Chin Music’14: Exit Jeter, Enter A-Rod

30 Sep

Mood Swing

They’ll feel the breeze clear over in Jersey, once that change in mood starts swingin’ across the great Metropolis.

As Derek Jeter, newest member of the vaunted pinstripe pantheon, exits stage left for golf, girls & good food (go easy, DJ (See; Thomas & Maddux)), and Alex Rodriguez of the tarnished reputation (‘14 PED susp’n) re-enters stage right and re-rosters with the New York Yankees, the change in the air will be palpable. And that’s not all bad.

..........ARod.082611.wc.cca.K.Allison.thumb

The mood (& pitches) may’ve been groovin’ in Derek’s NYC farewell (v BAL) but Yanks captain was running near empty most of ‘14. Alex just may have some gas left in his tank.

Though, if I had my druthers, the 39-year old A-Rod would never be rostered again in the majors, i.e., banned-for-life, w/legal prejudice. Of course, you’d need monarchical-power, backed by a strong, well-compensated military alliance to pull that one off.

Today’s sport union is a powerful entity, advocating for its player membership seemingly at all costs, sometimes to the great detriment of the game’s integrity (PEDs), the fans trust and even the players themselves (long term health).

The same could be written of the owners and their Commissioner advocate (See; Silver & gambling push), but then cufflinks, apart from the rare case (J. Irsay), don’t send a bad message to kids on drugs & alcohol and are minor leaguers compared to players major league skill-set for criminal misdeeds.

Fear is the great motivator.

Were collegiate and pro athletes banned-for-life after one positive PED test result (no shortage of notice), a rigid standard like that proposed for domestic abuse and other serious crimes in the NFL, the use of performance-enhancing drugs would plummet.

As it stands today, the sliding stigma that attaches for the first failed test and resultant susp’n, is small deterrent to drug cheats when millions ($) are to be gained in risking violation of what are still half-measured, substance abuse policies.

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One can assume NYY top brass have swept most the bad feelings arising from A-Rod’s 2014 Biogenesis susp’n under the proverbial rug. Yanks are contractually bound to Alex for near $60M (3y) and, with tepid team tallies (84-78; BA .245 (#11-AL)); OB% (14); runs (14) hit (13)) bringing up the League rear, the Steinbrenners, GM Brian Cashman and Mgr Joe Girardi are hoping the former MVP still has enough spike on his cleats and speed in his swing to add some much needed punch to a low-impact New York line-up.

Now it’s A-Rod‘s team, for better or for worse.

“Decline and (near) Fall of the (2014 Athletics)”

A baseball funk is like quicksand, the harder you try to get out, the more it pulls you in.

Funk is what the 2014 Oakland Athletics have been experiencing since mid-summer but managed to pull themselves out Sunday night, clinching the remaining American League wild-card spot on last day of the regular season in besting the Texas Rangers, 4-0.

The Swing-less A’s were in serious danger of becoming this season’s sad collapse story, having comfortably led the AL-West for two-thirds the season. Then GM Billy Beane of Moneyball (‘11) fame made major pick-ups in the all-important pitcher department, chiefly, Jeff Samardzija (Cubs) and playoff patina’d Jon Lester (BOS / 11gs – 2.11 (3-0 WS)), hoping to cruise to the division title. But nobody booked it and Oakland went in a tailspin for the next six weeks, just barely pulling out at the last minute.

..........Beane&DePodesta.090911.GabboT.thumb

Most opinionators lay blame at doorstep of Mr. Beane, godfather of sabermetrics, for choosing to part w/ former A’s slugger, Yoenis Cespedes in acquiring Lester. While it’s true the Athletics’ team batting average (#9-AL) made hitters a premium pre-trade (162g #13 / .244), in his four seasons on the Bay (‘14: .256 / 17 hr / 67 rbi), most of Yoe’s biggest moments seem to’ve come in the home run derby (2x champ).

Besides, gotta’ admire Bill’s boldness in breaking with recent A’s tradition of playing it cool at trade-time and instead, taking the plunge this year in obvious effort to break with their other contemporary trend of bottoming-out in the post-season. Sensical.

A’s (Lester) will fly to KC to take on 2nd-half wunderkinds, the Royals (Shields) Tuesday night, who make their first playoff appearance since days of Brett & Saberhagen (‘85).

Oakland’s playoff birthing wasn’t exactly a breech presentation, more like collapsing w/ finish tape in hand. It won’t make ‘em favorites but in Athletics’ favor is knowledge that all you need do today is make it into the 2nd season (PS) and ANYTHING can happen.

The sporting gods love determination and surprises (See: FLA ‘03 & STL ‘11).

Legacy Planner

Joining Alex in the Butterfly Club (nerves) this spring will be rookie invites hoping to “show,” along w/ baseball’s newly appointed Commissioner, Rob Manfred.

Rob, like other Commissioners before, has a long association with baseball, having served in some legal capacity since ‘87, including his current post as COO. He’s a veteran of the lawyer league but an unknown to fandom and maybe most in media as well.

Hopefully, Manfred’s given serious thought to what imprint he’d like to leave on MLB, whether that’s simply the mark of money (owners & affiliates), or something bigger like restoring integrity and a broadly felt excitement to the national pastime that goes beyond transitory gimmicks (HRD / IR) and fads (drag pants, bunny hops & sugar-water baths).

Rob’s should do list:

1) Affirm lifetime ban on Pete Rose

Unclear message on gambling we don’t need, Rob (i.e., MasterCard Rose invite). No player nor cult of personality is bigger than the game;

2) Close window tight on PED cheaters

Add an in-season blood draw to the half-measured spring sample, from every player or institute cutting-edge biological passport stratagem, then watch the typical player weight drop from 210 to 190 in a year’s time;

..........Manfred.071514.A.Pardavila.thumb

3) Keep designated hitter rule in AL or eliminate all together

Time to bury the trite DH debate that arises each year from quarters seeking to expand it into the Senior circuit but who likely get as much thrill from baseball as they do from their Law & Order re-runs. Those who love the game and pass it down WANT the League distinction and DON’T want more homogenization (inter-league). American devotees favor a power game while DH-free National disciples live for the strategy-based play. It’s called allegiance, Rob. Mess with it because of faux-fans (saberheads) and watch NBA move into #2.

4) Fix MLB record book. Asterisks, strikes, whatever, but do it soon. Bedrock stuff;

5) Daytime World Series

A necessary part of becoming a Restoration Commissioner, putting back into baseball that which the past four Czars took out, those special elements that made it America’s favorite pastime for over a 100 years. Not every game need be day-light. Can’t expect greed to be bridled. Like Godzilla (pre-‘64), you can’t stop it, just hope to submerge it for a time. One game would be sweet. And it won’t be the Super Bowl (thank god), but just might become the best thing: a national Series Skip Day (work & school / 2:00 EST). Be bold.

Steven Keys
Can o’ Corn
Photo credits: A.Rodriguez / 9.29.07 / wc.cca / K.Allison; A.Rodriguez / 8.26.11 / wc.cca / K.Allison; B.Beane & DePodesta / 9.9.11 / wc.cca / GabboT; B.Cashman / 6.26.09 / wc.cca / jimmyack205; R.Manfred / wc.cca / 7.15.14 / A.Pardavila
Posted: 9.30.14 @ 1:21pm EST

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