BY NORMAN CHAD
In his swan song as Major League Baseball commissioner last year, Bud Selig scheduled Opening Day in Australia. Because, hey, nothing says spring and baseball more than playing the first game of the season at 3 a.m. 7,500 miles away from the nearest U.S. ballpark.
In his debut as Major League Baseball commissioner this year, Rob Manfred scheduled Opening Day at Wrigley Field at night. Because, hey, nothing says spring and baseball more than playing the first game of the season on a 48-degree evening in Chicago.
I’m nobody’s commissioner, but how hard is it to give us an old-fashioned Opening Day in, say, Cincinnati on a sunny Sunday afternoon?
MLB’s errors in judgment do not dampen my enthusiasm for baseball. It is still America’s game and, well, this is still America. And as they resume playing ball, Couch Slouch has his eye on several intriguing ball-playing stories:
Back on Broadway, it’s ‘‘A-Rod, Act III (or IV)’’: Way back when, I used to defend Alex Rodriguez on many fronts, including rumors of his use of performance-enhancing drugs, based on the precept that you’re innocent until proven guilty. Then he was proven guilty and kept acting innocent, which ended our bromance just shy of its 10th anniversary.
After serving a one-year suspension for PED use, A-Rod penned a handwritten apology to the fans, reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s 1952 Checkers speech, minus the cocker spaniel.
In A-Rod’s defense — if I recall the 2007 Mitchell Report correctly — it seems as though about 377 Yankees were cited for using steroids and human-growth hormone. They say to get along you have to go along, so, in the fine tradition of Lance Armstrong, A-Rod went along — and along and along and along.
A-Rod is under contract to the Yankees for three more seasons. If his mind, body and soul somehow hold up, I guess it’s possible he could hit a record-breaking 763rd home run in 2017. Wouldn’t it be something if Barry Bonds could be there, sitting in the left-field bleachers at Yankee Stadium, and catch the historic ball?
The Cubs sent Kris Bryant to the minors, although he might be the next Babe Ruth. Frankly, I don’t care. It was a business decision, and the last time I checked a team can determine its 25-man roster any way it wants. Heck, in certain parts of Indiana, I believe church softball teams can refuse to serve gay middle relievers.
What’s more interesting are the comments of Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, The Oracle of Everything. He called the Cubs’ move ‘‘ersatz baseball’’ and said ‘‘the CBA is at the apogee of wrongs incentivizing clubs to create a product less than the best.’’
Whoa, Mensa boy.
Boras is the son of a dairy farmer; the first word he probably learned was ‘‘moo.’’ How do you go from ‘‘moo’’ to ‘‘apogee’’? Like many English-as-a-first-language users, I never have uttered ‘‘apogee,’’ ‘‘ersatz’’ or ‘‘incentivizing’’ in any statement.
I try to stay abundantly apolitical, but I’ll say this: The only way Ted Cruz could make himself even less attractive of a presidential candidate is if he picks Boras as his running mate.
Just 90 miles south of Florida, my favorite island nation is clicking its heels. My father is Bronx-born, my mother is Cuban-born. They met on neutral ground, became legally bound and still are married nearly 65 years later in perhaps the most remarkable feat in the history of Cuban-American relations.
Growing up, my favorite Washington Senator was Havana-bred pitcher Camilo Pascual. I would eat arroz con pollo while watching him throw curveballs to fellow Cuban Paul Casanova.
With nearly two dozen Cuban-born players in the majors in 2015 — led by Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu and Yoenis Cespedes — this could be the golden age of Cuban communism-meets-American capitalism at the ballpark. Rusney Castillo, Yoan Moncada, Yasmany Tomas and Jorge Soler are among other Cuban prospects who might make Roy Hobbs look like Kelly Leak.
And now, with President Obama ordering the restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, I’m thinking big. The Cincinnati Reds once had a Cuban-based
Class AAA team, the Havana Sugar Kings.
Why can’t MLB expand to Havana with a big-league Sugar Kings? Feels like a perfect spot for a taxpayer-subsidized ballpark.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Last week, you mentioned your Uncle Stanislav’s No. 2 rule of life: ‘‘You got us into this mess, you’ll get us out of this mess.’’ Obviously, you were trying to prod a $1.25-hungry reader to ask: What is his No. 1 rule of life? (Eric Goodwin, Bowie, Maryland)
A. ‘‘Always make the other guy brake.’’
Q. On Showtime, Rob Gronkowski told Jim Rome his ideal wife would be someone who ‘‘cleans, cooks, makes big cash, stays at home, let’s me do whatever I want.’’ You’re a conjugal veteran. How do you like his chances? (Tim Logan, Shaker Heights, Ohio)
A. Other than the cleaning, cooking, staying at home and letting him do whatever he wants, it sounds like he’s looking for a Kardashian.
Q. Why aren’t all scoring plays in the NBA automatically reviewed by the replay official? (Dan Neukam, Las Vegas)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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