Oh, what a year to give thanks. In Boston and Denver, fans are thankful for victories and underdogs. In New York, people are thankful that no one is still discussing either team’s late season disasters. In Minnesota, management is thankful that they will probably get some poor team to dearly overpay for Johan Santana before Christmas.
But, on this day to acknowledge our good blessings, we must also pay homage to the “other” guys in Major League Baseball. The ones who make writing for a humorous sports site so easy. The yangs to the yins. The Omegas to the Alphas. MLB’s biggest turkeys.
The Houston Astros — Craig Biggio’s retirement is barely two months old, and Drayton McLane is in such a state of panic that he’s offering ridiculous cash to any second baseman willing to make the trip to Texas’ third finest city. No amount is too much; no contract demand too unwieldy. The result? A likely four year deal for late blooming flash in the pan, Kaz Matsui. A call to Queens should cure your insanity, Drayton.
Barry Bonds — No one is more tired of hearing “Barry is guilty” or “Barry is innocent” than I am. No one. I long for a day when we don’t hear his name at all, and will continue to pray for such a day to come. I’m sure the B&C debates will continue, and the fanboys will stop swinging from Barry’s jock long enough to tear me apart. But in terms of importance, Barry Bonds falls somewhere between store-brand cola and the Gin Blossoms. To the media, stop wasting our time with his face. Barry doesn’t matter.
Hank Steinbrenner — August 2007: “We will not enter negotiations with Alex Rodriguez.” November 2007: “We meant to say, we will not enter negotiations with Alex Rodriguez’ agent. How does ten years sound?” In the few short months since relinquishing the job of cleaning his father’s diapers, to take over the Yankees, Juniorbrenner has made New York baseball seem like the late 70s all over again. I miss George. But then again, so does George.
The Devil Rays — I won’t rewrite what’s already been written, but thinking that a sunshine logo, and a new stadium that will still be empty is going to spark interest in Tampa Bay baseball…well, even in a state known for senility, it’s just out and out stupid.
The Baseball Writers Association of America — Jimmy Rollins is a great ballplayer. There, it was painful, but I said it. The man made a promise, delivered, and showed up the entire Mets organization in the process. Good for him. According to our own Philly guy, Rollins is also about to cure **** and travel to Mars. He’s even a snazzy dresser. So, he definitely deserved to be in the running for the trophy. But to say that Rollins was as valuable to the Phillies’ success as Matt Holliday or Prince Fielder were to their respective teams is outright criminal. The MVP voting has turned into a bigger pole measuring popularity contest than the first season of One Tree Hill. Of course, they would have voted for Dawson’s Creek.
Overseas scouts — Not every player from Japan is a superstar. And a 35-year old who had a 4.50 ERA for Seibu last year is not necessarily a great fit for MLB just because he needs an interpreter. Stop overselling.
Joe Torre — To be clear, I was really proud of Torre for walking away from the Yankees’ guaranteed money. Yeah, maybe the contract was insulting to him, but the bigger picture is that he simply couldn’t put a price on another year of “when’s Joe getting fired?” rumors. Torre then ruined all good faith by signing a ludicrous contract with the bipolar Dodgers, which will do nothing but prove that he’s really not that good of a manager. Prior to inheriting a playoff team from Buck Showalter in 1996, Joe Torre’s managerial record rivaled Dallas Green’s for futility. Falling into a good team, then having management continue to overpay the best players in the world, does not a great manager make, Torre-san. Then, having the greatest players and not doing anything with them for the last seven or so seasons only furthers my argument. Grady Little should sue MLB for defamation of character.
Scott Boras — It seems as if teams and players are finally in agreement that this man is bad for baseball. Kudos to A-Rod for not inviting him to the meetings, and to Kenny Rogers for following suit by losing the suit. Now if Andruw Jones would just realize that hitting .220 in a walk year doesn’t earn him $150 million, maybe he’d do the same.
It’s not all bad, though. Despite what’s written above, baseball fans really should be thankful. The 2007 season was a damn good one. Underdogs rose to the challenge. Old dynasties were buried, and new ones brought to life. Players long left for the recycling bin won titles, trophies and accolades. Hell, even the baseball blogosphere got a little classier this past year (and so did the readership…thanks, everyone).In short, regardless of all the distractions, and the poultry listed above, 2007 was still about baseball. And I can’t think of a better reason to give thanks.