Counting down to pitchers and catchers

I know I’ve got a lot to catch up on. I still haven’t finished the attendance comparison between the Nationals and Orioles and I have yet to go through my preseason predictions for each division to hold myself accountable for my rights and wrongs. That will come. For now, a few thoughts on the end of the season. And yes, the Yankees are still the last AL team to lose to an NL team in a game that “counts.”

I hate Fox. I always will. They can give us crappy pregame blather, start the games at 8:30 and refuse to move up weekend games any earlier than 8 p.m. (after the pregame) and then they can take their horrendous ratings and deal with them. Fox has dumbed down baseball and it hasn’t worked to draw in the viewers. Don’t insult us with Scooter and over-the-top graphics and shameless promos of your own TV shows through the use of pointing out which stars who have no interest in the game were given prime seats and told to be in them in the fourth inning for the on-air shot and then allowed to go back to their hotels. It’s bad enough that the network killed off the true game of the week and forces us to watch our own hometown teams on Saturday afternoons when we’d otherwise be able to do so when, sometimes, I’d just rather see Oakland and Anaheim rather than the Yankees and Blue Jays.

Bobby Valentine has a point, and I think it would drum up a lot of worldwide interest to see the champions of the two major international leagues face off in a true world series. I’d certainly watch, and I’d probably have more interest in seeing the White Sox and Marines than I did in seeing the White Sox and Astros in Games 3 and 4. A game between the Marines and White Sox that had more meaning than the untelevised exhibitions played by the Yankees and Mets on their respective trips to open the season in Japan recently would be more interesting than seeing the Mets and Cubs or Yankees and Devil Rays play games that count in the standings under the Tokyo Dome. Bob Klapisch is for it too, and he correctly posits that Bud Selig won’t make an effort to at least explore the possibility. And yet, they think everyone wants to see a World Classic. It might be interesting, and I’ll probably tune in, but if you were to give me the choice between an international competition every four years and a face-off between the champions of two nations every fall, I’d take the annual showdown.

Speaking of Selig, was there anything more revolting than seeing Jerry Reinsdorf fauning over his “Buddy” (Reinsdorf’s term, not mine) after taking the World Series trophy during the awards presentation? Reinsdorf spewed some drivel about “the game” or whatever, and Selig stood there extending his lower lip over his upper, hands clasped behind his back, rocking on his no-doubt tassled loafers. (Speaking of the way this guy dresses, does he ever wear a suit, or does he always go with the khakis and contrasting sportcoat? No commissioner of the four major sports — and I’m even including Gary Bettman here — would present the championship trophy in anything other than a fine tailored suit, or at least something that looks like one.)

The owners put one of their own, Selig, into the commissioner’s office the way George Bush nominates his cronies for political appointments. It’s amazing how Bush runs the country so similarly to the way Selig runs baseball. Both chiefs come from the rich elite, protect their own, care more about the bottom line for themselves and their friends than the health and safety of the masses, and try their best to rule as a monarchy instead of a democracy. Between Fox and Selig, watching the All-Star Game and World Series can be as grating as it is enjoyable.

The free agents have begun to file. It’s sad to see Mike Piazza on his way out of New York, but it’s for the best. He was good, and maybe he’ll do one of those one-day contracts, so popular in the NFL, to retire as a Met in a year or two.

Some random and not-so-thought-out predictions for free agent and other movements we’ll see between now and late February:

Paul Konerko:Angels
Billy Wagner: Phillies (though I’d love to see him in blue and orange)
A.J. Burnett: Orioles (imagine him with Leo Mazzone?)
Jim Thome: Trade to White Sox
Ramon Hernandez: Mets
Manny Ramirez: Trade to Mets (something just tells me this one’s going to happen this time)
B.J. Ryan: Mets or Phillies, depending on where Wagner ends up (I think he wants to close, not take closer money from the Yankees to set up Rivera)

Maybe I’ll throw out more later.

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