It takes a special kind of logic to start your segment with a callback to the 1994 strike — the darkest moment in recent baseball history — and then make a full-throated argument that baseball today is in dire trouble. I mean, you think one would at least note that baseball has achieved labor peace, instituted the strongest drug testing regime in U.S. sports and has increased revenues something like 800% since then, but maybe that just slipped everyone’s mind:
To be fair: I am on board with concern about the demographics of baseball fandom. It is somewhat concerning that the audience for the game is getting older. Baseball worries about that too and they’ve actually been working on it. Time will tell if they figure that out. It’s also worth wondering and maybe worrying about who the next commissioner will be. The current battle to replace Bud Selig has one faction which seems to want to take us back to the days when owners and players were at odds and things like salary caps were discussed in polite company. If that happens, we could find ourselves back in the bad old days again.
But to claim that baseball “depends” on local revenue as if that were a bad thing and to cite the Q-ratings of various athletes as if that is some gauge of health is a lot of effort to get around the fact that baseball is doing really darn well these days. Way better than it was doing in the mid-90s, that’s for sure.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?