When the season starts the Red Sox will be on the hook for $186 million for four players languishing on the disabled list from whom they have no clue how much to expect if and when they repair. The four are, of course, Brothers Crawford, Jenks, Matsuzaka, and Lackey. The Conventional Wisdom casually assumes Carl Crawford will be fine when his wrist heals in apparent disregard of the fact that a similar injury swiftly finished a substantially better player, Nomar Garciappara. The fair-minded will argue GM's can't be blamed for the caprices of the baseball gods but it nonetheless helps explain why the Henry-Lucchino-Werner axis clearly doesn't bemoan Theo Epstein's defection.
Every time you hear the baseball savants rave about the "genius" of the comfortably retired Tony LaRussa don't you also wonder how come if he's so smart he couldn't figure out what those "Bash Brothers" -- Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire -- were up to over the course of a dozen years in Oakland? My hunch is that Tony was so busy dazzling the media he didn't have time to pay attention to what was happening in his own locker room. I say if McGwire doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame then neither does LaRussa.
Grapes on ice
Finally, in his latter day role as Canadian television's resident court jester, old pal Don Cherry isn't taken too seriously anymore. He labored a player's lifetime in hockey's salt-mines for servant's wages. Now he makes a killing dressing outlandishly and bellowing whatever fool thing amuses him or irritates the establishment. More power to him, says I.
But in all his buffoonery "Grapes" knows the game if ever a man did, and his near bellicose weekly rant on CBC telecasts in favor of changing the old "icing" rule ought to be taken seriously in the effort to curb injuries and especially the rise in concussions. Grapes argues, and he documents the point well, that an alarming number of "bad hits" result from the needless chase to "touch up" the puck on icing calls. Make them automatic and let on-ice officials call them without a "touch-up," he argues, thereby eliminating the needless dash that too often ends with the defensemen running down the puck getting needlessly drilled against the boards by the forward who arrives a step behind him. If it happens only once a game it results in too many injuries.
The proposed return of the red-line aimed at slowing down the game and curbing the runaway freight train collisions also much on the rise is another logical consideration in the crusade to make the game safer. Mid-ice collisions and bad hits on the boards are much more dangerous than the stray fisticuffs that command too much of the attention.
This too is Cherry's position. But the league is now run by cadres of lawyers in concert with ad-men and TV producers, few of whom ever strapped on a pair of skates let alone played the game. Such changes as they come up with will undoubtedly be the wrong ones, just like the brilliant idea of the losses that aren't losses.
Frankly, for commissioner I'd take Grapes in his zany costumes and Falstaffian fulminations any day over the starchy Madison Ave barrister they got from the NBA. But I doubt Grapes would want the job. He's having too much fun.
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