Friday, February 27, 2009

Eaton Off the Phils

The long nightmare that was the Adam Eaton contract is finally over, and Americans can begin rebuilding their trust and confidence in an economic system that would see fit to pay Adam Eaton $24 million over three seasons despite not having an above average ERA+ since his rookie year in 2000, and less than a year removed from surgery on his pitching hand that left him even less effective than before. The Phillies are releasing the righty with another year on his deal, and eating the remaining $8 million in salary due to him.

In two seasons with the Phillies, Eaton had a 6.10 ERA in 268.3 innings. Perhaps this is to be expected, given how poorly Eaton has thrown the ball, but every single rate stat he has has gone in the wrong direction since the aforementioned surgery. His K/9 is way down and his walks are way up. He gave up 30 home runs in his first year alone (in 161.7 innings), and 15 last year before the Phillies pulled the plug. In the minors, Eaton didn't exactly find himself, posting a 7.07 ERA in 33.3 innings across three levels (including 8 HR in 26.7 innings at AA).

It's clear, at this point, that Eaton has lost his way and, like famous flameouts Rick Ankiel and Steve Blass before him, a combination of injuries and psychological blocks are keeping Eaton from finding the path again. His previous injury, a ruptured tendon, shouldn't have had a significant impact on his velocity, though it seems to have affected his ability to throw his curveball, and perhaps affects the way he grips his pitches. It's sad to watch; even though Eaton was vastly overpaid to begin with, it's no fun watching a player struggle so hard against the game and himself. And The Common Man hopes someone can help Eaton fix whatever is wrong. This looks like a job for Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan if ever there was one, and the Cardinals are free to pick up Eaton for the league minimum to give it a shot. It's worth to risk, The Common Man thinks, to see if some time learning the forkball or a cutter can help Eaton recover some of his lost promise, or if he's simply physically incapable of throwing like he did from 2000 to 2005.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Random A$$ Thursday: Jim Carlin

Today's Thursday, so The Common Man is going to hit the old random button again on And this week's spin of fortune's wheel brought The Common Man face to face with Jim Carlin, who spent part of 1941 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Phillies of that era (like the Phillies of most eras) were indescribably bad. The team was at the absolute bottom of a five year run of 100 loss seasons. It was the ninth of 16 straight seasons under .500 (in the middle of a run where they finished above .500 once from 1918 to 1948). Playing for the Phillies in this era was like being some Dickensian moppet but never finding you have a long lost rich uncle somewhere. Terrible year after terrible year got foisted upon this team's fans, and it's no wonder Philadelphians turned out the way they did.

But Carlin wasn't around long enough to get too much of the stink on himself, playing just 16 games and getting only 24 plate appearances. And his .143/.250/.333 didn't really earn him any additional opportunities. Still, he was only 23 and undoubtedly had some growth left, had he stuck with the Phils. Instead, of course, the United States began gearing up for World War II, and Carlin joined up that same year.

In all, according to the newly released When Baseball Went to War (review forthcoming), more than 300 professional ballplayers served during the fight, and many of them were largely anonymous, like Jim Carlin. Sure, Ted Williams (rightfully) got a ton of hype for his heroics. And Cecil Travis has earned acclaim for his time at the Battle of the Bulge and for sustaining debilitating frostbite to his feet. And Bob Feller is widely hailed for his time as an anti-aircraft gun operator on the USS Alabama. And baseball scholars have been left to debate what those careers (and those of other luminaries Joe DiMaggio, Luke Appling, Joe Gordon, Hank Greenberg, Johnny Mize, Pee Wee Reese, Phil Rizzuto, Stan Musial and Warren Spahn) would have looked like if not for the war.

But what are less visible and far less quantifiable, are the sacrifices made by the Jim Carlins, players who might have made it, might have carved out a roster spot and established themselves as major leaguers, but who served their country instead. They never entered the public consciousness. Their lost years (and lives) were never mourned. And their careers were far too short to be properly analyzed. Instead, they get included on long lists of ballplayer soldiers and rooted out during random searches of Their dreams tantalizing them, just out of reach.

By the time Carlin got out of the service in the winter of 1945, he had missed four full seasons and was 27 years old. His career would never get going again, and he stalled out in the Appalacian League, playing for the Welch Miners in 1947 and '48. He is a symbol, for baseball fans anyway, of the sacrifice war requires, and the willingness of Americans to serve their country. It is simultaneously extremely sad and inspiring.

Carlin died in 2003 in Birmingham, Alabama at the age of 85. Thanks Jim.

(additional information for this article was taken from Gary Bedingfield's Baseball in Wartime)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ignoring the Island

The news is semi-official, Nationals' special assistant to the GM Jose Rijo is out and the team's Dominican program is going to be entirely revamped in light of the Esmailyn Gonzalez/Carlos Daniel Alvarez Lugo scandal that cost the Nats $1.4 million. Certainly this is the end of the road for Rijo, and perhaps (hopefully?) for Jim Bowden as well.

But buried deep within this ESPN article is this other little nugget: "The Milwaukee Brewers are the only organization without a Dominican academy."

What does this mean, both in philosophical and practical terms for the Brew Crew? First, it means that they are less likely to be embroiled in scandals like the Nats, and other teams, have. By refusing to pay out large bonuses to players with questionable backgrounds (not that they are questionable people, just that their identities invariably have to be suspected and vetted). It minimizes their risk, which is terribly important for a team in the smallest media market in the country. Frankly, the Brewers can't afford to throw away $1.4 million.

It also means that they are able to focus their attention heavily elsewhere. A quick perusal of their minor league system shows a heavy Venezuelan influence (including top prospect Alcides Escobar), suggesting that they are dedicated to mining Latin America for talent, just not the D.R.

But practically, their decision seems to leave their cupboard almost entirely bare of good young Dominican players. Of their top 10 prospects (as rated by Baseball America), only Angel Solome is from the Dominican, but he went to high school in the U.S. and was drafted in the 5th round. Carlos Villanueva's the only other Dominican on the 40 man roster, and he was originally signed by the Giants and acquired via trade. John Sickels rates Wily Peralta as the team's #12 prospect, and describes him as "A high upside arm, but a long way from the majors."

At this point, before minor league rosters are set, it's hard to determine with any accuracy just how out of step the Brewers' system is with the rest of the league. What is the proportion of Dominican players in the Brewers' organization vs. the rest of the league, and what is the proportion of Latin players? And it will be interesting to see just what kind of effect this organizational strategy has on their major league club going forward. The Brewers seem to have survived by drafting well (Fielder, Hardy, Hart, Braun, Gallardo, Hall, Sheets, and Parra were all draft choices), but as their success has led to lower picks, it will be interesting to see if that run of success can continue without additional support from Latin America (thusfar, only two of the players on their 40 man roster were signed as amateur free agents).

The Common Man isn't quick to condemn the Brew Crew for their novel approach. Given that other teams undoubtedly have more money to dole out to the elite prospects (like Esmailyn Gonzalez, eh?), choosing not to compete there and to corner markets elsewhere seems like a sound strategy. And as more teams expand further into Venezuela (or Hugo Chavez makes it prohibitively difficult to operate there), it will be fun to see where the next great frontier is that they can exploit? What say you? Where should the Brewers go next?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Erasing Collusion

It was strange last night to be watching Prime 9 on the MLB Network. Prime 9, for those unlucky enough to not have the MLB (on right now is Pudge Fisk's first game back in Boston after signing with the White Sox, Harry Caray calling Dennis Eckersley vs. Britt Burns), is a weekly countdown show that focuses on a different topic and is allegedly "guaranteed to start arguments, not finish them." One of last night's episodes focused on the "nine best" eligible players not in the Hall of Fame (so no Pete Rose and no Joe Jackson). The weirdness was not necessarily watching guys twist and turn to make a plausible case for Lee Smith Luis Tiant, and Keith Hernandez.

Rather, it came when the show, and its various talking heads (think I Love the 80s with Bob Costas as the only real celebrity, and no snark), talked about #6 Andre Dawson. They talked about his power and his speed. His throwing arm. They talked about his nickname.

Then they talked about his MVP campaign in 1987. Prior to the '87 season, Dawson became a free agent, refusing to resign with the Montreal Expos. Much to his dismay, no one seemed to want him. Dawson proceeded to show up to the Cubs' spring training facility, and gave general manager Dallas Green a blank conctract, and asked him to fill in what a fair salary would be. Green gave Dawson a deal for $500,000 with more than $250,000 in performance incentives.

What was happening, of course, was that Dawson and the other free agents of 1987 were victims of collusion. Major League owners, with the encouragement of commissioner Peter Ueberroth, were refusing to sign free agents from other teams without their rivals' permission.

As these talking heads recounted the '87 season where roundly smacked National League pitching, they repeated the story that "no one wanted" Dawson before the season, and that he had to give the Cubs "a blank contract" to sign him. Just watching this show, a casual viewer might think that Dawson had had a terrible year in '86, rather than the .284/.338/.478 line he put up in 130 games (good for a 123 OPS+. Instead, of course, in a free market many other teams would have wanted Dawson's services. Other starting rightfielders that year included Glenn Wilson (.264/.308/.381 for the Phillies), RJ Reynolds (.260/.323/.400 for the Pirates), Curt Ford (.285/.325/.408 for the Cardinals), Pat Sheridan (.259/.327/.361 for the Tigers), and Lee Lacy (.244/.326/.399 for the Orioles), all of whom were clearly inferior. The Cubs themselves were planning to go with Brian Dayett. Despite mentioning these very specific stories from Dawson's 1987 offseason struggled to find employment, none of the footage mentioned a thing about collusion.

This marks the second time The Common Man has seen the MLB Network skip over stories about collusion, suggesting that there may be a organizational imperative not to acknowledge one of the more sinister chapters in baseball's history. It's going to be increasingly hard for MLB Network to maintain a claim of impartiality and integrity if they refuse to even address the topic, and it calls into question how the network will react if and when there is labor strife with the Players' Association.

Rose Rant

First of all, The Common Man begs your forgiveness for not posting in the last couple of days. When the weather broke on Saturday, The Common Man was able to get out of town with The Boy and return to the homeland. As a cold forced The Uncommon Wife to stay behind, and the grandparents are less inclined to ditch their walkers and chase a small child (though they really enjoy watching him run, and run, and run). So, The Common Man was on constant kid duty that wasn't alleviated at night or at naptime, as The Common Man was forced to keep close watch over The Boy so that he would stay in bed at night, and "encouraged" to go through his old room and clean out stuff during the day. Anyway, just know that his absence hurt The Common Man as much as it hurt you.

The Common Man was all set to start fresh in the morning, but since it's morning now, he might as well get a jump on things, since he's back home and all now. And look, here's a comment waiting for him from friend of the blog, BikeMonkey, who wonders what The Common Man thinks of Pete Rose being critical of A-Rod. For those who are unfamiliar, every time there is a sordid story in baseball, some reporter digs up Pete Rose's phone number, gets him to crawl out from under his rock and asks the disgraced hit-king who gambled on baseball even though the only unforgivable rule in baseball is that you don't bet on baseball what he has to say. Rose, in responding to A-Rod's press conference, told that he doesn't believe A-Rod's explanation that he felt pressured and that he didn't know what substances he was taking. Also, MLB's Ed Eagle reports, "he's upset by what he perceives as a double-standard between himself and those who have used performance-enhancing drugs."

First, here's The Common Man's reaction to anything Pete Rose says: The Common Man does not care. Not in the least. Not one iota. The Common Man acknowledges that Pete Rose was a great player who always gave everything he had to the game he was playing. But by all accounts, Rose is a scumbag who lied for decades about gambling on baseball, and only 'fessed up when he thought a) baseball might let him back in and b) he could make a few million from a book deal.

Anything Rose has said in the past or will say in the future serves only to glorify Pete Rose. For instance, when he disputes A-Rod's claim that he felt enormous pressue to justify the $252 million contract he signed with the Rangers, Rose points out, "When I became a Philadelphia Phillie for the '79 season, I signed a contract that made me the highest paid player in any team sport. I didn't go to Philly with the pressure to hit .360 or .370. The only pressure you have is an obligation to the fans to play hard and bust your chops." First, there is no available salary data from to support Rose's claim that he was the highest paid athlete in any sport, but The Common Man will assume that this one fact from a serial liar is true. The rest of the statement simply serves to remind the people of how wonderful Rose believes he is, how he gave his all and bustedhis chops, and positions Rose as the central representative of a time when baseball was better, purer, than it is now. What Rose doesn't mention, of course, is baseball's growing drug problem and the rampant use of amphetamines. Also, he doesn't mention the different media climate today and the vast difference between the few hundred-thousand he probably made and the $25.2 million A-Rod made. Indeed, it's Rose's selective memory and constant self-promotion that make him so unreliable, and so uninteresting, to The Common Man. Because he's so transparent and shameless, The Common Man always knows exactly what card The Hit King is going to play.

For instance, this double standard he talks about. Rose argues, "I got caught, and I made a terrible mistake. Guys that are caught [using performance enhancing drugs], nothing happens to them [In terms of punishment by the game unless they did so after 2003]." But here's the big difference, the first rule every player learns about, the rule that is posted in every major league clubhouse, and the rule that has always carried with it baseball's version of the death penalty is the rule that Rose knowlingly, shamelessly, and repeatedly broke. Meanwhile, prior to 2003, there were no consequences for testing positive for steroids, and no testing procedures to catch them. Steroids were tacitly approved by baseball, and were considered a minor offense, whereas gambling on the game has been the worst crime a player could commit since 1919. But Rose knows it's in his best interest to conflate his offenses with those of Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens, Palmeiro, and McGwire, because if they can be forgiven then he can too (which is why he argues they should be elected to the Hall of Fame as well).

Rose isn't necessarily a broken record. But he's that band that keeps putting out one song after another that sounds almost alike. He's Nickelback or Daughtry. And rather than listen to another crappy rock song, The Common Man mentally changes the channel when Rose starts talking. The A-Rod scandal is seedy enough without Rose and his Dorothy Hamill hair crawling out from his rock to piss in baseball's Cheerios further. That's what The Common Man thinks.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Giving Crede-it Where Crede-it Is Due

The Common Man was supposed to be heading back to the homeland today, driving at a safe, but breakneck pace on the highways and byways of this great country. Unfortunately, he, The Uncommon Wife, and The Boy forgot to check their plans with mother nature, who dumped a mess of snow in between them and their destination. And that's why The Common Man was out shoveling today, and why he's resting on the couch now, nursing a sore back. Damn you snowplows and your incessent plowing that dumps an extra ton of snow on the end of The Common Man's driveway.

It's also the reason The Common Man got to read about the Twins signing former White Sox 3B Joe Crede today for a bargain basement contract. Since Corey Koskie left in 2004, third base has been a revolving door of disappointment. Michael Cuddyer, Terry Tiffee, Luis Rodriguez, Juan Castro, Glenn Williams, Nick Punto, Tony Batista, Brian Buscher, Jeff Cirillo, Tommy Watkins, Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert, Matt Macri, Howie Clark, and one game of Michael Ryan. Crede doesn't figure to be anything more than a one year solution, but Minnesota 3B have hit .260/.318/.372 since Koskie left town and Crede (provided he's healthy) should easily eclipse that. And he provides Gold Glove caliber defense to boot.

Now, about his health. Crede has been suffering from a chronic back problem for much of his career, and has eclipsed 500 plate appearances only three times in the past six seasons. It's likely he may have trouble this year as well. That said, his contract is structured to pay just $2.5 million in base salary, with playing-time incentives that could push the contract to $7 million, and the Twins will have a potentially productive Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris platoon as a fallback position (by the way, if Crede plays enough to reaach his incentives, The Common Man predicts an excellent season for the Twins this year, perhaps another division title).

In the meantime, Crede's signing gives the Twins some additional roster flexibility (as they won't have to carry two primary 3B), added power, and a big upgrade on defense. It also, however, adds to the team's lack of patience, a glaring problem for the past several seasons. And if the Twins fade from contention early, Crede's contract should be easily tradable at the deadline. For now, the Twins' acquisition of Crede means that they have to clear some roster space. If the rumored deal for Juan Cruz is really happening, the Twins could send one or more of their young pitchers (especially those out of options like Bonser or Humber) to Arizona in a sign-and-trade.

It's a good deal, an acceptable risk, a welcome change from the Twins usual veteran acquisitions (Livan Hernandez, Juan Castro, Tony Batista, Rondell White, Sidney Ponson, and Ramon Ortiz), in that Crede represents a player with a realistic upside.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Random-a$$ Thursday: Buck Coats

Every Thursday, from here on out, The Common Man is going to head over to the old, and hit their "random" link. At that point, The Common Man plans to write about whatever or whoever comes up on his screen, be it a player, schedule, award, team page, or whatever. Perhaps in keeping with the random theme, The Common Man's first attempt led to some unexpected results. The Common Man thought he'd be directed to someone old and obscure, like Bob Kline or Harry Steinfeldt. Instead, he found Buck Coats, a contemporary outfielder who's currently on Toronto's 40-man roster.

In three years, for three teams, Coats has 62 plate appearances and a .193/.242/.333 hitting line. And he's not doing much in the minors to distinguish himself either, posting a mediocre OBP and very little power. He's entering his age-27 season and there's little reason to think that he's got any more growth in him. He is what he is, a fifth outfielder who can handle CF, has a little speed, and might post an OBP in the .340s if he's given a chance to play. He'll presumably hang around as AAA filler for a few more seasons, getting a few at bats here and there, before finally hanging up his spikes when he's 30 or so.

It's really not all that fun to talk about 5th outfielders (at best) behind their backs, though, so let's talk about his name. According to baseballreference, Buck is not a nickname, but the actual moniker given to Buck by presumably loving parents. Loyal readers know how angry The Common Man gets with parents who can't be bothered to name their children well, and while "Buck" falls short of being an egregious name, it's no winner either these days. If he happened into the nickname, like James Melvin "Buck" Becannon or Ralph "Buck" Buxton, The Common Man would understand. In fact, there are 57 ballplayers and managers on baseballreference who were called either Buck or Bucky. Plus, there's Buck Leonard of the Negro Leagues. There's a Billy Buck (Bill Buckner), one Buckeye (Don Grate), four Buckshots (Glenn Wright, John Skopec, William May and Tommy Brown), and a Bucketfoot Al (Simmons). And the list is even missing Brian "Buck" Buchanan, who looked like he might make something of himself with the Twins in the early part of this decade. But of all these players, only Coats is actually named Buck. Given that he was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, maybe it's a cultural thing. But still, you've got the option, as a parent, of giving your child a decent name, and then saddling them with an embarrassing nickname. Why not give your boy the option of becoming a doctor or a lawyer before you consign him to work at the full-service gas station? The Common Man supposes it's lucky that Coats stumbled into the only other career where it's socially acceptable to be named Buck.

Anyway, this Buck is nowhere near the best Buck on the list. The top honor probably belongs to Leonard, who played with Josh Gibson on the Homestead Grays, won the Negro League batting title in 1948 (hitting .391), and played in 11 East-West all star games in his 17 years. After him, it's probably either Buck Ewing, who posted a 129 OPS+ as a catcher from 1880-1897 or Zack "Buck" Wheat (get it?), who also posted a 129 OPS+ for the Brooklyn Dodgers between 1909 and 1927. Other notable Bucks include Grant "Buck" Jackson, a journeyman reliever from 1965-1982 who made the NL All Star team for Philly in '69; former MVP and nine-time All Star 1B Frank "Buck" McCormick, who had a 118 OPS+ from 1934-1948; former MVP and six-time All Star SP Bucky Walters, who won 198 games, won 20 games three times, and had a 115 ERA+ from 1934-1950. Plus, there's Louis Norman "Bobo" "Buck?" Newsome, who went 211-222 for his career with an ERA+ of 105, a four-time All Star and three-time 20 game winner (and two-time 20 game loser) from 1929-1953 (but The Common Man isn't sure he can count Buck when he already has one awesome nickname). And Bucky Harris, who was a decent 2B for the Senators and played from 1919-1931, but who made it to the Hall of Fame as a manager. And, of course, Bucky F-ing Dent. And the infamous Buck Weaver of the Black Sox Scandal.

Taken together, the Bucks and Buckys have a lifetime record of 624-661, with a 3.95 ERA. The non-pitchers (The Common Man removed the pitchers so as not to skew the totals and considered Bucky Walters a pitcher for simplicity's sake) batted .278 with 15,933 hits, 646 home runs, and 6989 RBI.

Coats will probably end up somewhere between the awesomely named "Buck" Thrasher, who hit .255/.295/.330 (92 OPS+) for the Philadelphia A's over two seasons in the deadball era and Buck Redfern, who hit .218/.255/.257 (35 OPS+) for the White Sox in the '20s.

Finally, if history is any indication, Coats may have a managerial career in his future, as a disproportionate number of Bucks seem to end up at the helm. There's the aforementioned Harris, Ewing, Walters, and Dent, Buck Showalter, Buck Rodgers, Buck Herzog, and Buck Martinez. Their nicknames must give them some kind of folksy-wise vibe that team owners can't help but resist. Their combined record is 4694-4737 for a .498 winning percentage. They've won two division titles (Showalter), three pennants (all Harris), and two World Series (Harris again). And one of them (Rodgers) was fired from a team that won the pennant (Harvey Kuenn took over the '82 Brewers).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Political Animals

It's good to know that Republicans have tax problems as well. In September, The Washington Post reported that then Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin had billed her home state for nearly $17,000 in meals and living expenses, while choosing to live at home in Wasilla, rather than in the Governor's Mansion in Juneau. When the money caused some political drama in the campaign, Palin's administration asked the government's financial offices to treat the money as income. And because of this, the IRS is sending Palin a new W-2 and a letter instructing her to pay back taxes on the seventeen large. Palin spokesman Bill McAllister told CNN that Palin, "will abide by all IRS regulations and rulings and will pay what she owes. That number, though, is not a matter of public record." And he's right. It doesn't matter what the taxes are as long as they're paid, and it sounds like Palin's doing the right thing here (after doing the wrong thing before, but still...). It's just nice to know that the Democrats aren't alone.

Speaking of Palin, The Common Man wouldn't feel right if he didn't praise young Bristol Palin for her interview on Fox News the other day. Palin discussed her decision to have her son, emphasized that being a young mom can be a slog, and broke with her mother's support of abstinence-only education. Bristol told Van Sustren that simply telling children to refrain from sex is "not realistic at all." The interview was Bristol's idea, and she told her parents about it the day before it happened and that she wanted to use the opportunity to be "an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because it's not, like, a situation that you would want to strive for, I guess." The most disappointing part of the interview was Sarah Palin's intrusion. Apparently not trusting her daughter to answer the softball questions Van Sustren was lobbing in there, Palin shows up a few minutes into the interview and proceeds to refuse to give her daughter any opportunity to answer the questions. Look, The Common Man knows that parents are inherently protective of their young. And he knows that the governor has (marginally) more experience dealing with the media than her daughter. But if you can't trust FoxNews, Sarah Palin, who can you trust? You ended up standing awkwardly in a hotel room for 10 minutes, rambling, while your poor daughter had to sit there thinking, "God, Mom, stop embarrassing me on national TV." And seriously, Bristol was doing fine before you came in and turned the interview into a train wreck. But your paranoid need for spin control turned what could have been a triumphant moment for your daughter into another funny Sarah Palin clip. Good job. Bristol, Grandma there's ready for the home.

See! The Common Man totally told you so.

But Travis wasn't the only monkey causing trouble in the last couple days. The New York Post ran a cartoon today (click this link to see it, The Common Man can't find it to reprint here) that may or may not have been referring to Barack Obama as a monkey. The cartoon tried to combine the runaway Stamford chimp story from yesterday (already The Common Man can tell you that this cartoon is in bad taste. Dude, a woman got her face half-torn off. You stay classy, NY Post.) with the federal stimulus bill championed and passed by Barack Obama. The Common Man is willing to give the Post a pass on the racism charges, assuming they meant that the stimulus bill was so bad it had to have been written by a team of trained monkeys. Rather, the Post is guilty of bad satire. The two stories seem to have nothing to do with one another, and it takes a significant amount of explanation to get from one to the other. The cartoon isn't inexcusable because it's racist. It's inexcusable because it's terrible and opaque. Seriously, even the New Yorker's cartoons make sense if you think about them. This one, the more you think about it, the less it makes any kind of logical sense. Which basically reinforces two of The Common Man's sweeping generalities that he's going to assume are true in any and all cases: conservatives are not funny and the New York Post is for idiots.

Around the Horn

It sounds like Shysterball's 25 baseball things idea has really taken off. And now Rob Neyer, the Zen master himeself, is threatening to jump in. The Common Man looks forward to reading everyone's. If you don't have a blog, feel free to use the comments section here to post them, or if you do have a list up somewhere, feel free to leave a link (they certainly don't have to be as The Common Man's). If there isone thing that The Common Man thinks you and he can agree on (unless your name is BikeMonkey), it's that it's awfully fun to listen to why other people love the game and to compare it to our experiences. So share and enjoy.

Speaking of BikeMonkey, The Common Man feels badly that he's not down with teh baseballz. But really, The Common Man doesn't understand how anyone can not like baseball. The Dentist, The Common Man's little brother, hated baseball when he was a boy, choosing soccer instead like the rest of his friends. But with the wisdom of age, The Dentist has come to love watching the game, and follows it with nowhere near the intensity of his big bro. But it's still a big step. The Common Man doesn't know why BikeMonkey's such a stick in the mud, but most people who profess to hate the game claim that it's boring and slow. The prefer the up and down action of basketball or the explosiveness of football. Meanwhile, baseball is often a slow build, like a truly good film or song, adding tension and excitement as the game progresses until it reaches a fever pitch in the late innings. In between, it's a collection of exciting moments that are largely disconnected from one another. It takes a sophisitcation and appreciation of the finest things to appreciate baseball. A knowing patience. And because of this patience and willingness to wait for the final payoff, The Common Man likes to believe that baseball fans make the best lovers. Generous and willing to prolong the experience, baseball fans aren't interested in the quick and dirty slam-bam-thank-you-mamn (or sir), but the drawn out, tantalizing prospect of making love. All night. Isaac Hayes style. The Common Man does not say this to disparage BikeMonkey, who The Common Man knows has the ability to appreciate and love the game, but to challenge him.

Meanwhile, The Common Man feels bad not a whit for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who told reporters Monday, "I don't want to hear the commissioner turned a blind eye to [steroids in baseball] or he didn't care about it. That annoys the you-know-what out of me. You bet I'm sensitive to the criticism." Bud's been awfully quick to slough off responsibility for the steroid era in the past, and to dump it on the players (who, deserve a large share of the blame, no doubt). But to eschew responsibility entirely is childish and disingenuous. No Mommy, Little Bud has no idea how the lamp got broken. He admits, "A lot of people say we should have done this or that, and I understand that. They ask me, 'How could you not know?' and I guess in the retrospect of history, that's not an unfair question" but goes on to equivocate and tout his past failed attempts to get a drug policy (starting in 1995, if Bud is to be believed). But here's the thing, those attempts were brought up in private negotiations and used as a bargaining chip. At some point, what Selig doesn't say is, he decided that wringing an extra year of player control or a slightly lower major league minimum or a bigger share of the broadcasting rights was worth trading for the testing. Mark The Common Man's words, if Bud Selig and Major League Baseball had truly wanted and was committed to institute a steroid testing policy in 1995, they could have gotten it. So for Bud Selig to say today that he's not to blame for the steroid era is, frankly, silly. There's plenty of blame to go around. The players, the owners, the union the management, the media, the fans, and the commissioner all share various amounts of it. So man up, Bud, and face the fact that you exchanged doping for dollars years ago, and are just now reaping the consequences of that choice. If you're happy to accept praise for the decision to expand the playoffs, start the MLB Network, and grow revenues, you must be willing to accept the littlest bit of responsibility for your stunning ability to look the other way.

The Common Man wants to add his congratulations to Sean Foreman, the founder and creator of for selling a minority stake in his website and business to Fantasy Sports Ventures. Baseball Reference is a tremendous resource that any serious baseball fan needs to be using, like, all the time and it will play a large role in tomorrow's post (oh, see how The Common Man teases you).

No one is more deserving of the big payday than Sean for providing such an awesome free service to the public.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

25 Things

Shysterball had an interesting idea today, applying the Facebook 25 random things meme model to baseball. He writes, "Don't feel the need to do it yourself, but if you do, I'd like to read it, whether it be in your own writing space if you're a columnist or blogger-type, or simply in the comments or in an email if you're a civilian." Sounds like a great idea to The Common Man, who is desperate for some excuse not to have to watch ARod's press conference. So here goes:

1) The Common Man grew up in Minnesota, and has a deep and unabashed love for Kirby Puckett. This love was tested when Puckett explored free agency after ’92 (or was it '94?) and seemed poised to go to the Red Sox, but was reinforced when Puckett decided to stay. It was tested again when the news broke that, frankly, Puckett was not a very nice man and did some inexcusable things to his wife, girlfriend, and random waitresses. However, The Common Man ultimately decided that the joy Puckett brought to his life for twelve seasons means more to him than the sad downfall of a troubled and flawed man, and that he’ll let the good times overshadow the bad.

2) The first time The Common Man saw the Metrodome was when he and his parents were driving on 35W, past downtown Minneapolis. The Common Man must have been 5 or so. When he saw a neat looking building with a colorful chimney, he pointed to it and asked his mother if that was the Metrodome. Mistakenly thinking her son was pointing to the big white baggy behind it, she said yes, it was. And that’s how, for 2-3 years, The Common Man thought the Valspar Paint building was the Metrodome.

3) Similarly, when he was little, The Common Man thought Kirby Puckett was a tall white guy who played right field, and Tom Brunansky was a short, black man who played center. His favorite player was Tom Brunansky, but he still doesn’t really know whether he meant the real Tom Brunansky (because his name sounded awesome) or the fake Tom Brunansky (who really was awesome).

Now, who wouldn't make that mistake?

4) The first game The Common Man remembers going to was on June 28, 1989. Frank Viola faced off against Dave Stewart and pitched a shutout. The Common Man knows he was there for games in ’88 though, because he has the programs (and scored the game in them).

5) The Common Man was taught to score by his grandfather, for whom The Boy is named. However, his grandfather taught The Common Man to score wrong (according to everyone else who’s been consulted on this matter). Nevertheless, The Common Man scores games the same way still, since no one but he will ever get to see all those programs and scorecards (except for The Boy, who will be taught the system by then).

6) The Common Man’s best friend since sixth grade, Bill, had season tickets with his family in the ‘90s, and they used to take The Common Man to the game a half-dozen times a year or so. The Common Man has felt indebted to his friend ever since and one day, when he’s rich and famous, The Common Man is going to give his friend a pair of season tickets for a year.

7) The most fun The Common Man has ever had at a baseball game was April 24, 1993, when the Detroit Tigers beat the Twins at the Dome 17-1. Pat Mahomes gave up 10 runs in 2 and 2/3 innings. Bill and The Common Man kept rooting for Rob Deer to get up and strike out (he never did, but Kirk Gibson K’ed three times. The game started with 34,504 fans in the stands, and basically ended with two, The Common Man and Bill. It’s amazing how fun baseball can be even when you stop caring about the outcome.

8) The Common Man has been to eight major league stadiums, the Metrodome, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, PNC Park (Pittsburgh), Safeco Field (Seattle), US Cellular Field (New Comiskey, Chicago), Miller Park (Milwaukee), and L’Stade Olympique (Montreal). By far the nicest park was PNC. By far the best experience was sitting in the RF bleachers for a Yankee/ Red Sox game (“Knoblauch is such a troll. How do you pitch to that f-in’ troll?” and “O’Neill is GAY!” were some of the tamer things The Common Man heard that night.). A close second is in Montreal, where The Common Man had an entire section to himself in leftfield, and he and the other 8,000 fans would make noise by slamming the empty seat next to them down as hard as they could.

9) The Common Man has visited 11 minor league stadiums in Tuscon (Rockies), Scottsdale (Giants), Mesa (Cubs), Midway Stadium (St. Paul Saints), Beloit (Twins), Erie (Tigers), Williamsport (Pirates), State College (Pirates), Portland (Red Sox), and Elmira (Elmira Pioneers), Binghamton (Mets). The best experience was in Elmira, where he and Bill were two of, like, 12 people in attendance and knew the players could hear them. Meeting Steve Balboni in Erie is a close second.

10) The back yard of The Common Man’s boyhood home was huge and was vaguely baseball field shaped. Every summer in elementary school, The Common Man and James Watson would put out some bases, a plate, and a pitching rubber, and play two-man baseball all day long. Usually, The Common Man let James be the Twins, while he’d be the Cubs (because The Common Man liked to hit like Jerome Walton). The Common Man would get crushed every time. For some reason, James would start Al Newman at 2B all the time and invariably James as Al Newman would hit, like, three homeruns. Anyway, as time went on, and The Common Man grew more powerful and sophisticated, The Common Man and Bill took to playing home run derby with tennis balls in the back yard. Any ball that hit the branches of a tree on the fly or left the yard altogether was a homer. Anything else was an out. Again, The Common Man generally got clobbered. But there are a lot of pine trees in that back yard with a lot of tennis balls stuck in their branches. Someday, those trees will come down, and the landscapers are going to be bewildered by the old, cracked tennis balls rolling around on the ground.

11) The Common Man was a clubhouse manager for a couple of years for a minor league team. It was a tremendous experience and he hopes to write a book based on it some day (without violating anyone’s confidence). But the book will prominently feature a tall Dominican reliever who enters the clubhouse every day yelling “Hellooooooh beeetches,” drinks in the bullpen from a mysterious nalgene bottle of clear liquid, and pees on the groundskeepers’ shack.

12) As a result of the Clubhouse gig, The Common Man is really good at doing laundry, but will die before he scrubs another dirt and grass stain out of a pair of baseball pants. Takes…for…ever.

13) Also as a result of being the clubhouse manager, The Common Man has sung the National Anthem twice at a minor league game.

14) As previously mentioned in this space, when he was at TwinsFest, The Common Man got Bert Blyleven to call and talk to his grandmother on a cell. She is still talking about it. Thanks Bert.

15) In Little League, The Common Man always thought he’d make a hell of a shortstop (probably because he was so short. Sadly, a complete inability to hit (and a reluctance to even swing the bat) made that career path unlikely. Still, The Common Man was a hell of a fielder, and actually a good baserunner (when he did get on base). During one glorious summer, The Common Man managed to hit .300 and have an OBP somewhere north of .400. He stole every base he could, including home on several occasions when the catcher threw the ball back to the pitcher.

16) That trick didn’t work as well in Babe Ruth League, where daring and exciting plays became disappointing baserunning blunders.

17) The Common Man also thought he might be able to pitch a little, but never had anything approaching a talent for it. Still, The Common Man remembers one moment of glory when, after loading the bases with two outs, he dropped down sidearm to get a called third strike on a surprised Brian Giguere (ha, ha, suck it, Giguere!). Of course, this convinced The Common Man that he’d found a new trick, and he proceeded to try to mix in the sidearm. However, repeated attempts to drop down sidearm led to several walks, hit batsmen, hit baseballs, and general suckiness. Experiment unsuccessful.

18) The Common Man missed most of the 1987 World Series because his parents made him go to bed. He’s still bitter. All he remembers seeing was Lawless’s home run. As a result, the first real “magical” baseball moment he remembers seeing was Gibson’s homer in ’88. The Common Man was rooting for the Dodgers because he didn’t like the A’s, who his parents were rooting for (“because it will make the Twins look better”).

19) The Common Man stayed up for every freaking inning in 1991, no matter how late Game 3 went. The most exciting single moment of The Common Man’s life (that did not involve The Uncommon Wife or The Boy) was Puckett’s homerun in Game 6. Number 2 was Larkin’s hit in Game 7. Speaking of which, if Hrbek says it was an accident, who is The Common Man to doubt him?

20) Part of The Common Man feels responsible for the Twins’ big win in ’91. In the basement, he found a bunch of old, long-necked, 16 oz. glass bottles of Coke just before the series started. So, during each game, he would sit and drink one (and only one) while it was going on. He wouldn’t move from the lucky spot on the couch in the family room, no matter how badly he needed to pee. And the ritual paid off. Logically, he knows he didn’t do anything, but still… Thank God it was a comfortable couch.

21) Like most of you, The Common Man collected baseball cards in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. His first set was the ’87 Topps with the wood borders. He kept getting Topps until ’93. He’s also got a couple Fleer and Donruss sets. And he’s got the first three sets of Upper Deck. In all, he has more than 13,000 baseball cards in his basement that The Uncommon Wife would love to get rid of but tolerates because she loves her man.

22) The Common Man never traded a baseball card in his life, nor sold one. He thought he might get into that a while back, and bought the ’86 Fleer set with Bonds’ rookie card the year Barry was chasing the single season record, and a 2nd year Pete Rose card in good condition the year Rose put out his confession book. He figured he’d capitalize on the publicity and make a profit on the backs of a couple of players he didn’t particularly like. But, like the rest of his stuff, once The Common Man had them, he couldn’t let them go. So they’re in the basement too.

23) The Common Man has played in OOTP leagues, DMB leagues, and a couple of traditional fantasy leagues in his day. He’s currently cut back to just one DMB league, but wants to ramp up to more next season. He prefers DMB, but really likes the realism of OOTP.

24) There is still a framed poster of Frank Viola hanging on the wall of The Common Man’s bedroom at his parents’ house. It was purchased in 1989 right before the trade. Oops, lesson learned.

25) The Common Man has two Twins jersey-ish t-shirts. One has Mauer’s name and number on the back, the other has Santana’s. When The Common Man is happy with the Twins, he’ll wear the Mauer shirt. If he’s unhappy with the Twins, he’ll wear Santana.

So that's it. The Common Man is interested to read everyone else's too.

When Animals Attack

Pets. They are a joy, aren't they? They are loyal, love you unconditionally, do cute stuff like lie on their backs with their feet in the air. Of course, as The Common Man will one day explain to The Boy, pets are a responsibility. They must be walked, and fed, and cared for. And the more exotic a pet you have, the more exotic its needs are going to be, and the more exotic the challenges they will pose to their owner. Most people, sadly, think "ooh, cool, I could own a python" or "I've always wanted to have a Bengal tiger, here's my chance" before properly investigating whether they have the proper living space conducive to a 25 foot long snake (that could eat you if you become incapacitated) or the $10,000 per month it takes to feed and house said tiger (and as history has demonstrated, Siegried and Roy aren't always going to be there to bail out your ass on that).

Sadly, these points seem to have been lost on Sandra Harold of Stamford, CT, who kept a 200 lbs chimpanzee named Travis as her bestest friend and constant companion until yesterday. Travis had been a minor celebrity, starring in Coke and Old Navy ads, and by all accounts was trained. Yet, that didn't stop him from sending one of Harold's friends to the hospital. According to CNN,

Charla Nash, 55, had just arrived at her friend Sandra Herold's house when the chimp, named Travis, jumped on her and began biting and mauling her, causing serious injuries to her face, neck and hands, according to Stamford Police Capt. Rich Conklin, who said the attack was unprovoked.

Herold had called Nash to her house to help get 14-year-old Travis back inside after he used a key to escape.

While her friend was being attacked, Herold tried to pull the primate off her, but was unsuccessful.

She then called 911 before stabbing the chimp with butcher knife and hitting him with a shovel. Neither fazed Travis, who police said was like a child to Herold.

Nash remains in critical condition today with what Stamford's mayor called life-changing, if not life-threatening" injuries. And this isn't the first time that Travis has caused trouble in Stamford. In 2003, Travis escaped from his owner's car and "played" around downtown Stamford for two hours that officers could have spent dealing with real crime.

The trouble, it would seem, is that Harold, and other pet owners, forget that their exotic pets are still, very much, wild animals no matter how much they try to anthropomorphize them.
After the 2003 incident, according to the AP, Harold told police, "the chimpanzee was toilet trained, dressed himself, took his own bath, ate at the table and drank wine from a stemmed glass. He also brushed his teeth using a Water Pik, logged onto the computer to look at pictures, and watched television using the remote control." That's great, but he's also, you know, a chimpanzee. And sometimes animals act like animals. Like these two chimps who, in 2005, escaped from California Animal Haven and mauled a man's face and mutilated his genitals (seriously, a chimp gnawed off his testicles. worst...pain...ever. even worse than when they tore off his foot). Once again, say it with The Common Man: CHIMPS ARE NOT PEOPLE! And neither is your pet snake, alligator, ostrich, or pot-belly pig. Don't treat them like they are, and definitely don't let them escape and come over to The Common Man's house. Because he likes alligator tail in chipotle-honey-vidalia onion sauce, and loves bacon. And he's pretty sure he could get to like snake or ostrich too, if it were fried with some garlic.

The Common Man is big on personal responsibility and believes that pet owners whose animals represent a threat to public safety, such as the owners whose dogs run wild attack neighbor children (in all honesty, that's why Ralph the Evil Dog is not allowed out of the house without his leash; if you own an unfriendly pet, you have to be constantly aware of the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with it) should be charged with felonies when their pets maul others. And he believes that the trade of exotic animals needs to be restricted more severely than it is now. Sure, it'd be nice if people were smarter about the pets they get, but if The Common Man learned anything from watching Idiocracy, it's that people are stupid (but it's got electrolytes). So it's important to keep the dangerous pets away from the dullards. Stricter regulation on these animals is probably the only way to keep the chimps, tigers, ferrets, snakes, water buffalo, and bears from breaking down The Common Man's door one of these days, looking to maul his handsome face or tear off his mighty testicles.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Road Less Traveled

One of the biggest stories this offseason has been the woefully inadequate free agent compensation system. The Yankees sign AJ Burnett and give up a 3rd round pick? The Brewers only get a 2nd for losing CC Sabathia? And talented players like Juan Cruz, Orlando Cabrera, and Orlando Hudson are still looking for work in part because teams are unwilling to part with the first round pick to sign them? It's gotten so bad that the Royals are sniffing around Hudson, trying to take the Nationals' lead and get a good player in a bad market (and in their case, they'd give up a 2nd rounder). That's a major problem, especially for the players' union, who signed off on the arrangement (and is therefor responsponsible for the players twisting in the wind). And for Major League Baseball, who clearly wants its best players employed and doesn't want to have to endure a potential fight over right of employees to, you know, work.

And so there is good and strange news today (actually Sunday) from LaVelle E. Neal III, a beat writer for the Minnesota Star Tribune. According to Neal,
"There have been rumblings that Major League Baseball, which is aware that Type A free agents like Juan Cruz and infielders Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera have been hindered by the compensation rules, are willing to make it easier for teams to sign then trade those free agents. For example, Arizona could sign Cruz to a contract that the Twins are willing to take on. The Twins and Diamondbacks would then work out a trade for Cruz. The Twins could land Cruz without losing a draft pick."
(h/t to MLB Trade Rumors) Normally, new signees can only be dealt after June 15 without their consent. The deal Neal is discussing would allow Cruz, Hudson, and Cabrera to be dealt in an NBA-style sign-and-trade because they would waive their right to veto the trade.

Unless there is some complicated legal language in the player contracts, this deal would have to be predicated on trust. Trust that the player will actually veto the trade, and trust that the team won't send the player to a team and situation he wouldn't otherwise want to go. But this represents a creative solution around the compensation system for the time being, until the league and union can institute a new system that makes more sense and is less easily exploited.

As for the move itself that Neal is discussing, Juan Cruz would prove an excellent acquisistion for the Twins, provided they do not give up any of their young hitting. The Twins have been active in the reliever market, talking to everyone of consequence but never pulling the trigger (no, Luis Ayala doesn't count). But Cruz was clearly the best non-closer available this offseason, and has had three consecutive excellent seasons, and four out of five (especially out of the bullpen). He strikes out well over a batter per inning, and gives up very few hits. Cruz would stabilize the 8th inning for the Twins, allowing Guerrier to return to the 7th and maybe even get a rest every few days (Gardy won't rest until he's run every Twins middle reliever into the ground. Meanwhile, Joe Nathan gets paid $6 million to throw 70 innings.). And when Neshek comes back at the tail end of this year, or even next year, the Twins have an extra arm to make their pen that much more awesome or to deal. However, The Common Man will disavow any knowledge of the previous paragraph if Delmon Young (if he hit better, wouldn't "Demon" be an appropriate nickname?) is included in any deal.

Finally, The Common Man would like to make a programming announcement. He's noticed, over the past few weeks, that when he talks about baseball his traffic has skyrocketed. Indeed, on Friday, he peaked at nearly 300 visitors. Much of this new traffic has been because of The Common Man's recent association with bloggers like Shysterball, wezen-ball, It Is About the Money Stupid, Way Back and Gone and a few other places. So, ever cognizant of the way the wind blows, The Common Man's going to give this baseball blogging a try. He'll continue to write about politics and film and TV and explosions and awesomeness, but he is committing himself to post at least once about baseball every damn day. That means more posts, and probably shorter ones (if The Common Man can contain his verbosity). Consider it an experiment designed to coincide with The Common Man's growing excitement over the coming season. He hopes you will approve. Here are some fireworks to celebrate:

Saturday, February 14, 2009


You know, baseball gets a bad rap these days. Whether it's steroids, or the length of the games, the increased specialization of players, the supposed reliance on homeruns, or the lack of complete games. In particular, over the past week the game has endured several black eyes. A-Rod's testing positive and admitting steroid use. Tejada pleading guilty to lying to Congressional staffers. Robbie Alomar's health has been called into question. Former catcher Jim Leyritz, who is charged with vehicular manslaughter, has had his bail revoked. The Marlins ballpark proposal seems like it's falling apart. It's easy to forget, frankly, how awesome the game is.

So, since it's Valentine's Day for a few more minutes, (and a very happy Valentine's Day to all of you), The Common Man thought he'd wax poetic about the five things he loves most about baseball. Be warned, The Common Man claims no impressive talent, just enthusiasm. And so, without further ado:

5) The Wild Card

The purists say the Wild Card,
is an abomination,
that rewards the mediocre teams
who should be on vacation.

But the Wild Card, every year, adds some extra spice,
to seasons that once would have been dead.
And millions of fans who would be depressed and alone,
can watch Buck and McCarver instead.

(hmmm...maybe there is a downside to this Wild Card.)

4) The Trade Deadline

Every year in July,
The rumors, they fly,
And there's an excitement that hangs in the air.

Who will get CC?
And who will get Manny?
And who gets the hero who will take the team there.

To the land of October,
Of game winning homers,
Of pennants, and races, and cheer.

And who gets shut out?
Who goes on without?
Who sadly says “wait ‘til next year?”

3) Johan Santana

Once there was a man from Tovar,
Whose left arm would take him so far,
Twice the Cy Young,
The heat dost he brung,
But it’s the change-up that’s made him a star.

2) Joe Mauer

Matinee idol,
God of summer, dome, and mask,
Will the power come?

1) Triples

With a slash,
A sphere rises into the gap,
Splitting the golems that guard the passage.
The blur races onward, tarrying not,
chalk and dirt churning beneath.
The golems give chase and inch closer to the white, spinning orb,
But cannot catch it before the blur turns yet again, head down.
Reaching their goal, the guardians return the sphere.
It comes closer,
Closer to the blur.
It bounces once from the ground and into the waiting mitt.
But…too late, for the blur is at rest.
Safely at third.
Home runs? Bah!

Here are some other things The Common Man loves about the game but was too lazy to put into iambic pentameter: The Minnesota Twins, the arc of a majestic homerun, the sweet swing of a left-handed batter, the umpire when he calls a third strike, a rich and glorious history that is still being unpacked and digested. And, finally, one bonus (and lazy) poem to maybe the greatest reason to love baseball.

*) All the Information That's Available to Read and Digest

B is for Bill James, who sired them all.
A is for Aaron Gleeman, an inspiration to amateur bloggers everywhere.
S is for Shysterball, whose insight and snark are keen.
E is for Everyone The Common Man is missing (The Hardball Times, Baseball Musings, Baseball Analysts, Carbord Gods, wezen-ball, Joe Posnansky, IIATMS, and countless others.
B is for Baseball Prospectus, now being shipped.
A is for All-Time leader in outs, which you can look up on, the best free resource on the net, though retrosheet gives it a run for its money.
L is for Leader, as in Worldwide, and their four stalwart writers, Gammons, Neyer, Olney, and Stark.
L is for Law, Keith Law.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Good News, and Bad

Thank God. You want even better news? Games start in just twelve days.

Sadly, it's not good news all around today. As Jason at It Is About the Money, Stupid, pointed out on Monday, the Japanese World Baseball team was working out Ichiro as a pitcher to use in emergency situations. Jason had high hopes for Pitchiro, saying "I have no doubt that this guy could do anything he wants on a ballfield, including hitting for power, if he put his mind to it. If he wants to become a pitcher once he hits 40, he could last another 10 years and it wouldn't surprise me the least. Of course, if he blows out his elbow Canseco-style, then prepare for the last WBC game you will ever watch!" Frankly, The Common Man can't imagine a more awesome development to come out of the World Baseball Classic. But it was not to be. According to this report, joyless bastards running the Mariners have put the kabosh on the greatest baseball phenomenon since Fernandomania. According to the same article, those killjoys, GM Jack Zdurniencik and manager Don Wakamatsu respectively, explicitly told the Seattle Times, "He's not going to pitch," and that the idea was more "propaganda than real."

"I don't think it's a good idea," Wakamatsu said. "I just don't think it is a very good idea after the career he has built. It wouldn't be worth hurting his elbow."

But The Common Man's joy, and that of millions of American and Japanese fans might be worth that much, boys, and might actually breath some excitement into what may be an otherwise dreadful summer for Mariners fans. This is how Bill Veeck used to pack them in, Seattle. Stop being such sticks in the proverbial mud and have some fun for God's sake. And see, you made this boy cry:

and this one:

and you made this one comically mad:

Way to go. Keep it up, Seattle. The Common Man can post adorable pictures of sad or crying children all day. There is a veritable world of children you can disappoint out here on teh interwebs, and The Common Man doesn't think you want that on your consciences.

Anyway, until the Seattle braintrust gets their collective heads out of their posteriors, this is all the Pitchiro the world is likely to get: