The Weekly Comebacker: The baseball week in review
The Week That Was in Baseball: November 28-December 4, 2011
The Bobby Sox Era Begins in Boston The SEC Goes Fishing for Marlin Money
Q: Who Wants the Dodgers? A: Everyone! Put a Fork in Him, He's Got a Mantle

Valentine's Day in Beantown
The Boston Red Sox went old school this past week and hired Bobby Valentine, 61, as their new manager. This will be the third managerial tenure for Valentine, who previously led Texas (1985-92) and the New York Mets (1996-2002), reaching the postseason twice for the Mets as wild cards and snagging one NL pennant in 2000.

Many in Boston are wondering if the Red Sox’ move was style over substance. Valentine is a known presence with a lofty resume as both player and manager (especially opposed to the other main applicant for the Boston job, Gene Lamont), but even as he stayed close to the game working analyst duties for ESPN, perhaps the Red Sox were looking for a sure-handed, authoritative voice in the clubhouse in the wake of last year’s meltdown. And hey, Bob Brenly came out of the booth once and took a talented Arizona team to the 2001 World Series triumph with no managerial experience—so why can’t Valentine do better with an equally gifted roster?

The Wrap-Around
As Valentine was introduced in Boston this past week, someone dug deep and revealed some trivial value in Valentine’s past: The claim that he created the wrap. (TGG’s Eric Gouldsberry paid a visit to Bobby Valentine’s Sports Gallery Café in Stamford, Connecticut in 1982 but can’t recall the wrap on the menu; he was only interested in the beer list since he was legally allowed to drink in Connecticut at age 19.) Valentine’s claim didn’t sit well with Sami Saba, who runs a Lebanese restaurant in Boston and insists he began making wraps a few years before Valentine stumbled onto the concept. “Every time I hear them say that he made it, I start yelling—we’ve been making wraps in Lebanon forever,” Saba told the Wall Street Journal.

Want to Buy the Dodgers? Get in Line
Well, one thing’s for sure: When Frank McCourt sells the Los Angeles Dodgers, there won’t be any shortage of potential bidders from all the media chatter coming out of the Southland. In the last month, it seems a day hasn’t passed without a big name throwing his hat into the ring. So without further ado, the nominees are:

* Former Dodger stars Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, bidding together as a front for as-yet unnamed financial backers.

* Peter O’Malley, the once-and-wants-to-be-again Dodger owner whose family held the franchise for nearly 50 years.

* Basketball legend Magic Johnson, aligned with former Atlanta and Washington exec Stan Kasten.

* Former Dodger general manager Fred Claire, fronting a group of various investors which include a former Dodger batboy (Ben Hwang) and one-time sports execs Andy Dolich, Joe Heitzler and Paul Kalil.

* Hi-tech billionaire Larry Ellison, who recently came close to purchasing the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.

* Dennis Gilbert, who made an unsuccessful run for the Texas Rangers last year and who counts former CNN interviewer Larry King among the partners in his bid.

* Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks who joined Gilbert in his bid for the Rangers last year.

* Hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen, aligning with Steve Greenberg, son of Hall-of-Famer Hank Greenberg.

* And finally, we assume there still is that all-cash offer on the table from China through Los Angeles Marathon head William Burke.

No Way to Treat a Local Legend
Most baseball fans around the nation look at the history of the Kansas City Royals and the first two words they come up with are George Brett. For local Royal fans, two other words come quickly to mind: Frank White. He was born in the city, went to school there, played 18 years with the Royals and has served for the last 15 years in some sort of capacity with the team, either as assistant coach, front office employee or, more recently, as the team’s TV analyst. Heck, they even have a statue for him outside of Kauffman Stadium.

But this past week saw a messy divorce between White and the team he’s forever been associated with. The Royals and Fox Sports Midwest agreed to dump White from his broadcast duties, citing that he was being too negative about the team in his on-air comments. (Well of course White’s been negative; only once have the Royals finished above .500 over their last 18 seasons.)

White is not waxing nostalgic about the dismissal, criticizing the Royals over the move and saying that he won’t return to the team in any capacity so long as the current regime is in place.

Arlington: Where Former Star Pitchers Go to Work
The Texas Rangers may not have the best pitching staff in the majors, but they have the best collection of retired star aces working in their organization. Besides owner Nolan Ryan, soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux joined the crowd this past week as a special assistant to the general manager (his brother Mike is the team’s pitching coach). Also listed in the front office are two former 20-game winners: Jim Colborn, the Director of Pacific Rim Operations, and Steve Busby, one of the team’s broadcasters.

He Said What?
John Bonnes of the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Joe Nathan’s move to Texas: “For the last two years, we’ve been worried about Joe Nathan’s arm. Last week he showed the Twins that his middle finger is working just fine.”

Now Playing at TGG
The Teams section has been udpated to reflect results from the 2011 regular season.

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Doom Over Miami?
Earlier this year, the continuing financial shenanigans of the Florida (now Miami) Marlins led to a rare rebuke from Major League Baseball, a pretty bold statement given that MLB usually looks the other when a team reaps profits any way it could. Now someone else is after the Marlins: The Securities and Exchange Commission. Reports from Florida say the SEC is investigating the Marlins for possible fraud and bribery over the controversial agreement between the team and local politicians to have Dade County bear most of the financial burden on the new ballpark the team will move into next season. The SEC apparently wants to know why county commissioners were stiff-armed by the Marlins, who pled a light wallet, when asking for financial records—only to discover later that the Marlins had plenty of cash in the bank per documents leaked on the Internet.

This may be much ado about nothing—or it could be the beginning of the end for Marlin owner Jeffrey Loria and his Number Two, team president David Samson. Jorge Costales, described by the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel as a certified public account and blogger who’s followed the Marlins’ financial trail, believes rough times could be ahead. “Hard to imagine how this ends without some admission of guilt or complicity on the part of the Marlins and a fine which significantly increases their share of the stadium cost,” said Costales to the newspaper. “Pigs get fat. Hogs get the SEC’s attention.”

MLB would like nothing more than to see the Marlins succeed now that the new ballpark will be ready for 2012; a failure there would put the future of Florida baseball in jeopardy—and would bode badly for the prospects of the attendance-challenged Tampa Bay Rays up the road. But we get the feeling that few if any tears would be shed at MLB Central if Loria and Samson, the closest things to slimeballs among the Lords, were forced to give the franchise up under threat of prosecution.

The Marlins have been talking the talk quite loudly in the free agent sweepstakes this fall—and even walked the walk by signing shortstop Jose Reyes and former San Diego closer Heath Bell to big multi-year packages this week. But we’ll see if the SEC noise is too much for Pujols and others to consider risking a move to Miami.

Keep Your Filthy Hands Off My Territory
Last week we gave a rundown of possible relocation sites for the Oakland A’s, with their prime hope of landing a new ballpark 50 miles to the south in San Jose. Now, a group called Stand for San Jose has sued, saying that land near downtown San Jose bought by Oakland owner Lou Wolff was illegally given to him on the cheap by city government lobbying hard to bring the A’s to town; the suit also criticized the dreaded environmental impact report related to the land. The plaintiffs are not grassroots, anti-ballpark folk looking to occupy something, but interests backed by both the San Francisco Giants and their Class A farm team, the San Jose Giants; both teams do not want their territory “invaded” by a team who graciously “gave” the rights to San Jose 20 years ago.

Wolff has blown off the legal threat. “Normally there are numerous lawsuits filed,” he told the San Jose Mercury News, “This is a very solid (environmental report), so it’s somebody who doesn’t want us to compete in that area.”

Fork You
In an incident only Quentin Tarantino would have loved, a 17-year old kid in Halifax, Pennsylvania stabbed another teenager in the arm with a fork in a dispute over a Mickey Mantle baseball card. The police arrested the boy, charging him with “simple assault” and harassment and saying that he reacted “without thinking.”

From Prospect to Security Check
How about this for a resume: Selected third in the 1980 major league amateur draft, member of the Secret Service—he once allowed Monica Lewinsky access into President Clinton’s office—and now MLB Chief of Security. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle caught up with Bill Bordley, whose major league career consisted of eight underwhelming appearances for the Giants in 1980 before taking on a Men in Black-style life for the White House. Check it out here.

Conspiracy Theory of the Week
Barry Zito got married this past weekend, and the San Francisco Chronicle didn’t waste any time asking if a pre-nup was signed. Hmmm, could the bride—former Miss Missouri Amber Marie Sayer—be related to anyone in a Giant front office that believes Zito (seven years, $126 million and, so far, a 43-61 record for the Giants) is stealing money from the team?

Hrbek's Wrk of Art
Kent Hrbek still hasn’t bought a vowel, but he’ll soon have a statue. The Minnesota Twins announced this past week that the former star first baseman will be the eighth player to be immortalized in bronze outside of Target Field. The Minneapolis Star Tribune said Hrbek reacted to the honor by asking Twins president Dave St. Peter if the statue would have him holding a bat in one hand and a beer in the other.

TGG Goes to CafePress
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TGG Programming Note
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