Thursday, 13 March 2008

Morning Roundup

I salute MLB's efforts to expand into China even though they're less likely to succeed than, say, a Pakistani campaign to bring cricket to the United States.

I spent about five weeks in China during the summer of 2006 and was curious enough about the state of the American pastime in the People's Republic that I had the missus get on the blower to see if we could get some tickets for a game.

When we spoke to a secretary for the Beijing Tigers, the Yankees of the four-team China Baseball League (take it for what it's worth), she first seemed shocked that a lao wai (a non-Asian foreigner) was interested in taking in a game. She was even more baffled by my request for a jersey, t-shirt, or hat, since only players wore those, right? In any event, it all came to naught; she knew neither when nor where the club's next game would take place, which indicates that the CBL is less organized than your average North American T-Ball League.

Despite numerous obstacles (the Chinese have a built-in inferiority complex when it comes to team--and especially mens' team--sports, noone will actually buy official MLB merch when they can get knockoffs for pennies on the dollar, the practice of using umbrellas on sunny days, blocking the view of other spectators, etc.), the MLB has high hopes in the country. I'm keeping tabs and will return to this should anything interesting crop up in the future.

Before I get into real Jays stuff, I'll leave this by noting that the best place in China hands down is the former German naval outpost, Tsingtao (Qingdao). The city is a bustling port and major brewery town now (one part of the imperialist legacy that survived the Cultural Revolution) known as Beer City Asia. Every shop, vendor, news agent, restaurant, etc., had multiple kegs set up out on the sidewalk and you can spend your day walking around town filling your cup for a couple of dimes or so a throw as you meander the streets taking in buddhist temples and turn of the century German architecture. If you want to take some beer back to your hotel, you can go with bottles, or, if you're feeling adventuresome, take home a plastic shopping bag full. It's sold by the kilogram and haggling on price is all part of the game. Your third kg will get pretty flat by the time you're ready to drink it, but still...

The next wave of Casey Janssen updates... Blair writes that this is a "deeply personal" injury for the club (and Casey, of course) because Janssen was one of JP's early guys and the organization is very sensitive to criticism of its drafts. His shoulder woes were a known problem as early as September of last year--which throws new light on what happened two days ago--but JP kept it under his hat so as not to weaken his hand in trade discussions. JP's not panicking and he's rejected a FA fill-in (Kyle Lohse) out of hand because the well is dry.

I don't really really like that. If Reed gets shipped to the Mets, we save about $2 million, which is about what you'd pay for 2/3 of a season from Kyle Lohse before moving him at the trade deadline if all else is going well. It doesn't seem like JP feels enough urgency to go the trade route.

Enter Rule V pickup Randy David Wells? I'll do a profile today or tomorrow.

Wilner is pretty chuffed about Burnett's changeup. Bastian says V-Dub's shoulder is doing great.

Canada presses on in its bid for Olympic Baseball Gold. Jays pitcher Aaron Wideman (A+) is a name to watch.


* It really kicked off between the Yankees and Rays yesterday and it's abundantly clear which side was in the wrong. The issue of playing too hard always crops up when a player gets hurt as a result of a collusion in spring training; we've seen this before. The Yankees took issue when a Rays farmhand ran one of their farmhands at the plate (names are unimportant, neither was going to be in the bigs this year). There was no malicious intent and I think the Rays side adequately expressed regret that the Yankees catcher was injured (he's expected to miss 10 weeks). If you make $10+ million a year, as most Yankees do, then yes indeed, ST is something that can be approached as a tedious but necessary pre-season annoyance--this is pretty much how YES characterized it for Yankee stars in the Jays-Yanks game the other day. But there are also alot of minor leaguers in camp who are battling tooth and nail for a roster spot, or often a spot in AAA rather than AA. They have as much of a right to play hard and slide headfirst as someone like Jason Giambi does to leave in the fourth inning and spend the rest of the afternoon golfing.

The Yankees turned retaliation, ridiculuous of its own right in ST, into escalation. Evan Longoria, the Rays stud prospect and probable 3B this year, was beaned. That should have ended it, but the Yanks play to win, even if it is a silly game of tit for tat. Ghoulish-looking Shelly Duncan later did a pretty good impression of a Ty Cobb slide into second, burying his cleats into Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura's thigh, drawing blood. The Rays, especially sensitive after being ran roughshod over by another AL East bully last year in ST, proceeded to throw down like men. Here are some photos from D-Ray's Bay. Expect this to carry over into the regular season, as if we needed any more reason to hate the Yankees.

* Still with the Rays, Rocco Baldelli is unwell. He has "some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities", which is medical speak for a condition that prevents his muscles from recovering, thereby leaving him fatigued all the time. Doctors really have no idea how long it'll take to overcome this, and health trumps baseball. He starts the season on the DL.

* The Boston Herald reports that the Bosox too feel that they could use another starter. I guess we're not alone in that boat... And less seriously, "Red Sox hurler Clay Buchholz and Penthouse Pet of the Year Erica Ellyson are reportedly an item." Mmmhmm.

-- Johnny Was


Jay K. said...

I think I had all the shopping bags full of beer last night...

Did you hear Colon-cancer is tossing 94mph heat? If that does turn out for them I'll be pretty sad given that Casey "Cam" Janssen was known to have a bum arm.

The Southpaw said...

That's a shocker. Still, it'll be interesting to see how durable Colon proves to be. I'm betting on not very.