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The Winter of My Discontent
2008-03-26 22:02
by Mike Carminati

I have to admit that after the Mitchell Report, I started to dread baseball news. Not that baseball news was that easy to acquire this offseason, what with ESPN becoming the football network. Whenever I did try to get baseball news, I would turn on SportsCenter and be informed of the probable fourth-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions.

Most of the offseason baseball news consisted of Britney Spears-esque coverage of Roger Clemens—his potential steroid use, his Hall of Fame chances, his appeal to the left and right wing, his alleged perjury, his imminent arrival in Astros camp that went unfulfilled, his partying with Jose Canseco, etc.

And Canseco who was once viewed as a whackjob, albeit it a very talented one, and who had to be indulged by being allowed to pitch, let balls bounce of his head in the outfield, and once got so low that he auctioned off his a day with him, this Jose Canseco is now lionized as the whistle blower, who blew the lid off the whole steroid scandal. His first tell-all was such a bellwether that he now has to top it with his second book by accusing squeaky clean Alex Rodriguez of (near) steroid use and hounding his (Canseco's) wife.

And my Phils wasted another offseason. Their biggest deal was to pick up a mercurial and oft-injured closer, Brad Lidge, who has remained mercurial and oft-injured, and who will start (at least) the season on the DL. So the net sum may be that Brett Myers moves back to the rotation (a plus), Tom Gordon back in the closer's role (a huge minus), and a weakened bullpen all around (a minus, but this pen is so bad, who is counting?). Their other big deals were picking up Pedro Feliz, the serviceable third baseman they lacked last season, and Kris Benson off the scrap heap, who is not yet ready to pitch.

Feliz was signed the day before the Mets picked up the best pitcher in the game in Johan Santana. The historic skid that did in the Mets last season and allowed the Phils to squeak into the playoffs last year takes on a much different complexion with Santana in the Mets rotation. Basically, the Mets are getting one of the game's premier players while the Phils are still trying to correct Pat Gillick's mistakes from last offseason.

Speaking of which, Wes Helms is still inexplicably hanging onto a roster spot even though he has no conceivable role, either offensively or defensively, on this team. The only reason he is still around is that he is owed one more year from the ludicrous two-year, $5.5 M contract he signed last year.

And speaking of ludicrous contracts and mistakes from last offseason, the fifth spot in the rotations devolves to the ever execrable Adam Eaton, to whom the Phils still owe $16 M over the next two seasons.

All this wasteful, unproductive spending has helped to alienate two of the team's better players, their best pitcher in Cole Hammels and arguably their best hitter in Ryan Howard. While the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Ian Kinsler signed megadeals with less that two years of experience, the Phils were ignoring two key members of their core. I expect one or both of them to be in New York or Boston once they become eligible for free agency.

And MLB again decides to start the "season" with a two-game money-grab series in Japan that ignores its true fans with a false start to the season. What ever happened to kicking off the year with a Sunday night game in Cincinnati?

But the offseason is ending on a high note. Hall of Fame prez Dale Petroskey was let go for failing "to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility." You may remember that Petroskey was the grinch who canceled the Bull Durham celebration at the Hall a few years back because the movie's stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon had anti-war positions back when it was inappropriate to do so back in the stultifying early days of the war. Even a dullard like Kevin Costner could see the hypocrisy of the move: "I think Tim and Susan's courage is the type of courage that makes our democracy work... Pulling back this invite is against the whole principle about what we fight for and profess to be about."

Now let's play some baseball already.

2008-03-26 22:27:58
1.   Ken Arneson
Welcome back, Mike!
2008-03-27 09:22:11
2.   JL25and3
1 I second that emotion.

What ever happened to kicking off the year with a Sunday night game in Cincinnati?

As far as I can tell, that only happened once, in 1994. To me, the traditional Opening Day had two games: one in Cincinnati, one in Washington. Both day games, of course.

2008-03-27 14:16:56
3.   Schteeve
I was just wondering where you had gone. Great to see you back.
2008-03-27 20:28:55
4.   Mike Carminati
Hey, thanks!
2008-03-29 06:43:34
5.   GaryG
Mike, don't fret. My Metsies will find a way to make the race interesting.
2008-03-31 14:16:09
6.   Crank
Good to have you back, Mike, I was starting to wonder. I share the sentiment about not wanting to read the sports pages during that whole mess.

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