February 26, 2020

High school dropouts, drugs and politics – that’s baseball?

June 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Yep, all of that in the world of baseball. Thoughts on Bryce Harper heading to JUCO at age 16, Sammy Sosa, Congressional involvement and more in Kevin Wheeler’s latest contribution…

Bryce Harper leaves high school to get GED and head to JUCO

Brilliant, I say! Simply brilliant!

Now, I’m not suggesting that young athletes don’t need an education. They certainly do in most cases, perhaps even in 99% of cases, but I am glad that someone is finally challenging the unfair, illogical system Major League Baseball has set up for the acquisition of amateur talent.

If you’re a 16-year-old stud shortstop from the Dominican Republic you’re just another free agent who can demand whatever some big league club is willing to pay for your services.

If you’re a 16-year-old stud catcher from Las Vegas you have to tap dance your way around baseball’s draft eligibility rules, drop out of high school, get your GED and enroll in Junior College or you have to play two more years of high school ball while hoping not to get hurt while you wait for a bunch of old men to decide where your future lies come draft day.

Where the hell is the sense in that?

There are two logical solutions to this problem: get rid of the draft (as I suggested here a week ago – http://seamheads.com/blog/2009/06/10/mlb-should-eliminate-the-draft/) or come up with a world wide draft whereby every amateur player, regardless of where they are born, has to play by the same rules.

I don’t know if Bryce Harper is really the LeBron James of baseball, only time will tell, but I can tell you that he is most certainly physically qualified to be a professional baseball player. He has the size (6’2″ 210), the arm strength (reportedly hits mid-90’s on the gun), the bat speed (hits 500-foot home runs) and overall athleticism that would make him a 1st round pick immediately. If he were eligible, that is.

I realize that young ballplayers have a lot of growing up to do but that’s true of the Dominican and Venezuelan kids even more than it’s true of the kids born in the good ol’ US-of-A. The international kids have to get used to being a “professional ballplayer” AND adjust to living in a new country with a language and customs they don’t fully understand. There is less of an adjustment ahead for Bryce Harper than there will be for Miguel Angel Sano, that’s for sure.

If Sano can make the leap to the professional ranks then so can Harper in my book. Until the system is fixed players will have to find creative new ways to make things work in their favor…

Sammy Sosa tested positive for banned performance enhancers, you say?

Well, I don’t say that. The New York Times did.

Honestly, who even cares anymore? Aren’t we all kind of operating on the assumption that tons of guys cheated from the early 90’s until baseball actually got a decent testing policy anyway?

What really kills me about this story is that someone is leaking what was supposed to be confidential information and they’re not going to pay the price for “cheating” like the ballplayers who are outed will.

This list of players who tested positive was sealed by a court of law yet somehow, some way, big names continue to trickle out. So who is doing the leaking?

The Players Union? Uh, no.

Major League Baseball? Again, no. They want this story to go away. Every time it comes up the sport takes another shot on the chin.

Federal Prosecutors? Bingo, we have a winner! It has to be someone who has access to the documents without having any direct interest in the sport itself. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen, with the folks in the prosecutor’s office.

Why is that acceptable? Why do we not care that court sealed information is being leaked from government sources? This whole thing isn’t about serving the greater good, this is gossip column b.s.

Which is the greater principle at stake here? Fair play in sports or following the rule of law? Hmm, guess someone doesn’t really get that. Not picking on the journalists who are receiving the information here, just picking on the folks who leak this stuff illegally for their own seemingly selfish reasons.

Congress now planning on investigating whether Sosa lied to them

Okay, fine. Makes sense. Congress can’t have people lying to them, I get that. After all, politicians are the only ones allowed to lie and not have anyone call them on it…

Again, I’m all for making sure people obey the law in these cases. Now if Congress would just take as much interest in people in their Federal Prosecutor’s office leaking sealed information maybe we’d be getting somewhere.

Random Thoughts

* Time to demolish the D’Backs and start over. They have an awful lot of hackers in the everyday lineup who can’t tell the difference between a ball and a strike and too many injury prone types as well. Back up the truck…

* Atlanta’s done – I wonder if they’ll consider selling any parts as July 31 nears?

* Speaking of done, so are the Oakland A’s. Billy Beane likes his draft picks but I think it would be wise to get a little more help for 2010 via trade than it would be to get picks who will arrive in 2012. How about a new 3B?

* Tough news for the Padres on Jake Peavy’s injury. Now they have to pay him AND not get the benefit of his services.

* The O’s are on the upswing for sure with all their young studs and it will be very interesting to see if they can get some value for the likes of Aubrey Huff, Danys Baez and maybe even Luke Scott before the deadline. 2010 should be an interesting season for them.

Kevin Wheeler is the host of Sports Open Line (M-F 7-9 PM ET) on News Radio 1120, KMOX in St. Louis (www.kmox.com) and he is a baseball instructor with All-Star Performance (www.all-starperformance.net) and the St. Louis Gamers (www.stlgamers.net). You can reach him via e-mail at thebaseballgods@gmail.com

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