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Archive for the ‘Other Baseball’ Category

On Smoltz, Chipper has a point

Posted by jmkraft on January 9, 2009

It kills me to agree with anything that Chipper Jones says. Some call him the consummate professional. I call him a lot of other names. But Chipper has a very good point in his disapproval of the Braves’ failure to resign John Smoltz

Here’s what Chipper told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman yesterday:

“Of all the gambles that we’ve taken that didn’t pan out over the years, this is one gamble that you want to take,” Jones said. “For a couple of million dollars, I’m sorry, I just don’t understand this.”

Jones is absolutely right here. It’s not like the Red Sox signed Smoltz to a multi-year deal. At Smoltz’s age, it’s very likely that he’ll play a season with the Sox, try and win a ring, and retire. I’m sure that Smoltz, who really is the consummate professional, would have just as happily signed a one-year deal with the Braves to end his career in Atlanta, even though that would have meant pitching for a struggling club. 

I recently read John Schuerholz‘s book, Built to Win, and was impressed by the Braves’ President’s refusal to deviate from the accepted business practices of the Atlanta Braves. He has his way, and he’ll stick to it. But there are times when principle should be put aside. And this is one of them. Schuerholz and Frank Wren made the wrong decision to cut ties with Smoltz. This is a pretty telling quote about the situation:

For more than two months, Smoltz has privately said that he felt the Braves would take him for granted with the assumption that he would eventually take their offer and spend his entire Major League career with one team.

How did principle work out there, guys?

Had they resigned him, in the worst-case scenario, Smoltz would have served as a mentor to the Braves’ crop of young pitchers. And he would have gone out the right way. Now, all the Braves are left with is a bunch of angry fans and an angry Chipper, which is never good for business. In two short years, the Braves have gone from contenders, with a great young crop of players and a solid pitching staff, to a joke, with a barebones staff and a weak lineup. As a Mets fan I can’t say that I’m shedding too many tears, but it is a sad story.

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David Wright, no one else, to play in World Baseball Classic

Posted by jmkraft on December 23, 2008

According to the New York Post, among others, David Wright has agreed to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Because Alex Rodriguez will play for the Dominican Republic, Wright will start, alongside Derek Jeter

I think it’s great that Wright is playing for his country, and I’m ashamed that, unfortunately, he will not be joined by the best players that we have to offer. A laundry list of stars, including Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Josh Beckett, have decided not to play in the biannual event, because they would rather hang out in Florida or Arizona, and not risk injuring themselves before the season begins.

The injury claim has some merit, but it harkens back to a similar type of excuse, which is the one that football players use to turn the Pro Bowl into a joke. There are many WBC detractors who say that the event is a farse, and has no legitimacy. But the question is, how does the World Baseball Classic gain legitimacy if some of the top players in the game stay away? 

As a fan of the game of soccer, I cannot even begin to imagine the reaction should David Beckham refuse to play for England, Cristiano Ronaldo not play for Portugal, or Ronaldinho say no to Brazil. Why, then, should it be acceptable for Sabathia, Beckett, or Howard to sit out for Team USA? There is a certain element of pride that comes with playing for one’s country, and it’s a shame that certain athletes can’t see that. Complain all you want about the timing, about how you’d rather prepare for the season, but trust me here, if Sandy Koufax, Jackie Robinson, or Babe Ruth were asked to play for Team USA, they would jump at the opportunity. 

Part of what makes the World Baseball Classic a great event is watching teams like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan, or Venezuela play with the ferocity of national pride. It’s a shame that in a country that counts baseball as its National Pasttime, we can’t do the same.

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