Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Something That Would NEVER Happen Today

76 years ago in 1933, the first baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis (who presided over the "trial" and banishment of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, including "Shoeless" Joe Jackson) announced that he would cut his salary by 40% due to the Great Depression.

Can you imagine Bud Selig cutting 40% of his salary today? Considering he's paid around $18 million a year, that's a pay cut of over $7 million.

(In my best George H.W. Bush impression) "Not gonna happen, not gonna do it . . ."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"...Judge Me From This Day Forward."

That was how Alex Rodriguez ended his presser today to address his now admitted steroid use. The truth is, he will be judged. And harshly.

Even if he hits .300 with 50 homers and 135 RBI, he'll still be labeled as a steroid cheater. Just like Roger Clemens, just like Mark McGwire, and just like Sammy Sosa are now branded. Oh, we'll judge you from this day forward, more brutally and with a spotlight more glaring than you could ever imagine.

Despite what McGwire prattled off to Congress four years ago - "I'm not here to talk about the past." - the American public still does. In his case, and Rodriguez', we certainly won't forget the past either.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Burgers & Dogs

Well, sausages to be more precise.

There's a cool new restaurant in downtown L.A. that I wish were closer to work, 'cause it'd be the kind of place I'd walk into and everyone would yell,"Tom!" And then someone would ask, "What's goin' on, Tom?" And I'd reply, "Let's talk about what's goin' in Tom."

Wurstk├╝che is a great place, with gourmet sausages and fries, plus an amazing variety of German and Belgian beers on tap. A couple of weeks ago I met up with a couple of friends there who were in town for the Grammys and they were duly impressed.

As for the burgers, for lunch today I finally tried the lone West Coast representative of the legendary DC-based chain Five Guys. While the burgers were par for the course, the fries were (A) rather limp and (B) a smaller portion than what I've had back East. And since it's been almost two months since I last had Five Guys (with Dad over Christmas) I think it may be a little longer before I can indulge again.

I'm not as young as I used to be . . .

Friday, February 13, 2009

Finally Some Food

The first few posts here have been exclusively about baseball, but it's high time to bring food into the equation. Serious Eats and its burger cousin A Hamburger Today are great sites for restaurant information, recipes, new products, and sometimes some really wacky stuff.

Like the link to Skittles-infused vodka. I'm a big fan of infusing vodkas with fresh fruit - black plums totally rock vodka like the fo-shizzle: two pounds of ripe black plums, pitted and quartered in a liter of vodka, sealed in a lockable mason jar, and tucked away in a cool dark place for six to eight weeks. I've also made grapefruit (good), mango (not so good), and pomegranate (eh), but Skittles? Really? Seems like a waste of good vodka, since all you'd really be tasting is the super sweet rainbow of (artificial) fruit flavors. And there are plenty of overly sweet schnapps already on the market, ready for your esophagus to do its reverse technicolor yawn when you've had too much. Too graphic? Know when to say when.

Anyways, wander through those sites, and see what whets your appetite . . .

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And Then There Was One

So the Angels signed Bobby Abreu to a one-year deal for $5 million (although I still wish they had kept Garret Anderson) and the Nationals signed Adam Dunn for two years at $10 million per. I think Jim Bowden of the Nationals is just going to keep signing ex-Reds until he's re-created the entire 2002 Cincinnati lineup in D.C. - Jose Rijo works in the front office and Rob Dibble just signed on to be their color man. Ken Griffey, Jr. is still available . . .

But the whole point of this is now it's down to just Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers, staring at each other, waiting to see who blinks first. Spring Training starts in two days, and every day Manny's not in a camp, is another day his price goes down. The Dodgers offered a two-year, $45 million contract right from the get-go, and Scott Boras sniffed at it, preferring to wait for "serious offers." After that, all Manny got was a one-year, $25 million offer from the Dodgers, and there hasn't been anything since.

It was a telling sign when Will Clark, now working in the San Francisco front office, said of Manny, "We don't need a guy who just hits." And this from an organization that put up with Barry Bonds for 15 years. Can we say "backlash?"

The Dodgers need Manny. Manny needs a job. The waiting continues.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alex Fraudriguez

The sordid details of his steroid use with the Texas Rangers have been well documented, and the public scrutiny has been expanded to include ESPN's Peter Gammons' softball questions and lack of follow-ups. Now A-Fraud is accusing Selena Roberts, one of the Sports Illustrated reporters who broke the story last weekend, of stalking him and trespassing on his property. And there's the possibility that Gene Orza, one of the MLBPA chiefs, may have tipped players off that they were about to be drug tested.

Major League Baseball ran amok for a very long time without any acknowledgment of wrongdoing, be it with steroids, amphetamines, or any other illicit behavior, because revenues were up, new stadiums were being built, and the owners were getting richer. Now we're finding out just how many blind eyes were turned, and the outrage will only get worse. Baseball was in such a hurry to erase the stink of the 1994 players' strike and get fans back in the stadiums and interested in the sport again, that they let the inmates rule the asylum. It made national news when Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games-played record late in 1995, but it wasn't until the Mark McGwire / Sammy Sosa home run battle in 1998 that baseball truly became relevant again. Who knows what the two of them, and how many others, were really taking?

If the BBWAA is as truly outraged as their lack of support of McGwire's HOF campaign indicates, there will be a severe lack of inductions of players from the steroid era.

I'll get off my soapbox now . . . that is all.

Let's See Where This Goes

Well, I 'spose sometimes you just gotta close your eyes and take the plunge. Welcome to my own little corner of the virtual world, where I'll ramble on about baseball, food, tv, movies, music, and whatever else rattles around my brain.

As for the baseball part, way back in the day, I used to write a weekly column for my old fantasy baseball league called T.W.I.B. Notes, and I miss doing that. So part of my need to write here comes from that column, and since Saturday is that magical day when "pitchers and catchers report," I figure now's the time to start warming up.

Everything else will just sort of trickle into place, depending on what I cook, where I eat, what I watch, or what I listen to. So thanks for stopping by, and let's see where this goes . . .