Weekly Pepper - Week 14

by Gregory Pratt, BaseballEvolution.com
July 7, 2008

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Gregory Pratt is having a blast on the west coast of the United States. He is currently stationed in Portland. He will share specific details of his trip next week, and he apologizes for the relative brevity of this entry but wants you to understand that he has had precious little time to prepare it. 

Redemption? -- The Philadelphia Phillies have extended Brad Lidge. The contract is for three years and 35 million dollars. I do not know whether or not Lidge is worth the investment or whether he really is the man he has been this season, but Pat Gillick can certainly say that he got the better of his trade with Ed Wade. Michael Bourn for Brad Lidge? Hundred miles per hour versus a hundred yard dash.
Teknically Unsound / Unsafe at Any Speed -- On our flight to Los Angeles Tuesday, we met a woman who is related to Jason Varitek through her daughter's marriage, and she talked to us about how hard Varitek works on defense, how down-to-Earth and kind he is. It was pleasant, and I definitely admire "the Captain's" work ethic, but let's not kid ourselves; he does not belong in the All-Star Game by any standard this season. I wish I knew how to decide whether or not a player belonged in the game or not, so as to reasonably avoid poor choices, but I do know that the big-market teams should not represent the league because of their fan base, and players like Joe Crede don't belong in the game, either, no matter what the players might say with their votes. And don't get me started on Brian Wilson who has saves but not much else. Kosuke Fukudome is not a good choice, either, but the people have voted, eh? 

Paul Revere Rides to Milwaukee -- CC Sabathia has, as of this writing, been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, except it is not yet official, and I've got to say that I like the deal for Milwaukee. They're in a very weak division and league, and could use an extra ace for the stretch run, so they are giving up a defensively-challenged ballplayer who might flame out, hit a lot of homeruns, or wind up providing a Sexson mix of both (and not much else) and a couple of other prospects (who are not impact prospects) for one of the very best pitchers in baseball. I just hope the sausage racers are given fair warning, as Sabathia cometh with an appetite, and not just for a championship.

Achey Breakey Heart -- Roy Oswalt's out "indefinitely" with a strained hip. I can not stress unto you how distressed I am by this news.

Borowski a Smoke -- Joe Borowski has been designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians. So, listen, he wasn't a great or a good closer, but he got the job done for a while, and that counts for something, even if the deck is stacked in every closer's favor. 

Rays -- You know, I have long believed that Major League Baseball does not work in Florida, but I am thoroughly enjoying this year's Tampa Bay team. I just wish more people would turn out to watch them, because I would live in Tropicana Field if I lived in that city, largely because it is so cheap and the team is so fun. 

The Chase is On -- The most interesting "chase" for a "record" this season might be Roy Halladay's attempt to throw double-digit complete games, which is something that has not been done since 1999.

And the Dream Will Never Die -- Chipper Jones fell below .400 a small while ago, but he's still right around there. The only consistent baseball "watching" I have done on this trip is in the boxscore for Jones' games, and I still hope that he can make it to .400, although I do not believe he will. That's the point of watching and reading, though.

Flukeillis -- There's no other way to describe this nifty video. Except for "nifty."

History Theory of the Week -- In baseball lore, there is no male-female relationship more important than Joe DiMaggio's with Marilyn Monroe. Alex Rodriguez is adding his own love affair to the Yankees' history books with his alleged relationship with hundred-year-old Madonna. This is why Rodriguez will be remembered by baseball history with less reverence than that which Reggie Jackson or the Yankee Clipper are afforded, and this story reminded me of the following song parody: 

Now Harry Walker is the one who manages the crew. 
He doesn't like it when we drink and fight and smoke and screw. 
But when we win our games each day.
What the hell can Harry say! 
It makes a fellow proud to be an Astro (too)!

I guess that's a tangent.

There is little doubt here that Rodriguez is a more valuable ballplayer to have on your team than Derek Jeter, but are there really all that many children dreaming of being Alex Rodriguez instead of Jeter? In this sense, Roberto Clemente is more important to this game's history and legacy than almost every other ballplayer who has ever played the game, Andy Van Slyke is more important in Pittsburgh than Barry Bonds is, and so on and so forth. I have always believed in the game's continuity and the importance of establishing links between the past and the present and the future in this game, as it is most definitely in a state of constant transition and generational care. So, with that in mind, I firmly believe that men who played the game and have inflated or deflated reputations as a result of their whole body of work are to be praised and criticized for it, in a responsible manner of course (Sandy Koufax is not the greatest pitcher of all-time). Every ballplayer is a retainer of the game of baseball, and there is something to be said for ballplayers who take their responsibilities seriously and provide a strong narrative for the books. The game is a significant part of our culture, and it should be understood accordingly. 

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 gregory@baseballevolution.com.