This was quite a week for goodbyes. Mariano Rivera had a couple for the ages in the Bronx and will make it official with his final game today in Houston. Andy Pettitte got his curtain calls as well. Bud Selig announced he’s done as commissioner on Jan. 24, 2015. Todd Helton homered and got a curtain call in his final game in Denver.
Those were the big ones to make news. There were plenty of others. Let’s bounce around the bigs for a few more:
Robinson Cano: Nothing official yet but he seems ready to bid adieu to the Bronx as well. The Yankees’ second baseman is reportedly looking to break the bank, seeking a higher salary than even Alex Rodriguez, and I can’t imagine he’s going to get it from Brian Cashman & Co. In fact, if he really wants the reported $300-$310 million he’s asking, it would seem Cano’s only hope would be to get Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson on speed dial and talk to the Dodgers.
Cano, who will soon be 31, wants a 10-year deal that would make him baseball’s first $30 million man and that’s ridiculous. No way he’s worth that much. The Dodgers have to worry about Clayton Kershaw first. Maybe Cubs GM Theo Epstein would like to tweak the Yankees and sign Cano, but would Cano want to go into a rebuild for a few years?
R.A. Dickey: We’ve spent plenty of time in this space dissecting what wrong with the Blue Jays the last few months, so no repeat is needed here. Dickey made his feelings clear last week when he tweeted, “I just wanted to say publicly how great the support has been from the Jays nation despite an agonizing season. You guys deserve better.” He followed that with a second tweet that read, “Thank you and be hopeful about 2014. We will rise. #likeaphoenix.” Better find more pitching.
Ron Washington: The Rangers’ manager is still trying to live down Game Six of the 2011 World Series and last year’s final-week collapse that saw the A’s steal the AL West when Texas blew a six-game lead in the final nine days. Now the Rangers have endured a seven-game September skid where they didn’t lead for any of the 63 innings. He’s in real trouble unless the Rangers go deep in the postseason and he’s toast if they don’t make it.
“Yes, I’m concerned about my job,” Washington told ESPN Radio in Dallas. “Who wouldn’t be? But I hope that I’ve gained credibility for what all we’ve accomplished in the past few years. I’m not a finger pointer. I’m not pointing the finger at anyone. We all have to take the blame … I know at some point in this game of baseball we all have to look for another job.”
Joe Girardi: He has been steadfast about not talking about his future but it’s been noticeable that he doesn’t automatically say he wants to return to the Yankees. He’s a free agent and the Yankees are in trouble with aging or retiring players and a thin farm system. Have to think he’d be intrigued by returning home to Chicago to lead the Cubs or taking over for a motivated group of talent-laden Nationals who feel they just frittered away a season.
Chris Perez: The embattled Indians closer was yanked from his job Friday after giving up two ninth-inning homers to the White Sox on Tuesday and four ninth-inning runs to the Twins on Thursday. Manager Terry Francona said he’s going with a closer by committee, not the recipe for October success, but he really has no choice with Perez’s ERA at 7.53 since Aug. 1.
Allan Craig: The Cards ruled out their top hitter for the division series on Friday, and the chatter is that he’ll be hard-pressed to make the NLCS too because of a left foot problem that has kept him out since Sept. 4. He might even be done until next spring. Craig hit .315 this year with 13 homers and 97 RBIs, so his loss will be huge and will be felt in October.
Shake-up in Syracuse
There’s also been a big good-bye in the International League this month and, frankly, it’s been long overdue. Tex Simone, the octogenarian executive vice president of the Syracuse Chiefs, has retired after a last-place season on the field translated to a huge dent in the team’s bottom line.
The Chiefs sold just over 345,000 tickets this year, their lowest total in NBT Bank Stadium’s 17-year history, and no-shows were plentiful. The community-owned team had a net loss of more than $505,000, according to a report prepared for its board of directors. The Chiefs made a profit for 36 straight years until 2006, but had never lost more than $200,000 in a season.
Simone’s son, John, is the longtime general manager but the franchise is in need of a complete overhaul. It has long been considered the most backwards, penny-pinching organization in the IL and made a fatal mistake that will loom forever when it built its new ballpark in the parking lot of old MacArthur Stadium on the relatively desolate north side of town and bucked the trend of building downtown.
Attending a game in Syracuse is like being in a time warp and nothing like a game in places like Buffalo, Rochester, Toledo, Columbus or dozens of other minor-league parks. This one needs more than a fresh coach of paint. It needs a completely fresh outlook.
They said it
• Selig on the continued attendance saga in Tampa Bay, where the Rays will finish last in MLB (18,645 average) and with the lowest total for a playoff team since the 1979 Pirates: “That’s just disgraceful. I don’t know how much blunter I can be than that.” Bigger surprise: It’s the Rays’ lowest figure since 2007, the year before they made the World Series.
• A misty-eyed Tigers manager Jim Leyland after his team’s clincher Wednesday in Minnesota: “This was a tough year for the guys because the expectations were so high and it was almost like we were set up to fail. And from day one of spring training I told them, ‘Don’t get caught up in the expectations. Get caught up in how we’re going to live up to those expectations.’ And I think that’s what they’ve done.”
• Lots of water jokes around baseball, given the Dodgers’ ill-advised dip in the Diamondbacks’ right-field pool after clinching the NL West and the continued drainage/sewage issues at the Oakland Coliseum.
• Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had quite a crack when asked about the A’s clinching against his team last week in Oakland. Said the veteran Minnesota skipper, “I don’t want them to swim in our pool, which is usually our dugout here.”
• Former Bisons MVP Jhonny Peralta returned to the Tigers’ lineup Friday night after serving his 50-game Biogenesis suspension and was immediately put in left field to see if he can compete there in the postseason. Peralta has lost his shortstop job to Jose Iglesias.
• It’s been a crazy season for outfielder Ryan Langerhans. He opened the season in the Bisons lineup, was released in June, landed with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters (seriously), returned to the Bisons in August and returned to the Skeeters for the Atlantic League playoffs, which ended Sept. 20.
• When Rajai Davis needed to leave the Blue Jays to tend to his pregnant wife, the team gave Langerhans a surprise call-up to the big leagues for the last four days of the season because he had been idle for less than a week and Buffalo players like Mike McCoy and Ricardo Nanita had not played since the Bisons’ finale on Sept. 2.
• The Blue Jays announced their annual R. Howard Webster Award Winners, recognizing the most valuable players at each level of the minor leagues, and the Bisons’ honor went to infielder Ryan Goins. He hit .257 in a team-high 111 games for the Bisons with six homers and 46 RBIs but has been a revelation at second base in Toronto, where he entered the weekend batting .255 and has staked an early claim for the job in 2014.
The award for Double-A New Hampshire went to outfielder Brad Glenn, who finished the season batting .246 with five homers and 10 RBIs in 18 games for the Bisons. He was at .264-17-69 with the Fisher Cats at the time of his promotion.