Spring is in the air

The last couple of days, at least in Chicago, have been seasonably warm and very wet.  So warm and wet in fact, it seems like I ought to turn on the TV and see a ball game.  Alas that is still a ways off.  And while I am anxiously awaiting the start of spring training, my sports fan focus remains on so many wonderful stories happening around me-the Bears have a chance to win the division today, the Blackhawks are one of the top 4 or 5 teams in hockey, and Illinois State begins conference play today as one of the few remaining unbeatens in the nation.

Even with those other things going on, I still need the medicine of baseball.  Baseball calms the nerves and makes everything else seem like it is going to be fine.  Thankfully, as the warmth we have enjoyed will certainly go away, there is plenty to keep me going until Spring Training.  I find myself spending a great deal of time watching baseball movies and documentaries, reading and re-reading books about the great game, and looking forward to the launch of MLB TV on January 1, 2009.  I only hope, at some point soon, they relive the 2006 World Series…that would be time well spent!

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My Holiday Wishes

As Christmas Day winds down, I thought now is a perfect time to share my holiday wishes, most of which have yet to come true, with my loyal readers:

1)  Fuentes to either make a decision or have one thrust upon him.  Seriously dude, you are not that good where you get to try and dominate the headlines like you are.

2)  A closer for the Cards!  If it ends up being Fuentes fine, but anyone who can go out and lock down a late lead most of the time.  Had the Cards only blown half as many leads as they did last year, they would’ve won the division.

3)  Little Steinbrenner to learn he is not Mr. Steinbrenner.  The old man main have been a pain at times, but he is a leader to the fullest.  Hank…Hal…sorry cats, but you are not your dad.  Embrace your place and things will be much better for you!

4)  The Rays to win the AL East again-if for no other reason, than to prove their organizational leadership is about as good as their is in baseball.

5)  My brother-in-law to stop talking!

I hope everyone had a great holiday and is looking forward to the 2009 baseball season!

I generally like agents, but…

I am nothing more than a fat guy who advertises “breaking” news by hoping he is the first guy to repeat what someone else said on TV.  That in mind, by now everyone has had sufficient time to digest the Rafael Furcal coverage.  However for those of you who have not, let me draw your conclusion for you–Arn Tellem and Co. ought to be thrown out of Major League Baseball forever!

The job of the agent, as we all know, is to get the best possible contract for his or her client.  And while some people become a bit worked up about Scott Boras thinking all his players deserve to be the highest paid players in the game, the bottom line is he gets the Benjamin’s for his guys.  And certainly thre is a bit of flair to his work, but he–and most agents–have a certain respect for the process.  Certainly some agents say stupid things (fankly I just don’t think some agents are all to smart) and may have a camera lovefest beyond their profile, but what Team Furcal did is absolutely gross.  When a deal is struck and agreed upon, that’s the deal.  You don’t get to take the signed agreement to other organizations and tell them to beat it.  While that’s bad in it’s own right, it is still not as bad as how they justified what they did. 

Arguing they were trying to do what’s in the best interest of their client was bad enough, but then to hide behind the union and NLRB (BTW-ask the UAW how that has worked out for them this year) is terrible.  The guy’s you really need to feel sorry for in this process are the low dollar middle reliever or utility player these yahoo’s represent.  The bit player who will never have the chance to suit up for one of the top organizations in the game simply because they employ an Eric Gordon (not the basketball player) approach to business ethics!

What’s Ken Williams Thinking?

Sitting in the house, wathcing the snow fall (hoping no more falls as I have shovelled twice already) I find myself wondering about the White Sox.  For so long, baseball fans in Chicago have become used to the White Sox making a big splash in the off-season.  There is no reason to think they won’t this year as well, but what will the move be?

Rumors contine to be out there, but I am starting to grow anxious.  Please Ken Williams, for all that is right in the world, jsut make some sort of huge move!

A Bad Swing and Miss

While I am nothing more than a typically 30-something Midwesterner, I have a bit of understanding regarding other cultures.  And while I have never been to Japan, it is clear the Japanese cherish-among other things-respect.  Respect-it has to be the reason Fukudome was included on the initial 34 man roster for the the Classic.  Yes, that Fukudome…the same Fukudome who was a celebrity in Chicago before he hit his Opening Day Shot…the same Fukudome who was ultimately benched and rightfully should have been left off the post-season roster (although that wasn’t going to matter much).

Anyone who knows me understands I am certainly no Cub fan, so being party to their repeated failures makes me happy.  However I am a fan of the Classic (although I wasn’t at first…I came around to it) and would like the most balanced and competitve rosters possible.  I guess it’s hard to question their management-after all they are the defending Classic champions.  Still, with such depth in their baseball is Fukudome really worthy of a roster spot?

Awesome new name…same great post’s!

After more than a year away, everyone’s favorite blogger is making his triumphant return!  I admit, the reason for my departure had nothing to do with baseball and more to do with thinking MLB.Com was indifferent to fan blogging on MLB Blogs.  Clearly my position had some merit, but also some flawed logic.  This platform was such a new-and relative to other sports-unique way for fans to pretend to be pro’s and pro’s to gauge what the proletariate was feeling, it was going to take some time.

Many bloggers-myself included-failed to work through the bugs, instead trying to have their collective voice heard in a different forum.  I am not going to write about a great deal of soul searching or reflection, but rather point out MLB.Com has given fans something wonderful and made it even more so by providing free.  Certainly it would be wonderful if MLB.Com were able to market MLB Blogs to everyone, but that is another conversation for another time.  While my blog may have an awesome new name, it is still the same old Carlson Corner many of you came to know and love.  And on that note, it is time for a completely awkward transition towards my first post!

This is clearly the worst time of year for any sports fan, especially hardcore baseball fans.  College Football is on their silly 5 week long break, before subjecting us to 29 terrible games and 5 good games, the NFL only happens once a week (sort of) and the skeleton of a playoff situation is at least done, the College Basketball has yet to enter conference play, the NHL is going strong-for those few Hockey fans out there, the NBA is…well…the NBA, and Thoroughbred Racing is in its winter slow down.  All that being said, and we are still 2 months from Pitcher’s & Catcher’s reporting! 

With the winter meetings now wrapped, and a hand full of deals either completed, soon to be completed, or possibly dead, all of us are feeling either disappointed in our respective clubs or upset at the Yankees and their disregard for logic!  There is still a great deal to be decided this offseason however with a handful of noteables still on the trade market or available via free agency.  Certainly Teixeira is the biggest name on the market and Peavy thing will come to a conclusion sooner rather than later, but more important than those fine players are what happens with the guys on that second tier.  

Looking at the rosters heading into 2009, it seems reasonable to assume there are maybe 15 to 18 teams who can make a case for the post-season.  Of course by May, a few of those teams will already be dead, and my June a couple more, but right now let’s go with 15 to 18.  And just so nobody thinks I am just throwing that number out there, here’s my run-down (3 in the AL East, 4 in the AL Central, 3 in the NL East, 4 in the NL Central, and both western divisions are pretty wide open).  

I understand the big names get on Sportscenter and kids buy their jersey’s, but so often the playoffs could well come down to finding that random player or catching lightning in a bottle with an aging veteran having one last hurrah.  What happens if Mike Hampton goes out and wins 15, and now the Astro’s make up ground in the Central.  Or what of that team who lands Furcal-a guy who can hit in a couple spots and holds his own in the middle infield?

A number of players are not even close to signing and they can make all the difference.  Anything can happen, and say the Cardinals all the sudden find someone to close out games or Kerry Wood keeps his All-Star form behind a pretty damn good rotation.  It makes perfect sense that CC Sabathia gets the headlines-and he deserves them…he’s that good, but come September, how much money you spent can have little to do with your record!