Things we learn from the paper today.
Tejada Shows Up for Spring Training
By most accounts it appears that the press had a field day. Tejada apologized to the team, and meets with Cecil Cooper and Drayton McLane. McLane said that the first thing he did is hug Tejada. Tejada apparently cut off extended questioning on the topic of steroids. But McLane got no such break. J.J. Ortiz's blog sets out the questions and answers.
McLane repeatedly stands up for Tejada, and emphasizes that nobody is perfect.
"...he admitted that he made a major mistake and I think throughout all of our lives mistakes are made from time to time. And I think you look into a person's heart and the type of person that he has been before that and the type of person that he (is). This controversy has been going on for over a year and the type of person and the way he has lived his life. This will be the 17th year I've been in spring training and I think his thoughtfulness, his respect for other people, just his enthusiasm for baseball is one of the best I've ever seen.//...I just said life is not pure and simple. We have political leaders that make mistakes and move forward. We have business leaders that make mistakes and pay the price and move forward with their lives and are successful again and hopefully this is what we can do here...."
McLane's support for Tejada strikes me as admirable and sincere. I'm sure some people will disagree. (Judging from the comments on Ortiz's blog, some fans have the pitch forks and torches ready.)
Ortiz should win an award for most loaded question:
What do you tell fans who believed that you wanted your players to behave a certain way? How do you rationalize keeping a criminal essentially on your team?
A question that is asked not to find information but with the intent to cause an emotional reaction from the person being asked.
Keeping a criminal on your team? OK, Jose, nice of you to stay objective in your questions. Maybe Tejada should wear a scarlet letter on his uniform.
McTaggert's blog takes McLane to task for what he perceives as a "bombshell" admission that McLane was aware of the possibility that Tejada would be in the Mitchell Report at the time the trade was made. Actually, McLane's "admission" is rather tepid ("...to a certain degree...you have ideas, but you have no proof."). This would be no story, except for McLane's sweeping claim at the time that he had no idea that Tejada's name might be connected to PED allegations. I'm still not impressed by McTaggert's gotcha; McLane's statements were widely ridiculed at the time as unbelievable.
Where in the world is Carlos Lee?
This article seems to make a big deal out of Carlos Lee's failure to show up for spring workouts on Tuesday. Berkman says Lee should have been there. It's hard to tell how much of the quotes from Oswalt and Berkman are joking. When told that Lee had gotten confused about the correct day to report, Oswalt said, "I ain't heard that one in a while," as all English teachers throughout Houston wince.
The Carlos Lee no-show causes Richard Justice to send the sarcasm meter over the top.
Things fall through the cracks. Stuff happens.
So what if the guy is making $18.5 million? So what if Uncle Drayton has guaranteed him $100 million?
He gets up and puts his pants on one leg at a time just like Berman and me. If Carlos Lee says he got mixed up about when he was supposed to start his $18.5-million-a-year job, I'm taking him at his word.
This may be much ado about nothing.. This article about the Nationals (and Odalis Perez's hold out) says that the Collective Bargaining Agreement sets out Feb. 17 as the mandatory report day for players who plan on participating in the WBC, but Feb. 22 is the mandatory report date for all other players. I don't recall if Lee plans to participate in the WBC or not. (Is his hand injury healed enough to play?) But I can see how confusion might arise.
Danny Graves Goes Straight to the Highest Power
This article about Danny Graves' signing is unusual. Danny Graves sent an email straight to Drayton McLane asking for a job. McLane was impressed, and instructed Wade to get with Graves. Graves received a non-guaranteed minor league contract, and Wade told him that all he would get is a chance to compete.
I have wondered, at times, whether players ever go to McLane to press their case. And we all wonder how much he gets involved in player personnel decisions. This is a minor instance, but it shows that McLane can be persuaded by a player's plea.
Another interesting aspect is that Graves used a religious connection to McLane for persuasion.
"I'm at a different point in my life than I was before," Graves said. "I'm a Christian now. I knew that Drayton was, too. I know he had a lot of guys in the clubhouse that were also. I figured if I had a chance to play in the big leagues again, I want to be a part of that. I reached out to Drayton and asked him if there was an opportunity, and if not, I'm just going to retire."
The cynic in me made me wonder if Graves is using his religion in an opportunistic way. However, Graves says that his new found faith has enabled him to change some bad things he did in his past. I'm not very religious, but I know that many people have changed some personally destructive behaviors due to religion...and it doesn't depend on what the religion is. So, I'll skip the cynicism and say, good for you, Mr. Graves.
Just before I wrote this, I saw HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. The first part of this show explores the recent incident involving former Reds' outfielder Bobby Tolan's son and the Bellaire police. You probably have read about it: a mistaken license plate entry by the officers ended with the policeman shooting Tolan's son on the porch of his home. Gumbel starts off the piece with the phrase "arrested for driving while black." I understand the reason for saying this; but Brandon Backe might tell us that you don't have to be black to be subjected to a questionable arrest. In any event, you might be interested in catching this show.