Saturday, December 31, 2005

Surprises of 2005

As 2005 comes to a close, I figured I'd mention ten baseball surprises from the past year.

1. Ozzie Guillen isn't a terrible manager. When he was first hired by the Sox, I was more than a little skeptical. In this day and age, all enlightened baseball fans know that small ball is a loser's strategy. Thank you Billy Beane! Guillen's stated interest in that approach and his disregard for plate discipline, along with his sometimes over the top personality, made me think this guy wasn't gonna lead the White Sox to much. I was wrong. Then again, winning a World Series doesn't inherently mean you're a good or great manager. Relax, Terry Francona, I'm not looking at you. (pssst...nobody tell Francona I'm looking right at him.)

2. Roger Clemens can still do it. I'm sure many of you expected a 42 year old to lower his ERA to below 2. Call me crazy, I just didn't expect it. So we think he's on steroids, sold his soul to the devil, how are we explaining this?

3. Subway sandwiches are both fresh toasted and contain a lot of meat. Thank you Willie Randolph!

4. The Devil Rays are on the upswing. This had to be the most awful franchise in baseball history. Chuck LaMar was a joke. "You want Toby Hall? How about Pujols and Edmonds. No? Fine, I'll just sit here then, Jim Duquette will always trade with me." (stupid Jim Duquette.) Piniella did not belong managing that team. But now they have a front office that knows what's it's doing - have you ever heard any knocks on Gerry Hunsicker, other than the fact that I think spelling that name with a G instead of a J is kind of weird looking? Maddon sounds like the right man for the job. Cantu, Crawford, Baldelli, Upton, and Young make a very strong core. That team might actually be relevant by 2008, which is a small miracle.

5. It doesn't matter who's managing in Philadelphia, they'll always find a way to fall short. Sorry, that really didn't qualify as a surprise.

6. Baltimore was good for two months. Remember that? "Yanks better watch out, these O's are for real!" That was funny, because the Orioles aren't actually good at all. I think Mazzilli got kind of a raw deal out there, and I hope he gets a job again. In the meantime...

7. The Yankees coaching staff has four former managers. This is a joke you'd make if you were doing a sketch about the Yankees. All stars at every position? No, not enough, we need the coaching staff from the All Star game too. So Tony Pena, Larry Bowa, Lee Mazzilli, and Joe Kerrigan, welcome to the Bronx.

8. Baseball in South Florida doesn't work. I know all the arguments about how the stadium is terrible, in the middle of nowhere, rain is a problem, Miami is a football town, too many transplants from other cities, etc. But I just can't get over that a market that big with such a Latino presence can't make baseball work. I'm still not sure a Marlins' move is a done deal (or else we'd be referring to the Tampa Bay Giants and the Charlotte Twins right now), but I don't know what they can do.

9. Chris Carpenter. I don't care how good he was in 2004, did you expect this good in 2005? I'm still not going nuts on him in roto drafts in March, though. I wouldn't bet against him being a Steve Stone/Lamar Hoyt type of Cy Young winner. Not that I'm betting heavily in favor of it either. So really, I guess I just don't like to bet. Probably just as well, as I have no money.

10. Barry Bonds is still stuck behind Babe Ruth. We're going to call this a very pleasant surprise. Obviously as it became clear that Bonds wasn't going to play until September this became less of a surprise - but who thought back in February that Bonds would still be number three? I'm thrilled with this. I hate Bonds and if he has to pass Ruth so be it, but I pray he doesn't pass Aaron (so there, it isn't a race thing).



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mazal Tov

8:11 PM  

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