I Thought Joe Torre Had More Class

Tom Verducci wants to make it clear that the book he has co-authored with Joe Torre is a third person narrative, not a tell-all by Torre. Fine. Verducci says you need to read the book to understand the context of the quotes that have been revealed. Fine. He’s trying to sell a book, what else would you expect? But someone please tell me how you can possibly downplay the reports that say Torre says Yankees GM Brian Cashman betrayed him and that Yankee players called A-Rod, “A-Fraud” in the book. If Torre doesn’t have something to say, or his side of the story to tell, then why did he co-author a book? Why is he going on a book tour to promote it? What’s he going on Letterman to do, discuss yoga studios and surf boards?

It’s sad that the Dodgers gave this guy such a cush gig after he parted ways with the Yankees. Torre hasn’t been anything special for LA and wasn’t anything special his last five years with the Yanks. The Dodgers are slow to sign free agents but were quick to drop like 18 mil on Torre so fans could go watch him make a double-switch at games. And as I’ve already said, without quality talent — like Manny for instance — his teams are no better than any other team. Now the guy who was supposedly so professional in his handling of relationships and the media is letting readers in on the inner-circle of the Yanks? I probably will read the book because I want to see what it all says before I go any further here and because — let’s face it — I’m running out of entertaining sports books at the library. So far Johnny Damon has defended A-Rod and Cashman says he’s cool with Torre. I just thought Joe Torre was too classy and above telling outsiders about the inside dealings of the Yankees.

So Mark McGwire’s Been Working as a Hitting Instructor Lately

As much as Mark McGwire tries to stay out of the spotlight — for which he’s done a damn good job — he’s been in the news quite a bit lately. First Deadspin caught some sections of the book Jay McGwire has written that details Mark’s use of steroids while playing baseball. Now Matt Holliday says he and Bobby Crosby have been working on hitting with McGwire over the offseason. I knew that McGwire’s worked with both Chris and Shelley Duncan, likely because their father is the Cardinals pitching coach — Dave Duncan. I didn’t know that McGwire’s become a full-fledged hitting instructor, which is how it’s coming across. I’ll let you draw the obvious connections between McGwire/Holliday/Crosby and steroids while I talk about how the whole thing started.

When the Rockies were in Southern California for an interleague series against the Angels in 2006, introductions were arranged through Rockies assistant coach Mike Gallego, a former teammate of McGwire’s with the A’s.

“They took a liking to each other,” Gallego said of McGwire and Holliday. “They have a lot of the same qualities, as far as their size and the expectations of when they walk up to the plate. Him and Mac clicked well. Both are guys that are not afraid to work. He’s been good to him.”

Holliday, whose biceps and power has really increased the past few seasons, is very much like McGwire in that they were both massive individuals since the day they entered the league. Holliday’s power really has increased beginning in 2006, when he had his first of back-to-back 30 home run seasons. While McGwire’s reputation is being increasingly sullied by his brother Jay (that appearance on Capitol Hill sure didn’t help), at least it appears as if he’s still trying to make a positive impact on the game by working with hitters. It’s reasons like this that Big Mac gets more of a benefit of the doubt than say a Barry Bonds when it comes to discussions of character.

Who Gets into the Hall First, Jeff Kent or Barry Bonds?

Once teammates in San Francisco from ’97-’02, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds will be forever linked. The two formed a powerful duo in the heart of the Giants order for several years, leading San Francisco into the World Series in ’02 where they got served by the Angels. Both have strong personalities and were known to fight while in San Francisco despite winning many accolades. Bonds finished second in MVP balloting to Kent in 2000 — Kent’s only MVP season — while Bonds went on to win the next four. Each player enjoyed remarkable success offensively throughout his career. Bonds’ aided statistics may only be second to one in the history of the game, Babe Ruth. Kent’s offensive statistics as a second baseman are second to none when it comes to power. Both players were standouts during their time and changed the game. But both were also undoubtedly dicks.

So that begs the question: with Bonds not playing last season and Kent set to retire, who will get into Cooperstown first? It takes five years for retired players to be eligible for the Hall. Bonds will be eligible first but the ominous steroids questions will loom and enough voters might be deterred from electing him. Heck, if they couldn’t all vote for Rickey, Cal, or Tony, how are they going to all vote for Bonds? Then the question becomes whether or not Bonds gets elected in his second year, and whether or not Kent’s poor attitude toward the press will keep him from being elected in his first year. Kent’s going to get there because he doesn’t have any steroids questions surrounding him. But will he make it on the first ballot? It will be close. So the three outcomes are: Bonds gets there first, they get elected in the same year, or Kent gets elected first. I’m going with Kent first. Who you got?

How Long Before Ryan Howard Leaves Philly?

The big news of the day in the world of baseball — outside of the surprise that Jonathan Papelbon didn’t take the Red Sox to arbitration — was Ryan Howard’s submitted salary for the arbitration process. Howard has asked for an $18 million salary for the upcoming season while the club has offered 14 mil. He’ll receive one or the other, not something in between. Last year Howard won his arbitration hearing with the club, receiving $10 million rather than seven. That was his first year of arbitration eligibility given his status as a super-two player (most major leaguers need three years of service to be eligible for arbitration, Howard had played two and a half). My point is that Ryan Howard has already experienced the ugly side of the game once and will now have to sit through another round of his team arguing against him.

Players are humans too and there’s only so much criticism and negative sentament one can take. After his second year of arbitration with the club, particularly one after winning a World Series, he probably won’t have much love left for the organization and its front office. Imagine if Howard loses his arbitration case and is reminded how crappy his defense is and how many strikeouts he amassed? What will he think? Sitting behind Jim Thome in the minors all those years, Howard will be 29 this season and in his early 30s when he’s eligible to become a free agent and bolt town. He’s already seen the team extend Cole Hamels in order to avoid arbitration and no doubt can’t be happy about that. Now that he’s won the World Series, if the guy loses arbitration, I could imagine him asking for a trade. Keep your eyes on this case, because I don’t see Ryan Howard sticking with the Phillies any longer than he has to, the 2012 season being the earliest.

Alright, So Who Isn’t A-Rod Dating?

I’m really starting to wonder a few things here. For one, how the heck is A-Rod going to play this season with all the freaking off-field distractions he has. Two, how is A-Rod liking New York now that he has the paparazzi all over him. And lastly, since breaking up with his wife and moving onto Madonna, who hasn’t A-Rod been rumored to date? The man bangs a bunch of call girls you’ve never heard of and he’s also being spotted next to every celebrity. First Madonna, then Donna Karan on New Years, and now … Kate Hudson:

NOW that Madonna isn’t as interested in him anymore, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez is playing the famous-faces field. He got hit on in Parrot Cay over New Year’s by Donna Karan, and last week he took Kate Hudson (above) out on a date. Our spy says they had a three-hour meal at the Lure Fishbar with friends and were very cozy. Later, A-Rod went with Hudson to the Rose Bar, where they met up with her friend Ron Burkle. Hudson, currently starring in “Bride Wars,” has been single since Lance Armstrong dumped her. Said her rep: “Kate was at Lure with a group of 10 people.”

That he and Madonna are no longer an item is news to me. And Kate Hudson? I’ve said it a thousand times before, Rodriguez can do so much better. All I know is that if I were in a fantasy league this season, I wouldn’t have A-Rod on my draft list. How do you expect a guy to hit when he’s got all kinds of people following his every move, privately or publicly? And didn’t he get a new P.R. team? Aren’t they supposed to be helping matters and keeping him out of the papers?

Greatest Rickey Henderson Stories of All-Time

I wasn’t a huge Rickey Henderson fan growing up, probably because his greatness preceded my time and because I was too young to appreciate how colorful he was. Now that I’m older, I can truly love everything about Henderson. As a player, the guy wrote parts of the record books and is no question a Hall of Famer. Really, anyone who didn’t vote Henderson in needs his head examined. The best quote is by Bill James who says Henderson still is a lock Hall of Famer even without all the stolen bases. That’s true, meaning Henderson is a no doubter when you do add in the stolen bases. Now putting the on-field accomplishments aside, Henderson might very well be the best character in the history of the game. He might even put “Manny being Manny” to shame. Rickey was like the inventor of the athlete speaking in 3rd person trend. He was notorious for not knowing his teammates names and sometimes referred to them by position or what they did such as “Hey, knuckleballer.” And the stories about Henderson are legendary.

About a year and a half ago I presented some of the best Rickey Henderson stories ever. On the occasion of his induction into Cooperstown, I feel there is no better time than to bring these stories back. 100% Injury Rate (now with FanIQ) has a list of the greatest Rickey stories of all-time. Here are some of my favorites:

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Jimmy Rollins, Friend of the Radio Show Contest Winners

Maybe I’m more skeptical than the average person, but when someone comes knocking on my door I’m always expecting the worst. Apparently that’s not the case with Jimmy Rollins, or the kids who came a-knockin on his door was extremely persuasive. Some high schoolers were trying to win tickets to the Eagles/Giants game by getting a celebrity to call into a radio show to win a contest. Naturally they headed straight to J-Roll’s pad:

John Buto, 17, a senior at Kingsway Regional High, in Woolwich, Gloucester County, knocked on Rollins’ door after school Tuesday along with a few friends and politely explained the contest to Rollins. To Buto’s surprise, J-Roll invited the gang into his home and called Wired host Kannon’s show.

Buto says Rollins couldn’t have been nicer and spent about 15 minutes with the group as the call-in line was busy. Buto says he’s not worried about another listener getting a bigger VIP because “I don’t know who’s bigger than the shortstop of the World Series champion Phillies.” If he does win, Buto plans to take his buddy Steve Borkowski, with whom he hatched the plan to ask Rollins.

Unless he bought the star maps from some kid sitting in a lawn chair on Sunset Blvd., how did Buto know where J-Roll lived? And how cool is it that Rollins helped them out? Good thing it was January when Rollins likely didn’t have much to do (clearly), otherwise he would have been in season. That’s pretty sweet of Rollins to help the kids out.

Via Ben Maller