Work in Sports
The night shift
World Series won't see daylight in the East
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While rubbing the sleep from my eyes after three straight weeks of baseball past midnight, here is this week's installment of the mailbag:
Why are the World Series games starting so late? The weekend games should be played in the afternoon when the weather is nice and the weekday games should start at 6:30 p.m. ET.
I agree that at least one game, probably the Saturday Game 1, should have been an earlier start. But TV wants prime time. Why? More people watch it then. Simple as that. As Bud Selig said, any time they put playoff games on TV in the daytime, the ratings are abysmal. People vote with their TV sets. And they overwhelmingly want night games. Ican no longer argue with this de facto referendum that is taking place.
I'm not trying to belittle the injury suffered by the Vancouver Canucks' Donald Brashear -- I'm very glad he's going to be all right -- but if sticking a 90-plus mph fastball between a man's eyes and then trying to skewer the same man with a piece of a broken bat doesn't constitute grounds for criminal assault charges, what does?
It's not even close to criminal assault, so chill. Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson would have been locked up long ago if our legal system adhered to your logic.
Is Roger Clemens' excuse about "bat-gate" extremely lame, or has the bar been lowered so far that unless he goes so far as to knock off an elderly Mets fan the Rocket will continue to be considered a baseball god? What could he possibly have been thinking? He is a man (not a kid playing baseball, but a grown man) who says he doesn't have to apologize because there was no intent? I never intended to shut the car door on a friend's hand but I felt guilty about the unintended pain I had caused. I tell my children they must apologize when they physically or emotionally hurt a friend even if they had no intent to harm.
The man got caught up in the moment and blew up in front of millions of people and he sees no problem with the way he acted or the way his actions might be perceived? Give me a break or throw a bat at me to end my misery!
I will repeat: to say Clemens intended to hit Piazza with a splintered piece of wood is absurd. The man snapped. Period. But for not having the wherewithal to control his emotions in the heat of the moment -- to the point that he did endanger people -- screamed for an apology. Here Clemens fell short.
Why would the Braves get rid of Javy Lopez? He was hurt two seasons ago, but before that, he was great. He has busted off 92 home runs over the last four years, and his being hurt last year is the only reason he didn't break 100 in that span. I also question the move to get rid of Andres Galarraga. He was supposed to have been the backup for Wally Joyner this year. Galarraga's numbers were also outstanding. Which first baseman is a better option?
Baseball people don't make evaluations based on what people did two years ago. Galarraga's bat was slow at the end of the season and scouts see Lopez beginning to show the toll of his position and the injuries you mentioned. It's the age-old question: when do you decide a player's skills are diminishing? Branch Rickey's theory was better to get rid of a player one year too soon than one year too late.
With the recent managerial woes the Toronto Blue Jays have encountered, who do you think would be the best candidate to replace Jim Fregosi? Is it possible Lou Piniella could leave Seattle to manage the team or is Buck Martinez the best guy out there? Also, do you think the Jays got rid of Fregosi too quickly or was his style a poor fit for the younger team?
You can't argue with Lou Piniella's track record. He'd be great in any situation. But Buck Martinez is signed and sealed for Toronto. I think he'll do a very good job with the Blue Jays because I believe as a former catcher he knows how to handle a pitching staff, one of the toughest jobs for a manager.
What happened to Rey Ordonez? I was wondering because he is such a great defensive player and should be in the Mets lineup if he is fully recovered from his elbow injury.
Ordonez wasn't close to coming back for the postseason. He will be making a shade over $5 million over the next two years, and the Mets will see if there are any takers for him in the event that they are successful in their bid to sign Alex Rodriguez.
The Milwaukee Brewers have made getting a leadoff hitter a No. 1 priority this offseason. Who do you think will be the best candidate available through free agency or trade and at what cost to Milwaukee? They're looking to shop Marquis Grissom and it could be argued that second baseman Ron Belliard is expendable, and the third base spot (Jose Hernandez) could be upgraded.
Any interest in Devon White? Just kidding. There's not much difference between White and Grissom, both of whom are very available. Maybe they can convince the Giants to move Armando Rios, who seems trapped behind Marvin Benard now that Benard has a multiyear deal. I'd also see if I could get Johnny Damon, who may be available, but will be a free agent after next season.
Do you think the A's are going to be able to re-sign Jason Giambi? Giambi has made it clear he wants to stay with Oakland but I wonder how long his loyalty will and should last. If he wins the AL MVP, I worry the A's will have no chance to keep Giambi in light of Carlos Delgado's Toronto contract. What is Giambi's value to the Oakland franchise?
This is the first big test for the A's in terms of keeping this youthful team together. They've been able to lock up their young players to long-term deals because they haven't yet put in enough service time to have any leverage. Giambi does. He is in the Shawn Green class as far as money goes -- maybe just under Delgado at $15 million to $16 million a year. Even if he takes the hometown discount, those are huge dollars for the A's to take on. Remember this, though: Oakland has made money for the past three years. Now it's time to pay up.
Do the White Sox have a chance at signing Alex Rodriguez and Mike Hampton, and then picking up Ken Caminiti off waivers? Or do you think Jerry Reinsdorf is too cheap and will follow the "if it ain't broke why fix it" theory?
Reinsdorf has shown he will spend the money if he thinks it's a big difference-maker (Albert Belle). I don't see any way that A-Rod goes to the second team in Chicago to play in that park. Hampton appears to want to play in a warm-weather site. Caminiti is there for the taking right now.
Both Pedro Martinez and Mariano Rivera are skinny pitchers who can throw in the mid-90s, but one is a starter and the other is a closer. Had Rivera been brought up by the Yankees as a starter rather than a reliever/closer, would he be as effective as Pedro? And had Pedro had been primed for a reliever/closer role, would he be as good as Mariano?
Rivera did come up in the Yankees system as a starter. He was switched to the bullpen because he did not have great off-speed pitches. Guys who throw everything hard the way he does are perfect for the bullpen, where the short bursts of work don't require throwing three or four different pitches. That's one reason some have little regard for relief pitchers (though Rivera and Dennis Eckersley are exceptional). Many of them go to the bullpen because they don't have the repertoire to succeed as starters. If a team had a complete pitcher with a wide assortment of pitches, there is no way it would move him to short relief.
Walt Jocketty did an amazing job assembling the 2000 Cardinals. What does he have up his sleeve for 2001? Specifically, does Will Clark stay as an insurance policy for Mark McGwire, splitting time to reduce wear on Big Mac, pinch hitting and maybe spending some time in left?
I think Jocketty will have to find somebody to be an insurance policy at first base, the way the Braves did last year when they did not know how much they'd get from Galarraga. That's when they went out and got Joyner. A lot depends on how much money Clark wants. You don't want to be sinking big bucks into a guy who is an insurance policy and may not play very much if McGwire is sound. The market will be flooded with first basemen: Rico Brogna, Galarraga, Mark Grace, Joyner, Hal Morris and David Segui.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci will contribute weekly Baseball
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