Jim Bouton did an interesting chat session at ESPN. It’s really hard to do these and be insightful or funny, and he’s both. And it’s nice to see the man agreeing with me:
Matt (NYC): Jim, you have always been very honest about your views and opinions, even when they, at times, went against the grain of baseball. With this in mind, I ask you, what is your opinion of singing “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch. Aside from the mixing of religion into baseball, I find the routine too nationalistic and unnecessary. What is your opinion?
Jim Bouton: I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think it’s trying to capitalize and sentimentalize the tragedy of 9/11. It’s out of place. And there are baseball fans who don’t believe in God, and they shouldn’t be preached to in song at a baseball game.
Jim Bouton: I’ve never liked the way that sports tries to tie itself to patriotic gestures.
I haven’t done much that got more hate mail than my rant on Prospectus about that, and it’s nice to see I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. Of course, then Jim wants Rose re-instated, and I think maybe he didn’t really think this one through:
Wayne, Washington, DC: Jim – no one has asked, so I will. Should Pete Rose be allowed to be considered for entry into the Hall of Fame?
Jim Bouton: Yes. He had a gambling addiction. He wasn’t fixing ballgames. There’s a big difference.
And then there’s this:
Wayne (Burlington VT): Hi, Jim. I loved Foul Ball, though it did anger me (and not send any money to WAMC.) What is the current status of the Berkshire Black Bears? If they bail, are you still interested in keeping baseball in Wauconah Park? If you want a case study in how to run a ballclub in an old park in a small town, you need only visit Burlington. Over 100,000 fans 10 years running in 37 dates per year.
Jim Bouton: Pittsfield, like almost every other community in the country, faces the threat of losing its ball team if they don’t build a new stadium. I call it “America’s most costly hostage crisis.” Billions are spent on tax-payer financed stadiums at the expense of schools, hospitals, and fire departments. It’s corporate welfare on a massive scale, and people who aren’t even baseball fans are indirectly subsidizing the high salaries in baseball today, because owners don’t have to build their own buildings, as they would have to in any other business.
Here’s the thing: Yes, yes, yes, no! Does anyone hold a bundle of resentment about the salaries Boeing engineers make in this town because Boeing gets tax breaks? Of course not, they’re people making a living. But somehow, the cost of stadiums becomes the responsibility of players? I’ve never understood this. The cost of stadiums goes to many people, and by increasing the revenue of the team, makes it more likely they’ll spend more on players to field a competitive team that draws people to spend money there. It’s not a simple stadium = subsidizing greedy players thing at all.
Anyway, check it out.
If you’re not going to check out “The Analysts” (and you should), Sporting News ran a column listing potential FAs, and it’s interesting stuff (the list, not his weird lament about nomads or collusion). It misses Brad Fullmer, who we endorse as a good cheap bat pick-up, Mike Lowell’s not listed at third, but other than that…
Shortstops: not a lot there. Tejeda’s the only one who’d be an upgrade on Guillen, really, and that’s a contract I’d stay far away from offering. Valentin’s not terrrible, but… enh.
DHers: Fullmer, obviously, but there’s also Ben Grieve, who is, uh… not awful…
OFers: Not a lot of players you’d want and would help the outfield much. Sure, you take Sheffield/Guerrero if you can get them at a reasonable cost, but how likely is that? There are some aging bat options, too, like Wonder Hamster Matt Stairs and John “Two words” Vander Wal, who’d be an upgrade on the punchless wonders we have now.
Ps: Doesn’t this team have enough pitchers? Seriously, I wonder how cheap you could pick up David Wells and make him a platoon starter — I think Safeco would fit him all too well. And then you can play Franklin (say) off against some of these other guys.
Hey, if you’re curious what I do when I’m not blogging, check out “The Analysts“. It’s a short I wrote which should (may?) amuse our dear readers. If you like it, hey, pass the link along to anyone you think would appreciate it. Hope you enjoy it. Oh: contains ‘adult language’.
Baseball America has posted the list of six year minor league free agents. This link is does not require a subscription, by the way.
The Mariners have 16 players who are now free to sign with any club they wish. No big losses here.
SEATTLE MARINERS (16)
Pitchers: Ken Cloude, Brian Falkenborg, Tim Hamulack, Justin Lamber, Josue Matos, Chris Wright.
Catchers: John Castellano, Greg Connors, Julio Mosquera.
Infielders: Andy Barkett, Luis D. Figueroa, John Lindsey, Mickey Lopez.
Outfielders: Mike Curry, Adrian Myers, Charles Phillips.
Lots of GM news this morning.
The Seattle Times states that the Mariners have requested permission to interview Billy Beane, but there are conflicting reports to whether they will be allowed to or not. There is no mention of Paul DePodesta anywhere in the article. The same article notes that the M’s are interested in Mark Newman, the Yankees asst. director of player personnel, and Dan Jennings, the Marlins director of player personnel.
The Seattle P-I reports the same rumor about Dan Jennings and goes into a little more depth about his baseball philosophies.
Talk about two sides of the river here. The fact that they even want to talk to Beane is surprising, and mildly encouraging to me. But Dan Jennings might be about the worst candidate on the planet. Take Omar Minaya’s stubborness about the purity of scouting, multiply it by ten, and you might get a feel for Jennings’ beliefs. He was mostly responsible for the disaster that was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays minor league system during the late 90’s. Their extreme focus on athletes over baseball players left their system in ruins, and had them paying big money for the rights to guys like Kenny Kelly. Now that he’s moved on to the Marlins, he’s taken this godawful approach with him and managed to make Florida’s system worse than it has been in years. The piece he did for Baseball America referenced in the P-I is a manifesto of ignorance and reeks or an arrogance only found in those completely unwilling to change.
Baseball is a humbling game, and the minute you believe you have found the answer, you are on the wrong path. The Mariners need to find someone who is willing to incorporate both scouting and statistical analysis into their evaluations rather than wasting time interviewing the extremist sides.
If Dan Jennings gets the job, we might as well become Expos fans.