This ‘N That

Ervin Santana is all smiles again after a strong winter league campaign in the Dominican Republic.

In no particular order of importance …

I’m busy working on a non-baseball project that will eat up a lot of my free time the next few days. If something of actual importance happens, I’ll weigh in, of course.

I’m also dealing with a back problem. Nothing that appears to require surgery — so far — but for now I have to limit my time sitting in front of a computer.

The 2008 minor league spring training schedule is on, which is the only place on the Internet where you’ll find it. functions as an unofficial web site for the minor league complex, posting schedules for spring training, summer league and fall ball. The schedule includes links to maps showing where each game will be played, so if you’re lost around Phoenix you can print these maps to get you around.

Right now, I’m scheduled to work the March 16-18 games. As always, I’ll have video on-line, each night if possible. is the only place on the Internet where you’ll find video from the Angels minor league spring training.

Across the parking lot, players are reporting now to major league camp, which means beat writers are also reporting to camp. The Angels’ Media Relations try to steer reporters to certain stories, which is why you’ll see the Times, Register and Press-Enterprise run largely similar articles. Media Relations schedules a block of time for Mike Scioscia to meet the press, so they all get the same notes and quotes.

Today’s story du jour is Ervin Santana. Last summer, Ervin got ripped by certain elements of the press, and the fan sites as usual engaged in a knee-jerk dismissal of his future. Well, as I’ve written many times, the problem was mechanics, and mechanics can be corrected, but some people just want to write off a player as a "bust" without engaging their brain to figure out why a player is struggling. Today’s articles disclose that Ervin had a mechanical problem with his hip and shoulder flying open, causing his pitches to flatten out.

Mechanics are a habit, and a habit comes from repetition. If you add up pitches thrown in a game, warmups, bullpens between starts, spring training and whatnot, a pitcher probably winds up and throws somewhere around 5,000 to 10,000 times a year. If a flaw creeps in, and you keep repeating that flaw, soon it becomes habit and you just don’t think about it. Bad habits can’t be fixed overnight, as you have to consciously force yourself not to do what you’ve been doing wrong, and during a game a pitcher wants to concentrate on the contest and not remembering to fix a flaw.

The big baseball story this week was the Roger Clemens / Brian MacNamee melodrama on Capitol Hill. I just can’t get excited about it. In my opinion, the only reason Congress is involved at all is that Major League Baseball is incapable of policing itself. Without Congressional pressure, illegal drug use would probably be rampant in MLB. Let’s face it, owners are in this to make a buck, and people will gladly pay a lot a money to watch Barry Bonds hit homers or Roger Clemens strike out batters. If you had told their fans that Bonds and Clemens were juicing, few of them would have cared. They just want the gratification of entertainment.

Athletes are competitive, and the most successful athletes are those who are the most competitive. That means pushing their bodies to the limit, and to go beyond that limit may require the use of illegal drugs. But let’s not overlook that steroids and HGH weren’t banned by MLB until a few years ago, and much of the reported abuse occurred before then. Barry Bonds is alleged to have used substances so chemically altered that they may not be covered by law.

So rather than argue over legal technicalities or records with asterisks, I’d rather they just concentrate on purging the game of these substances and move on. You’ll never be 100% successful, because if the difference between a dream major league career or a life selling insurance is injecting yourself with chemical enhancements, it’s hard to convince many people to give up millions of dollars for a few thousand.

In closing … I want to encourage you to sign up for the bulletin board. With a blog format, you can only respond to my articles. On the bulletin board, you can start your own topics. The MLBlog format requires you to use your e-mail address as a screen name, which is an invasion of privacy in my opinion, but on the bulletin board you can create your own screen name and protect your privacy.

One comment

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