Thoughts from the season's penultimate week
If Frank Robinson had not been in Denver recently and reviewed the Rockies' humidor process, maybe there'd be more to think about after Tim Lincecum raised the grassy-knoll issue in Colorado. But think about it: if the Rox were allowed to decide when chilled and juiced balls were employed, the umpires would have to be in on it.
So while Lincecum may have been frustrated, and the Giants have used gamesmanship to their advantage, if this were some sort of grassy-knoll trickery, the Rockies and the umpires would have to have been in on it. And that's not just unlikely, it's not happening.
Rockies players were understandably upset that they were accused of cheating, which essentially means that Lincecum was accusing them of being Coors Lite frauds. That isn't true, any more than San Francisco's gaudy pitching is the product of playing half their games in their pitching-friendly ballpark. When Matt Cain went into the eighth with a no-hitter Sunday and brought his record in his past seven starts to 4-0, 2.46 -- all Giants wins -- it made everyone realize that, come the postseason, the San Francisco rotation is so good that the Giants are one team that could shut down the Phillies and beat the H20 gang.
Look, the Rockies' home-road splits are real -- 465-289 in runs, first at home, 15th on the road; 874 OPS at The Lite (highest), .663 on the road (second-lowest). "We wish we could figure it out," says general manager Dan O'Dowd.
"The humidor has made the game in this park a lot better and fairer," says O'Dowd. "Major League Baseball has reviewed what we do with the baseballs, which has not changed. If they want someone here to monitor what we do, fine, nothing will change. Believe me, we have tried to figure out why our home-road splits are what they are, for years. But to suggest that our performance is the result of cheating simply isn't right."
There is nothing that is going to make a game in Denver normal, or keep balls from shooting through gaps and into the stands. MLB has been convinced that the Rockies have been honorable. But in a great race that has been the victim of East Coast bias, Lincecum has given us something to think about.
One of five thoughts from the second-to-last weekend of the season. Four others:
The Rays came home in first place after winning the last two games in Yankee Stadium, beating the Yankees in two David Price-CC Sabathia matchups over a five-day period, and averaged slightly more than 22,000 in their three-game homestand against Seattle. The Rays are 22nd in attendance. The Orioles are reborn under Buck Showalter and are 24th. Toronto is one of the most interesting teams in either league with Jose Bautista an ever-growing storyline, and they are 26th.
Bud Selig's tenure as Commissioner has been a never-ending devotion to revenue sharing and an even playing field. But the Padres are a great story and averaging less than 27,000; Cincinnati less than 26,000; Washington less than 23,000; and that's before we dip to the bottom in Pittsburgh, Florida, Cleveland and Oakland.
Maybe St. Petersburg is a challenging venue, but part of the problem may be that in the third year of a remarkable three-year run, fans sit at home and understand that the window is just that -- three years -- and that when the season is over and Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and the entire bullpen are gone, they will return to earth. "That is the problem in a lot of small markets," says one GM. "Fans say, 'It won't last.' Look at Cleveland. They almost won it all in 2007, but they had to lose Sabathia and [Cliff] Lee, and now their fans are suspicious about anyone who has success. Padres fans expect Adrian Gonzalez to be gone after next year. There doesn't appear to be a solution."
But it will be owners vs. owners in the next labor bargaining session.
There has been speculation that there will be a bidding war for Japanese (actually Japanese-Iranian) pitcher Yu Darvish this winter. But one scout who watched Darvish isn't sold on Darvish being a front-of-the-rotation starter. "He's good, not great," says the scout. "He throws 91-94, but there's a lot of fear involved. He can come in and intimidate hitters in Japan. That won't fly here. He'll be pretty good, but he's not a premium guy." One Yankees scout gave a similar report.
One scout says Logan Morrison is "the second coming of Don Mattingly. Same discipline, same hand-eye coordination. Great compliment to Mike Stanton." Another call: "Jordan Walden of the Angels is the next Jonathan Broxton." That's the Broxton who was 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA, not the one who since July 11 is 2-6, 7.36.
The Mets will wait until the season ends this weekend before beginning the process of replacing Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel. They would like to find a Pat Gillick (or Sandy Alderson?) to oversee what is a sound front office and scouting department and allow Jeff Wilpon to step back and stay out of the limelight, although that may not be easy. There has been speculation about Rangers GM Jon Daniels, but he may work out an extension to his contract before the end of the season.
They will try to move Carlos Beltran, and there isn't the money to go after Cliff Lee or Crawford. But the farm system produced this season, and what they need is stability and leadership, the back pages notwithstanding.
Peter Gammons is a columnist for MLB.com and analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.