Friday March 5, 2004
Nathan Signs Deal
Should Vikes Trade Moss?
After taking a day off yesterday, I really need to write something for this weekend. In case you missed it the past two days, be sure to check out my review of The Passion. The movie is even more amazing than Stanford’s second last second three point win last night over Washington State last night!
Thanks for stopping back and thanks to those who sent me supportive e-mails throughout the day! Today, I am just going to post a number of thoughts on things baseball, football and some other random tidbits. I hope you enjoy this. I am also working on a big project that I hope to have complete early next week, so be sure to keep checking back. So, let’s start the randomness with some baseball topics:
NATHAN SIGNS TWO YEAR DEAL -
The Twins signed reliever Joe Nathan to an incentive-laden two year contract. He will make $440,000 this year, and then incentives protect the team in case he is a set up man and not the closer. I happen to think this is a great signing. If he does become the closer and has a strong season, the Twins won’t have to go to arbitration with him. If he struggles and Jesse Crain steps in as the closer, he will make less. Good, creative contract.
GAME ONE -
The Twins opened up their official spring training schedule last night with a game against the cross-town Red Sox in Ft. Myers. The Twins fell 5-3, but that is really the least important thing about the game. The most important thing is simply that they are playing spring training games. That means it’s just a month from the regular season opener! Second, especially early in spring training, it is important for Ron Gardenhire and the rest of the coaching staff to see a lot of players. Pitchers probably won’t pitch more than 2, maybe 3, innings in their first appearances. And players are trying to show their skills, all in an attempt to better their standing in the organization. For instance, minor league catcher Gabby Torres hit a solo home run in the 7th inning. That is something that the coaching staff will remember, and maybe instead of Torres starting the season at Class A, he sticks in camp longer and starts at AA. Spring Training is a time for the sure bets to get ready for the season, but for the guys on the bubble, or sure minor leaguers, it is just a chance to impress the coaches, to give them something to remember for down the road.
Kyle Lohse started and went two scoreless innings, walking just one and striking out one. In the third inning, with Joe Mauer and Christian Guzman on base, Luis Rivas doubled them both in. The Twins were ahead 3-2 in the 8th when a run scored on a Michael Cuddyer error at 3B.
For much more on last night’s game, check out the Twins Geek today. He has plenty on Dan Gladden’s job as a play-by-play man, and much more.
Former Twins - Here is how some former Twins performed yesterday with their new teams:
The most impressive showing was put in by the Philadelphia Phillies Eric Milton who pitched three shutout innings, no hits, no walks, one strikeout, against the Yankees.
There were a number of former Twins who played in yesterday’s ESPN-televised game matching the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants. AJ Pierzynski caught for the Giants and was 0-2, but I did see him take an 8 pitch walk! Dustan Mohr entered the game in right field for the Giants and went 0-2. Todd Walker was the 2B and leadoff hitter for the Chicago Cubs. He went 0-2. LaTroy Hawkins pitched a 1-2-3, 8th inning with a strikeout.
There were two former Twins playing in the Tigers/Expos game yesterday. Warren Morris of the Tigers came in as a replacement for Fernando Vina and went 0-1. Pat Mahomes is in camp with the Expos. He pitched two innings. He walked two, allowed five hits including a home run, and gave up 4 earned runs. And he took the loss.
Mike Lincoln pitched a perfect inning for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Two former Twins are playing for the Oakland A’s. Bobby Kielty played left field and batted second. He was 1-3 (no walks). Mark Redman started for the A’s. He lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up 3 earned runs. He gave up 5 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 3.
Remember former top pick Dave McCarty? Last year, he ended the season with the Boston Red Sox. This year, he is coming to camp hoping to be the next Brooks Kieschnick. In other words, not only is he vying for a bench spot, but he is also trying out as a left-handed reliever.
Former Twins catcher Tom Prince will be a hitting coach for Williamsport, a Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
MORE BASEBALL TALK
This steroid situation is now way out of hand. I wrote about the steroid topic last week. In that, I said, that I am not naïve enough to think that no one uses steroids. However, this is America. How about “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.” Barry Bonds can’t go anywhere without being asked about it. I was happy today that he just stopped answering any questions about it. I won’t add any more to this topic, however, I want to point you to a great article by ESPN Page 2’s Ralph Wiley called “Is it Steroids or Sour Grapes?” Here are some excerpts that I really like and agreed with:
It's not like you can all of a sudden sneak up and have 700 home runs in the big leagues. There is nothing, absolutely nothing on this green earth that you can eat drink, sniff, inject or rub on yourself that can make you hit 700 home runs in the Show. That product exists only in our collective imagination, and if he did drink the spiked Kool-Aid, so to speak, this would include Bonds.
Because if that were the case, in spite of all the "outrage," bottles of the stuff would be getting knocked back by just about everybody. People who are currently "outraged" would not only use it, they'd have their kids on it. But you know and I know, deep down inside, there is no such product.
I think that a lot of people somehow think that a player with steroids in their system will hit more home runs. The fact is that the player still has to be an incredible player, like Bonds. The steroids haven’t given Bonds the best eye in baseball. The steroids have in no way affected how amazingly quick Bonds wrists and swing are. A little science thrown into the subject:
Let's start with Syd Thrift, former general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates when Bonds first came up. Sixteen years ago I went to do a story for Sports Illustrated on Thrift, and on the success of the young Buccos, who were doing well in spite of a low payroll, with players like catcher Spanky Lavalliere, second baseman Jose Lind, outfielder Slick Van Slyke and infielder Bobby Bonilla -- all of whom, it should be noted, are no longer player big-league baseball, which flies in the face of the theory that whatever Bonds has accomplished is chemically-induced. Don't steroids eventually break you down and cause terrible physical problems, rip the tendon from bone and swell organs up and cause muscles to screw and malfunction rather than extend and contract as they do naturally?
But isn't Barry Bonds is out there every year, year after year, performing at the highest level? Where's Jose Canseco? Where is Ken Caminiti? Where is Brady Anderson? Where is Mark McGwire? Isn't that strange, for a man abusing even so much as food, or alcohol, or tobacco, or illegal pharmaceuticals, or certain other alkaloids, to have such longevity? Is Barry Bonds, by all accounts an egotistical sort, secretly sneaking around washing down monster steroids with water from the Fountain of Youth?
Now, I’m not a scientist, but if what Wiley says is supposed to happen to someone who takes steroids for so long, why is it that Bonds is still playing? Wouldn’t his body have worn down and eroded? You would think so, and yet, he’s as good as ever.
And now the best part of the article, the part I can not at all disagree with, that this whole situation…:
…seems to me to be rather curiously timed to Barry Bonds being on the cusp of breaking the home-run records of the most iconic figure(s) in all of American baseball history. Really, though, wouldn't you agree, it's mostly all about him passing Babe Ruth, the mighty Babe, and then, oh-by-the-way, Hank Aaron? Isn't it about Barry Bonds breaking those records by "cheating"? Isn't it about fair play, and being "clean," and the "purity" of the game? Isn't it about whether Bonds' records are now "tainted"? Isn't it?
Well, then, let me suggest this to you, and it doesn't matter if what I say now causes such outrage in your heart that you go Romo on me, want to throw your laptop and break my left orbital socket with it. Might be a good idea, as far as you're concerned, but it won't change the truth of it.
Ruth's records are tainted. Aaron's records are tainted.. They were each amassed by human beings performing in imperfect human systems. So of course they're tainted.
Gasp!!! Jeff Kent made comments last week about Ruth and other players from the past could have been taking steroids, and we don’t know. Those comments were meaningless because they were based on nothing. Wiley backs up his comments very well. He thinks they were tainted by things they could not affect.
Think about it, Babe Ruth played and put up his amazing numbers against less then the full collection of players.
But I do not blame Babe Ruth, hold it against him, that his records were amassed in a league that prohibited the participation of much of the skilled labor force, the black and the brown, the Latin American or the Asian, the African-Americans from the same land of origin.
He’s absolutely right. It’s not Ruth’s fault, but it certainly gave him an advantage. But what about Hank Aaron, what ‘taints’ his numbers? And what about people who work in other professions?
If there was a "pure" era, it was the era between 1947 and, say, 1980, when performance-enhancing drugs became prevalent. That was the era occuring after Jackie Robinson opened up the game, the era of Mantle, Mays, Aaron and Clemente, and to some degree, Barry Bonds' father, Bobby. We all know how Mantle and Bobby Bonds badly damaged their careers with alcohol. We cluck and say what a shame it was -- we do in Mantle's case, anyway. But the book on Mantle says 536 home runs. It is what it is. Aaron says 755, although Aaron played in a stadium called the Launching Pad and hit the last 22 home runs as a DH.
Now we are definitely in an era of performance-enhancing drugs; no need for any of us to be on any high horse about it. Without Toprol or Lotrel, anti- high-blood pressure drugs, or especially Nexium, I'm sure I'd be curled up in a ball somewhere. Do you want to get into all the performance enhancers you take? And is not all of your work still valid? Or, not? Am I supposed to believe nobody actually uses Cialis or Levitra or Viagra, that the companies making them are going broke? Why is it when NFL football players are shot up in their ankles and calves and knees and rib cages and shoulders and necks with pain-killers to numb themselves and then go out and sacrifice their damaged limbs so they can perform for us, we have no outrage over that?
Why is that not "cheating"?
No, something else is happening here.
I absolutely love and agree with much of Ralph Wiley’s thoughts in this article until this one:
What Barry Bonds has done is show great merit in the game. Unfortunately, when you are what is called "black," that can be inconvenient; often when you show merit, the rules on merit are changed to make them more obtuse.
When Aaron was approaching Ruth's home-run record in the early 1970s, all the stories were about how he had to endure all this racist hate mail and kidnapping threats against his daughter -- how he had to endure against the real protagonist, the Status Quo. It wasn't about how great a hitter he was.
I'd say that's the part that's cheating. I'd say Aaron got cheated.
It’s not even that I disagree with that opinion. As a matter of fact, I agree with it. And, I think that it is so sad that race is still an issue in this country! I think that Mr. Wiley really put together a well-thought-out article that would make a lot of people think. My fear is that, in pulling out the race card, he may have offended a certain sector of our society, a sector that will think that by bringing that topic out, it discredits all of the wonderful comments he made above it. If there are people like that, and again, sadly, there probably are, it is unfortunate, because it is a point that is more true than we would like to think.
My final point on Barry Bonds and what he is going through right now is this. Many people watch SportsCenter and see all of these stories, and they convict Bonds before everything is known. They read articles in their newspaper or in online discussions and see that so many think he’s guilty and he’s finally getting what he deserves. Again, I ask the question, “What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”
I think what has happened is that Barry Bonds saw how the media treated his father Bobby when he played. When he came up to the big leagues, he was quiet and very cautious about talking to the media. It is not good to get on the wrong side of the media. No player has ever been as criticized in the media as Barry Bonds. So, I don’t blame him for being more and more leery or speaking to them. So, of course, when a story like this comes out and his name is in any way linked, they will do everything in their power to drag his name through the mud.
Let’s just let this work itself out.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
I didn’t write much about football during the football season, so you can imagine how excited I am to see so much happening to players around the NFL this week. Here are a couple:
SHOULD MOSS BE TRADED?
Probably not. But who knows? My initial reaction was that it made no sense. Moss is the best receiver in the NFL, why would they trade him? I don’t care how questionable his reputation has been.
But after thinking it through for awhile, I changed my tune a little bit. I wanted to see what kind of package they could get for Moss before saying it wouldn’t be a good idea. I thought, hey, if they can get a Top 4 pick in the first round from the other team, they could probably draft Mike Williams or Larry Fitzgerald, who could step in and contribute at WR for the Vikings right away. If the Vikings could also get a good defensive lineman and another player or two for Moss, they should consider it. I mean, Denny Green is now the head coach in Arizona, so that might make some sense.
However, now I read that Miami is a team that is rumored to be in talks with the Vikings about Moss. Without looking, their first round pick will be very near where the Vikings pick, in the middle of the round. (Note – after checking out the draft order, I found that the Vikings will draft 19th and the Dolphins draft 20th.) So, if that’s what they would get for Moss, then they should absolutely not trade Randy Moss.
Then yesterday, I read that the San Francisco 49ers traded Terrell Owens (a WR similar in talent to Moss) to the Baltimore Ravens for a 2nd round pick. If all the Vikings could get for Moss is a 2nd round pick, there is no way that they should trade him!
Of course, the situation with the 49ers and Owens was a little different. Owens thought he had become a free agent and when he didn’t fill out the paperwork in time, he was forced to stay under his contract with the 49ers. There was no way he was staying in San Francisco next season. So, to summarize, the 49ers had to trade him and other teams knew that. So, they didn’t have to offer as much.
So, where do I stand on Moss being traded? I am not completely against it. However, if they’re going to trade arguably the best WR in football and one of the best playmakers in football, they had better get a lot in return.
What do you think? E-mail me.
Peyton Manning signed a contract for $99 million. Clinton Portis was traded to the Redskins and signed an 8 year, $50.5 million contract ($17 million signing bonus). The Broncos received Champ Bailey in return and locked him up to a 7 year, $63 million deal ($18 million signing bonus). Yesterday, Jevon Kearse signed an 8 year, $66 million. How about yesterday when a number of players that you’ve never heard of were signing $30 million contracts? It all makes Jim Kleinsasser’s 5 year, $15 million contract with the Vikings look like a steal!
Why do I mention these things? Because it means nothing!
Major League Baseball’s Player Union is the strongest union in the world. There is no arguing or questioning that. The NFL Player’s Union is pathetic and I would be embarrassed to be a part of it. First, they agreed to a salary cap, something baseball’s union would never do. But the key thing is that there is no such thing as a guaranteed contract in the NFL.
For instance, Kearse’s contract is for 8 years and $66 million with the Eagles. It includes a $16 million signing bonus with $4 million in bonuses each of the next two years. So, of the $66 million, he is only guaranteed $24 million. Let’s say that Kearse is really a non-factor the next two seasons. In 2006, the Eagles can release him and save about $40 million. Yes, their salary cap will include $2 million each of the next 8 seasons because of this contract, but they don’t have to pay him the contract that they signed him to!
Why do I think this is a bad thing? Just one reason. The NFL Owners and General Managers really have little or nothing keeping them from making stupid moves. There is nothing making them accountable.
What does this all mean? Well, that is completely the reason that there is so much parity in the NFL. That is the reason that any team can come out of nowhere to the Super Bowl or contention. So, is it possible that a weak, pathetic, give-in-to-anything Player’s Union means good things for the sport as a whole? Maybe.
What do you think? E-mail me.
Last night, I was unable to watch the Must-See-TV lineup on NBC. Did I have some event I had to attend keeping me from watching The Apprentice? No. The NBC affiliate that I get is out of Fargo. They were showing the North Dakota Class B Girls Basketball Tournament instead. Are you kidding me?! I am punching the keyboard as I type this because it is just sad!!! So, if anyone found last night’s The Apprentice interesting, please send me a quick update, ok? Thanks!
On that note, I am going to call it a day and a week. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, criticism, praise, or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me. Thanks, and have a great weekend!
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