Monday, October 02, 2006

Baseball thoughts

Now that the baseball season is over, I can make a few comments that need to be made.

First, let us get the formal stuff out of the way first, The Pittsburgh Pirates will win it all next year, or at least win their division. A good year for developing young talent. If we had hired Jim Leyland rather than Jim Tracy, we would have won it all this year. We have some good young pitching prospects, and our young hitting finally came through. Freddie Sanchez won the NL Batting Title, Jason Bay was an All Star and Ronnie Paulino hit .300 as our catcher. Add in the last season acquisition of Xavier Nady, and a few minor league prospects, and the rookie closer getting even better next year, and you have a real winner on your hands.

Second, what the Minnesota Twins did this year was absolutely amazing. They had never had even a share of first place all year until there was only three games left in the season and took sole possession on the very last day. Both records. Living in South Dakota I got to watch a lot of Twins baseball, and they are a great team. Even losing two of their three best pitchers, they still pulled of the amazing. 12 games out of first place in June, but they still won the division. Unbelievable. And if they can keep Lirano (an injured pitcher) healthy, there is absolutely no reason that the Twins should not dominate baseball for the next decade. Ron Gardenhire may actually be the best coach in baseball. The Twins comeback should be right up there next to the Miracle Mets of 1969 and the Shot Heard Round the World in 1962. Yet, it will not take its rightful place in baseball lore because of my third point.

Third, the Wild Card has ruined baseball forever. Never have I heard sports reporters try to make a bigger deal about the Wild Card race than they have this year. But this year it again proved to be the biggest mistake ever made. The AL Central Race with the Minnesota Twins is a perfect example. Twins and Tigers tied with 3 games left in the season. The tension should have been so thick you could cut it with a knife, but instead, both teams were already guaranteed playoff spots so they could rest big time players and set their rotations. The Tigers lost three in a row to the Royals, a team the Tigers had only lost once to all year. The Twins dropped two of three to the White Sox at home, and there was talk prior to the series of throwing it on purpose because it would be better to play the Yankees in a five game series rather than a seven game one. The Wild Card ruined a down to the wire division race. It did the same thing in the National League as the NL West came down to the last weekend of the season between the Dodgers and the Padres. However, both teams made the post season. Many pundits lauded the Wild Card race in the National League as it too went down to the wire. However, if you look at it, that race was a race of teams that were barely above .500. The team that stayed above 81-81 was going to win the Wild Card. Was it fair for the Astros or the Phillies who lost out on a Wild Card chase that the the Dodgers, the team that won, got to play more games against the worst division in baseball? Probably not. So, the Wild Card ruined several hot division races and did not even manage to get the fourth best team into the playoffs. I hope baseball drops this stupid idea, but it won’t.

Fourth, steroids ruined everything about baseball for my entire childhood. Jason Grimsely, a ball player who tried to turn states evidence, recently gave out names of players who used performance enhancing drugs. The list includes the trainer of Albert Pujols and Roger Clemens. The face of the steroid free baseball in Pujols and the future Hall of Famer in Clemens are both dirty, and probably tons of others that Grimsely never got to see take drugs. Almost no one from the 80’s to today should make the Hall of Fame. What a disgrace that our National Pastime has come to this. As much as I hate the Wild Card, I hate this even more. I hope Bud Selieg gets fired, but again he won’t. I would bet money as an owner, he knew what was going on. If the writers put anyone from this era into the Hall of Fame, they might as well put Pete Rose in too. If it is wrong to compromise the game by betting on baseball, and it is, then it is wrong to compromise the game by taking illegal drugs.


Larry said...

At least Pete Rose played when there still was a great game called baseball.