We've laughed together, we've cried together, we've argued and we've sighed. And now as we clean out the end-of the-year mailbag and move full steam ahead into 2003, the way I figure it, who needs noisemakers? We've got plenty of 'em right here....
From: Aaron Smith
Scott, I just read your article about the Opryland Hotel and winter meetings. I was at their hotel the week of Thanksgiving, and they kept the food court open until 12 a.m. every night, including Thanksgiving. I guess they like Pentecostals more than baseball players. LOL.
That, or you Pentecostals carouse at night a heck of a lot more than I ever knew.
From: Sig Hopen
Your story on the Angels as the top sports team is right on. If I was a writer, I would have said the same -- and I am die-hard Mariners fan from Alaska.
I simply wrote it because readers declared Anaheim as the 2002 team of the year in our annual poll.
Do the words Brazil and World Cup mean anything to you? Allow me to explain something. Soccer is and will always be the most popular sport in the world. The World Cup is the greatest sporting spectacle there ever was and therefore, it's a no-brainer to list Brazil as the team of the year. ...
You've got to be kidding. The Patriots TEAM performance was one of the greatest feats EVER performed by a team. A team full of no-names, a sixth-round draft choice starting quarterback, nine final regular-season victories, and wins over the favored Raiders, Steelers and Rams. Watching the highlight films should bring tears to your eyes. Time for a revote.
You and MTV might want to begin your Get Out the Vote campaign a little earlier next year.
From: Alan Koufer
The Cubs get rid of Todd Hundley, and you leave them out of the Winner's Circle?
Yeah, but they're the leading candidate for Team of the Year in 2003 based on that nifty move alone.
From: Mike Devault
I am amazed at how the press drools all over themselves on days like today. First, the Astros signing Jeff Kent is really no big deal. It is not like teams were beating down his door! In my opinion, Kent is damn lucky to have gotten this or any similar deal. Kent is a fine ballplayer, but his hype is over the top. Was Kent good in S.F. because he hit in front of Barry or is Barry good because he had Kent protecting him? I believe it is the former, and it will be proved in Houston. Kent will hit fine in Minute Maid, but I suspect his numbers will not look as good as in S.F. Finally, even though he is a gamer, trying to make Biggio into a left fielder is silly -- reminds me of a Chuck Knoblauch redux. Biggio is clearly on the downward side of a nice career, and how is Bagwell's shoulder? They aren't the "Killer B's" anymore, and this Kent is not Clark.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, Mike, slow down! You're beginning to drool.
From: Sharon Olson
I've lived through strikes (work stoppages), bad times and good times, but if Bud Selig lets Pete Rose back into baseball in any way at all, I will wash my hands of the whole thing. I don't care if he says "Yes, I bet on baseball" or not. Is that man the kind of role model we want for our young people? I think not!
The very idea of Pete Rose and Henry Aaron in the Hall of Fame together diminishes all the wonderful things Henry Aaron and all the other Hall of Famers have done. Tell Bud DON'T DO IT! Baseball does not need Pete Rose one bit, and he will only be a divisive element at a time when that's the last thing anyone needs. ... What about Shoeless Joe Jackson?
Yeah, but think of all the autographs Rose could sell to raise money to help keep the Hall of Fame stocked up in things such as floor wax and furniture polish.
From: Stan Makowski, Hendersonville, N.C.
Just a word about Pete Rose. He should go into the Hall of Fame the day he dies. In that way he would be honored as a great player but not able to benefit due to his wrongdoing. This decision would also allow Joe Jackson to also enter the Hall, for he's been dead for several decades. Your thoughts?
But would Elvis be eligible, because some people swear he's still alive? Whew, boy, Stan, you're tough. My thoughts are, I think Rose should be eligible for the Hall of Fame as a player now, because the gambling investigation came when he was a manager. But I think he should remain on baseball's suspended list until he confesses, shows some remorse and there are some steps taken (such as gambling counseling) to ensure he won't embarrass baseball again once he's taken off of the suspended list. I plan on writing a full column about this within the next couple of weeks.
From: Greg Hawkinson, Good Thunder, Minn.
Greetings, I find it hilariously funny that Bud Selig is going to rule on anything dealing with ethics or the good of the game. What does this man think we (John Q. Public) think of him and how he has prostituted himself over our national pastime? All we can do is hope for a quick demise of this barbaric animal, or he will ruin the game.
From contraction tricks so Milwaukee can have a larger drawing area, to borrowing money from (Minnesota owner Carl) Pohlad, to the All-Star Game, and now Pete Rose. I hope the sportswriters vote to stop this. I am in favor of Pete getting in the Hall but not under Bud's watch; this commissioner deserves nothing but black marks on his tenure!
Barbaric animal? Are we still talking about Selig, or did we switch over to a conversation about the movie Jaws
From: James Franey, Philadelphia, Pa.
Scott, do you have any knowledge of what you're talking about? You have called the Braves losers in your article of losers and winners this offseason. The Braves have acquired some key individuals to assure them of division title No. 12. (Russ) Ortiz, (Paul) Byrd, and (Mike) Hampton. The re-signing of (Greg) Maddux! Along with (Kevin) Millwood, the Braves will not only win the division, but the World Series. Even if they trade Ortiz or Millwood, they're going to get at least as good and consistent bat for that individual. I hope this article was printed prior the some of the greatest GM moves in the history of the game by John Schuerholz on Tuesday, 12/17/02 and Thursday, 12/19/02. Thank you for your time!
OK, sir, here we go: The "winners" and "losers" categories, had you read as carefully as you should have, were STRICTLY FOR MOVES MADE IN NASHVILLE AT THE WINTER MEETINGS. Which is the reason I didn't edit your letter to include the fact that Millwood subsequently was shipped to Philadelphia. See how things can be taken out of context? Obviously, you fired off your letter before the Millwood trade was completed -- and your confidence that the Braves would acquire a "good and consistent" bat for a Millwood must have been badly shaken when you saw that they acquired only catcher Johnny Estrada (lifetime batting average of .222 in 99 big-league games). Hey, I like the Braves, I think they'll win division title No. 12, and Schuerholz certainly made nice moves in bringing Ortiz and Byrd aboard. But will they be as good as in the past with the latest personnel moves? Neither you nor I can definitively say until after next April.
This kinda goes with your "Winners, losers from quiet winter meetings." As everyone knows, the Expos made an offer to the Yankees for Bartolo Colon. It looks like the two teams are now at a stalemate with talks. In your opinion will this trade take place and what will the Yankees give up? Will the Expos lower the price for Colon?
The Yankees' signings of Roger Clemens and Cuban refugee Jose Contreras reveals those talks with the Expos for what they were: New York simply keeping its options open and trying to jack up Clemens' agents. To me, Mike, Montreal GM Omar Minaya has one clear opening to deal either Colon or Javier Vazquez: to Boston, which lost out in the Contreras sweepstakes and needs to add more pitching.
From: Patrick Gallagher
"For one thing, Giambi doesn't have the power a contending team needs and, more alarming, the Red Sox now have serious defensive questions on the right side of their infield with Giambi at first and Todd Walker at second. Giambi had a .450 on-base percentage last year, which would be an upgrade in Boston."
Oh, God. Where to start? OK, let's begin with Jeremy Giambi's power. He hit 20 HR's last year in half a season of AB's (313). If you figure on 550 AB's, that would give him more HRs than Anaheim and S.F. got from first base COMBINED last year when they both went to the World Series. But that's not enough for a contending team, right? Please do your homework before you write such ridiculous things.
Yes his defense is poor, which is why the Red Sox fully intend to acquire a first baseman. Walker is no Gold Glover, but he did lead NL second basemen in fielding percentage. They could do far worse.
Oh, God, where to start with YOU? Jeremy Giambi has never collected more than 371 at-bats in a major-league season (with Oakland in 2001). Whether he is capable of playing every day all season remains to be seen, so I wouldn't be so quick to double his home-run potential until he actually puts up 550 at-bats in a season. And as far as Walker leading NL second basemen in fielding percentage, let's also remember that it's a statistic that can be misleading as well: If a guy's range is limited, sometimes his fielding percentage is going to be higher because he isn't getting to as many balls as he should, yet he is making the plays on balls hit right at him. Yes, I think this remains a wait-and-see proposition in Boston.
Scott, take a look at what the Detroit Tigers are doing this offseason. Hiring (Alan) Trammell to manage and bringing in (Kirk) Gibson and (Lance) Parrish (to coach) are good moves. But allowing (Robert) Fick and (Randall) Simon to get away without getting hardly anything seems pointless. I have followed and pulled for this team for over 45 years, and it looks as though they are headed for another 100-loss season in '03.
Indeed, has anybody from the organization checked to see if Trammell, Gibson and Parrish can become player/coaches?
From: Chris Lahman, Kent, Ohio
I think that the Cleveland Indians are big losers this offseason so far. With the loss of (Jim) Thome and no other prospects on the horizon, the season for the Indians in my opinion does not look good. ... Until they do get a couple of power hitters. the future looks bleak for the Tribe.
Well, at least you can use the summer to take nice, long walks and get some exercise.
From: Bill Tallman
Taking a quote from your article:
"Since the end of a Series that continues to play in the mind with the clarity of a newly unwrapped DVD, we've also learned that Erstad smashed a clutch home run in Game 6 and made a sensational diving catch in Game 7 with a broken bone in his right hand.
"He had surgery a couple of weeks ago to remove the hook of the hamate bone and should be ready for spring training.
"Funny. As the last pages of the World Series whizzed by, not only did he never say a word, but he never noticeably winced in pain, either -- making the Angels' feat all the more impressive, and none the less surprising."
Shaq (O'Neal) could learn a lesson from a true sportsman. One who takes care of his problems as soon as he can, so that it won't hurt the team's lineup in the next season.
This is a baseball column, sir ... but if someone wants to use it to take shots at that free throw-clanging oaf, Shaq, don't let me stand in the way.
From: Steve from Cincinnati
Scott, I have always been a Reds fan, and I have always been appreciative of their mediocre ways because I always had the Bengals to look at for a model of a terrible sports franchise. Lately though, I cannot stand to look at the columns in sports sections everywhere because all I see are lies. For the last three years, (owner Carl) Lindner and the Reds have told fans to wait till 2003, we're gonna build to win that year, because we are moving in to the taxpayer-paid stadium. Now he's demanding pay cuts, and lovable players like Sean Casey are being traded on the demands of Lindner and his empty pockets. As a sports fan, I cannot deal with these lies anymore and am about to give up hope, ditch all of my values and jump on the Yankees bandwagon because they have an honest owner, and can actually spend money that we as fans pay.
This sounds serious, Steve. Have you consulted a psychiatrist?
From: John Armer
OK, Scott, help me out. Big Reds Fan. We have no pitching and traded our No. 2 reliable starter (Elmer Dessens). Who is going to pitch for us next year besides Jimmy Haynes and Danny Graves in the starting rotation?
Well, there's ... and there's ... Shoot, John, good luck in that new ballpark. You've still got Ryan Dempster. And Chris Reitsma. And good old Jose Rijo.
From: Derek Harper
Scott, as a long-time displaced Giants fan, can you tell me why they were so determined to get rid of Russ Ortiz? Getting Damian Moss is fine, but he was rumored to be going to several teams even before that deal, and the normal reasons don't make sense. To make room for (Kurt) Ainsworth and other prospects in the rotation? Obviously not if they got Moss in return. Salary dump? Ortiz's $4 million-$5 million range the next few years certainly isn't exorbitant. So what's the impetus? Are we going to find out down the road he has rotator cuff problems or is disliked in the clubhouse (which would actually make him desired around there).
Nope, strictly cash, Derek. I know Ortiz's salary isn't exorbitant, but the Giants have a strict mid-$70 million payroll and they're over budget, so GM Brian Sabean is cutting wherever he can.