Most comments general managers make to the media are akin to a White House Press Secretary's statements: guarded, planned, and always politically correct. Well thank you, Ken Williams, for putting a huge wrinkle into that notion. In an interview yesterday, Williams held nothing back when asked for the millionth time about the animosity between former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and himself. The whole interview can be found here. Expect some retaliation from the Big Hurt.
With little baseball news to report, I am sitting here eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup labeled "Snack Size," and I can't stop thinking about the unnecessary need for that label. When eating the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter, what else could it be other than a snack? Does somebody say, "Hey hon, let's have the chicken tomorrow night. I'm bringing home a dozen Big Cups for dinner and we're going to eat like irresponsible pigs!" A peanut butter cup IS a snack, so there's no need to call it that. It's like looking at a menu and ordering the New York Strip, "Meal Size" for dinner. Ridiculous.
According to Sportsline.com, Jake Peavy has already been named San Diego's opening day starter on April 3rd. That is, if his arm doesn't fall off in the WBC.
The Angels signed Jeff Weaver for one year at a reported $8.325 million according to the AP report from February 15th. In a sport where a salary cap is nonexistent, a signing like Weaver's can do nothing but help the Angels, as long as you are not worried about the team as an investment. If he pitches like his mediocre self (78-87, 4.44 ERA career), then no harm, no foul. If he pitches like he's wearing pinstripes (see 2003 stats), then the money was wasted, the Angels try other options (Carrasco, etc.) halfway through the season and the damage is minimal. If he pitches like he was supposed when was a top draft pick, then Weaver becomes a pleasant surprise on an already competitive team.
Herein lies the problem with baseball: teams with money can afford to take $8 million chances on average guys like Weaver with the biggest risk being the financial one. In baseball, however, a financial risk for a wealthy team doesn't affect a teams chances of winning because the team can keep taking those risks until one pays off. A poor team, or a team with an owner focused more on profits than wins, never takes the risk. As you know, there can be no reward with risk.
I'm not offering the solution right now (that's for a future Hot Corner) - just trying to point out what we already know - there's an imbalance in baseball and it needs to be fixed.
A quick non-baseball item: for those of you looking for something to do with the money falling out of your pockets, my sister is participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. It's a great cause, and the money goes to much better use than you spending it on booze, women, and gambling. Feel good about yourself and donate here! It will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
One division that hasn't been very intriguing the past decade should bring some interest this year. The AL East, which, since 1998, has simply been a question of "Will the Red Sox win the Wild Card while the Yankees win the East?", should bring some suspense to baseball this year. New York and Boston still have formidable clubs, but both squads have enough holes that missing the postseason wouldn't be shocking. Toronto appears to have upgraded its team significantly (Burnett, Glaus, Overbay, Molina, Ryan, etc.), but many of the new additions are injury prone (and salary heavy), so it could be feast or famine for the Blue Jays. Baltimore may struggle, but miracle worker Leo Mazzone should help the pitcher compete better than past years. Tampa Bay won't win the division, but the young stars in Crawford, Huff, Baldelli, etc., should keep the Devils Rays fighting to the end. A hot Blue Jays team in April will give East Coasters reason to worry about their October plans and should provide the rest of us with an interesting division race for once.
The Washington Nationals have reportedly offered Sammy Sosa a one-year deal, but Sosa is still deciding if he wants to take it. Don't feel sorry for Sammy - most of us would feel pretty blessed if our options were retirement or make another $1 million for a year's work.
The Super Bowl - an oxymoronic title if ever there was one. In a game in which both teams, both coaches, and the refs all performed well below their abilities, the game became a story about nothing. Seinfeld on the gridiron, if you will.
Speaking of stories about nothing, ESPN.com posted an article on Saturday about West Virginia basketball star Kevin Pittsnogle. Written by Pat Forde, the article states that Pittsnogle's wife had a baby Friday evening and Pittsnogle played a basketball game on Saturday afternoon. Somehow, this "effort" warranted a 25-paragraph story on one of the nation's most popular websites. If the story had the element of drama or humor, I could understand its necessity, but there were no last minute flights, no amusing anecdotes about the labor, no anything.
Forde wants us to believe that the idea of Pittsnogle playing after "40 arduous hours" is hard to fathom and that the "exhaustive-but-elated" center performed in almost heroic fashion. Important footnote: Pittsnogle's WIFE had the baby, not Pittsnogle himself. His coach talked about Pittsnogle "...assisting in childbirth." Speaking as a husband who has "assisted" in 3 childbirths, the only effort exuded is trying to calm your wife while constant pain coarses through HER body. A quick rundown of Pittsnogle's "exhausting" efforts, according to Forde's story:
What he DID do:
-left his wife in the hospital Friday night to get a solid night's sleep
(his mom stayed with her)
-played a game (NOT his job) less than 24 hours after his first child was born
-named his boy Kwynsie!
(this is where the article could have gotten humorous - ask Kevin where the name came from or why he would dare subject his child to that name when he already has to live with "Pittsnogle")
What he DID NOT do:
-stay with his wife the night she gave birth
-stay with his wife the very next day after childbirth
(4 of 17 from the field)
-excessive travel to and from his house, the hospital, and campus
(this is assumed, since Forde would have mentioned if Pittsnogle's wife was giving birth in a different city or state)
Basically, a college kid left his newborn baby and wife briefly to play poorly in a basketball game. I'm not judging Pittsnogle's actions in playing because I don't know the situation (maybe his wife wanted him to play, etc.). What I am judging is Forde's decision to make the story heroic, associating the situation with the mining tragedies and getting an assist from Pittsnogle's coach, who removed Pittsnogle at the end of the game to summon some extra congratulations from the crowd. In what could have been a humorous article about Kwynsie Pittsnogle turned into an unnecessary exercise in hero worship.
I know what you're thinking: "I just got my Super Bowl squares and I have no idea if I have a legitimate chance to win. I need The Commish's help!!" Fear not, helpless one, I am here to save you. First, read last year's Foul Territory article about Squaralysis. Then, come back here and get the UPDATED Squaralysis including last year's scores. You're welcome.