The Week That Was in Baseball: January 2-8, 2012
It's Your Lucky Day, Barry Larkin • Will the 2012 Marlins be Great Soap Opera Fare?
Albert Pujols' Angelic Extras • Is Prince Fielder Running Out of Options?
The Lone Inductee
Let’s face it: Larkin was lucky. The hardly imposing 2012 ballot was the best belated Christmas gift he could ever ask for. He had little competition, especially among the first-year eligibles who barely rated in the vote; only Bernie Williams, at 9.6%, had enough votes among the first-timers to be eligible for next year’s ballot.
There’s nothing personal against Larkin here. He’s said to be a genuinely nice guy who never ruffled feathers with teammates, the front office and, most importantly as far as the Hall vote goes, the media. But in our eyes, a .295 average, 2,340 career hits and three Gold Gloves, while a proud grouping of numbers, just doesn’t have “immortal” written all over it. Yes, he was an excellent basestealer and he had a good eye at the plate (more walks than strikeouts) and did win a MVP and does have a World Series ring (from 1990). And he was never a target of suspicion playing in the midst of the steroid era. (Although, for a guy who seldom hit more than 15 home runs, we have to ask: What about those 33 he hit out of nowhere in 1996?)But we digress. Congratulations to Barry Larkin.
No Love For the Rookies
The Steroid Era Loses Again
Check His BBWAA Card
Taking a Break
The Player That Just Keeps Going, and Going...
That's a Load of Pit Bull
The Mounties Will be a-Watchin'
Coming Soon to TGG
Be Very, Very Careful What You Wish For
In other words: If you enjoyed the 1977 New York Yankees of George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson and company, the 2012 Marlins could be your chance to relive it all over again.
Start at the top. Miami owner Jeffrey Loria and his Number Two, team president David Samsonalready on Montreal’s fecal list for plundering and moving the Expos out of Canadahave made few friends and attracted few fans in South Florida since taking over the Marlins. They’ve torn apart teams, pocketed millions to the consternation of everyone in baseball, then had the gall to plead poverty when negotiating with dunderheaded locals over who would pay for a new ballpark. That latter tactic was employed before it was uncovered that the Marlins had plenty of money to burn on the new venue, which now will be paid off by Miami-Dade County citizens to the tune of at least $2.4 billion over the next 40 years. Internally, the team’s strong-armed approach to its players would have made Steinbrenner proud; last year, talented second-year player Logan Morrison was sent to the minors not because of bad play, but because he failed to attend a meet-and-greet with season ticket holders.
Next, there’s the manager’s office, where Ozzie Guillen now sits for the Marlins. Easily the most colorful, outspoken and controversial pilot going in the majors, it will be interesting to see how the relationship between Guillen, Loria and Samson plays out. Joe Girardi once managed in Florida and received acclaim from outsiders for turning Marlin bread into wine, but once he dared to criticize Loria, he was gone.
Finally, there’s the clubhouse. Veteran shortstop Hanley Ramirez, long known for occasional fits of malcontent behavior, bitched at being moved to third base to accommodate free agent signee Jose Reyes; he’s since changed his tune, but is he still boiling on the inside? And this past week, the Marlins traded for testy pitcher Carlos Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs because, hey, what’s one more hot potato in the pot?
Either way, the Marlins will be great entertainment in 2012. They’ll make noise if they win just as any other team does. If they lose, the likely implosion of egos is bound to captivate, and with active Twitter critters in Guillen and Morrison, you know you’ll hear about it.
And from afar, Reggie Jackson will shake his head at it all and comment: “I’ve been there.”
The Prince of Sighs
That leaves the Washington Nationals, who are looking good for the future with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, among others. The Nationals have the money and the will to sign Fielder, which is great for thembut not so great for Boras, who seems to no longer have another team to play off of and build a higher price via competitive negotiation. Maybe Boras will trot out his “mystery team” to lure a bigger price from the Nationals (some say the Baltimore Orioles could be that team), but nobody seems to be falling for that trick anymore. Maybe we’re wrong, but Fielder’s best chance to rake in the big, big money may have come and gone.Here’s another option for Fielder: Return to Milwaukee for one year (as it’s beginning to be more loudly whispered), then re-enter the market for 2013 when he’ll be the premier first baseman available as opposed to this year, when he had to share the employment line with Albert Pujols.
A Life-Saving Raise
TGG Goes to CafePress
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