The Common Man

Recent Posts

It’s cliché at this point to say that a win in April counts just as much as a win in September.  And while that’s technically true, that doesn’t mean that those April games are equally important.  They’re not.  Ballplayers shouldn’t be going balls out in April if it means that they won’t be healthy for the rest of the year.  There’s simply too much time left, too many games that a nagging injury can linger and sap value from a normally productive player.

I am sick and tired the culture of machismo that still pervades the game, as players try to play through pain and rub dirt on it and get back out there.  Look, I know it’s not that simple.  Bodies are complicated things, and it can be hard to tell what’s normal soreness and what’s actual pain.  And it’s nice that ballplayers want to be on the field; it’s certainly better than the alternative.  I even get the desire not to be perceived as “soft,” especially when injury risks can cost a player millions of dollars every year.  But when the hell are ballplayers going to learn that playing through pain tends to make them play worse?  And when they play worse, they don’t actually help their clubs?

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I might be the last person alive who still loves the All Star Game.  I get that it’s an exhibition where nobody really tries their best.  I understand that sometimes players skip it for dubious reasons.  And I in no way am under the impression that it “counts”.  But when I see the greatest collection of baseball talent the world has to offer gathered on one field every July, it takes me back to when I was kid in complete awe of the game and its players.

I’ve grown up since then, obviously.  I don’t believe it’s healthy to hold players to a higher standard than I hold my friends and neighbors.  I don’t think it’s healthy to believe in ballplayers anymore.  But for that one night, I almost feel that faith again.  And I’m grateful.

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The opening few games of any season is a time given over to ridiculous overreaction, as fans and media types panic and search for answers and demand changes in the face of all good sense.  It’s glorious.  Most teams have played three games.  That’s 1.9% of the team’s schedule so far, and it’s even more idiotic to make changes based on any random three game stretch than it is to take Spring Training stats to heart.  This is indisputable.  It’s what I believe.  And I hope it’s right, because my Twins just got swept by the Orioles and I’m starting to feel that tightness in my chest that precedes me calling for a fire sale and the ritual seppuku of every single member of the Twins’ management team.

So, to assuage my own burgeoning irrationality, let’s look at some of the biggest overreactions happening around baseball right now:

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Words cannot describe how excited I am that Jamie Moyer made the starting rotation for the Colorado Rockies. It’s not just that he’s older than fellow rotation-mates Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin combined.  And it’s not that he’s lived through 10 US Presidencies (and 10 Prime Ministers, including Pierre Trudeau twice) and was alive when Kennedy was shot.  And it’s not that he’s just one year, three months, and 14 days younger than President Obama (and just two years, six months, and 18 days younger than Stephen Harper).

It’s his enthusiasm for the game.  Look, I’m in my thirties, and my back creaks when I get out of bed, and I’m living with a torn ACL, and I’m out of shape.  He is almost 50, and has made more than $82 million in his lengthy career.  He could do virtually anything he wants with his time, short of hunting man for sport on his palatial estate, and all he really wants is to keep playing baseball.  That’s incredibly endearing.

So I don’t care that his breaking stuff probably won’t work as well in Colorado.  And I don’t care that there’s an element of this, on Colorado’s end, that smacks of a publicity stunt.  And I could care less that some younger players missed out on a spot in the rotation.  Because Jamie Moyer is terrific, and for this week at least, that’s all that matters.  And in celebration of Moyer and his accomplishments, we look at today’s ballplayers as obscure Batman villains:

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There’s no doubt that, at his best, Dustin McGowan is a hell of a pitcher.  There’s also no doubt that Dustin McGowan has been injured more than just about any pitcher in baseball over the past four years.  All told, he missed 536 games before coming back at the end of 2011, or more than 3¼ seasons .  And as Dustin pointed out yesterday, it’s not like he was the picture of healthy before that either.  So obviously, the first thing you want to do with Dustin McGowan is to sign him to a contract extension.  Now, to be fair, it’s pretty damn reasonable, in that it only guarantees him somewhere around $3 million for 2013 and 2014 combined, but there really aren’t a lot of ways this could work out for Toronto, based on his injury history.

Here are, as far as I can figure, the 15 most likely potential outcomes:

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I am incredibly resentful that Bill got around to writing about Buffy before I did, especially given that he hasn’t even finished watching the entire series.  But, good news:  just like there was a terrible movie that was completely mutilated by a meddlesome studio that Joss Whedon managed to turn into a remarkably awesome television phenomenon, so too can we go back and fix Bill’s column and make it better.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  Here we go (the same spoiler alert Bill gave totally applies):

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If you were fortunate enough to have been following Jose Canseco’s twitter feed lately, you’re undoubtedly aware that Jose’s umpteenth comeback in Mexico (the plot for which, by the way, was blatantly ripped off from Eastbound and Down, which Jose probably thought was a documentary) has hit a bit of a snag.  Yes, the most notorious user of “performance enhancing” drugs in baseball history (perhaps in world history) was suspended by the league for failing to take a drug test last week.

According to Mexican League president Plinio Escalante, refusing to take a test is considered the same as failing it, and thus Canseco’s Mexican career seemed to be over before it could even get started.  Predictably, Jose didn’t take this well, and given A) his lack of any kind of self-control and B) the existence of a medium that encourages unedited snap responses, the results were amazing and sad.

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