Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cheap Shots and Shameful Behavior

It's been a shameful week so far at the Tribune Tower, as two of the company's star columnists engaged in some pretty disgraceful behavior.

First, Big Mouth Morrissey took it upon himself to get Ozzie Guillen to respond to his insulting, anonymously-send e-mail. At the end of the day, Big Mouth is man enough to tell Ozzie he's the guy who's been sending the insulting e-mails. But still -- why in God's name would anyone do that?

Let alone an allegedly professional journalist?

This little escapade doesn't quite reach these heights in terms of outright ignominity. But it comes close.

Meanwhile, Dr. Phil gives us his take on the Brewer's trade for Captain Cheeseburger and the Cubs' move to pick up Rich Harden. True to form, in Dr. Phil's world everything is sunshine and lollipops for the Brew Crew, and doom and gloom for the Cubs.

Buried towards the end of the piece is this little nugget of joy:

Another scout said he did not view Harden as the next best pitcher available after Sabathia because of "makeup" and health questions. He said Harden, who had spent months rehabilitating from a strained shoulder, declined to make starts last September because the A's were out of the race.

If true, that's positively Prioriffic.

Well played, sir! A definite two-fer for the mediocre Doctor! Getting the boot in on Harden and Prior at the same time...not everyone can pull that off. It takes some real talent.

A couple thoughts on the cheap shot(s):

1. If true (and that's a big if, considering all we have to go on is the word of an anonymous scout who's already on the record as being anti-Harden and is probably not a world-class clairvoyant able to read Harden's mind), is it really such an awful thing? For a pitcher rehabbing a bum shoulder to not push himself just to pitch some meaningless September games?

For years, Dr. Phil (and others) lambasted Dusty Baker for pushing Kerry Wood and Mark Prior to the breaking point in 2003. Which, you may recall, was a year my heroes were in the midst of a pennant race.

But now it's bad form for Harden to not want to pitch for the opprtunity to pitch the A's to 81 wins rather than the 79 they wound up with?

2. And perhaps a real smart baseball guy like Billy Beane would agree that, perhaps, it wouldn't be wise to hustle a pitcher back on the mound just to impress the scouts.

3. A couple years ago, Derrick Lee begged off some meaningless September games while he recovered from a broken wrist (and to be with his ailing daughter). He could have played, but opted to be with his family and get healthy for the next year. Does that make D-Lee "Prioriffic," too?

4. And why the cheap shot at Prior in the first place? I was as frustrated at Prior's health problems as anyone. But good God -- is there any reason for the constant harping on the guy?

Especially since Dr. Phil himself was pimping Prior as a potential Godsend for the Padres mere days before the start of the 2008 season:

While still feeling the effects of his 2007 shoulder surgery, [Mark] Prior had an outstanding spring training. He will benefit from being away from the intense scrutiny that came with the expectations he created for himself at Wrigley Field. He will start the season on the disabled list but could make 20-plus starts. Prior can be a free agent after this season, which was a factor in the Cubs not offering him salary arbitration, so he won't lack for motivation. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs will have two starters pitching better than Prior in August and September, when he could have been pushing the Cubs toward the playoffs.

Prioriffic, indeed. I'm willing to bet we have two starters pitching better than Prior in August and September...

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