Craig Calcaterra

Bill Lee BW

The Spaceman and The Excitable Boy


Dan Epstein has a great column over at Fox today about two rebels/iconoclasts/weirdos who found themselves to be outcasts in businesses that, while superficially promoting and rewarding individuality, genius and fun, really don’t when push comes to shove. The outcasts in questions: Warren Zevon and Bill “the Spaceman” Lee.

As he blazed his weird trail through the 1970s — and particularly, his contentious 1978 season — Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee professed his admiration for Zevon, who after years of toiling, had finally broken into the big time with his 1978 album “Excitable Boy.” Zevon, in turn, took a shine to Lee, recognizing him as a fellow oddball, and wrote a song about him. Eventually they met and became friends, which couldn’t have possibly been good for either of them, even if it sounds like it would’ve been all kinds of fun to hang around them.

Epstein tells their respective weird tales and, as he so often does, in his books and his columns, reminds us of just how damn weird the 1970s were.

Matt Wieters’ X-ray comes back clean

wieters getty

Matt Wieters was shut down with elbow tendinitis after catching on Tuesday. It was his first action behind the plate since he had Tommy John surgery, so he was sent for X-rays as a precautionary measure. Good news: they came back clean.

He’s still shut down from catching for the next week, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready by Opening Day.

Yankees minor leaguer suspended for drugs

Police Blotter

This is pretty low-level news, but the entire sports world is fixated on college basketball today so, welp, there we are. Anyway:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that New York Yankees Minor League right-handed pitcher Moises Cedeno has received a 72-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Clenbuterol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Dude plays in the Dominican Summer League. Which just goes to show you how deeply into the organization A-Rod’s nefarious claws, um, claw.

Now, back to basketball. I’m watching on a delay. No spoilers, please. I’m just now tucking in to the Iowa State game. I got a feelin’ about ’em! Final Four, baby!

The Brewers exercise Ron Roenicke’s 2016 option

Ron Roenicke

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was entering the final year of his contract, but he’s no longer a lame duck. The Brewer have exercised his 2016 option, Adam McCalvy reports.

Roenicke is 335-313 in four years at the helm of the Brewers. By wins and losses, 2014 was his second worst year of the four. By the expectations game, it was a roaring success until, oh, mid-to-late August, with the Brewers defying most experts’ picks and leading the NL Central. Things ended poorly, however, with the bats going cold and the the Brewers dropping out of the playoff hunt. After that happened the club fired some coaches, clearly displeased with the team’s late-season stumbles, so it was not at all clear that they’d pick up Roenicke’s option.

But by doing this they seem to be signaling that, no Roenicke was not the problem and, as such, are providing a vote of confidence.

Roger Clemens settles the Brian McNamee lawsuit

Roger Clemens closeup head

The New York Post reports that Roger Clemens and his former trainer Brian McNamee have settled the defamation lawsuit brought against him by his former trainer, Brian McNamee. The terms have not been disclosed.

The roots of this go back over seven years, to the time just after the Mitchell Report was released. McNamee was one of George Mitchell’s primary sources, and he claimed that he had sold, given or had administered performance enhancing drugs to Clemens, among others. Clemens vehemently denied this after the report was released and engaged in a legal and public relations onslaught against his former trainer. Clemens filed a defamation suit of his own, but it was almost completely eviscerated by a federal court and what little was left of it was eventually dismissed. McNamee’s suit against Clemens, however, has had legs, and now it presumably involves Clemens paying McNamee a great deal of money to make it go away.

That it got this far is pretty amazing. Clemens was always a physically gifted pitcher, but so was Kyle Farnsworth and any number of guys who could throw amazing heat. Clemens’ success, like the success of any all-time great hurler, came from combining those gifts with a good strategic mind. Clemens always had a plan on the mound and new how he’d get the batter out. His post-Mitchell Report behavior, in contrast, was unexpected, bizarre and ultimately self-destructive.

If, as he claimed, he never took PEDs, he could’ve issued a simple denial and gone on with his life. Heck, he could’ve done that even if it was a lie and nothing would have happened to him. Alternatively, if he took PEDs, as most of us suspect he did, he could’ve admitted it. No matter which of those courses he took, the fallout — apart from as it related to his Hall of Fame case — would’ve ended for him in early 2008. He never would’ve been sued. He never would’ve been hauled before Congress and, eventually, subjected to a perjury prosecution. He never would’ve had the sordid details of his personal life printed in every newspaper and broadcast on every channel.  All of that was a function of his combative and litigious response to the release of the Mitchell Report.

But that’s what he did, either out of stubbornness, arrogance, miscalculation or some combination of all of those things. And that’s why, only now, over seven years later, the matter is finally being settled.