This Stuff Happened — 4/10/12

Guillen Faces 5-Game Suspension; Scorn of a City.

Despite Ozzie Guillen’s decision to return to Miami on his off-day to give a conciliatory and apologetic press conference, the Marlins have announced Guillen will be suspended for five games without pay.  The suspension stems from comments attributed to Guillen in an interview where he said he loved and respected Fidel Castro.  The reaction in Miami, which has a significant Cuban population, has been that this is the worst thing Guillen could have said.  While nationally we may not understand the significance the reaction in Miami has been swift and severe with many calling for Guillen to lose his job.  Guillen seemed genuinely remorseful in his press conference today, but whether his relationship with the city and fans can be salvaged remains to be seen.  It’s not often that baseball gets tied up in such a political web, but Guillen’s comments are not completely without precedent.  Toward the end of her time with the Reds, owner Marge Schott commented that Adolf Hitler was, “good at the beginning, but just went too far.”  Eventually MLB intervened with Schott, removing her from day-to-day operations with the Reds.  At the present the commissioner’s office seems satisfied with the Marlins’ suspension.

***

Did you know colleges had chess teams?  I sure didn’t.  Maybe a club?  Nothing against chess, but my understanding was that most chess was played online and in sweet tournaments like I saw in Searching for Bobby Fischer.  Well, apparently there is a college chess championship and it has been won for two consecutive years by Texas Tech.  Bringing the school the glory that Bobby Knight and Mike Leach could not, Susan Polgar turned her chess squad into a national power.  The twist is, Polgar and her entire team are packing up shop and heading to Webster University in St. Louis.  St. Louis is an epicenter of chess in the United States (another fact I was unfamiliar with) and Webster has offered to roll out the red carpet for national champs.  The team jumped at the offer of full scholarships, and Texas Tech will be forced to rebuild.  I wonder if John Calipari is available to help with recruiting.

***

Some Phillies talk?  General baseball chatter?  It looks to me that Cole Hamels might become the story of 2012 for the Phillies.  Obviously the questions about the offense remain, but Hamels and his contract situation is an issue that will shape the direction of the franchise.  I thought all along that the Phillies would re-sign Hamels, because that’s what they do–sign pitching, but before the season kicked off there was the first talk of Hamels ending up elsewhere.  Then after the game yesterday Hamels showed some signs of frustration with the Phillies’ offense and the way the team has played around him in the last couple of seasons.  If Hamels shows a tendency to return to his early career petulance, and the Phillies struggle this season, there might be no choice but to let Cole walk.  Take that money and start thinking about really getting younger and helping the offense.

Statistical Oddities from the 1st Week of the Season:

1.  Barry Zito:  1-0, 0.00 ERA.  Zito tossed a 4-hit shutout in his season debut.  OK.  Way to live up to that contract for one game, Barry.  Speaking of contracts, the new 9-figure man, Matt Cain sports a 7.50 ERA after his first start.

2.  David Wright:  .583, 1 HR, 4 RBI.  Wright is leading the red-hot Mets to an improbable start.  The question will be how long can the Mets hang around and if they don’t, what would Wright bring at the deadline if he was having a solid season?

3.  Jeff Samardzija:  1-0, 1.04 ERA.  Samardzija, the noted WR from Notre Dame has had trouble finding a role with the Cubs.  Now a starter, he was throwing in the mid-90s into the 9th inning in his season debut.

4.  Starlin Castro:  4 SB.  Castro is on pace for 162 steals.  Since he’s my fantasy baseball SS, I’m pleased.  The question is, if pitching keeps on rolling, will we see a rise in SB, could we eventually approach the glorious days of the mid-80s when a 100 steal season was possible?

5.  Mariano Rivera: 0-1, 13.50 ERA.  Rivera blew a save on Opening Day, setting the Yankees up for an 0-3 start.  Of all the elder Yankees, Rivera is probably still the most important.  Good news is, Mo bounced back with a scoreless inning against the O’s.

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