Who knew that Jason Grimsley would be the star for an entire week of news cycles? We get a few perspectives on his situation, plus a look at managing and the effects of struggling.
"I am deeply saddened whenever there is an allegation that a Major League Baseball player is involved in the use of performance-enhancing substances. Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I will not make any comment about this specific case. As a general matter, however, I urge everyone associated with Major League Baseball--from the players to the union to the owners--to cooperate with the ongoing investigations by the Federal government and by former Senator George Mitchell."
--MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, responding to the Grimsley situation (MLB.com)
Joe wants some restraint--and some facts--brought to the steroids discussion.
I've struggled to craft the many points I want to make about this matter into an article that flows; another reason I don't enjoy writing about it. There are many, many parts of this that are just wrong, but they're not wrong in any way that's connected. So I'll ask your indulgence as I use the bullet-point format to make a series of points about the current controversies, ones that I believe have to be catalogued if we're to get a complete picture of their scope. This side--the "Hey, wait a minute" side--has to at least find its way into the discussion.
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Theo Epstein resigns in Beantown, Tampa and Philly solve their own GM problems, and the Gold Gloves are announced.
"I had to ask, 'resigned or re-signed?' It came back, 'No, he resigned.' That was a surprising development." --former Red Sox V.P. For Baseball Operations Mike Port, on former Boston GM Theo Epstein's resignation (New York Times)
It's almost an all-cheating edition of The Week in Quotes, as the Angels and Nationals spar about pine tar, Mark Buerhle and Ryan Dempster get into it over spitballs, and patron saint of TWiQ Ozzie Guillen encourages his players to cheat.
"They need to implode Wrigley." --White Sox outfielder Carl Everett, from an interview in Maxim magazine (Chicago Tribune)
This probably happens to everyone. After I filed my column for Tuesday, I started to think I'd missed something, that there was one more thing I'd forgotten to look at. The next day, I had the same feeling, so when the column went up, I went back again and there it was, staring me in the face. I started this follow-up immediately, and considering the amount of e-mail I normally get I was stunned that I was able to dive into it a couple hours before a reader sent feedback that nailed the problem exactly: I found your latest Breaking Balls ("Cheaters", in case it takes a week for you to get to this e-mail) quite interesting. But I also find your conclusion a little odd, especially considering the Red Sox splits at home with RISP. The reason for the drop-off is right in your article: "Some teams have supposedly gone to always using more complicated signs usually reserved for runner-on-second situations when facing the Sox." Since RISP usually means a runner on second, teams will switch to the more complex signs. Anyone stealing signs would be more likely to screw up and relay the wrong pitch, or be unable to relay any information at all, either way one would expect a decrease in the hitter's effectiveness. In fact, one could argue that Boston's poor performance in those situations is evidence that they rely heavily on stealing signs. Not that I blame them, it's not cheating after all.
Are the Red Sox cheating? During a game last Wednesday, Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella complained that the Boston Red Sox relievers were watching television in their bullpen, while his team's bullpen had no television. After talking to the umps, the umps made the Sox turn off the television. Piniella said a couple of things, but mostly that by having a TV, relievers could better see batters and their approach, which gave them an unfair advantage. There are important issues at stake here. What if there are better-quality sunflower seeds available in one bullpen? Could one team stock a nasty flavor of Gatorade, like "Glacier Freeze," in the opposing team's bullpen in hopes of knocking them out of their routine? Make the bench itself uncomfortable and wobbly, promoting inter-bullpen arguments about who's rocking it? It's not, incidentally, cheating to steal signs. There's nothing in the rules that says you can't, because there's nothing in the rules about signs at all. Technically, this is all outside the rules anyway...except that I understand there's an MLB rule that prohibits electronic devices in ballparks entirely. Which if true, the Red Sox are breaking. Unless MLB granted them an exemption, which they do all the time when teams want to do things like build stadiums with dimensions forbidden by the rules, or violate the debt/equity rule if the team is owned by the Commissioner.
During a game last Wednesday, Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella complained that the Boston Red Sox relievers were watching television in their bullpen, while his team's bullpen had no television. After talking to the umps, the umps made the Sox turn off the television. Piniella said a couple of things, but mostly that by having a TV, relievers could better see batters and their approach, which gave them an unfair advantage.
If you've followed any of the media coverage surrounding Sammy Sosa's corked bat, you're probably already tired of it. If you've seen Rick Reilly on ESPN, looking as if his head might explode with anger at any moment, while implying that it's a short step from corking a bat to being hopped up on steroids, you're probably dog tired of it.
So I'm going to leave Sosa out of this for a while.
So I'm going to leave Sosa out of this for a while.
Sammy Sosa was ejected from yesterday's game with the Devil Rays for using a corked bat. The lumber broke on a grounder to second base in the first inning, and after examining the fragment, crew chief Tim McClelland ejected Sosa.
Almost immediately, speculation began that perhaps Sosa was cheating all along, that his 505 career home runs, his MVP award, his All-Star appearances, and his status as a baseball icon were all the result of cork. Like the steroid story that persisted through last summer, it's just another way for the media to tear down a player, to point and say, "he's not that good."
In the first round of yesterday's First-Year Player Draft, 10 college hitters
were selected, while just three high-school pitchers went. It was a complete
turnaround from recent seasons, as you can see from the chart below: