So … where are we people? The All-Star break is mercifully over. I’m not sure whether to blame FOX or MLB or commissioner Bud Selig or any combination of the three but geez, can we get rid of the technological bells and whistles and mindless, meaningless in-game interviews? Why were fans subjected to an interview with Texas starter Kenny Rogers while NL reliever Brad Lidge’s fireworks were relegated to a small window? We tuned in to watch a ball game which allegedly has baseball‘s best and brightest, not listen to some 40-year-old pitcher with behavioral problems. The whole Buck/McCarver/Chevy/H-H-R-Y-A sign idiocy was beyond pathetic.

This is baseball’s showcase? It was more like a “Price is Right” showcase—a testimony to rampant consumerism. I wish the suits at FOX would require a word limit on announcers. You get to say a certain number of words during the telecast and when you hit your limit you have to shut up for the rest of the night. Just show the ballgame—what fans tune in to see—and not Tim McCarver and Joe Buck’s verbal diarrhea, in-game interviews with cliché-rattling athletes, or special effects that make one think that there’s a 12 year-old computer genius with ADD running amok in the production truck. If FOX and MLB ran a dog show, the “best-in-breed” segment would feature dogs dropping a dookie or puking up carrots in the middle of the floor.

We just want to see baseball’s best doing what they do best.

However, one bright spot was Philadelphia right fielder Bobby Abreu’s performance in the Home Run Derby. Not that the home run derby is particularly relevant, but if we’re lucky, his performance in the derby will wake up fans to the special talent the Phillies have roaming the outfield.

Moving on …

  • The NHL lockout is settled, leaving only MLB as the sole remaining major sport without a salary cap. Baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is slated to expire at the end of next season. Bud is in charge. Do the math.
  • The Blue Jays are rumored to be in the sweepstakes for Florida starter A.J. Burnett . However the Marlins want Gustavo Chacin. Memo to J.P.: DON‘T BE AN IDIOT!!!!! Trading one solid starting pitcher for another is a zero-sum game. When starter Roy Halladay comes back, you’re right where you were before you got hurt—500 team. Besides, even if they acquire Burnett and don’t have to give up Chacin, their biggest need—offense—is still unmet. The Jays have the best pitching in the AL East, however their offense is only better than Tampa Bay’s. The Jays need somebody who doesn’t go into the tank when there are runners on base. If Toronto is serious about contending, you call up Bush, get a big bat, and pray the Jays can keep their heads above water until Halladay returns. Anything else is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
  • Are the A’s back? Well, their recent surge might have something to do with the fact that third baseman Eric Chavez and shortstop Bobby Crosby are, respectively, .350/.433/.564 and .331/.377/.559 since June 1. On the pitching side of the equation, starter Rich Harden is 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA since he came back from the disabled list on June 21, while rotation mate Joe Blanton is 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA since June 1 and starter Danny Haren is 6-1 while posting a 3.30 ERA over his last ten starts. In the bullpen, closer Huston Street is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and five saves, and middle-man Justin Duchscherer weighs in at 4-1 with a 1.49 ERA and four saves to boot. I guess injured closer Octavio Dotel isn’t really needed in the ninth any more—good thing too. Collectively, the A’s have the second-best pitching in the division, but, like the Blue Jays, need another bat. By the way, guess who leads the A’s in stolen bases? Jason Kendall.
  • Jason Giambi is .345/.486/.495 since June 1. Is this just a hot streak, or is he back on track? Nobody expects him to regain his old, chemically-free form, but if can keep his OPS north of .850, he’ll be an asset. He’ll never live up to his contract, but he has a decent shot at not being an albatross.
  • Bud fun Nothing like the All-Star break to get Selig’s head out of his posterior long enough to put his feet in his mouth. According to Selig, Pete Rose‘s application for reinstatement to baseball (pending since 1997) has not been decided. How hard is it to say “in” or “out”? Make a decision, let the media firestorm come and go, and finally we can put this issue to bed once and for all. Everybody’s tired of the Bud and re-Pete show. Time to lower the curtain on this debacle once and for all.

    MLB expects revenue will be $4.5 billion to $4.6 billion this year and has over $3.5 billion in debt. Memo to Bud—players are investments, not debt. Need proof? Get rid of all the players and see how much money fans will pay to stare at an empty diamond.

    He hopes to shorten the Home Run Derby, which ran over three hours Monday night. Oh goody, Bud is gonna tinker some more. This can only mean fewer players and more commercials.

    Bud on the Marlins: “They keep saying they still think they’re going to get something done, they need to get something done…If they’re optimistic and hopeful, I am, too…I’m always concerned about teams that need new stadiums, and it’s obvious they do. That’s not a secret somehow there has to be the political will and the private-sector will to get a stadium built. I mean, they are struggling mightily.

    Well, the Marlins are five games out of the wild card. Guess what? Is it possible that maybe the fire sales (real and threatened), the threat of moving the team to Las Vegas, the bad mouthing of the team and stadium, the broken promises (“We‘ll build our own stadium!”), the lies (“We‘re losing our shirts! Our accountants say so!”), the sleaze (taking away the All-Star Game), and the insulting of the fan base (“Miami will never be major league until they cough up several hundred million in corporate welfare”) might have something to do with those struggles? Do you think that trying to rip-off the taxpayers with yet another boondoggle will build up any goodwill?

    Bud on a Marlins’ move: “There isn’t anybody at the front of the line for moving. There isn’t anybody moving anywhere right now.

    Translation: Wanted—city willing to pork over a half-billion dollars in corporate welfare. Must be willing be bend over a table and like it. Must not be overly concerned with pennant races, playoff baseball, and championships, while giving priority to luxury suites, club seating and high ticket prices. Must be willing to provide references from the citizenry in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Colorado. Intelligent people and discerning consumers need not apply. Unending riches can be yours.* Please contact the office of the commissioner at

    * Psyche.

    Bud on the Devil Rays: “Obviously, they’re struggling on the field and off the field in a lot of different ways. It’s another area that if you look at the basic demographics, it should be a good major league market, and the fact that they’ve struggled as much as they have is obviously–it’s always a concern.

    Translation: A 28-61 team looks so much better under a retractable roof—get cracking.

  • Is it time to replace the Jake? Indians attendance is just over 22,000 per game and they’re two games out of the wild card. Whaddya think Bud?

Oh well, the second half finally begins. Real baseball. Glad you’re back!

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

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