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Down The Line

July 09, 2006|Tim Brown

One Night in ... Pittsburgh

Or Boston. Or Fort Lauderdale. Or Washington Heights. Or Cancun. Or wherever Manny Ramirez chooses to spend his All-Star game/break.

The Boston Red Sox outfielder won't show, and maybe few care, which are the perfect grounds to return "This time it counts" to its rightful bin -- alongside yellow baseballs, Chicago White Sox in Bermuda shorts and every move the Kansas City Royals have made for the last 15 years.

Ramirez plays for a team that could benefit from home-field advantage in the World Series, as it did two years ago. He plays alongside guys who might find that sort of thing important. He plays in front of fans who vote him into the American League starting lineup.

And, still, you'd think he'd just been voted into the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.

"This time it counts" has caught on with no one but television executives, who would have the game played in Hugh Hefner's swimming pool if it would guarantee six more viewers. It is an exhibition game and is still treated as such by all -- including Ramirez -- but a few. If it ends in a tie, well, everybody shakes hands and gets on with the only games that should count.

**

For the Diamondbacks, the Ugh in Uggla

Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla is an All-Star seven months after being lifted from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft. While others have ascended from Rule 5 to All-Star game, Major League Baseball has not found another instance of its occurring in a player's Rule 5 season.

Near as MLB spokesman Michael Teevan could tell, Jody Davis (1980 Rule 5, 1984 All-Star) had been quickest from Rule 5 to the All-Star game. Bobby Bonilla (1985 Rule 5, 1988 All-Star) was drafted out of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization by the White Sox, but returned to the Pirates in a midsummer 1986 trade.

Uggla is no throw-in Mark Redman either. He has 13 home runs, 50 runs batted in and a .307 batting average, and the Marlins already had an All-Star in Miguel Cabrera.

Current All-Stars Johan Santana and Derrick Turnbow were once Rule 5 picks, as were former All-Star notables Roberto Clemente, Reggie Smith, Cecil Cooper and John Wetteland.

**

On Marvin and Moose

Don Fehr and the players' union will honor Marvin Miller with a dinner in Pittsburgh this week. Miller, 89, became the union's first executive director 40 years ago and served for 17 years. ... Why we love the New York Post, in a headline this week: "No More Groin Pain for Relieved Moose." Either the Bronx Zoo has a major cleanup in an exhibit or 10-game winner Mike Mussina is feeling better. ... The Dodgers were not in on Dominican shortstop Esmailyn Gonzalez ($1.4 million with Washington) or Venezuelan catcher Jesus Montero ($2 million with the New York Yankees), nor do they expect to be bidders for Dominican catcher Francisco Pena (Tony's son). All are 16 (ish) and became eligible when the international signing period opened last weekend. ... George Mitchell's investigation has yet to reach active players. ... Just when we were beginning to think Jose Canseco made some sense....

**

One More Thing From ... Jim Bowden

The Nationals dropped huge money on Gonzalez this week and, gauging from Bowden's reaction in the Washington Times, the Hall of Fame can begin construction on the "Esmailyn Wing": "His glove is spectacular. He does the Ozzie Smith flips. He can do a standing flip backward. Everything you can imagine Ozzie doing with a glove he does, and yet he can hit from both sides of the plate. Electric. Line drives, shots. It's a special talent."

-- Tim Brown

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