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Tag Archives: Manny Ramirez

We need a major-league second baseman now!

delino

We need a proven major-league closer now!

baez

We need a major-league top-of-the-rotation ace pitcher now!

schmidt

We need a major-league centerfielder now!

pierre

No really, we need a major-league centerfielder now!

jones

From the top:

– RHP Pedro Martinez traded for 2B Delino DeShields. Pedro went on to win three Cy Young awards.

– RHP Edwin Jackson and LHP Chuck Tiffany traded for RHP Danys Baez and RHP Lance Carter. Edwin Jackson won 14 games for Tampa, and was a 2008 All-Star for Detroit.

– RHP Jason Schmidt, signed 3 years/$47 million in 2006. Has pitched a total of eight games and 33.2 innings since arriving in L.A.

– OF Juan Pierre, signed 5 years/$44 million in 2006. Mediocre in 2007, and relegated to the bench since 2008.

– OF Andruw Jones, signed 2 years/$36 million in 2008. Had a historically bad year in 2008, was replaced by Manny Ramirez, and bought out of his contract in 2009.

There’s something to be said about staying with the one you brought to the dance. Chad Billingsley may not be the sexiest top-of-the-rotation starter out there, but that’s more an indictment of the ridiculous east-coast bias of the media. Cole Hamels can start the year off miserably, but not have his ability questioned. Billingsley can start with guns blazing, go through a slump, and he’s basically garbage after that.

It was a given that the Dodgers would finally stumble into a three-game losing streak. And as disappointing as it is, you have to give credit where credit’s due. It’s no small task to play 100 games and lose three in a row just once.

But I absolutely hate, hate, HATE that it had to be to the Cardinals.

These are the so-called “best fans in baseball?” The same fans who see fit to boo Manny Ramirez every time he’s involved in the game? Considering that the Cardinals have no real modern rivalry with the Dodgers — I mean, Jack freakin’ Clark of all people was a Dodger “coach” in recent times — their fans haven’t really felt the need to boo any Dodgers of recent note. I mean, the Dodgers have trotted out plenty of despicable players such as Andruw Jones, Luis Gonzalez, Julio Lugo, Brett Tomko, and so on, and none of them enticed the St. Louis boo-birds.

But yet, Manny Ramirez does? I wonder why? Is it because Ken Rosenthal and Rick Sutcliffe say he “ruined the IN-TEG-RA-TEE of the game?” Oh man, well it’s a great thing the Cardinals would never have had any of their players do such a thing.

mcgwire

Listen, Cardinals fans. Ballplayers use performance-enhancing drugs. It sucks, but for better or worse, it’s part of the game. If it isn’t andro; it’s HGH; it’s flaxseed oil; it’s female fertility drugs. Whatever. If doing drugs is what ballplayers feel the need to do, then so be it.

But the fact of the matter is, these guys aren’t boy scouts and altar boys. They’re not running for POTUS. If they feel the need to use whatever the latest whatever is to get themselves juiced in the gym, so be it. They’re entertainers. No one cares one whit that Warren Beatty or Harrison Ford are getting chemically enhanced to maintain their appearances. So why exactly are we so insistent on moralizing when it comes to baseball?

But enough of that. It’s called a hot streak Cardinals fans. Enjoy it. But for the love of all things holy, cut it out with the Manny booing. It’s ridiculous.

Losing two games, scoring just one run, but racking up hit after hit is incredibly frustrating. But that’s how the breaks go. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

Not the greatest day in the world to be a Dodger fan. The good news — the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee exploratory committees seem to be fizzling out. No need to squander prospects when the difference an “ace” pitcher makes over the remainder of the season is negligible to begin with. But the good news is tempered with the rumor that Orioles “closer” George Sherrill is now the target of the Dodgers’ affections. Really? George Sherill? I mean, this after Hong-Chih Kuo’s successful outing on Monday night?

Granted, Brent Leach has been struggling, and Scott Elbert is back in Albuquerque, but really, George Sherill? This sure sounds so much like “make a trade for the sake of making a trade.” What exactly would a Sherill acquisition mean for the Dodgers?

It gets better. Not only does a Sherill acquisition not make a whole lot of sense, Oriole fans sure seem to think that the Dodgers ought to send all manner of talent in exchange. How much of a mistake is it to give up anything negligible for a reliever, the most volatile of volatile assets? Considering only Jonathan Broxton is the only member of the Dodger bullpen serving the same role he did last year, is it worth dealing anything of worth for Sherill? I mean, how hard is it to find another bullpen arm? Not much difficulty in rounding up Ronald Belisario and Ramon Troncoso, was there?

The icing on the cake: 2010 will be Vin Scully’s final season as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The transition from Chick Hearn to … whomever it is that calls Laker games now was jarring, to put it nicely. I can’t even begin to imagine how Scully’s transition would be, especially considering the motley crew (Eric Collins, Steve Lyons, Charley Steiner) currently serving as his understudies. From childhood to the present day,  game day has always started with: “Hi everybody, and a a good evening to you, wherever you may be. It’s time for DODGER BASEBALL!”

Just like I want the Bruins to win one more title for Coach Wooden, I want the Dodgers to win one more title for Scully.

Good news? This arrived in the mail Monday:

07271438

Found these bad boys at the local Toys R Us

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It’s no Manny bobblehead, but they’ll do until I can finagle my way into getting the real thing!

San Bernadino 66ers mascot Bernie, at yesterday’s game:

(pic credit: The Trolley Dodger)

(pic credit: The Trolley Dodger)

Does a tree falling in a forest make a sound if there’s no one there to hear it?

canseco

Jose Canseco called a press conference in Beverly Hills yesterday soon after the Manny Ramirez story broke. The point was basically for him to say “I told you so,” which is fine, he did tell us so, and to complain (again) about MLB’s conspiracy against him. As you can see, there were plenty of good seats still available (via the SportingNews.com)

Jose, I don’t think anyone is naive enough to deny there were/are many, many ballplayers on the juice. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking anyone wants to continue to hear from a self-aggrandizer who’s convinced this whistle-blowing campaign means anything in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, the more superstars we expose as juicers, the less weight the argument that juicers had this undeniable advantage against the rest of the field. Everyone from Endy Chavez to Eric Gagne to Barry Bonds is suspected (if not exposed outright) of juicing. In other words, it’s pretty likely that just about everyone is/was juicing.

Maybe it’s time to let go of the crusade. Trying to get a leg up on your competition isn’t something exclusive to modern baseball. And get this — there are some sports where ultimately, it doesn’t matter (ahem, NFL).

On a day such as today, you can’t help but think of the old cliche, “you can’t win them all.”

And then the Dodgers go out and do just that, losing the Nationals in spite of holding a six-run lead at one point. This, without their dreadlocked leader, whose suspension began today.

I don’t think it’s fair to say every baseball player is on the juice. I also don’t think it’s fair to say most baseball players aren’t on the juice. I’d be incredibly surprised if an overwhelming majority of ballplayers weren’t guilty of using some sort of peformance-enhancing chemical, legal or not.

Of course, that doesn’t justify using them, particularly illegal drugs. But what confuses me greatly is the rather high, if not absurdly standard of purity that we insist baseball players maintain. Yet, when any other athlete does it, like say, Shawne Merriman, we figure it’s part of the game, right?

Our culture voraciously consumes all manner of performance-enhancing drugs. For crying out loud, Viagra is a Major League Baseball sponsor! There isn’t any ailment (or non-ailment, for that matter) that can’t be addressed with yet another magical pill.

And yet we react with sanctimony and high piety and righteousness when someone decides to … pop a pill or three? Sports “nutrition” is a standalone industry, with GNC stores everywhere, and we’re surprised that someone wants something to put a little pep in his … whatever Manny needed these pills for.

When its millions of dollars at stake, why are we so surprised that the competitors are doing everything they can to get a leg up on the competition?

Cheating is always wrong. But it’s superbly hypocritical of all of us — as a society and as baseball fans — for us to thumb our noses at Manny and what he did, at A-Rod, Giambi, McGwire, et. al. — when we accept it as part of our culture.

While we may not resort to using female fertility drugs, who among us can cast stones when we resort to stomach stapling, ephedra, and Hydroxycut when it comes to losing weight? Really, who among us is really doing things “the way they ought to be,” o.k.a. “the right way?”

I am honest when I say I don’t care. I didn’t care when McGwire and Sosa were under the spotlight. I didn’t care when it was Bonds. I still don’t care now that it’s A-Rod and Manny. And if it’s ever Pujols, I still won’t care.

Why?

The game is still just that. People can do what they want to get a leg up on the competition. We’re fools if we think that there’s ever been “purity” in the sense that ballplayers wouldn’t try something to make them better, if they knew they would get away with it. The only difference is that today’s greenies are far more sophisticated, and they’ll continue to be that way. HCG may be illegal today, but I guarantee there’ll be something else they’ll be using, and something else after that.

So inevitably, yes, it is part of the game; as much as it is part of our culture.

The Good: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier all had a great series against the Padres. Eric Stults getting another chance to start.

The Bad: Russell Martin, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, and Orlando Hudson didn’t. Hiroki Kuroda getting injured.

The Ugly: Good grief! I know young pitchers struggle with their control, but to see Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, and James McDonald do what they did three games in a row was excruciating. Granted, I figure Billingsley will get it going sooner or later. But as for Kershaw and McDonald? Not the greatest way to start the season.

At some point, both of these guys simply need to trust their ability to pitch and not worry so much. McDonald’s body language belied that of a confident pitcher. He was fidgety, and his mechanics appeared off after he loaded the bases the first time. At some point, you wish Brad Ausmus would’ve gone out there to tell him to slow down, go back to a windup, and just pitch. After all, isn’t his handling of pitchers the reason the Dodgers went with him and not Danny Ardoin as a backup catcher?

It was nice to be able to actually see all of this week’s games, less the the two we missed while on the road. I love it when DirecTV offers a free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and I love it even more when they don’t block you from recording any of the preview games, as they did last year.

Things to look forward to — or should I say, eventual eBay purchases?

How about a Russell Martin MacFarlane figure, and a Manny Ramirez bobblehead.

martin

mannyEven though Manny’s been here less than a year, and probably won’t be here longer than a year and a half, clearly he would get his own bobblehead — not just from the Dodgers but from the Albuquerque Isotopes as well. But Casey Blake? Really, the Dodgers marketing department thought better of giving Blake a bobblehead before, I don’t know, Billingsley, Kemp, Ethier, or Broxton?

Finally, thoughts and prayers to the Adenhart family and the Anaheim Angels. What made that particular tragedy strike particularly close to home was the fact that I had traveled that particular intersection (where Adenhart’s vehicle was struck) many, many times at that same hour, and I still have family in the area that do as well.

Hundreds, if not thousands (sadly) of people die yearly at the hands of such wildly irresponsible drivers such as Andrew Gallo, and we never hear about it. It’s sad and unfortunate that it takes a (semi) celebrity to die for us to even consider talking about the senselessness of not only drunk driving, but a legal system powerless to do anything more than slap a repeat offender on the wrist — which ultimately, what license suspension amounts to.

How ought we fix it? I don’t know, but I wish it didn’t require innocent people dying for the issue to come to the forefront.

After breaking three hobby boxes of 09 Heritage, this is what I ended up with:

Base set: 337 of 425 (79%)
Short print set: 24 of 75 (32%)

Insert sets:
New Age Performers: 4 of 15 (27%)
News Flashbacks: 4 of 10 (40%)
Baseball Flashbacks: 6 of 10 (60%)
Then and Now: 5 of 10 (50%)

Base duplicates: 200
Non-base duplicates: 1

Duplicates (box 1): 0
Duplicates (box 2): 49
Duplicates (box 3): 152

The increasing number of duplicates by box three is no surprise, although you still wish that three boxes would produce a base set at least. Alas, this is Heritage, and collectors will get no such thing. Thankfully, I again purchased these boxes at MSRP ($65) rather than the bloated prices they’re going for at DACW, Blowout, and Charm City.

It’ll take some effort and postage, but 200 doubles should be enough (I hope!) to round out the base set, and hopefully make headway towards the SP set.

As we all know, Heritage isn’t about the “hits,” but I will say these two are far better than the Kevin Millwood GU that came out of the first box.

wieand

samford

And I can never complain about extra cards for the Dodger binder. Especially when they’re SHINY cards!

martin

ramirez

Right of the top, let me say that I’m indifferent to the Dodgers’ acquisitionhudson of Orlando Hudson — his contract however, is a piece of work. On the one hand, it’s a classic example of the Dodgers’ misguided personnel philosophy.

That philosophy goes a little something like this: if a position player vacates his position (e.g. Jeff Kent) via retirement, free agency, etc., or is unable to otherwise occupy his position (e.g. Nomar Garciaparra) the succeeding player at the position must always be a “proven” veteran who “knows how to win” and “plays the game the right way.” Other issues, such as the actual ability to hit or field a baseball, or the availability of cheaper, younger, healthier replacements not needing multi-year/million dollar deals are not remotely as important as the aforementioned.

Case in point: James Loney 2007, and of course, Blake DeWitt/Ivan DeJesus 2009, and to a lesser extent, Chin-Lung Hu and Tony Abreu 2009. By all indicators, DeWitt appeared to be at the very least, a serviceable, league-average 2B, with the potential to get better. Orlando Hudson on the other hand, lost a step defensively, and spent  a considerable amount of time on the DL. Then again, it’s not as though THAT ever stopped the Dodgers from signing anyone!

On the other hand, the ONE good thing that’s come of this is that it again forces the hand of Manny/Boras. If they’re stupid enough to buy it, the plan is to move DeWitt back to 3B, Casey Blake to LF, and Juan Pierre to even further down the bench. And according the can’t-possibly-be-wrong L.A. radio personality Vic the Brick Jacobs, a deal has already been signed and was waiting to be announced. Colletti and Boras of course, denied such a thing had happened.

Either way, I really would’ve love for this charade to end. All I know is I’m glad I’m no longer living in L.A., since the discussion about this topic would be completely insufferable and intolerable at this point.

It appears my local hobby source won’t be getting their load of 2009 product until at least Tuesday, so it looks like I’ll be stuck with retail packs until then.

As a history buff, and a teacher of sorts, the idea of Topps American Heritage is absolutely one I am on board with. Just thinking of the myriad ways I could use these cards as a learning tool is awesome.

I bought two retail packs, and here’s what caught my eye.

19th

It saddens me how often I have to remind others of how important the right to vote is, and for some groups, how relatively new these freedoms are.

brown

Forget voting — how important is the simple freedom of being in a desegregated classroom?

plymouth

getty

As a Los Angeles native, there’s an obvious appreciation for J.P. Getty. Strangely enough, however, in all my years in LA, I never once managed to visit the Getty Center. This in spite of commuting past it twice a day at one point.

kennedy

Never been a big fan of the Kennedy brothers, but this is a great picture. I also loved his portrayal in the movie “13 days,” about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

king

rockwell

This reminds me — not only did my scanner refuse to scan this card properly, I really need to frame the “Three Umpires” Rockwell print my wife gave me for Christmas.

thoreau1

Oh yeah, I bought some baseball cards too!

manny

In an unintended ode to Upper Deck Documentary, this card commemorates Manny’s efforts against the Cubs in the NLDS. And the picture on the front? It’s from a day game, odd considering all three NLDS games were in the evening. Judging from the brick background, it looks like this was taken at AT & T Park in San Francisco.

mclouth

No Legends of the Game inserts this time, but I’ll gladly take another Turkey Red. I never once even remotely thought about this set when it was a full set, but as an insert set, they’re incredibly appealing to me. Weird.

And I even managed to buy football cards for the first time in really, a decade. I haven’t bought football cards (aside from the ones I occasionally buy for my nephew) since I collected them in the early 90s. But the idea of revisiting another classic tobacco card set from Topps drew me in.

I didn’t recognize anyone from the pack — my football knowledge is really limited to superstars and whoever’s currently playing for the St. Louis Rams. I did get this nice Matt Forte mini, however.

forte

And it’ll likely be the only card I end up keeping. This an awesome looking set, and I hope Topps continues on its tradition of reviving old tobacco card sets.