The Week That Was in Baseball: March 17-23, 2008
The Players Fly First Class, the Coaches Fly...Coach! Dodgertown's Swan Song
Fehr and Loathing Over Barry Bonds A Yankee Tribute to the Hokie Spirit

I'll Take Major League Coaches for $40,000, Alex
A brief dispute arose on the eve of the Boston Red Sox’ journey to Japan when it was discovered that coaches would not be each paid the $40,000 “appearance fee” that players would receive, which ran 180 degrees counter to what Red Sox players and manager Terry Francona initially believed. The Red Sox threatened to boycott their final exhibition game in Florida and not board their flight to Japan unless the coaches were given the fee. Within 24 hours, the dispute was resolved when Major League Baseball and the Red Sox pledged to go dutch and chip in with the money. The Oakland A’s, who the Red Sox will play in Japan, will also have their coaches dutifully compensated.

Collusions of Grandeur
Union head Don Fehr this week intimated that major league owners might be acting in collusion to keep Barry Bonds from being signed. Maybe what Fehr needs to do is hire Bonds to work in his office for a year. Let the home run king bring in his churlish disposition, his entourage, his recliner and his legal distractions. Then maybe he’ll understand why nobody in baseball wants to hire this guy.

Will Work for Extra Baggage
There was good news for Bonds this week on the legal front; the judge in his upcoming indictment trial has told prosecutors they have until June to rewrite their indictment, meaning the actual start of a trial—should it ever come to pass—likely won’t take place until after the 2008 season. This clears the way for Bonds to play—if only anyone would sign him.

The End of Dodgertown
The Los Angeles Dodgers played their final game at their renowned spring training complex in Vero Beach, Florida called Dodgertown on Monday, losing 12-10 to Houston. The Dodgers end a 60-year run at Vero Beach, with Tommy Lasorda having been present for 59 of those years as the Los Angeles Times’ T.J. Simers writes. The team will finish its exhibition schedule with some “road” games in Arizona, near their new spring home at Glendale in 2009, before returning to Los Angeles to start the season March 31 against the San Francisco Giants.

Wounded of the Week
Among those who will not be ready to play when the stateside version of Opening Day hits: Milwaukee pitcher Yovani Gallardo, Washington starter Shawn Hill, Los Angeles veterans Nomar Garciaparra and (possibly) Jeff Kent, Detroit outfielder Curtis Granderson, Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez and Toronto third baseman Scott Rolen.

This Great Game Predicts 2008
Early this coming week, look for our annual picks for the best, worst and most surprising (good or bad) teams that we're anticipating for the upcoming 2008 major league season. Look for the fearless forecast in the opinion section.

To All the Rockie Fans Who Hate Us
In June 2005, This Great Game submitted is first opinion piece when Eric Gouldsberry decreed that the Colorado Rockies would never win a World Series. Now read what happened when Gouldsberry walked through his valley of the shadow of death—otherwise known as Denver—last October, when the Rockies were on the rampage to the Fall Classic.

In honor of the Chicago Cubs' 100th anniversary of their last World Series title, This Great Game is counting down the 40 years between 1909 and 2007 in which the Cubs came nearest to winning another. Our Tragical History Tour of Wrigleyville continues this week with:

32. 1922 80 Wins, 74 Losses
Fifth Place, 13 Games Back
On the heels of a dreadful (64-89) 1921 campaign, the Cubs felt pretty good about themselves to start 1922 by playing close to .500 into July—and then things got very nice, albeit briefly, when a couple of winning streaks catapulted Chicago to within 3.5 games of the NL lead in mid-August before the New York Giants decided to run away with the pennant. The Cubs wielded a potent bat at the plate, with three players—Ray Grimes, Charlie Hollocher and Hack Miller—each hitting over .340; Grimes, playing his second full year in the majors, trailed only Rogers Hornsby for the NL lead in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and extra base hits. A slipped disc would derail his career just a year later. On the mound, the Cubs’ pitching was suspect beyond starters Pete Alexander and Vic Aldridge, who returned to the majors after a three-year absence and won 16 games to tie Alexander for the team lead.


For the Hokies
The New York Yankees showed genuine class this past week in showing up at Virginia Tech University to pay homage to the 32 victims of mass murder nearly a year ago, and to play an exhibition with the Hokies’ baseball squad. Beyond the game—won 11-0 by New York—the Yankees also toured the campus and visited a memorial dedicated to the victims, and spoke with relatives and loved ones of those killed. The trip also followed a $1 million donation made to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund by George Steinbrenner to help pay expenses related to the tragedy. Alex Rodriguez, after absorbing the day, said: “This is probably the proudest day I’ve ever (had) to wear a Yankee uniform.”

For Those for Whom Money is No Object
The Yankees announced this week that seats in the first five to eight rows near home plate at the new Yankee Stadium will be priced anywhere between $500 and $2,500 when the facility opens in 2009. Currently, the highest-priced ticket at the old Stadium is $250. According to the Yankees, 12% of all seats at the new Stadium will cost $100 or more, but bleacher seats will remain at $12 apiece.

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