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Yankees fantasy correspondent Mick Doherty was waived by because he refused to accept changes to his handshake contract. After four years, covering two teams with his often brilliant prose and occasional baseball wisdom, for the "reward" of a byline and a free fantasy game, MED deserved better.

Though I'm not very happy about it, or how it was handled, I posted a new Jays column today instead of tendering my resignation. I made a commitment I'm going to honour, but the gig won't be as much fun without Mick, and suddenly, it feels like my last year.

Doherty once a week is better than most writers every day, which ESPN forgot. They apparently had a "replacement" standing by, and pulled the plug on Mick's final piece after it was on the site for just a couple of hours. It is reproduced here, because it's my site, and I can:
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I was going to post some wry commentary on Jayson Stark's latest humor column -- he is generally trying to be funny, isn't he? -- when I read the following stunning statement from Tim Kurkjian's latest missive:

The years 1967 and 1971 were the only ones in which two players hit their 500th career home run -- this season, there could be four: Sammy Sosa is one away, and Rafael Palmeiro (10), Fred McGriff (22) and Ken Griffey Jr. (32) are close, too. The 500 Club will expand from 17 to 21. Get used to it. It probably will get to 30 in 2004.

Now WAIT a minute ... Kurkjian is saying -- it's right there, I've read it for other interpretations and can't find any -- that between Opening Day 2003 and the close of the 2004 regular season, thirteen players are going to hit their 500th home runs.

Let's look at that for a moment ...
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I'm not sure if anyone previously posted this article on prospect Dominic Rich, but it is yet another fine one by my favourite Blue Jays writer - John Lott.

Rich is quite stocky for a young 2nd baseman, which may cast doubt on his ability to avoid injury at a high-risk position (presumably, by being less nimble than a typical middle infield prospect).

Be proud, Coach. We passed the 30,000-hit mark yesterday (at least, I think it was yesterday).

This site is taking off. Hopefully we can keep our fans coming back for more.
The official site of Seligball has endured criticism about usability over the past few years, but the breadth of services now available is astounding.

Tonight, check out the live broadcast of a Red Sox-Yankees spring training contest, offered free of charge.

MLB.TV promises to be a valuable service to baseball fans everywhere. The price of the season package is comparable to Extra Innings, and the month by month rate is quite reasonable. The site claims that approximately 45 games a week will be available, subject to local blackout. The archive feature might become an invaluable tool to the baseball researcher (since even a hardcore fan can't watch more than a couple of games at the same time). It will be a godsend to baseball fans living outside of North America.

If you have sufficient bandwidth and processing speed, this might be the answer to all your baseball prayers. The Blue Jays-Yankees game 2 weeks from today is on the spring schedule

Thanks to the BB reader who found this Tampa Tribune column by Joe Henderson about the Jays manager, who says, "Teaching is more important now than ever. Players are coming into the major leagues at a quicker rate, and you have to continue to teach.''

If the Jays play as well this season as many of us think they will, expect more recognition for Tosca from outside the GTA. However, I have a hunch that the definitive look at the Little General will be part of the eagerly-anticipated 2003 Preview on Primer, penned by Ontarians Craig Burley and Robert Dudek in their spare time between contributions to this site.

Here's the game notes and box score from yesterday's loss by the "B" team in Lakeland. Today vs. the Phillies, Sturtze gets the start, and if Frank Catalanotto doesn't play, I will be officially concerned about his back.
Yesterday's 5-3 loss to the Tigers wasn't terribly interesting -- Kelvim Escobar should have to run laps for giving up a home run to Shane Halter, and Aqualino Lopez got knocked around a bit, but it was truly rewarding to see Mike Moriarty back in action and scoring runs. Today it's Tanyon Sturtze against Randy Wolf -- and don't expect the Jays to light up the Phillies' up-and-coming ace this time around. But there's continued good news all the same.

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Pop quiz: which of these 26-year-olds with a mid-90s fastball would you want?

Pitcher A
2002 Texas
4-3, 6.22, 17 G, 15 GS, 94 IP, 113 H, 16 HR, 35 BB, 70 K
2001 Texas
5-5, 7.18, 18 G, 18 GS, 105 IP, 130 H, 23 HR, 47 BB, 64 K
2001 Cincinnati
0-5, 5.48, 9 G, 9 GS, 44 IP, 46 H, 9 HR, 17 BB, 33 K
2000 Cincinnati
7-8, 5.00, 26 G, 26 GS, 140 IP, 130 H, 32 HR, 73 BB, 112 K

Pitcher B
2002 Oklahoma City (AAA)
5-0, 4.06, 12 G, 11 GS, 75 IP, 70 H, 10 HR, 25 BB, 55 K
2001 Louisville (AAA)
2-2, 3.33, 5 G, 4 GS, 27 IP, 32 H, 4 HR, 4 BB, 26 K
2000 Louisville (AAA)
4-0, 3.73, 6 G, 6 GS, 41 IP, 35 H, 6 HR, 13 BB, 47 K

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Catcher, actor, comedian, and broadcaster Bob Uecker has been awarded the 2003 Ford C. Frick Award. Richly deserved.

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Rob Neyer's latest is an excellent interview with the man who succeeded J.P. Ricciardi in Oakland. Asked how someone gets into a job many of us envy, Paul DePodesta brings to mind Branch Rickey's recipe for luck -- opportunity meets design.

"You have to be really lucky. That's a huge component, but there's just not much you can do about it. But you can do everything possible to put yourself into position to take advantage of an opportunity, which is doing your best to increase your luck. I went to work in the Canadian Football League and the American Hockey League, because I wanted to get as much experience in sports as I possibly could. I tried to meet as many people as I possibly could, so that should there be an opening in baseball or football or whatever, I was going to find about it, and I was going to fight for it."

Working in the CFL and AHL? That's determination. Studying at the University of Beane is a just reward for his efforts, and that will benefit a team smart enough to hire him as their next GM. The last graduating class was exceptional.
After yesterday's game, Cory Lidle told Mike Rutsey of the Sun, "I didn't have command of my fastball last time... today I talked to Willie (Tom Wilson) before the game and we were going to bust every hitter inside with the first pitch. When I have command of my fastball I work the inside part of the plate." More (from on Cory and his game plan:

"I throw two different speeds with my curveball. I'm trying to get the feel for the slower curveball, which I haven't had," Lidle said. "I threw a few good ones today, and I was happy with that. For the most part, I was happy with today because I worked ahead and threw strikes with all my pitches. That's what Spring Training is for."

Here's the box score from yesterday; Stewart and Hudson went deep, on pitches the great Roy Oswalt wouldn't have thrown in a regular season game. I expect the Fort Myers lineup to take the bus ride to Lakeland today; Hendrickson faces the toothless Tigers. Something resembling the real Jays may start in home games vs. the Phils tomorrow and the Yankees (TV; Sportsnet) on Saturday.
A while back, as one of the projects I was working on while I was unemployed, I dived into old microfilm records and collected interesting Jays-related quotations from newspaper articles. (I hope someday to make a book out of them.) Here's some I collected from September, 1985. They're all from the Toronto Star.
[More] (917 words) hockey analyst Terry Frei recently posted the four thousandth article this week to bemoan the NHL's ridiculously late trading deadline

What caught my eye, though, was a throwaway funny line buried between the lede and the actual analysis:

"Chemistry" is the fifth-most overused word in sports (behind "focus," "hopefully," "respect," and "athleticism") ...

Which set me a'thinkin' ... what are the most overused words in sports? Particularly, baseball. These are words, not phrases ("We gotta take 'em one game at a time ... they really came to play today ..."). Rules clarification: hyphenated phrases that act as one word ("multi-talented" and "five-tool") are OK.

I'm was gonna go with "respect," but Frei mentioned it already, and I want to focus on hopefully not disrespecting him. So I will opt for ...
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Jamey Newberg of the reliable Newberg Report has just posted news that the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has announced (that makes this an announcement about an announcement about an announcement) the Twins' signing of veteran lefty Kenny Rogers.

Primarily rumored to be headed to Boston, Chicago's South Side, Toronto or back to Arlington, Texas on May 1, Rogers will presumably fill the role of injured Twin lefty Eric Milton.

In a typically engaging essay (Cy's the Limit?") posted to Da Box earlier, Coach Kent posed the following query:

" ... how do you think Doc compares to other AL starters? Not long-term, just for the upcoming season. Or, to ask the question another way, who do you think are the leading contenders for this year's Cy Young award?"

The reaction and discussion (still ongoing at this writing) ignores one teensy point: those two questions (who are the AL's top starters? who are the leading contenders for the 2003 Cy Young Award?) are only barely related.

In the more than quarter century (1977-2002) of the post-Sutter era of closers dominating baseball's decision-making on pitching, the 26 AL Cy Young winners have fit pretty easily into four distinct categories, with some overlap -- and Halladay is Alfonso-Soriano-leads-the-AL-in-walks unlikely to fit any of the four. The one exception to the quarter-century rule (there's always one), as we will see, is a name that should be familiar to Blue Jays fans.
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