Star rookies boost baseball where it’s needed most

Matt Trowbridge

The Yankees winning the World Series last year and the Red Sox climbing to near-Yankees spending levels made it seem time for critics to complain again about baseball not having a salary cap. In truth, baseball’s great age of parity is as strong as ever. Consider: Eight different champs in the last nine years, including three with modest payrolls (Marlins, White Sox, Angels); three mid-market World Series losers (Astros, Rockets, Tigers), and two teams that hadn’t won in more than 85 years (Red Sox and White Sox).

And now the Twins have a new stadium, the Marlins have one on the way and all the star rookies play for teams that need a boost: Stephen Strasburg (Nationals); Mike Stanton (Marlins); Jason Heyward (Braves) and Carlos Santana (Indians). That may be the best small-market sign. The draft is working better than ever as teams no longer worry about “signability” and pay whatever it takes to sign the best players.

A trophy befitting Sox and Cubs

I laughed when I saw the headline about the Sox and Cubs playing for the BP Cup. It seemed like a great snarky line to make fun of Chicago’s two disappointing baseball teams. Then I found out it was for real. That’s too depressing to be funny.

Football rules college sports

Boise State to the Mountain West and Colorado to the Pac-10 make sense, but why does the Big Ten want Nebraska so much? If you want to raid a Big 12 school in the middle of nowhere, take Kansas and it’s historic basketball program. The fact that eight Big 12 schools are getting wooed, and none of them is Kansas, shows football rules college sports.

Two years after Bill Self led Kansas to the NCAA title, the Jayhawks’ 100-year run as national powers might be over if Kansas gets orphaned off to the Mountain West.

Cubs need former castoff

If only the Cubs had a big bat at third. Oh, wait. They used to. And I don’t mean back when Aramis Ramirez hit above .168. Chicago waived Casey McGehee two years ago. He’s now second in the NL in RBIs for the Brewers. With the Cubs minor league system is so loaded with great hitting prospects, I can see why they’d throw this guy away.

Rockford golf never better

The 1970s used to be the golden age of Rockford-area golf. Shirley Dommers, Kay Rossmiller and Salley Wessels each won Women’s State Amateur titles from 1974-77. But that takes a back seat to now. Last year, Brad Benjamin became the first local golfer to win the Illinois Open and U.S. Amateur Public Links and Corey Konieczki won the Trusted Choice Big “I” National title. This year, Benjamin narrowly missed the cut at The Masters and came within four strokes of qualifying for the U.S. Open, while Brittany Atterbury became the first local woman to win the State Am in 33 years.

Sometimes life isn’t fair

The Bulls drafted the best player off of LSU’s 2006 Final Four team and got nothing except a few teases of promise from Tyrus Thomas. The Celtics get the LSU player supposedly too fat to ever be a good pro as a bit part in the Ray Allen trade and Glenn “Big Baby” Davis is averaging 15.8 playoff points as Boston chases its second title in three years.

Assistant sports editor Matt Trowbridge’s Quick Shots on Sports appear Sundays. He can be reached at 815-987-1383 or