And Now It Begins

After such a wonderful 2011 World Series, I’m mentally if not physically exhausted as I write this week’s column.  All but game three were nail biting, nerve raking affairs even for someone who was not cheering for one team over the other.  It was a shame one team had to lose but despite the obvious managerial blunders, mental mistakes and errors, which I’m certain will be discussed to death in the next few days, it was a World Series we will all be talking about for years to come.  I must extend my congratulations to both teams for once again proving that baseball is indeed the most exciting of all sports.

But now it begins. The rumors, speculation, negotiations, the trade talk and all the rest that goes with this always too long baseball offseason.  Apart from a casual daily glance at what is going on, we all could use a week or two of relation and paying attention to other worldly events and happenings.  But only a week or two.

Certainly the biggest off field questions will be the financial situation of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the inevitable battle with the commissioner’s office,  the ongoing but far less bleak finances of the New York Mets, the search for GM and managerial replacements, new Houston Astros ownership and of course, the signing of  a new CBA.

The biggest and potentially most drawn out on the field headlines will be the opting out, or not, of C.C. Sabathia from his New York Yankee contract and  the signings of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. There are, as usual, many potential arbitration cases and many teams which have to decide which direction they plan on going for the 2012 season.

Now that the courts in California have decided, (well, for the moment anyway), that Dodger owner Frank McCourt will own the Dodgers as part of his nasty and drawn out divorce,  will Bud Selig force the issue and demand that McCourt sell his interest in the franchise?  Selig has continually made his opinion known that such a sale would be in the best interests of baseball.  McCourt has chosen to make this battle public and has stated in no uncertain terms that he will do whatever he feels is best for him.

The financial situation of the New York Mets is awaiting further rulings by the New York court which has stated that Fred Wilpon is liable for a fixed amount only no matter what the final judgment may turn out to be. Although the Mets have not repaid their $25 million loan to Major League baseball, Bud Selig has stated that he is not overly concerned.  This situation has been far less public and far more civilized, at least in public.

New ownership in Houston has yet to be approved and questions have come up as to the hiring practices of the potential new owner in other businesses he owns.  Selig also seems to be pushing that approval of this sale might be contingent on an agreement by the new owner to move the Astros to the American League.  He has hinted that any other reservations about the sale could be overlooked if such relocation were to be agreed to.

The signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, (CBA), seemed to be a done deal.  Now, a pet peeve of Selig has begun to raise its ugly head and threatens to delay or negate any new agreement.  Selig has pushed for years now to put a ceiling on bonuses awarded to draft picks.  Understandably, the players union want no part of such a ceiling stating that it amounts to nothing more than a back door salary cap. The proposal of a luxury tax above slot might be the compromise which gets the deal signed.

But let’s face it.  For us fans of the game these haughty financial matters are of little concern.  Those issues will be decided by lawyers and accountants. The biggest issue to fans around baseball, and especially in St. Louis, New York and Milwaukee is only one.  Who will sign Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C. C. Sabathia?  Who will be lucky enough to sign them?  Will we still be talking about this in January?

For now, let’s simply bask in the glow of a wonderful season and a truly special World Series.   Spring is coming.

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