Between legitimate distractions and frivolous ones, it was a hard weekend to concentrate on baseball news. Thankfully, aside from the usual injury stuff you see this time of year, there wasn’t a heck of a lot of it. The highlights:
- Ruben Amaro gets a four year extension. And he was so slick about it that Phillies ownership didn’t know they were even giving it to him until the papers had already been signed. He’s that good.
- Major League Soccer thinks the Wilpons would make great owners. I’d crack wise here, but given that just about every MLS team’s entire payroll runs to around what the Mets are paying Mike Pelfrey, I figure that even the Wilpons could swing it.
- The Nationals apparently feel that Bryce Harper is not quite ready to have somebody else carry his bags, to hit white balls for batting practice, to play in ballparks that are like cathedrals, to stay in hotels that have room service, to be around women with long legs and brains and, most importantly, to face pitchers who throw ungodly breaking stuff, exploding sliders.
- The Bergen record reports that Johan Santana will miss all of 2011. The Mets and Santana say that the Bergen Record is lying. In other news the Mets stand by their denial that Kelvim Escobar is unable to grip a baseball and anticipate his first action of 2010 any day now.
- The Red Sox indicate that Diasuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield could be had in a trade. In other news, I’m selling some real estate on which I speculated in the Las Vegas suburbs in 2006 and an old truck I drove into the ground for the past 20 years. Tailgate is broken. Serious inquiries only, please.
- Bengie Molina is basically retired, but he’ll consider a comeback if the right opportunity comes along. He’s a good candidate for that seeing as though “getting back into playing shape” is more of a theoretical concept for him.
- Mitchell Page enters baseball Valhalla. He hit .307/.405/.521 in 592 plate appearances in 1977. That was a better OPS than Reggie Jackson and George Brett had that year.
And into the week we go.
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.