Where's There Smoke...
This Week in Divorce McCourt
So just who is this Dr. Anthony Galea and why is the FBI talking to numerous star ballplayers about him? A highly sought Canadian doctor whose fringe blood-spinning treatments have supposedly made pro athletes recover more quickly from injuries, Galea was recently arrested for carrying illegal steroids Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and Actovegin across the border into America. This has caught the interest of the Feds, who’ve been doing the rounds talking to major leaguers like Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and Huston Street, all patients of Galea. (It’s not just baseball; Tiger Woods is also a Galea client.) All the ballplayers interviewed are on record telling the press that they are clean and never took anything illegal from Galea, but the skeptics in us are saying, “We’ve heard that one before.” Stay tuned.
We found out why the Los Angeles Dodgers were likely unable to spend on free agents this past offseason. Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie, entangled in a bitter divorce battle that involves a tug-of-war over the custody of the Dodgers, both claim to have spent a combined $19 million on legal feesand the trial to determine who gets what is still months away. The Los Angeles Times sought opinion from legal experts in the star-studded, divorce-happy region, and none of them could recall such a divorce costing so much to negotiate. And imagine going through a split and receiving 100,000 pages worth of documents from the lawyers of your combatant spouse. That’s what Jamie’s lawyers say they’ve received from Frank’s. This is going to get uglierand more costlybefore it gets better.
No Longer Driving in the Past
In the five years since Mark McGwire became a pariah for refusing to discuss what fueled his glorious past, drivers moving along Interstate 70 in St. Louis must have cringed to see a sign trumpeting the section of the road as the Mark McGwire Highway. Now that McGwire has totally admitted to illegal performance enhancement, the Missouri Senate has voted to remove his name from I-70; the measure goes on to the state House, where it is expected to pass. Under the move, the freeway will be renamed the Mark Twain Highway.
State Senator Kurt Schaefer said it was wiser to pick a replacement who is no longer living, since such a person wouldn’t be alive to potentially sully his reputation. But how do we know Mark Twain doesn’t have an estranged living nephew named Jay Twain ready to write a book about how he helped plagiarize much of the famed author’s works?
For Lack of a Mirror
Milton Bradley told the New York Times this past week that his disastrous, one-year tenure with the Chicago Cubs was the fault of the Cubs, not himself. (Just as Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and Texas were also to blame for his problems there.) Bradley, now in Seattle playing for his eighth team in 11 years, also claimed that there was “no communication” between the Cubs and himself, then went on to say that he was expectedor communicated to, we assumeto hit 30 home runs for the team, even though his career high is 22. Chicago manager Lou Piniella diplomatically begged to differ with Bradley’s comments, saying the temperamental outfielder got off to a bad start in 2009 and never recovered, and wished him well with the Mariners.
I Wasn't Drunk, I Was Just Drinking
Miguel Cabrera, whose lost weekend in the final days of the 2009 regular season possibly cost the Detroit Tigers an appearance in the postseason, completed an offseason program to quit drinking but claimed to reporters that he never was an alcoholic. This prompted our own Ed Attanasio to respond: “I don’t judge…but why did this guy quit drinking if he doesn’t have a problem? No one wants to admit you’re an alcoholic.”
Wounded of the Week
Among the many others who are taking it more than easy due to the nicks and knacks of winter and early spring training are Texas slugger Josh Hamilton (shoulder) and Chicago reliever Angel Guzman, who tore a ligament in his shoulder and is expected to miss the beginning of the regular season.
Some players just can’t seem to stay healthy. Eric Chavez comes immediately to mind when thinking of such players. We may soon have to add Jose Reyes to that list. The New York Met shortstop, who missed of most last year due to a hamstring injury, now has been told that he has a thyroid imbalance. The condition, if not treated, could wreck havoc with Reyes’ metabolism, leading to increased dizziness and fatigue. Reyes is not expected to miss too much action from this, but that’s not a guarantee, either. And with the Mets these days, good health never seems to be a guarantee.
New and Improved at TGG
Our intro to the 2000s section of the Yearly Reader, originally written back in 2005, has been retitled and updated to provide a more complete overview of the decade. Also, the Teams section has been updated to include results from the 2009 regular season.
Is This a Way to Treat a Prince?
Last September, Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers brought a NFL-like mentality to game-winning celebrations when, after belting a walk-off home run against San Francisco, the burly boomer greeted his teammates at home plate by knocking them over like bowling pins. The whole stunt was obviously pre-planned, well choreographed and entertaining, but it wasn’t very funny to the Giants, and they apparently let Fielder know how they felt this past week when, in the second spring training game of the year, Barry Zito plunked him with the first pitch of his first at-bat. Fielder kept cool, grabbed the ball and underhanded it back toward the mound. Zito later claimed he didn’t intend to hit Fielder; of course, he’d get suspended if he did. The Brewers and Giants don’t hook up for real until July.
It’s baseball’s equivalent to college football’s body bag games, when top ten teams schedule “puffball” opponents from schools you never heard of that promote sportsbook spreads of 50 or more points. Some major league teams warmed up for spring training games this past week with contests against college teams, and the results were predictable. The Boston Red Sox took care of Boston College, 6-1, and Northeastern, 15-0; the Florida Marlins crushed the University of Miami, 19-3 and even the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates had it relatively easy over the State College of Florida, winning by a 6-1 count. That’s four games won by major league teams by a combined score of 46-5.
Warmth is Not Automatic
The spring training season in Florida brings with it the snowbirds from the north who escape the last waves of winter, but apparently those folks brought the bad weather with them. For the exhibition opener at Dunedin, Florida between the Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers, fans bundled up in temperatures that reached no higher than the mid-50s that, thanks to a bitter wind, probably felt even chillier.
On the Record
A few weeks ago we noted that Sandy Koufax had visited the New York Mets’ camp in Florida, (one) because he was a good friend with owner Fred Wilpon and (two) the Dodgers no longer train in the Sunshine State. Well, we thought it was fair to mention that Koufax did make the cross-country flight to Phoenix to check in with the Dodgers this past week.
Look for LoekYou Can't Miss Him
Loek Van Mil has an outside shot at making the Minnesota Twins’ roster this year. If he does, not only will he have become one of only a handful of major leaguers born in the Netherlands but, at 7’1”, will become the first seven-footer ever to play in the bigs.
The Trouble With Harry's Patch
Anyone who’s opened up a pack of Topps’ 2010 baseball cards and come across a Cliff Lee might look at his action picture and wonder…how did Topps get a picture of Lee throwing away in a Seattle uniform before a packed house? Back in the 1970s, doctoring up player pics for baseball cards to account for a player’s new team was often obvious, with not very seamless depictions of his new team on his cap or jersey. Well, with Photoshop, we’ve come a long way, baby…yet, in the graphic artist’s wonderful depiction of Lee in a Mariner uniform he’s barely worn, one little aspect was overlooked. The Seattle uniform which Lee “wears” in the picture contains a black patch over his upper left chest with the initials “HK”. That’s the tribute for the late play-by-play man Harry Kalas that appeared on only one uniform: The Philadelphia Phillies, Lee’s employer for the latter half of 2009. No word on whether Topps plans to correct the card; we doubt it.
Staying in Uniform, One Way or Another
Rocco Baldelli is back with the Tampa Bay Raysnot as a player, but as a special assistant to help some of the team’s younger talent. This does not mean that Baldelli, whose rise toward becoming one of the game’s elite players was shattered a few years back by a rare physical disorder, has retired. Still only 28, Baldelli hopes to play again but only when he overcomes a painful shoulder ailment unrelated to his troublesome condition that leaves him constantly fatigued; he even turned down several offers from other teams to come to camp without a guarantee to win a roster spot.
Now Playing at TGG
Ed Attanasio chats with Tom O'Doul, the cousin of the late, great Lefty O'Doul in a new installment of the They Were There section. Check it out now.
Coming Soon to TGG
Look soon for our Yearly Reader page covering the 2009 season.
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.