Baseball may yet prove to be sane
Two events this week may show that fiscal sanity is finally coming to major league baseball.
The first was the passing of the July 31 trading deadline and its relative lack of activity.
The second is the impending punishments to be doled out to Alex Rodriguez and several other players involved in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.
What do either, you say, have to do with baseball reigning in its exaggerated spending?
The lack of activity at the trade deadline, according to ESPN analyst Buster Olney, who predicted it during Sunday's Red Sox-Orioles telecast, is a result of general managers and teams just not being willing to take in players with huge contracts, no matter how much they could use them for the two-month pennant drive.
Almost all of the contenders could use a pitcher like the Phillies' Cliff Lee. None, however, wanted to pick up his contract.
Ditto for just about every other big name out there.
Instead, Olney said that teams are finding it cheaper in the long run to develop their minor league systems and try to structure future contracts more to their liking and the bottom line, than trying to "buy" a pennant, something which was in vogue just a couple of years ago.
That, plus the split into three divisions in each league with an extra wild-card spot, makes it tough for teams to be sellers as well. A poll of Phillies fans last weekend would have overwhelmingly been in favor of selling off some of the team's top (overpaid?) talent. But even in the wake of their recent eight-game losing streak, the 50-57 Phillies, or the Nationals, Mets, Rockies, Yankees, Royals and even the Seattle Mariners, can't be written off as out of contention yet, and their GMs and owners can't be so anxious to divest players.
There are two months to play yet. An incredible amount of change can happen in two months.
Don't think so? On June 1st, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 22-30 in the NL West, in last place, seven games out. Two months, a Yasiel Puig and a Hanley Ramirez later, they're in first place (57-48) with a 3½-game lead. They went 35-18 in that span after their bad start.
In the pre-division days, the Phillies would be tied for ninth place in a 15-team league and have to crawl over eight teams. A player purge should be expected in that situation. Now, they're third in their division and not all that far back. They don't look like a playoff team, but you never know.
As for the impending punishments, last week's 65-game suspension of the Brewers' Ryan Braun was remarkable, not in itself, but in the comments of his fellow players. Just a couple of years ago, the players and their union would have rallied around Braun, Rodriguez and the rest. Not so now. This time, players almost uniformly expressed their disappointment and disgust with Braun.
That means that the rank-and-file players (if people making an average salary of $2 million or so a year can be referred to as rank-and-file) must think that the players association is finally taking up their cause, instead of that of the ultra-exclusive guys such as Braun and A-Rod. All of a sudden, it doesn't look worth it to pump up your body with chemicals to enhance your chances of making really big money.
Kessler should resign
Joseph Nahas, attorney for Gilberton Police Chief Mark Kessler, put a nice spin on Kessler's profanity-laced videos at Thursday's Gilberton Borough Council meeting at which Kessler was suspended for 30 days for using borough equipment - guns - in the videos.
Nahas and Kessler's gun-toting supporters outside the borough hall state that Kessler was being denied his First Amendment right of free speech, but he wasn't.
The First Amendment says:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
In other words, Kessler can't be thrown into jail for making his inflammatory videos. He hasn't been and won't be.
But his First Amendment rights don't apply to his job or his position on the North Schuylkill School Board. As police chief, he took an oath to serve the public in Gilberton. Whether he likes it or not, part of that public may include a few "libtards" as he calls them. Whether he likes it or not, his bosses (Gilberton's taxpayers) have every right to expect better from their civil servants.
If you've seen the videos, you know what I mean. They're a disgrace to his uniform, all policemen, and Schuylkill County residents. If I were to post a video on YouTube, using similar language, whether it was on my free time or not, I suspect my bosses wouldn't be too happy about it and I'd fear for my job.
Kessler's claims on an area television station that the media has blown the situation out of proportion are bogus, as well. Why did he make the videos? So people would see them. Why did he use such foul language? For shock value.
He wanted his 15 minutes of fame and got them. He also is getting more than he bargained for. Now he should do the honorable thing, and resign from both his police chief post and his seat on the school board.