File photo of Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee in Arlington

Silly things I’ve heard this morning


There’s always a bunch of crazy stuff spewed out there when a big deal goes down.  Heck, I spew half of it. Here’s a list of the silly things I’ve heard in the 12 hours since the Cliff Lee deal was announced, both on Twitter and in comments to our various Cliff Lee posts:

“Cliff is just like LeBron James!”

Lots of random Twitter people said this, and Mike and Mike said just as much on their show this morning, talking about him passing up the opportunity to be “the number one guy” elsewhere and to become a cog in Philly.  Which is beyond crazy, of course.  As I mentioned this morning, LeBron’s offense against taste and nature was turning his announcement into a television show, not choosing to go to Miami. More to the point, however, baseball is a fundamentally different sport than basketball. No one can be “The Man” in baseball except Stan Musial, and that’s in nickname only. It’s a team sport. You can be the best ever, and if you don’t have support, you’re going nowhere. Ask Ted Williams. Hell, ask Stan Musial for the entire decade of the 1950s.

“Brian Cashman screwed this up!”

This is one I truly don’t understand. Brian Cashman offered the richest total deal.  If given the chance — which he didn’t seem to have been given — he probably would have and could have matched what the Phillies gave him on a year-to-year basis.  It has become pretty apparent, however, that Lee simply wanted to be in Philadelphia and didn’t want to be in New York. That’s not a crime on Cliff Lee’s part, nor is it malpractice on Brian Cashman’s.  It’s just the way it goes. Even for the Yankees.

The secondary criticism I’ve heard is that “Brian Cashman has no Plan B!”  Which is nuts, because he has had less than a full morning as of this writing to implement a Plan B.  The Yankees may not have gotten their man, but I’m sure they anticipated that to be a possibility and have contingency plans. They may not be as sexy or effective as getting Lee would have been, but if you think that Cashman is sitting in his office panicking right now like commenters on a Yankees message board, you’re crazy.

“Jayson Werth sure must be sorry now!”

If Jayson Werth stayed in Philly, even at a lower-dollar deal than he took from Washington, the Phillies would not be able to have signed Cliff Lee. It might be comforting for smug Phillies fans to look disapprovingly on the man who would dare leave them for more dough, but if he hadn’t, Lee would probably be in pinstripes right now.

“The Phillies are going to win [some number greater than 110] games!”

I think the Phillies will win the division easily.  The rotation, as we’ve noted, will be superb, and possibly historic. I don’t think this team is the 1998 Yankees. They have some big questions on offense now that Werth is gone. Ibanez appears to be a statue. Domonic Brown is untested. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard may or may not be in decline. If everything breaks right they could be a historic team. But even if everyone plays up to their projections, I can’t see this being some historically good offense.  The best thing I saw was “if the Phillies can trade for Zack Greinke, they might win 140 games!”  That’s less silly for the actual substance of the prediction than it is sad for the manner in which it apes the worst excesses of Yankees and Red Sox fans over the years. C’mon Philly fans! You have your own special brand of crazy that I have come to love! Copying the Yankees covetousness like that is beneath you.

This is huge news. It’s a great signing. I think it locks up the NL East for Philly.  But please, let’s give it 24 hours before we say big bold crazy things about it, OK?

Billy Williams, Bill Murray and . . . Fall Out Boy!

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 08:  Former players Ferguson Jenkins (L) and Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Opening Day game against the Milwaukee Brewers during the Opening Day game at Wrigley Field on April 8, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Major League Baseball has announced the on-field ceremonial stuff for tonight’s Game 3 of the World Series. There are a couple of good things here! And one bit of evidence that, at some point when he was still commissioner, Bud Selig sold his mortal soul to a pop punk band and now the league can’t do a thing about it.

The ceremonial first pitch choice is fantastic: it’s Billy Williams, the Hall of Famer and six-time All-Star who starred for the Cubs from 1959 through 1974. Glad to see Williams here. I know he’s beloved in Chicago, but he has always seemed to be one of the more overlooked Hall of Famers of the 1960s-70s. I’m guessing not being in the World Series all that time has a lot to do with that, so it’s all the more appropriate that he’s getting the spotlight tonight. Here’s hoping Fox makes a big deal out of it and replays it after the game starts.

“Take me out to the ballgame” will be sung by the guy who, I assume, holds the title of Cubs First Fan, Bill Murray. It’ll be wacky, I’m sure.

The National Anthem will be sung by Chicago native Patrick Stump. Who, many of you may know, is the lead singer for Fall Out Boy. This continues Major League Baseball’s strangely strong association with Fall Out Boy over the years. They, or some subset of them, seem to perform at every MLB jewel event. They have featured in MLB’s Opening Day musical montages. They played at the All-Star Game this summer. Twice. And, of course, they are the creative minds behind “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark,” (a/k/a “light ’em MUPMUPMUPMUP“) which Major League Baseball and Fox used as incessant playoff bumper music several years ago. I don’t ask for much in life, but one thing I do want is someone to love me as much as Major League Baseball loves Fall Out Boy. We all do, really.

Wayne Messmer, the former public address announcer for the Cubs and a regular performer of the National Anthem at Wrigley Field will sing “God Bless America.”

Between that and Bill Murray, I think we’ve found out the Cubs strategy for dealing with Andrew Miller: icing him if he tries to straddle the 6th and 7th innings.

Imagining a daytime World Series game at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  A overall shot of the scoreboard showing the postponement of the game in Baltimore because of riots before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 27, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Night baseball first came to the World Series in 1971, when the Pirates played the Orioles in Game 4. The last World Series game played under natural light came in 1984, when the Tigers played the Padres in Detroit in Game 5 of that year’s Fall Classic. The last World Series game played during daytime hours was Game 6 of the 1987 World Series, but that came in Minneapolis, in the Metrodome, so it was still played under artificial light. All games since then have been played in the evening hours.

Ever since, there have been periodic calls for the World Series to include day games. These appeals are often grounded in tradition and nostalgia for bright sunshine making way for long shadows. For memories of sneaking transistor radios into classrooms. For the symbolism of the sun setting on both the day at hand and the baseball season as a whole.

It’s an appealing idea. Baseball in the daytime is a wonderful, wonderful thing. And while day baseball may be occasionally miserable for fans and players in the heat of August, October afternoons are often the loveliest weather there is. There is nothing better than fall sunshine. A baseball game in that fall sunshine seems like the closest one can get to heaven on Earth.

Unfortunately, it’s a wholly unrealistic idea in this day and age. Far fewer people would actually get to watch the World Series if it were played during the day. We complain about late games lasting into the wee hours, preventing kids from watching, but how many kids are going to be able to watch a World Series game when they’re in school? Or at after school extracurricular activities? And how many people can ditch work to watch a baseball game? Some say to put one of the day games on the weekend, but that clashes with other activities and, of course, with football, which is going to win the battle for the remote in more households than baseball would.

Yes, the networks and Major League Baseball are in it for the money and the TV ratings, but the fact is that the money and the ratings are a function of more people watching baseball games in the evening, kids and grownups alike. It’s pretty straightforward, actually. More people watching baseball is better for the people and for baseball, full stop, aesthetics and commercial motivations notwithstanding. For this reason the World Series will almost certainly be played at night for the foreseeable future. And it should be.

Still . . . it’s Wrigley Field, the last bastion of day-only baseball for decades. A place where, even if they now play most games at night, still features more day baseball than anyplace else. And it’s a sunny Friday afternoon on which the temperatures will creep into the 60s. I know it would never happen and certainly won’t happen today, but the idea of an afternoon World Series game in Wrigley Field makes even a hard-headed, bottom-line-appreciating anti-nostalgist like me sorta wish today was a day game. If I close my eyes I can imagine it. I can feel the warm breeze and smell the fall afternoon air. I’m sure many of you can too.

And even if you can’t, can we agree that maybe today should be a day game simply for public health purposes? I mean, get a load of this:

These people will have been drinking for at least 11 hours come game time. Many of them for much longer. You’re probably looking at some dead men walking, here. For the sake of their livers and personal safety, this game should start at 1pm, dang it. If even that is early enough to save them.