The Week That Was in Baseball: January 18-24, 2010
The Deity Made Me Do It The Mark McGwire Fallout Continues
Miguel Cabrera Gets the Clean-Up Role—In Rehab
Farewell, Mr. Baseball

Become a fan of This Great Game on Facebook. We’re embracing this opportunity to invite TGG followers and those of baseball in general to share their insights, queries and good knowledge with TGG’s powers-that-be, Eric Gouldsberry and Ed Attanasio.

Our goal with this page is to bring value to all who wish to become our fans, even correspondents to our continued mission of providing an enriched and unique perspective to our comprehensive catalog of baseball history, past, present and future.

Want to sound off on current events? Have good trivia you want to share? Roaming about the country on a ballpark tour? Need advice on that baseball book you’re trying to sell? Got something of interest we could share within the main site, such as our Weekly Comebacker? Have any praise or criticisms of TGG? We want to hear from you. It’s your soapbox, too.

Maybe God is an Angels Fan
Grant Desme had quite a first full year in the minors, hitting .288 with 31 homers and 40 steals between two Class A teams in the Oakland organization last season; he continued his great play in the fall by being named the MVP of the Arizona Fall League. And now Desme has been called up—not by the A’s, but by God. The 23-year old outfielder has decided that he would rather join the priesthood than continue to pursue his baseball career. Oakland general manager Billy Beane is publicly supportive of Desme’s move but, deep inside, you gotta wonder if Beane is praying to the Big Man (no, not Bud Selig) to have Desme reconsider. Desme has no regrets of what he’s doing, saying: “Either way, if I played in the big leagues and became a Hall of Famer, it’s still going to end.”

Just What the Mets Need: An Underachiever
With Carlos Beltran out of the lineup to start the 2010 regular season, the New York Mets sought a replacement this past week and took Gary Matthews Jr. off the hands of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who looked desperate to get rid of him by agreeing to pay all but a few of the $21 million remaining on his albatross contract they him back in 2007 after his one and only good year with Texas. Matthews Jr. never came close to duplicating his stellar 2006 effort with the Rangers in Anaheim and was reduced to a part-time role in 2009, leading to his request to play elsewhere. There’s no guarantee the 35-year old will continue to play everyday once Beltran returns—unless Jason Bays knees do give out as recent rumors suggest.

Hoping the Forecast is Fry
Some players stay in shape during the offseason, others vacation about…and Miguel Cabrera gets himself cleaned up. Saying he hasn’t had a drink since his notorious lost weekend last October that arguably helped keep the Detroit Tigers out of the postseason, Cabrera emerged from extensive alcohol rehab in Miami all smiles and ready to fully focus on baseball once again. The 26-year old slugger made news during the final weekend of the regular season when he spent an entire night drinking with opposing players and came home to an irate wife with whom he scuffled.

Prove He Can Hit Before Giving Him the Truck
Chicago Cub outfielder
Tyler Colvin, who played six games with the team last season after spending most of the season in the minors, found out this past week that someone in Utah used his name to convince a car dealer to take an overnight test drive with a $50,000 truck—only never to return. A stunned Colvin was notified the next day and told authorities that he’s never even been to Utah. The impostor, a 24-year old Nevada man, was later found and arrested.

This Time, They Came in Peace
For our TGG friends within striking distance of San Francisco, you might want to head to the Society of California Pioneers Museum and check out an exhibit on the 1949 U.S. Goodwill Baseball Tour of Japan, a tour organized by Hall-of-Famer and San Francisco resident Lefty O’Doul at the request of General Douglas MacArthur. The exhibit runs through the spring and is located at 300 Fourth Street in San Francisco. For a more detailed review of the tour, check out the personal blog of TGG’s own Ed Attanasio.

We Ought to Tell You: Our All-Decade Awards
With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s), This Game Great has released its choices for the best, worst and most memorable of the decade that was. Check it out now.

The Comebacker’s Greatest Hits
Click here to look at the TGG Comebacker archive going back to the start of the 2007 season.

McGwire: The Aftershocks
If Mark McGwire was hoping to have everyone would turn away and move on from his steroid admission of the previous week, it ain’t happening. Cries of shame continued to come from many varied corners of the baseball world this past week: Hall of Fame pitcher Ferguson Jenkins said McGwire owed an apology to all the pitchers he hit juiced home runs off of; former St. Louis skipper Whitey Herzog fumed over the enthusiastic reception McGwire got at the Cardinals’ Winter Warm-Up event while noting that former Cardinal slugger Jack Clark, who also publicly criticized McGwire, was booed; Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he felt “betrayed” by McGwire for having that extra illicit advantage for the A’s while battling the White Sox back in Guillen’s playing days; and even Adolphus Busch, son of former Cardinal owner August Busch Jr., chimed in, lambasting McGwire for apologizing over his “embarrassment” for lying about not taking steroids, but not for his “deceit.”

As if the ongoing criticism wasn’t enough, this past week also brought newfound evidence that Curtis Wenzlaff, a trainer who supplied steroids to Jose Canseco, also helped out McGwire. Wenzlaff told ESPN that he was convinced McGwire took the drugs to help him become a better home run hitter, stating: “Will (steroids) help you hit a baseball? Let me put it to you this way: If Paris Hilton was to take that array, she could run over Dick Butkus.”

Bobby Bragan, 1917-2010
We remember Bobby Bragan for a famous photo displayed in The Sporting News when, as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he protested his ejection from a game by re-emerging on the field to offer an umpire a cup of orange soda. Bragan had a limited career as a player, performing a handful of years for the woebegone Philadelphia Phillies of the 1940s before petering out on the bench at Brooklyn, hanging around long enough to welcome in Jackie Robinson in 1947 by signing a player-led petition to protest his presence. (Bragan, an Alabama native, would quickly changed his mind soon after.) He managed in the majors a total of seven years, including a four-year stint during which the Braves the team moved to Atlanta from Milwaukee. In later years, Bragan was fondly recalled as “Mr. Baseball” while vigorously working in the front office of the Texas Rangers; he even pulled off a publicity stunt by managing a minor league team in Ft. Worth for a game in 2005 to become the oldest person, at age 87, to manage a professional baseball game, beating Connie Mack by a week. Bobby Bragan died this past week at the age of 92.

Take the Stats and Run
What’s more important to players: The money or the stats?
Adam LaRoche is one of those rare birds that would prefer the strength of the box score over the bank account. The veteran first baseman declined a two-year, $17 million deal with the San Francisco Giants to sign with divisional rival Arizona for one year and $6 million. LaRoche said he preferred the warmth and feel of Phoenix’s Chase Field while saying nothing about the (let’s all face it) chillier, hard-to-reach right field fencing of San Francisco AT&T’s Park, which has scared many power hitters from signing deals with the Giants.

A Chat With Baseball's Biggest Communist Fan
Lester Rodney, who pressed for racial integration within baseball through the Communist newspaper The Daily Worker a good ten years before Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers, passed away on December 20 at the age of 98. One of the last people he gave an in-depth interview to was our own Ed Attanasio a few years back; that interview is now up in our They Were There section. Check it out now.

New and Improved at TGG
The Teams section has been updated to include results from the 2009 regular season.