The People's Voice gets into the swing of spring

Dan Wetzel
Yahoo! Sports

Since the bulk (pun intended) of the emails on the steroid scandal are just rolling in, we'll get to that subject in next week's People's Voice. Meanwhile, there are angry Canadians to deal with.

So without further ado, on to the People's Voice. My comments, as always, appear in italics.

SPRING TRAINING (Feb. 23-28: Road Trip)

Please do not waste your time with an Orioles article, when it should have been a Blue Jays article. Look at the Jays pitching and hitting (after some great offseason moves) then repost this article "Three's a crowd" and talk about the Jays, not the O's. Jays will pose a threat this year. On a $50 million salary no less, in this disgustingly managed league you call MLB.

Matthew Hibbert
Toronto, Ontario

Come on, Dan. A "Crowd of Three" to include the addition of the Orioles and not the Blue Jays? Everyone knows the Jays had the bats but not the arms last year, but with new additions on the mound, you can't seriously be suggesting that the Jays rank behind the Orioles in taking a shot at the boys from Fenway and the Bronx.

I know it's hard to remember Toronto won two World Series in the '90s, but. ...

Rob Kennaley
Toronto, Ontario

Shouldn't the Orioles be more concerned that they can catch the Blue Jays rather than the Yankees or Red Sox?

Don Treat
Kingston, N.Y.

Can we get a "Goon" to protect Gagne from getting pinched!?

Tom Harris
Independence, Ky.

Especially if Mariano Rivera begins to slip.

Why can't we see more guys be like Gagne? Not to say baseball (and other sports) doesn't have negatives, but what job doesn't? It's the age-old question; being paid a ton of money to play a game we loved to play for free ... and players still complain. Baseball is essentially a business, but c'mon, try to be happier about the whole thing. Thank you for the article, not all stars are full of themselves.

Sean Gallagher
Magnolia, N.J.

You can find lots of pro athletes like Gagne. They play hockey.

Yes, I agree that Gagne has had perhaps the most magnificent back-to-back seasons of possibly any reliever ever, but he is still, in my opinion, only the second-best reliever in town – the best being Troy Percival. How about giving this guy some credit? No, he has never converted 100 percent of his save opportunities in a year, but over the last five years his record is a sterling 86 percent. And when it counted the most, in the 2002 postseason, he was 7 for 7.

He has had some subpar years and he always makes you seem to sweat a bit, but he gets the job done, he's pitched hard for pennant winners and also-rans alike, he's re-signed with the Angels even though he could go elsewhere, he's now in his 10th season with the team, he's Southern California born and bred, and even though Gagne could well be perfect in the postseason, we won't know till he gets there. Percy's been there, done that, and hopefully will get another chance very soon. He's the best!

Kevin Ausmus
Claremont, Calif.

Q: Who will be pitching for these Mercedes owners? (Orioles)

A: A bunch of Yugos!

With the Marlins at least you had good pitching to work with. This team lost a good percentage of pitching wins from last year and didn't replace any of it. All it did was bring back Ponson, the lone bright spot. Pitching still wins playoff berths, and in the AL East arms race the Orioles are like a Third World country.

Dave Melanson
Sioux Falls, S.D.

I used to be a die-hard Orioles fan. For the past few seasons I have been embarrassed to be known as one. Now they have realized to make money they have to spend money! So I give them the best of luck and hope they kick some butt. I know I will be showing my face at Camden Yards this season.

Bryan Rocks
Cumberland, Md.

I was about six when I saw my first baseball game (L.A. vs. St. Louis) in the Coliseum in 1959. Your Yahoo! piece on the Dodgers training camp was excellent. I could really feel the Vero vibe. With all the crap in the game these days, it's a pleasure to read a quality, pure-love-of-the-game bit of prose. Thanks so much.

Jon Beeson
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Nice piece, Dan, that down-to-earth thing you spoke about in Gagne, that's a Canadian thing. We all have it.

Jack MacNeil
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Terry Francona is the same stiff that did nothing in Philadelphia. He will be very cordial at his firing, too. You get the feeling he says all this positive stuff because he has no clue about what really needs to be done. He is not full of sound and fury but he still signifies nothing.

Seth M. Fisher
Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Not only do the Sox have the Curse of the Bambino on them, now they have the curse of the Totally Clueless. Grady Little is going to look like Einstein compared to Francona. I'm pretty sure that the Sox won't even sniff the playoffs as long as Bozo the Manager is running the show. If the Sox wanted to drive a stake in the heart of the Yanks, they should have talked George into hiring Francona.

Vince DiVincenzo
Philadelphia, Pa.

After reading your article on the high expectations of Terry Francona and the Red Sox, I'm left to wonder: What if the Sox win the division – and the season series vs. Yanks – yet lose in the playoffs while the Yanks recapture the crown?

Will that be "acceptable?" Remains to be seen.

Lorne Steinhart
Buffalo, N.Y.

I think that would be acceptable, unless there was one major managerial gaffe or a series of them (which is what cost Grady Little). Sox fans want to win but they also know baseball and if they lose they lose. The manager can't hit, pitch or field. But if they finish third in the AL East or something worse, then all bets are off.

You were looking in the wrong spot for George Costanza. He is the "assistant" to the traveling secretary.

David Wadler
New York, N.Y.

Maybe that is why we couldn't find him.

We have not yet played a game and you have already worn out your Yankee pom-poms in one column. Whatever happened to the role of the press as champion of the underdog? You guys praise the Yankees like you're on their payroll. Some NY Yankee "journalists" go so far as to accept Yankee World Series rings. I'm sure we're getting a lot of objectivity from them. Enough is enough. Steinbrenner can afford his own publicity team.

Jim Collins
Ardsley, N.Y.

I can get on the payroll for writing nice things about the Yankees? This happens? Did I mention in the column that I spoke with Mr. Steinbrenner and he looked fit and handsome and his jokes were absolutely hysterical? And he is really smart. And a good dresser. And very classy. And ...

Why don't you see if your editors will allow you to cover the Yankees and the Red Sox all year and maybe even exclusively. This is what all of America is wanting to hear about. I can hardly wait until the next time I read about some baseball team from the Northeast. I mean, isn't that where they spend bijillions of dollars trying to buy a championship and when someone outspends them they get all cranky and whiney? It's great for baseball. Keep up the great work. BTW, where are you located?

Gary Brennan
Kansas City, Mo.

Good point. No one cares about those guys. We should have done the Expos and Pirates instead.

I enjoy your writing, but I believe that, as far as the MLB goes, this upcoming season is automatically a disappointment when the left side of the Yankees infield makes as much as the entirety of the Pirates roster, and when Baltimore and Tampa Bay are eliminated from the playoffs in February.

It's time to take the lipstick off the pig. MLB is a mess, and no one has spine enough to correct it. Preseason hype and forecasting takes on a hollow tone everywhere outside of New York, Boston, Houston, Anaheim and Philadelphia.

So please, enough of ESPN claiming this was the "greatest offseason ever" and enough of the artificial, boring "news" stories about whether A-Rod and Jeter can get along. The sport of baseball remains a beautiful princess, but Major League Baseball is more like Anna Nicole Smith: fat from years of excess, ghastly from too much makeup, plasticky from too many bad surgeries and ludicrous from just having no brains.

Tom "I'd rather lose 162 games in black and gold than win a pennant anywhere else" Caste
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Just wanted you to know how much I've enjoyed your Spring Training tour. Great writing, down to earth, and humorous. Genuinely enjoyed the personal items about restaurants, parking and the Easterners, Sox and Yankee fans. They usually take obnoxious to a new level yet they are so passionate about their teams.

Thanks again, have a great season and see you and the Cubs at the World Series. Hey, when will we read about you in AZ?

George Smith
Bloomington, Ind.

It was a tough choice picking Grapefruit over Cactus, but love them or loathe them, you couldn't overlook the Yankees, Red Sox and Marlins this year. Maybe we'll do the desert next season.

BOB KNIGHT (Feb. 20: Wild nights? Not at T-Tech)

I wanted to write you to tell you that I think you wrote a slam-dunk article on Bob Knight's recruiting program at Texas Tech. Just like you alluded to in your article, it's nice to see someone highlighting one of the many great positives about the man (besides all his wins and three national titles), and not focusing on what negatives there are.

I know the man is not perfect and has made mistakes, but that in no way overshadows all that he has done over the years for his players, the game of basketball and the institutions where he has coached. Keep up the good work.

Champ Farrar
Austin, Texas

You've done it again. While the sensationalist, knee-jerk, Holier-than-thou sports editorial world continues to pump out the same mindless, mean-spirited tripe against Bob Knight, you continue to be one of the only writers to shine a positive light on what Knight really contributes to not only basketball, but to the university and the community.

If given the choice of sex scandals, illegal recruiting, gambling and NCAA sanctions vs. red-faced outbursts, salad tossing, large financial contributions to the school, high graduation rates and winning programs, well, I think maybe I'll take the "devil" (as he's been called by other aforementioned sports writers) after all.

I'm pretty sure Bob Knight isn't Satan, though. Perhaps he's just the charter member of "Hell's Angels."

Mark Wentroble
Plano, Texas

I wanted to thank you for some of the positive light you share on Coach Knight. To me it seems the media gets so wrapped up at trying to make him look like such a bad guy that a lot of what he does goes unnoticed. I lived in Lubbock for the last three years and can honestly say I can't think of a person in that city who had such a positive impact on the community than Coach Knight.

Rick Mitchell
Midland, Texas

It seems that the more advanced as a society we become, the truthfulness of an old dinosaur becomes relevant in the world today. The Bobby Knight you see on the court is the Bobby Knight you will see in the grocery market. Survey the players that Bobby Knight has coached and you will find players who were prepared to face the tough knocks that the world will give them.

The shame of how Bobby Knight is portrayed is that one or two disgruntled players found an audience in a reporter who was more interested in making a name for themselves than soul-searching for the real story behind Bobby Knight. Texas Tech has definitely gained at the mistake of some school in Bloomington.

Tommy McDaniel
Texarkana, Texas

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