What's in an All-Star game or a career that spans 60 novels and 35 films? It all depends on the fleeting retention of public memory.
Every now and again in my career as an editor, I have come across a writer who thinks that they are Charles Dickens or William Shakespeare, by which I mean that they operate under the delusion that the little baseball doodads that they write will be remembered for more than three seconds after they stop doing them. It must be a pleasing delusion to feel so self-important, but it’s a blinding one. Better to believe, as Abraham Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here,” and then have time prove you wrong than to assume the opposite and go through life under the misapprehension that there is a Hall of Fame for scribblers.
Yes, I am aware there is a so-called “writer’s wing” at Cooperstown. I will get back to that in a moment.
Several years ago, I saw a television editorial by Harlan Ellison, an excellent writer I would hope will be remembered. His theme was that a writer’s glory is fleeting (you can see the second half of it here, though the clip largely omits what I am about to discuss; I would also like to point out that the bowdlerizing of, believe it or not, Lassie he refers to in the video is also being done today with The Great Gatsby). In it, Ellison mourns the total obscurity of one Clarence Budington Kelland. He returned to Kelland in a 2008 interview with the Onion’s A.V. Club:
Last night's victors face a tall order in their Bronx confrontation.
The Yankees have been pretty sure they'd be playing in the postseason since not long after the All-Star break. The Twins didn't have much chance of doing so until about two weeks ago, and only found out for sure about 18 hours before the first pitch of the Division Series. That's just one reason of many why this AL Division Series matchup is one of the most lopsided in the 15-year history of the three-tiered playoffs.
Wasted greatness in the land of lakes should inspire the Twins to do more than settle.
As the Minnesota Twins continue to tread water in third place, 5½ games behind the Detroit Tigers after Sunday's action, dreams of a playoff berth (or at least a repeat of last year's Game 163 excitement) seem more remote with each passing day. Perhaps Twin Cities baseball fans can take comfort in one thing, though: the middle of the Twins order has become the stuff of nightmares for AL pitchers.
The tightest quintet in the game featured some complete makeovers and some complete indifference as far winter activity.
While all eyes were focused on the three-horse American League East race, last year's AL Central provided the league's best late-season drama. The White Sox wound up beating the Twins in a Game 163 play-in, but only after the Sox had squandered their 2½-game cushion by dropping three games in Minnesota during the season's final week, winning on the last day of the season to force a rainout makeup with the Tigers, and then winning that contest to force the tiebreaker with the Twins. In all, the division finished as the majors' second-strongest in Hit List Factor.
Coverage of the Twins, the Nationals, the Angels, and the World Baseball Classic, plus news and notes from around the major leagues.
In many ways the Twins had an outstanding 2008, but ultimately they walked away frustrated, having tied with the White Sox for the American League Central title after 162 games, only to lose 1-0 in a one-game playoff at US Cellular Field in Chicago. "I thought about that game every day all winter," said Twins outfielder Denard Span. "To be that close and come up short really hurt. You think about all the little things that happened over the course of the season, and wonder if one of those things went our way, if we would have been going to the playoffs."
What kind of team could be made from the remaining free agents, and how much would it cost?
I hadn't watched much of the MLB Network since its launch on January 1, mostly because I haven't been home much since then. Yesterday, however, I had the channel on all day, catching a replay of the Mexico/Puerto Rico game, and then most of the Tuesday Caribbean Series doubleheader, with an edition of MLB Hot Stove between the two games. I'll spare you a review of the coverage, as I wasn't really watching for that purpose. It was just good to see baseball in February, even if the rosters were a bit watered down due to the upcoming World Baseball Classic. There were some great pitching performances, and a couple of huge hits. The studio show had former players. Lots of them.
The Sox played their way into October with two dramatic wins this week, while the Rays won their division with six dramatic months. Who holds the advantage?
Each year, the White Sox graciously host a University of Chicago alumni event, where Christina Kahrl and I speak to 150 or more nerds in the U.S. Cellular Conference & Learning Center. The group gets tickets to the game too-which usually means a contest against the Orioles or the Royals, or perhaps a thrilling interleague tilt against the Pirates; clubs that don't motivate many Chicagoans to give up an afternoon from their short summers to come out to the ballpark.
From Carlos Zambrano to Greg Dobbs, the wildly various ramifications of injuries and health issues, as the playoffs get underway.
Team health determines who gets to the postseason as much as talent does. We're looking at eight teams who rank among the best in the business at keeping their players healthy. There are three former Dick Martin winners here (I'm counting Ron Porterfield, who assisted Ken Crenshaw when the Rays won), and teams that have overcome injuries by their successful rehab programs. In the playoffs, injuries are magnified because the compression of talent and time weighs most heavily on any weaknesses a team may have. Most teams come into October healthy, or at the very least, with their health under control. Few have lost major contributors for the season, and in those cases they've all found adequate replacements for that talent. We may not know exactly what s**t works in the playoffs, but I know this much-a focus on health does.
Don't stop believing in the AL Central, the Orioles' annual late-season wing-clipping, and instant replay on the job.
White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen was chatting with a group of reporters this past week, when the talk turned to analyzing the remaining schedules of the two contenders in the American League Central. Some felt that the Sox had the easier path to winning their first division title since 2005, a season in which they also won their first World Series since 1917. Others believed that the Twins had the clearer path to a second AL Central crown in three years.
Zambrano and Piniella finally agree, chinks in the Chisox and Mets armor, and more painful roster events.
Carlos Zambrano (10 DXL)
The Big Z isn't feeling good, and even Lou Piniella, just days after insisting that Zambrano was fine, is admitting that something is wrong. After five innings of bad baseball, the Cubs are sending Zambrano to see the team orthopedist and will likely be shutting him down. This can be hard to manage at this time of year; if Zambrano is shut down for two weeks, he'll have to come back ready to go in order to get in a couple of starts before the playoffs. Would the Cubs be willing to put Zambrano out there in the Division Series without at least one good regular season start? Zambrano is clearly the ace of this staff, so this isn't exactly an Aaron Cook situation. The most worrisome aspects of Zambrano's start were the arm angle and the quick drop in velocity. By the third inning, he was down from 93 to 90, and by the fourth and fifth he was exerting more effort just to stay in the 90 range. The extra time off might have made him stronger in the early going, but it didn't last time out. The Cubs are going to have to make some some tough decisions soon, but they'll be waiting for word from the doctors first. I don't anticipate good news, and there is late word that Zambrano refused to have an MRI Wednesday, perhaps anticipating a visit elsewhere.