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Manny Ramirez Hangs ‘Em Up and I Say "Good Riddance!"

Okay, now you can boo him.

And throw some dirt on the Rays season while you’re at it.

Manny Ramirez was one step ahead of the law Friday when he abruptly quit retired from baseball, which appeared ready to slap him with a second suspension. This slap was for 100 games, after he again violated the sport’s drug policy.

Manny, 38, bailed.

He shut it down faster than the federal government ever could.

Manny just contracted, so here we are.

So much for him being part of the marketing push for the new ballpark that was going to help keep the club in the area.

In the end, it was just Manny being dirty.


One thing’s for sure: He will not be wearing a Rays hat in Cooperstown.

Who am I kidding? Like there is a chance in hell he will find his way into the Hall of Fame without having first purchased a ticket.

The last time around, in Los Angeles, he was caught using a fertility drug.

Bet the Rays had twins when this news came down.

Scratch one cleanup hitter.

What a sordid episode.

What an embarrassment.

True, the optimist might say the Rays got the inevitable Manny headache out of the way early. Manny’s career here lasted about 119 minutes—okay, six games, really; five of which he played in, getting just one hit in 17 at-bats with his last plate appearance Wednesday afternoon.

Who will ever forget it? Manny’s last swing will go down as a pinch-hit fly out.

But it doesn’t help the perception, and maybe the reality, that this Rays season is already a goner. While Manny avoided suspension, the Rays will serve out the remaining 155 games of their 2011 sentence. They began the season 0-6 and the only question is who in this B-squad lineup is going to step up and not hit in Manny’s place. We haven’t even mentioned the grim prospect of Casey Kotchman bobblehead night.

But I digress.

Back to Manny being dirty.

As recently as two years ago, Ramirez would have been a no-brainer, with tape-measure Hall of Fame credentials.

Now he gets in a line that might never move, with Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and the rest. Manny will always be the guy who got nailed cheating not once, not twice, but three times. (Remember that 2003 list that A-Rod and Big Sloppy were found on?)

That, my friends, is what thou calls a “tainted legacy.”

“Obviously, it’s not going to help,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said, according to Hot Trends News.

Manuel Aristides Ramirez smashed 555 home runs and drove in 1,831 runs, but he was hardly ever in a place where things didn’t end badly, though the speed of his departure here was truly stunning.

When Maddon sat Ramirez for most of Wednesday’s game at Tropicana Field, and announced Manny would also miss Thursday’s game in Chicago to attend to a “family matter,” there were some raised eyebrows. After all, Manny played the part of the happy camper all spring training. He sold himself to a lot of people. There were no troubling signs as the season began, unless you count 1-for-17.

Then all of this hits, seemingly out of nowhere (please note the sarcasm).

What a shocker!

I mean who on earth would have ever thought this guy would have been so stupid to use, and get caught using, again?

Well you can’t see me right now, but I kind of look like this image you see to the right.

Perhaps even more embarrassingly, the Rays got caught giving him another chance.

They said up front there was always a risk. Damn right there was.

It’s hard to tell what real impact this will have on this season. I mean, the Rays were clearly capable of not scoring runs with Manny.

They didn’t have much invested in him ($2  million) and there was always a chance he would have nothing left, something I thought while watching him last season. Maybe the Rays should have gone after Vladimir Guerrero after all.

But they didn’t.

They rolled the dice on this ass-clown fully knowing that he had a long, sordid history of screwing over entire organizations.

So once MLB released a statement stating that the league notified Ramirez of an issue with the drug policy, something he is very familiar with, he abruptly decided to quit instead of facing a 100-game suspension, since this would have been his second positive test.

Basically, he took his ball and went home. It’s not really surprising with how the tail-end of Manny’s career went.

Manny pretty much quit with the Red Sox when he showed his displeasure with his contract situation by not running out ground balls and possibly bringing his game down to intentionally not produce, until he was traded to the Dodgers.

That whole mess of a situation, along with his suspensions, clearly shows Manny had no respect for the game of baseball. His latest move of quitting six games into the season is a joke, but one where no one should be surprised.

In the end, the game of baseball is a lot better off without Manny Ramirez.

Good freakin’ riddance.

This article is also featured on The Rantings and Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman.

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Adderall’s on First, Ritalin’s on Second: The Ongoing Saga of PEDs in Baseball

It seems like an eternity since Major League Baseball finally got around to admitting it had a problem of the performance enhancing variety, but in reality it has barely been a half a decade.

Players once thought to be first-ballot Hall of Famers are struggling to garner more than a pittance of support from sports writers and fans alike as the sport carries on the best it can.

Attendance remains high—despite an ongoing quasi-recession—television revenue is streaming in and it appears that many of the measures taken by commissioner Bud Selig and his merry band of nitwits salvaged what little dignity this great sport had left in the wake of all that ugliness.

But alas, as always, looks can be deceiving.

I, for one, was more than a little bit surprised when MLB decided to include a ban on stimulants in its new drug program a few years back.

Now the use of uppers is neither new nor surprising in the baseball world, going back as far as the days of Willie Mays players have been using some form or another to endure the grueling demands of the 162-game season.

While steroids, and their artificial augmentation of baseball’s favorite play, the longball, have received most of the mainstream media coverage, anyone who really knows two shits about baseball recognizes that “greenies” have always been a much more pervasive part of the game.

Countless stories of large Ronald Reagan-esque like jars filled with amphetamines (as opposed to Ronnie’s trademark jellybeans) and pots of coffee labeled “extra-caffeinated” could be found without much effort at all.

A baseball season is a long & grueling one, after all. 162 games, packed into about 180 days, taking players, coaches and fans through a hot and humid summer can wear down even the best of men.  So for decades players have turned to “artificial means” to carry them through the dog days of summer.

I told more than one friend that it would be interesting to see who “faded down the stretch” and chuckled at the sudden emergence of energy drinks as sponsors for the big league clubs.

But I never could have imagined the thing that would catch my eye exactly one year later…and every year since.

When the league banned these drugs, an amazing thing happened. The number of players claiming and obtaining “therapeutic use” exemptions for stimulants nearly quadrupled from 28 to 103.

“Therapeutic use” means you can justifiably use the drug because you need it for a medical condition. If you didn’t have the condition, you’d just be a normal pro baseball player, and the attention-focusing benefits of Ritalin would be a form of “enhancement,” i.e., cheating.

Before the ban only 28 players had “therapeutic use exemptions” allowing them to take drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall.  Twenty-eight.  Then somehow magically that number jumps to over 100 as soon as the ban kicks in?

Color me suspicious but do they really think we are that dumb?

I mean how the hell can ADHD multiply fourfold in a sport in a single year? How can it become three times as prevalent in that sport as in the adult population? Is it contagious? Can Derek Jeter give it to Dustin Pedroia if he coughs on him as he slides into second base?  Of course not.

ADHD is a psychological diagnosis. Like post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder it’s open to interpretation in any given patient. Three doctors may say you don’t have it. A fourth may say you do.

It’s that subjectivity that should have led to the league having a more discerning eye. After all they had literally just caught the foxes trying to rob the hen house when they found over 100 major leagues had tested positive in their last round of anonymous testing.

MLB should have also taken notice of what pretty much EVERYONE else had when these numbers were first published, namely that among adults, the rate of diagnosis is between 1 percent and 3.5 percent. But among pro baseball players, the disease seems epidemic.  That means 8 percent of major-league players have ADHD—twice the rate among children and three to eight times the rate among adults.

But, of course, they didn’t.

They argue that once the number spiked up to 103 it “plateaued” and has remained at or about that same level since.  This is true, the numbers show there were 105 therapeutic use exemptions in 2010, up from 106 TUEs in 2008/2009 and 103 in 2007, but it still doesn’t address why there was such a sharp rise in the first place.

But then again, do we really expect more from Bud the Dud?

The World Anti-Doping Agency sure as hell doesn’t:

“My reaction is the same as last year and the year before that,” said Dr. Gary Wadler, chairman of the committee that determines the banned substances list for the World Anti-Doping Agency. “It seems to me almost incomprehensible that ADHD is so pervasive in baseball to a degree that it requires medicine.”

A frequent critic of baseball’s drug-testing program, Wadler said “these numbers really cry out for transparency in the TUE process in baseball — a good look-see at the process, not just the numbers.”

This ostrich-like ability of Selig’s, where he is able to shove his head in the sand for unnaturally long periods of time has long infuriated me frankly.

I only wish I could have been a fly-on-the-wall in the offices of Major League Baseball when the recent divorce proceedings of Kansas City Royals catcher Jason Kendall and his estranged wife Chantel have remained frequent fodder for internet gossip sites like TMZ and RadarOnline and even recently made the jump to websites not concerned with the latest atrocious parenting of Jon and Kate Gosselin.

While professional athletes ditching gold digging trophy wives is no novel concept, this one had steamy particulars involving the love triangle of a pro athlete, a smokin’ hot babe and the son of a rock-n-roll legend (Chantel is currently dating Sean Stewart, son of Rod Stewart).

The focus of the tittle-tattle involved Chantel accusing her husband of abusing the drug Adderall, which subsequently led to him both physically and emotionally abusing her.

Aside from accusations that he urinated & defecated on a pile of Chantel’s clothes after finding out she had been cheating on him, she claimed that he received a spurious prescription to take what is now labeled a performance enhancing drug otherwise banned by Major League Baseball.

While Kendall refused to answer the judge’s question about his use of greenies under the argument that (I. shit. you. not) Mark McGwire didn’t have to answer the questions he was asked in court about PEDs, he was very forthcoming about his prescription drug habits and more than willing to toss former teammates Brian Giles and Bobby Crosby under the bus, implicating them as fellow Adderall appreciators in court depositions.

One has to think that Bud was running around Manhattan looking for a schoolyard sandbox the shove his head in the moment he caught wind of these proceedings.

I am sure Selig is a good man. It appears he has a passion for baseball, and genuinely wants to do the right thing to help the sport.  But there is a problem—he is gutless.

For years he ignored steroids in baseball while the problem grew out of control.  Despite many fans knowing certain players were on steroids, even going back to the 1980s (for an example, a 1988 Fenway Park crowd chanted “Ster-oids” at Jose Canseco), Selig in February of 2005 said, with a straight face:

“I never heard about it.  I ran a team and nobody was closer to their players and I never heard any comment from them.  It wasn’t until 1998 or ’99 that I heard the discussion…I don’t know if there were allegations in the early 90s.  I never heard them.”

I remember reading those comments and thinking either this man is absolutely lying, or he is completely incompetent and oblivious.  Maybe it is a little of both, but either way, this man should not be allowed to run major league baseball.

Further, even if taken at face value, if Selig knew about steroids in 1998 or ’99, why did it take him until 2005 to take any action, and only after Congress forced him into it.

Sadly, I fully expect this same sort of blissful ignorance to plague Selig’s handling of this next round of PEDs in baseball.

Just as stories about players juicing were swept under the rug because of increasing television ratings and attendance due to historical records falling every year, this dirty little secret will go on flying under the radar.

Instead of looking out for the interest and integrity of the game, Selig will gladly keep trading it  away, piece by piece, for an increased revenue stream.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in baseball — the sport’s integrity is quickly running out.

This article is also featured on The Rantings & Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman.

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Surprise, Surprise. Another ESPN Writer Claims Derek Jeter Is ‘Done’

I guess none of us should be surprised that the Boston Red Sox hype machine/cheerleading squad out of Bristol has published yet another piece claiming that Derek Jeter is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

That group of tools lost any sense of objectivity on the matter many, many years ago.

Once the Red Sox captured the title in 2004, it was like any and all sense of a need to be impartial was ripped away, and they have done nothing but sit there in the background screaming, “Get him a body bag Johnny!!” ever since.

So today’s latest salvo on that front finds Mark Simon of ESPN New York lamenting on the future Hall of Famer’s “penchant for making outs” and his lack of a respectable offensive winning percentage.

First, let me deal with the former before I touch on the latter.

Undoubtedly, Derek Jeter is having an off-year by his standards.  That cannot be denied.  But to paint a picture like all he does is “make outs” is laughable, if not borderline criminal from someone that claims to be a sportswriter.

A .260 average, over 100 runs scored, 15-plus steals and 70ish RBI is nothing to sneeze at out of the leadoff spot. The man has contributed and contributed greatly to his team’s record, which is, by the way, the best in baseball.

I would strongly suspect that his prolific pace for recording outs has more to do with the fact that he shows up every day, plays in a lineup that turns over at a far greater rate than any other lineup in baseball and has seen his average/OBP decline from the norm.

Throw in the fact that Major League Baseball is having somewhat of a pitching renaissence and, my friends, you have yourself a recipe for racking up a large number of outs in a season.

Because of his age, we should all be realistic and understand that he is not the player he once was.  But does that mean he is a bum that has no place on a team, let alone a winning one?


The second “layer” to this thinly veiled, pathetic attempt at a hatchet piece involves yet another Bill James “stat du jour,” known as offensive winning percentage.

That stat estimates what the win percentage of a player’s team would be if that player occupied every spot in the lineup, and the team had league-average pitching and defensive skill.

Now, in an effort to be as impartial and objective as I can possibly be (something Mr. Simon failed at miserably), I must first declare that I am a stat geek through and through.  Always have been, always will be.

But statistics can at times be inaccurate and, more often, be misconstrued.

The only offensive winning percentages that should be deemed important when looking at Mr. Jeter’s should be those of his peers. More specifically those who play his position.

Since Mr. Simon was either too lazy or too stupid to provide that information, I figured I would take a stab at it.

I chased down the OWP of the shortstops for every American League team (and a couple National League teams, to boot) in playoff contention:


Derek Jeter, NYY, .440

Jason Bartlett, TB, .418

Marco Scutaro, Bos, .450

Alexei Ramirez, CHW, .467

Elvis Andrus, Tex, ..443

J.J. Hardy, Min, .427

Jimmy Rollins, Phi, .474

Orlando Cabrera, Cin, .372

Miguel Tejada, SD, .432

Juan Uribe, SF, .448

Akex Gonzalez, Atl, .503




One quick look shows that his numbers have been far from out of line for his position.  In fact, the only SS that even remotely pulled away from the pack was Mr. Gonzalez, thanks in large part to the 17 home runs he mashed prior to the All-Star break. 

He has since fallen back to earth and only hit four dingers, as his OWP has plummeted in the second half.

I won’t argue that Jeter is the player he once was. I would be a fool to do so. 

I won’t get dragged into a debate over how much money he is worth in his new contract, because it is a moot point.  The Yankees will pay him, and that will be that. 

They can afford to, and he is the face of the franchise.  Unlike with other organizations, that means something to the Yankees, and they are willing to open the checkbook for it.

But I will sit here and tell you that the man is still a viable alternative at SS on a winning team.

One day that will change.

But that day is not today.

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MLB Umpires: The Good, the Bad & the Fugly

Jim Joyce, the umpire whose missed call deprived Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga of a perfect game on June 2, is baseball’s best umpire nonetheless, according to an exclusive ESPN The Magazine Baseball Confidential poll of 100 major league players.

In general, however, baseball players think the umpires are pretty good. Overall, 29 percent of the players surveyed gave the umpires a “B” grade, with 20 percent giving them a “C” and 16 percent and “A.”

I will say that I tend to suspect a general distrust of things said to be anonymous might have colored the results a tad “rosier” than they are in reality. Ever since names from the anonymous list of 2003 PED test failures started trickling out I imagine that most players will keep their cards close to their chest on potential hot-button issues.

Players also were decidedly opposed to replay and overwhelmingly applauded commissioner Bud Selig for not overturning Joyce’s call that kept Galarraga from being the 21st pitcher in history to throw a perfect game.

Joyce was named in 53 percent of the surveys, which asked players for the three best and three worst umpires in the game, as well as questions about instant replay and whether Galarraga’s perfect game should stand. That beat runner-up Tim McClelland, who ironically was panned for his performance in Game 4 of last year’s American League Championship Series. McClelland was named on 34 percent of the ballots.

Both of these guys are known for some pretty huge mistakes in the last 12 months, but they also share another thing. They owned up to their screw-ups. Unlike clowns like Joe West, C.B. Bucknor and Angel Hernandez, they admit when they screw up. That other trifecta of ‘tards just puffs their chest out and stubbornly refuses to acknowledge their short comings.

Not surprisingly CB Bucknor was named on 42 percent of the ballots as worst umpire, leading that category. The total narrowly edged Joe West, who was named on 40 percent, and Angel Hernandez, who was named on 22 percent.

Why does it not amaze anyone who watches a lot of baseball that those three stooges were topping that list?  The guys whose names get mentioned on ESPN more than any other officials, which is never a good thing for an umpire, are deemed the worst at their craft.  Go figure.

Joyce, in his 22nd year in the majors, was the clear choice of National League players, with Jim Wolf (18 percent) second. Joyce and McClelland, a 27-year veteran, tied for first among American League players (52 percent)—both were former AL umpires before baseball combined its umpires into one entity in 1999.

The survey was taken after Joyce’s call, which came on what would have been the final out of a perfect game for Galarraga. Joyce called Cleveland’s Jason Donald safe at first on a ground ball hit to first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who threw to Galarraga covering the bag. Replays showed Donald was clearly out.

Joyce apologized nearly immediately for his mistake. Players surveyed said it didn’t impact their view of him.

“The sad thing about the Galarraga game is, Jim Joyce is seriously one of the best umpires around,” one player said. “He always calls it fair, so players love him. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s terrible that this happened to him.”

Bucknor, in his 11th season, was named the worst umpire by both American and National League players, with West and Hernandez second and third in both leagues. West, in his 32nd season, and Hernandez, in his 17th, work on the same crew; West is the crew chief.

West, who made headlines earlier this season when he criticized the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for taking too long to play games, was named the umpire with the quickest trigger to eject players. He was named on 35 percent of the ballots, followed by Rob Drake (12 percent) and Bill Hohn (9 percent).

The survey also found players lukewarm—at best—on replay. Only 22 percent of players favored replays for calls on the bases, and only 36 supported replay on fair/foul calls.

And only 13 percent thought Selig should have given Galarraga a perfect game despite Joyce’s botched call. Said one player: “As a pitcher, it was heartbreaking to see that. But the call had to be overturned on the field, not in the front office.”

I couldn’t agree more.

This article is also featured on The Rantings & Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman

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Fire Up Cries for Instant Replay, Even If It’s for All the Wrong Reasons

Major League Baseball can’t deny it — the game needs to expand its instant-replay system.

Last postseason, by itself, has proven that.

For instance, the Twins’ Joe Mauer hit a blooper down the left-field line in Game Two of Minnesota’s series against New York. The ball landed a good half foot inside the line, but, somehow, the foul-line umpire called it foul.

The call might have cost the Twins the game and a chance to make that series interesting.

And there’s no excuse to miss calls like the one in Game Four of the Yankees-Angels ALCS series, when Mike Napoli clearly tagged out two Yankees by third base who weren’t touching the bag. Innocently but very incorrectly, respected umpire Tim McClelland ruled that Robinson Cano had his foot on third base.

The first replay showed what I had thought when I saw the play live—Cano’s foot was a good six inches from touching the rubber.

That could have been changed in a matter of a minute.

Nice and quick.

Those only illustrated the need for the expansion of instant replay.

During the past two weeks of the current season, there has been a plethora of badly missed calls. If you’ve watched the games with one eye, you know what I’m referring to.

All the umpires have been able to do is apologize. They can’t dispute the calls, because, um, their mistakes have been obvious. Really, really, really obvious.

Now we have the Detroit Tiger’s Armando Galarraga being robbed of baseball immortality.

In case you missed it, the Motown pitcher was starting in place of the recently deposed Dontrelle Willis and tossed an absolute gem of a game. A marvel of efficiency the righty only struck out three batters, but also needed just 88 pitches to complete his masterpiece.

Then, inexplicably, as the Tiger’s clearly recorded the final out veteran umpire Jim Joyce blew the call. Just flat out blew it. Every replay angle on earth showed the Indians Jason Donald was out by a couple of steps, but Joyce didn’t see it that way.

“It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the (stuff) out of it,” Joyce said, looking and sounding distraught as he paced in the umpires’ locker room.

“I just cost that kid a perfect game,” Joyce said after seeking out the young pitcher to apologize personally. “I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.”

“I don’t blame them a bit or anything that was said. I would’ve said it myself if I had been Galarraga. I would’ve been the first person in my face, and he never said a word to me.”

Joyce will also undoubtedly get plenty of criticism over why he was ruling such a close play safe considering the circumstances. Yes, a tie does go to the runner…except when there is a perfect game on the line (thanks to some appendage to that rascally book of “unwritten rules” we hear about now and then.)

Joyce is only human and you can bet that this call will spur another heated debate over expanded instant replay in baseball that might actually go somewhere. And it should.

We now have a true instance of a single bad umpiring decision irrevocably changing the course of baseball history. One that could have been easily corrected by a review, even if the moment had already been spoiled. This is far from over.

As well it shouldn’t be, but not for the reason most think.

Galarraga was cooler than you or I might have been, going as far as to utter the most  ironic of words in telling Joyce “Nobody’s perfect”.

I hope that isn’t lost in all of this because in today’s day & age of “me first” athletes he should really be commended for that fact.

The mere fact that baseball refused to take greater action over replay after last year’s gaffes clearly had a significant impact on it’s post-season games (therefore the season’s outcome), yet will undoubtedly do so now because of what amounts to a blown personal achievement that has no impact beyond the record book is not lost on me.

If change comes, make no mistake it will come for entirely the wrong reason.

We most certainly need to have an expansion of instant replay in the sport I love so much. Not because of some lost personal accolade, but rather so that we make sure the right team wins. But hell, I’ll take it anyway I can get it.

For all the baseball purists out there, I agree with you that MLB shouldn’t let managers be involved in the reviewing process.

Rather, the ump in the box should have all the authority to overturn, not “review,” any call that appears clearly incorrect.

In other words, if they see a replay and know right away that the call on the field wasn’t right, then overturn it.

If two replays don’t show conclusive evidence, play on. And no, balls and strikes should never be reviewed regardless of how many pitches are called wrong—that’s part of the game and always should be.

The fix is simple.

As many of the baseball sages have suggested, put an umpire in the press box with a TV. When he sees a call such as the Mauer one that’s transparently wrong, he’ll signal down to the field umpires in some fashion (helloooo, I can launch the space shuttle from my iPhone, they can figure something out).

The call is reversed. Everyone is happy. (Well, maybe not the team that was the beneficiary of the bad call. But they won’t feel so guilty about getting a break. Scratch that—they probably wouldn’t feel guilty in the first place, but you get my drift.)

The point is, this is a simply fix. This isn’t football, when some fumble-or-no-fumble reviews are so close, they take five minutes, 43 seconds (and seven beer commercials) to review.

In the end, baseball can do what is absolutely right by the game, something it failed so miserably at during the Steroid Era. That would be a huge step in repairing the damage done to America’s past-time in recent years.

(P.S. It took only seconds for Joyce’s Wikipedia page to be defaced. The Internet abides!)

This article is also featured on The Rantings & Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman .


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Florida Marlins Always Suspected Philadelphia Phillies of Sign Stealing

As it turns out, the Florida Marlins had suspected the Phillies were guilty of stealing signs long before the Philadelphia bullpen coach was caught gazing through binoculars at Coors Field earlier in the week, which has led to a reprimand from Major League Baseball.

“We’ve always had our suspicions,” said Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said that the way the tiered bullpens are configured in Philadelphia, with one on top of the other behind the center field wall, their suspicions reached a point last season where bullpen coach Steve Foster and bullpen catcher Pierre Arsenault looked over the top and inside the Phillies pen to make sure they weren’t stealing signs from that vantage point.

“We never caught anybody,” Gonzalez said. “But we had our suspicions. It’s so easy. It’s so tempting.”

Interestingly enough, the Marlins went 7-2 in Philadelphia last season.

Catcher John Baker said suspicions that the Phillies were stealing signs started in 2008.

“Some of their guys took some strange swings at some pitches that went against the scouting report, that were really surprising,” Baker said. “(Former pitching coach) Mark Wiley and I had a sense that they knew what was coming that pitch, even when there was nobody on second base. It could have been great hitting and they guessed right.”

I know, I know.  Everybody steals signs, as Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News points out , and everybody is looking for any advantage they can get.  But the use of technology is what has irked Rockies’ skipper Jim Tracy.

Similar to the New England Patriots’ Spygate scandal in 2007 , the use of synthetic devices escalates an otherwise routine occurrence into a national news event.

Billmeyer says he was simply trying to monitor the defensive positioning of Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo. As unrealistic as it seems, that’s his explanation and he’s sticking to it.

There’s been some back and forth in the days following the release of the video, but the buzz off the field is likely to end right here. 

On the field buzzings, however, could be an entirely different story.

This article is also featured on The Rantings & Ravings Of A (Formerly) Mad Mailman .

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Seattle Mariners Need to Wisen Up and Stop Trying to Kill the Messenger

With each passing day, the events surrounding Ken Griffey Jr.’s alleged mid-game snooze are becoming less clear in the eyes of many within the sport.

Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said Ken Griffey Jr. was not asleep in the clubhouse in the eighth inning last Saturday night.

He was indeed on the bench and available to pinch-hit, contradicting parts of a story that appeared in The Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune on Monday.

In case you yourself were napping and missed it, The News Tribune story quoted two young players, who spoke off the record, saying that Griffey was asleep in the clubhouse during the game Saturday night.

When asked whether he was asleep in the clubhouse, Griffey was vague. He didn’t answer the specific question but said, “I wish they [the unnamed players] had been man enough to talk to me.”

Upon being asked if Griffey had been asleep in the clubhouse during the game Saturday night, Wakamatsu said Tuesday, “He wasn’t asleep. He was available to pinch hit, and I chose not to use him as the manager.”

Before Tuesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles , the Mariners held a players-only meeting. A club source said the meeting was organized by Mike Sweeney and “was 100 percent about Griffey” and was designed to support Griffey.

The source said that Griffey was upset and hurt by the story, and cried briefly during the meeting.

Sweeney chastised the anonymous young players for speaking about something that had happened in the clubhouse, in essence challenging the clubhouse “Deep Throats” to a fight, according to the source.

And therein lies the rub.

If Griffey was indeed NOT asleep and available, then where was the need to chastise these younger players? 

What clubhouse incident were they relaying to the world that justified this admonishment?

There is absolutely nothing that makes sense in the team’s statements, and the whole thing smells fishier than the Pike Place Fish Market .

The incident continues to make waves as each day goes by.

After the Mariners beat the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night, winning pitcher Cliff Lee started to address the media, then stopped and said he could not continue until the reporter from The Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune left.

Other Mariners players followed suit with the newspaper at their lockers, according to Seattle-area media reports.

Look, I don’t want to admonish anyone for being a good teammate and looking out for one of their guys. 

The sanctity of the clubhouse is one of the values held most dear across Major League Baseball, and the Mariners can’t be happy that two of their teammates allegedly violated that trust while creating a big media controversy in the process.

But from all appearances the events outlined in the initial report seem to be in all likelihood fairly accurate , meaning the Mariners are doing nothing more than killing the messenger here.

So Seattle’s management, keep giving your contradictory statements. Cliff Lee, go on blackballing the reporter who wrote the piece. Mike Sweeney keep offering up “stitches for the snitches.” 

All y’all just keep doin’ your thing.

But if your trying to sell me that there is little or no truth to the initial story, just know that I’m not buying it.

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Boston Red Sox: The Rest of May Offers Little Relief

So far this season has been, shall we say, “uncomfortable” for the Boston Red Sox and their fans.

The pitchers being paid tens of millions of dollars to get people out aren’t getting people out. The hitters making tens of millions of dollars aren’t hitting, and the fielders on this team supposedly built to prevent runs are seemingly providing Boston’s opponents with 30 outs a game.

Simply put, this team has been terrible.

So far this team has already gone 6-11 versus the A.L. East, 1-8 versus the Yankees and Rays (all of the games having been at home ) and lost four of five games on their own field to the rival Yankees by a combined score of of 40-20.  As bad as that sounds, when you consider that nine of those 20 runs came in the very first game of the season it actually gets WORSE .

What should be absolutely frightening to Red Sox Nation is that one glance on the calender for the month of May shows it won’t get any better anytime soon.

After completion of this weekends series with the Yankees, Toronto brings one of the leagues best pitching staffs into Fenway for a three game set.  That will be followed by a five game road trip to Detroit and New York (May 14-18), a quick two game set back in Fenway vs. the A.L. Central leading Twins, three games on the road in Philadelphia (May 21-23) as Inter-league play kicks off, three games versus Tampa at Tropicana Field, and finally closing the month with a four game series against the Royals back home at Fenway.

In fact, it’s not like the rest of the season gets much better for the team in terms of schedule relief.  The simple fact of the matter is the Red Sox had an early schedule that put the team in the perfect position to get off to a good start, possibly even building somewhat of a little lead in the division.  They played a disproportionate number of games at home, many of them against their biggest rivals.

Now, because of this squandered opportunity, they face the prospect of overcoming sizable deficits in the standings, and doing all of that work on the road.  That is not good news.

This team struggled mightily on the road last season, posting a losing record.  It is a team that doesn’t exactly play its finest baseball away from the friendly confines of Fenway Park.

They need to look no further than last season’s Tampa Bay Rays for a glimpse of what their future may have in store for them.

A year ago, the Rays got off to the same type of bad start as the Red Sox, stumbling to a 23-27 start. From May 29 through Aug. 5, the Rays went 37-21, the third-best record in the majors, pulling within three games of the Sox and five-and-a-half of the Yankees. But then they faded, going 24-30 the rest of the way.

The Sox, a much older club, are even more unlikely to sustain such a taxing charge. This year’s Rays and Yankees do not figure to maintain their 120 win pace, but even when they come back to earth a bit it will still require the Sox to play at that kind of pace just to make up the lost ground.

The Red Sox have to get hot and they have to get hot now.

One can no longer get away with saying it’s too early for Red Sox fans to panic about their team’s struggles—and “struggles” is an understatement—at this point in the 2010 campaign.

The clock is ticking—in more ways than one.

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With So Much Drama In The M-L-B, It’s Kind Of Hard Bein’ Ay-arR-Oh-Dee

“Play ground. By the swings. 3 o’clock. Be there or…”

No matter where you sat on the whole brewhaha involving A’s pitcher Dallas Braden and the man we love to hate, a.k.a. Alex Rodriguez, this is pretty much what one has to hear every time the young hurler opens his mouth.

Which is quite often.

Braden didn’t care for Rodriguez running across his mound a few weeks ago. OK, fine, even though it’s hard to find anyone who had ever heard of that as one of baseball’s unwritten rules. The general consensus seems to range from “I have never really heard about that one” to “I never gave much thought about it man”.

The A’s pitcher had his say at the time and it seemed like it was a genuine display emotion, in a way that made you respect the guy as a competitor.

But now he is just looking like an ass. He’s out of line insinuating, as he did this week, that a fight is brewing if and when he faces A-Rod in July, the next time the teams meet.

First of all, if Braden wants to be a tough guy, in the old-school manner of Don Drysdale , why doesn’t he just drill Rodriguez in the ribs the next time he faced him in that very game? Why wait then tell the world about it two months ahead of time?

“There are things that are going to have to happen,” Braden told CSN Bay Area on Wednesday. “Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he’s probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you’re right, we don’t do much talking in the 209.”

Um, excuse me? We don’t do much talking in the 209?

How can you take a guy seriously who refers to the area code where he lives, in Stockton, Calif. , as if to explain why you shouldn’t mess with him?

CC Sabathia, an Oakland native, certainly has a hard time doing so:

“He’s a clown,” CC Sabathia said of Braden. “Guy says he’s from the 209, what the [bleep] is that? That’s where I’m from and I don’t know what he’s talking about. Two-oh-nine. He needs to just calm down – put that in the paper. That’s just tired.”

Braden kept digging that hole a ‘lil deeper by going on call Rodriguez a “fool” for the crack he made at the time of the incident, when he laughed off the A’s pitcher as someone “with a handful of wins” in the big leagues.

While I am not a big fan of the “who the hell is Karim Garcia ?” defense method, it’s not like there isn’t an argument for a player letting his play do most of his talking for him, preferably over a respectable amount of time.

Finally, Braden took the prima donna angle on Rodriguez.

“He’s an individualistic player,” Braden said. “He plays for the name on the back of the jersey, not the front. I don’t know if he’s noticed, but he doesn’t have a name on the back over there so he should play for the name on the front.”

In the past I would have done nothing but agree with this one, at one time early in the 2004 season even having listed the slugging third basemen on eBay for what could best be described as “a really low freakin’ price”.

But one can’t ignore the fact that until this incident we had been seeing a completely new A-Rod over the last year.

The guy has been carrying himself differently, playing his ass off (even in clutch situations) and by all accounts been a solid team mate.  It was Rodriguez who took Robinson Cano aside early in spring training, telling him that “a player with your talent could have a couple of MVPs by now”.

Cano recounts drills where Rodriguez would create RBI scenarios such as second and third, one out. Cano would take 15 swings and then A-Rod would “break down not just the mechanics, but — just as vital — the mindset.”

Judging by the start to this season for the Yankees second basemen I’d say it had a profound impact.

Nope, sorry Mr. Braden, any attempt to paint him with that same broad brush we once did just isn’t going to get the job done anymore.

Frankly, it’s just time for you to act like an adult and let things go. You got your 15 minutes of fame, plucked from baseball obscurity by some odd confluence of events that could only happen to the human lightning rod known as Alex Rodriguez.

Now it’s time you to let this pearl of wisdom from Crash Davis sink in real good.

“Don’t think, Meat. It can only hurt the ball club.”

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Seattle’s Mercurial OF Bradley Takes Leave of Absence From Team

Milton Bradley has asked the Seattle Mariners management for help in dealing with personal issues.  Rather unsurprisingly, that was the breaking news out of Seattle tonight.

Bradley met with manager Don Wakamatsu and GM Jack Zduriencik on Wednesday morning and told the pair “I need your help.”

Zduriencik says the team will do whatever it can to help Bradley.

Bradley told the Mariners management that his issues have put him in a position where he can’t compete the way he expects and that “It’s been a long time coming.”

Not to make light of a man’s unfortunate situation, but has there ever been a bigger understatement?

The guys career has been, to put it kindly, “colorful” up to this point. 

I think the fact that he once sustained a season ending injury while arguing with an umpire says just about everything one can say about his career track.

Simply put the man has burned more bridges than Sherman did on his way through Georgia.

Yet, prior to this season, someone in baseball gave him another chance to wipe the slate clean, to begin anew.  The Seattle Mariners, in perhaps the most stress-free of markets came a callin’ on the Chicago Cubs and tossed Milton one last lifeline.

GM Jack Zduriencik was certain things will work out with Bradley.

Of Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu, Zduriencik said, “He allows players to be who they are.”

The only thing the big love-fest was missing was a throng of nature loving hippies singing Kumbaya.

And how did our poor, misunderstood soul repay that utterly naive display of faith from the Mariners organization?

The season wasn’t even 10 games old and we saw Milton Bradley start 1-for-22, flip off the Texas crowd and have two closed-door meetings with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. Discussions were all over talk radio about how long the Mariners would wait before pulling the plug, as Jim Hendry and the Cubs did last September.

Bradley is constantly in the middle of some sort of tension, some sort of drama and that cannot be a coincidence. And it can’t always be someone else’s fault.

We’re talking about a man who gets to play baseball for a living yet projects himself as if he’s some poor schlepp struggling to make ends meet at some crumby job.

This guy takes his incredibly blessed life for granted, sports a misguided sense of entitlement and then has the audacity to act like it’s a burden to walk around with his level of talent.

If you dare question his actions he has an arsenal of accusations to toss your way. Any criticism clearly indicates you are racist, insensitive and just don’t have the capacity to understand the strife he feels on a daily basis. 

Remember, he’s saddled with this talent that he didn’t ask for.

Not to sound cruel, or indifferent to what could very well be some significant issues the man is going through, but this is the man that the world sees Milton Bradley as. He and his friends can regale us with tales of how he’s a perfectionist and he just cares so much that his temper gets the best of him.

His agents can remind us of his impoverished upbringing and talk about how he tries to give back to the community.  They can say it time and time again, “he’s really a good person at heart”, but it will more often than not fall on deaf ears.

Because that isn’t the Milton Bradley that we know. The best way to start proving to people what a good person you are is to start showing it.

Hopefully this isn’t the beginning of some sort of Oliver Stone worthy, paranoia fueled diatribe by the mercurial outfielder where he fails to take responsibility for the world he has carved out for himself.

If Bradley truly is looking inside himself for answers and is serious about seeking help, it will be a profound moment for the guy. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether he is sincere.

One cannot discount the positive impact this kind if introspection could have on his life.  The shame will be if he is not  ready to be honest and this week winds up as just another odd chapter in the strange and twisted tale best describes his career to date.

I wish him the best of luck in dealing with the demons that are plaguing him, asking of him only one thing. 

As you work your way through these troubled times, look in the mirror with open and honest eyes. 

Then come back to us a different man than the Milton Bradley we now know.



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