The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Marlins Stadium Deal and Other Weekend Thoughts

Marlins Stadium Deal
Late last week the Marlins and the City of Miami announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on financing a new ballpark for the Marlins. As has been speculated and reported earlier, it appears the new stadium would be built adjacent to the Orange Bowl football stadium. Contrary to recent rumors, the most recent speculation is that the new baseball stadium will not be physically connected to the football stadium, and that the football stadium will undergo the previously planned renovations (which include reducing the total seating capacity) as planned.

While I have many thoughts on the situation, it’s probably better to let them go without saying at this point. You can read the articles on your own and draw your own conclusions. I would venture to guess that most of you could figure out where I stand on this issue just by piecing together the facts that the Marlins have not been able to secure a letter of credit, but have satisfied the city’s desire to have the team fund any cost overruns with the threat of putting a lien on the team. That seems to make sense, doesn’t it? If the team can’t afford the cost overruns, the city will put a lean on the team. That way the city can end up owning both the ballpark and the team. Great!

Canseco Alleges that Baseball Players Use Steroids
The weekend’s big baseball news (well, other than Magglio Ordonez signing a $75 million contract with the Tigers) came from Jose Canseco’s allegations of steroid use amongst a number of high profile players, including Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Jason Giambi and Ivan Rodriguez. These allegations surfaced as Canseco and team work to publicize Jose’s new book, which is due out later this month. Canseco’s allegations are so scandalous, as he has promised they would be all along, that it probably makes his book a must read this spring.

Reaction from McGwire’s camp was predictable. All wrong doing was denied and finger pointing at Canseco’s camp began. It’s interesting that McGwire gets a free pass in all of this while innuendo that comes out against Barry Bonds is damning. Why is it that accusations by Canseco about McGwire are easily dismissed when allegedly leaked grand jury testimony (a federal crime – and a felony at that) about Bonds is taken as gospel? Both sources of “evidence” are dubious at best and should be treated as such. Or at least they should both be treated equally. To not treat them similarly indicates some form of bias – or worse.

McGwire's former coach and current Cardinals skipper, Tony LaRussa, had my favorite take on the situation. Essentially LaRussa said that he was sure that McGwire had done nothing illegal. Brilliant! Of course McGwire did nothing illegal - well, at least not by baseball's standards. Steroids were perfectly legal in McGwire's day - in Canseco's career. There was no testing and there were no prohibitions against taking them. For most of Bonds and Giambi's career the same has been true. Often in the excitement of tarnishing the images of superstars, this little tidbit is forgotten. It doesn't make it right, and it doesn't mean that ballplayers should have been taking steroids, but whether it was allowed or not isn't the issue here.

Canes Baseball gets into Full Swing
The second ranked Hurricanes completed a three game sweep over High Point over the weekend. However, it wasn't a series filled with blowouts, as many fans on both sides expected coming into the series. While High Point was an 11-44 ballclub last year, this year's team is filled with promising freshman and experienced junior college transfers. While High Point is unlikely to earn a berth in this year's College World Series, Sal Bando Jr's club is clearly on the rise. For one quick example, the Panthers starting pitcher on Saturday night was Eammon Portice. Portice holds the Broward County HS record for strikeouts in a career, and he showed no signs of having earned that record by accident on Saturday night. Despite one rough inning (the first), Portice finished with ten strikeouts in only five innings of work. Should he keep putting up performances like that, I would expect him to be the ace of the staff some time soon for High Point, and for the Panthers to win - or at least be able to stay close - in many of his outings.

So despite some close calls, it was good to see the Canes pull out all three games (12 - 5 on Friday, 7 - 6 in eleven innings on Saturday, and 10 - 1 on Sunday) and improve their record to 4 - 0. The University of South Florida visits the Light this upcoming weekend (there is no mid-week game).


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