Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

teixeiraThe last thing I’d ever do is begrudge a player, any player, for going for as much money as the market will give him. 8 years for more than $170 million is a good haul for Mark Teixeira, and it sets him up for the rest of his career, which, if he plays up to the form he currently has, will be as a New York Yankee. So don’t even try to bring outrage about oversized player salaries in a bad economy or saying the league needs a salary cap because the rest of the owners can’t compete. This is invalid because:

a) The Steinbrenner family has clearly managed the franchise well enough in order to have the reserves to spend $400 million in one off-season

b) Just because the cheap-shit owner in your city is sitting on his piece of the revenue-sharing while raising your ticket prices doesn’t make that the Yankees’ fault.

Teixeira in the Bronx is an obvious move. Jason Giambi was off the books, they’ve had a gaping defensive hole at first base for years, they need another power bat. Here’s the problem: now the Yankees are the most talented team on paper. Wonder how that might work out once the season starts? Let them play the games before declaring the Yankees the masters of all once again. There’s still an aging Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui in the outfield, and a defensively suspect Derek Jeter manning short — and don’t think the Red Sox or the Rays will simply fold in fear. The Phillies won last season and the Red Sox a year before that with a core group of players either from the farm system or who made their names with the team. Where is that with the Yankees right now?

(Also, if you’re a NYC taxpayer, how do you feel about billions of your tax dollars funding the new Yankee Stadium while they blow $400 million on free agents? Since when did the Steinbrenners need a bailout?)

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This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race

krodcitifieldMy mild disappointment at learning that Omar Minaya had pitched in $13+ million per year to land Francisco Rodriguez was leavened somewhat by learning that it was only a three-year deal. Having watched a large slate of Angels games over the past few years, I’m mildly concerned about the knock on him as a 9th inning flower, who rarely, if ever came in to have to get four, five, or six out saves in the AL.

Then again, anyone to solidify ANY inning not pitched by a starter is a considerable upgrade over the mess the Mets bullpen was last season — even when Billy Wagner’s elbow didn’t give out on him.

Getting Seattle’s former closer J.J. Putz in a three-way trade to play set-up man also seems like a step in the right direction — any direction is good as long as it involves getting rid of the long-reviled Aaron Heilman, who was nothing but a leaking gas tank for the past couple of season. Whether it actually pays off would be dependent upon the rest of the bullpen being reliable enough to handle innings six or seven — and whether the starting rotation remains in good enough shape.

Across Manhattan Island, the big news is the agreement in principle to make CC Sabathia the highest paid pitcher in baseball with a 161 million dollar deal over seven years.  The money was so stupid that Sabathia had to take it and ditch his preference to play in his home state of California, but the nagging questions about the hurler are his physique (6’7″ and 311 lbs.) and more importantly, how much form will he regain in returning to the American League?

Bear in mind that Sabathia was mired in a half-season of mediocrity when the Tribe shipped hiim off to Milwaukee — he then proceeded to destroy NL line-ups, with the easier turnover of the bottom third.  He may like hitting, but you can’t be so sure that AL pitchers have figured him out, although so much of his struggles with Cleveland were due to the offense not hitting for him. (These things can be fickle: obviously Cliff Lee got enough run support in combination with wicked stuff to win 20+ games and a Cy Young.)

There’s a reason the Yanks are also looking at A.J. Burnett despite his injury history, is all I’m saying.

A-Rod & Good PR Are Obviously A Lost Cause

arodboatshotDefending Alex Rodriguez on the field is a tough act, these days, because every decision he makes off of it continually obscures how talented a player he is and only focuses people on how badly he has played at times during the playoffs during his tenure in New York.

And he continues to shoot himself in the foot. Talking too much to the media about his feelings, getting caught with strippers, a nasty divorce from his wife Cynthia.  The whole hooking up with Madonna thing was a final jump of the shark; the merging of Hollywood goosip farce with the man possessing the most artifice in the major leagues, or at least the most concerned with artifice.

Now he really has to compound it by deciding to switch teams in the World Baseball Classic and play for the Dominican Republic, according to David Ortiz — he played for the U.S. in the inaugural contest after a huge amount of hemming and hawing over whether to choose the country of his parents’ birth and that of his own.

I can empathize with that sort of identity thing, but baseball is, at its heart, a curiously American thing and particularly nationalistic: you’re really better off sticking with the country of birth, particularly if you played for them the last go-round.

If Rodriguez confirms it, it’s just gonna give ever more baseball fans a reason to dislike him and find him completely lacking in any personal conviction.  Of course, that means there have to be fans left that believe he has any desire than to try to be everything to everyone (and fail miserably at it.)

Stealing Signals: Oh, Piss Off

Phillies 4, Rays 3 – What? You expect me to be gracious, congratulatory towards a rival team? After 50 hours of waiting, Philadelphia finishes the job thanks to a crucial hit by Pedro Feliz in the 7th inning, driving in Eric Bruntlett, who was pinch-running for Pat Burrell after he’d hit a 400-foot double.  The game was in the hands of hte bullpen: Ryan Madsen, J.C. Romero, and then, Brad Lidge, who excised the demon (who looked very, very similar to Albert Pujols) from his playoff times in Houston and completed a season in which he did not blow a save.

Cole Hamels’ 4-0 performance earns him the Series MVP, and Philadelphia goes nuts in its first championship since 1983 and the Phillies’ first title since 1980 — thanks to a series of great performances and hitting when they most needed it (and some from the same person, like Joe Blanton in Game 4.)

And all I have to say is: fuck all of y’all. Go to hell.

(In all seriousness, congratulations, Phillies. Nice to have an NL team back on top, even if it is you guys. Except for Brett Myers — you, sir, are still a fuckwit.)

For the Rays, it means coming up short, but after a season where they win the toughest division in baseball, take out the White Sox and the Red Sox in a season where they went from worst to first, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there are things to build on. But now, the day belongs to Philadelphia, and I, for one, would not like to be a police officer in that city for at least another 12 hours (not like I want to be a cop at any point and time.)

Always Sunny In Philadelphia, My Foot

I honestly couldn’t think of a more lousy way for a World Series to end than with the Phillies winning because the weather decided not to cooperate. However, it wasn’t exactly the smartest idea to keep playing and allow it to become a complete game in the fifth in the first place.   The light rain should have promopted a delay to begin with, even though Bud Selig said after hte suspension was declared that he wouldn’t have allowed the series to end on a rain-shortened game.

Now it becomes a bullpen bettale, which doesn’t really favor one team over another at this point, except that the Rays no longer have to deal with Cole Hamels.  No one wants to come back and face an ace all over again, and you’d have every right to excuse Philly fans if they’re a bit paranoid about the concept of what could happen with the Rays’ momentum by getting that 2nd run on a Carlos Pena single with the muck coming down and the base paths looking like mud.

If Selig could get that whole “no playoff series ending in a rainout” deal in the MLB rule book, here’s hoping he does that post-haste.  I understand that rule in the regular season, but playoff games shouldn’t be allowed to end because of the weather.

Kobe’s Undies Are As Baggy As His Game Shorts

Activision goes all Risky Business parody to promote the newest Guitar Hero. I see no problem with that.

Tony Hawk makes sense — doesn’t Activision also make his Pro Skater games? — and Kobe Bryant is just funny, as is Michael Phelps. But I wonder if Alex Rodriguez had even heard of the game; maybe he has.  He’s the only one I can’t really see as a gamer at all.

In fact, Activision totally whiffed when they decided not to bring the most obvious candidate for an ad for their game in:

Seriously, major missed opportunity to poke some more fun at itself and the game. They DID have to go for people who might actually be able to sell things (although, again, why go for A-Rod? How good a pitchman is he?)

(Photo via Deadspin.)

Stealing Signals: Four Games In, What Do We See?

A better set of 3 and 4 starters than I anticipated in Philly’s Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton, a team that got Game 1 on the strength of its ace, and took the last two games on its home field in completely different ways offensively: what they did in Game 3 was take a bizarre cincumstance of base running determining who would win (Eric Bruntlett getting hit by a pitch, stealing second, taking third on a throw, and then beating a dinky grounder home for the win an inning after B.J. Upton stole the momentum by stealing second and third and heading home on a wild throw) and a team that finally did in the World Series what it has done all year: put wood to ball and hit ’em out of the band box that is Citizens Bank Park, like Ryan Howard’s done three times in the last two days.

Now, with Cole Hamels posied to do it again in Game 5 and make my prediction of the Rays in 6 look utterly foolish, I’d like to remind the Phillies to go fuck themselves.  What’s now happened is that the entire Pihillies staff, not just Hamels and Brett Myers, are good enough to keep Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria from even gettign a hit in the series (currently 0-29 as a tandem), and it’s clear that if you keep the power base from lighting it up on the road, you win. Now, Tampa’s youth does not serve it well, and Joe Maddon doesn’t have enough tricks or twists in the bg to reinvent the wheel right now. (Not that he should — it would probably wreck his team more in an elminiation situation if he were to make drastic lineup shifts.)

This thing isn’t over, but it feels like we’re writing the obits for the Rays’ very good season and envisioning the parade in Philly — or, if you are me, summoning the hate preserved for them over the season to have just enough spite to say, “Eh, congrtualions. Now, fuck off.”

What? Who really wants to see their team’s rival win it all? No one i know.