Observations from the American League East

Bob MilesCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2008

As the 2008 regular season winds down several things come to mind that I have witnessed over the last six months in the American League East.  In no particular order I have observed:

The sports media is as hypocritical as ever.  Back in January when the Yankees offered Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes for Johan Santana, the media was buzzing, preparing to crucify the Yankee organization for once again selling away their youth for the supposed immediate rewards that Johan Santana would provide.  When the Yankees refused to throw Ian Kennedy into the deal, they were applauded in print and on talk radio for their  new found philosophy of going with the youth movement.  As the season progressed and things did not work out the way the Yankees had hoped, the same writers and talk radio hosts wasted no time in critiquing the decision to hold onto the youngsters and not the necessary steps to secure Santana’s services.


Robinson Cano needs to spend the off season with Dustin Pedroia and learn what it means to play hard.  The stats speak for themselves and Dustin Pedroia should get strong consideration for the American League MVP but it’s the way he plays the game that impresses me more. Dustin plays hard on every play and runs out every single ball hit into play.  Rarely do you see Dustin leave the field at the end of the game with a clean uniform.  Conversely, Robinson Cano seems lethargic at times and almost gives off the impression that he is not interested in playing.  It is obvious that Cano has more God given ability than Pedroia but the missing factor in Cano is heart and Dustin has more heart than most players I watch play the game today.


STUBHUB is a criminal empire.  Once upon a time ticket scalping was considered a criminal act. In 2008, MLB began a relationship with STUBHUB guaranteeing the ticket scalper exclusivity to all online secondary ticket sales through MLB team sites.  In an article written by Mark Newman for MLB.com announcing the deal, Major League Baseball’s CEO Bob Bowman was quoted as saying.  "We believe this agreement reflects our commitment to providing dynamic platforms for fans to purchase tickets in authorized locations in the digital arena, secure, simple and fan-friendly. Correct me if I am wrong but charging 300% over face value, 10% commission, and $11.95-24.95 for shipping is anything but simple and fan friendly. NOTE:As I write this article, $12 bleacher seats for the final game at Yankee Stadium are being offered on STUBHUB for a “simple and fan friendly price” of  $280.


The Boston Red Sox record of selling out Fenway Park 456 consecutive times is more indicative of the need for a new stadium than it is impressive.  Boston as a city is home to some of the greatest fans in sports but averaging 35,000 fans per sellout is doing a disservice to both the Red Sox organization, the fans that have to pay ridiculous prices (see STUBHUB) for tickets, and most important, the fans that are not able to see the home town team they cheer for each and every day.  Fenway Park has the smallest seating capacity in MLB.  Over the course of this record the Red Sox have averaged 16,000 fans per game less than the league leaders and almost 8,000 fans per game less than the previous record held by the Cleveland Indians. 


OK, slightly outside the AL East but………  The games are played for a reason.  The Detroit Tigers were all but handed the American League crown by the main stream media when they signed Miguel Carbera and Dontrelle Willis.  Going into the season with a lineup that included Cabrera, Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, and Curtis Granderson and a pitching rotation that included Willis, Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, and Kenny Rogers, not many people saw a reason to believe the Tigers would not be in the mix come October.  The Tigers lost 8 of their first ten and are currently 12 games under .500.  Couple this with the fact that the Rays are closing in on their first AL East crown and you can conclude that it is a good thing the games are not played on paper. 


Any Dynasty claims in Red Sox Nation hinge on the 2008 postseason.  If the Red Sox make their way through the competition and win the 2008 World Series, their third in 5 years, they will have a legitimate claim to being a Dynasty.  To date the Red Sox have sandwiched a first round departure in 2005 and completely missing the playoffs in 2006 with World Series Championships in 2004 and 2007.  Another victory would give them 3 championships in 5 years and a Dynasty claim would be appropriate.  Anything less and it is simply two World Series in 5 years, not a Dynasty.


The Rays are heading to the post season for the first time in spite of their management not because of it.  The Rays success is directly related to the young talent that takes the field every day and a great manager in Joe Maddon.  As a resident in the Raleigh/Durham area it is fun to watch the players from the Durham Bulls making a run at history in Tampa.  From a management perspective we have seen a management team collect revenue sharing year after year while refusing to do what it takes to improve the team.  The Rays have even gone so far as to collect more in revenue sharing than they were paying out in salary on more than one occasion.  Now after many years of first round picks the Rays have amassed an impressive lineup of homegrown talent that has a great chance to win the 2008 World Series.  Tampa is now winning, not because of their management team, but in spite of it.


If Curt Schilling’s shoulder held up as well as his mouth, he would be able to pitch until he was sixty.  No one likes hearing Curt Schillings opinions as much as, well………Curt Schilling.  He has voiced his opinions on Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Yankee fans, and most recently, Manny Ramirez.  Whether his scorn is directed at a teammate or an opponent, Curt is quick to open up his mouth and start talking.  Curt has not thrown a pitch in 2008 but this has not stopped him from voicing his opinion on a variety of topics, opinions that no one is asking for and no one cares to hear.  Curt has a self important mindset that leads him to believe his opinion is important to the baseball world.  A belief that is shared by only, you guessed it……Curt Schilling.


Dayn Perry of Foxsports has JETER Envy. Derek Jeter would be the first person to dismiss any notion that he is the best shortstop in baseball. Jeter is a standup guy, first to admit his downfalls and last to accept individual accolades.  In June 2008 Sports Illustrated conducted two polls of MLB players with Jeter simultaneously being named both the most overrated player and the second most preferred player to build a team around.  Former teammate Tony Clark credited the overrated poll as jealousy, which brings me to Dayn Perry.  I am convinced Dayn Perry is incapable of an original thought. Dayn consistently feeds the reader bogus lists, rankings and statistics that contradict his own arguments.  In doing so Dayn never comes to any conclusions and never fails to pass up an opportunity to take a jab at Jeter, who ironically graced the cover of his book, “Winners.”  I am sure that back in the schoolyard when Jeter was second most preferred player to build a kickball team around,  Dayn had his back against the fence dreading once again being the last one standing.


More of a question but……….Would the Red Sox have gotten rid of Manny Ramirez sooner had they known his departure would not have a major adverse effect on their offense?