Wednesday, May 13, 2009
As a new feature here on the Sports Fellas we will be bringing you the Walk of Shame every week with our take on people in sports who need to shape up, shut up, or just go away.
1. Roger Clemens. Apparently this guy doesn't know when to quit. Surely he has to realize at this point that he has no credibility? You would think, but he went out of his way to continue his ridiculous denial of any steroid involvement. Seriously Rog, just go away. No one cares anymore. Your legacy is already ruined.
2. Manny Ramirez. If it wasn't bad enough that he torpedoed the Dodgers hot start with his 50 game suspension, Ramirez has now gone into hiding. Embarrassed to face the media or even his teammates. It's not just gonna go away big fella. The players who have rebounded from their link to steroids did so by coming forward and owning up to their mistake. It's really his only shot at a measure of redemption.
3. Brian Wilson. Wilson, the Giants closer got upset over the weekend that Casey Blake of the Dodgers mocked his save celebration by mimicking it after homering off Wilson. Apparently it's ok for closers like Wilson, Papelbon and others to show up hitters with their unexplained gestures but when the other side returns the favor it's poor sportsmanship. Wilson claims his gesture is done to honor his late father, but how could Blake or anyone else possibly know that? Hard to believe a guy who sports a mohawk haircut and numerous tattoos could be this sensitive. See pictures of the "gesture" here...
Have any suggestions for the "Walk of Shame"? Drop me an email at TheSportsFellas@gmail.com
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Yeah, you read that correctly. I'm talking about Jeff Weaver. The same Jeff Weaver that was demoted by the Angels in favor of his kid brother, the same Jeff Weaver that was all but run out of baseball after posting an ERA over 6.00 with Seattle in 2007.
But here is the thing. Weaver was always a much better pitcher in the National League. Insert your "The NL is the AL's bitch joke here", I get it, the hitters in the AL are better. There is the DH, the National League just isn't as good. But the crazy thing about pitching for, you know, a National League team, like say, the Dodgers... Most of your games come against National League opponents. Crazy concept ehh? Weaver was very good for the Dodgers in a 2 year stint from 2004-5, making 34 starts each year and averaging 222 IP per season all while posting an ERA right around 4.00. Now you're telling me you wouldn't be happy with numbers like that from your 3rd or 4th starter?
Weaver was also outstanding in the playoffs for St. Louis in 2006, starting 5 games and winning 3, including the World Series clincher, all while posting an ERA under 3.00. He of course used the momentum from that postseason to sign his contract with the Mariners but I never said the guy made great choices, just that he could be a very solid pitcher in the right situation.
What Weaver brings to the Dodgers is a little of what Derrick Lowe took with him. A veteran who will take the ball every 5 days, keep his team in ballgames and most importantly, eat innings. Lowe didn't just take an outstanding ERA with him to Atlanta. He also took an almost guaranteed 220 IP with him. Those are tough shoes to fill for a youngster, even one as talented as Clayton Kershaw.
Now it just occurred to me that as I type this, Weaver is slated to face reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum tomorrow in the rubber game of a 3 game series at Dodger Stadium. So there is a chance that I am going to look like a fool for posting this article now. But the fact is, I have always liked Jeff Weaver. I was bummed when he left and disappointed when I saw him struggle with the Angels and then the Mariners. He always came across as a good guy and his performance for the 2004 and 2005 Dodgers was vastly underrated. I have often wondered how his career might be different if he had accepted arbitration from the Dodgers in the 2005 offseason.
In the dark cloud that has surrounded the Dodgers the past few days they really needed a few rays of sunshine. Eric Stults provided a few on Saturday afternoon and the re-emergence of Weaver has created even more. So however long it lasts, I'm going along for the ride. Welcome back, Jeff. Welcome back...
Friday, May 08, 2009
I have been a Los Angeles Dodgers fan for over 20 years. Those years were filled with mostly happy memories. There have however been a few heart wrenching days. Today definitely qualifies as one of them. If for some reason your head has been under a rock and you missed it, Manny Ramirez was suspended today for violation of the MLB Drug Policy. He tested positive for one of the drugs listed on the banned substance list given to every MLB player at the start of Spring Training. What that drug actually was, or why he was taking it are still open to debate. But whether Manny is struggling to hit for the Mendoza line in the bedroom, was trying to trigger his monthly menstrual cycle, or just flat out 'roiding, the end result is the same. 50 game suspension and the burst of the magical bubble that was beginning to encompass Chavez Ravine.
The Dodgers woke up Thursday with a 13 game home winning streak to open the season, the longest such streak in the history of modern baseball. They had a 6 and a half game lead in the NL West and appeared poised to run away and hide from the rest of the division. All that is gone now. Sure the Dodgers are still probably the best team in the division and should in theory have more than enough talent to weather the storm for 50 games. But of far more concern is the impact of this situation on the Dodgers' psyche. This was a shattered and broken clubhouse prior to Manny's arrival last summer. Cranky veterans like Jeff Kent and Luis Gonzalez were quick to point the finger at the Dodgers young core for their lack of work ethic, respect and honor for the traditions of the game. Although to be fair, Kent lost any and all respect his great career might have earned him when he had the audacity to call out Vin Scully. The fact is, the biggest thing that seemed different about the Dodgers with Manny in their midst wasn't just the impact of the long home runs into the LA skyline, but rather the fact that they actually seemed to like playing baseball together. Energized by the arrival of Orlando Hudson, this looked the best Dodgers lineup in decades with the chance to really have a special season. Instead they will spend the next 2 months answering the same questions that we ask ourselves today.
Why, Manny? Why this? Why now?
The talking heads will spend countless hours discussing what he did and didn't take and the impact it has on his legacy. But it doesn't matter. There are no names beyond reproach at this point. Outside of Greg Maddux, I don't think there is a single name from that past 20 years that would surprise me if it was announced tomorrow they had been using performance enhancers. We've seen too many go down. Prior to today the Dodger fan in me would have made a case for Manny. "He's too happy go-lucky, if ever there was a player who just exudes the child-like joy for the game that you want to see, it was this guy". Truth is, the only difference between Barry Bonds, who I loved to hate and Manny, who I grew to love, is the name on the front of their jersey. I'm not quite sure why this one hurt so much. As much as I loved the electricity in Dodger Stadium when Eric Gagne entered the game for the 9th inning during his peak years, it was always there at the back of my mind. "This guy went from failed minor league starting pitcher to the best closer in baseball in 6 months time". The signs were undeniable. I just ignored them and enjoyed the ride and was grateful he was wearing a Brewers uniform when he finally got called on the carpet for his behavior after being outed in the infamous Mitchell Report. Manny was different. He had reeled me in hook, line and sinker. I truly believed he loved the game with child-like abandon and that he loved being a Dodger. I couldn't have been more wrong. The only thanks I got for my misguided trust was my worst day as a Dodgers fan since Mike Piazza was traded for Mr. Cancer himself, Gary Sheffield.
So where do we go from here? Will Dodger fans welcome him back in early July when he is eligible to play again? How will his teammates look at him now when the question will always be at the back of their minds that everything he did and represented was probably a lie? That remains to be seen. Hollywood might be the "fakest" town in the history of the world, so if ever there was a place that might be willing to give him a second chance, he's in the right place. But for that to happen there needs to be a lot more revealed than the, "my Doctor did it", we got in Manny's sterile and bland statement released Thursday morning. So here is my advice for Mr. Ramirez...
Just come clean. Your legacy is already tainted, at least be smart enough to avoid the path taken by Bonds and Clemens and continue to deny in the face of overwhelming evidence. Whether it was for 20 years or 20 days, just tell the truth. It's too late for Scott Boras to spin this one. We're past the point of blaming your Doctor, your trainer, your cousin or your cat. When you make 25 million dollars to hit a ball for a living you bear the ultimate accountability for your actions and what you put into your body. Major League Baseball has even created a hotline that players can call if they are considering a supplement or medication that might contain illegal ingredients so that these types of situations can be avoided. Manny has no one to blame but himself.
So for now I will continue to cheer for Matt Kemp, Orlando Hudson and all of Manny's less famous teammates and nervously await July 3rd, 2009. The first day Manny is eligible to don his Dodger Blue #99. I hope that between now and then he gives me a reason to cheer for him again. I really do. But I won't hold my breath. Not anymore.