March 7, 2006
Why can't this story just go away? Because we as loyal, hero-worshipping fans are each implicated in the scandal, in a small way, that's why. This cover of this week's Sports Illustrated features a new book, Game of Shadows, written by San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. They are pretty sure that Barry has been doping himself heavily with multiple drugs since 1998 -- the fateful, seemingly glorious year of McGwire* vs. Sosa*. (hat tip to Bruce Orser)
Chad Dotson, the Commonwealth Conservative blogger, questioned Kirby Puckett's Hall of Fame credentials, so I felt compelled to respond:
If baseball were primarily a technical profession, and if most fans were number-crunching wonks, then Chad would have a valid point. I tend to see baseball (and most sports) as a very human, joint endeavor in which hustle and heart count more than innate ability or individual accomplishment. Teamwork! How many World Series rings did Ted Williams get?
To which Chad asked, "Andrew, are you seriously contending that Kirby Puckett was a better player than Ted Williams?" So I wrote to clarify,
Chad - Heavens no, it never occurred to me that Kirby Puckett was anywhere near as good as Ted Williams. My point was simply that it takes more than a superstar to win ball games or world championships. It takes a gutsy guy whose love for the game and willingness to put his team first inspires his team mates to do their best. Ted never really had such "infectious enthusiasm," as most Red Sox fans would grudgingly admit, I think.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch has a preliminary analysis of Busch Stadium III's likely effect on batting. Upshot: It should be "fair and balanced," like its predecessor (and Fox News? ). The designers take pride in avoiding the contrived outfield nooks and crannies that were taken to excess in places like Ameriquest Field and Minute Maid Park. Hat tip to Mike Zurawski, who also relayed this photo of the expanded upper deck at Fenway Park. It will be a real, substantial upper deck, after all, not just an enlarged mezzanine level. Only the sections adjacent to the infield will be expanded, however.
Partly at Mike's prompting, I modified the PETCO Park diagram to account for the slightly shorter fence in right center field. (I wish all diagram revisions could be so easy!) The change is not enough to warrant a "dynamic diagram." PETCO Park will host the final three games of the first-ever World Baseball Classic, on March 18 and 20.
UPDATE: As everyone expected, this evening the D.C. Council approved, by 9-4 vote, the stadium lease deal that MLB officials signed the other day. That clears the way for the sale of the team, after which it will be safe to say that the probability of the Nationals being relocated has dropped to zero. I am very anxious about the stadium design, which will probably be unveiled next week. Council member Jack Evans thinks they can finish the new stadium by April 2008, but without the finishing touches. Like bleachers and lights? If groundbreaking takes place in late April, as they are now saying, I guess that target date is still possible. See WTOP Radio.