And of course with any new year, there are a few changes here and there. The most noticeable were in the Phillies clubhouse, where Jim Thome’s things had been cleared out of his old locker just to the left of the double doors opening to the showers and Brett Myers had taken over. Instead of Billy Wagner slinking around and chattering away in the corner closest to the training room, Flash Gordon had parked his stuff.
On the other side of the room, a row of California kids had blossomed with Mike Lieberthal, Randy Wolf, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell all staking their claims right next to each other. Interestingly, Burrell had moved his stall clear across the room from a macho row of sorts where he held court with departed pals Jason Michaels and Todd Pratt during the past two seasons.
Interestingly, Burrell’s old locker was being used by aging wunderkind Chris Coste. If location, location, location is truly the most important aspect of real estate, then it appears as if Coste might be hanging around in Philadelphia for a little while.
Rowand is in center Newcomer Aaron Rowand’s prowess in center field was quite noticeable in his first home game at the Bank today. Yeah, he had that nifty sliding catch to take away a hit from Boston, and he appeared to glide like a gazelle when tracking down a well-struck ball to the right-center power alley.
But where Rowand’s ability really stood out was when he deftly played a carom high off the center field triangle area in the deepest part of the park. Instead of racing to the base of the wall and getting caught in a no-man’s land where the ball could rocket over his head, Rowand played it cool, waited to see where the ball would land, and then properly played the hop.
Had he not missed cut-off man Jimmy Rollins in short center field, Rowand would have had a chance to nab a runner scoring from first on the double.
Jimmy talks streak Here’s my recording of Jimmy Rollins’ post-game conference where he talks about his epic hitting streak one last time before the season starts.
Missing is the short conversation Rollins, Mike Radano and I had about the shortstop’s experiment with contact lenses during the spring. No, Rollins doesn’t need glasses or anything like that – he was just testing out a pair of sunglass-styled lenses that made his pupils look orange.
And like any novice contact wearer, Rollins battled that “lens sweat” where it took roughly 20 hours just to get one lens in.Bonds… Barry Bonds Interestingly, Rollins addressed the Barry Bonds/steroid investigation crisis and how his hitting streak could potentially create a diversion. Though Bonds’ name didn’t come up very often today, the pall of the pending investigation seemed to suffocate the joy of the beginning of a new season.
Twice during the past month, I wrote a short column for the CSN e-mail blast about the Bonds story long before it was decided by Commissioner Bud Selig that an investigation was necessary. But because of events that trumped the column’s newsworthiness, it never was blasted through the ether. So if you’ll indulge me, I’ll just reprint the dead-letter here:
We interrupt this calm, quiet spring training for Bonds.
Barry Bonds.Perhaps more than any event that has occurred since Charlie Hustle, Pete Rose, was banned for life for betting on his sport, the allegations that Bonds was a frequent and sophisticated steroid user printed in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated and the soon-to-be released tome "Game of Shadows" by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, will resonate long after the slugger is old, hobbled and scrawny. But whether or not Bonds injected, swallowed or vapo-rubbed the cream, the clear, Deca-Durabolin, insulin, human growth hormone or those cattle 'roids really isn't the issue any more. Since he is already guilty in the court of public opinion as well as the minutia gathered by two bloodhound reporters, there really isn't much Bonds can do to restore an image that was nearly as low as someone who enjoys dropkicking puppies. The issue is whether Major League Baseball will truly investigate the claims John Dowd-style. Dowd, of course, was the investigator who nailed Rose. He also said in a recent published report that commissioner Bud Selig should hire an outside investigator to research the allegations. "If you do nothing, you leave a cloud on the game," Dowd told reporters. Certainly Dowd is correct. Whether or not the greatest offensive era in the long history of baseball was simply a matter of correct chemistry rather than unquenched assiduity is a fair question to ask for fans that were blissfully duped all of these years. But if Selig and his merry men only choose to dip their toe into the steroid pool to see if the tepid waters unmask simply the obvious, then it really isn't fair. Bonds, owner of the record for most home runs in a season and rapidly approaching the all-time records set by Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, appears to be alone in the spotlight. And whether the allegations prove to be true or not, Bonds likely is not the only player in baseball history to use performance-enhancing substances. So if baseball is truly serious about a real investigation, which Selig said he is, then Bonds must only be the tip of the iceberg. Did Mark McGwire use more than androstenedione before or after his historic home run chas in 1998? Do regular B-12 shots really cause one to fail a drug test as if he were using Winstrol, as one-time future Hall-of-Famer Rafael Palmeiro claimed? More interestingly, will Jose Canseco be remembered as the man who forced baseball to address its dirty little secret once and for all?
Finally How could we just let the impending divorce of Anna and Kris Benson pass without a comment? Seriously, if an ex-stripper and a professional athlete can’t make it work, what hope is there for the rest of us?