Hadn't seen this speculation before. Peter Gammons reported in his blog March 24 that the reason the infamous 2002 All Star game ended tied was "that a pitcher on one of the two teams was imbibing in the clubhouse and was not in condition to pitch, hence the game ended." Fantastic! Can't wait to find out who and the drug(s) of choice.
On the subject of the All Star Game, people that know me are always surprised that I never watch it. The outcome is inconsequential to the players and as a result, why should I care? ( Even with World Series home field advantage at stake, I still don't think the players care ) Game strategy is absent and I watch so much baseball that I've seen all these guys play anyway. As for the spectacle, I don't care, I'm interested in the competition and the industry. I don't watch the home run hitting contest either, it is boring and the balls have been juiced in the past making it even more silly. Oddly enough, I enjoy a three day break from baseball, well watching it anyway.
Strength of schedule, I've long been familiar with this sports term from watching the NFL. I am now seeing the same term used by baseball writers. We know that with the unbalanced schedule & interleague play that there are very significant disparities in, well, strength of schedule. I don't like it, I've never liked it, but it's here to stay because it is popular ( i.e. lucrative ). Yes, writers will moan this season as they do every season that there are interleague matchups that appeal to nobody, but overriding that are the hugely popular Mets / Yankees, Cubs / White Sox, Giants / A's etc. matchups. Rob Neyer blogged about it today in reaction to a piece in the NY Times by Alan Schwarz.
John Kerry continues to score some easy political points with Red Sox Nation over MLB's decision to move their out of market television package from cable to satellite. Tomorrow Kerry will chair a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the deal, seems to be shaping up as purely a PR exercise. Bob DuPuy will be there on behalf of MLB & Commissioner Selig to be chastened by Senator Kerry. I got burnt out on this story, I've read a lot about it primarily on bizofbaseball.com & in Sports Business Journal and Buster Olney @ ESPN was big on it. I think that it's been overreported and overanalyzed. The deal is going through and the fans that have been filling up boards with their venom over it represent only the hardest of the hardcore. As big a geek as I am, I've never subscribed to the package ( Canadian distribution of the EI package is unaffected by the deal at this point ). There is only so much time to watch baseball. I'll get practically all the Jays games + Red Sox on WSBK, Mets on WPIX, Cubs and White Sox on WGN, plus ESPN Sunday nite baseball on TSN, plus I have Triple A in town both live and on tv. How much more do I need? Ok, I'll also be watching a bit on my PC via MLB.TV, I am a geek after all.
On the other side of New England politics, I took a very quick look at Curt Schilling's blog today. It's been a bit trendy this spring because he is Curt Schilling & it's novel for a jock to have a blog. ( Although I think Canseco was way ahead of the curve, does anybody remember his 1 800 line where you could receive the latest Jose update ? ) I was hoping he might be up on his soap box about politics but a brief scan didn't reveal any political talk. I find it very humorous that this mythical Red Sox ( the bloody sock ) is a Republican. That must be tough for Red Sox Nation to swallow.
I've noted here previously that the June Rule IV draft is really an auction, draft is a misnmoer. The biggest factor in the amateur draft is not where a team is picking or how many supplemental picks they have but how much money they are spending. No surprise, according to Gammons "One NL front-office executive says the Red Sox spent $13.5 million in last June's draft, the Yankees spent $13 million and the next biggest spender was at $5 million." These amounts do not include the money spent on International signings, increasingly significant with the decline in number of American players.
As I predicted, the Padres released Todd Walker in order to save about 3 million dollars. Walker won an arbitration case with the Padres in the offseason, he was awarded almost 4 million dollars. The Padres are on the hook for "only" about $900,000 of the deal by releasing him at this point. There have been rumors for awhile that the PA might challenge his release.
A lot is being written, including here, about how horrible the Nationals will be this year. Oddly enough I think their Columbus Triple A team will be pretty good. They have so many "4A" vets that they should field a very competitive team in the IL.
Local RH Philippe Aumont gets a mention in Keith Law's ESPN blog today. Mr. Law thinks that Aumont's performance in FLA this month with Team Canada was impressive enough to warrant selection in the "top 5 - 10 picks". Harden, Bédard, Francis, Loewen...MLB is finding some big time arms up here. I think this trend will continue, fewer American kids playing ball, the teams have to go abroad to find talent.
I've been an avid fan of Triple A baseball for the past 15 years and I know that the single biggest factor for on the field success is the health of the parent team. Having said that, it appears that the Lynx could be in for a challenging beginning to the season. The Phillies have 2 pitchers ( Garcia & Leiber ) + 1 catcher ( Ruiz ) hurting with less than 2 weeks to go before the Lynx season opener.