home Run King. And I think good baseball fans, good baseball people, know that.

"They don't need an asterisk in Cooperstown. People know."

With the piles of circumstantial evidence surrounding Clemens regarding performance-enhancing drugs, and given the trial that was aborted earlier this month and is set to resume this fall, does it anger Blyleven to see Clemens' name now ahead of his on the all-time strikeout list?

"No," Blyleven says. "He had a great career, but it was at the point where Boston was letting him go. To be honest with you, if somebody told me in '92 when I went through my shoulder surgery, if someone told me they could inject something in there to make me continue my career, I may have tried it. Who knows?

"Who knows what an individual goes through? I personally never knew of anybody, even though it was around. You could see it in Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in the late '80s. They hit all the home runs, the Bash Brothers ... you could see they were getting bigger and stronger, but I never imagined that it could ever help me. I didn't know anything about it.

"But that's also when weights were coming in. Oakland was the first club to put a weight room in their park. We never had weights. We had little five-pound dumbbells."

Likes: The last 10 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline are always fun, but they're also so out of control. The ratio of bad rumors to stuff that really will happen is somewhere around 50 to 1. And I may be badly underestimating that. ... Hot summer days, but the 100-degree temperatures blanketing the country are out of control. Drink plenty of water, and stay safe.

Dislikes: Border's Books closing for good. I remember spending hours on Saturday afternoons at the original Border's location in Ann Arbor with my family. One of my mom and dad's favorite things to do back in the 1970s, and what a magical place it was. Books everywhere, from floor to ceiling.

 

Posted on: April 19, 2011 7:55 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 8:03 pm
 

Love Letters: The Bonds* trial edition

The jury delivered its verdict on Barry Bonds* last week, then I rendered judgment on the both Bonds* and the jury. And now, the stage is yours. ...

FROM: Gary K.

Since you [know] nothing about baseball, you should not have a vote for the Hall of Fame anyway. If Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth belong in the Hall of Fame, then so does Barry Bonds. I suppose the Babe didn't take a drink during Prohibition or Ty Cobb was a person that we would want our children to learn their morals from. You, my friend, are an idiot!

You're the one grouping a convicted felon who dragged the game through the mud with two guys who respected the game and were never convicted. And I'm the idiot?

FROM: HSC Shooter

I totally agree with Scott. Bonds will have to wait a very long time before anyone feels he's worthy of the HOF. You let Bonds in and that opens a lot of doors. You have to let Pete Rose in, as well as Shoeless Joe Jackson. These two individuals have the numbers and, last time I checked, betting doesn't increase power numbers or cap size, or shrink testicles. Bonds knew he couldn't get the numbers without a little help. Manny knew it and a whole bunch of others yet to be caught. Baseball has a very serious problem. As does the NFL.

Thank you for mentioning the NFL. Because if people think football players grow to those dimensions naturally, then I've got mansion belonging to Barry Bonds that I'd like to sell you.

FROM: Slappman

If Bonds does not get your vote for the HOF, then you should lose your status as a voter. You holier than thou writers are a joke. If Bonds doesn't get in, then take out Ty Cobb and anyone who used amphetamines in the '60s and '70s.

That wasn't on my watch. This is. The record book has never changed so quickly as when players changed so grotesquely. If having standards makes me holier than thou, then come find me in church, big man.

FROM: Vince

Then YOU SIR should not have a vote. In a game that it is CLEAR that many players were using ... for you to say you will not vote for a guy who HAD the numbers is absurd. I guess A-Rod does not get in either? You must be MAD!

Last I checked, A-Rod is an admitted HGH user. So he's out, too. So many marquee players from this generation --  not all -- should be ashamed.

FROM: John B.

Excellent essay, Mr. Miller. It seems we have a bit in common. My twin sister has been a Crown Prosecuting Attorney for about 30 years now. Has turned downed an offer of Judgeship feeling it would be too disruptive to her family, yet has given seminars and courses to many a judge on many an occasion. Your essay rang true and clear to me, although my sister would never say it, and I think you know where this verdict ultimately came from. Thanks for scratching the surface. A loyal reader.

Not only is my sister a lawyer, but she's hell on wheels in the kitchen -- steaks, pasta, cookies, you name it. I need to go visit her more often.

FROM: Twan

How can you not vote Barry in? He did not break any MLB rules. Your vote should be about a player who played the game, and not about your personal feelings toward the man. You need to keep your feelings out of it and just look at what he has done as a player within the rules he was given to play with.

I give you credit for a level-headed response. Thanks for that. A couple of things: My personal feelings toward Bonds are not negative. I've interviewed him several times, and he's almost always been cool to me. This is purely professional. And in that regard, the directive from the Hall of Fame pertaining to voting is that "voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution(s) to the team(s) on which the player played." For me, Bonds fails badly in "integrity, sportsmanship and character."

FROM: Andrew

If Bonds doesn't get your vote, then no one should. It is apparent that the media, including you especially, myopically view the period from approximately 1997 on as the steroid era. However, we know Olympic athletes were using them in the '60s and some ex-MLB players have been reported to have admitted to having tried them pre-1980. Therefore, everyone after 1960 should be deemed suspect. Your choice to exclude Bonds would appear to be based more on your dislike of him as a person, than any form of logical, reasoned judgment regarding HOF credentials. What are your qualifications to determine which of the thousands of players knowingly took steroids and which didn't, when our federal justice system was unable to divine that in the Bonds case? If you are going to vote based on who you like and dislike, disregarding baseball credentials, please turn in your voting credentials.

Make sure to read my answer to the note just above yours.

FROM: Oldnassau'67

About the cosmic unimportance of Barry Bonds, you are quite correct. Afghanistan, Iraq, the whole Middle East, budget, economy, national deficit, health care, immigration, jobs...... the list of infinitely more significant issues that the feds must deal with is endless.

And now we've got sleeping air traffic controllers on top of everything else.

FROM: Christopher B.

You over-value public sentiment. The public is spoon fed how to think, and you hold the spoon. That you vilify Bonds is not surprising. You are grand-fathered in. Perfect. Spotless. You may wear your underpants up to your neckline however, and should try loosening up some. This is what I think of you. There but for the grace of God go I.

"There but for the grace of God go I"? That works when it comes to natural disasters. Not here. We all have choices to make, and Bonds made his. And leave my underwear out of it.

FROM: Stan A.

What a bunch of worthless BS this was. So, how much was spent on this trial ... to get to the conclusion that obstruction occurred with NO lying. If a person is a celebrity, politican or of the elite super-rich class, you can get away with almost anything -- for a price. That's what our Justice system is based on, who can pay and who has to serve. Geez what a joke this trial was. Hopefully, any HOF voters with gonads will say NYET to any of the steroid superstars.

Amen, brother, amen.

FROM: Larry Y.

The real problem with steroids and baseball was not Barry Bonds. The real problem was Donald Fehr and the players union. Add Bud Selig and the owners to that list. Imagine if the NFL players union had blocked testing for steroids and Roger Goodell and the owners were OK with it. ... The poster boy for the steroid era should not be Barry Bonds. It should be Donald Fehr and it should be Bud Selig.

There's lots of guilt to go around, my friend.

Likes: If you can't get enough of the Giants' World Series title last year, make sure to check out Andrew Baggarly's book, A Band of Misfits. Andy knows the Giants as well as anyone and he worked his tail off on this book over the winter. You can check it out here. ... Fair Game, the film version of former CIA operative Valerie Plame having her identity leaked by the government when her husband wrote an op-ed piece criticizing the Iraq war for the New York Times. Not a great film, but pretty good. And Sean Penn is always excellent. ... Nicolas Cage arrested in New Orleans for publicly arguing with his wife in the street in front of a house he said they were renting ... and she said they weren't. Now that's entertainment. Great actor, messed up dude. ... Jason Isbell's new disc, Here We Rest, is really good. Many terrific tracks, none better than Codeine.

Dislikes: The Switch isn't even worth a look on DVD. Poor Jennifer Aniston. She seems like such an attractive and nice gal, but she's made awful choices in some of her film roles and men.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"If there's one thing I can't stand
"It's this bar and this cover band
"Trying to fake their way through 'Castles Made of Sand'
"Well that's one thing I can't stand
"If there's one thing I can't take
"It's the sound that a woman makes
"About five seconds after her heart begins to break
"That's one thing I can't take"

-- Jason Isbell, Codeine

 

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: April 11, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: April 11, 2011 11:49 pm
 

Love Letters: The Manny Being Juiced Edition

I beat Manny Ramirez like a piñata after the coward retired and disappeared before he could be slapped with a 100-game suspension for violating another performance-enhancing drug test. Now it's your turn. ...

FROM: Court
Re. In final stunning act, Manny is uncovered

Scott,

Thank you again for another slam dunk, take-no-prisoners column on another complete fraud of a baseball player and human being. I remember years ago writing to you about the demise of Barry Bonds' show Bonds on Bonds and getting a very kind and personal e-mail back. You have never been a moral relativist with this issue, or an apologizer for these guys, which I respect enormously.

Look, as fans of sports I take the Charles Barkley approach ... these men and women are human beings and bound to be riddled with faults and insecurities and I expect them to screw up in life every once in awhile. If my life were laid bare for all to see, it wouldn't be pretty. I suspect it wouldn't be pretty for anybody. But these guys are frauds, liars, cheats, ad infinitum.

There is a difference between a grown man who can say, "I screwed up, I'm human, I expect the outrage. But I will do my best to come back and make it right, and I might screw up again, and I'll take what's coming. And I'll treat human beings as equals, everyone."

And then there's Barry Bonds. And Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens, universally regarded asses. And that's that. I just wish these guys would all go away, away, away. We all know there will be a jury nullification on the Bonds trial, but I don't care. Just go away. You are a piece of human garbage and now that you've lost about 50 pounds, Barry, you don't look so tough anymore, do you? Again, you stand with dignity and class, Scott. Always enjoy your columns.

Thanks for the kudos, but take no prisoners? Your take on these guys makes me look like Mister Rogers. Nicely done.

FROM: Greg P.

So everything was right with Manny -- and baseball, I guess -- when my Indians were losing him, Albert Belle, Jim Thome, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Victor Martinez and more. So now it's time to be indignant? Yeah, but not for the reasons a big market shill like yourself believes.

Careful, there: If your Indians keep winning, I'm writing about them next.

FROM: Barry W.

All well and good, but the one question that keeps nagging at me is why no one has bothered to out the Red Sox teams Manny played for, including their two championship years. Also, I hear Curt Schilling blather on and on and point fingers at everyone around him ... except his own teammates. How about someone asking him, as he enters the room on his high horse yet again, how he missed guys shooting up around him in his own locker room? Nomar Garciaparra, Kevin Millar, David Ortiz, and Manny ... it's starting to get crowded in here.

Schilling also was very vocal about how many players were using steroids until he was called to testify before Congress. Then he wilted like an overripe banana.

FROM: John D.

Please ... Manny Ramirez is like a Frankenstein monster that didn't know his boundaries. Several organizations -- Boston, too, Miller -- put his ability to hit a baseball above everything else, like acting a fool in several facets of the game that fell under the auspice of Manny being Manny. He probably just figured he could continue to get away with the stuff he did in the past if he could start hitting, again. Speaking of, if anybody doesn't think he was taking while playing for the Red Sox, I've got a bridge in Manhatten I'd like to sell them.

And I'll help you with the paperwork. I think it's clear he was juiced in Boston, and I didn't mean to insinuate otherwise.

FROM: David K.

So does this mean the Mitchell Report is just a piece of fiction? George Mitchell, an exec with the Red Sox, said no Sox were involved. I recall laughing heartily when I learned of the above and was quite astonished that the report was accepted as absolute truth by all on planet earth.

Doesn't mean Mitchell Report is fiction, just grossly incomplete. Though I'm not at all sure everyone on "planet earth" took it as gospel. I know some monkeys who didn't.

FROM: Jack S.

Typical reporter, kicking someone while he's down. I still don't think the performance enhancers can help you hit the ball or there would be a lot more guys hitting 50 home runs in the '80s and '90s. Manny is one of the best pure hitters to play the game -- performance-enhancers or not. Love the time he spent in Boston, thankfully we knew when to get off the roller-coaster. Should show a little respect for Him.

You mean, like Manny has respected the game? Like Manny respected the Rays ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Dodgers ... before quitting on them? Like Manny respected the Red Sox ... before quitting on them? What game are you watching?

FROM: Michael S.

I just wish that one of these bums would have to pay back some of the millions of dollars they got signing contracts that were based on results that were tainted because of steroid use. I know that will never happen, but it should because it's fraud.

I'd pay to see it.

FROM: Stewart D.

Your column hit the Manny nail on the head. Agreed, good riddance.

Now if someone could just hit Manny on the head.

 

Posted on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
Edited on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
 

Memo to Cole Hamels: Re. pitching Cody Ross

PHILADELPHIA -- Looking like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds rolled into one, San Francisco right fielder Cody Ross belted another home run in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series here Sunday, giving him three home runs in two games.

That ranks second-most in Giants history in LCS play. Jeffrey Leonard holds the record with four in 1987.

Meantime, with four homers in his last three postseason games, Ross is one of four players in Giants history with at least four in single postseason. The others: Barry Bonds hit eight in 2002, Rich Aurilia six in '02 and Leonard four in '87.

So, how might Phillies starter Cole Hamels want to approach Ross in Game 3 at AT&T Park?

"Don't throw it down and in," said Roy Oswalt, who did just that in surrendering Ross' fifth-inning blast Sunday. "The last three balls that he hit were in the exact same spot. Just bad pitches."

True. Each of the homers Ross smashed against Roy Halladay in Game 1 also were middle-in.

"I mean, throwing it right into his bat, pretty much," Oswalt said. "If you can make your pitches, you are going to do well. But if you miss down-and-in, that's pretty much where he's hitting them."

In Ross' third plate appearance Sunday night, he nearly got another one. He drove center fielder Shane Victorino all the way back to the warning track before Victorino hauled it in.

That was a fastball over the plate, too, but not quite as inside as the three Ross drove over the left-field fence.

Does Ross pretty much figure he's seen the last of the inside fastballs for awhile?

"I'm not really worried about where they're pitching me," Ross said. "I'm just trying to see it."

He's been doing a good enough job of that that the Philadelphia crowd has started giving him the business. Playing the villain isn't exactly a role Ross is familiar with, given his heretofore nondescript days with the Florida Marlins, but it's a role he'll take.

"That's what you want as a player," Ross said. "I know they're not going to cheer for me. It definitely doesn't make me feel like I should stop.

"I want to keep going. It's kind of a weird feeling."

Posted on: September 28, 2010 1:29 am
 

Ken Burns at the top of his game

Given documentary filmmaker Ken Burns' talent for storytelling, were he to draw them up, each baseball season would ebb and flow in perfect cadence, with six divisional races each thundering toward its own unique and dramatic climax right up until the final day of the season.

Being that the game has a mind of its own and refuses to be tamed, we're left to settle for Burns' forays into documenting it for PBS.

Given his latest work -- The Tenth Inning, to be shown on your local PBS television station in two parts on Tuesday and Wednesday -- it's a pretty darned good trade-off.

Picking up where he left off in Baseball, which, with some 43 million viewers, was the most-watched series in PBS history, Burns and his co-producer (and co-director) Lynn Novick hit all the right notes in The Tenth Inning. From the dramatic opening showing a young Barry Bonds with an ominous hint of what's to come, Burns and Novick reel you in quickly and keep things moving at a nice, crisp pace that Greg Maddux would appreciate.

Particularly good is their treatment of the 1994-1995 players' strike and the resulting break in trust with the fans, the examination of the Latin American and Asian influx into the game (there's some great, if brief, Roberto Clemente footage, and some good stuff on Ichiro Suzuki) and the treatment of the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run chase in 1998.

You can't help but be moved by the excellent chapter on 9/11 and baseball in its aftermath. And as the documentary moves beyond that into Bonds chasing the single-season and all-time home run records, his gargantuan size is maybe even more striking in hindsight than it was at the time. From there, the handling of the game's steroids scandal is skillful.

Among the interviews woven throughout, those with Joe Torre and Pedro Martinez are especially good. So, too, are those from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann -- who tells a wonderful story of meeting a New York cop on the street on the day baseball resumed following 9/11 -- and Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton.

There are so many small, perfect touches throughout that I won't get into all of them. But a couple of small examples -- and those of you who regularly read this space on the Internet know how I relate to all things music -- are from the soundtrack: As Burns and Co. are covering the Braves winning the World Series in '95, Georgia's Allman Brothers are playing in the background. And behind a segment on the Cleveland Indians of the '90s is music from Ohio-native Chrissie Hynde.

There are so many more examples like that, big and small. The Tenth Inning is beautifully done and, if you love baseball (or even are just OK with baseball but love American history), it's worth scheduling a couple of hours Tuesday night and a couple more Wednesday night to make sure you see this.

And if you can't, it's definitely worth DVRing for a look when you get a free night or two.

Believe me, you'll be thrilled that you did.

Likes: The 50th anniversary Monday of Ted Williams blasting a home run in his final at-bat before retiring, perhaps the most memorable final act in any Hall of Fame career -- and certainly the only one to be the subject of such beautiful prose as John Updike's Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu, the author's famous essay for the New Yorker. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary, the Library of America is presenting a cool little book reprinting Updike's original essay, plus an autobiographical preface and a terrific new afterward prepared by the author just months before his death. This is the essay in which Updike begins "Fenway Park in Boston is a lyric little bandbox of a place. ..." and, after describing Williams running around the bases with his head down and refusing to tip his cap to the crowd -- curtain calls wouldn't become customary until years later -- includes this sublime bit of writing: "... But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he refused. Gods do not answer letters." If you're interested in the book, you can find more details (including ordering information) here.

Dislikes: Really hate to see Atlanta's Martin Prado go down with what surely looked like an oblique injury in Monday's game against Florida. This week's battle for two playoff spots involving the Braves, San Diego and San Francisco is going to be riveting, and you really don't want to see teams depleted. Atlanta already lost Chipper Jones weeks ago. ... Meantime, will injuries to Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria (quad) and Minnesota's J.J. Hardy (ankle) this week turn into significant issues for October?

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Pretty girls from the smallest towns
"Get remembered like storms and droughts
"That old men talk about for years to come"

-- Drive-By Truckers, Birthday Boy

Posted on: January 13, 2010 5:57 pm
 

No Rangers, but scouts' honor for Dennis Gilbert

Dennis Gilbert, man of many hats, was on the move again one morning earlier this week even if the route wasn't taking him exactly where he hoped to go.

A licensed magician, nevertheless, he still couldn't pull owning the Texas Rangers out of one of those hats.

Gilbert -- special advisor to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, life insurance guru, philanthropist, former agent, former professional ballplayer and part-time Houdini -- was zipping through Los Angeles en route to an early morning meeting. Then he was set to spend the afternoon in another meeting planning Saturday's Seventh Annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation awards dinner and charity auction.

The dinner has become a must-stop on baseball's off-season circuit, a great cause that raises money for old scouts who are down on their luck, a huge event that last year attracted more than 1,000 people.

Among those scheduled to attend Saturday's In the Spirit of the Game at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles are Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson, Bob Feller and Robin Roberts, manager Tony LaRussa, the Manny Mota family and Commissioner Bud Selig.

This is Gilbert's baby, and he throws himself into it with the gusto of a vintage Feller fastball.

It's just that, well ... by the time they open the auction of sports and entertainment memorabilia (a few years ago, one of Marilyn Monroe's dresses was up, by the way), Gilbert had also hoped to be standing in the on-deck circle for ownership of the Rangers.

But alas, while his group made the cut down to the final two, it was the other group -- led by Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg -- that was granted an exclusive window to negotiate with Rangers owner Tom Hicks. That window expires Thursday, incidentally.

So for Gilbert, a process that started last March is close to ending in utter disappointment and exhaustion. He likens it to a guy in high school whose girlfriend cuts bait.

"The hardest part was that it started out with 11 groups and we got down to the final two," Gilbert says. "But I don't regret a second of it."

From that perspective, though, it's been a difficult year. The whisper campaign against him turned ugly -- that he would fire Texas legend and Rangers president Nolan Ryan (not true), among other things -- and while Gilbert refuses to delve into it, it's clear he was hurt.

Once Ryan aligned himself with Greenberg's group, essentially it was game over.

"I even got a letter from the mayor of Fort Worth telling me how important Nolan Ryan is to Texas baseball and to the community," says Gilbert, who, after a lifetime in the game as a player, agent and front-office man and who once represented such luminaries as Hall of Famer George Brett, Barry Bonds, Bret Saberhagen and Danny Tartabull, maybe had a pretty good idea of that already. "I'd describe that letter as over the top.

"I've been in baseball since the '60s. I certainly know Nolan Ryan and what he means. But, whatever."

Gilbert is passionate, clearly loves the game and could be great fun as an owner. It's telling how he's successfully transitioned from a flamboyant agent into an executive who is widely respected in the industry.

"I must have had a couple hundred e-mails from scouts and baseball executives wishing me well," he says of his quest to purchase the Rangers. "The journey really opened my eyes.

"It's interesting how the baseball community seemed to give me an awful lot of support."

A former Red Sox and Mets farmhand -- he earned his nickname "Go Go" because of his hustle on the diamond -- Gilbert went on to build a highly successful life insurance business. From there, he developed into a superagent in a business he started with the late Tony Conigliaro.

He retired from that gig in '99 and joined the White Sox as special advisor to Reinsdorf the following year. The two men are very close, and Reinsdorf was especially helpful during Gilbert's run at the Rangers.

"He was outstanding," Gilbert says. "I'm supposed to be his advisor, and he was mine."

Most likely, that won't be the last of Reinsdorf's advising. Though Gilbert is licking his wounds now after coming so close to the Rangers, he isn't discounting another run at owning a ballclub.

"I guess it's like going to the Super Bowl and losing maybe by a touchdown, or you miss a field goal with a few seconds to go in the game," Gilbert says. "So, sure, I feel like I'll regroup and take a look at what's out there."

For now, this minute, what's out there is a gala of a fundraiser that combines the best parts of Gilbert: Fun, passion, showmanship and, most importantly, a reverence for the game and, especially, for the people who help make it what it is.

"There have been quite a few people who have come up to me at the event saying things like, 'Thank you, you saved our house,'" Gilbert says. "Keeping people's health insurance has been very important.

"One fellow had been in hospice for four or five months, and when he passed away we took care of the expenses and gave the rest of the money to his widow to give her a new start."

CNN's Larry King is a co-host of the event and comedian Joe Piscopo will be the master of ceremonies. For tickets, call 310-996-1188.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com