ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC, Pascucci, MLB Standings, Bonds, Clemens, Pedroia, Bautista and Wild Cards
Monday September 3rd, 2012
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Jonathan Hacohen: I have some baseball thoughts on my mind. Ok…I have baseball thoughts seemingly always on my mind! Call it what you like. A gift. A curse. I am what I am. And I do love baseball a ton. So before we jump into your weekly questions, here are three topics that I wanted to throw out to the baseball world:
1) In my respectful opinion, the organizers of the World Baseball Classic should be ashamed of themselves. Yes, I said it. Two of the qualifying groups have their games being played this month before the end of the regular MLB season. How does that make any sense? Firstly, you lose MLB players who still have their games going, who otherwise would have been eligible and possibly participated. For a country like Canada, that is a huge blow which could mean to elimination before the tournament itself even begins next spring. Add to the fact that coverage of the tournament has been literally non-existent, and people need to ask themselves what exactly they are doing. If marketed right, the WBC should be big. Huge in fact. But it’s not. With the addition of 12 new eligible countries in the qualifiers, there should be a huge amount of hype going into the games. But now, people don’t know when these games are being played, where, rosters and even that these games even exist. If we are going to promote baseball to the world, let’s do it right. There is no baseball in the Olympics, so let’s get the WBC to be a bigger global stage. Until that happens, the WBC will not fulfill its potential. Ever. Groups 3 and 4 are playing their qualifiers in mid-November. Now that makes sense.
Quite frankly, I don’t care about excuses on timing, locations etc. There are thousands of ballparks around the world. The games could all have been played much after the World Series and had its own captive baseball audience to shine. I certainly hope that is considered in the 4th edition of this great tournament.
2) Valentino Pascucci: Big Val (@PoppaValentino) on Twitter, is a huge guy. 6’6″ and 255 lbs. to be exact. He recently passed the 250 home run mark in the minors. Pretty big stuff. In 14 minor league seasons (8 of them in AAA), he has a .269 AVG, with a .390 OBP and .484 SLG. After representing Italy in the 2009 WBC, I expect to see Val back there in 2013. Glad to see that he will get to represent Italy and play at one of the highest levels of the game in the world. Whenever I think of Val, I always wonder why the man never truly got his “shot”. He got into 32 games with the Expos in 2004 (Expos??!!) and 10 games with the Mets last year. Even hitting 34 home runs in 2007 (AAA Marlins) didn’t do the trick. Could Big Val had become the next Big Papi if given his shot? We will never know. You can never have too much offense in baseball. I wish teams could have seen that and had tried Valentino Pascucci on their team one year. Who knows what could have resulted – 20-30 bombs, 70+ walks. But rather than thriving in the show, Valentino Pascucci will likely one day retire as one of the top home run hitters in the history of the minors. I wanted to take a moment and salute a great hitter in this game. Mr. Pascucci, whether the 2013 WBC will be your last or you stay in the game for another season or two, thank you the home runs and having one of the greatest baseball names we will ever hear. Well done sir.
3) If you were sleeping under a rock and looked at the MLB standings today, your jaw will drop on the floor. Yankees in first place in the AL East, with the Orioles only 2 games back. In September! White Sox and Tigers in a dead heat in the Central. Rangers on top of the West, but the A’s only 3 games back. The NL picture is a little more certain though. The Nationals (is that possible) are on top, ahead of the Braves by 6.5 games. While most of us have accepted the Nationals dominance this season long ago, someone new to the picture would still be doing a double take. Let’s not forget that this was once a losing franchise not so long ago, that just recently put it all together. In the Central, the Reds are close to becoming champs with a stranglehold 9.5 games on the Cardinals. And that is significant considering St. Louis is 10 games over .500! In the West, it’s the Dodgers and Giants, with San Francisco enjoying a 4.5 game lead. Two wild cards per league? If the season ended today, Baltimore and Oakland would meet in the sudden game playoff. If you had bet that in Vegas during spring training, you would be a millionaire soon. But the Wild Card race in the AL is far from done, with the Rays, White Sox/Tigers and Angels all in shooting distance. With much baseball to be played, anything can still happen. In the NL, Atlanta and St.Louis have the Dodgers and Pirates to contend with to clinch their respective Wild Cards. Yes, it has been an unbelievable season thus far with lots more ball to be played. Care to make your predictions at this point? Watch out. As last year taught us, it ain’t over till it’s over.
For our Batting Stance Guy featured video of the week, we bring you Gar’s recent contest: Who Takes Most Steps Out of MLB Batter’s Box? This one is fun and damn funny:
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: With all the Farrell talk still going on, do you see a scenario where Pedroia or Ellsbury play for the Jays in 2013? Michael
JH: I touched on this question before, so I will be brief. I can definitely see John Farrell moving on from the Jays. It is no secret that the Red Sox have coveted him for some time. While I would love to see Bobby Valentine get one more year to prove himself in Boston, the chance of that happening lessens each passing day. With Farrell apparently having only one year left on his deal, the fit is there for the teams to help Farrell rejoin the Red Sox. That being said, the most I can see the Red Sox paying is Daniel Bard. Even that is a stretch. Let’s make it clear. Dustin Pedroia ain’t going anywhere. Not going to happen. Jacoby Ellsbury is a free agent after next year. Either the Red Sox will extend him this winter to a huge deal or let him walk. But he is not moving on to Toronto. Alex Anthopoulos likes young control players. To give a division rival his manager, he will require good young talent back. Bard needs a change of scenery and would be perfect. That is how I see this one likely to unfold at this point in time. Unless of course, something changes in the interim…
Q: Not a good day for Jays fans. Their best player goes under the knife and a top draft pick fails a pee test. Pat
JH: A bad day. A bad week. A bad month. A bad year. Did you check Ricky Romero‘s start today? Absolutely brutal. Seven earned runs in only one inning of work. Keeping with our Jays theme, it has been just a brutal season for the team. Seemingly nothing has gone right. Now add two more items to the list. Rather than shut down their top slugger in a meaningless season, for some reason the team chose to let Jose Bautista rehab his ailing wrist and work back to game action. The result? Shut down the season, wrist surgery. While that may be the case, wrists are funny things and take sometimes a great deal of time to heal. Just ask Lyle Overbay. So while the Jays hope to have Bautista back in the spring, in my opinion it will be a blessing if he is back at 100% before the All-Star break. Gut feel. So what was the rush to have Bautista return? Did more damage get caused by the additional rehab and game action? Possibly. We will never know for certain. I certainly scratched my head when he wasn’t shut down in the first place, so the latest setback was no surprise. Hopefully he returns to form for Toronto soon. But you never know. Just a dumb move all around.
As far as Mr. Marcus Stroman goes, this one goes down as the icing on the cake so to speak. A 50-game suspension for a banned substance. I heard the stories and claims as far as unknowingly taking an over-the-counter drug that contained the banned ingredient. Whether it is true or false, frankly I don’t care at this point. If I was a professional athlete, any pill that I took- whether it be advil or claritin, would be approved by MLB first. If you take your chances and get caught, the onus is on you. So maybe Stroman is telling the truth. Maybe not. Whatever it costs to doublecheck what one is taking is legal, do it. That’s what an agent is for. Don’t let any pills touch your lips unless baseball approves them first. Capiche? Good.
Q: What’s the deal if 3 or more teams are tied for a wild card spot? Matt
JH: Great question Matt! This one goes down pretty simple. Or as simple as baseball makes it. Given the number of Wild Card races this year, the run for the Wild Card could result in one or more ties! Taken from Wikipedia, here is the solution to your problem:
Three-way tie for the division or wildcard
The three teams will be designated as “A”, “B” and “C”. A two-game elimination format will ensue. In Game 1, A will host B. The following day, in Game 2, the winner of Game 1 will host C. The winner of Game 2 advances to the postseason.
The designations for teams A, B and C will be determined by the applicable scenario below.
- If the three teams have identical records against each other in the regular season, the office of the commissioner conducts a draw with the teams designated as teams A, B, and C.
If the three teams do not have identical records against one another, the team designations are determined as follows:
- If one team has a better record against both other teams, and another team has a winning record against the final team, the first team shall get the first pick of their team designation, the second team gets the second pick, and the last team is assigned the remaining designation.
- If one team has a better record against both of the other teams, and the two other teams have the same record against each other, then the first team gets the first pick for team designation, and the other teams draw lots. The winner of the draw gets the second pick, and the loser of the draw is assigned the remaining designation.
- If two teams have the same record against each other, and both have a better record than the last team, then the first two teams draw lots, with the winner choosing their designation first, the loser of the draw picking their designation second and the final team being assigned the remaining designation.
- If each team has a winning record against one team in the three-team group, and a losing record against the other team in the group, the priority for choosing designations shall be based on overall winning percentage within the three-team group. Any ties in winning percentage within the group will be broken by drawing lots.
Q: How did the World Baseball Classic come up with Phoenix and Miami for locations? San Fran was a great choice but don’t you think there are so many places better than Phoenix and Florida. Philly, NY, Boston, LA, St. Louis, Texas? All would have been way better. Robert S.
JH: Thank you for your question Robert. I hear from Robert on a weekly basis as a contributor by e-mail for ATR, so always glad to get one of your fine questions posted. Based on my earlier discussion in this piece, I am clearly not impressed with the organization of the WBC at this stage. The timing certainly doesn’t work for the start of the qualifiers. Part of the reason I was told by a reader was for the availability of the chosen locations. Interesting theory. But if that is the case, then why not pick different locations? There is no reason why the particular sites were chosen for the qualifiers and the tournament itself. With 16 countries involved, the love of the tournament should be spread across many boundaries. Pick proper dates to hold the qualifiers and then led different locations bid for the right to host the games. Not as a cash grab (sorry Olympics…actually, I’m not sorry), but as making the facility available when the games are expected to be played properly. The WBC in Texas, New York etc would be great. As well as Israel, Italy, South Africa etc. Let’s make the WBC a true tournament with no borders. The secret is to first pick the dates and then the available locations. Not the other way around. When 2 great qualifying groups play this September and nobody watches, I will cry. A tournament that should be on par with the greatest sporting events in the world is getting the shaft. It is not right. San Francisco was a great choice and none of the choices you mentioned are necessarily better. But give more world regions a chance to be a part of the experience. That’s how you build a following, awareness and loyalty.
Q: CLEMENS NEEDS TO BE IN JAIL ALONG WITH BONDS. Robert M.
JH: Oh my Robert. Who woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning? Regardless of what you think of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, is the world really a better place if they were in prison? I have heard and read many arguments on the subject, which start to blur many lines. What about spitball pitchers back in the day? What about batters that used corked bats? Should they go to prison as well? I am not condoning what Roger or Barry did. Far from it. But they did not murder or hurt someone else. What they took and did to get ahead in the game is well documented. I think few will dispute that. They may not be the nicest human beings in the world. Yes they are cocky. And yes, neither might make it to Cooperstown. That is a shame in many ways. Clemens was 35 when he showed up in Toronto, winning 200 or so games in Boston beforehand. Barry Bonds was 30 when he showed up in San Francisco, where his bat (and head) exploded in size. Both players were going to make the hall before their games elevated to astronomical levels. Now, it is a big question as to how tainted their statistics are and whether either is really hall-of-fame worthy. But jail? I’m not so sure. They may be jerks and cheaters, but despite untold millions spent to prosecute both, neither is behind bars. There is a reason for that.
So before we are quick to throw both in jail, let’s remember how much it would cost society to have each of them prosecuted and convicted. The cost and risk certainly don’t outweigh the reward. Each one will have to live with a cloud hanging over their names and careers for the rest of their lives. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds both live somewhat in a baseball prison of exile. The same one shared by Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and other tarnished “users”. Out of all of them, these two may still have a chance. Bonds may return soon as a member of the Giants in a coaching capacity. Clemens? As most of you know is pitching for the Sugar Lands Skeeters, an indy ball team. Rumors continue to swirl that Clemens will pitch for the Astros this season and delay his Cooperstown eligibility by 5 seasons. Pretty smart guy. We may all feel differently in 5 years. So I’m not saying we should forgive, but maybe let’s start forgetting part of this nonsense. Bonds and Clemens will always have their names dragged through the mud for the rest of their lives and beyond likely. That is enough prison for them to bear in my opinion.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
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Posted on September 3, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged ask the reports, atr, barry bonds, baseball, baseball questions, dustin pedroia, jacoby ellsbury, john farrell, jose bautista, mlb, mlb standings, roger clemens, valentino pascucci, wbc, wild cards, world baseball classic. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC, Pascucci, MLB Standings, Bonds, Clemens, Pedroia, Bautista and Wild Cards.