Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Talking about a shocking trade that didn't help anybody: look at the Milton Bradley-for-Carlos Silva deal Friday that the Mariners and the Cubs agreed to.
One (Bradley) is a bad actor; the other (Silva) is a bad pitcher. Both carry heavy-duty contracts, which limited any potential suitors. It took two organizations with the same purpose to swallow this deal whole.
Yet if somebody had to pick a winner here -- and it'll be a photo finish -- he'd give the edge to the Cubs, because getting anybody to take Bradley off the team's payroll was a dream Cubs general manager Jim Hendry couldn't possibly have expected to come true.
Not that Silva will help the Cubs much; he won't. A lousy pitcher in the American League won't become a Cy Young winner merely by switching leagues. But Silva won't turn the clubhouse into a nut house, which Bradley is sure to do in Seattle.
Now, the Mariners say they are hopeful Bradley's nuclear temper will chill a bit under the influence of Grade A characters like Ken Griffey Jr. and Chone Figgins, a recent acquisition. They are also counting on a calmer, more sedate Milton Bradley being a productive Milton Bradley.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
"Hey," said Ellis Burks, waving his hand to catch my attention. "Let me talk to you about something that's been bothering me."
Burks was in the Indians dugout as I walked over to the where he sat. I plopped down next to him, and Burks, frustrated, proceeded to spell out something that had been eating at him for five or six seasons. He said he didn't know who might take up his cause, but he figured he had a good one.
As Burks told me on that summer day in 2002, he had been robbed. No, it wasn't armed robbery; no dangerous weapon was used. The robbery was an intellectual one -- a statistical decision that robbed Burks of a batting title.
The decision puzzled him when it happened years earlier, and other ballplayers in the National League felt the same way, Burks told me.
All had a good point.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
THREE UP ... 1. Can't wait to see middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik back in the ring. His absence hasn't helped the sweet science -- nor Kelly's bank account. There are big-money paydays out there for good fighters, and tough guy like Pavlik (aka "The Ghost"), sidelined 10 months with a string of injuries, should scoop up some of it. So news that he'll be fighting Miguel Espino on Dec. 19 is something to applaud.
2. I have a friend who lives and dies with the Raiders, so he has to be pleased that Bruce Gradkowski, the AFC Player of the Week, has emerged as the team's quarterback of the future. NFL teams have had their hits and misses at that position in recent years, so maybe instead of wasting No. 1 picks on quarterbacks, teams might be wiser to follow what the Raiders did: look for somebody else's discard. Who wouldn't take "Grad" over JaMarcus Russell, Matt Leinart or Brady Quinn?
3. I'm betting freshman John Wall will do a 'Melo Anthony: play one season in college, win a NCAA title and then head to the NBA. In this early hoops season, Wall has been as solid as the Great Wall and hotter than a wall of fire. There might be a better freshman than Wall, but he hasn't shown himself yet. Enjoy looking at this "great" Wall in "Bluegrass Country" while you can.
THREE DOWN ... 1. Some crooner once sang about fools falling in love, but someone also should have sang about how fools act like fools, as Greg Baker, the executive director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, did when he signaled that the museum will jettison the figure who helped build the institution. Essentially, Baker slammed the museum's front door in the face of Buck O'Neil.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
I came late to the party. The legacy of black baseball had been cemented long before I was drawn to its lore. I didn’t make that love connection until 2002, the year I first visited the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.
In my early discussions with people there, I kept referring to the museum as a Hall of Fame, which everybody politely corrected me on. They reminded me that the Baseball Hall of Fame was in Cooperstown, N.Y., which is where all the stars of Negro Leagues baseball should also be.
The museum is a tribute to the men who made the game thrive in an era when color kept them from plying their skills in the Major Leagues. To Satchel, to Cool Papa, to Josh, to Smokey Joe and Biz and Double Duty, names that might have been lost forever if not for the museum. Yet no one who saw these men play could really doubt they were as good as the big leaguers of the day, and they had one man alive to keep those stories of black baseball fresh.
His name was Buck O’Neil. He was a blood-and-guts icon who was, through all of the museum’s formative years, its face, its voice, its link to yesteryear. Buck was the museum’s ambassador of goodwill, spreading the gospel of black baseball wherever it needed to be spread. And that was seemingly everywhere among a growing population of black sports fans who had loosened their hold on the game.
But Buck kept their grip from breaking free altogether, and Buck did it in his role as chairman of the baseball museum in the heart of the city’s black community. Thanks to Buck O’Neil, the place was a shiny gem among unpolished diamonds.
For that alone, the museum owed him whatever fame it had. For whatever the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is today, it is that because of Buck O’Neil, whose death, at 94, in 2006 left a void at the top of the organization.