I was being facetious when I said earlier this afternoon that Mark McGwire simply needs to talk about the past in order to get into the Hall of Fame. Bob Ryan is serious:
If he ever holds a press conference in his new gig as batting coach of
the Cardinals, and if he answers the questions, he could probably punch
his ticket. I know many of you hate it when people like me say or write
something like this, but that’s the way I feel.
Though I disagree, I get not voting for McGwire because he used PEDs. Though I disagree, I can even see voting against him because he wasn’t forthcoming before Congress. But neither of those things can be cured, can they? No matter how much he talks now, he still used PEDs and still failed to be forthcoming before Congress, didn’t he? How on Earth does giving quotes to Bob Ryan and some other writers around a batting cage fix that?
Has the case against McGwire always been merely that he wouldn’t cater to the press and give juicy quotes about his past? Was it not about cheating and being uncooperative in front of the House of Effing Representatives? If not, aren’t the writers who agree with Ryan — the ones who would change their votes merely because McGwire gave a press conference — saying that they’re more important than the rules of baseball and The United States Congress?
If McGwire’s behavior sours you on his Hall of Fame candidacy, it seems totally unreasonable to change your mind simply because he talks into your Dictaphone down in Flordia this March.
Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.
He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:
“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.
“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”
Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.
With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.
A month or so ago it was reported that David Ortiz was going to meet with the Red Sox and NESN to discuss, maybe, spending some time in the broadcast booth in 2017. He’s retired now, of course. Gotta keep busy.
Today we read that, yes, Big Papi may take the mic. Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said that Ortiz may be in the booth on a limited basis, and that Ortiz has talked about wanting to “dip a toe in that water.”
I’m quickly becoming a fan of ex-players who want to, as Kennedy puts it, “dip a toe” in broadcasting as opposed to those who want to make it a full-time job. Former players who become full-time broadcasters tend to start out OK, but eventually burn all of their good anecdotes from their playing days and just become sort of reactionary “back in my day” dudes. There are some exceptions to that of course — guys like John Smoltz and Dennis Eckersley have kept it fresh and Tim McCarver never rested on his playing laurels as he forged a long career in the booth — but for any of those guys there are just as many Rick Mannings Bill Schroeders.
The part time guys who dip in and dip out — I’m thinking Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez and even Pete Rose, who did a good job this past fall after a rocky 2015 postseason — tend to be more fresh and irreverent. They really don’t give a crap on some level because it’s not their full time job, and that not giving a crap allows them to say whatever they want. It makes for good TV.
If Papi can hold off on the F-bombs, I imagine he’d be a pretty good commentator. If he can’t, well, at least he’ll be a super entertaining one for the one or two games he gets before getting fired.