added 3/2/2009 by Scott Barzilla
As one radio commentator pined, "March is when the baseball season really begins." I'm not sure how many people would agree with that, but is has happened and the newness of games has worn off. Of course, getting blistered in two out of the last three games and losing four in a row doesn't help on that front. Still, the Astros can thank their lucky stars that they haven't found themselves on the tabloids.
The latest saw Jim Bowden resign from the Nationals. Of course, I thought he would resign once he figured out that eight or nine outfielders can't all play at the same time. Bowden has now underachieved in two places at the ripe young age of 47. Morever, there is now a skimming scandal that he may or may not be a part of. Of course, he blamed the press for reporting this. Yeah, those pesky reporters giving us the facts.
Then, you have everyone's favorite show, Manny being Manny that seems to go on ad nasuem. He will take 45 million if it is all up front while the Dodgers want to defer some. Meanwhile, he is the only player continuing on as if the economy were humming along great. Good luck to Manny in his endeavor of being the highest paid player.
Finally, you have the ongoing drama surrounding the World Baseball Classic. Heck, with the rate that American players are dropping out you might expect the U.S. to just send Bellaire High School on a three-week sojourn. Heck, a game between Bellaire and South Africa may actually take nine innings. Pair the U.S. with Italy, the Netherlands, and South Africa and Bellaire would get just as far as the paid athletes.
This leaves us the normal everyday drama of camp. Non-roster invitees are going down in flames as the Astros fans prepare themselves for a long year. The offense has combined for a grand total of six runs in three games while the pitching staff surrendered 13 runs on Sunday. As one poster said, "when you give up a grand slam AND three run home run in 2/3 of an inning it isn't a good day." Does this eliminate Clay Hensley? Who knows, Danny Graves blew up in the opener and he's still in camp. He even had a scoreless inning on Sunday.
However, the biggest drama is yet to come. You have a battle royale at third base between a washed up Aaron Boone, a "most of these guys never had a prime" Geoff Blum, and the young Chris Johnson. You have an impending battle for the backup spot at shortstop. Drew Sutton might be the sleeper there. Then, you have the spot that no one seems to want to win behind the plate. The first one above the Mendoza line wins.
The great thing about the drama of Spring Training is that one game can vault someone up or down the depth chart. If a pitcher hurls three scoreless innings then he becomes a favorite. If he gets Henslied then could find himself in minor league camp. The same is true for hitters. Someone seemingly on the outs can throw up a 3 for 3 and be right back in the hunt.
As mundane as these position battles may seem, I'm rooting for the mundane. I don't need anymore public apologies or MLB investigations. I certainly don't need Congress getting involved. Perjury is fine for Law and Order, but I'd rather listen to the game on the radio and look at the box score. Root for the good guys has never sounded better.