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Weekly Pepper - Week 20

by Gregory Pratt,
August 18, 2008

Other Weekly Peppers:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

Gregory Pratt recommends "The Savage Detectives" to all who enjoy reading books. He's too tired to write anything else.

Humble Pie -- Last week, I wrote the Arizona Diamondbacks off as offensively-challenged pretenders and praised the Tampa Bay Rays as a talented ballclub that will be able to get by without Carl Crawford, at least until the end of the season. Then Evan Longoria was put on the disabled list, and the Rays now have a significant problem on their hands, long-term, as they have officially declared Carl Crawford's season over and there is a possibility that Longoria -- likely their very best bat -- might not come back strong this season. As if that weren't enough drama, Joe Maddon benched BJ Upton for not hustling late last week and Upton came back to homer in his first game back, Rocco Baldelli made his first appearance of the season for the Tampa Bay Rays but has been mediocre (.544 OPS), and Troy Percival got hurt again. Baldelli's comeback is a great story, but the feel-good Rays don't need another feel-good story: they need a productive bat to replace Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria, the former sitting out for the season while the latter recovers from a fractured wrist. I'm definitely rooting for them, but fate sure conspired to make me look foolish in regards to Tampa.  Though the Diamondbacks got help from the Reds in Dunn they didn't add much. An empty-power hitter with no glove who once went three years between sacrifice flies.

No Horseplay -- Carlos Lee is out for the season after breaking his pinky in six different places. He was eating hot dogs in too much of a hurry.

Washington Culture -- Here's something I enjoyed (from this column): Finally, on the subject of smackdowns, is the one that Texas manager Ron Washington put on C.J. Wilson last week. After Wilson stunk up the joint, giving up a grand slam to -- of all people -- Richie Sexson, Washington came to pull his erstwhile closer. Wilson, clearly disgusted, flipped the ball to his skipper and began to leave the mound. This is, under widely accepted baseball etiquette, akin to flipping off your manager on the JumboTron. It's very bad form. Washington, to his everlasting credit, snagged Wilson by the arm, pulled him back up on the mound, gave him the ball and told him to hand it back to him. He did. This is the coolest part: After Wilson finally got it right, Washington patted him on the butt on the way out. Classic. Wilson was put on the DL the next day, probably never to close for the Rangers again. And everyone learned a lesson.

Beauty and Braun -- I enjoyed this too (about a Ryan Braun TV commercial shoot with a supermodel): Braun said the world of endorsements and marketing interested him. “I grew up in Los Angeles and went to college in Miami,” Braun said. “My production on the field is first and foremost. But the more success you have gives you more opportunities off the field. I always envisioned myself doing something like this.” Under nearly perfect conditions, the shooting of the video went well. The story line involves a softball tournament. When a loose ball got to the fence, it was Marisa Miller, in a pink top, black shorts and black tennis shoes, chasing it down. Waiting in the outfield with ball in hand was Braun, dressed in an Affliction T-shirt and designer jeans, with his dog. Braun asks Miller, “shouldn’t you be in a bikini on a beach?” Miller responds, “shouldn’t you be signing some kid’s ball?”  He's one of the very best hitters in the league and he deserves the endorsements. Milwaukee needs love, too.

Scary Moment -- Tim Lincecum had a line drive hit off his knee early in the week, but wasn't seriously injured and came back on Sunday to thoroughly dominate the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. I was very worried about it as I watched it live, and I'm glad he's alright.

A Small Note on the Coming Insanity -- There's much talk that Mark Teixeira wants a two hundred million dollar contract from his next team. There's little hope for baseball if he receives anything resembling that amount. He's a good-to-very good first baseman who plays great defense, but he does not draw in the fans nor is he an exceptional hitter. What would a team have to be thinking to pay him anywhere near that amount?

Kent Catch A Break -- What's with this fixation sportswriters have with Jeff Kent being grouchy and surly? So what if he isn't Mr. Quote and likes to wear jeans and go hunting and talks in a Texan accent? Here's the latest "controversy" as related by T.J. Simers of the LA Times:

He's been cantankerous all week -- like that's different than any other week, but he's really been Jeff Kent ornery and then some -- peeved at anyone who might suggest he's doing better because Manny Ramirez is hitting behind him in the lineup. It's obvious, though, everyone noticing it, Kent going into Saturday night's game hitting .500 behind Ramirez, Vin Scully mentioning it during each broadcast. "Vin Scully talks too much," Kent said. Now that's funny, the guy who normally doesn't say much, this time saying way too much. "You can't say that," I told Kent, and he said he had just spoken to 200 women (at a Dodgers function) "and I told them the same thing, and they laughed.  We all love you, Vin," Kent added with a mischievous grin, "but you still talk too much." Ran that by Scully. He had nothing to say.

I wouldn't be surprised if he's not just having fun with the idiotic questions he's being asked.

Roy of Roy, Joy of Joy -- Don't know if anyone else has noticed, but Roy Oswalt has been fabulous since coming off the disabled list and Roy Halladay threw another complete game this weekend against the Red Sox. I don't care about Cliff Lee's wins or his fewer losses or his ERA -- Halladay is my Cy Young Award winner this season.

R-e-s-p-e-c-t -- The Boston Red Sox walked Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday night to avoid blowing the game against the Rangers and get a lesser hitter (Marlon Byrd) to the plate.  The gamble paid off, and they won the game, but Hamilton received one of the greatest tributes a player can receive from an opposing team. It was almost as if I were managing the Red Sox in an effort to make Josh look good.

No More Workhorse: 47 -- Tom Glavine has injured his arm again this season, and it is doubtful that he'll be able to return before October, so he won't be back until next season if he does return. I think he should just retire and take the call to Cooperstown when it comes, because he's done being an effective major league pitcher. Great athletes often have trouble hanging up the spikes, but it's Glavine's time, and I hope the foolish desire to go out "on top" or at least in good health does not cause him to work out all winter and come to spring training just to embarrass himself.

On the Other Hand -- Greg Maddux is being encouraged by his manager, teammates, and beat writers to keep pitching until after next season so that he can pass Warren Spahn on the wins list. I echo my shared hope, but I think it's more important that he, and the Padres, think about getting him two more wins.

History of the Week -- Have you ever heard of "Moe Berg?" Nothing leaps out, right? Then you realize that he was an Ivy Leaguer in the age of Ivy Leaguers (Franklin Roosevelt's Presidency) and once said that he'd rather play Major League Baseball "than be President of the United States" and he starts to get a little more interesting. But what has always been incredible to me about his life is his post-baseball career as a spy for MLB, particularly his work in Germany. You see, he was sent to spy on Hitler's nuclear program by listening to their top physicist's lectures. And if he thought for one moment that the Nazis had perfected an atomic bomb he had orders to kill the man. It never came to that -- because the Nazis never developed the atomic bomb, nor did they come close -- but it was still high-stakes work. His last words are said to have been "How did the Mets do today?" I recommend The Catcher Was a Spy to all of you with an interest in the story.

Gregory Pratt is a political science and history double-major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His political commentary can be found at the Office of the Independent Blogger, and he can be reached at

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