The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: January 30-February 5, 2012
Can Josh Hamilton be Trusted? It's Complicated for Brian Cashman
Is Joey Votto Going Blue Jay Way? Washington to Phillie Fans: Stay Home!

Sloshed Josh
For the second time (that we know of) since overcoming addictions to drugs and alcohol, Texas star slugger Josh Hamilton turned to the bottle this past week, seen publicly pulling down more than a few drinks at a local bar in the Metroplex. At least this time around, it didn’t include hot-looking females licking whip cream off his chest.

Sober in more ways than one, Hamilton faced the media a few days later and took responsibility for his latest fall from the wagon. He didn’t take questions, but the Rangers—perhaps now kicking themselves for not signing Prince Fielder—sure may have a few and have probably queried him already. Like: How can we sign you to a big hoppin’ extension when we’re struggling to find trust in you?

Hamilton was taking the Albert Pujols route by saying he wouldn’t negotiate an extension during the final season of his current contract, but at this point the Rangers have slowed up their hurry in discussing the future with Hamilton.

Never mind the cost of the drinks Hamilton bought; the real cost will come in whatever wages will be lost in his next contract because of this episode.

The Varmint is Topps

Topps, who has always been on the traditional side of baseball cards, got a little creative with this year’s card (above) for the St. Louis Cardinals’ Skip Schumaker. It’s a horizontal-framed card with Schumaker’s ankle and feet off to the side of the picture—while center stage is taken up by the famous “rally squirrel” that interrupted Game Four of the NLCS and presumably gave good luck to the Cardinals’ postseason effort. Topps has only printed a handful of the cards, which makes it a hot buy at the hobby shops; online prices are already well into the hundreds of dollars.

Under the Red, a Blue Jay?
Former MVP Joey Votto is still contracted to the Cincinnati Reds for another two years, but the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Reds blog believes that a deal to send Votto to Toronto is not only likely, but that’s it all but a done deal; it’s just a matter of when it takes place. Here’s the logic said to be behind it: The Jays are overstocked with prospects and are willing to part with some of them; Votto is a Toronto native and could be paired well with Jose Bautista, who comes relatively cheap for the Jays’ payroll given his production—and thus could give the Jays some room to give Votto a long-term extension. (The not-so-adventurous Reds likely won’t resign Votto once he becomes a free agent after 2013.) The Jays, trying desperately to break free of the .500 barrier, could use the double-teaming of Votto and Bautista to compete in the highly difficult AL East. If the deal does go down, you heard it here second.

Land of the Giants
Here’s the imbalanced state of Bay Area baseball in stark form: The San Francisco Giants held their preseason FanFest on Saturday, drawing nearly 40,000 fans. A week earlier, the Oakland A’s held theirs—and drew 7,000. A move to San Jose couldn’t come any sooner for the A’s.

Selling Your Seoul to Baltimore
The Dominicans will kiss your feet if you sign one of their own towards the path of major league stardom, even if those young lads are 16 going on 21. But Folks in South Korea are less thrilled over what the Baltimore Orioles did this past week. Kim Seong-min, a 17-year-old high school sophomore southpaw considered one of the nation’s top prep prospects, was signed to a minor league contract by the Orioles, drawing the ire of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) over what it saw as a raiding of its future talent.

Unlike the Caribbean, Asian baseball hotbeds such as Japan and Korea are fiercely protective of their players, preferring to keep them playing in their own leagues…or did you not understand why the Rangers had to shell out $51 million to Yu Darvish’s team just to talk with him? The KBO plans to file a formal complaint with MLB, saying that players like Kim should not be taken out of the country at his age. That led Baltimore exec Dan Duquette to respond: “He’s closer to 18 than he is 17.”

He Said What?
“It’s a beautiful day fishing in the sunshine—I appreciate you f**king up my day.”—Former Chicago Cub manager Mike Quade, reached in Florida to respond to comments from replacement Dale Sveum, who said Quade’s Cubs were “lackadaisical.”

Now Playing at TGG
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Fatal Attraction
Only in New York. Yankee general manager Brian Cashman, who usually comes off as the organization’s most normal person (if his humble demeanor counted for anything), really got himself caught up in scandal this past week. It was reported that Cashman had been harassed and blackmailed by one Louise Neathway Meanwell, a British woman who seems to specialize in tormenting past lovers—including an ex-husband who now calls her “psychotic.” That’s not all; Meanwell also threatened her psychologist, Cashman’s wife and also, yes, his mistress. (You’re getting ‘round, Cash!)

All of this was too much for Cashman’s wife, who announced this weekend that she was divorcing him after a year of separation. Meanwhile, practically everyone associated with this woman has filed a restraining order against her. Meanwell may not look like Alex Forrest (that’s Glenn Close to some of you), but that shouldn’t keep Cashman from putting his pet bunny in protective custody.

Nationalism in D.C.
In recent years, the largest crowds at Washington’s Nationals Park have shown up whenever the Philadelphia Phillies were to town—not because they’re a good draw, but also because they bring in a horde of Phillies fans a short 150 miles down I-95. The Nationals would rather see the partisanship in their favor, so they’re allowing season ticket holders living in D.C., Maryland and Virginia first dibs on tickets for the Nats’ first home series of the year against the Phillies on May 4-6 with the hopes that scant few tickets will be left for Phillie fans to rack up. Couple thoughts on this: One, Just how many season ticket holders do the Nationals have? (It can’t be more than half the ballpark.) Two, haven’t the Nationals ever heard of StubHub?

Only Kidding!
Last week, the City of Houston was in a hullabaloo over new Astro owner Jim Crane’s public murmuring of whether to change the team name or not. But after public opinion heavily favored no such change in response, Crane this past week said it was all about nothing. The Astros they will remain.

Cut For a Cause
Miami shortstop Jose Reyes was told when signed by the Marlins that he had to cut off his long dreadlocks per the team’s policy on hair, so he made the most of it—having them lopped off on the MLB Network on Friday, then placing the chopped hair on eBay for a price; all money received will go to the South Florida chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. (You mean profit-hungry Marlin owner Jeffrey Loria didn’t demand a cut?) This isn’t the first time a lock from a major leaguer has been sold; someone once paid $38,000 for a collection of Babe Ruth’s hair.

The Beginning of the End For the Scalping Industry?
This season, the Boston Red Sox will be issuing digital-read-only tickets for $12 bleacher seats—requiring that the purchaser can only be admitted with a credit card that matches the one used to buy the ticket. (There’s an irony in that those buying bleacher seats are likely to be the ones who don’t own credit cards.) This spells trouble for scalpers, who can sell tickets but not necessarily the credit card numbers of those who bought them; while this only applies to bleacher seats for now, if successful the idea could spread to the rest of the ballpark.

How Green is My Ballpark
The Kansas City Royals may not be flush with money, but they’re the greenest team in one respect; they’ve installed 120 solar panels to help power Kauffman Stadium. The panels will ring the area behind the outfield wall and bleachers where the giant water fireworks display used to be (so the water display never generated any electricity?) and although the panels face toward the inside of the ballpark, the Royals claim they will not be blinding fans or players with any reflected sunlight.

Five other major league teams also are currently using solar energy to help power their facilities.

Skating With the Sharks
Milwaukee outfielder Nyjer Morgan, well known for his flair for the controversial, took in some practice with hockey’s San Jose Sharks in the Bay Area where he grew up playing youth hockey (yes, there are ice rinks in California—just not many). Morgan was invited in part because the team has noticed him frequently wearing Sharks swag before and after Brewer games. We know about you, Nyjer: You talk, and talk and talk. Hockey players aren't interested in the talk; they just drop the gloves and go after you.

Does the Pact Include Jewelry Allowance?
Chicago Cub Pitcher Matt Garza avoided arbitration and signed a $9.5 million deal for 2012. He may have to use some of that dough to buy a replacement for his 2008 ALCS ring, which was stolen from his home near Fresno, California this past week. The ring is valued at $30,000.

From South Korea to the Southland?
China is out, but South Korea is in for the ongoing saga of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ transfer of power. Former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley revealed this past week that he has a major investor on board from South Korea: Song Soo Park, chairman of E-Land. If they get the team, do they rename Dodger Stadium as…Song Soo Park?

TGG Goes to CafePress
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