OK, so maybe it’s not quite Tuesday yet while I write this. Sue me. Here are just a few stories that I have been thinking about today. Pretty much this post is non-Twins related, so consider yourself forewarned.
1.) Mark McGwire was quite possibly my favorite player not in a Twins uniform when I was growing up. I can’t point to anything in particular that made this the case — maybe I, too, just dug the longball. I still remember sitting in the Upper Deck down the First Base line at the Metrodome when McGwire hit his 36th homerun of the year on June 27, 1998 — the year that he would clobber a then-record 70. I also remember watching (this time from my living room) his unreal blasts in the 1999 Home Run Derby from Fenway Park. And then, of course, there was the rather less than glorious end to his career, the allegations of steroid abuse, and his absurd performance in the 2005 Congressional Hearings on the issue. I find it fascinating, exciting, and horrifying all at once, therefore, that the reclusive McGwire will be emerging back into the baseball world in 2010 as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.
For the record, I think you’d have to be oblivious not to suspect McGwire of using something. Heck, the guy was a teammate of Jose Canseco right as the stuff started to explode into the baseball world. Certainly, that realization changed the way I viewed McGwire (I was very naive about sports figures until I was into my early 20’s, and still have the capacity to be disappointed by them on occasion, which is somewhat remarkable really). Nonetheless, I still genuinely like the guy and wish him well. By no means do I think he should be excluded from a big league clubhouse, and I haven’t really even heard that suggestion anywhere. I wish him and the Cardinals success next year. I’ll save my thoughts on his Hall of Fame candidacy until January.
2.) Manny Acta must be the best interviewer in the world. He managed the Nationals to a 158-252 record in his time there, and while he undoubtedly had absolute junk to work with, that’s a hard number to look past. I’m not in any position to judge Acta’s player development skills, and it seems obvious that nothing figured more prominently in the Indians’ decision on hiring him. I’m just saying, all things being equal, I’m not exactly quaking in my boots about an imminent Indians turnaround in 2010.
3.) Steve Phillips’ obviously has bigger things to worry about than analyzing ballgames for ESPN right now, and I feel particularly badly for his 16-year-old son who bizarrely was wrapped in the mess. Nonetheless, I’ll miss Phillips on ESPN programming — like anyone who has to talk for a living, he said plenty of boneheaded things, but he had a good voice for broadcasting and he usually (though, as I said, not always) was insightful.
4.) What’s that? The World Series starts this week? I suppose I’d better make a pick then. Phillies in 6. Ryan Howard silences the Yankee Stadium crowds not once, not twice, but three times with bombs to right field. Pedro makes like its 1999. Brad Lidge forgets that he blew a million saves this year. Best of all? Yanks go home without a trophy 9th straight year. A boy can dream, right? Hello . . .?