You can all relax. For now. The National League adopting the designated hitter is mere speculation. For now. Even Commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who seems decisive one moment and hesitant the next, particularly on very serious issues, says the “most likely result on the designated hitter for the foreseeable future is the status quo.” For now.
The Milwaukee Brewers have thrown out the first manager of the season. And while you expect that when a team starts slowly, you also can’t help wondering how often throwing out the manager is the kind of move made by the general manager who should be measured for execution and just might get it yet.
Ron Roenicke, a graduate of the Mike Scioscia school of coaching, wasn’t the garrulous type fellow alum Joe Maddon is, but he is an acute tactician and handler of players. The problem wasn’t Roenicke’s game thinking or personality balancing, the problem was and is the team he was handed from the outset.
We could see a 2014 baseball season and maybe more without Alex Rodriguez, after all. The original 211-game suspension didn’t hold up, but on Saturday independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz imposed a ban of 162 games plus any postseason competition into which the Yankees enter. As no few observers have noted already, that’ll be an easier jump to justify than a 211-game jump, the thinking being that losing a season is more defensible on appeal than losing an unprecedented season and a third.
Let’s see. A harmless Milwaukee Brewers fan disgusted over Ryan Braun shows up at Miller Park last Wednesday. She shows her contempt for Braun’s duplicitous behaviour by wearing a T-shirt replica of Braun’s uniform jersey—with “F” and “D” replacing “B” and “N” in Braun’s name above the familiar number 8. And Miller Park security offers a choice between turning the shirt inside-out or leaving the ballpark.
By now it’s a waste of space to suggest Bob Costas should be baseball’s next commissioner, simply because he doesn’t want the job, and never really has, no matter who’s thought how highly of his mind and love for the game. Unfortunately, the Man Who Wouldn’t Be Commissioner doesn’t help his own anti-cause by saying things that cause people to think he ought to be dragged into the job by any means necessary when Bud Selig decides at last that it’s time to retire.
Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ new ownership has spent the equivalent of two small nations’ gross domestic product. (Yes, I’m exaggerating—perhaps only slightly.) But no, and I’ll say it until the day I buy the rancho, it doesn’t mean they’re a lock for a 2013 World Series ring. If you still persist in believing money talks when it comes time to nail down the ring, I suggest you have yet another look at the New York Yankees and (pre-Madoff) Mets. For openers.
There shouldn’t be any great shock that baseball government has purged arbitrator Shyam Das, and for two reasons:
1) When Das ruled in favour of Ryan Braun’s appeal, and held that the package containing his fateful urine sample had been secured improperly, baseball government handed down a statement, post haste, fuming that oh, yes, we agreed to neutral third parties for reviews in disputed matters, but oh, no, we think Das is talking through his chapeau.
2) Oh, yes, they have long enough agreed to neutral third parties when reviewing bristling disagreements, but oh, no, they’re not exactly strangers to purging those with whom they disagree, vehemently or otherwise.
* BRAINS VERSUS BRAUN? No, Ryan Braun (or, at least, his attorney) certainly didn’t help his own cause by trying to throw sample collector Dino Laurenzi, Jr. under the proverbial bus. Yes, Braun has every right to defend his integrity, even if it’s going to take awhile to sort out just what did or didn’t transpire, or who is or isn’t cleared. No, baseball government didn’t do itself any major favours by slamming arbitrator Shayam Das’s overthrow of Braun’s likely suspension. And, yes, Hall of Fame writer Murray Chass is dead right in chastising the bulk of the sports media who all but beat the tympani for the “guilty until proven one way or the other” school of thought on actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances yet lingering in baseball. All of which means that the only thing we still seem to know is that we don’t know much of anything just yet. Which isn’t going to stop those who don’t know from preening as though they know, anyway.
As regards the Ryan Braun hoopla, a thought or three:
1) There remains a presumption of innocence in law, in regulation, and in plain fact, if not necessarily in the proverbial court of public opinion. And public opinion’s consistency is, and has usually been, only slightly more reliable than the consistency of the average public office holder.
2) Michael Weiner, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, stresses that baseball’s stringent enough drug testing policies were designed in part to prevent a rush to judgment. Never mind that it will do nothing of the sort in actual fact, considering that rushing to judgment is precisely what enough professional baseball analysts and elements of public opinion are doing.