Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Major League drama ahead

The dog days of summer are approaching. The sports world is slowing to what tends to be a quite tedious mid-summer pace. With basketball over, and football not yet begun it's tough to find much excitement while surfing the internet on your company's time. Luckily though, Major League baseball has offered up some intriguing plots that could make these next couple of months just a little more interesting...


Yes, it’s on Sportscenter every day so I say it’s okay to run with it. Joining what I can only assume is now 70% of the population that ends up divorced, Alex Rodriguez and wife Cynthia (cleverly dubbed C-Rod by the mass media geniuses who spawned the unstoppable plague that is the “first initial-first syllable of last name” nickname trend) are officially ending their marriage. As much as it is difficult to say that this is a sports story at all, there is no denying its hilarity.
Of course, few are surprised at the thought that an athlete and his significant other are splitting due to his genitals playing too many away games, but the details here offer so much more than your run of the mill public divorce. Madonna and Lenny Kravitz are breaking up Alex Rodriguez’s marriage. Take a moment to read over that last sentence one more time. Is this for real or is it a story someone cooked up while getting hammered and doing MadLibs?

How can this possibly get any more random? Simple… it can’t. However, as more details surface it is likely going to get weirder and funnier. So strap in sports fans, because whether you like it or not you had better at least be ready for the ensuing circus. And never mind legit sports talk, because now you’ll have to endure heinous PTI topics like “Kabala-Rod,” “C-Rod and L-Krav,” and “Happy Trails Alex Rodriguez’s money.” Enjoy.

CC to the Brew Crew

On Monday the Milwaukee Brewers made the first big mid-season move in acquiring pitcher CC Sabathia from the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland, feeling they have fallen too far back in the standings decided early July was as good a time as any to wave the white flag and give away a Cy Young winner (what happened to those scrappy, never say die Indians of the 80’s?). And to their credit, the Brew Crew jumped at the opportunity.

The best part about this trade however, is the explanation. Essentially the move was clarified as such: After this season they are undoubtedly losing their best pitcher, Ben Sheets, to free agency. They will also likely consider bolstering their farm system by trading their best young hitter, Prince Fielder. However, as an organization they feel they owe it to the Milwaukee faithful, who have endured 20 some-odd years without a trip to the playoffs, to take one legitimate shot before everything goes crap salad again. So they acquired Mr. Sabathia who, by the way, will also be a free agent at season’s end.

It’s time like these that I wish I actually knew a Brewers fan, just so I could hear the explanation of just how bittersweet this is. You’re hedging the most hope you’ve had in over two decades on a move that has brought an inconsistent and overweight young pitcher to the beer and cheese capitol of our nation. And so what if it doesn’t work out? You’ll have another shot in 25 years or so. I wish you the best of luck.

Remind you of a Prior Cubbie?

Speaking of taking a chance, the Cubs were not to be outdone by their divisional foes in Milwaukee. Having not won a World Series in 100 years, and only being able to explain their perpetual failures as a curse instilled upon them by a farm animal, Chicago knows the importance of taking the shot while the shot is still there. So despite owning the National League’s best record at the halfway point, the Cubbies decided a little more help couldn’t hurt… but can it?

On Tuesday the Cubs acquired pitcher Rich Harden in a 6-player deal with the Oakland Athletics. Harden has widely been considered one of the league’s best young arms (when healthy), so you can’t blame the Cubs for faulty logic in adding another hurler to an arsenal that already includes the dominant Carlos Zambrano. Then again, if you’re a Cubs fan who has no problem believing in a goat-curse, might you be a bit superstitious that adding another injury-prone pitcher to your storied history might be the move that leads to this year’s downturn?

I am not arguing that this trade will actually make the Cubs worse, because any fan would absolutely love to have a healthy Rich Harden as a member of their team’s rotation. However, the Cubbies faithful are not your average fans. So I ask you this Chicago: With such a fragile past that seemingly needs only the tiniest stroke of bad luck to dash the collective hopes of a city and a century, how comfortable are you with investing hope in such a Mark Prior-esque pitcher? Keep your fingers crossed.

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