Tag Archive | "High Profile"

The Purity Of The Pastime

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The Purity Of The Pastime

Posted on 01 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

The game of baseball is something that is near and dear to me. It has been passed down from family members and played since a young age. The game, along with the eventual bride to be, is two things that I am absolutely crazy about with the hopes of making baseball a career some day. Growing up, if the uniform was not dirty, everything was not left out on the field. Playing the game hard and the right way were core values given to me by some great coaches. The beauty of baseball can also be turned into life lessons as well.

RetroBaseball

Steroids are a delicate subject currently in baseball. It is a line in the dirt that has affected the game for the wrong reasons. However, it has not ruined the game entirely. Despite all of the reports, congressional hearings, PED’s, HGH, and any other abbreviations there is still much to be celebrated.

This past offseason, the latest report naming players that allegedly took substances was released with more high profile names included such as Ryan Braun again and Gio Gonzalez. The latest report appears to have a common factor of ties to the Miami area and university. The university has already had its fair share of troubles and this is seemingly being added to the list of dark clouds.

Since the mid 90’s, the game as been viewed as the “steroid era” and the image and commissioner have both taken a hit for that facing the questions of just how clean is the game? While the commissioner has implemented great things that have improved the game such as the Wild Card and instant replay, many believe the stance on drug use was turned the other way.

Some may even forget that these talks and questions really began to take shape in 2005 and 2006 when Jose Canseco released the book Juiced. The information published in that book caused a serious stir around the game. Denials of any and all claims mentioned became the thing to do and Canseco became an outcast. Fast forward nearly a decade and now many of the things written have been discovered as truths rather than fiction.

In baseball, much like the other sports has some bad that comes with the good. For someone that loves the true meaning of sports that is hard to accept. The beauty of sports should be that for those two or three hours that the game is being played nothing else should matter. The game should be the story, the heart, and hustle. There should be no back drop of steroids, or criminal allegations to clutter things. It is sad when the games fans love are taken advantage of, because who would not give anything to trade places with a professional athlete? We should take notice of the clubs and players doing things the right way as opposed to the select few that do not.

Inner circles use the terms like dirt bags or grinders. Guys that seemingly give every ounce they have for their team and leave it all on the field. Guys like Dustin Pedroia, Chipper Jones, and Derek Jeter often have uniforms where dirt is the primary color and earn that respect from their peers. Steroids are never brought up about guys like this. Rather, the effort and hustle are praised. They are just a few players that do not take the game for granted.

This year, for the first time in a long time no players were elected into the Hall of Fame. The question is what does that mean for future players? Will a few bad apples ruin it for the rest? I do not believe so. During the era, some players still did it the right way and will be honored. Upcoming Hall of Fame eligible players include Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, and Ken Griffey Jr. who should all be first ballot inductees.

No question, my favorite player is The Kid. Along with the on field talent, he brought that energy, that purity, and that smile to the game. He was a human highlight show and role model with the purest swing in the game. For the saber metrics, Griffey’s 1997 MVP season reads as a .304 batting average, 56 home runs, 147 RBI’s, and the most important number, 0. Zero being the number of steroid reports, PED’s, and accusations leaked.

The use of steroids should never be condoned, however the era should never be completely ignored or have an asterisk next to it either. It should be treated and accepted as apart of the game and just another chapter as good still emerged during the same period as well. The same time frame brought us stories such as the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks and Cal Ripken becoming the new iron man. History does not discount the dead ball era and in today’s game this should be no different. No asterisks are found on pitchers stats such as the great Bob Gibson prior to 1969 when the pitching mound was different and clean players today should not be discredited with accomplishments either.

The purpose of the Baseball Hall of Fame committee is to vote and elect the best players from the sport and enshrine them in Cooperstown. They are to be impartial and select only the few worthy players. As the game hopefully moves away from the PED’s and gets cleaned up, those players will still rise above the rest and become enshrined.

As Opening Day approaches, here is to the steroid cloud hopefully fading away. The game still has and will always have many things to cherish about it. The core is still pure. To borrow a line from a movie, “The game does not stink, it is a great game.”

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We Will Not Waiver

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We Will Not Waiver

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Dennis Lawson

President Selig

President George Bush said this.  Actually, he said something slightly different, and he was not speaking about baseball or revocable waivers.  However, he had a good idea, if you change the words and apply them to MLB.

“We will not waver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.” -George Bush in 2001

MLB’s revocable waiver period represents a rather illogical extension of the non-waiver trading period.  Teams play a rather ridiculous game of cat-and-mouse using this period after the pseudo-trade deadline expires to dangle players, rid themselves of bloated contracts, or just tease opposing teams with a glimpse at what could be.  The travesty of this lies in the way teams play this demeaning game and in doing so also game the system.

Consider first a scenario in which a team has already concluded that contending for a playoff spot falls into the realm of “pipe dream”.  The team has a few high-profile players signed to deals that run for another 3-4 years.  If they make overtures to trade said players, they risk offending the players as well as the fan base.  If they try to quietly make it know that players “A” and “B” could be had for the right price, someone will inevitably let that information slip to some media person who will tweet the information before concluding the conversation with the “high-placed, reliable source within the organization”.  Get the drift?

Then contemplate a second scenario in which the same team waits until past the trade deadline to make a few calls (or send texts/emails/candygram).  Both players “A” and “B” get quietly placed on revocable waivers.  When someone finally realizes that both players have hit the waiver wire, the GM or a patsy acting on behalf of the GM can always say the move was a strategic one to smoke out potential buyers and better assess weaknesses other teams have.  Also, the team owns some oceanfront property in Arizona and a bridge that it deems fit for sale.

Of course, the waiver process involves teams making claims (or not) which get prioritized from the bottom of one league to the top and repeated from bottom to top in the other league, if no team makes a claim.  This highly sophisticated form of calling “dibs” on a waived player amounts to a lot of sound and smoke that typically signifies absolutely nothing.  Some teams simply use the opportunity to cast off roster fodder in hopes someone else will pick up the tab.  Other teams scour the waiver wire for a guy like Randy Wolf who can handle giving the team a good 6-8 losses by the end of the season.  Then you have what the Dodgers and Red Sox pulled off recently.  Almost a quarter of a billion in payroll changed from one set of books to another.  No issue with that here, but it merits mentioning that under a slightly different system of rules, that deal may have been put together sooner.

That’s not to say that the Dodgers “deserve” to have the services of one Adrian Gonzalez for an extra month, but for another team in another time a similar deal could make a huge difference.  Why not consider either pushing the non-waiver trade deadline back, or changing some of the trading rules to make the waiver period much longer and easier to navigate?  Make this whole process a bit more exciting by making a few not-so-subtle changes, too.

  • All players without no-trade or limited no-trade protection clauses get to create 3 tiers of trade preferences.  Each tier consists of 10 teams.  If the player gets traded to a team in the 1st preferred tier, he gets a pat on the back and plane ticket out of town.  If the player gets traded to a team in the 2nd preferred tier, he gets a bonus equal to 10% of his base salary for the season.  If the player goes to a team in the 3rd preferred tier, he gets a bonus of 20% his base pay and a coupon to 20% off his next meal at Olive Garden.
  • Either the trade deadline gets moved to the end of August, or the entire period from opening day to August 31st becomes a really long, revocable trade period.  Move the trade deadline back, and teams can push off the “fight or flight” decision about playoff legitimacy until the races really take shape.  Go with the waiver plan, and teams have more flexibility to be active without inviting public relations nightmares to surface.

Why all the trouble?  Legit question.  The current system worked fine for a while, and few would complain about keeping it a while longer.  However, the addition of 1 more wild card spot in each league completely changes things.  Maybe the first wild card spot projects in mid-July to go to a team that hits 91-92 wins.  Under that condition, a lot of teams hovering close to a .525-50 winning percentage have to seriously consider whether to buy, sell, or hold.  Let us then say that the 2nd wild card spot projects to go for around 88 wins.  That brings a lot of potential contenders back into the conversation.  Unfortunately, mid-July and early October are separated by an awful lot of games on the schedule.

What if a team decides on August 1st that it can really make a run with just a little added help?  The current system makes it very difficult for that team to finagle a #3 starting pitcher or a middle infielder who can hit .270.  Seems like a real shame to me.  Give the waiver/trade system more flexibility, and maybe the redistribution of talent will increase the number of games that “count” later in the season as more teams than ever before consider themselves contenders.  What is there to lose?  Sure, the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” could widen at first, and the 2012 Dodgers might be the case study for that happening.  However, the 2015 Dodgers might produce the case study for how talent redistribution via the exchange of bloated contract obligation tranches brings down a franchise for years.

Let the big money players make the same moves big money players have always made, but give the small market teams more chances to dump contracts onto them.  It could help effectively level the playing field without altering the luxury tax system or the revenue sharing process.  Think about it.

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