This would be a lot easier if we weren't wringing the growth hormone out of our sanitary socks, vainly scrubbing the stains off the careers of the two best players of our time, hitting and pitching divisions.
Bud Selig said in Manhattan a couple weeks ago, "I knew only what I said I knew," which, apparently, wasn't much, leaving baseball on its own and leaving us with a game in which perception counted nearly as much as final scores, and so it was perhaps appropriate if Jonathan Papelbon's bulldog really did gnaw the 2007 season's sacred keepsake into a stringy, slobbery mess.
As we arrive at another Hall-of-Fame requiem vote on Mark McGwire and wonder if someday the Veteran's Committee might consider Jose Canseco for his contributions to the game, and as Congress arranges the witness chairs for Selig and Don Fehr, and as we muse about shadowy Kirk Radomski knockoffs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Baltimore, Kansas City – you know they're out there – we come to the end of 2007.
Some of it was good, some was sad, some was inspiring. And, about once a week, it seemed, some new sap would find his name on an anti-aging clinic's invoice, having been prescribed a potentially dangerous (and illegal) drug by a doctor he'd never met.
Yes, this was the year of Signature Pharmacy as much as the Boston Red Sox, the year of Albany D.A. David Soares as much as Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, the year of George Mitchell's report as much as George Steinbrenner's heirs.
But, enough of that.
The Red Sox were grand again, for the second time in four Octobers, with some leftover Idiots but mostly with a fresh cast of players.
On a cool August night on McCovey Cove, Bonds became the career home-run leader, the crowd went wild, and the commissioner would have applauded had his hands not been searching for change in his pockets.
A-Rod survived another season in New York, then opted into 10 more.
The Steinbrenner II orchestrated the amputation of Joe Torre from the Yankee bench, ending an era befitting the most decorated franchise in the game.
And, yes, the Chicago Cubs spent the Tribune Co.'s last $300 million, went from sixth to first, and, well, didn't win a playoff game. The good news: Carlos Zambrano promises not to beat up any more catchers. You know, unless they ask for it, the overbearing little jerks.
The rest of 2007:
A-Rod's 275-plus (million).
Jackie Robinson's 42.
The New York Mets' seven(-game lead).
Not only hasn't the Steroid Era cost the sport a single ticket, baseball drew record crowds for the fourth consecutive season – approaching 80 million – meaning all those people got to witness Bonds run down Henry Aaron, Rodriguez's third MVP season (second as a Yankee) and daily personal and professional leanings, a glorious afternoon in which Jackie's 42 became the number of choice, and the complete meltdown of Willie Randolph's fragile squad.
We got Lester back from cancer, and then he won Game 4 of the World Series. We got Hamilton back from dependency, and then he awed us with his athletic ability. We got Ankiel back from the yips, learned he still had a career left, and then he ended up on one of those invoices. And we got the Rockies back in September, and then they won the first two playoff series in their history.
And to, among others, Rod Beck, Hank Bauer, Clete Boyer, Lew Burdette, Mike Coolbaugh, Bowie Kuhn, Clem Labine, Joe Nuxhall, Phil Rizzuto, Bill Robinson, Vern Ruhle and John Vukovich.
And to David Halberstam and Larry Whiteside.
And to RFK Stadium. Again.
To Joba Rules, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Fausto Carmona, Hunter Pence, Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Steinbrenner boys, Bill Smith, Trey Hillman, John Russell, Kyle Kendrick, Aki Iwamura, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Hideki Okajima, Franklin Morales, Phil Hughes.
To the Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Rockies, Andy MacPhail, Carlos Pena, Lou Piniella, Ed Wade, Dusty Baker, Joe Girardi, Dmitri Young, Troy Percival, Eric Gagne, Adrian Beltre, Al Reyes, Zack Greinke.
Craig Biggio 3,000 hits
Frank Thomas 500 home runs
Tom Glavine 300 wins
A-Rod 500 home runs
Sammy Sosa 600 home runs
Bonds 756 home runs
Jim Thome 500 home runs
Trevor Hoffman 500 saves
Clemens 350 wins
Pedro Martinez 3,000 strikeouts
Todd Jones 300 saves
Bobby Cox 132 ejections
Chicago Cubs 10,000 wins
Philadelphia Phillies 10,000 losses
Mark Buehrle, April 18 vs. Texas
Justin Verlander, June 12 vs. Milwaukee
Clay Buchholz, Sept. 1 vs. Baltimore
Buehrle's was the second (Anibal Sanchez) in nearly three years, and by the time Buchholz turned his second big-league appearance into a no-no, there'd been four in less than a year.
When the music stopped:
Baltimore: Sam Perlozzo fired, Dave Trembley hired
Kansas City: Buddy Bell resigned, Trey Hillman hired
New York: Joe Torre backs out, Joe Girardi hired
Seattle: Mike Hargrove resigned, John McLaren hired
Cincinnati: Jerry Narron fired, Pete Mackanin promoted/demoted, Dusty Baker hired
Houston: Phil Garner fired, Cecil Cooper hired
Los Angeles: Grady Little resigned/fired, Joe Torre hired
Pittsburgh: Jim Tracy fired, John Russell hired
Bats and pieces:
Houston lefty Trever Miller pitched in 76 games and had no wins or losses, a record (or, non-record, in this case) that might never be broken.
Minnesota rookie general manager Bill Smith holds defiantly to lefty Johan Santana, an impressive show of resolve in the face of veteran counterparts Brian Cashman, Theo Epstein and Omar Minaya. Impressive, that is, unless Santana grabs an elbow March 12.
Tony La Russa nods off, gets arrested and catches a few V’s.
Facing a rebuild in the clubhouse and recognizing there were better contractors out there, the Dodgers dump Little. Somehow, every time things go to pieces on Little, Torre benefits.
In spring, the Dodgers return the names to the backs of their jerseys. By late summer, they demand their anonymity back.
Texas drops 30 – 30! – on the Orioles on Aug. 22. Next day, O's owner Peter Angelos fires defensive coordinator.
Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson go four by 20 in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. In votes reflective of the strength of their leagues, Rollins wins NL MVP, Granderson finishes behind nine others in AL MVP.
Ichiro Suzuki has the first inside-the-park home run in All-Star Game history, not the last time the AL will run circles around the NL (See: World Series).
Prince Fielder becomes the youngest ever – at 23 years, 4 months, 18 days – to hit 50 home runs. Take that, Pops.
The two biggest deals at the mid-summer deadline – Mark Teixeira to the Braves, Eric Gagne to the Red Sox – amount to nothing. The Braves miss the playoffs and the Red Sox win the World Series in spite of Gagne.
Four months after the league honors Jackie Robinson, the entire Indians roster dons Larry Doby’s No. 14. Nice.
- Joe Torre
- George Steinbrenner
- Bud Selig