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The Bleacher Bums: June 8, 2007 Archive

Torii weighs in on the Sheffield controversy

Posted at 9:43 AM on June 8, 2007 by Chris Dall

Torii Hunter has added his voice to the controversy started recently by Detroit Tigers DH Gary Sheffield.

In a recent interview in GQ, Sheff was asked about the decreasing number of African-Americans playing baseball, and the increasing number of Latino players. His response, to paraphrase, was that Latino players are easier to control, partially because of the language barrier. (Unfortunately, the interview is not available online). He's taken a lot of heat for those comments, but has insisted that he meant nothing derogatory. And his teammate Carlos Guillen agrees with him.

Well Torii thinks the issue has more to do with money, essentially arguing that Latino talent is cheaper for major league teams.

Sheffield and Hunter aren't the only ones concerned about the decreasing number of African-American players in MLB. Dejon Watson, farm director for the LA Dodgers, told ESPN he's not sure of young black athletes are even paying attention to baseball. Dave Winfield was on the Midday program talking about the issue a few months ago, and has argued that MLB needs to do a better job of reaching out to the African-American community.

As of last season, 8.4 percent of major league baseball players were African-American, while 29.4 percent were Latino.

Give Bonds what he deserves: A Freak Show

Posted at 10:01 AM on June 8, 2007 by David Zingler

As we all know (but don't like), Barry Bonds will break Hank Aaron’s all time homerun record sometime in this summer. Although, he doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to do it – the bubble-headed slugger has homered just once since May 8.

The current record holder, Hank Aaron, whose hat size remained stable throughout his career, has long since washed his hands of the proceedings. At a press conference yesterday, held at the spot where his 755th homerun supposedly landed, the Hall of Famer was asked if Commissioner Bud Selig should be in attendance when Bonds finally does eclipse the record.

"I've not spoken to (Selig) at all," Aaron told the Associated Press. "That's his decision and I'm sure he'll make the right one."

Considering Aaron and Selig have been “friends” for decades, I have a hard time believing such a discussion has not taken place.

Enough about Selig and Aaron, lets get to the good stuff. What about Bonds’ former “trainer” and “friend”, Greg Anderson? The former BALCO employee has been rotting in jail since August 28 of last year for refusing to testify to a grand jury about his relationship with Bonds. I want to see his reaction when Barry finally stains the record book. Why not a put a camera in cell and mic him?

Since Bonds obviously doesn’t have much respect for the game, its records or its greatest players, why not just go with it? He could be greeted at home plate by Verne Troyer, both Howard Sterns and Morganna the Kissing Bandit. At that point, we could suspend the game and throw the new Homerun King into a steel cage match with Jose Canseco, which would be officiated by Jesse Ventura...OK, I am just brainstorming...but, I am on to something...right??

The Twins need to make a stand this homestand

Posted at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2007 by Steve Rudolph

After an impressive and unlikely rally in Anaheim on Wednesday afternoon, the Twins return to the Metrodome to begin a nine-game homestand.

Whether it was breaking camp with questionable veterans only to later replace them with younger talent or the early season struggles by some of the team’s top hitters, there have been several similarities between this season and last year. Maybe that’s why so many Twins fans are looking at the arrival of interleague play (where the Twins posted a MLB best 16-2 record last year) as the opportunity the 2007 Twins need to get back in the playoff chase.

It’s not going to happen. I’d be happy if the Twins just went 11-7 in interleague play this year.

I’m not saying the Twins are going to fall out of contention in the coming weeks. There just aren’t any indications that this team is ready to get on the kind of roll it did last year. And more importantly, their N.L. competition simply isn’t going to let it happen.

To finish 11-7 against the N.L., the Twins have to make hay this homestand. So they couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to fill the role of punching bag. Of late, the Washington Senators have put up about as much fight as their namesakes from Ottawa did during the Stanley Cup. Making this even better for the Twins is that they'll start the series with a resurgent Carlos Silva with Johan Santana set for Saturday.

After that, Atlanta and Milwaukee come to town. Both are decent teams. But both are struggling. The Braves have barely been playing .500 ball over the last six week and the Brewers seem to be doing what the Brewers always do – melting down in the intense June heat.

After the homestand the Twins travel to Shea Stadium to face the first-place Mets and then take on the hot-hitting Marlins in Miami.

If the Twins are within three or four games of the second-place Tigers when interleague play is done, I'll consider this a successful stretch. Is that asking for too much?

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