Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Braves and Scandal

Derek Lowe
UPDATE: On Sunday, Major League Baseball suspended McDowell for two weeks. I think that was the minimum penalty warranted.

The Atlanta Braves had a double whammy this week. As I wrote yesterday, two of their employees -- pitching coach Roger McDowell and pitcher Derek Lowe -- are in hot water. McDowell got into a verbal fight with fans and is accused of hurling insults, including some that are homophobic. Lowe was arrested and charged with DUI after police say they saw him racing on a street.

The Braves obviously have to figure out how to handle the discipline in these cases. But somehow they have taken two different tacks. McDowell was placed on administrative leave a day after the incident. For Lowe, the Braves are going to wait until the case is decided in the courts.

I don't know if the players association has a say in such cases, but it seems odd that while McDowell is sidelined during the investigation, Lowe will keep on pitching. Maybe the Braves are more sensitive to the McDowell case in the light of Kobe Bryant's recent fine for uttering a gay slur during a playoff game.

It seems to me , though, that Lowe's DUI arrest should keep him off the field, even if it is on the vague "administrative leave" given to McDowell.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Scandals Barely Noticed

Has anyone noticed the number of arrests and general reports of bad behavior involving players and coaches that have been reported since the season started?

They have ranged from Atlanta Braves coach Roger McDowell getting into it with fans, Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds being picked up for shoplifting a few shirts, and, back to the Braves, the arrest of pitcher Derek Lowe on a DUI charge.

That's only part of the list. Former major leaguer Carl Everett was arrested on an assault charge that involved a weapon. Elijah Dukes, another former big leaguer, was arrested on a charge of driving with a suspended license.

All of this off-the-field news can't make baseball happy. The amazing thing is that all of this police blotter activity has made barely a ripple on some sports media sites. It seems that it wasn't long ago that the arrest of a player would be big news. And the idea of a coach or player having a fracas with fans would have produced a huge reaction.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

It had to happen eventually. Even in baseball, which is often behind the pop culture times, Twitter had to grab its attention. And Major League Baseball is not amused. It doesn't help that the perpetrator of what's being called baseball's first in-game tweets is Ozzie Guillen.

The White Sox manager has frequently made controversial statements regarding his own players, opponents and those in the media, among others. His tweets have been noted before, but now baseball is taking notice.

Guillen's latest controversy started after he was tossed form last night's game with the Yankees. By the time he hit the clubhouse, Guillen was already sending his thoughts into cyberspace. His mini-diatribe included the phrase "today tough guy show up a yankee stadium," an apparent reference to the ump who gave him the heave-ho. And the grammar is pure Ozzie.

Apologies to Yogi

In a post earlier this week I wrote about Hack Wilson, the player I chose as the greatest short player ever. Well, it seems I missed a pretty good candidate: Yogi Berra. At 5-foot-7, Yogi is just an inch taller than Wilson.

Yogi's career was much longer and when he retired he was probably the greatest hitting catcher of all time. And then there is Yogi's status as a national icon. He is known for the twisted language of his sayings ("When you come to the fork in the road, take it") and there's a cartoon character, Yogi Bear, whose name is suspiciously  close to the ballplayer's, although Hanna-Barbera always denied a connection. And he even starred in an Aflac commercial.

How I could have forgot about Yogi, and while living in Yankee territory no less, is impossible to explain. My apologies to Mr. Berra.

If anyone knows of other short players who should be considered, post a comment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Vote for for All-Star Change

It seems the baseball season has barely begun and it's already time to vote for this year's All-Star teams. Through nearly 80 years of All-Star Games, several ways of voting have been tried. The fans even lost their right to vote after the Cincinnati Reds placed an inordinate number of players in the starting lineup in 1957, leaving out more deserving candidates from other teams.

They got the right back in 1970 and have been voting for the starting lineups ever since. I'm not sure it maters much whether the fans, managers or players vote for the starters. But i do know the atmosphere surrounding the game has changed. Before it became the let's-have-fun exhibition that is today, there was a time when the teams really wanted to win.

And one team apparently wanted to win more that the other. The 1960s and '70s were dominated by the National League. And some players of the time said the NL really did take the game more seriously than their counterparts. (As an AL fan back then it was hard to watch every year.)

But that has changed. The new nature of the game has been exposed in the last decade or so. There was the infamous tie game at Miller Park, and instances of players applauding opponents for robbing them of hits. At times, players would even leave the ballpark during the game lest they miss their turn on the all-important ESPYs.

Now that the game has changed why not tweak the way voting is conducted? Sure, I know baseball loves having the fans vote. It makes sense. For the next several weeks, websites and newspapers will publish stories (hey, even this website is playing along) about the voting. But the system has at least one glaring flaw.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How About Radical Realignment?

UPDATE: With word on June 11 that baseball is considering realignment, I have added a new post:

Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, has proposed adding two teams to baseball's playoffs. That would put 10 teams in the playoffs. Besides the possibility of watering down the quality of the baseball's postseason play, the prospect of more games causes images of World Series snow delays to flood my mind.

I have never been a big fan of interleague play and when the playoffs were expanded to eight teams, a radical thought came to me: Why not blow up the leagues and start over? I used to be a traditionalist: I loved the war between the American and National Leagues.

But those days are long gone. The line between the leagues has largely been erased. There are no longer separate umpires. Players move more frequently between the leagues. The big difference between the Senior and Junior Circuits is the use of the designated hitter. I never was one who railed against the DH, but I wouldn't mourn its passing either.

Baseball's Unwritten Rules

Anyone who follows baseball, has probably heard announcers and fans refer to the sport's unwritten rules. These are the sort of guidelines that backers say ensure that good sportsmanship is followed. I say hogwash.

There are many such rules that managers and players like to whine about whenever they feel their opponent has treated them in an unprofessional manner. Some of the rules are supposed to keep teams from running up the score. Others are supposed to protect the integrity of the game.

Cubs Manager Mike Quade is the latest to whine cry foul. Quade claims multiple teams have their own "rule book." The latest team to set Quade off is the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their offense was a steal attempt in the 5th inning with the pitcher batting and the Dodgers up 8-1.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Not Always How Tall You Are

The New York Times published a feature article yesterday about Tim Collins, a rookie pitcher with the Kansas City Royals who stands just 5-foot-7. As much as players (and people in general) have gotten taller since the big leagues began, there are few pitchers who have been successful who were so short.

As it turns out, most players who played in the majors from 1876-2009 have been at least 5-foot-10. Of course, there have some notable short players. Freddie Patek was a fine shortstop for the Kansas City Royals despite being just 5-foot-5. And Eddie Gaedel, signed as a stunt by St. Louis Browns' owner Bill Veeck, is the shortest player ever at 3-foot-8.

But perhaps the greatest short player of all is Hack Wilson, a Hall of Fame slugger for the Chicago Cubs, who was the equal of Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx for a short time. In fact, Wilson did something no one else has ever done: He drove in more than 190 runs in a season. The year was 1930, a year when batting statistics were off the charts, and Wilson ended the year with 190 RBI and 56 home runs. In 1999, research showed Wilson had driven in 191 runs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Infield Shift, Part II

In an earlier post on the expanded use of the infield shift, I questioned why more hitters don't just hit the ball the other way. One factor I didn't consider was mentioned by my Dad: Hurlers try to make sure they pitch to spots that make it harder for batters to defeat the shift. That makes a lot of sense.

Interestingly, I found an article about Cy Williams which mentions that managers used a "Ted Williams Shift" against him in the outfield. The name is a bit of a misnomer: Cy's career ended in 1930, so the strategy pre-dated Ted's major league career, which began in 1939.

Jim Rice, the Boston Red Sox slugger of the 1970s, faced an unusual shift: four outfielders. were arrayed against him. I have to admit that this maneuver has faded from my memory. And it turns out New York Mets Manager Gil Hodges employed a similar alignment in the 1969 World Series against the Baltimore Orioles. And it also was used against Willie McCovey.

In baseball, it often seems that a great new strategy turns out to have its roots in distant decades.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tales of Fenway and Wrigley

Fenway Park turns 100 this season. If that sounds amazing, it's even more so if you consider that no major league park has ever been used for so long. Wrigley Field, the nearest to the mark, was built in 1914 and the Cubs moved in two years later.

Both parks are intimate in ways that the the newer, small parks have tried to emulate. But the atmosphere at these two jewels seems more authentic. Perhaps because when they were built they weren't trying to look old.

I had been to Wrigley a few times before I made it to Fenway. The Friendly Confines, the nickname popularized by Cubs' great Ernie Banks, with its ivy-covered walls and ancient scoreboard looks like a postcard. I expected a similar feel to Fenway. My first glimpse coming up the stairs to the seating area shocked me. Fenway looked tiny. Maybe it's the looming Green Monster that makes it seem that way, but all of Fenway appeared like a toy compared to Wrigley.

When you go through the turnstiles at Wrigley or Fenway, you are really entering the past. These parks feel different. And they share a history that can never be duplicated. Babe Ruth is a key figure in both. The Bambino, of course, started his career as a star pitcher for the Sox, before being traded to the Yankees. (Sorry Yankee fans, but the new Yankee Stadium can't claim any Ruthian feats.)

Wrigley has its own special connection to Ruth. In 1932, the Cubs took on the Yanks in the World Series.  In Game 3, the Bambino launched his called-shot homer off of Charlie Root. Whether Ruth's gesture was prediction or he was involved in banter with the Cubs' dugout is a subject of debate that probably will never be resolved.

It's interesting that the two teams who made a business out of going decades without winning the World Series each had a rocky moment with the Babe. The Sox of course sent Ruth packing to the Yankees just as he was becoming the sport's greatest slugger, triggering many fans' belief in the Curse of the Bambino.

Maybe there really is a curse.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Brewers Step Up to Keep Braun

It's an exciting day to be a Brewers fan. After a couple of high profile misses -- C.C. Sabathia and Prince Fielder -- they locked up Ryan Braun through 2020 with an option for 2021. In effect, Braun will be a Brewer for life. Hopefully, he will be this generation's Robin Yount.

That's a lot to ask, but Braun has been a star since he first hit the big club. During that time Prince Fielder has grabbed the headlines, but Braun has steadily banged out home runs and run the bases like a demon. It doesn't hurt that Fielder bats after him forcing pitchers to throw to Braun.

His home run production gets him mentioned in the same breath as sluggers like Kiner, Pujols and Mathews. He is fast on the bases and runs out every ground ball. The only knock on him is is his defense. At times he can make spectacular catches in left, while at other times he is reticent to come in on fly balls. His throwing can be erratic: He has a strong arm but he can make wild throws.

About That Ticket Warning ...

A trip to ballpark can be fun ... and dangerous. Most fans probably overlook that warning on the back of the ticket that absolves teams of any liability when a fan is injured by a ball or a bat that flies into the stands.

But in the past 20 years or so, new ballparks have been built with an emphasis on getting fans as close to the field as possible. Foul territory has shrunk. I have been lucky enough get the chance to sit in great seats in a couple of the new ballparks. I was amazed how close to the field I was.

At both Yankee Stadium and Miller Park, I sat near third base within the first five rows. I felt like I could reach out and touch the players. And I also was aware that a ball or bat could come flying past me at anytime. At Miller Park a ball did land behind us and a vendor was hit, although apparently suffered just a bruise.

A fan at a Kansas City Royals game this year wasn't so lucky. She was hit by a piece of bat that shattered. The last few years there has been a growing debate over why so many bats shatter. The prevailing theory is that bats today are made of maple instead of the traditional ash. It seems baseball is moving as quickly on this problem as it did on steroids.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Do Dodgers, Mets Spell Trouble?

Maybe it was just a matter of time before a major sports league was beset by financial problems. After all, why should they be immune from the problems other industries must cope with? But it was shocking to hear today that the Los Angeles Dodgers, an iconic franchise, were being taken over by major league baseball.

Sure, there had been lots of stories about the war of the roses like breakup of the marriage of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt. But to see the Dodgers have its business operations taken over has to be the biggest surprise sine the Boys of Summer  left Brooklyn more than a half century ago.

And that's not the only financial mess baseball is facing. All winter the New York Mets have had to face withering publicity about its connection to Bernard L. Madoff as well as  questions about the financial well-being of the club. Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, has held meetings with the Mets owners.

Baseball, Everywhere

Baseball games can be seen anywhere these days, like on this iPad.
When watching a ballgame on my computer, I often think back to when following my favorite team (it's the Brewers -- feel free to insert a lame Milwaukee joke here) was only possible by waiting for the sports report on the local news or reading a newspaper. That should be known as the dark ages.

Since heading off to college, I have been a displaced fan for most of the last 34 seasons. At first, change came slowly. ESPN was born and nightly highlights became a must-see. That was a revelation.

Then ESPN began broadcasting weeknight games. By then, I was living out East and I would just be thrilled every time the Brewers were on. That wasn't often as the '90s wore on. But at least there was WFAN, the first 24/7 sports radio station. Updates every 20 minutes were a must to follow the games. And then AOL came along, and for the time there was a way to get real-time information.

As the digital age gained speed, MLB offered its Extra Innings package on cable and satellite TV. For only slightly more than the cost of my opening day ticket at Citi Field, I could watch nearly every game all season. And now the same service is even cheaper via the computer, iPhone and other mobile devices. In fact, the cost for this season was only $14 more than that Mets' ticket. (It would have been even closer in price, but my friend Kevin paid the service charge.)

So now I can watch virtually any game whenever I want. They are all archived and offer a choice of home or away broadcasts for both TV and radio. There are even condensed versions of every game.

All of this technology brings unexpected changes. One thing I have noticed this year is that catching every pitch doesn't seem so important. When only a few games each season were available, I was riveted to the TV. Now, I know I will be seeing the Brewers whenever I want and can even watch the replay on demand. Each pitch doesn't seem so crucial (don't get me wrong,  I still catch most them).

Even at least one Hall of Fame player has noted the big changes. Mike Schmidt, the Phillies great,  said in an interview on that he watches ballgames wherever he is, even on a boat in the Bahamas. But he talks about how technology has put players onstage at all times. To Schmidt that's a high price in lost privacy and explains it least in part why player salaries have exploded.

So next time you sit back and watch a ballgame, or even just read about your favorite team on the web, think about how lucky we are to have the baseball world at our fingertips whenever we want it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Great Players, Jewish or Not

Oops: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Ryan Braun's mother is Jewish.

Last night was the first Passover seder, so it seems a fitting time to look at Jewish major leaguers. Despite the joke in "Airplane" alluding to a pamphlet listing great Jewish athletes, there have been many fine players in the category.

There's an interesting twist to the list of great Jewish players. Some on the list don't identify themselves as Jewish. Lou Boudreau had a Jewish mother which under Jewish law made him Jewish. But he was raised as a Christian and didn't identify himself as Jewish. On the other hand, Rod Carew married a Jewish woman, raised his kids in the faith but never converted. Ryan Braun has a Jewish father, was not raised as a Jew, but has said he is proud of his Jewish heritage. Still, all three are on most of the lists.

The two best Jewish players -- and the only two in the Hall of Fame -- are Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax. It's interesting that Greenberg, a fearsome hitter for the Tigers in his heyday, and Koufax, the Dodgers ace, both faced the dilemma of whether to play on Yom Kippur, Judaism's most sacred day.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Must Batters Fiddle & Fidget?

I finally got around to watching Game 7 of the 1960 World Series (I kept seeing it on my DVR list and  passing it by). The game features Bill Mazeroski's stunning walk-off home run. A kinescope of the game was found in Bing Crosby's wine cellar and MLB Network built a three-hour special around the game.

Besides the obvious changes -- few on-screen graphics, no instant replay, a solo announcer among others -- one thing always stands out when I watch old games: batters rarely step out of the box between pitches. Sure a batter might be knocked down or have get out of the way of a pitch. In those cases he might step a few feet from the box.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Another Side of Casey Stengel

The prevailing image of Casey Stengel is of a befuddled grandfatherly figure during his years as the manager of the so-bad-they're-lovable-Mets. He was great at doubletalk, but was long past his prime as a field general with the Yankees and was prone to snooze on the bench. But as with so may popular perceptions, there is much more to Stengel.

A George Vecsey column in today's New York Times paints a different picture of the Ol' Perfesser. First of all, Vecsey is incredulous that Stengel had a family and was anyone's uncle (ok, ok, I know it's a writing device). Secondly, and more interesting I think, is a memory the niece recounts of Stengel lying on the couch of his hotel room with stacks of fielding and hitting reports on his chest. Underneath the goofy exterior was a master strategist who prepared well.

This shouldn't be big surprise. After all, in his years leading the Yanks to championship after championship Stengel was known for platooning the players who complemented his stars like DiMaggio, Mantle and Berra. He always seemed to make the right move. I am guessing that was because of his preparation.

But the baseball genius of Stengel has been lost amid colorful quotations and the transcript of his famous Senate testimony regarding baseball's antitrust exemption. By the time he was done everyone was confused and entertained. That's probably just the way Stengel wanted it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Infield Shift Rules

Maybe it's just a fad. Or maybe the Sabermetrics revolution has entered a new phase. In any case, more and more teams are employing shifts to counteract hitters who predominantly hit the ball one way or the other. The Brewers seem most in love with the move.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Jackie Robinson Day:
What's in a Number?

I always was fascinated by Jackie Robinson's story. As a young teen I read his autobiography "I Never Had it Made." Robinson's grace and fortitude against the hostility of players, fans and others was inspiring. It took a special person to check his anger.

Today, of course, is Jackie Robinson Day, baseball's annual rite of spring which honors the memory of the Dodgers' great who integrated the majors in 1947. I was at Shea Stadium when the tradition began on the 50th anniversary of Robinson's first game (although it did not become a baseball-wide event until 2004).

The ceremony that night had all the requisite bigwigs -- including Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, and even President Clinton. And baseball announced Robinson's No. 42 would be retired. Never was that honor more fitting than for Robinson, perhaps the only player who really changed the country.

But in the past few years it has become fashionable for most players to don Robinson's 42 each April 15. I find this tradition strange. It's confusing to watch and I can't help but think if his number is retired why is anyone wearing it? Personally, I'd rather see a uniform patch to honor Robinson's memory. Maybe even wear every day. After all, Robinson's impact only began on April 15. I continues to this day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Sounds of Baseball

As a change of pace, I am writing about one of the best parts of baseball: the announcers. Maybe it's because no other game translates as well to words or that the pace of the is perfect for analysis and chatter, but there's something soothing about hearing your favorite broadcasters.

Some of the best announcers shine brighter when the game is dull. My favorite in those situations is Bob Uecker. After 40 years, Uecker has developed into a fine play-by-play man, but early in his career he was strictly there for color. He knew the game, but listeners couldn't wait for his next great line. Whether it was tales of his rookie signing bonus (his Dad couldn't afford to pay the Braves much) or his method of catching a knuckler (wait till it stops rolling and pick it up), Uecker was entertaining, even if the Brewers weren't (which was more often than not).

Harry Caray was another original. He had almost the opposite career of Uecker. By all accounts, he was a fine announcer when he started out with the Cardinals. Sports Illustrated (flip to page 82 of the link) once did a story on him complete with a photo of him wearing only polka-dot boxers while announcing a game on a sweltering St. Louis day. By the time he was with the White Sox, it sounded like his famous carousing was beginning to affect his announcing. He frequently would say players' names backwards (Bill Melton would be Llib Notlem), or he would say things like "This game reminds me of a recipe for chicken salad," leaving the listener to figure out what he meant.

It helped that his broadcast partner, Jimmy Piersall, could be equally obtuse ("Ted Kluszewski must weigh 300 pounds without arms") Piersall was the subject of the movie "Fear Strikes Out."' Later, after a strong first few years with the Cubs, Caray jumped the shark. By the end he was a caricature of himself, even when doing his signature rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Of the present-day announcers, I like the Mets color team of Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. They both offer sharp analysis and have a goofy sense of humor that keeps them from sounding like know-it-alls. And Hernandez, of all the announcers I have heard, seems most like someone you'd want to have a beer with. His cultural references include mentions of TV and music of the 1960s and 1970s. He really does seem like the guy on "Seinfeld."

Other announcers I enjoyed were Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd with the Cubs, Ernie Harwell of the Tigers and Merle Harmon, who was Uecker's early partner.

Who are your favorite announcers? Let's get a discussion going.

Bonds, Barry Bonds

Of course I'd rather be writing about James Bond (and there actually is news today that the Bond movie franchise will continue on), but there is no ignoring the Barry Bonds verdict. Bonds is of course the poster child for the steroids-PED era.

Starting out as a thin, Hank Aaron-like hitter, Bonds evolved in to a cartoonish figure. The fact that he broke Aaron's recode made him the lightning rod for the whole sordid mess. Maybe it shouldn't come as surprise that the jury couldn't convict Bonds of lying to Congress.

But maybe it all doesn't matter much. The whole game lacks credibility on the issue. Neither Bonds nor the owners, the commissioner, nor all the players can escape responsibility. All of them, for different reasons, ignored the problem as it grew. And then when the truth came out, they pretended they had never know anything was amiss.

So here we are. The federal government spends years and bushels of cash to try to prove a baseball player lied. And they fail. And the game keeps raking in cash (although attendance has dipped a bit this year.) Just as we have seen with bank failures, politicians' lies and other scandals, the media sounds the alarm and the the public shrugs and business returns to normal.

It's unfortunate that cheating is now ignored, expected or even accepted. But that's the state of baseball now. So if you can, enjoy the great plays and great athletes. I still do. But in the back of my mind I always wonder which players are using what substances to get ahead.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

With apologies to the Clash, there's a debate raging about whether Ranger's star Josh Hamilton should have tried to score on a foul popup near the dugout. The play resulted in an out and a broken arm for the reigning AL MVP. If you listen to Hamilton, and the pundits on ESPN, he never should have attempted to score. On the face of it, it seems obvious that the play was not worth the risk. It occurred in the first inning. The Rangers are hot and their offense has been scoring plenty of runs. Still, the third base coach was adamant in telling Hamilton to take off. So take off he did, despite his own misgivings. This is the first time I remember commentators berating a player for listening to a coach. Usually players overrun stop signs at third and the pundits have a field day criticizing them. The flip-flop surprises me. John  Kruk and Bobby Valentine argued on ESPN that it was Hamilton's decision whether to go or stay. In all the the decades I have been watching baseball, I have never heard it argued that the runner should ignore the third base coach. I wonder if this is a new development (a vestige of the Me Decade) or if it always was this way. If runners take the Kruk-Valentine advice, I wonder if anarchy will rule on the bases. Of course, budget-conscious clubs could save money by eliminating the base coches altogether.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame
(first I need to get a loan)

Yes, like the song, there was crackerjack. And at least two peanuts in among the caramel corn. But unlike the song there was a $105 ticket, a pricey club for lunch and a 3.5 hour game. Oh, and the home team didn't win. It was a shame.

The game was the Mets home opener last Friday against the Nationals. I wasn't planning on going, but my friend Kevin called and offered to take out to the ballgame. OK, that's a stretch, He did drive but he had two tickets to sell because of a family illness. Maybe I should have asked first (that's not true, I would have jumped at the chance anyway) but I said yes before asking the price.

In New York these days  tickets that break the three-digit barrier aren't uncommon. Still, I wonder if the teams are reaching a tipping point. It's common now to see empty rows of seats behind the plate. Most consider that the prime location to sit. Now, at hundreds of dollars  ticket, they are often empty either because they are unsold or businesses buy them to wine and dine clients and don't use them for many games. Meanwhile, the loyal Mets fans are left in the upper deck or the Pepsi Porch or other seats far from the field.

Will we see a game where the only people in the stands are relegated to the outfield and upper deck, while the best seats sit empty? Maybe that's a ways off. But if it happens, maybe the owners and players will wake up and realize the loyal fans are being ignored. Maybe they'll realize they need the loyal fans.

Nahh. That's just a fantasy. And that's a shame.

Batter Up

Welcome to my blog. In this space I will look at the latest news around baseball and offer opinions, sprinkled with a sense of humor. I hope you will enjoy it and join in by commenting. The baseball season has started and already there are a few surprises.

First, of course, there was Boston's winless start that left the so-called Red Sox Nation seething and reaching for the tranquilizers. Then there was Manny Ramirez's foray into the world of PED's once again. And that had to leave Sox fans on the defensive. After all, Manny helped break the team's cursed championship drought. And now more evidence that a whole baseball era full of power bats and amazing feats was just a chemical-induced illusion.

As for the Red Sox, who are going on without Manny, they are struggling. Who would have thought the Sox would be winless against everyone but the Yanks? Maybe it's the Manny curse, a twist on the Curse of the Bambino. Instead of not winning the World Series, the Sox can now only beat the dreaded Yanks. Now that would be a curse for the new century. - MLB