Weekly Pepper - Week 3

by Gregory Pratt, BaseballEvolution.com
April 21, 2008

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The last week has been a heavy one in the life of Gregory Pratt as he prepares for his first formal academic conference on Tuesday in addition to strenuous academic activity. But he is never too busy to watch the game of baseball or read about it, and he is not too busy to write about it, either. After all, he is a situational hitter who knows that when you can not pull a ball you should wait for it to hit the outside corner and take it the other way.

"Best of all games" -- A Professor at my University who is a good friend of mine told me that his favorite memory from his time teaching at Harvard came when the philosopher John Rawls joined him for a game at Fenway Park. The Padres-Rockies game which went twenty two innings this week reminds me of this letter Rawls once wrote about why he believed baseball to be the best of all games. Here is the relevant portion: "Finally, there is the factor of time, the use of which is a central part of any game. Baseball shares with tennis the idea that time never runs out, as it does in basketball and football and soccer. This means that there is always time for the losing side to make a comeback. The last of the ninth inning becomes one of the most potentially exciting parts of the game. And while the same sometimes happens in tennis also, it seems to happen less often. Cricket, much like baseball (and indeed I must correct my remark above that baseball is the only game where scoring is not done with the ball), does not have a time limit." Someday, I would like to attend a baseball game that goes on for over six hours and twenty two innings.

Worst of all games -- A Japanese high school pitcher threw 250 pitches in less than two innings, allowing sixty-six runs in the process. His school begged the umpires to let the game end early so that they would not continue to get pounded, and the league gave in, giving them an automatic 9-0 loss. Guess it's better than a five hundred pitch, three inning and a hundred runs allowed performance, right?

Max Power -- Sports Illustrated claims that they've identified the guy known as "Max" in Jose Canseco's latest book. The exiled slugger claims that "Max" is ARod's steroid connection. In their interview with this nebulous person, he alleges that Canseco is a liar. I have avoided writing about Jose Canseco because I did not want it to overshadow the first week of the baseball season.  Then it began to fade away as a priority, because I do not want to support Canseco financially or morally, but from what I have read of his book, he has written nothing special. Alex Rodriguez ought to be thanking his lucky Louisville Sluggers that Canseco of all people made the allegations, because now Canseco has been "discredited" by the fact that he did not write this in his first book. Do I think it's a big deal that these allegations weren't made before? No. I don't doubt Canseco's word on Ordonez or Rodriguez. I would just caution Canseco that he should watch out for perjury charges, because he is walking a dangerous line for Roger Clemens when he defends him from being at his party, and he might wind up facing charges just like "The Rocket" has.  I should come clean: I personally believe that Rodriguez is a juicer, because I do not believe that he has reached 500 homeruns at a younger age than anyone because he was granted special abilities by God (but I make no accusation of fact). I would note, finally, on the subject, that Max denies being a supplier, but Brian McNamee denied it, too. Everyone does. The denial itself means nothing except "I do not want to be known as a dope dealer" and maybe more is at play here. Money talks, right?

Frank Thomas -- The Big Hurt is out of Toronto now, released by the team after a series of arguments that some claim involve the Blue Jays trying to shortchange him and others believe to be another example of Thomas being selfish and wanting to play at the expense of the team. It is probably a mixture of the two. I simply wish Thomas all the luck in the world in finding another team. Hopefully it's a championship-level team, and he can find his swing again. When I was young, I thought Thomas was selfish and needy, and he is, but he is still a good man, a fine hitter, and a natural one to top it all off. A real human being with a real human swing. How novel!

Winning Utley -- Is there anyone more likeable than Chase Utley in the National League? I hope he wins an MVP Award this season, and for my money, he is the most valuable player on the Phillies, as well as the most likely to remain healthy and productive for the rest of his career.

Injury Notes -- When Rich Harden, Mike Hampton, or Ben Sheets hurt themselves, it's to be expected. When Tom Glavine goes on the disabled list, it is a shock. It's just good to see Jair Jurrjens doing well for the Braves. He likely won't be the same caliber of talent as John Smoltz has been throughout his career, but is it too early to suggest that the Braves fleeced the Tigers again? Smoltz, by the way, has continued dominating the league so far this season, and I hope he keeps it up.

Lean Cuisine -- Prince Fielder hit his first homerun of the season this week. "Finally!" exclaim the meat mascots of Milwaukee, but Fielder still will not eat them, and this leads me to the silliest thing I heard on (non-political) television this week: "Prince Fielder needs to have a burger so he can hit homeruns again. Being a vegetarian makes you weak!" At least, the PTI guys were saying something that was to that effect and more, but mine is a paraphrase. I'm no vegetarian, but that criticism is ridiculous.

A Longoria Commitment --How about the big, guaranteed contract the Tampa Bay Rays gave Evan Longoria? Good for him, and them. It makes me happy to see that organization get its act together, compile good talent, and retain it preemptively, but I think they probably should have held off a small while, at least, on a Longoria deal, because no one is a guaranteed to succeed at the major league level. If they're sure, then I hope they trust their scouts and have good ones. Ultimately, all front office decisions should come down to how your scouts view players, and if that's the way you operate -- like, say, the Braves -- then hopefully your scouts are as good as you need them to be.

33 -- If you have not watched the interview with Miguel Tejada ESPN did where they confronted him about his real age, I suggest that you do. Just don't judge him too harshly for wanting to get out of his country and play baseball for good money to support his family. That's understandable, and I'm not upset that he lied about his age. In a lot of ways, it's something to be expected when you're dealing with foreign players in MLB. If you are going to take exception with Tejada, take exception with his steroid use and refusal to own up. Take offense that he was actually the MVP of the America League a few years ago. Who cares if he's two years older than he really "was?"

Tragedy -- A man died at Shea Stadium when he fell off the escalators and landed thirty feet down, plunging to his death. I just hope his children, who were there, will be okay.

History of the Week -- Next week's "History of the Week" will be a much bigger undertaking, and I defer on this week's for an inability to find the specific story I wanted to share with you, dear readers.

That's all for this week, folks! Or last week. Whichever you prefer.

Gregory Pratt is a political science student 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.