Great Moments in Frivolity, Part I
On Monday, Rich took a look back at the important business of the 2008 season to date: who's winning, who's losing, and why. Unimportant business is important too, however, so over the next two days I’ll be providing a rundown of the ephemeral, the trivial, and the pathetic events of the season's first half. Today: March and April.
Following a poorly-played spring training game, Royals' manager Trey Hillman delivers a verbal reprimand of his entire team on the field in front of over 5,000 fans at Surprise Stadium. Sources in the crowd report that Hillman was particularly displeased with the way that the Royals lollygagged the ball around the infield, lollygagged their way down to first, and lollygagged in and out of the dugout. This, according to pitching coach Bob McClure, made the Royals "lollygaggers."
Billy Crystal signed with the Yankees and faced Pirates' pitcher Paul Maholm in his only at bat. He struck out, but looked pretty good doing it, especially for a sixty year-old man. Since it was a one-day contract, the Yankees released him that afternoon. Brian Cashman regrets the decision, however, after watching Robinson Cano post a .151/.211/.236 line in April.
Tensions flare between the Yankees and Rays after a hard slide which broke the wrist of New York's backup catcher Francisco Cervelli leads to a spiking/beanball war. This marks the last point of the season in which the Yankees would compete with Tampa Bay in any meaningful way.
In the greatest display of labor solidarity since the 1994-95 strike, the Boston Red Sox announce that they're boycotting their season-opening series against the A's in Tokyo unless coaches and staff are given a promised $40,000 bonus. Reporters, bloggers, and the professionally outraged are deeply disappointed when the strike ends approximately seventeen minutes after it begins.
Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers agree to an eight-year, $153M extension. When asked to comment, Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski notes that such a large and long deal may be foolish when talking about a slow first basemen or DH, but it's an absolute steal for a third baseman.
An advance copy of Vindicated, Jose Canseco's new book is released, and once again Canseco is trashed as a liar and sleazeball. Among the crazy, outlandish things claimed by Canseco this time is the allegation that Alex Rodriguez was known to make advances towards women who were not his wife. How dare he besmirch the integrity and fidelity of a class act like Alex Rodriguez in such a fashion!
Spring training ends with a series in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the regular season begins with a series in the Tokyo Dome. Ah, tradition!
Moises Alou admits to Associated Press columnist Jim Litke that he wouldn't have caught that foul ball in Game 5 of the 2003 NLCS even if Steve Bartman hadn't reached for it. He later recants and returns to claiming that Bartman interfered. Somewhere Steve Bartman is living under an assumed name and not finding any of this funny in the least.
Bill Buckner makes an emotional return to Fenway Park, where he is greeted warmly twenty-two years after his famous misplay in the 1986 World Series. This is not to be mistaken with the emotional return he made to Fenway Park as a player in 1990, where he was greeted warmly four years after his famous misplay in the 1986 World Series. It should likewise not later be mistaken with the emotional return he will make to Fenway Park in 2016, thirty years after his famous misplay in the 1986 World Series.
Miguel Cabrera is moved from third base to first base. When asked for comment, Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski notes that such a move makes perfect sense given the contract extension to which the Tigers signed Cabrera a month before. Such a large and long deal would be foolish when talking about a player at an injury-susceptible position like third, Dombrowski says, but it's an absolute steal for a guy at a safe position like first base.
A book reveals that Mickey Mantle had an affair with Doris Day during the filming of "That Touch of Mink" back in 1962. Day denied the reports at the time, but Mantle's wife fled to Paris to be with pop singer Frankie Avalon and then immediately filed divorce papers. The whole thing was splashed all over the New York tabloids.
Former Blue Jays' third baseman Ed Sprague admits that, over the course of his Major League Career, he took amphetamines and Androstenedione and once hit a home run with a corked bat. As a result, Game 2 of the 1992 World Series is retroactively awarded to the Atlanta Braves. The teams are currently scheduled to meet at the end of the 2008 season to play a deciding Game 7. Jack Morris is set to start for the Jays, assuming someone can wake him up from his afternoon nap.
A Red Sox fan/construction worker at New Yankee Stadium secretly buries a David Ortiz jersey in concrete in an effort to jinx the Yankees. Someone talks, however, and his plan is disrupted. The jersey is removed, but not before an excavation subcontract is put out for bid and awarded, raising the price of the stadium an additional 296 million dollars.
The University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports releases its annual report on diversity in baseball. Its findings: that the percentage of Blacks in baseball is lower than it has ever been. This is similar to the study's findings for the previous two decades, and will continue to be the case until generations of interbreeding renders the entire human race a sort of tannish color. When that happens, The University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports will issue a report noting that the percentage of non-tan players in baseball is lower than it ever has been.
CC Sabathia goes 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA in his first four starts, rendering him an untradable pariah.
The Tampa Bay Rays sign Evan Longoria to a multi-year, multi-million dollar extension after six days of Major League service time. Realizing that they missed the window to obtain that kind of contract security, old timers Cole Hamels and Prince Fielder take factory jobs to make ends meet.
Elijah Dukes completes his community service for misdemeanor drug charges by cleaning out cages at a zoo. His lawyer is immediately disbarred for failing to argue at Dukes' sentencing hearing that playing for the Washington Nationals was already more than enough punishment.
In what is just one of many skeletons released from Roger Clemens's closet as a result of his defamation lawsuit against Brian McNamee, it is revealed that the Rocket had a longstanding affair with country singer Mindy McCready that began when she was still a teenager. Meanwhile, the eighty some-odd guys named in the Mitchell Report who didn't make a federal case out of it go on with their mostly rich, mostly happy, and mostly uneventful lives.
On April 29th, the Rays meet the Orioles in a battle for first place in the AL East. I don’t have a joke for that one as over two months later, I’m still trying to process it.
Craig Calcaterra is an attorney from Columbus, Ohio. When he's not defending the innocent and preserving democracy, he writes the baseball blog ShysterBall.