I woke up yesterday morning to hear NPR’s Frank Deford complain about how ineffective Bud Selig was in controlling the Yankees this year, that every fan of other teams had learned that the trading deadline was the effective end of the season. He went on to complain for a while about this year’s moves and I got up to go shave, depressed about the continued domination of New York and my home town team’s fortunes. I was then shocked–shocked!–to find out that not only did the Yankees not win last year’s World Series, they didn’t even win the year before. Why, if this keeps up, it’ll be hard to come up with, “What kind of a world is it where a man can’t whine about Yankee dominance as a back-up topic for their column, or radio bit, or appearance on whatever show Jim Rome’s hosting that week?” Deford was right–the Yankees did acquire an All-Star third baseman. But Robin Ventura’s an All Star third baseman, too, and no one’s talking about that. Aaron Boone’s really no plum, either–at press time, he was hitting .245/.304/.401 away from (as Dave Cameron called it) the Great American Bandbox. If these are the acquisitions the Yankees are going to make to take on salary, so be it.
Main Entry: sav·ior
1 : one that saves from danger or destruction
2 : one who brings salvation
If you live in Tampa (or root for the Devil Rays from some far away land), odds are that you have appealed to Merriam-Webster to add a third definition to the book: B.J. Upton. Few organizations have seen more danger and destruction than Tampa Bay over the past six seasons. No team could justify their need of salvation more. Indeed, at the ripe age of 18, the hopes of an entire retirement community have been pinned upon the shoulders of Melvin Emanuel Upton. (Yes, his middle name is Emanuel. Irony is great).
Upton was chosen second overall in the 2002 June draft after the Pirates went conservative with college pitcher Bryan Bullington. Everyone agreed that Upton was the best player available, and he received accolades along the lines of Derek Jeter, Barry Larkin, and Alex Rodriguez. Upton acknowledged the Jeter comparison himself, explaining that he would like to “eventually be even better.” After a summer-long session of negotiations, Upton signed with the Devil Rays for $4.6 million, but did not make his professional debut until this spring.
Thanks for letting me take a day off; I needed it. I recharged my batteries by heading out to the ballpark with my dad, who’s in town for the week. It was a pretty bad game (17-1 loss for the home team), but a good time. As we head down the stretch with about 50 games left for teams, I’ll begin focusing more on the injuries that are affecting the divisional races. I won’t ignore the rest of baseball, but my focus will change slightly. Especially when rosters expand, it’s harder to track down information–the DL is used less frequently and teams begin to more actively hide injuries. It takes more time digging, calling, and analyzing, so the volume has to come down to make sure that I get you the information you need.
With slacker Barry Bonds having an off year, we don’t have the daily suspense of watching one player chase a variety of single-season records all at once. We do, however, have a fair chance that one of the game’s marks will be broken: Bobby Thigpen’s saves record of 57, set with the White Sox in 1990.
Through 113 games, the Braves’ John Smoltz has 42 saves, leaving him 15 short of tying the mark and 16 from setting a new one. In last year’s 55-save campaign, Smoltz had 59 opportunities, and 39 saves through 113 team games. He has had 45 save opportunities so far in 2003, on pace for 64.5 on the season. If that were to hold, Smoltz would have to save 16 of his last 19 opportunities to set the record, which seems well within his grasp.
Two summers ago, I wrote about the save record and what it would take for it to be broken. The primary barrier isn’t ability or performance, but opportunity…
The Diamondbacks hope Raul Mondesi can help their slumping offense. Angel Berroa deserves the Rookie of the Year award. Jose Mesa v. Pat Burrell, Phillies duel to the death. These and other news and notes out of Arizona, Kansas City, and Philadelphia in today’s Prospectus Triple Play.