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Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Basic Biittner: The Hot Stove League

Monday, November 12, 2007

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Well, we finally have the baseball season behind us, finishing with yet another "Unofficial World Series," to use the late Frank Miller's term. This, of course, was the fourth consecutive unofficial World Series, and, though I must admit (I mean, I MUST admit - it really pains me) the arch rival Red Sox (aka the Bosox) were pretty darned impressive in sweeping the Cinderella Rockies in four games.

But now comes the real fun part of being a diehard baseball fan - the so-called "Hot Stove League " - the off season, where every team is currently tied for first place (or, if you're a negative, 'glass is half empty' person, tied for last place).

At any rate, the Red Sox are now the defending champions, and everyone else will be wheeling and dealing, dreaming and scheming, over the next few months, in an attempt to become the 2008 World Champions.

The Hot Stove League got an early start this year, thanks to the Bronx Bombers, who managed to lose their respected, revered manager and their best all-around player in a matter of just a few days- and without any compensation, no less.

That was just the beginning, though. After a very public three-day job interview for the managerial job, the Yanks hired - drum roll, please....Joe Girardi!

Not future Hall-of-Famer Tony LaRussa, not "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly, not anyone with either a 1) highly successful long-term managerial record; 2) a high profile; or 3) a "lifelong Yankee."

Yes, Girardi won the Manager of the Year in the NL, but didn't last long there in Miami, despite that early success. And yes, he was a former Yankee player, a backup catcher on three Yankee pennant winners, and he also served as an analyst on Yankee games this season on the YES Network ( George Steinbrenner's personally-owned network). But, as my friend Tim Kenan would tell you, Girardi is not "a Yankee" - he's a Cub!

Anyway, the Yanks have cast their lot with Girardi, for about one-third of what they were paying Joe Torre. So they now have a manager for 2008, now they need a third baseman, among other things.

Part of the intrigue of the Hot Stove League is dreaming about what might be - if your team can just make the right moves. Part of the frustration, on the other hand, is wondering what "might have been," if your team had not made some of the moves they did. Case in point - the Yankees had a third baseman in their minor league system a few years ago who looked pretty promising. That third baseman, Mike Lowell, helped beat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series when he was with the Marlins, and in 2007, playing for the Bosox, parlayed impressive hitting, fielding, and overall hustling into a World Series MVP, winning not one, but two vehicles from Chevy for his efforts. Gee, if the Yanks had kept Lowell, he could have manned the hot corner for the Bombers for many years, and maybe they would not have felt the need to acquire A-Rod and his exorbitant salary and move him from his shortstop position, where he as an All-Star, to the unfamiliar third base spot. Then there's Alfonso Soriano, a surprise star with the Yanks who was unhappy playing second base. Soriano was part of the "package" for A-Rod, and he has continued to be an excellent major league hitter and base runner - first for the Rangers, then the Nationals, and now for the Cubs. After a rough start, he accepted a move to the outfield. Let's see, if the Yanks had held on to Soriano, put him in left field...

Ah yes, the "Hot Stove League," I love it!

Let's see, if A-Rod joins Torre on the Dodgers... hmmm...

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner