I have tried my best to avoid the subject, what with the avalanche of media coverage elsewhere, but the Biogenesis story cannot be ignored, even in this blog. It hits home especially hard at the moment because we are in New York for the series with the Mets. The amount of newspaper space and radio-television time spent on Alex Rodriguez is unbelievable...and appalling. Simply put, A-Rod continues to be interested only in staying in the spotlight regardless of how it affects the game he supposedly loves. With the amount of money involved, there is some appreciation for his stance, but again, this is much more about A-Rod than it is the money. Since he is appealing, the rest of us will be dragged along with him.
MLB’s stance moving forward should be of greater interest—and scrutiny—for those of us interested in baseball’s future. There has been a suggestion bandied about that offenders should have their contracts terminated. The ramifications of nullifying contracts for offenders lie at the heart of the management-labor relationship in the sport. Many feel such an action would serve as the best deterrent yet towards eliminating PED use, but it is not as simple as it might seem. The union wants assurances a move of this nature would not set a precedent to allow management to terminate contract for other missteps. I believe there are enough current players that would be in favor of a penalty like this, but it is something that needs to be negotiated, not arbitrarily executed. Baseball remains in the lead at cleaning up its house in comparison to the NFL and the NBA, but work remains.
That sentiment also applies to the state of the Rockies. The combination of injuries, baffling inconsistencies, and bad luck in terms of facing hot teams has left the ballclub nowhere near its position earlier in the season. If you ever need to put a value on the presence in the lineup of a healthy Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, look at the Rockies’ results when one or both of them are not in the lineup or at full-strength. The freaky nature of the injuries to both players only adds to the frustrations for the team and you fans. Nevertheless, the results here in the second half show where the team needs to go in the offseason. A legitimate power bat, preferably right-handed, is needed to provide protection for the times when the two All-Stars are unavailable, as well as for the still-developing players like Willin Rosario, DJ LeMahieu, and Nolan Arenado. It would make a good lineup, when healthy, even more formidable.
There is plenty of reason to feel upbeat, however, regarding the progress of the pitching. Jorge De La Rosa will be back—maybe even extended beyond 2014—and Jhoulys Chacin has grabbed with both hands the chance to be the rotation’s horse. Chad Bettis’ work through the rest of the season, along with the development of Tyler Chatwood and Juan Nicasio will be scrutinized, and everyone associated with the team is anxious to see what possibilities Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler might bring to spring training next February. One more sleeper to watch: Tyler Matzek may have found a way, at last, to harness his talent, and that would be another lefthanded bonus.
My CHECK IT OUT this time is an oldie, but appropriate to my current venue. I recently watched a documentary regarding Billy Joel’s career that was wrapped around his concert at Shea Stadium here in New York before it was demolished for the Mets’ new home. The film is certainly worth a view, and the album, Live at Shea Stadium, is a keeper. Joel is the consummate showman throughout, but the guests that joined him onstage made the effort special.
I apologize that this blog is somewhat tardy. Normally, I attempt to get one out every 7-10 days. Between the All-Star break and a visit from my 85-year old mother, the blog got pushed to the side. Time to make amends.
This is being written just before first pitch in the opener of a 4-game set with the Miami Marlins. Walt Weiss believes his club needs to re-establish its dominance at Coors Field, and the Rockies got off to a good start on this 10-game homestand by taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs. The Marlins, with 9 rookies on their active roster, have the poorest record in the National League, but that doesn’t mean it will be a walkover for the Rockies. More than any of the other major sports, baseball is the game where, regardless of record, any team has a chance to win each game, particularly if they get good starting pitching. Miami will send 2 excellent young pitchers, Jose Fernandez and Jacob Turner, to the mound in this series, and the Rockies are well aware of the need to take care of business when opportunities are presented. It will be the same this weekend against Milwaukee.
Speaking of the Brewers, they were having issues even before Ryan Braun’s suspension was announced this afternoon. I wonder if Braun decided not to appeal his penalty since his team is struggling. Had an appeal been filed and he lost the case, Braun might have faced an even larger penalty. Needless to say, it is likely that more suspension will be handed out as a result of the investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in South Florida. I am happy that MLB is trying to be proactive in dealing with performance-enhancing drugs, although they won’t be able to eradicate drugs completely from the game. Nevertheless, they are doing the best job of it among the major sports, in my opinion.
My only complaint is that I don’t think the penalties go far enough. There would be even better control of these illegal practices if the teams were also penalized beyond just the loss of a suspended player. While a team would feel the loss of that particular player—especially a star of the standards of a Ryan Braun—a replacement takes over and things continue. My suggestion would be that not only would that player be suspended for the length of his penalty, but that his team would be forced to play with one less player on their active roster for the duration of the suspension. Further, it would have to match, meaning if it’s a position player or a pitcher, that’s what the team would have to do without. Don’t you think there would be even greater vigilance by the front office, coaching staff, and teammates if that were the penalty? Think about it.
Before I give you my latest CHECK IT OUT, one last look back at 3 Rockies in the All-Star Game. It was wonderful to see all that purple on the baseline for the introductions of the NL squad. The best sight, however, was watching the fun Michael Cuddyer had during the Home Run Derby, particularly the interaction with his son, Casey. It was priceless. Now...Check Out "Blind, Crippled, and Crazy" by Delbert McClinton and Gene Clark. Two grizzled blues veterans have put out an excellent disc.
The halfway point in games played for this 2013 season, and for the Rockies, the results have been more good than bad. By many, the NL West is dismissed because each club’s record is right around the .500 mark. While break-even is not the desired result, consideration must be made to what the other divisions have from top to bottom.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have the best record in the league, and the Bucs deserve praise for their success. Consider, however, that Clint Hurdle’s club is 24-13 within its division, thanks in no small part to a 14-6 mark vs. the Cubs and the Brewers, teams with the records well below .500. The St. Louis Cardinals are 12-4 against those two clubs, while the Cincinnati Reds have fared even better going 15-4 when tangling with Chicago and Milwaukee. It’s the same way in the NL East where the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals have fashioned +.500 records by beating up on the struggling New York Mets and Miami Marlins.
My point is that a division may not seem as strong, at least in terms of wins and losses anyway, because of all the games played within its group. A team plays 19 games against each of the other teams in its division. Just consider the last place teams in each division. Who would you rather play 19 times? The Los Angeles Dodgers or the Miami Marlins? The Milwaukee Brewers? The evenly matched nature of the NL West could prevent a Wild Card team from emerging out of the division, but that doesn’t’ mean the caliber of the teams in it isn’t strong.
The Rockies and their fans have every right to believe they will be in the playoff chase—a healthy roster is imperative—and that’s all anyone can ask from a baseball season. As for any roster tweaking, that will depend on the performances of Roy Oswalt and Drew Pomeranz over the next several weeks in terms of starting pitching, as well as the work from the front end of the bullpen. Don’t be surprised if the Rockies add Xavier Nady to their bench in the next week or so. Nady is a veteran righthand bat who can play first base and some outfield. The club could use a pinch hitting power threat from the right side beyond Willin Rosario on those days when he is not in the starting lineup.
With his Under the Dome adapted for television this summer, I thought my CHECK IT OUT for this blog would have to do with Stephen King. Recently finished reading 11/22/63, and I found it very enjoyable. It’s a different premise than the typical horror approach King likes to take, and I found myself absorbed from the first page. The ability to mix history with fantasy is well handled. It makes for an excellent summer read.