Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bear in the Shadows

What should've been a week of triumph was turned bittersweet this week for TC Bear.

It should have been a week to revel in the mascot home run derby championship, easily outslugging Bernie Brewer and Junction Jack. But instead of headlines proclaiming his second consecutive title, he was greeted the next morning with a story linking him to steroid abuse.

The San Francisco Examiner claims that leaked documents from the BALCO investigation indicate that Mariner Moose claims he and TC have injected each other with HGH in private. TC Bear called the allegations "baseless" and agreed to "cooperate fully" with the grand jury.

Mascots have long been suspected of steroid abuse due to the demands of their occupation. "You try walking around in a fur suit for three hours, 82 times a year and tell me you don't need a little help occasionally," said a mutli-colored chicken, under the condition he remain anonymous. "And it's not like the snot-nosed brats want their high-fives any less because it's 92 degrees in the shade."

Rumors have swirled for years specifically about Mariners Moose and TC Bear due to the appearance. "Where there's smoke, there's usually fire," comments Twins Cities radio host Dan Barreiro. "I mean, would you look at the size of TC's head? And take a look at TC when he started with the organization and compare it to now. You think that's coming from honey?"

The news brought swift action from Baseball's commissioner, Bud Selig, who immediately proposed new banned substance testing for mascots. "I remember in 1992, I was mistaken for a mascot," said Selig, who still looks vaguely like an unkept, nerdy and somewhat shifty muppet. "That could never happen now. An extra in "Dark Crystal"? Maybe. But not a ballpark mascot."

The MLMU, was critical of the proposal just as quickly. "I didn't see the owners complaining as revenues were pouring in. I didn't hear them complaining as they sold tickets to the All-Star macot home run derby this last week," chided union representative Mr. Met.

The First Shoe

If you're looking for some big news on the trade front (and really, who isn't?), here's something to fire you up a bit. Alexander Smit, the Twins prospect from the Netherlands who got me all jazzed up a couple of year ago because he was striking out insane numbers in the lower minors, is no longer with the organization. He was claimed by the Cincinatti Reds off of waivers when the Twins took him off of their 40 man roster.

La Velle E Neal, in his blog comments, claims this is a performance related move, and there's no reason to doubt it. Smit struggled this year at a 22-year-old in High A ball. his ERA was 5.86, and he had just 38 K in 50 innings, and was bouncing between starting and relieveing. If he wasn't taken off the 40 man roster now, he likely would have been early in the offseason. In fact,I wouldn't be shocked if the Reds do just that.

But one needs to ask, why wouldn't the Twins wait until then? The obvious answer is that they needed room on their 40-man roster. But for what? Those players in AAA who are most likely to be called up are already on the 40-man. Nobody is coming back from the 60 day disabled list (RonDL was never put on it). Just why did the Twins need that spot right no

Ichiro Revisited

Got this email from a reader yesterday, and I'm always up for filling space with other people's words...

First of all, I couldn't DISAGREE more with the people who say the Mariners' overpaid for Ichiro. I saw something in the Wall Street Journal last offseason that says that the presence of Ichiro and Kenjo Johjima on the Mariners made the team upwards of 22 million dollars a year, from merchandising, to their share of "local" revenue being generated by broadcast rights sold to Seattle (everything from TV and local radio direct broadcasts, to and gameday audio rights, etc., etc.) to direct marketing (stadia advertising, television advertising, etc.). I then heard from an agent that losing Ichiro would reduce that amount AT MINIMUM to 15 million dollars a year. SO, the amount they are paying Ichiro in real terms is $13 million a year if those "minimum" numbers are taken into account

Second, any Twins' negotiator worth their salt will throw those numbers in Torii Hunter's face should he try to do a direct comparison.

I pointed out yesterday that Ichiro, who is one of the premier outfielders in the game, isn't signficantly more desirable than Hunter in the free agent market. In terms of his performance for the length of this contract, I'd stand by that. But that doesn't mean he doesn't bring some additional revenue that Hunter might not necessarily bring.

Hunter is awfully personable and would likely leave some merchandising money on the table if he re-signed with a small market club (a point the letter writer made later on in the letter). And, in general, I feel like the impact on revenue by Japanese ballplayers is overstated. But it's very possible that Ichiro will make more than Hunter just because of his popularity.

Or maybe I'm just hoping with my heart. Because deep down I see this as another indicator that salaries are going to continue to explode upward this offseason, and leave small market teams struggling again for answers. And Torii playing somewhere in the Northeast.

Feedback. Feedback! FEEDBACK!

Just a reminder. Check out, especially the dynamic blog links at the bottom, and lt me know what you think r if I'm missing your Twins blog.

And Finally, Wave REAL HARD!

At the Twins game tonight, if you are sitting along the first base line, you'll likely find yourself being waved at by TC Bear and a couple of couple of mini-TCs. Wave realy hard, because one of those little guys is The Boy. We'll try and give you a behind the scenes look, and continuer our investigative report of A Bear in the Shadows. See ya there!

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