Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Jeeez. You have to dry your hands after reading Paul Krugman's column today, he's so spitting mad the newspaper was damp this morning. I feel his frustration and pain. But I was chuckling over it nevertheless as I went over to Sullivan's blog today to see how he would respond to Krugman, who is his personal bette noir. Nothing on Krugman, which is a bit of a shock, but there is this post. Is there anyone in the blogosphere more ridiculous than this guy? Ranting hacks are going to take down those evil ayatollahs with the persuasive power of their courageous blogs! After all, look what they did to Harold Raines! The antic muse is particularly pertinent about his delusions of grandeur. Dear readers (all 2.3 million of you), if I ever start to sound like the whining, self-reverential Sullivan, please revoke my DSL priviledges.

At least Mickey Kaus makes me laugh even as he too takes himself way too seriously and serves as apologiste extraordinaire for President Top Gun.

Interesting that neither Kaus or Sullivan have shown much interest in Iraq these days. Quagmires can be so tedious. So can looking for needles in a haystack -- especially when aforementioned needle may have been cooked up by an eager to please CIA director.

But we're here to talk baseball. The Buick dealier from Milwaukee is at it again. Hell bent on making sure that the MLB is in a lot worse shape than when he found it, Bud Selig is planning to shorten the season to accomodate more wild card/division series. I was against the wild card when it was first announced back in 1994, but then the Yankees were the wild card in 1995 and played an incredible series against the Mariners (the Yankees lost in five terrific baseball games) so I found myself supportive of it. It certainly makes the summer more interesting for perennial runner up Red Sox (but then comes the September swoon). But this is ridiculous. Selig is determined to follow the NBA and NFL models, but that's as stupid as continuing to try to have a pro baseball team in Milwaukee. The NBA has its own problems, as the anemic Nets/Spurs series surely exhibited, and the NFL is a different animal altogether.

Writes Rob Neyer, "This is symptomatic of Selig's "thinking." Rather than attempt to preserve the place of baseball in the hearts of Americans (and, these days, Japanese and Europeans and Tibetans), Selig looks to the NFL and the NBA for inspiration. In Commissioner Bud's Wonderful World of Marketing Fantasy, the NFL has a screwy schedule and the NFL is popular ... ergo, if MLB has a screwy schedule, then MLB will be popular!"

The MLB is popular. The Yankees drew something like 160,000 in a three-game series with the Cards this weekend. Of course, that too was a problem. Because of the Selig-inflicted interleague play, the two teams had to play two games in some of the worst conditions possible. Why? Because they aren't going to meet again this year, so rain outs can't be made up.

Of course, the fact that George Steinbrenner got a little wealther over the weekend drives Selig nuts, so let's not use that example. Selig, as everyone knows, is out to "fix" baseball by hamstringing the Yankees through "luxury taxes" and revenue sharing. But Selig is as informed about baseball history as he is about running the league. Yes, the Yankees are rich and can afford great players. But that has been the case since January 3, 1920, when Col. Ruppert bought out Babe Ruth's contract from the Red Sox. The Yankees have won 26 World Series in their 100-year history. Only six have been won during the Steinbrenner, fat-cable-TV-contract era. The rest were won primarily in the days before TV, when there were three winning teams in New York City.

But Selig should be patient, Steinbrenner is starting to meddle and that's generally not a good thing.

The good news, according to Alex Belth, is that Stick Michael, the architect of the current dynasty, is not leaving the team, as has been feared. Michael ran the team when Steinbrenner was temporarily banned from baseball, and Stick focused on rebuilding the minor league system. The result was guys like Bernie Williams, Nick Johnson, Posada, Pettite, Rivera, etc. The rumors were that GS was tired of hearing about Michael's brilliance and wanted to let him go, but the dear old Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York fired their incompetent Gen. Mgr., and suddenly GS began to realize what he had, and what he might lose. I love and appreciate the Mets and the Red Sox because, occasionally, they force The Boss to do the right thing.


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