Tuesday, February 28, 2006
THOUGHTS AND LINKS
A Little Perspective
Good morning everyone! It's another great day to be alive! It is eight degrees above zero as I am typing this from my home in Warroad. Tomorrow, it is supposed to be up to 23 degrees. Everything is wonderful!
Why do I write that, I'm sure you're wondering. Well, a series of events have happened in the baseball world in the last week that just make a person think. A series of events that really put everything into perspective.
Royals 22 year old starting pitcher Zack Greinke was one of the top pitching prospects after a solid rookie year in 2003. Last year, he really struggled with the Royals. He came into camp with a spot in the rotation. But suddenly on Sunday, he left camp for "personal matters." No one with the Royals is talking about the reason that he had to leave so abruptly. GM Allard Baird said that if it was an injury, he would be receiving rehab and stay in camp. The team really is only saying that it has nothing to do with drugs.
It seems almost necessary to point out that fact. In just the last few years, careers have been hurt by the effects of drug use. Jeff Allison was a first round pick (16th overall) by the Florida Marlins a couple of years ago, and he had to leave that team for an extended period of time. Why? Because he fell victim to the powers of drugs. He came back to the team's minor league system last year and did alright, but the drugs have cost him valuable time (missed all of 2004 and about half of 2005) with the team, to develop, as well as the trust and confidence in the organization and many of his teammates. The most obvious example is that of Josh Hamilton. The now-24 year old OF was the 1st overall pick in 1999 out of high school. He got a hefty $3.96 million contract. He earned top prospect billing by really hitting well his first couple of years in the minors. But drugs got in the way, and he took a personal leave in 2003. He has since had his suspension extended and extended longer. He has not played ball professionally since 2002. Again, the addictive qualities of drugs cost him a shot at big-time glory and all the money he could ever want.
The Royals are being very secretive and respectful of Greinke's situation. No one is talking, and obviously they should not be. It is personal, and whatever it is can best be handled by Greinke in privacy and with his family in Orlando. Of course, it is our nature to want to know what is going on with him, but it is not for us to know. Of course it will come out at some point later. Hopefully that time is on Greinke's schedule, and when he is ready.
A year ago, 28 year old Kip Wells went 8-18 with a 5.09 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That is a horrible year! But right now, it seems pretty unimportant. You see, last Wednesday Wells threw a bullpen session. On Thursday, he could not even grip a baseball. When team doctors checked, they found different pulse rates in each arm. So, they got it checked out more thoroughly. Wells was diagnosed to have a blocked artery, a complete block of the axillary artery which is in the upper chest, beneath the clavicle (I had to look it up!). It was found that 'the action of the throwing motion has been identified as what had caused the blockage."
Diamondbacks OF Luis Terrero experienced the same thing and had surgery in 2003. Rockies starting pitcher Aaron Cook had the same thing and had surgery in 2004. In each case, the top rib is removed and a vein is redirected to the wrist. Cook had the surgery in September of 2004 and came back to the Rockies in late July of 2005. He finished the season by going 7-2 with a 3.67 ERA.
It is believed that the blockage was not an imminent concern to Wells' life. However, it was a good thing that it was caught so early. He is currently seeking a second opinion at which time he would likely have surgery and miss the entire 2006 season.
Vlad Guerrero is one of the best players in baseball today. The one-time MVP lost three members of his family very abruptly over the weekend. Three of his first cousins on his dad's side were all killed in a car accident and buried in the Dominican Republic yesterday. Vlad was not at practice and at some point will report to WBC practice for the Dominican Republic. The three cousins were just driving from one town to another when they had the accident.
I know this isn't a light-hearted, or even fun article today, but I also believe that sometimes we all, as fans, need to take a step or three back and put it all into some proper perspective. On here and other blogs, it is almost commonplace to take jabs at our favorite team's manager or general manager for their decisions. We all spend a lot of time sifting through loads of detailed statistics in an attempt to make a point about a certain player that we think should or should not play. I many times fear that the general tone of many blogs is so negative. There sometimes is an "I'm right, they're wrong" attitude. I mean, I read so many bloggers and posters on fan forums who want to bash every single decision the team has made in the offseason. They want to bash this player, and they want to tell us/you that player should never be a big leaguer. I am guilty of this too many times too.
And then situations like the three above happen. As I've said, it all just gets put back into perspective. It reminds us that baseball is still just a game. The players get to play a game, and they get to make a lot of money, something we tend to bash them for as well. We get to be entertained by watching the greatest players in the world battle each other in individual at bats. But we forget it is just that. A game. It is entertainment. Just like Tom Hanks gets a lot of money to make a movie that will entertain us for two hours, this great game of baseball gives us entertainment and discussion for seven months. And then we get to talk about it again for the entire Hot Stove League.
We put the players on a pedestal. Sometimes we expect them to be perfect, and that is not fair. We say things like 'with how much money they make' or 'they should be used to these things.' They are human, just like you and I. They go through the same things you and I do in life. They have problems with their work, just like us. Except they really can't do anything about it. They have family matters to deal with. They have things happen to them that happen to everyone. Yet we expect them to handle it better, and with more class.
The difference is that the athletes have to deal with their issues in the public eye. When Zack Greinke is going through something that is obviously very important, it gets talked about around the country. When I am going through struggles or situations that I would rather no one know about, I like to let very few people know about it. Instead of being disappointed in him and wondering how the Royals will handle it, we should be hoping that he will make it back quickly. However, if he needs to take some time to right himself and get his life in order, let's just hope that this time away allows for him to do that.
When Kip Wells has a blocked artery, it really brings the athlete's humanness to the forefront. I would hope that people would read that article and not think about how the team just lost its number two starter and now has a hole in its pitching staff. I would hope your first thought is out of concern and care for him as a person, hoping that the doctors and others are able to take care of Kip Wells and do whatever procedure is necessary not to help him pitch by 2007, but to help him live until 2067 or 2077!
There is nothing worse than what Vlad Guerrero and his family members are going through. To lose three young family members so quickly is unfair. Again, picture how you would handle such a situation. It would be excruciating. Remember when Quinton McCracken played with the Twins in 2001? Remember that his father joined the team in Chicago for Father's Day weekend. McCracken woke up on Father's Day to find that his father had passed away. Stories like these are horrible, and again, remind us of how fragile life really is.
These situations should also make the Frank Thomas/Kenny Williams look pretty petty. Let's be honest, Frank Thomas has been a whiner for his 17 big league seasons, so it should surprise no one that he would talk. I'm sure Williams was just fed up with it and needed to support his team. These situations should make all concerns about the WBC seem less important. These situations should also push all steroid talk well into the background, especially when names of people who are only suspected and not proven to have used such products.
Instead, we should be spending more time talking about the lives of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente. We should be lauding the inclusion of Effa Manley and 16 other Negro League pioneers in baseball's Hall of Fame. Although he was inexplicably not voted into the Hall of Fame, we should be lauding the life of Buck O'Neill who is every bit the ambassador for baseball as the loud-mouthed Tommy Lasorda is. We should be talking about how the Twins and 10 other Major League teams who have spring training in Florida helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity. They also gave $100,000 to the organization.
I know. After today's posting, I will talk about the Twins all season. There will be decisions that I will not agree with, and I will discuss why on this site. The Twins have so many passionate fans out there who live and die with every pitch and every trade or managerial decision. That is a good thing in a way. But again, I know that I need to step back and realize that baseball is fun. Major League Baseball is a privilege for us to enjoy. So enjoy it! Discuss it! But try your best to always remember to put it in its proper perspective. God. Family. Friends. Baseball. In that order.
Do you have any thoughts on this topic? I would like to think it would spark some Comments, but also feel free to e-mail me as well.
THOUGHTS AND LINKS
Today, I am just going to post a few quick links for you to peruse. If any spark and thoughts, please feel free to e-mail me or leave some Twins Comments below.
Kelly Thesier answers a number of Mailbag Questions today. She answered questions on Justin Morneau and Garrett Jones, Luis Rodriguez (I agree with the question!), Boof Bonser, the relief pitchers and the TV Schedule for the WBC.
Mike Bauman, a national writer for mlb.com, wrote a Baseball Perspectives on the Twins yesterday. It again discusses the Twins 'need' for veterans!
In Kelly's Notes column, she discusses something Twins fans worry a lot about earl in the year, and that is the lack of velocity on Joe Nathan's fastball. Also, Jason Kubel will DH for the Twins against Concordia (St. Paul) today.
David Dorsey continued the article he wrote for the News Press on Tommy Watkins with an article in his personal blog yesterday. It is a great look beyond Tommy and at his impressive family.
Great post on Tony Batista on the SBG site yesterday. He also let us know that Kevin Garnett would be fined, but not suspended for his ejection on Sunday.
Long day for Pat Neshek and the rest of the Twins in Major League camp. It was photo day and Pat got his picture taken a lot for baseball card companies and others. It was interesting to read about how they do the 3D shots for video games. Again, Neshek's site is one that I check right away each day and before I go to bed at night!
LaVelle has a great article on Rondell White. I liked the signing right away, but as it gets closer to real games, and we learn more and more about this great person and hitter, I think it was a wonderful signing for the Twins!
Also, Joe Christenson gives us a great all-around look at what Luis Castillo can bring to the Twins.
The Pioneer Press's Jason Williams has a couple of articles worth reading. The first is about Jason Bartlett and his enthusiasm to playing up the middle with Luis Castillo. The second is a nice piece on the new hitting coach Joe Vavra, or about his dog!
Finally, if you go to the Angels' mlb.com site, their beat writer Mike Scarr answered a question on JC Romeros' role with the team.
That is it for today. I hope you have a great day! Thanks!
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