Tag Archive | "Derek Jeter"

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Are Fans “Jealous” Of The Suggs Deal ? ….

Posted on 16 July 2009 by Rex Snider

I must agree with Glenn Clark’s recent remarks regarding this “olive branch” we’ve been sharing. While we rally together for causes benefiting Baltimore’s charities, we’re both hungering for the opportunity to get back down to what we do best …..

FIGHT WITH EACH OTHER.

Don’t take this the wrong way – there is no personal animosity (at least, on my part), and it’s really nothing more than a shared joy for disagreeing with each other and using this forum to throw sand in the other guy’s eyes.

I’m a devoted listener to the Comcast Morning Show. I’ve always subscribed to Drew’s “no nonsense” approach to sports talk. He really does tell it like it is …..

And, I’m always interested in hearing Glenn throw out the occasional barbs, in my direction. Indeed, it’s the devotion of my mornings. It’s not an act – we really do disagree with each other, on many occasions. It’s probably attributed to basic philosophical differences, on sports.

Thus, when he approached the mic’ this morning and labeled fans who don’t like the new Terrell Suggs contract as “jealous” of the money professional athletes earn, I really took notice. While I’ll agree many people don’t understand the asset in a star player’s potential, I don’t know if I’d agree with Glenn’s assessment.

First, Glenn and I are actually on pretty firm ground and in basic agreement with each other on the nature of the topic. In accompanying comments, he suggested this is merely the price paid for building a winning organization and competing in sports. I agree 100%.

There is a distinct reason the NFL Salary Cap is nearing $127 million and it’s tied to the mean profit of teams, with incremental increases based on adjustments negotiated through the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Translation – NFL owners are FREAKING BATHING in cash revenues, and they’re obligated to share the earning potential with the men who make it happen. It’s the NFL, if a team loses games, they make money. And, if a team wins games, they make a lot of money.

It’s the same argument for other sports, too.

Alex Rodriguez is making filthy money. So is Derek Jeter, and C.C. Sabathia. And, they’re worth it. Why? Well, the Yankees are reaping incredible profits on a daily basis and their cast of characters, listed above, are the primary ingredients in ensuring the team’s competitive presence.

The New York Yankees make A LOT of money, because of A’Rod, Jeter, Sabathia and others. Not in spite of them. People buy the replica jerseys and they’ll flock to see them at every stop, including Camden Yards, on this “Summer of 2009” tour.

Fans aren’t wearing Melky Cabrera jerseys. And, they’re not driving hundreds of miles and spending the same amount in hopes of getting a glimpse of Brett Gardner. Heck, you can’t walk through Baltimore’s inner harbor without bumping into someone sporting the name “Jeter,” if the Yankees are in town.

Players are the reason teams make money. And, if the teams are enjoying handsome profits, shouldn’t the rewards be shared with the guys who make it happen? And, the teams can afford it. If they can’t, they won’t sign the specific player.

But, in getting back to Glenn’s original comment, I don’t see fans as being “jealous.” Specifically, I see many of them as being uninformed on the intricate nature of sports and money, and their intersection in a business model.

The non-sports fans will say teachers, cops and firefighters have a greater influence on society. They’ll also say these same public servants are a more valuable asset. Fair enough. But, the sobering reality is millions and millions of people are capable of being teachers, cops and firefighters.

Conversely, far less amounts of people are capable of hitting baseballs nearly 500 feet or running a football through a wall of 350-pound behemoths. It is what it is – and this is nothing less than supply vs. demand.

Believe this, if the same cast of characters capable of being firefighters could also do Terrell Suggs’ job, he wouldn’t be getting paid $60 million …..

I think there is a probable frustration factor, when it comes to a current public venting on the respective salaries of athletes, too. Lets not forget the economic climate of this nation. Hardworking people in this city are struggling to pay mortgages and auto liens. And, we all know someone who’s unemployed.

So, while I don’t believe a spirited sense of jealousy exists, I do think society is less sympathetic of the pro athlete’s plight, especially as it relates to haggling over a few dollars, when we’re in the $60 million neighborhood.

When decent people commit to the daily grind and hope to stay afloat in this economy, while supporting a family, they’re not going to be rallying behind Terrell Suggs or anyone else who could conceivably pave Easy Street and his driveway, with hundred dollar bills.

It’s not going to happen.

And, having such a mindset and disposition to the new Suggs contract doesn’t really amount to “jealousy.” In fact, it’s just a mitigating result of life in America, in 2009.

While it’s hard for some people to stomach, making as much money, as possible, is part of the American Dream. It’s capitalism. While he’s not a pioneer or patriot of any means, Terrell Suggs is an American guy and he’s living that dream.

Good for him …..

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Jack Cust

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5 W’s and 1 H

Posted on 29 June 2009 by Luke Jones

31-62.

No, it is not the Washington Nationals’ current record (22-51), but it’s the Orioles’ record against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards since 1998.

And despite what many would have you believe, the fans donning pink and green Boston hats and representing The Bandwagon Red Sox Nation haven’t hurled a single pitch or hit a single home run in those 62 losses.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as frustrated as anyone to see Camden Yards invaded by Red Sox or Yankees fans 18 times every season, but pleas to Orioles fans to buy those tickets are a waste of words.  Nothing will change until this becomes a winning organization again.

Because of their strong national following, the Yankees and Red Sox have a strong representation wherever they go, whether it’s in Baltimore, Kansas City, or Los Angeles.  The only way to contain—not eliminate—the number of Red Sox or Yankees fans is to field a winning team that fans want to pay to watch.

Just look at the Ravens’ annual war with the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.  In the years in which the Ravens are competitive and in the playoff hunt, the number of Steelers fans is considerably lower than the years in which the Ravens struggle.

It’s plain and simple; yes, Orioles fans could buy those tickets snatched up by Boston fans, but with a .333 winning percentage against the Red Sox since 1998, why exactly would they want to?

Trust me, I’ve been to plenty of these Orioles-Red Sox encounters over the last decade.  It’s typically a pretty miserable experience.

If Orioles fans are going to take back the Yard, the baseball team needs to make it something worth taking back.

Here are the 5 W’s and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who will be the Orioles’ representative(s) at the All-Star Game in St. Louis?

Remember early in the season when we thought Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis were all sure things for the All-Star Game?  Seems like a long time ago.

That’s not to say the three aren’t having good seasons, but their numbers have certainly leveled off since early May.

With no Oriole threatening in the fan voting, we’ll have to see whom Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon chooses to represent the Orioles.  Markakis or Jones would still figure to have a decent chance of being selected as a reserve, but the most deserving candidate might be closer George Sherrill.

After a rocky start, Sherrill has been outstanding, earning 16 saves while posting a 2.05 ERA.  In fact, since his blown save against Toronto on May 2, Sherrill has pitched to a 0.45 ERA and is 12-for-12 in save opportunities.

He’s my pick for the Orioles’ representative in St. Louis.

2.  What NBA trade will have the biggest impact next season?

While Shaquille O’Neal being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers stole the headlines, the trade bringing Vince Carter to the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic might make a bigger difference next season.

The Magic sent Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, and Tony Battie to the New Jersey Nets for superstar Vince Carter and Ryan Anderson.  It’s hard to remember a team so close to an NBA championship making such drastic changes to the makeup of its roster.

In addition to trading these three to New Jersey, the acquisition of Carter also means the end of Hedo Turkoglu’s stay in Orlando.  The 6-10 forward has already notified the team of his plan to opt out of his contract this summer.

The Magic hopes Carter can provide the veteran scoring presence the team sorely lacked against the Los Angeles Lakers in The Finals, but will he be willing to play the strong defense expected in Orlando?

This deal smells like a high-risk, high-reward situation.  It could either bring a championship to Disneyworld, or it could kill the mojo of the Magic’s run last season.

Shaq playing with LeBron James in Cleveland will grab the headlines, but I’m not sure the big man clogging the middle will be conducive to James’ slashing style of play.  Though he had a good season in Phoenix, he wasn’t exactly a difference-maker there.

3.  Where should the Orioles turn to help their abysmal base running?

The name that immediately came to mind was baseball’s all-time stolen base king Rickey Henderson.  Rumors are circulating that Henderson would accept a framed $2 million check as compensation for his services.  Rickey won’t even cash it!

If Rickey isn’t your cup of tea, how about Ruben Rivera?

Players will just need to keep an eye on their gloves and bats—just ask Derek Jeter.  Of course, if you don’t trust Rivera, the Orioles could always contact Billy Beane in Oakland to inquire about this guy:

Jack Cust

4.  When will Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs sign a long-term contract?

With Suggs’ revelation that he is close to signing a new deal with the Ravens and hopes to report to training camp on time, fans were undoubtedly excited to hear the news.

“We are close to an agreement. We just have a few little things to work out,” Suggs told The Baltimore Sun last week. “I don’t want to go into great detail, but it’s things like the years of the agreement and incentives, but the basic framework has been done.”

Call me a pessimist, but the years of an agreement and incentives are not “little” details, especially when considering how a signing bonus will be applied to the salary cap over the length of a deal.  While I do believe the Ravens will reach a new deal with Suggs before the July 15th deadline, he might be using the media to turn up the heat on the Ravens just a little bit.

5.  Why should we care about Brett Favre?

I typically roll my eyes at any Favre speculation in the offseason, but the report of Favre being spotted seeing a doctor in Minnesota last week really grabbed my attention.

After doing some more research, I’ve discovered reports of Favre wearing Fran Tarkenton pajamas to bed, watching a Twins game on TV, and having dreams of being a Viking—just like The Simpsons’ Ralph Wiggum.

Ralph Wiggum

6.  How impressive is the career of Mariano Rivera?

The 39-year-old closer joined Trevor Hoffman as the second member of the 500-save club on Sunday, just adding one more accolade to a brilliant career.

It’s amazing that Rivera has had such dramatic success in New York—the toughest place to play in the world—and by really only relying on one pitch, the devastating cut fastball.

The closer might be an overrated role in baseball, but a dominating closer like Rivera does not fit this description.  Having been the team’s closer since 1997, his run as the top fireman in baseball cannot be praised enough—even if he IS a Yankee.

In contrast, the Orioles have had at least eight regular closers during that time period—with many of them struggling.  Rivera is the epitome of consistent domination.

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A Tip Of The “CAP” For Major League Baseball …..

Posted on 25 May 2009 by Rex Snider

If you venture toward the cozy confines of Camden Yards to celebrate Memorial Day, you’ll witness a very unique sight ….. the Baltimore Orioles will be sporting RED CAPS. Yes, you read it correctly – the O’s are trading their customary black headgear for a patriotic cause.

In fact, all 30 teams will be wearing red caps, with stars/stripes logos, to commemorate today’s Memorial Day celebration. These caps are available for purchase at ballparks and online, at MLB.com …..

All proceeds will be donated to “Welcome Back Veterans” – a charitable entity which subsidizes causes regarding soldiers returning home from military operations, overseas. At $37, the price is a little steep, but the cause is certainly noteworthy.

While all of us seem primed to chastise Bud Selig and his brethren, whenever their actions tarnish the game ….. or their negligent inactions further complicate it, I think it’s equally vital to recognize their efforts, when well-intentioned and with noble cause.

Recognizing our true American HEROES is absolutely selfless and humbling. Although, it looks like one team almost screwed it up …..

Yes, leave it to the New York Yankees to broach the topic of messing up a charitable gesture – if it doesn’t directly benefit them. Nope, I’m not kidding – according to multiple sources, the Yanks toyed with declining to participate in the symbolic marketing effort.

Why?

Oh, they had a good reason. It seems the Yankees are awfully entrenched in this “heritage and tradition” ritual. The impacting factor regards the significance of the RED CAP. In their storied history, the Yankees have always worn a navy blue cap. That’s right, they’ve never worn a different colored hat.

While we all have our suspicions, I can imagine one of the cast of our “usual suspects” deemed the prospect of potentially raising millions for soldiers to be frivolous, when compared to maintaining a streak of 40,000 days in the same colored hat.

Thank God a prudent, and kindhearted mind must have made the ultimate decision for Derek Jeter and his teammates. Who was it? I don’t know ….. but, he/she did the right thing.

I don’t know if the Orioles have ever worn a red cap. But, I’m glad they’re doing it today. And, I’m especially glad we have the freedoms and prosperity to support this initiative, in the name of supporting American soldiers.

If the $37 price tag is too steep for your budget, I understand. Let’s face it, this isn’t the most plentiful economy for Joe-Tax Payer. Even if nearly 40 bucks for a token cap isn’t affordable, there are options.

These are some less pricey charitable causes. Remember, it’s the thought that counts …..

Homes For Our Troops (www.homesforourtroops.org) – a non-profit, Maryland based organization that strives to provide affordable home ownership opportunities for enlisted military personnel

Children Of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund (www.cfsrf.org) – another non-profit, Maryland based organization. This charity provides financial support to families of native-Maryland soldiers, who have been killed in military operations

Thanks for reading today’s blog – and a SPECIAL THANKS to those who have protected our freedoms …..

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Is Joe Girardi Hurting The Yankees …..

Posted on 08 April 2009 by Rex Snider

Let me start this off by saying I couldn’t care less about what plagues the New York Yankees ….. but, I hope it continues J

As far as their problems go, I’m starting to wonder if causes or potential causes of any Yankees failures are tied to Joe Girardi. Now, before our friend, Franchise, or any other pinstriped loyalists sink their teeth into me, allow this attempt to explain …..

Ask yourself this question ….. “where was Joe Girardi successful as a manager?” That’s right, he really commanded the ship in South Florida, with the Marlins. There is no question who led that team, as Girardi inspired and motivated an ensemble of young, impressionable players.

Was Girardi assertive? You’re damned right – just remember why he got fired AFTER winning “Manager Of The Year” honors. Yep, amongst other things, he told Marlins owner, Jeffrey Loria, to basically sit down and shut up, when arguing with an umpire, from his seat behind homeplate.

But, THIS is Girardi. He’s a combustible guy and motivates through discipline and a swift boot. In fact, it’s the same boot he stuck up the collective asses of many inexperienced Marlin players. But, it worked …..

Now, fast forward to TODAY …..

Joe Girardi manages the most storied franchise in baseball history. On top of that, it’s a collection of veteran talent, with years and years of experience. Heck, you could fill a coffee cup with all the World Series rings in that clubhouse. They’re a pedigreed bunch of performers.

This Yankees team doesn’t need a fiery leader and such an approach probably wouldn’t work anyway. What is Joe Girardi gonna do if the Yankees go into a prolonged slump? Is he gonna stick that same boot in Derek Jeter’s ass? Is he gonna chastise Johnny Damon?

Better yet, will Girardi tell Hank Steinbrenner to mind his manners, if he heckles an umpire? Not if he wants his job …..

This isn’t some half-baked potshot at the New York Yankees. I’m serious about this – is Joe Girardi the kinda guy who can lead a veteran team? We know he’s an effective leader of guys who’ve never experienced the histories of the game. But, he’s now managing a totally different cast of characters.

I would imagine that over the past year there has been an occasion (or three) where Girardi got really pissed and probably wanted someone’s hide. And, he most certainly had to bite his tongue and await a veteran response. Such an approach probably kills Girardi inside.

I said this over a year ago, and I’ll say it again ….. the Baltimore Orioles were a better fit for Girardi’s management style. In fact, if things turn out the way we suspect (and hope), the Orioles will indeed be successful under Andy MacPhail’s watch and Dave Trembley, who is cut in much the same way as Girardi, will enjoy those fruits.

Meanwhile, Joe Girardi will continue to live under baseball’s BIGGEST microscope and within a pressure-cooker environment. He MUST win and I’m talking about championships. If he goes a few years without any celebratory hardware, Girardi’s likely to find himself back in a broadcast booth.

It’s the way it is ….. in New York.

Truthfully, I’ve always thought Joe Girardi was a poor selection to be the Yankees skipper. They thrived under the reserved, silent leadership of Joe Torre. In many ways, it appears Jor Girardi is trying replicate that style. But, it’s an act …..

Eventually, the real Joe Girardi is bound to surface and it probably won’t work. At that point, he’ll be truly compromised and eventually powerless. And, we all know what happens next.

Print this guarantee ….. within the next four years, the Baltimore Orioles will make the playoffs. And, when they do, Joe Girardi will no longer be managing the Yankees. In fact, he’ll probably be home watching the Orioles and thinking “that could’ve been MY team.”

We shall see …..

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AL East Preview – New York Yankees

Posted on 02 April 2009 by Rex Snider

It’s not hard to create bad things to say about the Yankees, right? After all, they’re HATED as much as the Steelers – for some similar, as well as differing reasons. Admittedly, I hate the Steelers more, but that’s just me …..

Today’s blog isn’t about my personal feelings or disdain for the Bronx Bombers. Nope, no hating here – just my outlook on their upcoming season. I’ll start with this disclaimer – my predictions are NOT tied to the heart. I’ve predicted great things for the Yankees, in the recent past.

Today will not be one of those occasions …..

On the “Good News/Bad News” front, the Yankees are improved from their 2008 product. The additions of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher will make them a better team. Will it be good enough? Nope.

And, this is where the bad news fits in. The Yankees are undoubtedly going to be a very good baseball team. However, they’re in the game’s toughest division and a couple teams are better. It’s really that simple.

While the Yankees pitching staff is further bolstered with the additions of Sabathia and Burnett, I’ll absolutely GUARANTEE you one of these two guys doesn’t fulfill his promise and obligation. Ironically, my suspicion is it will be Sabathia.

Lets also remember the Yankees lost a 20 game winner over the off-season. So, Sabathia or Burnett will simply be replacing a 20-win effort, with a decent season. Thus, is their starting staff greatly improved? Hey, it’s a fair question.

Beyond starting pitching the Yankees have plenty of questions remaining. Did they add enough long relief help? Who replaces Chamberlain in the setup role? Can Rivera bounce back from off-season surgery? These, too, are formidable questions for a contending team.

Perhaps, many are thinking the Yankees will crush their competition into submission. Really? Even without their best hitter for the first month? I think the loss of Alex Rodriguez is HUGE, regardless of his off the field issues. He’s the dominant force in that lineup.

Add another year of age on Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter, as well. Last year, it was Posada and Matsui breaking down. Who will it be this year? And, are the Yankees deep enough to compensate for injuries – which is an area where the Red Sox and Rays excel.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting the Yankees will collapse or even finish with less than 90 wins. I don’t see that happening. Besides, as I reasoned yesterday, they’ll be feasting on Blue Jays and Orioles pitching. Yep, they’re a 90 win team.

But, 90 wins won’t get the job done in the AL East. I honestly see the Red Sox and Rays as deeper, overall. And, I think they’ll both finish ahead of the Yankees – although it will be a pretty tight race.

Honestly, I think the loss of A’Rod is pretty destructive and it saddles Teixeira with immediate pressure. For the past few years, I’ve labeled Teixeira one of the most overrated guys in the game. I still believe this and I think that label will become further evidenced this season.

So, there ya go …..

Sabathia or Burnett disappoints – one of them will …..

Teixeira can’t carry A’Rod’s lunch …..

Age becomes a factor in the Yankees lineup …..

As I predicted last year, Joe Girardi’s marriage to the Steinbrenners will end nastily. I just see it coming and a 3rd place finish just might propel it. A mere 91 wins won’t help …..

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Sidney Ponson Could Be Visiting Baltimore …..

Posted on 18 March 2009 by Rex Snider

What in the hell is Dean Taylor thinking? Better yet, where is George Brett ….. isn’t he the Kansas City Royals’ Vice President of Baseball Operations?

Last night, I saw the ticker scrolling across the screen of my television and the following words nearly caused me to fall outta my lazy-boy ….. “Kansas City Royals sign Sidney Ponson.”

I have been privately wondering if a team would be desperate enough to give Sir Sid another shot, especially after his respectable pitching performances in the World Baseball Classic. But, I honestly thought the potential suitor would be a veteran team, with a question mark or two at the end of its rotation.

Yep, I figured the Yankees, Mets, Tigers or White Sox would try to stash the somewhat talented, but self-destructive Ponson on its AAA affiliate for the start of the season. But, the Royals? They are young and full of impressionable, inexperienced players.

Signing Sidney Ponson is like playing with FIRE – pure and simple. The risk is FIRE spreads ….. and so does Sidney Ponson’s worn out, selfishly juvenile indulgences in hardy partying and barhopping. He’s not the kinda guy I’d want around my kids – professionally or personally.

There are people who say you can’t judge a book by its cover. And, there are others who think physical characteristics are very revealing. With Sidney Ponson, I tend to believe the latter applies. He’s notoriously known for his lack of conditioning, while displaying the unflattering results of excessive habits.

Hmmm ….. I’ve gotta coy way of saying he’s sloppily overweight, huh?

But, with Ponson, it’s true. Throughout his career, he’s never shown the dedication to prepare his body for competition. And, he’s seemed hell-bent on eating, drinking and otherwise ingesting whatever his palate and medulla oblongata craves.

If he’s still less than serious about conditioning, why should anyone be convinced Sidney Ponson has discarded the cancerous, habitual ways that have poisoned clubhouses he joins? Sidney’s wrongdoings exceed negligence; he affects others around him.

This is dangerous when he’s a potential teammate of Luke Hochevar, Zach Greinke, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Carlos Rosa and collection of other hot prospects. Heck, I wouldn’t let Sidney Ponson, Tommy Lee or Amy Winehouse anywhere near my baseball team, and that’s the honest truth.

Sidney Ponson and his penchant for a lifestyle that engages after midnight wouldn’t sway the likes of Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds or Albert Pujols. In fact, those guys, when teammates with Sidney, probably avoided him at all costs. But, lesser experienced guys could conceivably find him harmless and helpful, right?

I think the most troubling of Ponson’s cache of unflattering traits is he doesn’t take ownership for his problems. This is huge. But, Sidney blames others for the things he does and the resulting reputation he’s earned.

Bet on this ….. if Sidney Ponson makes the Royals pitching staff, and they pay a visit to Camden Yards, he’ll reject the Baltimore media. He’s already done it. And, he’s a predictable guy – very predictable.

Sidney Ponson is a rolling, steaming TRAINWRECK. He’s capable of wiping out at any given time. And, he’s a huge risk. Thus, I’m perplexed the Royals would gamble on him. They have everything to lose and very little to gain.

Am I being too hard on Sidney? I don’t think so. I honestly believe in subsequent chances and comebacks. But, until Sidney Ponson surfaces in good physical condition, with a contrite and humbled attitude, I’m convinced he’ll be the same ‘ole Sidney. Bet me …..

Seeing the likes of Josh Hamilton, Brett Favre and Jason Giambi eating some humble pie and overcoming their faults is refreshing and HUMAN. But, guys like Sidney Ponson, John Daly and Matt Jones just don’t get it.

I’m betting Sidney’s “visit” with the Kansas City Royals will be brief and unimpressive. I’m just hoping the effects are minimal and he doesn’t take anyone down with him ……

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WBC: IF USA’s BEST WON’T PLAY, IT’S OVER

Posted on 07 March 2009 by Vince Fiduccia

This afternoon the United States makes its debut in the 2nd World Baseball Classic when they face Canada at the Sky Dome (not the corporate name).   Team USA will be trying to improve on its inaugural appearance in 2006 when they failed to reach the semi-finals after getting bounced by Mexico. 

You might remember that they also got humiliated by Canada in the opening round of pool play and got routed by Korea in the second round before getting bounced by its southern neighbor.   I attended the first World Baseball Classic in Orlando, saw Italy play Australia, and loved the atmosphere and the international feel to the event. 

I enjoyed the contrasting styles of country–the precision and baseball technique of Japan, the speed of the Cuban team, the desire and passion of the Asian and Latin fans, and that for once baseball players were playing for the name on the front of the jersey and not on the one on the back of it.  I was an orginial skeptic and I was won over.  

It looked like MLB had a great concept going, except for one problem. Most of the best players from the United States don’t want to play, and their teams are quite happy if they don’t.  Despite the presence of former Orioles skipper Davey Johnson, I already know how this going to end for the USA–international humiliation as our national pastime is embarrassed once again.

The USA takes the field today without the likes of Tim Linecum, Roy Hallady, Joe Nathan, Joe Mauer, BJ Ryan, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Josh Beckett, and Josh Hamilton.   Instead the USA Roster includes such world beaters as the great LaTroy Hawkins, Ted Lilly and Joel Hanrahan on the mound.   Two of the four outfielders on the roster are Adam Dunn (who may set a record for strikeouts) and the great Shane Victorino.  The USA team will lead by Derek Jeter, David Wright and Roy Oswalt.

Why, you ask?  Some didn’t want to participate because of injuries; others bowed out because it would affect their spring routines (i.e. golf, the pool, and the clubs).

Other countries are taking this more seriously, and their major league players are participating.  The defending champion Japanese roster includes Ichiro, Dice K, Mariners catcher Koji Johjima, Rays’ second baseman Akinori Iwanmura, and Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukodome.  

The real difference here folks is pride.  The Japanese team and others like Cuba, Korea and Latin clubs will take this seriously; our guys may take this as just another exhibition.  USA players in 2006 admitted they viewed these games as just an extension of spring training.  The Japanese and Korean teams have been working out since January 1, getting ready for the event. 

It all adds up to the fact that this may be the last World Baseball Classic. If there is no support from marquee players or if clubs and agents don’t want their guys playing, then this event will go away.  Just like the Goodwill Games did in the 1980s.  The blame will be on scheduling or timing.  But the real blame will go to the major players, especially the US born players who decided that not to play.   Don’t give me the garbage about getting hurt.  If a player gets hurt today in spring training games, guess what: he will have been hurt in a meaningless game. 

It’s a shame because it’s actually a pretty cool event that despite a poor place on the calendar has actually got potential.   This could have been a great idea and one that spread baseball globally; oh well, what could have been.  Just another example of how money takes the joy out of sports and turns it from a game to a business.

That’s my rant for this week; you are always welcome to yours. 

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