Around the Horn

Thoughts from around the majors this morning...

* The Rockies say they're now pursuing players with talent and character because overpaying for character-less players was a disaster. "I know people don't want to hear this," general manager Dan O'Dowd said, "but we've learned from the past that having players without character doesn't mean anything, even if they have skill."

Who exactly was he talking about? Mike "I'm Here for the Schools" Hampton? Denny "It's All About the Handicapped Children" Neagle? Todd "Don't Bug Me, I'm Meditating For Peace" Helton? Terry "The World's Cuddliest Hell's Angel" Shumpert? Did "Rocky Mountain High" actually refer to pills floating around the Colorado clubhouse?

Dan O'Dowd's words smack of double desperation: first, he's smearing departed players with a broad brush, as if it were their fault they took Mile High contracts without bringing a full load of faith, hope and charity to work everyday. Second, he's huffing and puffing to create a smoke screen for the fans, who are probably altitude-sick over the Rockies' continued Commitment to Crappiness. O'Dowd wants them to think, oh, it's not Dan's fault those so-called stars were in fact miscreants. Poor guy was bamboozled.

The sad truth is that nothing has ever worked, and nothing will ever work. Baseball at 5,280 feet is a freak show. It messes with the pitchers' minds. It blows out the bullpen. It creates the illusion that Neifi Perez is a good hitter. It turns good hitters into weenies on the road, where they can't adjust to real breaking pitches. Forget it, Dan. Let some other schnook give it a shot.

Better yet: dismantle Coors Field brick by brick, move it to Monterrey, Mexico or Portland, Ore., (but leave that stupid waterfall behind), and make Denver the triple-A baseball town it was meant to be. Major league baseball at that altitude is a travesty.

* The Brewers have agreed to a "full-blown" state financial audit, according to a headline on SI.com. Sounds good, yep. The Brewers have gone back on their promise to build a good team with a competitive payroll in exchange for a publicly-funded stadium. The locals are gathering around Miller Park with torches and garlic, ready to storm the gates. Bud wants to sell the team. Time for truth and reconciliation, right?

Ah, but read to the end of the AP story, and you'll realize that this so-called audit is to a certain extent a PR exercise: the Brewers do not have to itemize in several categories, which any financial reporter will tell you is a red flag. Even when your company is public and Fortune 100, it's easy to cook the books (just ask Andrew Fastow and John Rigas). When the company is private, well, I'll be shocked if Wisconsin's auditors uncover anything significant. Except for Wendy Selig-Prieb's silver ninja nipple rings.

* Brian Sabean declares that he absolutely, positively did not have sex with that woman, and that he won't trade Edgardo Alfonzo to the Yankees. The Chron's Henry Schulman reports that in an online chat with Sk8trPimp, LilJess and SFKidMace, Sabean wrote, "Hey, doodz, I jus wna say that E-Alf iz tha gr8st n no way r u gna C a trade 2 th fking yanks."

Sabean claims that Brian Cashmoney is his homey from da block and hasn't even sprinkled his digits on the cellie-cell n shit. Or whatever those crazy GM kids are saying these days.

Plus, he said, the Yankees have nothing left to trade. Thus, I maintain that, if the deal goes down, it'll be a three-way (the thought of which always gives me a bit of the creeps, unless it's with Kim Ng of the Dodgers). OK, that was uncalled for. But better to let off a little testoterone-driven steam on my blog than to let it build up to violent proportions.

Final thought: if Boston fans can't have peaceful fun after the Pats win their second Super Bowl in three years, what the hell is going to happen when the Sox finally win the Series?


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