Top 10 trades for the good of the game
The top 10 trades that need to be made in the best interest of the game, including Roger Clemens back to Boston.
Tell Billy Beane I'm in a meeting. Put Brian Cashman on hold. And send Pat Gillick through to my voice mail. I'm not listening to any trade offers. Acting in the best interests of baseball, I simply decree the following 10 transactions be made before Thursday night's deadline:
1. The Yankees trade Roger Clemens back to the Red Sox so that Boston fans will once again cheer the greatest pitcher of our generation as "wicked awesome." The Rocket pitches Boston to the World Series, forgets all his past issues with Dan Duquette and announces that there is only one baseball cap he wants to wear on his Hall of Fame plaque for perpetuity. A Red Sox cap.
2. I strip Juan Gonzalez of his no-trade clause for vetoing the deal that would have sent him from last-place Texas to the wild-card contending Montreal Expos. The Rangers then trade him to Detroit to really experience losing while watching flyball after flyball being caught at the warning track 420 feet from home plate.
4. Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Larry Walker, Moises Alou and Rondell White are traded back to the Expos to even up things and send Montreal to the postseason for the first time in 22 years. Fans flock to the Big O by the hundreds of thousands to eat smoked meat sandwiches and watch the game's most exciting team, convincing major-league leadership that the best place for the Expos next year is right where they are. In Montreal.
5. The Phillies trade for J.D. Drew just so we can see how Philly fans react when he homers in the bottom of the ninth to win a crucial game in September.
6. The Mariners trade for Hideki Matsui, Tsuyoshi Shinjo and Hideo Nomo so that manager Bob Melvin can write an all-Japanese outfield into the lineup card and start a Japanese pitcher to go with his Japanese setup man and Japanese closer. That will put the Mariners in the postseason again and finally compel club owner Hiroshi Yamauchi to fly to Seattle to watch his team play in person for the first time. Most importantly of all, it will allow exhausted Japanese correspondents to all move to Seattle where they'll happily find multiple icons to write about on a daily basis instead of just one.
7. The Marlins trade Dontrelle Willis to the Cardinals. Because owner Jeffrey Loria doesn't deserve a player this good, and a player this exciting shouldn't be stuck in Florida where no one sees him.
8. The Rangers trade Alex Rodriguez to the Mariners, because after spending virtually every day of the past three seasons in last place, A-Rod has finally learned what's most precious in baseball -- winning. During the offseason, he will use some of his $25 million annual salary to pay for the power hitter Seattle will need so badly after Edgar Martinez retires: Ken Griffey Jr.
9. The Astros trades Brad Ausmus to Detroit, just out of habit.
10. Atlanta trades Greg Maddux to the Cubs so that he can give Chicago the best starting rotation in the league and help the long-sufferers back to the World Series for the first time in 58 years. Naturally, the Cubs lose to the Red Sox but so what? Getting there will be enough for Chicago fans.
And now, I return you to your regularly scheduled trade rumors while I study up. I have a lot of free agency signings to order before winter.
Boxscore line of the week
The beauty of baseball is that even though we've been playing the game for more than 150 years, on any given night you still may see something that's never happened before. That was the case Tuesday in Texas when Boston's Bill Mueller hit two grand slams, one from each side of the plate. It was just the 12th time a player has hit two grand slams in a game and the first time anyone has ever done it from both sides of the plate.
5 AB, 3 R, 3 H, 9 RBIs, 3 HR, 2 grand slams.
Lies, damn lies and statistics
We like to think the Hall of Fame is a special place, tucked away on a beautiful lake in upstate New York and safely removed from the intrusions of the world. We take it for granted, assuming that it is just there for all of us to enjoy. That the game of baseball itself runs the Hall. This is not true, as a former Hall employee writes in the current issue of the endlessly interesting Elysian Fields Quarterly. In a provocative article, "Petroskey Shames Hall," Eric Enders reports that while the Hall of Fame is a "nonprofit educational institution run by a board of directors," it is Singer sewing machine heiress Jane Forbes Clark who "controls the whole show" as the chairperson of the board and the Hall's main financial benefactor. And while Hall president Dale Petroskey (a former press aide to Ronald Reagan) claimed "politics has no place in the Hall of Fame" when he cancelled an appearance by liberal actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Enders points out that did not prevent him from welcoming White House press secretary Ari Fleischer to speak in Cooperstown as part of a winter cultural series held in conjunction with the Hall. Nor did it prevent the Hall from allowing the New York State Republican Party from holding part of its annual convention in the Hall's meeting rooms, with some Hall staff "required to work overtime for the gathering." It's a darn interesting article. ... While Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley should get voted into the Hall of Fame next year, the interesting year is 2006. The leading new candidates that year will be Albert Belle, Gary Gaetti, Orel Hershiser and Will Clark, which means that unless a carryover player from a previous year gains enough new votes, that could be the second year since 1971 that the baseball writers won't vote in a new member. And with the way the veteran's committee is set up, that could also mean the first year since 1960 that no one joins the Hall of Fame. ... The Orix Blue Wave, Ichiro's old team, gave up a Japanese record 32 hits in a loss Sunday. Of the first 13 batters, a dozen players reached base safely, 10 on hits and two on walks. The out was on a sacrifice. ... The late Bob Hope was born two months after the Yankees played their first game. The Yankees were 8,826-6,711 during his lifetime. Meanwhile, the hometown team he twice owned -- the Cleveland Indians -- were 7,968-7,599 during his lifetime (Hope once appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a Cleveland uniform while he was owner). Hope also tried to buy the Washington Senators in the late '60s, abandoning the attempt when the price rose to at least $10 million, which Hope termed, "a lot of money for comedy material." Thanks for the memories, Bob. ...
From left field
Eddie Murray got into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility (deservedly so). Gary Carter finally got in after several years of waiting. But more deserving players remain outside looking in, as you can see from the following All-Star team of Hall-of-Fame eligible players who are not in Cooperstown:
|C||Joe Torre||Might deserve it as catcher and manager|
|1B||Dick Allen||351 HRs and .292 average|
|2B||Ryne Sandberg||Led 2B in almost every category during his career|
|3B||Ron Santo||Nine-time All-Star, five gold gloves|
|SS||Alan Trammell||May have been as good as Ozzie|
|OF||Jim Rice||Most feared hitter of his era|
|OF||Dale Murphy||Two MVPs and nearly 400 home runs|
|OF||Tony Oliva||.304 average, three batting titles|
|SP||Jack Morris||More wins than anyone else during most of career|
|RP||Goose Gossage||A real closer who could pitch two or more innings|
"In deference to Hal McCoy, I was asked to quit many times."
-- Bob Uecker during his Hall of Fame induction speech, which followed sportswriter Hal McCoy's emotional speech about how family, friends and Cincinnati players refused to let him quit despite losing most of his eyesight.
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.