It might be fun, but baseball doesn't "need" a Yankees-Dodgers World Series

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William Rhoden in the New York Times:

Still, what Major League Baseball needs is a great World Series, a
Series for the ages. And with all due respect to those two other
potential matchups, it’s a Yankees-Dodgers World Series that could take
the game back to its roots at a time when baseball desperately needs to
recover a portion of the trust, if not the innocence, that it has lost
in the steroid era.

There would be a number of interesting story lines in a
Yankees-Dodger World Series, not the least of which would be the return
of Dodgers Manager Joe Torre to New York to face the team that he
unhappily parted with after the 2007 season.. But the greatest
attraction has to do with the history and traditions that the Yankees
and the Dodgers represent.

Two venerable franchises competing in a World Series would recall an
era in baseball when things seemed simpler and the game was more pure.

Please.  For starters, the best modern World Series — one that truly was “for the ages” — involved two teams from less-than traditionally stellar baseball markets, each of which had just finished in last place the season before.  It was the Twins and Braves in 1991, and apart from Kirby Puckett, the game was loaded with young hungry and relatively unknown talent at the time.  A Yankees-Dodgers World Series might be interesting, but that kind of star power is not needed to make a great World Series.  Great baseball is needed, and there is no reason whatsoever to think that the Angels, Phillies, and maybe the Rockies couldn’t provide it too.

But the bigger problem with this article is the time-worn and always ridiculous reference to “purity.”  Someone please point me to a single time in the game’s history where it truly was “pure,” as Rhoden seems to think it was.  Was it in the 70s and 80s when players were doing cocaine and teams generally let drunk fans ruin the experience for casual fans? The 60s when it was amphetamines? The 1950s when teams like the Athletics whored themselves and their talent out to the Yankees, serving as a defacto farm club and making a mockery of competitive balance? The 20s, 30s, and 40s, when segregation reigned supreme?  Before that when people threw spitballs and twelve home runs could lead the league?

Seriously, Bill, you’re the one citing “purity” here. Tell us when the game was “pure” and why.  And if you can’t, please explain to me how a Yankees-Dodgers World Series can “restore” a state of affairs which never existed in the first place.

A Yankees-Dodgers World Series would certainly be an interesting thing. It would have some bit of nostalgia to it for people who remember the 1970s or the 1950s. It may actually turn out to showcase the two best teams — though the Angels certainly will have something to say about that.  It would no doubt be a great thing for the fans of those teams. It would give writers like Rhoden and me some easy storylines.  I certainly have no problem if such a thing comes to pass.

But don’t for a minute suggest that baseball “needs” it, especially for reasons involving some imagined “purity.”

Zack Greinke deal “could come soon,” Dodgers and Giants lead the bidding

Zack Greinke
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers on Sunday for five years, $110 million. David Price signed with the Red Sox on Monday for seven years, $217 million.

Two big dominos have fallen in this loaded free agent market for starting pitchers, and another big one is about to go …

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says a deal for Zack Greinke “could come soon” and it’s currently “Dodgers vs. Giants” at the top of the bidding ladder.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick confirms that both the Dodgers and Giants are looking for an answer from Greinke, adding that the 32-year-old right-hander seeks a five- or six-year deal with a greater average annual value (AAV) than what Price just secured from Boston. That number would be $31 million, so we’re talking something close to $32 million through 2020-2021.

Greinke opted out of the remaining three years and $71 million contract with Los Angeles in October after posting a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP across 222 2/3 regular-season innings in 2015. He finished second to the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta in the National League Cy Young Award balloting.

The Red Sox get their ace! Boston signs David Price to a 7-year, $217 million deal


Multiple reports circulated in the past week that the Red Sox would need to unload the money truck in order to sign David Price. Well, the truck just got unloaded: Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have signed David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract.

This is, by far, the largest free agent contract the Red Sox have ever given a pitcher. It beats Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210 million deal signed last offseason as the largest ever free agent pitcher contract. Clayton Kershaw‘s contract extension with the Dodgers was for $215 million.

Price went 82-47 with a 3.18 ERA pitching in the AL East while with the Tampa Bay Rays. After being traded to the Tigers just before the 2014 trade deadline he went 13-8 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 starts. He returned to the AL East with the Blue Jays this year, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He also pitched in the playoffs for the Jays starting three times in four overall appearances.

The Red Sox were in dire need of pitching and they were said to be gunning for Price to fill that need. Target: acquired.

Major League Baseball’s annual drug testing report has been released

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MLB and the MLBPA just released the annual public report from the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program’s Independent Program Administrator. It’s the annual report, mandated by the JDA, which says how many positive drug tests there were, what the drugs were, etc.

The notable numbers, which cover the period starting when the 2014 World Series ended until the 2015 World Series ended:

  • Total number of tests administered: 8,158. 6,536 of them were urine tests, 1,622 of them were blood tests for HGH;
  • 10 tests resulted in positives which led to discipline: 7 for PEDs, 2 for stimulants, one for DHEA;
  • The previous year there were 7,929 total tests with 12 which resulted in discipline;
  • There were the same number of Therapeutic Use Exemptions granted this year as last: 113. All but two were for attention deficit disorder. One was for gynecomastia, which is the swelling of the breast tissue in men due to a hormone imbalance, one was for a stress fracture in someone’s elbow.

A use exemption line item which had appeared on the list for the previous several years — hypogonadism — was not there, so congratulations to the anonymous player who was either cured or who retired.

As we always note, the number of players who got exemptions for ADD drugs is a bit higher than the occurrence of ADD in the population at large and, once you eliminate kids from ADHD occurrences, it’s likely considerably higher. But that’s none of my business.

Twins sign Korean slugger Byung-ho Park to four-year contract

Byung-ho Park
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With a week remaining in their exclusive negotiating window to sign Byung-ho Park the Twins have agreed to a deal with the Korean slugger. Ken Rosenthal of reports that it’s a four-year, $12 million contract, on top of which the Twins will pay Park’s old team a $12.85 million posting fee for those negotiating rights.

Four years and a total commitment of $24.85 million is certainly a sizable investment, but it’s significantly less than most projections had the Twins spending to get Park under contract.

Last offseason the Pirates bid $5 million to negotiate with Korean shortstop Jung Ho Kang and then signed him to a four-year, $11 million deal. His success in MLB raised the level of interest in Park, who posted similarly spectacular numbers in Korean, but in the end the price tag wasn’t significantly higher. Based on reports from Korea, it sounds like the Twins low-balled him in negotiations and Park basically just accepted it because he wants to play in MLB.

Three weeks ago I wrote a lengthy breakdown of how Park could fit into the Twins’ plans when they secured the high bid, but the short version is that he’ll slot into the lineup as the starting designated hitter and look to prove that his exceptional production in Korean can carry over to MLB. Park hit .343 with 53 homers, 146 RBIs, and a 1.150 OPS in 140 games for Nexen this past season and has topped a 1.000 OPS in each of the past three years.