It's Party Time, 2012/3!!! Time for "Best Of" lists everywhere. These things are going to be popping up all over the place in the next few days, turning the entire 'net into Bleacher Report. Get used to it.
I may, or may not, have written about this before. If so, forgive my dying brain cells. Each year, when warm enough, I spend a weekend every month camping along the beach up the coast. During one such weekend this past summer I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow traveler who has close insight into MLB, via the Latin American player community. During one long particularly long conversation about the Angels, we got around to Mike Trout. Of course we discussed his talent and accomplishments and, during this, we talked about how opposing teams were dealing with the challenge he poses. This was when I was informed that Trout's actual impact was deep into the front offices of teams throughout baseball, in both leagues. GMs were having him scouted closely, building up files and databases, measuring his (overall!) impact, and considering how they were going to go about finding their own.
I review this anecdote in light of a series of articles being posted on SBN Baseballl concerning the "Best Of" for 2012. (Yes, it's that time of year.) Mike Bates writes about "The Return of Speed and Defense", exclusive emphasis on Mike Trout. Bates takes some flak in the comments about this fixation on one single player, but those complaints are made within the vacuum of not knowing. If what my new friend has told me is true, Bates is more correct than his detractors, or perhaps even himself, know.
- USA Today takes a look at how the Angels and Dodgers checkbook competition has turned SoCal into the Land of Milk and Honey. But these two franchises have been poking fun at each other for a long time, and Moreno seemed to be particularly enjoying himself talking about the Dodgers at the news conference introducing Hamilton. "I think it's just great," Moreno said..."Why would I ever want to wish bad on someone?"
- Paul Lukas of Uni Watch fame posts a column over at EastSPiN unveiling (unofficially) all MLB spring training and batting practice caps for 2013. The obvious emphasis this season is contrast color bills with white stitching, and toning down of that Nike swoopage influence seen in recent years. (The trend for many teams to fall back on a bold look using throwback logos is going to be a problem!) Here is the LAA cap, which Lukas ranks fairly high in style points.
- Yahoo! Sports reviews the best sports photos of 2012, and Erick Aybar makes the list. It's a fair picture, of course, but I can think of better. Miguel Cabrera watching the strike three meatball from Sergio Romo comes to mind. As does this page.
- UPDATE! Hat Tip To Raskul: 3 1/2 minute interview between NBC and Mike Scioscia this morning -
This Date In Baseball History: 1957 - the first crack in the dam. CBS announces that they won't be broadcasting any MLB game into any city where there is a minor league game already scheduled..........1998: AP names Mark McGwire Male Athlete Of The Year in recognition of his advanced chemical-therapy regimen..........2001: New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, on his way out of office, announces that both the New York Yankees and Mets will be getting new public-private stadiums..........2005: The Toronto Blue Jays convince Arizona Diamondbacks' third baseman Troy Glaus to waive his no-trade clause as the key part of a 4-player deal that capped off a very active Blue Jay off-season.
- Let's get back to kicking out 2012, shall we? Scanning about the intertubes we got Tom Verducci's list over at Sports Illustrated, with Mike Trout robbing J.J. Hardy coming in at #8.
- Sometimes I feel that I am a deck hand on the 21st Century equivalent of Radio Caroline, and the BBWAA is our BBC. One of the fun trends around baseball is how BBWAA voters are jumping up and writing columns explaining why they are voting, or not voting, on their HoF ballot. Why fun? Because it reveals just how poor are their critical thinking skills. It's probably always been that way, but the old Samuel Clemens adage of remaining silent and be thought a fool, rather than speak up and remove all doubt must be applicable here. HHappily, Beyond The Boxscore is champing at the bit to encourage the BBWAA to reveal all, so this could get even better!
- Mark Faller over in Arizona, who must have made a decent amount of money ignoring PEDs in 80's, now discovers his own little Throne Of Sanctimony. Then, the NY Daily News' Bill Madden takes his swipe at "the vigilante sabermetric brigade" to invent an entirely new history for Jack Morris.
- Bob Brookover, covering the Phillies long enough to have been crapped on by lots of supremely accomplished players with little patience for stupid people, decides to take on the HoF clause concerning integrity and promptly demonstrates little of it himself. I direct you to "Remove those words...[the Rule 5 clause concerning sportmanship]...and the ballot would fill up quickly...Bonds, Clemens, Sosa...Mike Piazza...Rafael Palmiero [all go on my ballot]." Mike Piazza, Bob?
- Tim Kawakami takes a relativist approach and goes all in with his ballot.
- You want to learn how to take a bad situation and make it worse? Follow the advice of MLB! If things are not bad enough with the quality of umpiring in the face of video coverage, and if things are not bad enough with umpires overplaying their role on the field of play, the MLB knows how to take what is already bad, leverage the special charm and attraction of Reality TV star power, and take "bad" to a whole new level. No, I cannot see how this could possibly go wrong.
- Hideki Matsui announced his retirement yesterday. And his reign of base running terror against the LAA comes to an end. After all, our premium catcher corps never was able to catch the dude stealing. Research documents that throughout 302 plate appearances, the fleet-footed Godzilla stole a base, once.
- Jimmy Fallon, Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld update that baseball classic, "Who's On First?" (I surrender on trying to embed the video here. It just refuses to render consistently. So just click the link, please.)
(Quick hits of interesting stuff that sit out on the fringe of our baseball emporium...)
Andruw Jones, now a Japan-League jerkwad..........Carlton Fisk, cornfield jerkwad..........Sometime Seattleites can convince everyone that their coffee is worth 6 bucks a cup, and sometimes they can’t..........Chipper Jones is not the guy you are going to want to call if your plumbing backs up..........Fangraphs is wondering what might have happened to the hips of Mike Napoli, thus holding up his contract with the Red Sox. I notice that their list of possible reasons fails to include Newport Beach WAGs..........Before we depart Christmas 2012 forever, a look back on the well-traveled career of that legendary baseballer, Santa Claus.
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday for beer:
This weekend, on the verge on New Year's, shows no scheduled celebrations nor events, so I shall take the time to share with you a celebration quite recent: the used bottle caps from a pair of Westvleteren 12. These were enjoyed by myself and my sons RubixsQube and HaloVet, this past Christmas Eve. Truly excellent, though I must admit that my poor palette and poor nose cannot proclaim this to be the absolute finest beer I have enjoyed....