Monday, January 15, 2007

Bowl Season

Happy New Year...what a bowl season! I don't know if I have ever seen a better college football game than Boise State vs. Oklahoma. You could not have written a better script if it were a movie. I remember in college playing intramural football and drawing plays like that in the dirt, they never worked, someone always botched something. The pass lateral, then the Statue of Liberty, and they both worked in the highest possible pressure. Unbelievable! Then what about Florida routing Ohio State even after an opening kickoff return for a touchdown. I still don't know when Ginn hurt his ankle. Rumor has it that it happened when he was mobbed by his teammates in the end zone. Whatever, the Florida Gators were coached better than any team in a big game ever. They were severe underdogs, and not only did they win, they dominated. Hats off to Boise State and Florida. How cool would it be if they played a Championship Game?

Have a great 2007

Monday, December 11, 2006


The big question confronting Hall voters, this months, is McGuire? Might I offer some insight, as a Hall Member, once a home run hitter, and recently, an author of a best selling book addressing it.

Everyone knows that someone in my position will tend to walk the fence on the issue. I won’t argue that, I’m human, and I see the same things you do, but I was in that world for 20 years myself, and know a little about the pressure. I’d ask the voters to look past the basic question, did he or didn’t he, and consider the era, and what fueled it.

Look back at the era, that in my book, Clearing the Bases, I call Finding the Abyss. The theme I intended to convey was that, the Commissioner, baseball owners, executives, and administrators, the print and broadcast media, as well as the fans, all got caught up in the power explosion, which was led by McGuire. We loved him, and Sammy, and the fact that they were saving our game. No one wanted it to stop, it lasted almost 10 years. It was a feeding frenzy, and everyone fed off of it, especially television and baseball’s licensees. How about baseball gives all the money back that it made off of Mark McGuire? No, instead, baseball, and those that benefit from it, will keep that money, but punish McGuire, by associating him with steroid use, and questioning his Hall of Fame entrance.

The point is, with no testing policy in place before 2005, and the expectations we put on those players, one must acknowledge that the approval they received daily, from media exposure, money, and fame, fueled their need for an “edge”. Thank God steroids weren’t available to us in the 70’s and 80’s. I, and many who will remain unnamed, would have been 40 lbs. heavier trying to keep up with the Jones, especially since the combination of leading the league in home runs and becoming a free agent meant millions. Think what it means today, choosing between Citation and Gulfstream.

As a player of his caliber, and fan expectation, in an era of electronic exposure beyond belief, where anything and everything is available, and a great many of your peers are getting bigger and more powerful, the temptation to join in was immense. What about integrity, honesty, clean living; maybe that’s what constitutes a Hall of Famer? Based on history, I don’t think so.

Ok, it sounds like I’m making excuses, and asking voters to condone the use of steroids just because “everybody was doing it”, well, to some degree I am, not so much on the player’s side, but the public. The public wanted to see his giant biceps and long bombs, and could care less what Mark McGuire was putting in his milk. He was baseball’s superman. Now you want to vilify him because he doesn’t want to own up, or admit, or even refute an involvement with steroids. Whoa! Now I’m not saying that if someone slips into the bathroom stall and sticks a needle in his butt, he should be given the benefit of the doubt. That borders on stupidity, and only Jose Canseco’s word is in evidence against Mark. Mark’s diet supplements were legal when he played.
What about his refusal to come clean before Congress? Yes, I agree, that could have been handled better, but we all know he was advised by his council to steer clear of any personal issues that might open an “abyss” of media scrutiny.

Until, and if ever, Mark chooses to admit to steroid use, you must give him the benefit of doubt. I guarantee you every Hall voting baseball writer got a months worth of articles from Mark’s career, and during the period from 1995 to 2003, they loved his every swing. In fact, I think most fans would agree, few players ever had as big an impact on baseball, including the two 1st ballot entries in 2007.

One last thing, this is only the beginning. Don’t forget over the next 10 years, dozens and dozens of players from that era will arrive on the ballot. So voters, you better treat that era for what it was, and what fueled it, and understand that what is more important than yes, or no, on McGuire, is how you interpret what constitutes Hall of Fame credentials in today’s version of baseball.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Hey fans,

Yes, Ryan Howard wins the NL MVP, justice is served. Justin Morneau wins in the AL, was justice served? Ryan Howard led all of baseball in producing runs for his team. A team with only Pat Burrell, not even an everyday player, due to foot and batting stroke problems, hitting behind him. Albert Pujols, continued to be the most feared right handed hitter in the game, missed several weeks, and it cost him a chance at two in a row. Without question, these two will duke it out for NL MVP honors for years to come. The key to Howard's production in years to come will be the Phillies ability to find a solid 5 hole hitter to back him up. I always say, what makes Big Papi Big Papi, is Manny being Manny behind him. Pujols has Rolen or Edmonds, Howard has a cast of characters.

Morneau or Jeter? We don't see much of Morneau around the country. We are force fed Jeter and the Yankees. Jeter is the most baseball savy player to come along in a long time. He has a nose for the ball, as they say. He is a winner. He's today's Pete Rose. He can do whatever the situation calls for. But, and hear this, if the Yankees traded Jeter for Jimmy Rollins, nothing would change for the Yankees. We have a Jeter on the Phillies, Chase Utley. He might be a better Jeter, because he hits 30 home runs, drives in 100 runs, hits 3rd, and plays everyday with the same nose for the ball. Jeter just makes 15 million more $. Rose got little credit for being the heart and soul of the Big Red Machine, Bench, Perez, and Morgan got all the awards. Jeter and Rose got their reward every 15 days. Morneau produced runs in a big way for a team that needed him to get to the playoffs. Yes, the had Mauer, who should have gotten more credit, but not much else. He is an upcoming star and this award will only serve to make him more confident.

Last, could you imagine, Justin Morneau at first and Ryan Howard the DH, for the Yankees in a couple years? How else are they going to get 20,000,000 a year for 10 years?

Happy Holidays

Friday, November 10, 2006

World Series

Hey fans,

Well, the Cardinals are the champions, in what I feel was a less than entertaining World Series. They don't care about that though. They'll hang the banner with pride in the accomplishment, as all Champions do.

The poor play by the Tigers, and lack of hitting made for a sub par Series. Fans always want offense and great defense, and close games. I think the Tigers over did it in their celebration following the playoffs, add in the layoff, and they got stale. That's too bad because they're a great team.

Baseball is a sport that can go this way over a short series. Good pitching always stops hitting, just like bad hitting causes good pitching to occur. Why did Polanco light it up in the playoffs, and go stone cold in the Series? Why did I hit .400 in the 1983 NLCS and go 1-20 in the Series as we lost to the Orioles in 5? Who knows? That's baseball!

A-Rod will stay with the Yankees, what about Soriano, Carlos Lee, Clemens...we'll see over the next month.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Kenny Rogers + World Series + Craig Monroe

Hey Fans....couple exciting things in baseball.

What's up with this Kenny Rogers? He looks unhittable. Can you believe the TV cameras caught that brown smudge on his left hand? Looks a little suspicious to me. Didn't look like dirt, looked like a foreign sticky substance. Let me tell you, when a veteran pitcher can get something tacky, in the right spot on his pitching hand, he can make the ball do funny things. Its been going on in the game for 50 years, scratching the ball, cutting it with a tack, rubbing it on a belt buckle, pine tar on the back of the glove, or possibly in this case below the thumb. If Rogers, and I'm not saying he did, has a tacky substance on his hand, with the chilling temperatures increasing the sticky feeling, he can make the ball spin excessively. They also are able to "blow" into their hands, which should be illegal, which even makes it worse. Just goes to show you in this day and age, you can't slip anything by the TV cameras. Whatever your do, don't pick your nose in the dugout. Now we have the famous "dark spot under the left thumb on Roger's pitching hand series". We ain't heard the last of it!!

Series tied a 1 heading to St. Louis. No possible way either team will sweep three. Most likely St. Louis wins 2 and it goes back to Detroit with the Tigers having to win twice.

How about Monroe after hitting 2 consecutive home runs, one the last at bat in Saturday's loss, then on the first pitch the next night? He comes into the dugout like a line backer that just sacked the QB ranting and raving "let's go" like he was now the emotional leader of the Tigers. Next at bat, good morning, good afternoon, goodnight, he took three straight strikes and walked quietly back to the dugout. In his next at bat he popped up weekly to short with the bases loaded and one out, and walked back to the dugout. In baseball, its best to keep your emotions in check, especially on national TV, even though you know the camera is on you.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

College Football Brawl + Lou Pinella + NLCS

Hey fans,

If you’re a baby boomer parent like me, that Miami Florida / Florida International football game brawl had to set you off. That display was a microcosm of what's wrong with this generation. Yes, my generation, the "baby boomers" had issues also. We were hippies, beer drinkers, and weed smokers, and we disagreed with about everything the government did, but we were raised to respect authority. Our parents, who commanded the first line of respect from us, for the most part instilled in us a sense of right and wrong, and accountability for our actions. Yes, we went astray often, and had to pay the price, and it taught us to respect authority. That brawl was a clear example of this generation's lack of respect for authority, and their quick tempered, mercenary-like approach to resolving conflict. They have no sense of accountability, and I lay the blame on their lack of parental pressure, as well their exposure to the fantasy, confrontational world of today's electronic entertainment. I guarantee there is an electronic game available somewhere, of course for mature audiences only, where you can get in the middle of a brawl, stomp on someone, survive and become the local neighborhood gang hero. These kids act out their fantasies just as I wanted to be The Lone Ranger, a 1960's cowboy hero, but our guns weren't loaded.

Every player in that brawl the acted offensively should loose one year of eligibility. The helmet swinger is kicked out of college, the stomper looses his scholarship, and all the country should see this play out on ESPN. Authority wins out, nobody gets away with it, and in the future, they will think before they act. Yes, labeling the entire generation as thugs is not my intention. There is a high percentage of productive, respectful, and passionate young people who will become the leaders of tomorrow, unfortunately it’s the remainder that seem to get the exposure.

The "recycle bin" has given up another manager, as sweet Lou Pinella is now the Cubs manager. He's a perfect fit, as they say. Seems they said that in Tampa, Seattle, and Cincinnati at one time. There's nothing like being in the booth or in uniform somewhere to keep your stock high.

The Mets won a big one in St. Louis, to even the series at 2. Right now Delgado is the MVP, but the series is anybody's. Neither team has any starting pitching after Glavine or Carpenter, so the games are unpredictable. Look for Pujols to do some damage over the next few games, and the series to go 7. Karma has St. Louis and Detroit in the series.


Monday, October 16, 2006



Lots going on these days if you’re a baseball fan, especially of the Mets, Tigers, or Cardinals. With the Cardinals winning at Shea, and beating up on Billy Wagner, I now like the chances of a Cardinals Tigers Series. That was a big win for them, getting out of New York with a split, and now having the confidence they can win it at Shea if they don't win three at home. An interesting sidebar to this Series would be Jim Leyland managing against Tony LaRussa, best of friends.

The Tigers and Leyland are playing baseball the old fashion way. "Gettem on, gettum over, gettum in" and slap on the leather. A very emotional team, lead by Leyland, who now has become the Bill Parcells of baseball. Funny how a guy can have an abnormal effect on a baseball team. There is a "recycle bin" of managers and coaches from which the GM's shops from every off season, and Leyland was a prize catch for Dave Dombrowski last year. If they had a Mount Rushmore for manager's faces, my picks would be Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Sparky Anderson, Earl Weaver, and Jim Leyland. (Baseball's version has 5)

One more thing on the Tigers. Joel Zumaya, yes, I managed against him in the 2004 Florida State League and 102 MPH is visually faster than all other hard throwers, including Ryan. I was glad I was the manager and didn't have to hit.

Our prayers at are with the Cory Lidle family. Cory was a friend from his Phillies days. We chatted many times about things, I'll remember telling him how he could get strike one with his slow curve anytime he wanted. Life can throw you a hard curve too, when least expected. He lived his life to the fullest. He will be missed.

Next week we'll chat about the Series and managerial and coaching opportunities.