Maybe we’ll miss out on Johan on Opening Day afterall. “Johan Santana met with GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel for 40 minutes this morning about the best way to handle his elbow tightness. The bottom line is that Santana is officially in limbo and his Opening Day start (April 6) could be in jeopardy as well.” [On the Mets beat]

Another Fantasy Baseball Draft Day is here

So this afternooon is yet another fantasy baseball draft in a lifetime of fantasy baseball drafts. You know I remember my first one like it was yesterday. And like your first time in other activities your first fantasy baseball draft will always be special. There’s an innocence and a fascination about it.

I remember back in 1999 I finally got signed up for ESPN Fantasy Baseball. I actually got my mom to give me her credit card because back in those days it was $39.99 to play on ESPN. This was before the economy was shot and guys would actually pay that much money easily to play in ESPN’s league. First prize was a t-shirt, but I won the league in 2002 and never saw shit. I got randomly placed in some league full of a bunch of guys I didn’t know and I was absolutely thrilled. I was going to get to test my baseball knowledge against strangers dotting the globe. How cool of an idea I thought it was to get to be in a live draft with a bunch of guys. The draft was over my spring break, and since I didn’t go anywhere and didn’t make the varsity team in high school so that year I was at home.

It was the night of the NCAA Final Four, and the Ohio State Buckeyes were on against UConn and I got to take part in that first fantasy draft. It was a fascinating concept and I managed to snag two guys I was in love with back then; Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez. They went on to be two of the most dominant players in baseball that year. And in a draft where I watched the NCAA Final Four between picks and listened to a Boston CD I just got, I selected a team that would finish 3rd in my debut. I would only begin to play with friends in years to come, but it was still the neatest draft I ever had and because fantasy baseball was all new to me then it was some of the most fun I had doing it.

Manny Ramirez shoots down Dodgers (again) over deferments

The word is that Manny Ramirez has turned down the Dodgers once again. People in Los Angeles are actually starting to side with Ramirez on this, painting the Dodgers to look like the bad guy due to the fact that it leaked the Dodgers were offering deferred money (2 years, $45 million) instead of the money straight up, which Ramirez reportedly would have accepted.

Wait a second people. You’re going to side with Manny on this? If you are, shame on you. During these tough economic times if Ramirez can really turn down that kind of money with all of the money he’s already got to go and play for a team that was a contender last season; then he’s a first class fuck-shot. It’s becoming rather clear that Ramirez doesn’t really even want to play baseball anymore. If he could make this much at any other craft he’d be doing it. It’s not about winning for him anymore, it’s not about fame, it isn’t even about him adding to his personal stats. It’s just about the money.

It’s easy to see that whoever winds up paying him the Manny Money he demands is gonna get a guy who shows up and decides to hit when he wants, not when your franchise needs it most.

It’s our 2nd birthday. Get yourself some cake Hoggers

So not to make too big of a deal out of this (we’re trying to be old pro’s) but today marks our second birthday here at Diamond Hoggers. It is definitely somewhat hard to believe that today it’s really been 2 years of fun here on the site. Time really flies and all that jazz, but at the same time it feels like its been longer in some ways. Yeah, so what to say from here; oh yes.

I’d like to thank every reader that ever came across the page and gave us their time and intellect to listen to us talk baseball. That’s what this site is all about, just shooting the breeze about baseball as if we were sitting on our front porch with you the reader. Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers, it does not go unappreciated at all.

Other then that we’d like to state that while eveything else in this world changes, we will never because we hate change. As long as we’re able to write about baseball and our fingers work; you’ll be getting this site updated. So here is to 10 more decades of Diamond Hoggers (or several).

MLB 2k9 hits stores this coming tuesday morning. To celebrate the release of the game we will have ‘2k day’ here on the blog and we’ll take some screen shots and give some basic reviews about the game and such; as long as it doesn’t suck. In case you don’t like video games this is supposed to be the premiere game for XBOX 360 users, maybe because it’s the only game in town. We’ll throw in a hogleg and give it a whirl with time to kill before Opening Day a video game should hit the spot nicely.

The Roulette Wheel is a Whore at Times

Today’s video has little to do with baseball and a lot to do with gambling which is a distant cousin to the holy mother that is the sport of baseball. So what is worse? Liquidation of all your assets so you can go to a casino in Vegas and bet it all on RED; or betting your wife’s you know what?

We know this guy’s feeling but on a much smaller scale. We know how it is when you want RED to hit so bad on that little roulette wheel and that little white devil ball finds its way into BLACK; or more begrudgingly GREEN! House wins, fuckers!

Overall, the roulette wheel is the devil. It really is. It’s invented to exploit guys who have a gambling problem. And those guys always think its about BLACK or RED. It’s never about ODD or EVEN. That is no fun. And you always gotta bet on RED. It’s a great color. One time we were on a bad losing streak in Vegas. No matter how many top 10 hands we played in poker some donkey playing 3 6 off suit was there to crack our aces. We’d had enough. We took $100 out of the ATM emergency funds and threw it on RED. You wanna talk about a rush? Oh my God what a rush. It’s a rush because if you lose you’re going to start thinking suicide methods. When we threw that $100 dollar bill (and its been so long since we’ve seen a bill that big we forget which President is on one of those) and it hit RED; we had to then throw the $200 on BLACK. Why did we do that? Because it had came up RED 5 or 6 times in a row. Law of averages you know. Well that little ball landed in GREEN. House wins. Everyone at the table wants to go vomit while the little guy behind the table laughs.

You sneaky, sly, son of a bitch. “Alex Rodriguez closed a deal on Monday to rent a 2,300 square-foot pad at 15 Central Park West, a real estate insider tells The News. The Yankee slugger is said to be paying $30,000 a month for the two-bedroom, 2-1/2 bath apartment on the 35th floor of what’s been billed as New York’s hottest new condo building.” [NY Daily News]

Throwing it around

First day of spring training baseball games. It was also over 50 degrees out today. Very refreshing. Spring will make everything better. Absolutely everything. Lets get crackin’ with the links.

-Boof Bonser’s season is over before it even begins. [Twins Insider]
-A little speculation about whether or not Joba Chamberlain will be starting the spring training home opener. [NY Times Bats Blog]
-A 48 year old batting practice pitcher got to hit in today’s exhibition for the Red Sox. [Extra Bases]
-Jim Bowden’s balls are in the blender. [Baseball Prospectus]
-PECOTA says the Chicago White Sox are destined to take a dive. [Can’t Stop The Bleeding]
-Dennis Eckersly has inked a multi-year deal with TBS’ broadcast booth. [The Biz of Baseball]
-Did you wonder what they did with the monuments after moving to New Yankee Stadium? [NY Daily News]

It was only 1 spring training home run

Alright already. So Alex Rodriguez stepped up to the plate in today’s spring training opener and homered in the face of overwhelming negative crowd reaction. Kind of cool, but is it really that big of deal? If the guy is getting shit now, he’s most certainly going to be getting shit into April, June, and September. Let’s see how it all turns out. It’s a marathon folks.

This was today’s big story. You knew that had he not homered it was still the biggest story of the day: how would the crowds react to the fallen son of baseball?

And a little more wonder on the subject: why are fans so pissed at him? He sucks as a person. He’s been a scumbag for a while now, no? Why is it assumed now that crowds are going to hate him? I know a plethora of baseball fans that really don’t care either way. Stop following the rest of the crowd you field cows, you’re only booing when he steps up to the plate because the stranger next to you was doing it.

Move along, turn the page. The Alex Rodriguez garbage is putting me to sleep.

Tales from MLB Clubbies

‘What you see here, what you say here, let it stay here when you leave here.’

Legend has it that there is a sign that says that in nearly every Major League Baseball clubhouse. It’s a lesson you start learning early as a player. I know as a high school player you pretty much keep your mouth shut about what goes on, if anything does at all. If you’re lucky enough to play in college the same goes there as well; and you might see or hear some stuff that is considered a bit more taboo then your high school days. A teammate that shoots up steroids. A guy who stayed out all night drinking whiskey and chasing skirts hours before he’s scheduled to start on the mound. You might have even been with him. Maybe that swollen elbow the outfielder has isn’t because of extra long toss; maybe he slipped on wet stairs because he was intoxicated. It could be a million things–you get the picture.

Few sons of the game break this holy rule. No matter your connection to the game you should at least know about this code of silence, a creed if you will. Telling stuff that you heard in the locker room; well that ain’t cool bro. That’s what softball girls do. But it happens. There’s too many eyes, ears, and more importantly mouths to keep it all shut behind those doors. That infomation filters down and becomes a bit more valuable when the stories involve the most talented athletes in the world that inhabit that sacred world.

We know two guys who have been employed right in the trenches of MLB locker rooms. They both held the same position. They were known as ‘clubbies’. They were probably listed on the payroll as bat boys but these guys were not just bat boys. They were guys who understood after a few days on the job that they were to do whatever they were asked. How did they learn that lesson? The almighty dollar is one of the ways.

The first guy we met was a guy we had a bunch of college courses with. He was from northern Ohio; Parma to be exact. One day before class it was just us and this fella. He knew we played ball and the professor was late. We were the only two that showed up for class. Somehow he got to telling us how he’d been a clubby for the Cleveland Indians a few summers back. That professor didn’t even end up showing up to that basket weaving class, but we received a whole other kind of education that day.

He began to tell us that as a clubbie for the Indians his job went way beyond grabbing bats and taping guys. Basically, it was the coolest fucking job on the face of the earth; and socially acceptable for a guy who was in his teens or college like this guy. He was a football player meathead, but this had made him a baseball fan. He went into telling us that the Indians actually structured it that they had two clubbies. One was for the away team and one was for the Indians. This kid was the away clubbie. His job was to do anything that the away players asked him and things really ranged from the obscure to extravagant.

The first story he told us is one that really stands out in our minds. One afternoon at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Jose Guillen suffered a horrifying injury. This guy had to drive Guillen to the hospital. As he sped through the Cleveland traffic that weekend afternoon, Guillen and his wife pleaded with this guy to just get there fast. Every second could have made the difference in Guillen losing at bats, or money. It was a critical operation. When he arrived to the emergency room Guillen said something to his wife in Spanish. Guillens wife pulled $800 out of her wallet and handed it to this guy and thanked him for getting her husband to the hospital in a prompt manner. When Guillen returned to Jacobs Field the next time he took good care of this guy and never forgot what he’d done for him and his career that day. They became friends on a first name basis.

He told us that other plays would commonly send him on errands for all kinds of things. One of the most popular errand runs was for a can of chewing tobacco, and it was a common occurence to be given a $50 dollar bill and told to keep the change for a $4 tin of Copenhagen.

Other times players would have weird requests. They’d ask for tape. There was a ton of tape in the training room. But one guy wanted green tape for his bat. He didn’t want white or black tape. So this clubbie ran out and went to several stores until he found green tape. When he returned with it there wa $200 waiting in his mailbox in an envelope with a thank you note from the player. He said that autographs were no big deal, that he could have gotten anybody anytime and he had a handfull of signed memoribilia that players had given him through the years. This near minimum wage job had plenty of perks. While this guy was no Kirk Radomski he had his stories and he’d seen his fare share of shit.

One thing that stood out to him? The women. He said that most of these guys were married but openly had girlfriends waiting for them around the clubhouse at any given time. Before games, after games. He said one common thing was for a lot of the players to have two cell phones, one for the wives and friends and another just for the road beef. This is something that has came out to the open in recent years if you’ve read Jose or Jessica Canseco’s book but at the time we were told this information this was not a commonly known fact. The astonishing thing to this clubbie was just the fact they were cheating at all. He said many of their wives that he got to know were some of the most beautiful and exotic women that the world had to offer, but yet these guys still had multiple women they were working with on the side.

I asked him about steroids. He said that he was sure it was going on in those very corridors but he did not really want to elaborate nor did he know an abundance of information. The way he put it, was that he did not see syringes hanging out of a guys bag but he knew that guys did them and guys actually did joke about batting practice feats that some players clearly shouldn’t have been reaching (i.e. the once light hitting shortstop was now suddenly going upper deck each day).

The next clubbie we actually met while working for the Cincinnati Bengals. In Cincinnati, this guy knew everybody. It was no surprise to us that someone with the Reds had hooked him up with his job as a clubbie just as someone had hooked up him with his cushy job in the front office of this NFL team. We talked to him often and as he learned that we were huge Reds fans, he told us some stories. He had obtained employment from the Reds because he was friends with the owner’s grandson. Right now? He’s selling for the New York Yankees helping them sling tickets for their new stadium. That’s probably an easier job then selling tickets for the Bengals.

He dealt with the Reds players. Things got really off the cusp for this guy in his journeys as a clubhouse guy. One outfielder who was with the Reds for a long time and was a popular player for the Reds and a good guy in the community was an absolute party hound. He said this guy took better care of him than anyone else.

One night the player invited the clubbie up to his hotel room after a game. When he arrived at the room the door was locked but music was blaring behind the door. He could hear voices of women. When the door was cracked open the player opened it and handed the clubbie a note and gave him some instructions. This clubbie was asked to go get the player a bag of pot and some other odds and ends that would help the player smoke the drugs. When the clubbie returned with the goods the door of the hotel room was opened to a Pandora’s box of what life has to offer. He said the player was hanging with other players and beautiful women, and the player told him he could have whatever he wanted. The clubbie hung out for a while and had a few beers but then elected to leave without partaking in anything illegal. Funny thing is, a few years later that outfielder publicly acknowledged that he had a subtance abuse problem and would be attending rehab.

Another thing he had to do in his role of glorified bat boy was to teach spanish speaking outfielder Melvin Nieves english. He said the club came to him and said they didn’t care how he did it, that he was to teach Nieves the english language and not to stop until he was done. He said that Nieves; who had been in the big leagues for several years was the worst speaking spaniard he’d ever heard. He said it was absolutely brutal. He tried and tried, hours and days and weeks passed and Nieves made no ground whatsoever. Nieves’ career ended that year and he still couldn’t speak a lick of the english language.

The only other thing that stands out in our mind is that when asked about steroids he said he was pretty sure that Tony Tarasco was doing them. Tarasco never made it into any type of report as being named a doper but that is what he told us.

So here you have a few stories and an idea of what it is like to take a glimpse into the Major League life. It’s not a life anything like we know. There is not a dull moment involved. As common peasants, it should be understood that was goes behind those walls is very private and guarded. Most likely, none of us will ever hear the darkest secrets.

Ex-Chi Sox player Kittle believes Canseco's life is in danger

This story struck as as a bit odd because we have had the same thoughts. Certainly, Jose Canseco has more skeletons in the closet then you and I, right? He’s probably got a few more enemies as well. Truth or lies, there is no denying that the former bash brother has burnt a lifetime of bridges the past few years. And we’ve often wondered if he himself fears for his safety. Ron Kittle does:

“My first thought was: ‘I wonder who’s going to be the first one to shoot him’. I still think somebody who might have had their life ruined might take vengeance on him. If I were [Canseco], I would think about that…That’s how I look at things. Maybe it’s the wrong way, but I think in [bad] economic times when kids are exposed to it and they get to the big leagues to make the money, they will do [steroids]. But it’s the wrong path. It’s a quick fix. ..There is a sign in just about every clubhouse: ‘What you see here, what you say here, let it stay here when you leave here.'”

In the same breath, guys like Canseco live to be 98 years old. Those you expect to slip first hang on forever. It’s the ironic card that life throws you, always. Look how long Billy the Kid lived–and those close to the situation had him dead for decades.