What to call 2012? Numerous possibilities creep into the mind, all of which make sense and most of which make no sense, but never let it be said that baseball nonsense is quite the same thing as nonsense nonsense. Take your pick which was more amusing nonsense: a struggling Alex Rodriguez caught flirting from the Yankee dugout during a postseason contest, or Michael Morse forced to pantomime the grand slam he’d just hit—trust me, Marcel Marceau would have had no worries—after a replay ruling in its favour compelled a brain-damaged umpire to order the three men he sent home back to their bases of departure to be sure they’d touched ‘em all.
At least the Texas Rangers, so far, haven’t seemed to go out of their way to turn Josh Hamilton into public enemy number one. The New York Mets, conversely, seemed unwilling to counter when a New York sports columnist decided to trash R.A. Dickey during a weekend on which the club was working details to trade the Cy Young Award incumbent to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Well, now. Between the Dodgers’ billions in new television revenue and the Angels’ billions in TV revenue since a year or so ago, southern California is doing a pretty fair impersonation of the way people think baseball is up in the northeast. The Angels couldn’t or wouldn’t play seriously for Zack Greinke? The Dodgers could, and did. The Rangers, who aren’t in southern California but who do compete in the American League West, couldn’t or wouldn’t play seriously to keep Josh Hamilton? The Angels could, and have.
If you take Jeff Passan’s (Yahoo! Sports) word for it, the three-team, nine-man swap that makes a Red of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, a Diamondback of shortstop Didi Gregorius, and an Indian out of pitcher Trevor Bauer began, more or less, when Bauer alienated himself in the Arizona clubhouse pretty much before he’d proven himself able to handle major league hitting out of the other dugout and the catchers in his own.
James Shields has been tenacious, is a workhorse and competitor, and there’s only too much to like about those attributes. Those probably established his value on the trade market more than his actual performance papers do, and there’s something to be said for that body of opinion saying the Kansas City Royals may not be coming out as far ahead as many think by dealing 2012′s minor league player of the year (according to Baseball America) to get Shields.
Perhaps it’s wise to accept at last that the winter meetings, freshly concluded in Nashville, are not always going to produce blockbusters. Since this year’s meetings didn’t, unless you want to count Dan Haren landing with the Washington Nationals, there’s a consensus brewing among the hot stove toppers that they were “boring” or “eventless.” Well, as the man used to say on old-time radio, oh, now, I wouldn’t say that . . .
LEGS UP . . .
Now we know: Alex Rodriguez played the postseason on a bum hip. From the winter meetings comes the word that A-Rod incurred a torn labrum in his left hip somewhere near regular season’s end, perhaps, or possibly very early in the postseason.
He faces a four-to-six-week pre-rehabilitation before undergoing surgery to repair the labrum. He isn’t expected to return to the Yankee lineup until some time in June, if that soon. And, it also turns out that Rodriguez complained about some hip discomfort on the night Raul Ibanez first pinch hit for him and swung his own way into postseason legend and lore.
Let’s see. The Hall of Fame includes one or two incompetent commissioners, an odious owner or three, and more than a few players whose credentials are questionable at best. But it doesn’t include as pioneers the three men who changed baseball irrevocably, and for the better.