We often talk about "playing the game the right way," with respect, intensity, precision and fierce competitiveness.
At the All-Star Game, we asked more than a dozen National Leaguers: Who epitomizes that notion? To a man, with the exception of the two Cardinals, every player answered "Scott Rolen," and did so without hesitation or reflection.
Then came the American League, and out poured the same unanimity: "Derek Jeter."
So at the suggestion of Nat Showalter, who like Tony La Russa insists on the game being played with respect, we polled a few managers, general managers and other baseball officials for our All-Stars who play the game "the right way." To ensure that Hank Joe Blalock would be on a team, we divided it into the National and American Leagues, the Rolens and the Jeters.
The Rockies have had preliminary discussions with a couple of teams about Larry Walker, but any deal would have to include Colorado taking back salaries so that it can get prospects. The Red Sox are among those interested, although they would have to have the Rockies take Byung-Hyun Kim, who makes $6 million in 2005, because Boston cannot take on Walker's entire $12.5 million next season. They are interested in Walker as a first baseman. The Red Sox's defensive problems at that position have led them to indicate to Houston that even if the 'Stros were to decide to move Carlos Beltran at the end of the month they need a first baseman, not an outfielder, allowing David Ortiz to DH.
So who puts the bug in candidates' ears about seeming what they are not? John Kerry last week professed to be a big fan of "Manny Ortez," then re-emphasized the phoofery by correcting it to "David Ortez." No, that was Dave (Baby) Cortez and "The Happy Organ." A few years back Kerry went on a Boston station with Eddie Andelman and said "my favorite Red Sox player of all time is The Walking Man, Eddie Yost," who never played for the Red Sox. Kerry is going to sweep New England. He's going to get 70 percent of the vote in Massachusetts. He doesn't have to be a Red Sox fan, all he has to do is not be John Ashcroft.
Several GMs insist that now that the Mariners have been unable to move Bret Boone because of his 2005 vesting option for $8.5 million that they may release him and risk a huge grievance. If that's the case, someone is going to get a big-time winner for the stretch. Someone like the Yankees.
Two teams that inquired about signing John Olerud when he clears waivers were told he'd rather retire at home than shuffle off across the country away from his family for half a million dollars.
The Mariners continue to tell inquiring GMs that Jamie Moyer is not available.
From one NL GM: "I think there will be more trades in August than in July. There will be more teams out of it, and most clubs are going to be reluctant to put in claims for fear of assuming contracts."
It is clear that the Cubs' angle on acquiring Nomar Garciaparra can't work unless it's a three-way with the Diamondbacks to bring Randy Johnson to Boston. The Red Sox also were approached about a three-way with Arizona that would have sent Derek Lowe to the Mets.
One of the good moments from the All-Star break: Rolen spending time with Mets phenom third baseman David Wright.
Colorado has until July 31 to decide whether or not LHP Jeff Francis can pitch in the Olympics for Canada, but the Rockies are leaning toward bringing him up during the season for a couple of starts. Talk about special.
Yes, Chan Ho Park -- "Chop" to some -- has an 8.74 ERA in the Texas League.
Ken Williams has now traded five decent prospects in two separate trades for Carl Everett, and they're good trades. Buck Showalter says, "I'd take Carl back any time."
Carlos Delgado's refusal to waive his no-trade, even to join a pennant race with his friend Shawn Green, was taken as a serious blow to the Jays, who thought they could get a couple of future parts for the first baseman. There are few better persons in the game than Delgado, but the perception around the game is that he doesn't care about going into the postseason with a team like the Dodgers. When Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez did so last year, they were referred to as being selfish. No one can accuse Delgado of being selfish. However, he can be accused of taking bad advice, for performing in a pennant race and in the postseason could get him back closer to eight figures in his 2005 contract. The Jays have indicated that they will entertain offers for Miguel Batista, but they have to get two good prospects to even think about trading him.
It's a strong summer in the Cape Cod League for pitching, led by 6-foot-7 North Carolina freshman LHP Andew Miller of Chatham. Not only does he throw 91-96 mph now, but he hasn't begun to fill out. If he is healthy, he could be a top-three pick in '06. Rob Ray, a power reliever from Texas A&M pitching for Wareham, at one point fanned 22 of 24 batters he faced. Three other names of note: Matt Goyen, a left-hander with a good curveball and feel from West Georgia (27th round pick by Tampa Bay), has been lights out for Brewster; ditto Vanderbilt LHP Ryan Mullins (Chatham), Oregon State RHP Dallas Buck (Falmouth), Baylor RHP Mark McCormick (Wareham) and Virginia RHP Matt Avery (Brewster). The Red Sox signed Chatham's and Central Florida's Kyle Bono, an eighth-round pick who hadn't allowed a run and had a 22/2 K/BB ratio in 15 2/3 innings. The Red Sox didn't have a first-round pick and are trying to fill their organization by signing lower picks with higher value: Bono, South Carolina 3B-1B Steve Pearce (10th round), Georgia LHP Mike Rozier (13th) and Harvard infielder Zak Farkas. The latter was a draft-eligible sophomore with two years remaining at Harvard, but grew up a diehard Red Sox fan on Beacon Street a half-mile from Fenway and can sign and report after classes end in May.
One of clubhouses' favorite scenes: Frank Francisco playing chess with Orel Hershiser.
One of the great shows during BP at the All-Star Game was Victor Martinez showing off his outfield and throwing skills left-handed. An ambidextrous catcher?
The Indians plan to bring up outfielder Grady Sizemore, but 22-year-old shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who is hitting nearly .340 at Buffalo, will have to wait as long as Omar Vizquel is in Cleveland. Peralta has earned the right to be considered Cleveland's shortstop of the future, which has several teams -- Boston included -- inquiring about Brandon Phillips.
Yes, Ben Sheets did hit 100 mph three times in his last start before the break. He and Carl Pavano are the two pitchers who emerged this season, and now that Pavano is nearing free agency, he wonders if he will be traded before July 31.
Baseball is trying to promote its game in the inner city with its complex in Compton, Calif. But what MLB needs to do is put life into college baseball, which has essentially become a white game. The Commissioner's Office should pony up funds to promote college baseball, help supply wooden bats and establish a scholarship incentive program for underprivileged kids. As it is now, colleges can't get the kids that go to football and basketball, because NCAA rules have left them with 11.7 scholarships for 30 players. The only African-American college player in the first 100 picks of this draft was Fresno State's Richie Robnett, selected by Oakland in the first round, a sad reflection on the state of the college game.
Mike Adams was signed by the Brewers as a non-drafted free agent out of Texas A&M Kingsville in 2001. Now, after putting up a 37/4 K/BB ratio in 31 innings of Double-A, he has shown closer stuff setting up All-Star Danny Kolb. What Mike Maddux and the Brewers have done with their pitching is remarkable, starting with the blossoming of Sheets and the development of Victor Santos, stolen from the Tigers' bullpen and given a starting role where he's developed his curveball and changeup. The Brewers have come up with enough pitching so that several teams are calling on setup man Luis Vizcaino, one of the few power arms on the market.