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March 20, 2008

¡Qué Lastima, Omar!

Filed under: Baseball — Tags: , — Sean @ 11:24 pm

Al Lang

It’s March, which means it’s time to revisit the baseball season’s most generic and recurrent Spring Training stories! Let’s get started!


Following the Yankees’ Shelley Duncan inducing a fracas by sliding spikes up at a perplexed Akinori Iwamura, Yankee owner and trust-fund reject Hank Steinbrenner had some devilish words for the Tampa Bay Rays franchise. “I don’t want these teams in general to forget who subsidizes a lot of them…it’s the Yankees…I would prefer if teams want to target (the Yankees) that they at least start giving some of that revenue sharing and luxury tax money back. From an owner’s point of view, that’s my point.” Forget first of all that New York voluntarily pays the luxury tax by signing over $200 million worth in payroll every season. Forget as well that Hank believes the Yankees (and several other teams) are responsible for the entire success of the league, akin to saying the Pats and Colts are the reason football fans choose to watch Panthers-Cowboys matchups. No, perhaps the most incredible of the MiniBoss’s assumptions is that the Yankees’ payroll allows them to legally execute spiking and brawls on the field with neither repercussion nor shame. By these fiduciary standards, the Marlins shouldn’t get more than two outs an inning.

While the late ’90s Red Sox were perhaps the first team to realize the somewhat untapped potential of a strong Latino fanbase–Howard Bryant considered the Pedro/Manny/Papi years as the first steps in healing the city’s racist reputation–it is clear the New York Mets have perfected the routine.Of the Mets current 37 man roster (thanks Yahoo), a full 22 are of Hispanic descent. Pitcher Aaron Heilman is presumably a white supremacist to balance out the crew. Not only does this scenario make David Wright somehow even more “All American” and “clean cut”, but it runs along the always squeamish lines of accusing a non-white man of ethnic insensitivity. Minaya’s big acquisitions have been Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Billy Wagner, Orlando Hernandez (for the ’06 stretch drive), Moises Alou, and Johan Santana. Even removing Ol’ Piss Hands and the Twins’ ace, there seems to be a pretty clear pattern. Of course, it’s also important to note that the Mets have been really really good since Minaya took the helm, but that is equally attributable to the big payroll allowing Minaya to pick up these big guns. If Minaya just came out and said it, I think we’d all be in a happier place. Also, I think he mistook Paul Lo Duca, but to be fair, Italians are quite fiery as well.

Sure, it’s not the smartest idea to use Spring Training record as an indicator of anything (see Ichiro’s 0-23 revue), but it’s probably safe to note that 8-14 Pittsburgh and 6-17 San Francisco won’t be stopping the bleeding once April rolls on in. The post-Bonds devastation is still thumping small-market Pittsburgh, mostly because their string of incompetent drafting and general management (I don’t mean GMs, I mean that generally the day-to-day managing is awful) has no true solution, minus simply blowing up everything involved with the team save the stadium. And last year’s Giants went 71-91 even with Bonds playing about 80% of the season and posting a 1.047 OPS. You’re telling me Dave Roberts and co. is going to replicate that? It’s wonderful that Barry Zito has created a warm and positive clubhouse atmosphere; they’re gonna need to band together when they enter June with a 9-37 record.


Much like communism or The New Adventures of Old Christine, the Tampa Bay Cater To Your Evangelical Base Rays look intriguing on paper. They boast of a true ace in Scott Kazmir, a decent two and three in James Shields and Matt Garza, and the enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in nothing, Edwin Jackson. Minus Rocco Baldelli, who appears to be less of the next DiMaggio and now more of the next Gehrig, the Rays still boast BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Iwamura, and Carlos Pena. Of course they still boast an awful, awful bullpen, so let’s say….June 8 as the day that the diehards realize it’s not going to happen. Sorry Al Reyes, nothing but reruns here.

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