The Week That Was in Baseball: December 14-20, 2009
Sizing Up the Lee-Halladay Deal • Milton Bradley Brings His Game of Trouble to Seattle
The Ryan Ranger Express • Can 14 Guys Change Baseball's Future?
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Now or Later: Looking Over the Lee-Halladay Trade
Philadelphia: The Phillies are banking their future on Halladay, who they immediately signed to a three-year, $60 million extension. None of the three minor leaguers received from Seattle will make a dent for a number of years if ever, but that’s okay for the Phillies, who are set with the core of their roster until 2012 when Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino are due to become free agents.
Seattle: The addition of Cliff Lee confirms that the Mariners are one of the few “mid-market” teams going for broke in 2010, having also added Chone Figgins and Milton Bradley. But Lee, who’ll be paired with Cy Young runner-up Felix Hernandez and is due to make a relatively cheap $9 million this coming year, hits the free agent market for 2011, so the M’s better give him more than just the key to the Emerald City if they hope to keep him for the long term.
Toronto: With Halladay’s departure, the Jays have made it official that they’re in rebuilding mode with some good sticks but an unconvincing, no-name rotation. They received good young prospects out of the deal, but that will do the Jays no good in 2010or 2011, or 2012.
Oakland: One look at Michael Taylor’s minor league numbers and you can understand why the A’s were happy to land him, even for Brett Wallace, another blue chipper who they could’ve started at third base as early as this coming season now that Eric Chavez is all but done and the current incumbent is the recently acquired Jake Fox, who’s all hit but no glove.
Keep Your Hands Off Our Other City!
If It's Nolan, It's Okay With Us
Bud's Star Chamber
This Week's Episode of Divorce McCourt
Brooks Goes Bronze
Milton and the Malcontents
Why the Mariners, who dealt with an exceptionally rocky clubhouse atmosphere while losing 100 games in 2008, would want to risk soiling the atmosphere once again with Bradleywho quickly wore out his welcome everywhere he’s beenis beyond us.
Sure, the Mariners need boppers and Bradley can drive them in, but he can also drive them nuts, too. Ask former Indian manager Eric Wedge, who couldn’t rein in the young kid’s emotions. Ask the fan sitting in the front row of Dodger Stadium who watched in horror as an angry Bradley came over and slammed a water bottle down right at his feet. Ask Oakland general manager Billy Beane, who reportedly was at the receiving end of a Bradley tirade just prior to trading him. Ask San Diego skipper Bud Black, who had to tear Bradley away from an admittedly out-of-bounds umpire (Mike Winters) during a testy argument at first baseand ended up tearing Bradley’s knee in the process. Ask Kansas City announcer Ryan Lefebvre, who was confronted by Bradley after hearing what he felt was a rough (but honest) assessment of his personality during a broadcast. Ask anyone at Wrigley Field who witnessed Bradley’s Cub debut this past year: A strikeout followed by an ejection.
They’ll all tell you the same thing about Bradley: Good flippin’ luck. Time will quickly tell whether the Mariners become believers.
Bradley is most certainly among an elite group of brooders and insubordinates who have constantly rubbed teammates, management and the media the wrong way. Here are nine other such misfits to round out our top ten:
Albert Belle. If a picture exists of Belle smiling, we have yet to see it. Of course, if you took such a picture, the smile would disappear and a baseball thrown at your head might follow. It was hard for Belle to contain his anger at most anyone: Taunting fans, Hannah Storm, Fernando Vina and trick-or-treaters. Belle had Hall of Fame numbers but, because of his gruff attitude, failed to retain eligibility for Cooperstown after two years of low votes. His lousy disposition continued beyond retirement, spending time in jail for stalking a call girl.
Barry Bonds. The disputed home run king might actually still be playing if his personality was 180 degrees from the surly F.U. treatment he gave almost everyone during the 22 years he did play. The funny thing was, Bonds did try hard to be a nice guy from time to time, but his deep-rooted, moody narcissism usually got the best of him, reverting him back to form.
Ty Cobb. Arguably the game’s most talented ballplayerand, arguably, its most temperamental. His early, stormy years set in concrete an über-angry reputation that would frequently be confirmed, from his vicious play to racist attacks to, at its most sensational, the beating up of a handicapped fan who was heckling him.
Rogers Hornsby. Another no-doubt-about-it Hall-of-Famer, another no-doubt-about-it louse of a person. He was never the angry typejust ice cold, a perfectionist at the plate who never heeded the achievements of or praise from others. Teammates loved Hornsby’s ability to hit near or above .400 with power, but couldn’t stand him when he dropped the bat and became their manager.
Alex Johnson. A terrific talent who was indifferent and uncommunicative throughout his turbulent career, Johnson made a persistent habit of not running out ground balls, keeping to himself and, when he did open up, thought it best to call everyone “d--khead,” according to former teammate (and runner-up on this list) Dick Allen. He once drove one of the few friends he actually had, Chico Ruiz, to threaten him with a gun in the clubhouse.
Dave Kingman. Another self-appointed lonely soul who could blast home runs and alienate teammates with equal ease; when with the New York Mets, John Stearns likened Kingman’s personality to that of a tree trunk. Kingman saved much of whatever venom he had for the press; he once dumped a bucket of ice on a reporter, and at the end of his career (with Oakland) sent a live rat to a female sportswriter.
Billy Martin. It seemed a year didn’t go by without the pugnacious infielder and (later) manager getting into some kind of physical scrap; the low point came when he was beat up by three guys at a strip club restroom in Arlington, Texas, shortly before being fired for the fifth and final time by the Yankees. Martin was the Milton Bradley of managers: A brilliant skipper who (not so) slowly and surely wore out his welcome wherever he went.
Carl Mays. The submarine-style pitcher maintained a corrosive attitude throughout his career that won over few friends among teammates: The persona transcended itself in tragic fashion in 1920 when his beanball killed the Indians’ Ray Chapman, the only known death of a major leaguer on the field. If that wasn’t enough, Mays nearly caused the breakup of the American League in 1919 when, after wanting out of Boston, was granted a trade to the Yankeessending half of the league’s owners into a row that brought them close to splitting to the National League.
John Rocker. A fireballin’ embarrassment who gave rednecks everywhere a bad name. His racist rants weren’t restricted to his infamous Sports Illustrated interview that created a firestorm in 2000; he made headlines a few years later when he berated gay patrons at a Dallas restaurant. Rocker was such a bad influence in the Atlanta clubhouse, his teammates were willing to break a fraternal cardinal sin by complaining to the media about him. Adding self-inflicted insult to self-inflicted injury, he was named in the Mitchell Report as a steroid user.
Sorry Kid, It Must Have Slipped
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With the end of the Oughts (read: 2000s) in sight, This Great Game has revealed its nominees for the best and worst of the decade that was. Categories include best and worst team, hitter and pitcher; the most memorable moments, on and off the field; the best one-year wonder, and more. Take a good look at the nominees and then get your chance to vote on the winners! TGG will tally the final vote and announce the winners at the end of the year. (Voting ends on December 21, so get your PDFs in now!)