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Jays fans have to be excited about the published reports that George Steinbrenner wants to hire Lou Piniella.

Not only would it mean the end of the incredibly successful reign of Joe Torre; not only would it mean replacing Torre's calm, steady hand on the tiller with Piniella's alienating pressure cooker approach; not only would it mean panic is setting in in the Bronx; not only would it mean Steinbrenner is back to sticking his ignorant nose actively into baseball decisions; but it would also mean hefty compensation flowing from the Yankees to the D-Rays. The D-Rays had to part with Randy Winn to get Piniella in the first place; what delights might they wring from the Yanks in mid-season to part with him? Of course, knowing the D-Rays they'll ask for Raul Mondesi or something.

The Yankees, incidentally, are looking to get Bernie Williams back around the All-Star break.

So Mark Bellhorn got traded to the Rockies for Jose Hernandez, very much a challenge trade as both are going to be third basemen. I think the Rockies got the better deal, but the Cubs are trying to win now and rather than try to talk Dusty Baker into giving Bellhorn a further shot this is the easier way out. Dusty isn't going to like those strikeouts, though.

If Major League Baseball is concerned about losing fans, they might want to take a look at exercising some more control over how baseball is covered by the media. Baseball Tonight is a case in point. Reacting to the Bellhorn-Hernandez deal, Baseball Tonight panelist Rob Dibble was asked whether Hernandez would be a good pickup for the Cubs. His answer? "Well... I hope so... they traded for him... he did strike out 186 times... we'll see." That statement isn't just vapid, it's semantically null. No wonder people think baseball is the most boring thing out there, given the goddamn air pockets that are paid to talk about it in the mainstream media.

The Tigers are still on pace to better the modern mark of 120 losses set by the '62 Mets. Having been battered in the still-spacious confines of Comerica Park by the Indians (21 runs in three straight losses), their pitchers now get to go to Coors Field. Yummy. Graphic of the day:'s "Clubhouse" for the Tigers features (as it does for all teams) a chart of the three "Top Young Hitters" for the team. Craig Monroe features on the chart for the Tigers. (Of course, Erick Almonte features for the Yankees...)

Kyle Farnsworth might want to concentrate a bit more on keeping his head down. We've all seen the highlights now... after the Reds and Cubs had traded plunkings, Farnsworth threw a fastball high and tight to Cincy starter Paul Wilson as Wilson was attempting to bunt. Words were exchanged, benches were emptied, and Wilson was bloodied rather badly. Farnsworth, who had the ERA of a jetliner last year, was feeling his oats on the mound after the brawl, obviously pleased with himself. Psst... Kyle... what goes around comes around, believe it or not. And Paul Wilson should think twice the next time he rushes a 6-4, 250-pound football player.

Reds bench coach Ray Knight, who was a bit of a red-ass in his playing days, might well be the one egging the Reds on to these brawls. He'll get someone hurt in one of them, no doubt, sooner or later, hopefully not Ken Griffey Jr. again. He always seemed to be in the thick of the brawls as a player, including some memorable ones (like the time he got mad at Eric Davis for stealing third base and began to pummel him right then and there... leading to the famous situation where Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell played the outfield and swapped back and forth). Read through the boxscore and play-by-play of that game sometime, and tell me if it isn't the strangest thing you've ever seen. Left out of that play-by-play is Pete Rose's ejection for arguing how many warmup pitches Jesse Orosco was allowed, and the protest that was entered over that fact. Baseball Primer reader Mike Mundy remembers the brawl Knight precipitated... giant Dave Parker was apparently picking guys two at a time off the pile, and tossing them aside, but I don't remember this.

The Expos are coming home, bloodied and bent, but unbowed. A win over the Pirates yesterday (their third game in less than 20 hours) meant they ended their 22-game road trip at 8-14. They went 1-8 to start the trip, won six straight, and then lost six in a row before yesterday's win. They're seven behind the Braves but only three behind the Giants and Dodgers for the wild card, and with their schedule much more normal from here on out, they may be able to make up ground once Vlad comes back.

Padres manager Bruce Bochy is shamelessly promoting both Mark Loretta and Rondell White as potential All-Stars. You know what, Bruce? Nobody, not even Padres fans, likes this one-player-per-team rule. At least have the decency to shut up about it.

Still on the Padres, when Rod Beck recorded the save on Sunday (his first since 2001) it was a nice comeback moment... "it's not any more special than any other one," he said, "other than it's been a long time and it's good for my family, because they're the ones who pushed me to come back." One can only assume they were trying to get him the hell out of the trailer.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Cal State-Fullerton shortstop Justin Turner, who took a nasty pitch square in the face yesterday during the College World Series. Those of you who saw the replay will not be able to believe that Turner is "just" badly cut and bruised, and had no broken bones or teeth. His worst injury might be the sprained ankle he suffered while trying to duck.
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_Scott Lucas - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 02:24 AM EDT (#99603) #
Congratulations on what has to be the first column ever to use both "semantically null" and "red=ass."

I like the All-Star game's at-least-one-player-per-team rule. I strongly support it. Really.

As a young Ranger fan (circa 1978), I would watch the player introductions to catch a glimpse of Jim Sundberg or Buddy Bell. And, I'd watch until the late innings just to see the Ranger repesentative get his one at-bat (Rangers were never elected to start). I remember Jim Kern pitching (poorly) in the 1979 contest. It meant a lot to me, and it carried over into lifelong fandom.

With "Baseball Tonight" and with most games carried on cable in local markets, perhaps I'm describing a situation that no longer exists. But at the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I'd like to think that there are youngsters today who feel the same way. And for the rest of us jaded fans, the world isn't going to end just because Dmitri Young played in the 2003 All-Star game.
_A - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 03:49 AM EDT (#99604) #
Can somebody please give some insight into what in the world the *genious master-mind* who came up with the concept BASEBALL NORTH was smoking at the time? I challenge anyone else to find a worse attempt at branding an image.

Honestly, the ads had some humour to them (eg Lidle's 135/Kph fastball) but trying to sell people on Vernon Wells-style winter hats in the middle of summer is never gonna fly, at least not in a town where we spend 8 months of the year b*tching and complaining it's too cold. Seeing the Jays go all out promoting this bird-brain idea makes me wonder if they did any market research.

To put a wrap on this rant that's been building up since Opening Day and spurred by the label that pops up when you move your mouse over the link to the Jays' official site (top-left of the page)...A half-assed *green* laser show on SkyDome's turf will not put fans in the seats, convince us we're somewhere tropical and they might get fans in the seats.

That said, I'll be at the game on Wednesday.

Just to add a slight relevance to this post...As much as the one-player-per-team rule bugs me when I have to put up with teams like Detroit contributing (argueably) high level AAA talent to the Mid-summer Classic, I'm still thankful I don't have to look at the Yankee's line-up against the NL All-Stars. On top of that, if we're looking to popularize the game in small-market/struggling cities, we won't get anywhere if the fans in those cities can't relate to at least one player in the game.
robertdudek - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 08:12 AM EDT (#99605) #
When I was a youngster, the ALL-Star game was an opportunity to see players I would almost never see (except twice a week on Saturday and Monday before football season).

With cable, MLB Extra innings and MLB TV archives, this is no longer the case. I just can't imagine that the ALl-Star game has remotely the significance for today's young fan as it did for me.
Pistol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 08:21 AM EDT (#99606) #
Has there ever been an instance where a team traded for a manager in the MIDDLE of a season?
Pepper Moffatt - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 09:55 AM EDT (#99607) #
Has there ever been an instance where a team traded for a manager in the MIDDLE of a season?

It's happened a few times. In fact Joe Gordon manager of the Indians and Jimmy Dykes manager of the Tigers were both traded on the same day in 1960 (halfway through the season). This would be a huge coincidence except for the fact they were traded for each other.

_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 09:59 AM EDT (#99608) #
So Mark Bellhorn got traded to the Rockies for Jose Hernandez,

As a Bellhorn owner in the BBFL, I don't know what to think of this.
_Cristian - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 10:00 AM EDT (#99609) #
For the most part, I like the Baseball North theme. Most of the spots are clever if not redundant---it's cold in Canada. I get it already. The one spot that irks me however is the one with Delgado batting. The punchline as Delgado swings is "and we were worried about the States using up all our lumber." Any semi-intelligent fan would realize that there is (and never has been) any fear about the States using up all our lumber. We have plenty and wish that we were able to sell more of it to our southern neighbour. It is the forestry industry in the U.S., afraid of losing market share and not being able to understand our system of land ownership, that has lobbied to keep our lumber out. I wish that the Jays' marketing department did a little bit of research before airing that spot.
_Jordan - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 10:09 AM EDT (#99610) #
Spicol, what say we re-enact that trade in the BBFL? I'll send you a Hernandez-for-Bellhorn offer.
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#99611) #
Jordan, I mulled it over...I really did. I spent at least 2 minutes thinking about it, which for me is a very long time, and I'll have to say no, thanks. My fear is that Coors has screwed Jose up so badly, that he will forget how to hit at sea level. Moving from Coors in the off-season is one thing but in the middle of a season, who know what will happen?

Now, if you were to throw in say, Brad Wilkerson and I were to throw in a pitcher like Livan Hernandez or someone else you like, that might get it done.
_Jordan - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#99612) #
How about Jim Thome and Mark Prior? You can even have your choice of non-Octavio setup men to round out the deal.

Go for the gusto, I always say.
_Jonny German - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 10:59 AM EDT (#99613) #
I'm with Scott and A in support of the mandatory rep requirement for the All-Star game. To those of you who are so passionately against it, I ask, "What is the point of the All-Star game?" To me there are three answers to this question:

Hard Right: "To put the very best players from each league into one game against each other." I'm looking at those of you who have a problem with the likes of Rocco Baldelli going to the game.

Literal: "To put a team of stars from each league into one game against each other." Is Rocco Baldelli a star? Well, he is to Tampa Bay fans. I'd like to see a lineup of the "worst" All-Stars of all time, and I'll argue that every one of them was a star in some sense of the word. Corollary: This lineup cannot include players chosen by their own manager.

Hard Left: "To promote the game of baseball, everywhere, primarily to casual and non-fans." Not only is Rocco Baldelli a star in Tampa, he's an extremely marketable player and promotes the game of baseball just by playing it. As Scott and A mentioned, if you don't include a player from every team you alienate some portion of the fans in those markets that get excluded. And while the people on the Hard Right will argue that they are alienated by Vernon Wells having to stay home so Rocco can go, they'll more than likely still pay attention to the game itself and will definitely continue to be baseball fans. And you fine folk are a tiny minority next to the casual and non-fans in Tampa or any other Major League market.
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 11:09 AM EDT (#99614) #
I'd like to see a lineup of the "worst" All-Stars of all time, and I'll argue that every one of them was a star in some sense of the word

Two words: Scott Cooper
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 11:14 AM EDT (#99615) #
How about Jim Thome and Mark Prior? You can even have your choice of non-Octavio setup men to round out the deal.

That would be fair. The set-up guy would make up for the keeperness of Prior. But, I couldn't accept a 3 for 2 player deal. With Beckett coming off the DL shortly, I'm trying to get rid of players, not take more on.

Howsabout the one I just sent you?
Coach - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 11:19 AM EDT (#99616) #
I love how these Notes inspire free-for-all discussions. Has anyone asked Lou if he wants to return to the Zoo? At his age, being king of his home town and having modest expectations sounds like the best possible gig to me. I think GMS III and Torre are through, but unless the public sniping gets personal, Joe will finish the season.

This is the first time I've ever been "Hard Right" on anything, Jonny. Budzilla's decision to make the game "meaningful" pushed me in that direction; I was more laissez-faire until this year. And you omitted the most important part of the "Hard Left" definition -- to maximize cash in the pockets of Fox and MLB.

Baseball North doesn't bug me (except for the geography; we're south of Seattle, Minneapolis and Montreal). It's a quantum leap ahead of "I love a parade" or "come see the opponents, who are really good." Interestingly, the TV spots I care for the least are my wife's favourites. I still want to see Tosca on the mound calling for a reliever, and Politte, a la Charlie Sheen, racing out of the bullpen -- on a snowmobile.
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 11:26 AM EDT (#99617) #
Interestingly, the TV spots I care for the least are my wife's favourites.

That is Roy Halladay being seranaded by Chris Woodward in the canoe right? It's a little hard to tell through all of the pink chenille.
Dave Till - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 11:39 AM EDT (#99618) #
I still want to see Tosca on the mound calling for a reliever, and Politte, a la Charlie Sheen, racing out of the bullpen -- on a snowmobile.

And I still want to see the entire bullpen chowing down on poutine (or Timbits).

How about Josh Phelps getting hit by a pitch, and then taking a snowball out of his pocket and throwing it at the mound (which is off-screen), followed by a sharp "Ow!"

Or the entire ballclub backed up in cottage country traffic, or standing on a subway platform and groaning when they hear the "Attention all subway passengers" announcement?

Or Carlos Delgado curling?
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 12:10 PM EDT (#99619) #
The trade has finished. Thanks, Jordan. That was the most sane, rational round of negotiations I've been a part of in this league.

For those who are interested, the deal went down like this:

Red Mosquitos (Me) trade Mark Bellhorn, Sean Casey and Mark Prior.
Jim Thome, Richard Hidalgo and Octavio Dotel of the Sub-Urban Shockers(Jordan).

It hurts deeply to give up a sure keeper like Prior but methinks me offense sucked and now it doesn't.
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 12:11 PM EDT (#99620) #
Whoops...sorry got my trade offers confused. It was Jose Hernandez I received, not Richard Hidalgo.
_Jonny German - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 01:45 PM EDT (#99621) #
...the most important part of the "Hard Left" definition -- to maximize cash in the pockets of Fox and MLB.

You're absolutely right, Coach, but that's the nature of a business and I don't see why we should hold it against them... I'm wondering if I got my "Hard Left" and "Hard Right" labels backwards, because besides this and your statement about never being Hard Right, I'm rarely over on the Left.

The game is now meaningful, but that just enhances the inherent implication that it's about which league is better. That said, having a mandatory rep requirement provides a measure, be it very small, of the breadth of talent in the leagues rather than just the depth... The AL may have more of the best players, for instance, but the NL may have a more even distribution of top players. The only argument that the regulations are inherently unfair to one league or the other would pertain to the DH, and that's a separate can of worms.

I'll have to get back to you on Scott Cooper, Spicol, no time to look him up right now.
_Jordan - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 02:30 PM EDT (#99622) #
Thanks in return, Spicol -- rational's my speciality! Same thing for me -- I simply needed the pitching, and had the offence to give up. Good trade for both clubs, I think, which is the best kind.
Coach - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#99623) #
I'm against pretty much everything Bud does to the AS game, or the game of baseball, so maybe I've overreacted to the latest change; I'm not as rational as Jordan. As usual, there's been a lot of MLB "fixing" things that weren't broken.

Blockbuster trade, dudes. If anyone wants to dump one of their problems, Jeff Weaver's (almost) free to a good home right now. And now that Giambi has shown up, I would consider moving Huff for a pitcher.
robertdudek - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 03:11 PM EDT (#99624) #
Count me among the hard right on this issue. I like the fan voting (I would include a slot for starting pitcher) for starters. If Baldelli is really a big star then the fans will vote him in (as they did with Ichiro). The rest of the team should be the best players available, which doesn't necessarily include a charity case from the Detroit Tigers.

The game is much more interesting to me if it's really a contest between (for the most part) the best players. The fact that Carlos Delgado will likely participate is interesting to me only insofar as he is one of the best players around (not because he's a Jay). I can watch Carlos and Vernon everyday and I don't NEED to watch them in the All-Star game.

I wouldn't want Vernon to play if he took the spot of someone more deserving.

I think the 14/16 managers from their respective leagues should select the non-starters by submitting a ballot of the most deserving 16 (similar to the writer's MVP voting system). The top 16 guys get to go as long as all the positions are reasonably covered.
_Spicol - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 03:25 PM EDT (#99625) #
Coach, I wouldn't mind a crack at Huff. I'd prefer to send you 2 players for him if at all possible. Do I have 2 you're interested in?
Coach - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 05:28 PM EDT (#99626) #
Spicol, I'll get back to you. I've made an offer to another team for the pitcher I want and will leave it on the table for a day or two.

What better thread to hijack? In his latest ATM report, Lee Sinins says the Yankees should have forfeited their latest "rainout":

Yesterday's Devil Rays-Yankees game was called, not because of rain, but due to the Yankees not wanting to play. There was minimal rain, which stopped right after the game was called...

...The Yankees didn't want Jeff Weaver to have to pitch against the Mets. By calling yesterday's game, Andy Pettitte (who's having a terrible season himself) gets moved into today's start and Weaver gets to be skipped.

Football has clock management. Baseball has calendar management.
_Jonny German - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 05:55 PM EDT (#99627) #
Now that I've had a chance to look up Scott Cooper, all I can say is, Wow. You've got me there Spicol, this guy probably wasn't even a star in his home town... The only excuse I'll make is that Cito screwed up huge, there were at least 3 Red Sox in both 1993 and 1994 that would not have been an embarrassment to Boston and all of MLB by being at the All-Star game.

Does anybody remember the circumstances behind Cooper being picked? Did he he have a ridiculous first half / second half split in two consecutive years? Was Cito mad at Boston and looking to make a mockery of their All-Star representation?
_Jonny German - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 05:56 PM EDT (#99628) #
Sorry about that HTML mess...
_Jonny German - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 06:08 PM EDT (#99629) #
Whoever loses out on the Huff sweepstakes, feel free to offer me an infielder for Tim Salmon.
Craig B - Friday, June 20 2003 @ 06:18 PM EDT (#99630) #
No *way* is Scott Cooper an example of how bad All-Stars can get.

For a really bad All-Star, try Tyler Green.
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