I was rifling through Twitter today when I remembered the words of Dennis Miller who said:
“Never has a culture that’s done so little, been so overly chronicled”.
The injury to the Pacers Paul George was one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The Pacers star snapped his lower leg careening off a stanchion during a scrimmage with Team USA. The incident is likely to spawn even louder complaints from NBA owners on the use of their players for the Olympics or this summer’s FIBA World Championships.
George, the Pacers best player, is likely to miss all of next season and the argument is that his pro team is the one assuming all the medical risk. It’s a fair point, especially for a team that’s getting ready to play out the first year of a five season deal worth $92M. You don’t just replace a player like George, which puts Indiana in a tenuous position for next season. I know guys like to represent their country and that’s commendable, but NBA owners deserve more protection for their investments.
Jason Vargas returned from an emergency appendectomy to pitch for the first time in three weeks yesterday. Matched against Jon Lester, he went pitch to pitch with the A’s newly acquired star, retiring 12 straight through his first four innings, then helping to allow 12 straight to reach in a fateful fifth. Still, James Shields gives Kansas City a chance to win the series tomorrow afternoon; the two clubs will play four more in KC the week after next.
I don’t give the Royals much of a playoff chance, but I do admire their pluck. They remain a feisty group which seems bent on proving their numerous critics wrong. The problem is that this really isn’t a story of the ‘little train that could’, the Royals should be a contender right now.
KC is just four years removed from Baseball America declaring it to have the best system in baseball. At over $90M in salary the Royals are right in the middle of Major League Baseball in terms of payroll. The Mariners, Pirates, Rays and Marlins, all contenders, are spending less. The Oakland Athletics, the team with the best record in baseball, started the season spending $13M less than the Royals. This is Dayton Moore’s ninth year on the job as the club’s General Manager, his eighth full season. No GM in baseball is as tenured as Moore without having reached a playoff.
For all their progress, for years they’ve had nowhere to go but up, the Royals remain a barely relevant team on the fringe of playoff contention. They’ve consistently passed up the chance to put a bat in the middle of their lineup, thinking that Billy Butler was going to be that bat. But after hitting .313 with 29 homers and 107 RBI in an All Star season two years ago—he’s done virtually nothing and he’s a player who can’t play a position. At 29, there’s the understandable hope that he could return to his former self, but can the Royals really afford to wait on him?
The same question can be asked of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer, neither of which has yet to approach the promise forecasted for them. In both their cases you have to be patient, but it would sure be nice if a prospect could burst onto the scene in KC, instead of having the potential coaxed out of him.
Of course, I gripe about all of this knowing that the Royals are just five games out of the division race and two and a half games back of a wild card. I hope they make the post season, I hope that Moore gets the last laugh—but even then, how well are they set up to move forward?