When Mike Trout approached his second major league season a little over a year ago, the Angels looked a little bit foolish for raising the 2012 Rookie of the Year and damn-near Most Valuable Player a measly four percent above the major league minimum salary. Trout took it with a far larger grain of salt than his agent even as the Angels handed the largest such renewal (unsigned players could be renewed by the club between 2-11 march) to since-traded Mark Trumbo.
▪ SELF-POLICING?—Baseball government and baseball labour have a new agreement regarding actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances: first-time suspensions raised from fifty to eighty games; second-time suspensions raised from one hundred to 162 games. And, if you get bagged during a season, you’re not eligible to play in that postseason regardless of whether your suspension is finished by the time the postseason comes around. And, yes, there will be allowances if a player can prove he inadvertently used a banned substance, as in the case of (to name one) Guillermo Mota (now retired) a few years ago. Early conclusion, of course, is that the players are finally banding further together to clean up and police themselves on the matter, not to mention being less than thrilled about potential future Jhonny Peralta deals. Best breakdown on the new rules and the pluses and negatives comes from David Schoenfeld of ESPN’s Sweet Spot.
Ryne Sandberg laboured long and hard to earn a shot at major league managing. He’d wanted it with the Chicago Cubs, for whom he’d been a Hall of Fame second baseman, and he’d gone deep into the Cubs’ system for his chance only to be snubbed—despite several seasons’ success, a reputation as a teaching manager, and a parallel reputation as a no-nonsense competitor—for a guy who didn’t last much more than a full season.
Tommy John dropped quietly off the Baseball Writers Association of America ballots after polling 31.7 percent of the vote needed to go into the Hall of Fame. That vote percentage was the highest of his life on the ballots. But if you combine his borderline Hall of Fame pitching career with what he was able to do after undergoing the surgery bearing his name since, John probably should be in the Hall of Fame—as much in the pioneer category as any other. And so should the physician who developed and performed that surgery.
Right now, and perhaps for the season to come at least, Ervin Santana should feel like the luckiest pitcher on the face of the earth. He’s gone from having overshot his target to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves, who figure to contend in the National League East but whose pitching staff has suddenly been raped by the injury bug.
Once upon a time New York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica asked Yogi Berra at home what he thought was his greatest accomplishment. Berra’s comely wife, Carmen, had just left the room, and he pointed to the door through which she had just passed. “Getting her to marry me,” Berra replied. “Who’d have thought?”
When Derek Jeter announced his pending retirement last month, to come following the season soon to begin, the accolades metastasised, appropriately enough. There’s been no more popular or respected man in a Yankee uniform in Jeter’s time and place; there’s been no more self-evident face of the Yankees since the self-effacing Don Mattingly, the white-heat-thriving Reggie Jackson, or the star crossed but self-destructive Mickey Mantle.