Right at the All-Star break of this 2009 season, I took a break from doing my weekly summing up of baseball happenings.
It became too exhausting because of work and after a few weeks of telling myself to start back up, I couldn't muster it up.
Now with more time on my hands and not feeling so exhausted, I'm wishing to have that space back. I'd go through the four to five pages of notes I'd scribble throughout the week and put them into a coherent thought, rather than just "filthy Elvis play" under "6/15."
I'm not sure what next year has in-store for me, but I know I want to keep up with the weekly happenings, so I'm going to return to my laboratory, also known as a quiet spot in the library where I get bored and think, and think of something easier for all parties involved.
But it wouldn't be right to end the series of things that make me talk with no farewell tour. So one last time, in the old fashioned way I started doing this last season, here are the things in baseball that are making me talk.
$10,000 Home Run Ball
I've got a soft spot for all minor league players, especially the journeymen who might never make the major leagues.
Sure, I'll make fun of Vinnie Chulk every good once and awhile, but these guys work hard for what could potentially be a dead end.
We've got Matt Carson, a seven year minor leaguer, hitting his first career home run this past week for Oakland. A joy for any ball player is to get that first at the big league level. No doubt he's going to want the ball as a memory, as most players would.
Well he can't have it unless he forks over $10,000 to the fan who caught the ball.
Fan? Given the situation, I'd be hard pressed to label this guy a fan.
Carson obviously isn't giving into these demands and the Athletics’ policy isn't to pay for milestones, but rather trade for apparel and autographs. Why should a 28-year-old have to pay for a baseball that he hit?
I have a big problem in general with people demanding things for a measly baseball. Given the Chris Coghlan situation touched up in Big League Stew's story, we've got people out there wanting more than they deserve.
I get it, these are paying fans, they spent their hard earned money on those seats, and they definitely should get something in return. But let's not get carried away here. I'd be happy just to meet whoever hit the ball, maybe that's my love for the game, but am I crazy for not expecting any more than a signed bat or ball in return for giving the milestone back to the player?
This type of stuff ticks me off the most. You've got players like Sal Fasano, fighting for just a few more years because of his son's medical bills. Then you have greedy fans holding these guys trying to make a living for ransom.
Hey, you want to hold Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez ransom, I probably won't put up a stink about it. But you start trying to take advantage to a hard-working individual who's just looking for a break, I've got issues.
Minor league players, the hard workers without the big bonuses at least, are out there trying to make a living for years. Kevin Dixon was a minor leaguer in the Cleveland Indians organization that had to give up the dream this past offseason. He had a family to think of and even though he was at the Double-A level, time was running out.
You realize that these guys work so hard and in the end, it may not even work out. They better have some sort of a plan B in place, or they are in trouble.
I really hope this guy reconsiders and just does the right thing. He probably won't, but you start to wonder where people's heads are at with situations like Carson's.
One Last Farewell to the Non-Contenders
Last year, I gave one last parting shot to the teams that were not going to be in the postseason. There's one week to go, so some teams are still alive, but this is the farwell edition. This has to be done!
In no particular order, unless you count lowest winning percentage as an order.
I've completely bagged on the Washington Nationals all year, so why would this be any different? Unfortunately, I couldn't find a creative way to mix a "Natinals" joke with 100 losses, a busted international prospect case, a superstar number one pick, and the fact they spent a whole lot of money On Adam Dunn and still ended up in dead last.
I just can't wait to see the million dollar arms of Dinseh Patel and Rinku Singh reach the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Standings be damned, that day cannot come soon enough.
The Baltimore Orioles are probably the most misfortunate team in the entire MLB. Toronto may not be far behind, but at least they've got Roy Halladay.
Speaking of misfortunate, I'm highly disappointed in the Kansas City Royals. One, for not reaching that third place status I thought they would and two for trying to get a lower draft pick than the Indians.
My string of awesome segues will come to an end with the Cleveland Indians. There will be nothing to translate from this thought to the next because I have no thoughts about the Tribe. If I were to elaborate any further, this would turn into an Indians piece.
How many of you thought the New York Mets would be sixth worst team in the game a few months ago? If they didn't have the most expensive and star-studded disabled list in the history of the game, I'd be floored.
It's pretty sad that I not only put a ton of faith in Cleveland, but the Arizona Diamondbacks as well. Two of my playoff teams in the bottom 10 of the entire game. That's a poor ratio that would make most people give up.
If there is a team I'm proud of that has a losing record, it would be the San Diego Padres. I thought this team would be the Nationals this year and they're better than seven other teams in the game and with one more above-water week, that number could go up.
I mentioned how the Toronto Blue Jays are probably the second most misfortunate team in the game. Well that's so untrue. Any team that could do what they did with the shoelace and gum rotation they had deserves fifteen medals.
Seriously, how did it take this long for the Houston Astros to fire Cecil Cooper? They have to be the most prideful franchise out there the way they try to stick in the race and not make sudden movements. I respect that.
I picked the Cincinnati Reds to finish third in the NL Central. If that division was normal, they'd be in second to last place. Still, I was one place off and not by many games.
It would be current to talk about the latest Ozzie Guillen rant when concerning the Chicago White Sox. However I would be wasting this space by not saying I want Ozzie Guillen to be the White Sox manager forever. In-division entertainment as it's finest.
I remember how I talked about the Oakland Athletics getting Matt Holliday in order to flip him at the trade deadline. I can't believe that actually happened; along with Toronto, the only below .500 teams with positive run differentials.
The only team that has a chance to avoid a below .500 record is the Milwaukee Brewers. I picked them to finish fourth in the Central but brought up the idea of finishing last and got yield at. There’s a fun fact for you there.
The Tampa Bay Rays meanwhile are one of two teams with a realistic chance to fall below the .500 record. This isn't a team that matches their record though, which makes me rethink naming Baltimore the most misfortunate team in the game.
Is there a cooler story out there than the one of the Seattle Mariners? Don Wakamatsu and all those boys in the emerald city deserve a huge pat on the back. Actually they deserve a lot more.
Since we aren't saying good bye to the Cardinals, I'll steal the Chicago Cubs space to say that I wish I picked them to win the NL Central like I thought they would. Man, the Cubs, always getting disrespected. I shouldn't have picked you Chicago!
I'm making the bold assumption that the Florida Marlins aren't going to make the playoffs, which makes me very sad. You may or may not know that I'm the genius that decided to make the Marlins this year's Tampa Bay. I'm fully expecting them to win the World Series in 2010 after I pick them to finish fourth.
I'm making the equally bold assumption that the San Francisco Giants are also not making the playoffs. This too makes me sad because I was excited for the run they were putting together. If only they could have convinced Colorado to keep Clint Hurdle.
I've skipped a a few teams because they are technically still in it, but there is one team that has quite the record that is pretty much done. How about the Texas Rangers? I was one of the few to latch onto the idea of Mike Maddux helping the pitching staff, but I'm shocked something that I latched onto actually worked.
One more week!
The playoffs are so close, can you feel it? I may not have loyal die-hard rooting interest like the fan bases of eight other teams will, but I'm as ready as they are for the playoffs to get here.
Part of it has to do with putting the misery of the Cleveland Indians 2009 season behind me. The other part of it has to do with the pure joy of watching playoff baseball.
With that, I'd like to thank everyone who's ever taken the time to read or comment on this monstrosity of a somewhat weekly series, at least when it was a weekly series. I know it didn't get a ton of views and it was a pain to read because of it's usual exhausting length but I do remember a few people saying, "Hey that was pretty good," so thanks again.
Baseball is a joy to watch and follow and that's what I tried to do, combined with the pure love of the game. I've been serious and ridiculous in these pieces, sometimes both in one week's edition because that's how I watch the game. I take the light and the serious and I enjoy both parts and that's why I wrote this.
Sure, I'll probably return with a catchier or worse sounding title that incorporates a lot of the same shtick into whatever I have planned, but this is a definite end to the things that make me talk. Thanks once again.
Nino Colla was Talking every Monday of the baseball season, now he has no clue what he'll do.