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Apolitical blues

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Jan. 1

Quick work, or a slow line
Reds GM Jim Bowden was in line to buy popcorn before seeing Ocean's Eleven when his cell phone rang. Before he got the popcorn, he had decided to take Dan O'Dowd's offer of Gabe White and Luke Hudson for Dennys Reyes and Pokey Reese.

Clumsy regretter
Four trades that make a lot of sense:

  • Cincinnati trades OF Austin Kearns and White to Anaheim for LHP Scott Schoeneweis and INF Scott Spiezio. Darin Erstad is gone in a year, Mo Vaughn is gone and no one knows about Tim Salmon.

  • Boston trades right-handed reliever Ugueth Urbina to L.A. for Matt Herges. If the Dodgers get desperate enough, could they move Gary Sheffield to Boston? Probably not.

  • The Yankees trade Orlando Hernandez to Texas for Jason Romano. Tampa guy. Infectious. Can play second, third and center.

  • The Mets send Bruce Chen to the Padres for Bubba Trammell. If the Juan Gonzalez price comes down, they can deal Trammell. Even though the Mo Vaughn deal only cost the Mets $5M, they need a top pitcher. Which brings up

    East of Eden

    Left-handed pitcher Katsuhira Ishii got out of his contract with the Yakult Swallows. He was posted Wednesday and bids must be in by Monday. Ishii is a huge winter free-agent prize, which the Mariners (having lost on Jason Schmidt), Mets, Red Sox and others will be in on.

    On your way
    Twenty years from now, we'll look back and think of 2001 as the year Cincinnati outfielder Adam Dunn broke into the big leagues.

    I ain't no icon carved out of soap, sent here to clean up your reputation
    Watching Clemson WR/Kansas City OF Roscoe Crosby in the Humanitarian Bowl makes one think that he's the next big thing. Cedric Benson would be, but the superstar freshman Texas RB/Dodger OF will be in the NFL draft in April 2003. Baseball will be in his rearview mirror.

    Loose change
    Three things to buy with leftover Christmas cash:

  • Lee Sinins' Sabermetric Baseball Encyclopedia. Check the Baseball Immortals Web site, order the Encyclopedia and get on the mailing list, because your mind will be stretched daily.

  • The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. If you don't realize it, this man changed the way we look at the game. Like the A's plate approach? James gave them the idea.

  • "A Pitcher's Story," David Cone with Roger Angell. Anyone who doesn't appreciate Angell's art and genius should be sentenced to listening to Talk Radio the rest of his life. Cone is a fascinating study in complicating contrasts.

    The Word
    David Wells and agent Gregg Clifton should admit that a handshake and morality are more important than being tabloid heroes, and uphold Wells' handshake agreement with Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo. Yankees manager Joe Torre would go along with that.

    Help wanted, but not enough
    Marlins employees are being given two-year severance deals as Expos employees go to the Marlins. It means there are jobs to be filled with the Expos whenever baseball gets around to deciding what it's doing in 2002.

    Try a little tenderness
    This is not "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" or "Legally Blonde." This is reality. Please, owners and lawyers, do not send The Commissioner back to Washington. And it's not just about Bud Selig or The Claw Hold Governor, it's about Rep. John Conyers and the folks he faces in Congress. If people think a spring training lockout is going to intimidate the players' association, they are foolish.

    Doctor, my eyes
    Eight comebacks that will greatly alter 2002 races:

  • Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek -- Red Sox.
  • Kevin Brown, Andy Ashby and Eric Karros -- Dodgers.
  • Rick Ankiel -- Cardinals.
  • Jim Parque, Lorenzo Barcelo, Bob Howry, Antonio Osuna, Kelly Wunsch and Jon Rauch -- White Sox.
  • Todd Stottlemyre, Matt Mantei and Bret Prinz -- Diamondbacks
  • Scott Williamson, Junior Griffey, Barry Larkin and Aaron Boone -- Reds.
  • Ben Sheets and Geoff Jenkins -- Brewers
  • Edgardo Alfonzo -- Mets

    Hall of the Mountain Kings
    One person's Hall of Fame ballot:

  • Luis Tiant. Better than Catfish, best money pitcher of the '70s and victim of Cuban-United States politics.

  • Jack Morris. Best of his time, especially when it counted. It never dawned on me that he wouldn't be a first-ballot winner.

  • Gary Carter. Beyond the stats, I remember Jim Leyland saying, "Every Met pitcher knows he can throw his best split or curveball with a runner on third because Carter will stick his nose in the dirt to block it."

  • Ozzie Smith. There is no stat that defines him, but I want the veterans' committee to elect Whitey Herzog in February.

  • Alan Trammell. See Bill James and his rating as the No. 9 shortstop in history. Not only that, but when his teams were good, he sang "Climb on a back that's strong."

  • Goose Gossage.

  • Bruce Sutter.

    Why isn't Ted Simmons in the Hall? Or Bill James, for that matter?

    And please, Roger Angell belongs as well.

    And hopefully, Scott Sanderson, Mike Henneman and Frank Viola will each get at least one vote.

    My Five Favorite CDs of 2001

  • Double Trouble
  • American Hi-Fi (self titled)
  • Flynn, "On Your Way."
  • John Hiatt, "The Tiki Bar is Open."
  • Paul Pena. His CD was recorded in 1973, released in 2001 and is absolutely amazing, right down to the original version of "Jet Airliner." Oh yes, Jerry Garcia plays guitar on a couple of cuts.

    Riding with the King: Performers whose lives will change in 2002

  • Flynn. Once stations start playing "Million Miles," "On Your Way" and "Walkin' in Line," this remarkable Irishman will be a star.

  • Jack McDowell's Stickfigure. The new CD, "Ape of the Kings," will be released nationally within a month. The song "The Grave" has been picked up by several stations and is getting more than 1,100 plays a week, despite the fact that the band is unsigned. The lyrics of "The Grave" will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Jack: "Let me be what I wanna be/feel what I wanna feel/see how I wanna see/believe what I know is right." One of McDowell's former managers, Gene Lamont, summed McDowell up this summer by saying, "Anyone who ever managed Jack McDowell knows why Buck Showalter had him in the game with the ('95 playoffs) series on the line."

  • Kay Hanley. The former Letters to Cleo singer's solo debut will be released in the late spring. The completed cuts are so good, she and husband/guitarist Michael Eisenstein and their daughter Zoe have to get prepared for Kay's impending mega-success.

  • William Topley. His '97 "Black River" is an underground gem, but "Feasting With Panthers" --- due in mid-January --- will get him on the marquees. His voice sounds like Van Morrison at 6-foot-9, 340 pounds.

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    Oct. 7

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