Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Baldy's back, and just in time for my favorite month

10. My Internet buddy (and faithful reader back when my columns appeared in the Springfield, Ill., newspaper), Doug Nicodemus, has been asking me repeatedly why I haven't been blogging much lately. On Monday, after checking TBT regularly the last 5 weeks but finding no new entries, he posted this on my Facebook page:

"no blog for awhile ... are we all done ... maybe ..."

No, I'm not all done. But as I have explained to Doug -- and as I explained earlier Monday to my softball buddy Johnny, whom I saw at a local golf course -- the little bit of writing I'm doing these days has involved me getting paid. Crazy concept, I know.

Not that money is the end-all and be-all, but it buys more things than bupkis. Which is what I get paid for posting here on The Baldest Truth.

So to my tens and tens of regular readers, I thank you for your loyalty but I make no promises other than to say that I'll continue to blog when something strikes me as relevant or when I have some spare time to write pro bono.

9. As much as I'd like to see the Pirates or Rays or A's win for the small markets or the Indians or Reds win for underdogs everywhere, I can't bring myself to predict multiple champagne showers for those teams this October.

I'm thinking the Tigers, with their fine starting pitching and powerful middle of the order, will meet the talented, high-priced Red Sox, for the AL pennant. And the Dodgers, with their incredible pitching, will take on the Cardinals, who always seem to rise to the occasion, for the NL crown. 

If the Tigers had a stud reliever, I'd pick them to beat the Red Sox. But they don't. So I won't. 

I'd like to see the Cardinals do it with Mike Matheny managing, because I always appreciated him as a player, but the Dodgers remind me of recent Giants teams that won championships despite mediocre hitting.

So I'm saying Red Sox vs. Dodgers in the World Series.

The champion? I'm leaning Dodgers, but I'll hold off with an "official" prediction until we get to the Series.

There. I've committed to another blog post later in October. That should make Doug and Johnny delirious with joy!

8. Folks keep trying to find all kinds of reasons that somebody other than Miguel Cabrera should win the AL MVP. Please. This is one of those it's-so-obvious-there-must-be-another-choice situations, like when NBA MVP voters used to try to find somebody not named Michael Jordan to win the award.

Mike Trout had a fine season for a sub-.500 Angels team that finished 18 games out -- a team that started poorly in part because Trout started poorly. And yet Cabrera still had better stats almost across the board, almost won a second straight Triple Crown, and did it all for a team he led to another division title.

This is the no-brainer of all no-brainers. Sabermetricians and other misguided souls need to stop trying to make this "race" something it isn't. 

Cabrera should be the unanimous MVP choice.

7. Meanwhile, if I had an NL MVP vote, I'd be going with Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, the single biggest reason Atlanta led its division from wire-to-wire.

When a team blows a late-inning lead, it's bad. When that happens repeatedly, it's catastrophic -- not only in the standings but in the psyche of every player on that team.

What a great joy and comfort it must have been all season for manager Fredi Gonzalez and all the Atlanta players to know their team pretty much was never going to blow a ninth-inning lead.

6. My "hometown" NFL team, the Panthers, better not have spent their bye week patting themselves on their backs for their blowout victory over the Giants. 

Everybody blows out the Giants!

The only team worse than the Giants right now is Jacksonville. And yes, I said "right now" for a reason. The Giants might still be able to find a new low.

5. I have started umpiring youth baseball, something I hadn't done for at least two decades. My first game was supposed to be this coming Wednesday but the umpiring coordinator was in a pinch and asked me call the bases for three games last Sunday involving 9-year-olds.

The first game began at noon. It went so long -- walks, physical errors, more walks, mental mistakes, still more walks; these are 9-year-olds, after all -- that the second game started 45 minutes late. That game also went long, so the third game started more than an hour late, and didn't end until 6:58 p.m.

So I spent 7 hours standing on a hot, dusty field. I tried to stay hydrated but almost surely didn't drink enough. I ate only an apple. By the time I drove home, I had one of the worst headaches of my life.

Next time I have to work more than one game, I will make sure I sit down between innings, will find some shade between games and will force myself to consume several gallons of water. Oh, and I'll take some Advil before the first pitch of the first game!

4. Because I umped all day Sunday, I watched zero football. Just saw a few highlights on ESPN; I couldn't watch it with the volume on because my head was pounding. 

I couldn't help but notice that Jay Cutler was back to his old give-the-ball-away tricks, playing a huge role in the Bears falling to the Lions.

That team will go only as far as its QB takes it, and I wouldn't want to bet my life savings -- or even one-billionth of my billion-dollar portfolio -- on that guy.

3. October is my favorite month.

The World Series (and the playoffs that precede the Series). The NFL in full swing. College football conference games (rather than the creampuff schedules that permeate September). The start of the NHL and NBA seasons. The start of college basketball practice. Wonderful weather here in Charlotte. 

October also is my birthday month. And given that my immaturity prevents me from getting old, what's not to love about that?!?!?!

2. In Monday's least-surprising sports story, the Cubbies fired manager Dale Sveum.

No matter who is running the show, including current Pooh-bah Theo Epstein, firing managers is what the Cubbies do best. 

They're not so hot at pitching or hitting or fielding or running the bases. Firing managers? They are championship-caliber in that domain!

The hot speculation is that Joe Girardi will be the next sucker. Girardi is a Peoria native, a Northwestern grad and a former Cubs catcher, and his contract with the Yankees expires in one month.

Even if he decided to leave New York, why he would want to manage in Cubbieland? Wouldn't several other organizations that have a chance to win before 2020 be more interesting to him? If he doesn't like the scrutiny in New York, why would he like it in Chicago, where Lou Piniella and Dusty Baker each went from genius to dolt (in the fans' eyes) in the space of less than one season? 

Then again, there does seem to be this amazing allure to the Cubs. Everybody wants to be The Guy to fix them. Piniella and Baker are recent examples of proven winners who went to Cubbieland, made an early splash and soon learned the hard way what all the trappings of Cubdom really mean.

If I'm Girardi, I stay with the Yankees. Or I go to just about any other team where winning actually happens. Or I chillax for a couple of years being a TV yakker.

I do just about anything but sign on to be part of Championship-Free Years No. 106, 107, 108 and 109. 

1. I'd come up with a memorable, spectacular, sensational conclusion to this blog post except I'm so excited about the Republicans in the House voting for the gazillionth time to either repeal or defund Obamacare that it's hard to think!

Never mind that repealing Obamacare was the No. 1 Republican goal of the 2012 election ... which they lost ... handily. Also never mind that the GOP also questioned the constitutionality of Obamacare in front of the Supreme Court ... and lost that, too.

This time, they're willing to shut down the entire government and possibly willing to refuse to pay the bills the country already has due. All for a fight they can't win, all to please the tea-partying extremists, all to avoid being "primaried."

What a country.


  1. Hi Mike,

    Sean from Peoria is still watching for new posts as well, so thank you for continuing! In the past, you shared liks to paid work that you published. I still look for those as well. Also, did you see GateHouse Media filed for bankrupcy?


    1. Thanks for being one of the tens, Sean!

      Yeah, a few of my Chicago media friends sent me links to the GateHouse bankruptcy stuff. It sounds like a great plan by management. This way, they can get out from under their debt, fire more employees and then have enough money left over to give themselves raises and bonuses. Capitalism, just as the Founders foresaw it.

      Take care,

  2. I am also one of the Tens who has been following you since the days of your columns in the Springfield paper and one of your female readers which oh, I don't know, should count for something? :) As you can see by the date of this comment, I only check every once in awhile to see if you've posted. Thanks for the every-once-in-awhile blogging as I always enjoy your perspective. Go Cubs. Are they still in the MLB? Hahahahaha.