DALLAS — Dallas-- --I'm not proud of it, but I slipped out of Major League Baseball's winter meetings a little early and missed yesterday morning's Rule 5 draft.
I was afraid the suspense would be too much for me.
In case you're not a seamhead, the draft is named -- coincidentally -- after Rule 5 of the Major League Agreement, which states:
The 30 clubs are required to hold a large event during the final stages of the annual winter meetings that will be so uncompelling that it will encourage team executives to cut their stay in the fabulous Southwest Airlines host city by one day, thereby saving valuable funds that can later be sent to the Kansas City Royals in the form of revenue sharing.
Well, I'm pretty sure that's what it states, though there's probably also something about teams being allowed to draft players from other teams that have a certain level of minor league service and have not been placed on their club's 40-man roster.
I used to go to the draft every year, just to see if I recognized the name of one of the players selected, but figured out one year that my presence wasn't necessary when my alarm failed to go off.
Baltimore native Mark Shapiro continues a proud tradition of strong major league executives with Baltimore-area ties. He was named Major League Executive of the Year by Baseball America at the winter meetings on Wednesday for his great work rebuilding the Cleveland Indians into the exciting young team that challenged the Chicago White Sox for the American League Central title this year. Shapiro also won the same award from The Sporting News this year.
Shapiro, who is the son of well-known Baltimore attorney, player agent, author and lecturer Ron Shapiro, inherited the unenviable task of dismantling the very successful Indians team of the 1990s and presided over a steady reconstruction project that brought the Indians back while several other teams in the same situation (you'll have to guess) continued to founder. It's early, but we just might have another John Schuerholz on our hands.
I was afraid this would happen. The Orioles make a couple of medium moves and Jim Hunter is burning up my Cingular Family Plan telling me it's time to start rebuilding Jimmyville.
It's a little early, don't you think? We don't even know if Erik Bedard has agreed to talk to Leo Mazzone yet. But I've got to admit, catcher Ramon Hernandez is a pretty nice pickup.
Hunter's a good guy, but he's so upbeat that if he had been announcing the Hindenburg disaster, he would have told fans to hurry down because tickets were still available for Fireworks Night.
Since I've been in Maryland, I've figured out that there really are only three things that are truly certain in this life -- death, taxes and if it's December or January, Fred Manfra being on one of his 14 annual Orioles cruises.
(This is the time of year when I take a few pokes at Fred, because I know that he's being carried up some Mayan Pyramid in Belize and he'll never hear about it. And has anybody noticed that the guy has more Hawaiian shirts than the entire cast of Magnum P.I.?)
I have a regular e-mailer named Rob who, sadly, has never recovered from being a Notre Dame fan, so he recently tried to taunt me by sending me the lyrics to the Notre Dame fight song, which presumably was written before this year's discouraging last-second loss to USC:
Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, Wake up the echoes cheering her name.
Send a volleyed cheer on high, Shake down the thunder from the sky.
What, tho' the odds be great or small, Old Notre Dame will win over all, While her loyal sons are marching ONWARD TO VICTORY!
So those are the lyrics? I thought it was:
Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame, Even after USC wins every game.
Send a volleyed cheer on high, When Reggie Bush runs right on by.
What, tho' the odds be great or small, Don't leave Matt Leinart with the ball, The mighty Trojans took their toll, And that's why we're in the Fiesta Bowl.