Epstein Officially a Liar; Bryant in Majors
April 20, 2015

Major League Baseball opened its season at Chicago's Wrigley Field on April 5, but Cubs fans, without ownership admitting it, knew the real season for them would start on April 17. The Bleacher Bums would have been there in force, if there were bleachers to sit in, to watch third baseman Kris Bryant make his big league debut.

You remember the story. The 23 year-old phenom hit 43 home runs in the minor leagues last year, had a torrid spring, but didn't make the Opening Day roster because Cubs President Theo Epstein told ESPN that he “needed more seasoning.” Epstein also added that the organization had “never discussed” the business side of sending him down, even though a 12-day stint in the minors would save the Cubs a year of Bryant's potential free agency, and subsequently millions of dollars.

The rule is a strange one, and it's been discussed here before. Bryant had to serve what amounted to a 12-game suspension because of the way major league service time is calculated. It's not fair to Bryant, but at the same time, you can't blame the Cubs for using the rule to their advantage. But as the kids say, don't hate the player (or in this case team), hate the game. It was widely accepted that Bryant was going to open the season in Iowa, and even if Bryant's agent had a fit, he knew it, and his client knew it. What's abhorrent is Epstein's 'what are you talking about' attitude before sending him down, and then having the audacity to say it was because Bryant wasn't ready.

Epstein could have waited an extra day or two to bring Bryant up, just so he could say 'I told you so', but fate intervened. Third baseman Mike Olt, who was keeping Bryant's chair warm for him, broke his wrist and was placed on the Disabled List. Olt would have been sidelined anyway, but at least Epstein now has an excuse.

But seriously, why all the excuses and hidden messages for Bryant to stay in the minors? Epstein should have been up front about it. “Yeah, we are going to send him down”, Epstein should've said. “He can work on his defense and add a few homers while we use the money we save to pay for cost overruns in Wrigley Field's renovation. That new scoreboard isn't going to pay for itself, you know.” The truth, a laugh, and everybody's happy.

Bryant postscript: The future megastar was 0-for-4 in his debut Friday but is 6-for-10 since, including 3 hits and 3 RBIs tonight. He doesn't have a home run yet, and hasn't stolen a base.

No halo for Hamilton?: By several accounts, it seems Josh Hamilton will never play another game for the Los Angeles Angels. Team officials met with Hamilton in his native Texas this week when the team was in Houston, and although manager Mike Scioscia said it “went well”, reports are that talks are underway to potentially buy out his contract. Hamilton has had alcohol and drug dependency issues for years, and admitted to having a relapse over the winter. Back on the soap box here, but why is a drug/alcohol relapse make you a pariah, but steroid use either goes ignored, or worse yet, rewarded? Not condoning here, but drugs and alcohol abuse is destructive to yourself, but using performance enhancing drugs is a deliberate attempt to cheat the game. When the Angels found out about Hamilton's relapse, they took away his locker and removed all Hamilton merchandise from their stores. Meanwhile Seattle's Nelson Cruz was just named American League Player of the Week. Cruz, suspended 50 games in 2013 for PED use, signed a four-year, 57 million dollar contract with Seattle during the off season.

It's all about the schedule: Not counting Opening Day on April 6, all but one of ESPN's telecasts have featured either the Yankees, Red Sox, or Cardinals. The only exception was Wednesday's Jackie Robinson Night Dodgers-Mariners telecast, and it was a good one. Normally, in-game interviews seem to detract from a game, but how about live chats with Don Newcombe, Sharon Robinson (Jackie's daughter), a vignette from Vin Scully, and Rick Sutcliffe interviewing Sandy Koufax! They even tried to get Tommy Lasorda in on it, and it sounded like he had a great story to tell, but couldn't remember the name of a manager, and then the inning ended. ESPN returns to its big three this week with Yankees at Detroit tonight, Cardinals at Washington Wednesday, and Mets at Yankees Sunday.

Oh brother!: Max Stassi is hitting a modest .241 with a home run and 3 RBIs to start the season at Triple-A Fresno, but his older brother Brock is tearing up Double-A in the Phillies system including a walkoff hit and a pie-in-the-face celebration. I tweeted this (@goldsoxradio) over the weekend “In addition to driving in the game-winner, Brock was 2-for-2 with 3 RBIs. Stassi is batting .387 (12-for-31) with 2 HRs and 16 RBIs in 8 gms.”

Near perfect: Sometimes you discover things on accident and have to report them. The Cubs are calling up their next phenom Addison Russell. The 21 year-old shortstop will likely see some big league time at second base. Also, while looking up some information on Bryant, I discovered that Dodgers Triple-A pitcher Scott Baker was one strike away from a perfect game this afternoon. In the first seven-inning game of a doubleheader, Baker had an 0-2 count with two outs for Oklahoma City against the Iowa Cubs when he gave up a single up the middle. Do you have to ask who got the hit? It was Russell.

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