He’s Gonna Do What???

He’s Gonna Do What??? could be the name of a weekly column devoted to the antics of Jose Canseco.  Since his mlb career ended in retirement eight years ago, Jose has been full of surprises.  He has outed many of contemporaries for the use of steroids in his books Juiced and Vindicated.  He has become a reality TV star, even appearing in The Surreal Life.  He has tried his hand at prize fighting, losing to an ex-football player and an mma fighter.  He managed to draw with Danny Bonaduce and actually win a fight against some guy I have never heard of.  In his post baseball career he has even tried to market himself with his spend a day with Jose Canseco campaign (for a mere $5000.)
Somehow, none of these ventures has worked out for him and the last I had heard, before he took on a coaching/dh job with the Laredo Broncos of the United Baseball League, was that he had been evicted from his home and was living in a buddy’s garage (and exchanging trash talk with his critics on Twitter.)  Oh how the mighty had fallen.
Welcome to a new chapter in Jose’s life.  Apparently, he will be mixing his renowned business skills with his penchant for reality television and appearing as one of the stars of Donald Trump’s The Apptentice .  I am not really sure what this show is about but Jose is a guy who has checked his pride at the door and is probably willing to do whatever it takes.  Once again, I will be rooting for him to hit a home run.

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No Fish For Valentine

Bobby Valentine has removed himself from the list of potential candidates for the vacant Florida Marlins managerial position.  WHO CAN BLAME HIM?  Who would want any part of working for an owner like Jeffrey Loria?

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Although the Marlins have won a World Series under the ownership of Loria, this team just seems like a nightmare to follow.  Since Loria has taken the reigns, the Fish have gone through five managers.  (Well…four managers and one interim manager.)  This may not seem like a lot in the span of eight years of ownership until you consider the quality of the managers that this team has had.
Jeff Torborg was at the helm when Loria arrived.  He certainly didn’t distinguish himself as one of the greats in Marlin history but he had prior success (even winning an AL Manager of the Year Award at one point.)
Jack McKeon took over and guided the Marlins to a World Series victory in 2003.  This performance was good enough to land him the NL Manager of the Year Award.  At the end of the 2005 season, McKeon hung up his spikes in favor of retirement…and I can understand why.  The following year, Loria dropped $45 million from an already very low payroll, making his team salary a paltry $15 million for the year.
You wouldn’t imagine that a competitive team could be fielded for that kind of money…but under new manager, Joe Girardi, that is exactly what the Marlins did.  They managed to go 78-84 under Girardi’s guidance and (in so doing) Girardi won the NL Manager of the Year Award.  Of course, he was promptly fired at the end of the season stemming from a late season incident where Loria was trying to tell Girardi how to manage from the stands.  Joe ignored him (as well he should have) and Jeffrey fired him.
Enter Fredi Gonzalez.  Gonzalez managed the team for about 3-1/2 seasons before being fired earlier this year in favor of interim manager, Edwin Rodriguez.  Gonzalez had a pretty successful run.  In 2008 and 2009, despite a very low payroll, the Marlins proved themselves contenders.  In 2008 The Sporting News recognized this by honoring Gonzalez with The Sporting News Manager of the Year Award.  (Is there some kind of theme here?)  Then, earlier in the year, Gonzalez benched Hanley Ramirez for dogging it on the field.  Ramirez WAS dogging it and Gonzalez did the right thing in benching him.  Hanley then told the press that Gonzalez didn’t know what he was doing because he had never made the big leagues as a player and that he didn’t respect him.  Now I don’t know if this event played directly into Fredi’s firing (Loria said that Gonzalez had his full support) but it does seem odd that shortly after his clash with the Prima Donna Star Player, Gonzalez found himself unemployed.
So, I ask the question again.  Why would anyone want to manage this team?  Their payroll is consistently (and by far) lower than any other team in the east.  Yet, they are expected to put a playoff caliber product on the field each season.  Most teams like to stick with their successful managers.  (For examples, see Boston, Tampa Bay, New York (AL), Minnesota, Chicago (AL), Anaheim, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and St. Louis.)  It does not seem that Jeffrey Loria wants to follow the model of other successful organizations…so, BIG SURPRISE…he needs a new manager. 

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Good for Bobby Valentine.  There is no need for a respected baseball man to put himself through all of that.  AND congratulations to Fredi Gonzalez for becoming the Braves’ new manager.  Apparently, Atlanta thinks so highly of him that they have picked him to lead the Braves into the post (HOF) Bobby Cox era.

And Then There Were Four

So things haven’t gone exactly as I had thought they would.  Somehow the Yankee starters brought their A game.  I know…CC always brings his A game…but the rest of the rotation has been fairly suspect since July.  So, much to my surprise, the Bums from the Bronx are moving on.
In another shocking development, the San Francisco Giants overcame the Hinske Effect and defeated the Braves.  It is a sad day for baseball.  Bobby Cox has managed his last game, leaving baseball as one of the greatest managers of all time AND, for the first time since 2006, Eric Hinske will not be participating in the World Series.  In one foul swoop, the Giants eliminated two long-standing mlb traditions.
I don’t think many were surprised that the Phillies advanced past the Reds.  Led by great pitching and a balanced attack, the Phightin’ Phils had no problems getting by Cincinnati (and their suddenly struggling defense.)  What can you say?  When you start the playoffs with a no hitter, you know that things are going your way.
The last team to push their way into the next round surprised many.  The Rangers rode newly acquired Cliff Lee into the ALCS.  They managed to overcome the very talented Rays using the always popular combination of pitching, speed, power, and taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.  The play I loved the best in last night’s contest was when Andrus took two bases and scored on a dinky little grounder to first.  AWESOME.  It was a great, heads-up play that set the tone for the game.
So, although two of my predictions didn’t come to fruition (the Braves and Twins will have to wait until next year to prove their playoff mettle,) my World Series picks are still in full effect.  Despite having to go through the Yankees, I do believe that the Rangers have what it will take to advance…pitching, power, speed, small ball, luck?  The Phillies and the Giants series could be one for the ages.  It could be seven straight games of one run baseball.  There is a lot to like in both of their rotations.
In the end, who would have thought it?  When the Phillies made their hotly debated move to trade Cliff Lee to the Mariners, who would have thought they would have to face him in the World Series?  This could become reality very shortly.  I love how October baseball has the habit of producing so much of it’s own drama.
Now that the first round is over and the dust has settled, I guess it would be appropriate to hand out a few congratulations.  Congrats go to Bobby Cox for completing a great career.  Enjoy the HOF, Bobby.  Also a hearty congratulations to the Texas Rangers on winning their first ever playoff series.  Now you have joined the very elite club of 29 other mlb franchises who have won at least one playoff series.

Back in Pinstripes????????

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Newly former Detroit Tiger, Johnny Damon, has said that he would love to return to the New York Yankees.  I guess you can’t blame the guy.  Detroit GM, Dave Dombrowski, has already said that he doesn’t have any interest in re-signing him.  He didn’t leave New York on a negative note.  In fact, he left with a World Series ring.  But is there room for Damon on next year’s version of the Evil Empire?

The Yankee outfield is already signed for next year.  Gardiner, Granderson, and Swisher all have jobs.  You would have to figure that the Yankees want Gardiner and Granderson around for a long time as they are both young up-and-comers.  Even if Swisher found his way out of NYC by way of a trade, Damon can’t play in right.  The Yankees’ DH spot may be vacant next year.  Johnson doesn’t have a contract past this season and Berkman’s future will be determined by whether or not the Yankees will pick up his option.  I think that they will keep Lance’s bat around and, even if they didn’t, I would imagine that they may want to keep their DH spot somewhat open in order to allow guys like Posada and Jeter to get a bit of a break every now and again.

It looks to me like Johnny D is going to have to look elsewhere to find employment.  I would think that he would ideally stay in the American League because he does have a reputation for having a weak arm so it would be nice if he could split time between DH and LF.  But there are a couple of teams that could be interested in the Senior circuit as well.  In the NL, I would think that the Braves may be interested.  They have a good young ball club that may be able to use a presence like Damon’s.  In the AL, there could be a spot opening up in left field in Tampa Bay, depending on what happens with Carl Crawford. However, wouldn’t be nice to see Johnny close out his career back where he began?  Kansas City doesn’t look like they have left field set in stone.  Damon is a .296 career hitter at Kauffman Stadium.  Maybe this could be a good match.  If he does go there, Dombrowski could see what he’s missing 18 times a year.

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The Return of Phat Albert

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In a surprise move, the other day, the St. Louis Cardinals signed team bus driver Big Al Pujols to a monster deal.  How much will he receive for his chauffering services this year?  Just a paltry $16 million.  However, noting that he did have his own television show and that you can’t put a price on safe delivery of your players to the ballpark, it does seem like quite a bargain.

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To add to the mythical legend that is Phat Albert is that he may be more than just the richest bus driver and 1970s cartoon character, it turns out that he has made a bit of a name for himself as a ballplayer.  Apparently, he can hit the ball like no one else for both power and average.
Maybe the Cardinals’ organization has not only procured the services of a bus driver for the upcoming campaign but also may have a budding all-star on the payroll (should the whole bus driving gig fall apart.)
Good luck to you, Albert Pujols, in whatever career you choose.

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The Gunslingers

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Two men with almost the same name.  John Henry “Doc” Holliday passed almost 123 years ago in Colorado.  Roy “Doc” Halladay was born in Colorado 33 years ago.  Both have permanently etched themselves into American history and mythology.  One man was a hero of the American old west, making his reputation with his gun.  The other man is a hero of baseball, making his reputation with his arm.  Both men are known as gunslingers.

Last night Roy Halladay put himself into the record books by becoming the first ever to record a no-hitter in the regular season and in the playoffs.  In a season where he has recorded 219 strikeouts, 21 wins, and a perfecto, Doc has pretty much guaranteed himself the Cy Young award.

His playoff no-no last night in his very first ever post-season game is just more icing on the cake.  Is there anything this guy can’t do?  As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I believe the Phillies will be wearing this year’s World Series rings.  If Halladay pitches like this throughout the playoffs will be a shoe in for another big award: World Series MVP.  I know I am getting ahead of my self but would that not be a perfect season.  A perfect game, over 20 wins, over 200 Ks, a playoff no-no, a Cy Young award, a ring, and a WS MVP award.  There is still a month to go until the new champs are crowned but it seems more than possible.

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CONGRATULATIONS DOC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Playoff Dilemmas and Solutions

Sometimes people forget about how rich the players are and start to feel a little sorry for them.  Just think of the increased pressure that comes with playoff baseball.  They are under a microscope on the biggest stage.  Blah, blah, blah.
Forget that.  Think about my situation.  The playoffs are on right now and I am stuck at work and won’t be home until 5:30.  Instead of sitting in front of my big screen watching Lee and Price duel it out, I am getting updates from my cell phone. Thank goodness for modern technology – it is finally having a positive impact on my life.
My other dilemma lies in wait at home.  How am I supposed to spend time with my wife and kids (who, believe it or not, really don’t care for baseball and who will, no doubt, want to be using the T.V. for other purposes) and watch my beloved playoffs all at the same time.  Not to worry folks.  This morning I got up extra early and brought another T.V. into the living room.  It is now hooked up to cable and ready to rock.  Once again, the marvels of modern technology are coming through for me in spades. 
It’s always good to have a plan.  (Especially when that plan just keeps getting better and better.)
DAY 1 OF PLAYOFFS PLAN
Game 1 – TEX @ TB – 130 Start – Track game on cell phone while at work. 
Game 2 – CIN @ PHI – 500 Start – Watch game on little T.V. with volume low.
Game 3 – NYY @ MIN – 830 Start – Commandeer the big screen and listen to it as loud as I want.
I love the playoffs and I love it when a plan comes together.

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