What they're saying about Sammy Sosa

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Let’s take a quick stroll around the blogosphere to see how others are reacting to the Sosa news:

Goat Riders of the Apocalypse: I
hated the punk BEFORE he even joined the Cubs. I hated him when the
White Sox’ GM, Larry Himes (yep, HIM) traded Harold Baines, a friggin’
Sox icon, to Texas for the sideshow fraud. He came up and became a
free-swinging whiff machine. Sure, he had speed and power, a strong
arm, and obvious filling out to do. Physically, Sosa was a specimen.
But his arrogance rubbed his teammates wrong from Day one . . . I’ve
known he was a fraud for nearly 20 years, and if the damn corked bat
wasn’t enough to convince you, the truth is now out here.

Bugs & Cranks: It’s
expected because Sosa’s career progression and statistics smack of
performance enhancing drugs; there’s such a dramatic spike in his power
later in his career it almost moronic no one though to question Sosa at
the time. Sosa’s halfhearted denials and severe drop in performance
after baseball began drug testing only amplified the expectation that
his superstar turn was aided by the juice.

Deadspin: The
real outrage here, as it was with A-Rod, is not who’s on the list but
who’s doing the leaking, a story that for obvious reasons The New York
Times will not be writing. You’ll remember that those tests results
were supposed to be confidential — a perfectly reasonable expectation
of any employee who submits to a drug test — yet now they’re
trickling into public view, merely because somebody wants to remind you
to care deeply about steroids in baseball again.

Bleed Cubbie Blue: We now know, presuming the report on Sosa is true, that the joy [of the 1998 home run race] was
indeed stolen from us. The numbers put up were put up by cartoon
figures, not baseball players as we had known them for decades earlier.
I know, I know, amphetamines in the 50s and 60s, other PEDs, other ways
of cheating, ad nauseum . . . we were sold a bill of goods. They all
swore up and down that they were honest — “Flintstone vitamins,” Sammy
told us with a straight face. Now we know that face was lying to us,
presuming the report is true.

Cant’ Stop the Bleeding: The
obvious attempt to demoralize the Cubs on the eve of this year’s North
Side/South Side Chicago Civil War Reenactment fools no one, Mr. Obama.
It smacks of Cub fan Rod Blagoevich’s fall from the grace as you
ascended to the White House. A cheap shot, SIR, and I hope Bobby Jenks
gets bitten by a clubhouse rat tonight and Ozzie gets hit on the head
by falling concrete in the Wrigley media room.

Baseball Prospectus: I’ve
always followed the steroid story as something of an epidemic. It often
follows the same models, centering around hubs and nodes. The hubs are
players like Jose Canseco or Bill Romanowski in the NFL who were
evangelists for the substances, but the nodes are usually the drug
distributors. The Bay Area had BALCO, Baltimore had their “star”, and
Dallas had their Hollywood connection, while the NFL had doctors in
Pittsburgh and Charlotte, among others, who were willing to supply.
Chicago, however, doesn’t have this issue or at least hasn’t. Looking
at the Cubs roster in 2003 and a year previous, there’s *no one* that
tested positive or that has even had much speculation surrounding their
production. It will be interesting to see if the 2003 list shows such a
cluster existed or if Sosa was one of few singular users.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.