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ESPN Right to Attack Tejada’s Age

By now you must have seen the ESPN E:60 interview with Miguel Tejada — or lack thereof. If you haven’t, welcome back to the States, hopefully you didn’t lose your passport during your travels. Anyway, for about a week now ESPN has been promoting it’s E:60 segment with Miguel Tejada where they break out a document proving Tejada had been lying about his age. Tejada promptly ends the interview and storms off, acting incredulous that they weren’t there to ask him strictly about his .370 batting average. Initially I felt badly for Tejada; he looked so helpless and innocent, you had to feel poorly for him. I know some other people felt the same way. But once I got past that, and making jokes about Julio Franco revealing his true age, I’m actually pleased that ESPN handled the interview and its promotion the way they did.

Think about this for a second here: Miguel Tejada is not the victim. The teams that paid him his salaries and signed him long-term are the ones who were duped. They’re the ones who should be complaining. Tejada obviously proved he could play at a high level, but he never should have lied to do it. Matter of fact, most players who lie about their age know exactly why they’re doing it — being younger makes them more of a prospect which in turn results in higher bonuses and more money. By calling out Tejada and humiliating him in the interview, not to mention replaying the clip over-and-over each day, they were sending a message to other players that they could too be exposed the way Miguel was. Maybe some players/representatives will think twice before they falsify information, take a spot away from another kid, and steal money from organizations.

You can watch the video after the jump if you haven’t seen it.

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Byrnes Is Bringing Back the Porn Stache

There was a nice little addition to Eric Byrnes’ face the first month of the year — perhaps it was a good luck charm. Byrnsie decided to grow out his ‘stache during his 14-game hitting streak which ended on Sunday. Though the hitting streak came to an end, the ‘stache will apparently live on strong.

“It’ll be back; you guys have not seen the last of the ‘stache,” he said. ‘I’m going with the ‘stache all year. I will have a 1970s porn ‘stache the entire year.”

Apparently it’s not just Byrnsie who’s going with the stache look — the Milwaukee Brewers had it going Monday when I was watching their game. Jason Kendall was rocking a mean one, Carlos Villanueva’s looked money, Ryan Braun’s needed some growth, but Prince Fielder’s was looking strong. Matter of fact, Prince had the mutton chops going, too — he looked tight. Though mustaches were such a great part of the game’s past, I think they should only be reserved for times of need these days. May the ‘stache live on strong with you Byrnsie, Brewers.

(photo courtesy Ump Bump screen cap)

Girardi Cuts Out Yankees Sweet Tooth

After seeing what losing weight has done for A.J. Pierzynski’s turnaround season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided to clamp down on his players’ eating habits. OK, maybe it wasn’t the AJ Pierzynski effect, but Girardi has nonetheless decided to eliminate sweets from the visiting clubhouses when the Yanks are on the road.

The Yankees contacted the visiting clubhouse manager of every stadium where they play and asked that the candy and ice cream be removed before the team comes to town.

The clubhouse in Tampa Bay replaced all the candy with nuts, dried fruit and granola. It was hilarious to watch as guys smuggled in candy bars and ate them furtively at their lockers.

I wondered myself why all this junk food was provided to these world-class athletes with finely tuned bodies. But then I realized we were talking about baseball players. Besides, some of them like to get sugar-rushes before the game — nothing wrong with that. Funny what losing or mediocrity does to someone’s mindset; I doubt sugary foods would have been a problem had the Yanks been 14-5 like Arizona.

Joe Morgan: Chase Utley Could be Best Hitting Second Baseman Ever

Yeah I know, I almost fell over in my chair after hearing none other than Joe Morgan utter those very words on Sunday. Morgan — the same guy who is so egotistical he placed himself in the middle of history to brag about something he never did during his career — actually doled out a compliment on Sunday. To a second baseman. To someone who doesn’t play for the Reds. To a present-day player. Imagine that! This is also the same Morgan who I’m told by Chicago-sports connoisseur Lance Johnson, upset Cubs fans by failing to give Ryne Sandberg credit. Perhaps Morgan’s turned over a new leaf. I don’t have the actual quote, but after Chase Utley hit his second home run of the ballgame on Sunday to make it Utley 4 and the Mets 0, Morgan said that Utley may end up being the greatest hitting second baseman ever.

That’s right, Joe Morgan thinks Utley could be better than Morgan himself was! Joe really outdid himself, absolutely gushing over Utley. As the replays continued to show yet another moonshot by Utley, Morgan raved: “he’s got a beautiful stroke … what a beautiful swing … great hands.” Seriously, it was like Morgan wanted to mount Utley after the game for a post-game celebration if you know what I mean. I don’t know what got Joe so off-hinged, but he’s right — Utley could wind up being the best hitting second baseman of all-time. Right now that honor belongs to Jeff Kent, but the way Chase is going, the title will be his. Utley’s just the best all-around hitting second baseman we’ve seen — simple as that. And Joe actually complimented him! Isn’t that crazy?

By the way, if you’re a parent, that is exactly how you want your kid’s swing to look; it’s text book.

Maybe Frank Thomas Is an ‘I Guy’

I’m really shocked at what transpired over the weekend between Frank Thomas and the Blue Jays. On Saturday, the Big Hurt was informed he would be benched for the game and that he would be sharing at-bats at the DH position over the rest of the season. Needless to say, Thomas was not wild about splitting time, not just because it wouldn’t allow him to produce, but also because it would keep him from reaching a $10 million option which kicks in for 2009 if he reached 376 plate appearances. After doing some bitching and not shaking hands with teammates following Saturday’s win, many people woke up to the news that the Blue Jays had released the troubled slugger on Sunday. There’s a lot to be said about this subject, and most of it won’t be easy considering how complimentary I was of Thomas recently.

From Toronto’s perspective, even if they wanted to switch up the DH position and platoon Matt Stairs with Thomas for financial reasons, it was completely within their right to do so. Remember, the problem only began because Frank wasn’t hitting up to snuff. Had Frank’s production been better, the Blue Jays would only be too happy to play him every day and pay for his option in 2009. But considering Frank wasn’t doing too well, it’s completely within their right to change it up and throw someone else out there who might produce a bit — they’re trying to win games.

Now from Frank’s perspective, I understand where he’s pissed. If he were just being benched for one day, then that’s reasonable. But if he was told he’d be sitting on a regular basis, then yeah, that appears to be a financially motivated move that would upset me. If you’re a ballplayer, particularly a proven one who’s struggling, you’re not going to break out of a slump by riding pine — you need to get more at-bats. It’s no wonder Frank wants more at-bats, so I can understand why he’d be upset. But here’s the thing: some guys take these moves like team players, and some take them selfishly. Since it’s a business, I have no problem with Frank wanting to represent his best interests of seeking playing time elsewhere. At the same time, it’s also a team sport, which makes Frank a bad teammate who is unwilling to make the most of his situation and help his club. Now I think I know what Kenny Williams was talking about when he called out Frank. Thomas is a great player, but he seems like a poor teammate.

Barry Bonds Gets Dissed by Wax Museum

I’m not really into wax museums. I mean honestly, what do they really have to offer? Chances are you’ve seen everyone in the freaking museum on TV at the least, so what’s the point? Anyway, there’s a wax museum at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco (shamefully, I think I’ve actually been there when I was younger), and Barry Bonds was an integral part of the museum. Key word: was. Apparently some shifting and rearranging has been going on and real Barry would not be pleased with the treatment of wax Barry:

On Thursday, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie took the home run king’s prime lobby spot while he settled into a new life downstairs, next to his godfather, Willie Mays, and nine other sports heroes.

“We’re moving him because he’s not signed with the team for this season,” said museum curator Curtis Huber. “I don’t have a crystal ball but, if I did, I’d say his career is over. And for our purposes, he’s done everything he’s going to do as a San Francisco Giant.”

That’s how you know your career is truly over — when your wax figure gets moved from its prominent spot in the lobby to downstairs with the rest of the exhibit. Interestingly enough, that seems to be exactly what’s happened with Barry’s career. From front-and-center in baseball news the past several years to all of a sudden an afterthought in the back of people’s minds. Perhaps we’re all better off that way.

Julio Franco Reveals Age, Was Really 54

Most of you probably have heard by now that Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada revealed he is really 33-years-old and not 31, as he had professed to be throughout his entire Major League career. He initially lied to the A’s when they signed him as a kid out of the Dominican Republic because his youth would make him more appealing as a prospect. Well in light of this revelation, a chain reaction has started amongst other Dominican-born players. Many of the ones currently playing are afraid to speak because they have not yet achieved the security of a lucrative free agent contract, something Tejada did four years ago. But the retired players have begun to cave to the pressures and admit the truth. Julio Franco, a 23-year MLB veteran who finally retired this year after playing until age 47 last season, decided to speak:

After seeing fellow countryman Miguel Tejada come clean about his age, I have decided that it was only fair to reveal the truth about myself. All those years that I was playing, I was really older than I said. Those people who told me I looked like a 50-year-old last season were right — I was 54. I never wanted to let anyone know because I felt it would jeopardize my status as a free agent. I knew I could still play, but I didn’t think teams would sign me if they knew my real age.

Rumblings out of New York late Thursday night indicated Orlando Hernandez was contemplating revealing the truth about his age. Though his birthday according to MLB documents suggest he is currently 39-years-old, there is widespread suspicion that the Cuban-born pitcher is actually 43. And according to a report from the Spanish newspaper La Verdad, a childhood teammate of Angels outfielder Vladimir Guerrero claims the slugger is really 35. When asked for his response, Guerrero’s interpretor said Vlad had no comment. Additionally, Mariners third-baseman Adrian Beltre, already financially secure with a $65 million contract, has scheduled a news conference for late Friday. He is expected to reveal that he too is two years older than the date indicated on his MLB profile.

Of course none of this really did happen, but I know you were probably buying it. Heck, most of it is probably true!