The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: February 6-12, 2012
The (Chemical) Highs and Lows of Oil Can Boyd Sandy Alderson's Clever Tweets
Predictions to Scratch Your Head Over Why Vin Scully Doesn't Want to Retire

Coke Can Boyd?
Dock Ellis, who once claimed to throw a no-hitter on LSD, has nothing on Oil Can Boyd. The former Boston pitcher who played in the 1980s confessed this past week that he was high on cocaine during a majority of his starts. Can you smell a book on the horizon? Boyd’s comments came in advance of the release of yes, his new book, They Call Me Oil Can: My Life in Baseball. Will the book name-drop other drug users, given Boyd’s assertion that he wasn’t alone? Find out in June, when the book is released.

No (Expletive Deleted) Way!
Every March we come out with our predictions for the season to come and, eight months later, look like fools. (Trust us: We’re not alone.) One thing you can’t predict are players who absolutely, positively break out of nowhere; like, who saw Jose Bautista’s 54 home runs coming in 2010?

So rather than try and look into what likely will happen this year, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro claimed to poll baseball insiders for their thoughts on what they expect to happen that nobody else anticipates, all under the acronym of “NFW”—meaning, “No (bleeping) way!”

Among the unexpected to be expected this year, according to Piecoro’s sources: Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will win the AL MVP award; Derek Holland, who stood to be a World Series hero until David Freese messed things up last year, will find himself in the minors; and the Houston Astros will be so bad, they’ll challenge the 1962 New York Mets’ 40-120 record. Crazier predictions have been made; hey, it was just a few years ago that we tabbed the Mets to win the NL pennant…

Casey at the Chat
Last week, the Washington Nationals announced a “Take Back the Ballpark” initiative in which they would limit sales to their first home series of the season against the Philadelphia Phillies to residents of D.C., Maryland and Virginia—effectively shutting out Phillie fans who normally wagon 150 miles downward to watch their team on the road. One of those D.C. residents—Pennsylvania Seantor Bob Casey—publicly took issue with the Nats’ plan, responding via Twitter: “I’m calling on the Nationals to reverse course on a reported plan to block Phillies fans from buying tickets to games at Nationals Park…Phillies have some of the best fans in the world. They shouldn’t be left out in the cold because the Nats want a stronger home field adv.” Yes, one more thing for Congress to take higher priority over balancing the budget.

Oh My Jack Lord
Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino, a Hawaiian native, will appear in an upcoming episode of “Hawaii Five-O,” CBS’ update of the classic series that ran throughout the 1970s and then some. Victorino will get a small part as a “business executive on a company retreat,” a few minutes of air time that apparently ranks just above the extras that are allowed on stage because they won the “Star Search” competition. The episode airs on February 20.

Auctions of the Week
Last year, when love was in the air for quasi-reality TV star Kim Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries, the two appeared at a Minnesota Twins game and signed a baseball together. As Tom Weir of USA Today noted, it may be the only item outside of their divorce papers that includes both their signatures. With that in mind, the Twins announced they’ll be putting the ball up for auction, with the proceeds going to charity—and not the poor saps who bought all those wedding gifts for a marriage that lasted quicker than Mike Piazza’s 1998 stay with the Florida Marlins.

Speaking of the Marlins, new shortstop Jose Reyes fetched $10,200 in another auction this past week when he placed his severed dreadlocks on eBay (also for charity). Reyes was ordered by the Marlins to cut his hair to be in line with the team’s conservative policy on hair.

Brave New (Old) Uniforms
The Atlanta Braves broke out new ‘old’ uniforms this past week when they announced they’ll be wearing the same jerseys from their first year in Atlanta in 1966. One minor change, however: The screaming Indian warrior face is off the sleeve, out of concern that it might be deemed politically insensitive. In its place? Crossing tomahawks. Oh, that will appease the thin-skinned among us.

He Said What?
“I have one grandchild who still won’t talk to me since we traded Gio.” —Lou Wolff, owner of the Oakland A’s, referring to starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, traded to Washington this offseason.

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Will Tweet for Money
Sandy Alderson, the general manger of the beleaguered New York Mets, gets it. He always has. When the umpires were strong-arming baseball with threats to quit unless they got paid more back in 1999, Alderson—then a top executive for Major League Baseball—single-handedly torpedoed the umpires’ momentum when one famous quote: “It’s either an offer to be accepted or a threat to be ignored.”

This past week, Alderson used his Twitter account to poke fun at those constantly jabbing the Mets for their recent financial woes. To wit: “Getting ready for Spring Training-Driving to FL but haven’t left yet. Big fundraiser tonight for gas money. Also exploring PAC contribution.” More followed, and at first the more tightly-wound among the Mets’ faithful were rubbed the wrong way, but as Alderson later translated, “There are always some that take life way too seriously. For those people, it might take longer for my message to get across.”

The Legend That Keeps On Going
Baseball’s most celebrated play-by-play man would rather keep working at the mike than hang it up. Vin Scully, 84 and ready for his 63rd year doing broadcast duties for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, said this to Golf Digest: “Some people die twice: Once when they retire, and again when they actually pass away. Fear of the first one is a big incentive for me to keep working.” Some may think that Scully has been on auto pilot in recent years, but he’s still smoother at his job than the majority of his colleagues.

Staying Put
Billy Beane must really like a challenge. The Oakland general manager and subject of the Oscar-nominated Moneyball often looks saddled trying impossibly to make a winner out of the low-budget A’s, but the team’s state of affairs apparently doesn’t seem to keep him from bolting away to an organization flush with money. This was confirmed this past week when he signed an extension to remain with the A’s through the year of Blade Runner, 2019.

There are logical reasons for Beane to be hanging with the A’s. For starters, he’s more than just an employee; he owns a piece of the team. Parlay that into the recent chatter that the A’s are finally San Jose-bound, and you have a guy who soon will be overseeing bigger payrolls with more revenue at the new Silicon Valley ballpark—and enlarged stock payments from the team he partially owns. So Beane’s banking on the future in Oakland—er, San Jose.

The Smell of Baseball is in the Air
The Seattle Mariners became the first team to officially open spring camp this past weekend, as catcher and pitchers reported to their Arizona base. The reason that the Mariners are the first to open their doors is because they and the A’s start the regular season a week earlier than everyone else with games in Japan.

No Koreans For You!
Last week, we reported the signing of 17-year old Korean pitcher Kim Seong-min by the Baltimore Orioles in a move that upset Korea’s baseball body—to say the least. This week, the Koreans fired back; they have banned Kim from playing or coaching in his homeland, and they’ve barred Oriole scouts from future visits of any kind to Korea. To the Orioles, we suggest this: If you’re hurting for another Korean prospect, just glide through customs wearing pinstripes and a bagful of money with a Yankee logo printed upon it.

Arbitration is Not an Option
Cleveland all-star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera signed a one-year, $4.55 million deal with the Indians this past week—extending to 21 years the length in which the Tribe have not gone to arbitration with any of their players.

Wounded of the Week
If the medical industry had something similar to frequent flyer miles, Rich Harden would be up for a free surgery. The fragile pitcher, currently without a major league employer, is going under the knife yet again to repair a shoulder muscle that’s been torn since 2007; he’ll miss all of 2012. (Ironically, Harden didn’t tear his shoulder from pitching, but rather from a barehanded field of a comebacker.) The nine-year southpaw, who has only had one healthy season in the majors and never thrown over 200 innings—only once has he even thrown at least 150—played last year in Oakland, going 4-4 with a 5.12 earned run average.

TGG Goes to CafePress
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