Unemployed Superstars

Unemployment is rough for auto workers, mid-level managers, and retailers. Also superstar baseball players in their free-agent year. Not only has the bottom fallen out of the housing market. It’s also fallen out of the baseball free agent market. Consider:

If Major League Baseball called you today and offered the rights to a new expansion team, with the freedom to build your roster from the list of free agents still available at this astonishingly late date, you could construct a lineup with potential future Hall of Famers at catcher (Iván Rodríguez), both corner outfield positions (Manny Ramírez and Ken Griffey Jr.) and designated hitter (Frank Thomas).

As your cleanup hitter, you could have the only player in baseball with 40 or more homers in each of the past five seasons (Adam Dunn). Your second baseman could be a player less than two years removed from an all-star/Gold Glove season (Orlando Hudson). And your starting rotation could include two more Hall of Famers (Pedro Martínez and Tom Glavine), plus the National League’s starter in last year’s All-Star Game (Ben Sheets).

Less than two weeks away from the opening of spring training camps, baseball’s talent marketplace is facing a staggering reality: More than 90 free agents remain unsigned, and many of them simply won’t have jobs when pitchers and catchers report, if they find jobs at all.

Brewer becomes a Yankee

Well, the Brewers’ rent-a-super-pitcher C. C. Sabathia was snapped up by the New York Yankees with a
$161 million, seven-year contract. One of my students at Concordia in Mequon wrote an essay complaining about how baseball players make millions of dollars, while teachers make so little. I made the useful comment that very few teachers can either hit or throw a curveball so why would anyone pay them millions of dollars?

End-of-the-world series

The Phillies won the World Series in a twice rain-delayed, Obama-pre-empted, three-inning make-up game. This is not a good augury.

World Serious

So it’s the Tampa Rays vs. the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. I think the former bottom-dwelling team from Florida changed their fortunes when they dropped “Devil” from their name. The shift in imagery from a repellant sea creature to Florida sunshine was propitious; and in a game with so much superstition and fear of curses, the exorcism of a name change had to have helped.

Playoff thoughts

Well, the Cubs and the Brewers are both one game away from elimination.

My team, the Brewers, lost to the Phillies 5-2 after super-pitcher C. C. Sabathia gave up those five runs in the second inning. That was only his third loss in his half-season for the Brewers. This was his fourth consecutive start on only three days rest.

I have this against my team: They did not treat Sabathia ethically. Yes, they just “rented” him in a desperate and successful move to get to the playoffs. They picked him up from Cleveland because after this season he is a free agent and neither team would be able to afford him. Arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, he may bring around $150 million on the open market. If that is, he doesn’t blow out his arm.

If he does, that wouldn’t matter much to the Brewers, who only have him for this season. So the Brewers had him pitch a league-leading 253 innings and a league-leading 7 complete games. And then for the playoff run the Brewers started him on only three days rest four times in a row.

Yes, Sabathia was both willing and eager to do so, which only shows his heroic stature. But his team did not show his class. We are not supposed to use people up and then throw them away.

Feel free to bring up other playoff-related thoughts this weekend. . . .

Sports happiness

After the dust settled, after three out of the top five college football teams were upset, my (class of ’73) Oklahoma Sooners are ranked number one! And the Milwaukee Brewers, after a nail-biting victory over the Cubs and a nail-biting Mets defeat from the Marlins, are in the playoffs as the NL wildcard team! (We will set aside how the Packers did.)