God, politicians drive me absolutely freakin' nuts

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OK, this is about politicians, but (a) it’s non-partisan; and (b) it’s also about baseball. It’s also a rant, so if you’re not into that sort of thing I’m sure Aaron will have something coming online in a few minutes that is calm and sober and reasoned and everything. With that out of the way . . .

I live in Ohio, and it’s a gubernatorial election year here. The incumbent is Ted Strickland, a Democrat. The challenger is John Kasich, a Republican. While they obviously differ on policies in the ways you might expect, we have a rare situation in this race in that both of these guys are generally thought of as nice, reasoned, educated, and decent men. Unlike the increasingly popular political style of the day, they tend to spend their time in the arena of facts and logic and policy and stuff and don’t let emotion or craven careerism dictate their positions. It’s kind of refreshing!

Except I’ll be damned if they aren’t both out to lunch when it comes to choosing the best baseball player of all time. Which they did in one of those silly little polls newspapers run from time to time about what a candidate’s favorite ice cream is and such.  Strickland’s answer to the “who was the best baseball player ever” question: Cal Ripken Jr. Kasich’s: Roberto Clemente. Which is so obviously nuts I don’t even have to explain why it’s nuts.

And I’d let it go if I didn’t suspect that something other than baseball ignorance was afoot. No, I smell calculation.  I smell Strickland trying to message the concept of perseverance, of keeping going no matter what faces you in the Ripken choice, thinking that it’s a smart move for a guy trying to keep his job despite a budget crunch and the state’s economy being in the toilet.  I smell Kasich going with Clemente as a means of messaging “charity” and — maybe — diversity, which would be useful for a guy who needs to move a bit towards the middle in order to secure the election.

Am I reading too much into this? Possibly! I’ve been doing it all day!  But man, I’ve met and talked to both Kasich and Strickland and I find it hard to believe that if you asked them point blank, either of them would say Ripken or Clemente. Even if they were total baseball ignoramuses I’d figure they’d say Babe Ruth or Willie Mays or something because — setting aside the fact that those would both be great answers — they’re way more well-known names.  Ignorance actually helps you with this question! And if they know a little about baseball then they know that the answers they actually gave are dumb.

And you know what else? Even if this is political calculation, it’s dumb political calculation!  Kasich is a Republican, and Republicans have a hard damn time getting votes in northeast Ohio. Go with Bob Feller or Rocky Colaovito! They’re just as bad an answer as Clemente, but at least there’s a percentage in it! People in Cleveland hate Pittsburgh! Likewise for Strickland, who will be hard pressed to get votes in southwest Ohio: Go with Pete Rose! They love Pete down there! You might push someone into voting for you!  If you’re going to be political animal at least do it right!  And people wonder why I left state government!

Now, will the three of you who haven’t stopped reading because I’m a freakin’ moonbat please direct me to my medication?  Thanks.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.