I’ve been hearing stuff like this from the Washington Post’s Tom Shales over and over from people fortunate enough to have previewed the update to Ken Burns’ “Baseball” — called “The Tenth Inning” — which premiers tonight:
Your degree of interest might depend on where you live, since “Tenth
Inning” tends to favor the Northeastern United States and spends
relatively little time west of the Mississippi. Especially in the second
half, Burns and Novick
concentrate on New York, Boston and Baltimore to a degree that seems
I get that you have to have a lot of east coast in this one because apart from steroids, the story of baseball from 1994-present is one of economics. Economics which led to the end of that relatively brief period of parity in the game that began after the fall of the Mickey Mantle Yankees in the late 60s and lasted until Derek Jeter showed up. You have to focus on the Yankees in such a story, and if you’re talking about the Yankees you have to talk about the Red Sox.
But it is going to put a lot of people off. Documentaries are at their best, I think, when they teach us stuff we don’t know, and who among us isn’t familiar with the Yankees-Red Sox storyline? I guess this is a problem when you try to document something so recent.
Also worth noting is that the primary narrative thrust of the thing is going to be steroids, and Burns decided to tell the story of steroids in baseball by focusing on the story of Barry Bonds. This is probably a good choice in that (a) Bonds is the most significant player attached to steroids; and (b) Bonds is an interesting and complicated figure in his own right and is likely to lead to good storytelling in ways that, say, Rafael Palmiero and Jose Canseco wouldn’t.
My fear is that Bonds’ story is portrayed as a story of the Fall of Man or some such and that the facts complicating such a narrative (i.e. baseball’s complicity in PED use) are underplayed. Burns hasn’t disappointed me before, however, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
“The Tenth Inning” premieres on PBS Tonight at 8 p.m. and continues tomorrow night at the same time.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.