Drew Fairservice: January 2010 Archives

youppi.jpgWhen the National Baseball Hall of Fame Musoleum and Wonder Emporium announced earlier today that recent electee Andre Dawson would enter as member of the Montreal Expos, many were excited. We Canucks are a parochial bunch, quick to pat ourselves on the back in lieu of a loving tap on the head from our proud poppas to the south.

The inconvenient aside that Dawson wants no part of any Expos cap is surely independent of the valuable merchandising dollars a blue and red "C" entails. Dawson should consider himself fortunate the Hall keepers didn't actually, you know, reconsider his admission as marginal and adorn his bust with a helicopter beanie.

Dawson isn't the first place to disagree with the Hall choice of headwear. Gary "The Glorywhore" Carter attempted to erase all memory of La Belle Province in exchange for a Mets hat with brim-mounted mirrors. Ty Cobb couldn't quite explain the type of hat for his bust, though "pointy", "white", and "sheet" were mentioned between the epithets. The writers held Babe Ruth and his larger-than-life, party-all-the-time persona in such high esteem they considered lobbying for the Babe to sport not a ball cap but a lampshade, or even a 20 piece bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. Mickey Mantle's statue, it is little known, features not a Yankees hat but Captain Morgan-styled tricorne.

Based solely on the reaction of many ex-players to Mark McGwire's admission of drug use, I expect numerous petitions to the Hall board to replace their bronze hats with glistening golden halos, each one more sanctimonious than the last. Unless some brave soul throws the greenie doors open. Expect a lot of these hats in the aftermath of that unlikely event.

Unfortunate as the missed earnings for Mr. Dawson and missed baseball team for the city of Montreal both are; the logo on the hat scratched into bronze doesn't sentence you to a lifetime of servitude in said city's honor. Only Andre Dawson knows to which team his heart belongs. Just as only Andre Dawson can provide authentic, autographed photos in a skin tight Cubs uniform! Only $19.95, $59.95 to include a signed ball.

Adrenaline needleA wide sigh of relief can be heard all across the baseball world. "Thank heavens Mark McGwire fell on his sword!" cheaters of all stripe exclaim. The noble slugger's admissions of guilt on national (but not international, goddammit) TV will finally put this issue to rest, once and for all. What will life be like in this brave new world? Who &mdash other than Bud Selig, Bob Costas, MLB Network execs, Tony LaRussa, Bud Selig again, Todd McFarlane, and Mark McGwire &mdash stands to profit from the Kabuki Theatre of Tears?

Why all the aging free agents negatively associated with the PED curse! There are so many old and questionable sluggers kicking around; one could (with an assist from Cot's Contracts) field an entire team with them! Many of these guys haven't officially been caught up in the PED storm, they're just one-dimensional enough that GMs the league over are running in the other direction of your aging Three True Outcomers. If you would so kind:

Catcher Rod Barajas. With 50% of the Molinas of the Deep signed and the other 50% completely bereft at the plate, Barajas and his 22 dingers remain unemployed. Barajas staged his finest season with the Texas Rangers in 2004, one of the most dubious clubhouses of the last decade. Barajas is likely to claim his Type B free agent status keeps him unemployed; the smart money is on his paltry .258 on base percentage in 2009.

First Base Jim Thome. Due to excessive burliness from day one, Jimmers avoided a lot of heavy steroid speculation. Baseball's GMs still seem reluctant to sign the tater jammer. Word leaked this week of interest from the Twins and Tigers. What team could use a dong smackin' farmboy to lighten the mood? Every team, that's who.

Second Base Miguel Cairo. Miguel Cairo may not possess the eye-popping numbers of a traditional steroid abuser, but the man's been DFA'd on three separate occasions over his careers. He, clearly, is a zombie. Only the wackiest, craziest kind of horse semen-extracts can bring you back from the dead that many times.

Short Stop The Orioles taking Miguel Tejada off the board (and presumably putting him back on the B12) means the axe falls on Orlando Cabrera. Despite figuring into 10 different teams "Player of the Decade" conversation; Orlando the misanthrope is looking for work once again. Only drugs make a man as testy and confrontational as O-Cab's become. Drugs or the search for more drugs. Or the search for quality tamales while on drugs.

Third Base Melvin Mora. Mora's the kind of guy known for being a dick and a piss-poor fielder just as much as suspected drug user. It's tough to know what to make of Mora, a guy who somehow lacks and/or lost the so-called "old player skills" as he aged. His walk rate is suddenly half what it once was while his power numbers slip slide away. None the less, somebody will give Mora a job so there's hope for a dugout fight somewhere this year!

The Outfield Jermaine Dye, Garret Anderson, Randy Winn. I honestly don't think any of these guys are connected to drugs in any way, shape, or form; they're just the best of a large crop of aging guys who were long overpaid. Now, they're unemployed. The deterioration of their skills by the ravages of age and the unwillingness to take a massive pay cut leaves them on the sidelines, likely until camps open. NO OTHER REASON. There just isn't a market for poor fielding guys with dwindling power or good fielding guys without too much else to go on.

This week's Classic TV Friday sees former home run record holder Roger Maris making the most of his time in the spotlight. Enjoy Maris pitching a tabletop baseball game that includes so many projectiles and tiny parts dying to disappear down the gullet of children there is no chance you'd get it on the market today.

It's interesting that Maris had the prescience to sidle up to the home gaming market. Although Maris could have been relegated to the tinny baseball game racket as his higher-profile teammates clambered to hock airborne and contagious cancer if the price was right. Speaking of health, Maris himself looks spry and energized. The ravages of a steady diet of methamphetamines hunting down ghosts and fighting off drunks hadn't yet rendered his face a sallow wisp of its former self.

Unsurprisingly, this game fetches a pretty penny on the collectors market. Likely due to collectors of such arcane trash being dentists or chiropractors trying to slap their heart rate into triple digits for the first time in weeks. That said, the two kids in this commercial turn in epic performances. Their steely-eyed concentration belies the utter lack of skill this game surely requires.

sad giants bear.jpgDuring the much-ballyhooed return of the Walkoff Walk podcast, your crack editorial team took time out of reciting quotes from Sideways to heap a little scorn on the San Francisco Giants. A classic case of tough love, our collective enjoyment of All Things Gigantic makes the puzzling choices of the front office that much more difficult to take.

The Giants made several "key" acquisitions during the off-season; ostensibly to improve their atrocious offense. The hidden meaning behind these pickups includes a decent aroma of defiance from Brian Sabean. He won't be swayed by modern thinking or reason! He sees a damn ballplayer, he signs him the heck up!

While the good people at Beyond the Box Score suggest this Giants offense could and/or should score more runs than last year, I, along with Grant of McCovey Chronicles, think they might even struggle to achieve that modest feat.

I just want the Giants to think, gee, we've finished in the bottom third for runs scored for five straight years. Is that because of the park? Let's find out. (The answer is no, it's not the park.) Okay, then what's going on? Is it a lack of execution on sacrifice buns and moving runners over? Let's find out where we stack up to the rest of the league. (The answer is no, the Giants execute bunts and move runners over as well as other teams.) Well, what is it?

As I look at it, the Giants will struggle to score runs and struggling to prevent them. The 2010 team should have more power, but they certainly won't get on base at anywhere near an effective rate.

Who will get on base? A quick glance at the Giants depth chart gives us a good sense of who should start. If Bruce Bochy could be counted on to not shoot his team in the foot in partner with the front office, that is. Consider these 8 men likely to start around the diamond and some pertinent on base information:

I realize there is more than one way to skin a cat; but giving the bulk of your at bats to that collection of aging guys (all but two are over 30) who make a ton of outs doesn't seem like good business.

The defense looks just as bad. Gone (likely) is the Giants best defender from last year. Two other top-notch defenders &mdash namely Juan Uribe and Travis Ishikawa &mdash will find themselves on the bench waiting for late inning leads (and perfect games) to protect. Some combination Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval, and Aubrey Huff need to cover first, third and left field. Some combination of car batteries and smelling salts need to keep Renteria and Rowand from losing their tenuous grip on "league-average" as defenders up the middle.

Should the good people of San Fran give up hope, abandon the Giants to tend to their vineyards? Hardly. Rescue is on the way, in the form of Eric Byrnes! Seriously bros, he's totes healthy now and ready to dink infield pop ups after riding his fixed gear to the ballpark!

Add in the requisite arbitration ugliness between the team and its once-in-a-generation ace and somehow, after a season of such unexpected promise, the Giants are poised to disappoint the loyal Bay Area citizens once again. The only thing more shocking than Brian Sabean's apparent inability to capitalize on the exceptional talent of the Giants core is his ability to acquire it in the first place.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Three guys plan to resume discussing baseball awkwardly over the phone while sitting hundreds of miles apart! Tune in for the lowdown on all the hot Hot Stove action, the smooth talkin' legal mumbojumbo of record-setting arbitration hearings, and the emotional toll of Dr. Parnassussing Up in the Air after the untimely (and super-secret) passing of its star.

The greatest half hour in baseball podcasting jumps off tonight at 9PM! Stream it here live or download it anytime from the Blog Talk Radio site. Well, wait for us to record it, and then download it. You can also get it on iTunes by searching Walkoff Walk. Which, honestly, is hilarious.

sadgirl.JPGForgive me if I take a slightly contrarian track here, but I can't wait for the Hall of Fame announcement tomorrow. All the spirited & intelligent exchanges are appreciated, but there comes a time where the battle of good versus evil, the "us versus them" and "right versus wrong" chorus grows stale. The endless barrage of prop-ups and tear-downs wears on my mind, making me long for the lazy palm trees of Spring Training that much more.

The Hall of Fame matters to fans and matters to the players, but the writers view the Hall of Fame as their own. A hallowed keep that requires their steadfast protection, the integrity of which they must guard like a team staffers protect the soggy press box French fries. The nebulous criteria offered for Hall of Fame candidates runs the gamut from "feared" to "awe" to "he invited me to his wedding." Meanwhile the sober-minded SABRsquad attack with ferocity should any ignorant boob exhibit the temerity to step out of their increasingly dogmatic way of thinking.

The quest to empiricize every aspect of each player's career and shout in the face of heretics who don't agree is a little tiresome. As my friend Parkes of Drunk Jays Fans said, it starts to become a celebration of the intelligence of the advocates, not the qualities of the players. Even more regrettably, the archaic likes of Jon Heyman seem to only dig in further, resolute in their refusal to accept reason or rationale.

The Hall of Fame is a wonderful place and the ultimate bookend to a successful baseball career. The current wave of reason is a godsend, the implications of which will change the future of the Hall but can't undo the oversights of the past. The current "changing of the guard" phase contains too much ugliness and too many haymakers to engage impartial observes or casual fans in any way. It just becomes your drunk uncles talking about politics at Christmas dinner.