With Johnny Goodman out on assignment, I’m jumping in to bounce around the world of sports.

September Callup Time

Today marks the day when Major League Baseball teams can expand their rosters from 25 players to 40. Not all teams will call up an extra 15 players, though. Calling a player up to the major league starts his service time “clock”, which affects when they will become a free agent. Thus, the short term benefit of having the players in the major leagues for one month can be outweighed by the long term financial benefit of keeping him away from free agency for a full extra year.

However, September typically features the debut of a lot of players who are expected to contribute the following year. The teams get to see how the players adjust to playing major league competition, and the players get to play though a bit of the rookie “yips” in games that often don’t count for a whole lot.

For teams that are in playoff contention, the situation is much different. The expansion of rosters allows teams to add extra hitters to their bench and extra arms to the bullpen – making it possible for the bullpen to pitch more innings than normal in the throes of a pennant race.

On a related note, players acquired before midnight last night are eligible for postseason rosters.  (Confused about the fact that the trade deadline was a month ago?  Players acquired after July 31 must clear waivers first; players acquired earlier do not need to clear waivers.)  The NL West leading Dodgers acquired slugger Jim Thome from the White Sox and starting pitcher John Garland from the Snakes.  The Rockies countered by picking up pitcher Jose Contreras from the White Sox in exchange for prospect Brandon Hynick (a casual Facebook friend of mine).  Advantage to the Dodgers.

Rockies Update

My beloved Rockies just finished what I considered to be a critically important stretch that included seven games against the Giants and three against the division leading Giants. After taking three of four against the Giants, the Rockies took the first game from the Dodgers – pulling to within two games of the division lead in the process. Unfortunately, they lost the final two games of that series before being swept against the Giants in a series in the bay. The Rockies have fallen into a wild card tie with the Giants, setting up the potential for a great September race.

As for my favorite player, Troy Tulowitzki pushed his OPS (on-base-plus-slugging) over 1.000 for August on the strength of a homer and double in his August finale. After a dreadful start to the year, Tulo has record three straight months with a 1.000+ OPS.

Former Rockie Matt Holliday (now with the Cardinals) finished August with “only” a .963 OPS for the month, on the heels of a 1.150 OPS in July. Hidden by the arbitrary nature of the months of the calendar is a 24 game stretch beginning July 20 and ending August 15 in which Holliday posted a 1.355 OPS. While Holliday did manage to hit 7 homers during that stretch, it was the .474 batting average that was a major factor. The tricky thing for the Cardinals is whether or not they will be able to hammer out a new deal with Holliday’s agent, Scott Boras – or whether Holliday will test the free agent waters with a strong non-Coors season under his belt.

NFL

Fantasy Draft season is in full swing. This is a good sign that the NFL season in just around the corner.

On the positive side, we face a year without the “insight” of John Madden.

On the down side, my Minnesota Vikings gave $25 million to sign Brett Favre for two years. I’ve never been a fan of Favre, and his recent off-field antics have served to sour me on him even more. My plan is simply to ignore the NFL until it has been purged of Favre. I have really been focusing on baseball 365 days a year in recently years, anyway, so this should not be a major sacrifice.

College Football

College football also kicks off this weekend, highlighted by Iowa State’s Thursday night game against North Dakota State. I’m hopefully that Thursday’s game will be but the first step in a season that will end with a BCS Championship for my Cyclones.

Or maybe just a bowl.

The University of Michigan is making news for possible NCAA violations. Anonymous current and former players allege that the amount of time Wolverine players spent on football activities exceeded the limits set down by the NCAA. Michigan suffered their first losing season in more than 40 years in 2008, and this news can only be a distraction as they get ready to face Western Michigan in their maiden 2009 contest.

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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