December 6, 2019

News and Notes from the Grapefruit League

March 10, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Like the Army, baseball is filled with Hurry Up & Wait situations. That’s especially true for writers, who arrive hours before gametime in an often-frustrating effort to pin down players or managers for interviews.

There’s competition for each player, with the biggest stars commanding the most attention from media types, and a pecking order that players follow. The bigger the publication, the sooner they respond. And broadcast types, with their instant access, always outrank everyone else.

In Tuesday night’s Phillies-Braves game at ESPN Wide World of Sports, there was actually a delay in starting an inning because Chipper Jones, who had just left the game, was doing a live interview — on the field — for MLB Network.

All the standing around gives writers a chance to schmooze, often with each other and with the various broadcasters who tour the camps. Here’s some of the gossip this writer picked up in just a few days:

  • Though the Phillies are prohibitive favorites in the NL East again, the Braves are likely to be their strongest challenger
  • MLB Network’s Tom Verducci says he would be shocked if Atlanta’s  Jason Heyward is not this year’s  NL Rookie of the Year
  • With the exception of newly-acquired third baseman Placido Polanco, the Phillies figure to have their entire infield (1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, and SS Jimmy Rollins) start for the NL All-Stars in Anaheim July 13
  • Cardinals insiders are concerned about Albert Pujols’ back
  • The Yankees remain a juggernaut the Red Sox can’t catch — even though the Yanks and Sox are considered baseball’s best two teams
  • The Mets, with thin pitching behind Johann Santana, will be lucky to finish at .500 and could struggle to keep from finishing last since the Nationals are vastly improved
  • Heyward is believed to be the best prospect to come out of the minor leagues since Andruw Jones won consecutive Minor League Player of the Year awards in 1995-96
  • Hank Aaron was also 20 when he  broke into the Braves outfield and blossomed into a superstar within two years
  • Heyward has already been compared to Willie McCovey and Willie Stargell but those analogies don’t hold: Heyward has the speed those Hall of Fame sluggers lacked
  • Florida-based Ed Luteran, who works as official scorer for hundreds of games per season, hates the unbalanced scheduled that allows teams in the same division to play different opponents
  • The 2010 schedule favors the Braves, who have no games vs. the Yankees or Red Sox, over the Phillies, who have three with each of those AL East clubs, and Mets, who have their annual six-pack with the Yankees
  • If the Cleveland Indians are well out of the AL Central chase in July, look for them to deal Grady Sizemore, their best but most expensive player, to a National League contender — following their 2009 move of star southpaw Cliff Lee
  • If Seattle could afford having Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee in the same rotation, why couldn’t Philadelphia afford Lee and Roy Halladay? Subbing Halladay for Lee is a wash, many experts insist, and doesn’t do much for the rest of the rotation
  • Why is Jamie Moyer still pitching at age 48? Although he’s the closest man to 300 wins, he’ll never make it  — and he could be hurting the Phillies by hanging on too long
  • Can’t anybody use Gary Sheffield’s bat? He could probably be had for $500,000 — a pittance by current standards — and his bad-guy rep is seriously overblown
  • Andy MacPhail would be a fine successor to Bud Lite — but then again, so would Don Knotts
  • One for the books: Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Steve Carlton combined for 15 Cy Young awards but zero no-hitters, while Nolan Ryan had 7 no-hitters and zero Cy Youngs

On that note, gotta get back to the ballpark.

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg is the author of 35 baseball books, including this year’s The 300 Club, and managing editor of BallTalk Radio. He covers the majors from his base in the New York area.

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