8-23-10: Mock Mailbag

Hello again everybody...

Welcome back from your weekend. Hope it was a good one.

Me? I got to introduce my dad to Target Field. I wasn't able to score seats that were quite as nice as those I had when I got to bring my mom to the park for the first time. But I think he enjoyed the experience (minus the dog of a game) as much as she did!

Thanks for coming dad... it was fun!

Plenty happened around the world of sports over the weekend too. And what better way to recap all that happened than with a Mock Mailbag?

I can't think of a better one either. So let's break out the bag...

Right after the quote.

”Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers.”
- Jimmy Breslin (1930 - ), American journalist and author

I might substitute “passion” for “rage” in the sense of my blogging. And since rage is really just a form of passion, I might be splitting hairs. But I'll stick with “passion”, thanks!

Mock Mailbag

(As always, none of the following emails were conceived, written, or sent by the individuals named. They're merely figments of my questionable imagination.)

Dear WftC,

I appreciate the fellas coming down and gettin me and all. But somebody in the locker room has to remember that old phrase: “Loose lips sink ships.”

I mean, we are Vikings after all!

B. Favre
Minneapolis, MN

Four plays? The drama has kicked into high-gear and the guy was only in the game last night for four freaking plays?

I can almost hear the gleeful chuckles coming from Packer nation as we speak. Oof.

For those of you unfamiliar, last week Yahoo! Sports published this story quoting unnamed Vikings players as saying that part of the reason for Favre's hesitance to return came from his allegedly “contentious” relationship with head coach Brad Childress last season.

This is problematic for several reasons.

First, though it was widely reported last season that there were several times where Childress and Favre butted heads, at no point could anyone point to a situation where their disagreements cost them a game, or even put the team in danger of losing a game. So to dredge all that back up before the season's even begun is counter-productive.

Second, some players need to get a clue. Giving those quotes, even if the reporter promises your anonymity helps no one, least of all you. Why would you do that? If you don't want to step up and allow yourself to be quoted - name included - than what exactly are you accomplishing other than spreading gossip? Yahoo! Sports isn't going to do anything for your career. Brett Favre and Coach Childress likely can. Not a smart decision.

Finally, all of this plays into the notion that players, coaches, fans and the organization as a whole are pinning way too much of their hopes on one guy. Look, I know Favre's a legend and a lock Hall of Famer. And there's no question that the team is better with him than they are without him. But at 40 (going on 41) years old, Favre simply can't do everything. He's going to have a bad game or two, and when he does, some other players better step up, or this team's going to have a far shorter season than they're hoping for.

Dear WftC,

I love Cubs fans and all... but I gotta go.

L. Pinella
Chicago, IL

This is where I have to take the “mock” out of the Mock Mailbag.

My first reaction on hearing the news that Lou was cutting short his farewell tour to hang it up in the middle of August was: isn't he kind of quitting on his club?

That's not an unfair reaction. The Cubs are having a horrible season at 51-74, and knowing the end is nigh, it'd be easy to see how someone with Pinella's fire could get upset and say, “screw it, I'm outta here”.

But that's not the whole story. Pinella's 90-year-old mother has been in ill health for a while, and that's a big part of the reason he announced this was going to be his last season when he did. Unfortunately, she took a turn for the worse this week, and Pinella simply decided he had to fully focus on his family, and managing the Cubs wouldn't allow him to do that.

So thanks for the memories, Lou. You're the best at dusting-up an umpire that I've ever seen.

Thoughts and well-wishes go out to your family.

Dear WftC,

No really... I can still pitch!

M. Hampton
Phoenix, AZ

This head-scratcher has far less ominous implications.

On Saturday, the news hit the wire that the Diamondbacks - owners of a bright, shiny 49-76 record - signed former MLB starter Mike Hampton to a minor league contract, with the intention of using him as a reliever late this season.

Okay. I have to ask. Why?!

This club is so far away from being relevant, that I have no clue what turning a washed-up starter into a reliever is going to accomplish.

Do they think they can resurrect his career and then flip him for some young talent? Not likely.

Maybe they think he's got some name value so they can quit setting records for low attendance? Doubtful.

Maybe Hampton and interim GM Jerry DiPoto have a relationship that goes back to their time with the Rockies, and the GM is throwing one of his “guys” a bone? That sounds like the one!

Ultimately, it's a low-risk proposition. The Snakes aren't risking much money and clearly they can use all the pitching they can get their hands on.

But to me, this wreaks of a front office that utterly lacks a big-picture plan. By the time the D'backs are competitive again, there's no way Hampton will be around. So why bother signing him in the first place?

Dear WftC,

My arm's a little sore... no, wait, I think I can still pitch. Woops, yeah, it's definitely sore. We'd better shut it down.

S. Strasburg
Washington, D.C.

Hey, I'll admit it. I geeked out as hard as any baseball fan when Strasburg-mania hit the big leagues.

But since then? It's been something of a buzzkill.

One of the knocks on Strasburg when he came up was that his pitching motion put a higher-than-average amount of stress on his arm. So far, we've seen that criticism borne out in the form of a sore elbow and a strained flexor tendon. And now the conventional wisdom seems to say that he'll be shut down for the rest of the season.

I'm not trying to rip Strasburg. It's not his fault that things have worked out like this. Actually, I'm kicking myself more than anything. I got sucked into the hype instead of remembering the Mark Priors and Kerry Woods of the not-to-distant past who had big-buildups, and less-than-noteworthy careers.

Sorry, Steve. When you can get through more than a month or two without getting hurt, let me know. I'll be happy to start caring about your club and your career again when you do.

Dear WftC,

I hate those f@#$ing guys, mang!

O. Guillen
Chicago, IL

No manager in baseball causes me conflicting feelings more than Ozzie Guillen.

I love having him managing a club in my favorite team's division, but he's the last guy I'd want to have to root for.

Last week, we had his epic rant about Jim Thome coming back to haunt his former club.

I hesitate to give you just one quote, because there are so many that are worth reading. Really, go back and read the article. It's classic Ozzie.

But I do have to reprint just this one...

“I'm not running away from anybody. I don't run from anybody because I sleep very well last night, I played golf this morning. I didn't change anything. I rode my bike, [took a nap] and as soon as I'm done with [this game] I'm going to go back to sleep. Same stuff. Because I know my mind, my heart and my soul, they're very clean.”

You can't make this stuff up. You really can't.

Then this weekend, his club played a marathon series against the woeful Kansas City Royals and managed to drop two of three.

After yesterday's loss, he said:

“This road trip was very important for us, and we played like garbage. I'm very, very disappointed. It was very, very bad. We're better than this.”

Um, actually Ozzie, you're not. Your bullpen can't close games, and your offense goes dead for long stretches. If your starters hadn't gotten red-hot against the National League, you'd be dead and buried just like the Tigers. In fact, you might want to take a peek in the rear-view mirror, because the Tigers are as far behind you as you are behind the Twins.

Whatever you do, Ozzie, don't stop talking. You entertain me endlessly!

That's going to wrap things up for today. Remember if you have a real question for the mailbag - or even a suggestion for a piece of Mock Mail, drop me a line at:

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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