Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Solstice Baseball Thoughts...

by Scott Silversten

While it may just be the heat of summer, I find myself wondering...

-- Why do we react in outrage when the Major League Baseball All-Star Game – an exhibition contest, no less – ends in a tie, but praise the U.S. soccer team’s tie on the world’s biggest sporting stage?

-- How is it possible that the MLB executives still think it’s a good idea to award home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the All-Star Game? Even die-hard baseball fans can’t remember what happened in the Mid-Summer Classic approximately 23 minutes after the contest ends. Once again, IT’S AN EXHIBITION! If the game’s ratings are so terrible, then just cancel it. Or better yet, come up with some other gimmick that will draw attention.

-- Injuries aside, why do the Oakland Athletics perform so poorly in the season’s first two months, only to become a juggernaut once summer arrives?

-- How many baseball fans would be able to pick Joe Mauer out of a crowd?

-- To date, has there been a more intriguing pitching match-up this season than tonight’s clash between returning Houston Astros legend Roger Clemens, and Minnesota’s 22-year-old phenom Francisco Liriano? Since moving into the Twins rotation, Liriano is 5-1 in six starts with a 1.50 ERA and .167 batting average against.

-- How come there haven’t been any complaints from Mets fans recently about the number of Hispanic players on the team?

-- Speaking of the Mets, I think the annual debate should begin now … Will they be rusty, or rested, entering the playoffs?

--Why MLB isn’t investigating Ozzie Guillen’s actions in last Thursday’s game against Texas? If ordering one of your pitchers to hit an opposing batter is not against the rules, why do managers get thrown out of games even when their pitchers DO NOT hit their perceived intended target (see Torre, Joe and Johnson, Randy)?

-- When is it too early for newspapers to begin printing wild card standings? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’d like to avoid complicated math in determining where teams such as the Philadelphia Phillies stand in the postseason race. For those who haven’t been paying attention, a wild card winner has reached the World Series in five of the last six years.

-- Is it too early to cast my Manager of the Year votes for Florida’s Joe Girardi and Detroit’s Jim Leyland? Here’s hoping Girardi gets a long and loud ovation when he brings the Marlins to Yankee Stadium on Friday night, not just for the character he showed while in New York, but also for the way he has convinced his young team to ignore all the doubters and play respectable baseball.

-- Does anyone care that David Segui used HGH? While we’re on the subject of steroids, Ken Kendrick’s unprompted allegations concerning possible steroid use by Luis Gonzalez were inappropriate and unbecoming a senior baseball executive. It will be interesting if the day ever arrives in which Kendrick faces a steroid controversy involving a valuable member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

-- Is there a more beautiful site in baseball than the swing of Ken Griffey Jr. when he connects for a home run?

-- Why baseball is always ridiculed for the late start of its postseason games, but nobody says a word when Sunday’s NBA Finals contest begins at 9:20 p.m. and ends at 12:35 a.m. in the East? At least in baseball, a game’s key moments might occur before midnight. In the NBA, anything worth watching doesn’t happen until the witching hour.

-- How much different the last decade in baseball would have been if Torre and then-General Manager Bob Watson had succeeded in trading Mariano Rivera for a second baseman during spring training in 1996?

Scott Silversten's column, "Age of Reason", appears every Thursday


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"I've had a pretty good success facing Stan (Musial) by throwing him my best pitch and backing up third base."
- Carl Erskine