I know that at 9:00 in the morning most of you are still looking back at last night’s action instead of ahead to tonight’s, but sorry, I can’t wait. I’m rather excited about Roy Halladay and the Phillies facing Josh Johnson and the Marlins.
It was a little less than a year ago when these two faced off in what turned out to be Halladay’s perfect game. Lost in that was the fact that Johnson had a nice game himself, giving up only an unearned run in seven innings of work. Also lost in that was the fact that the two faced each other two weeks later, with Johnson beating Halladay and the Phillies 2-0. Further lost in that is the fact that it was Johnson, not Halladay, who led the league in ERA last year (2.30 to 2.44). Johnson was also right behind Halladay in WAR for pitchers (7.2 to 7.0).
Which isn’t to say that they’re entirely comparable. Halladay is the better pitcher at this moment in time, and I presume that approximately 100 out of 100 people would chose him over Johnson if Earth needed to win one game against the Martians in order to save humanity.
But the gap is smaller than you think, and with Johnson being six years younger than Halladay, there will come a time when he takes assumes the role of the NL East’s top dog. Just as, with the Marlins’ youth and talent, there may very well come a time when they take that title from the Phillies as a team as well.
First pitch is at 7:10 PM Eastern.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.