Off Base
The Chicago Study Group

December 11, 2006

Not quite, but c’mon.

With the top brass in and out of the hospital, old field generals being replaced by others older still, and no real expectation of success on the horizon, conditions on the ground in Wrigleyville have been about as “grave and deteriorating” as can possibly be.

Sending in more troops is one thing, Ted Lilly and a blank check something else entirely, but Jason Marquis? Jason Marquis?!

Perhaps the answer lies in the pain and anguish experienced by the generations, with nary a survivor ever having experienced the feeling of victory. Yeah, that must be it.

Fine, maybe the Cubs desperation makes sense, a little, but what’s gotten into the Boston Red Sox? What's their excuse? That’s a rhetorical question, actually, because try as you might, you’ll never come up with a good explanation for the acquisitions of Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew, on purpose

Delusion of Collusion: While collusion is rightly frowned upon both in and out of baseball, there are times when the cause might be considered a worthy one. Forget for a minute that the 1986 Peter Ueberroth-induced baseball collusion led to the Dodgers being able to sign Kirk Gibson. The possibility that a subtler form of collusion (OK, blacklist) left Barry Bonds with no options outside of San Francisco is pretty damn worthy.

Sure, the rumor which had Bonds going to Tampa Bay was as fake as any that's ever seen the light of day, but I was holding out hope. Couldn’t you just see Bonds promising to go into the Hall of Fame as a Devil Ray, and then, after the club is mercifully contracted sometime during the next decade, having to go in a member of a team that no longer exists?

Beyond that, the idea of screwing an agent named Borris, any Boras, is priceless...

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: Best wishes to favorite Tim Brown, for landing the new gig at Yahoo Sports. A reliable source explains the move this way:

“Here's why it's good for folks like us. You read the L.A. Times in the
morning. Like me, you also log on and read it when it posts online at
midnight. The Times doesn't like to post things on the Internet
until after midnight, so the rivals can't get a crack at their scoops.
So most of the time, [Brown] has a scoop at 10 a.m. but you won’t read about it until, at the earliest, midnight. Now you'll read it at 10:15 a.m. -- the info will fly out immediately. Move over, Ken Rosenthal, you've got competition. Real competition.”

“Yahoo is growing quickly. They're building one helluva staff of reporters in all realms. Dave Morgan [who also left the Times for Yahoo], the former sports editor of the Times, alongside Bill Dwyer, is actually running sports at Yahoo.”

We’ll miss Brown’s fine writing and reporting in the Times, but we’ll follow him to Yahoo. Absolutely…

In answer to a question about a recent trip to the Dominican Republic by a group of Dodgers officials, Ken Gurnick noted on that the participants would “conduct tryouts for young amateur players during the day and attend Dominican Winter League games at night to watch top prospect Matt Kemp,” and that the group included “[Ned] Colletti, Grady Little, vice president Logan White, special assistant Bill Mueller, director of medical services Stan Conte and scouts Vance Lovelace and Mark Weidemier…”

What Gurnick didn't mention was the item for which Vance Lovelace is best remembered in Los Angeles – he’s the guy the Dodgers traded Ron Cey to the Cubs for, on January 19, 1983…

In a piece called “Dodgers are close to a winner,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bruce Jenkins wrote the following:

“While the Giants pin their hopes on a man who turns 43 in July and will face a season's worth of innuendo about Human Growth Hormone or post-steroid breakdown, depending on how his body holds up, it's important to notice what's happening in the rest of the division. The Dodgers, for example, are one strong move away from clinching it right now.

Most importantly, there's a universal feeling around Dodger Stadium that the team is onto something -- which is more than you can say about the Giants. For the snapshot that says it all, capture the smile on Stan Conte's face. He's the world-class trainer who left the Bonds snake pit and has hooked up with an honest team in a real clubhouse.”

Dodgers: I love the Jason Schmidt signing, appreciate and identify with Randy Wolf’s desire to pitch at home for less money, and am more than fine with Greg Maddux and Eric Gagne leaving for greener pastures. In fact, I say we bring back Jim Rome’s old “that piece of crap, Eric Gagne” label. After $20 mil for 15 innings and nine saves, “piece of crap” fits now more than ever. We’re talking textbook greed and disloyalty here. Gagne and Scott Boras, already guilty by association, really deserve each other.

Mike Lieberthal is a nice pickup, and not solely because it means we’ll enjoy the booting of Toby Hall, who is yet another Tampa Bay Devil Ray who doesn’t know a good thing when he sees one. Lieberthal is primed to become another in a line of former All-Star catchers to find a home as a backup in L.A.; a list which includes Gary Carter, Rick Dempsey, Jerry Grote and Sandy Alomar, Jr., kind of… Opens Border Bureau: Yes, the rumors are true. We’ve moved a major chunk of our operations to San Diego. But no, and you gotta stop asking, we’re not changing our focus to the Padres, nor are we going to become fans of the club which most closely competes with the Angels for the Southern Orange County market share. There’s not a chance in hell of that happening.

Look, the Main Squeeze got a job down here, so we split. That’s all it is. And we’re right off Highway 5, so it's a straight shot to the 110, and Chavez Ravine. Like it or not, you’ll see me just as much as before…

Baseball Treasures: You know how your personal stash of baseball memorabilia contains certain pieces that, while you may not enjoy often, you always take with you from place to place when you move, no matter what? Well, I spent some quality time visiting with mine during the move.

Among many others, there was the great “Baseball Stars of 1960,” by Ray Robinson, the “Baseball Stars of 1964,” by Ray Robinson, with Sandy Koufax on the cover, and given to me by my cousin Elliott, for the plane ride back from New York one summer, and the “Baseball Stars of 1970,” by Ray Robinson. The “Baseball Stars of 1955,” by Bruce Jacobs, was in there too.

“The Perfect Game: Tom Seaver and the Mets,” by Tom Seaver with Dick Schaap brought back some memories. Give yourself a gold star if you remember Jimmy Qualls, who managed exactly 30 other hits lifetime, breaking up the perfecto, with two outs in the ninth.

My personal favorites are the Who’s Who in Baseball books, which I started collecting in 1970 (Tom Terrific graces the cover of that one, in both red and blue editions), and “The Bleepin’ A’s” t-shirt, purchased on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley in 1977. It doesn’t really say “bleepin,” by the way, and in place of the old Athletics elephant mascot, is, well, the finger…

Stocking Stuffers: None of the above is for sale, but check out this year’s suggestions for your baseball fan:

Ebbets Field Flannels, Hawaii Winter Baseball, Vintage Sports Shoppe.

Last but definitely not least, you won’t be able to resist the studio portrait of Darren Dreifort, actually smiling and holding a baseball, both. It’s a one-of-a-kind. Price? $55 million, or best offer…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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