We worship our heroes. Many of them, for this audience, are baseball players. By now you have all fully absorbed the losses of Stan Musial and Earl Weaver. You may have missed that in the past week we also lost legendary college baseball coach Ron Fraser; Red Sox infielder and pride of Mobile, Alabama Milt Bolling; and also Enzo Hernandez and Fred Talbot. Not everyone who departs our soil is a household name, but each and every one of them diminishes the cosmos of baseball and deserves a moment of respect.
An awful lot of the greats of modern baseball are approaching the limits of their mortality, and we should brace ourselves for the inevitable. The list of stars and superstars who enjoyed their heydays in the late 50's through early 70's include some players for which we have become too accustomed to always having around. Willie Mays is on that list. So are Hank Aaron, Sandy Koufax, Jimmy Wynn, Bob Gibson, Billy Williams, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Bill Mazeroski, and more.
Over the next decade, we may suffer a large number of emotional earthquakes as our heroes fall to Father Time. Stan Musial is merely a prelude of things to come. Remember, though, that Musial could not play alone. Others took the field with him and against him, and the fabric of baseball weaves interesting stories among many of the not-so-great just like it does among the great. Those stories are what make our National Pastime so rich, and we should take the time to peek into the careers of those unfamiliar. You might be surprised what you will find.
In the off-beat case of Enzo Hernandez, for example, old-time San Diego Padres fans should recall his customary PA announcement with every at-bat, "numberelevenEnzo............HERNAAAAAAANDEZ!" That should be enough to bring a smile to those who were there. With all due respect to magnificence of a Stan Musial, being a part of a memory that extends beyond ones days and makes your fellow humans smile is really all it takes to become immortal.
So WiHalo thinks that the four of us who congregate here on weekends have nothing to talk about, since come Fridays "Baseball websites are abandoned in favor of moviephone.com, startrekonline.com, and/or world of warcraft." Sounds like we got ourselves a linkage challenge right there, no?
- Adam Kennedy ramps up his local instructional facility, here in Anaheim. Don Aase used to have a similar facility tucked between Anaheim ills and Yorba Linda, and it worked wonders on my youngest son's pitching ability (HaloVet). If you have a youngster, and are in need or want of some outside instruction on fundamentals, I would recommend checking out Kennedy's facility.
- Mark Trumbo is tweeting that his offseason workout regime as him the fastest and strongest he has been, ever. Apparently Adam Kennedy's new facility is having immediate benefits for the 2013 season!
- Daily Mike Trout Porn: Baseball Prospectus Podcast - Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh get down on the pressing BABIP question as to whether or not Mike Trout was lucky? (About half way through the podcast.)
This Date In Baseball History, with a decidedly New York State Of Mind: 1934 - NY Giants manager Bill Terry mocks the Brooklyn Dodgers, asking "Is Brooklyn still in the league?" during an interview. Brooklyn will turn around and bounce the Giants from the pennant race 8 months later..........1945 - The Yankees are sold to Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail. MacPhail will later get bought out, and Topping and Webb will eventually sell to CBS after the 1964 season. It is CBS from whom which George Steinbrenner will buy the franchise..........1966 - Tony Kubek is diagnosed with three crushed vertebrae since childhood, and announces his retirement. He will become a national broadcast voice of baseball to baby boomers everywhere..........1980 - After their recent sale, the NY Mets introduce their new ownership of Nelson Doubleday as CEO and Fred Wilpon as CEO and President. Wilpon will buy out Doubleday in 2002 and get entangled in the Bernie Madoff scam, actually making ~$300 million via Madoff's Ponzi practice.........1999 - The deck chairs are shuffled in New York City, with the Mets abandoning their birth partner WOR channel 9 and moving to WPIX channel 11. The Yankees had dropped their 50 year partner WPIX to jump to the FOX station, channel 5, opening up the opportunity for the Mets..........2007 - Ex-player, ex-manager of the Yankees Will Randolph signs with the Mets to pilot the team on a two year deal, doubling his previous salary...........2012 - Jorge Posada (finally!) retires.
- The fake throw to third, spin to first is now, officially, a balk. If I recall correctly, this rule takes place exactly one season after we saw it work perfectly for the Angels. I just cannot recall the game, nor the opponent, nor the Halo pitcher who pulled it off.
- You want to read something cool? Sabre blogger Dan Turnekopf of Baseball Prospectus has been hired into a real MLB Front Office. (Hat tip to HBT.) Reading around and through all this reveals something of note. Mike Fast used to write for Baseball Prospectus and now works for the Houston Astros. Keith Woolner, creator of VORP and writer for BP, went to work for the Cleveland Indians. Sean Smith, baseballprojection.com blogger, rallymonkey here at HH, and author of bWAR, and creator of CHONE, got himself hired into some mystery MLB franchise. That's four baseball sabre guys that have been pulled into baseball that I can come up with right now. The next time you hear or read of MSM knucklehead make some crack about "stat geeks", ask that person to name the most recent BBWAA member who was even offered a position to advise an MLB GM on how to evaluate player talent. That should make for an interesting reaction.
- The Chicago Cubs have put forth a NEW plan to renovate Wrigley Field. What's so "new" about it? Well, not the renovation itself so much, but the notion of asking for public money, which was in the earlier "plan". This was a pretty big deal, and fairly ballsy request, considering that despite getting public funds for their Spring Training facility, and despite asking for funds for Wrigley Field, Joe Ricketts (who owns the Cubs), heads up the funding behind a PAC that lobbies against wasteful government spending. The punchline, of course, is that it is clearly not wasteful spending if the government is handing the money over to Billionaire Joe! If you are interested, The Biz of Baseball has pictures of the proposed renovation.
- It sounds like the CBA is missing a clause concerning the luxury tax spending. There seems to be no baseline as to what payroll should look like BEFORE getting luxury tax money, so teams can use the tax money as 100% of their payroll and pocket what they would have been forced to spend just to field 27 players and make a team. Ha! Too bad for the MLBPA, which thinks that it wants to go after the Florida Marlins for having such a low payroll now. It should be noted, however,t hat it is pretty easy to jump to Cot's and find other teams with lower payrolls than that of the Marlins. Good luck with that, Union lawyers.
- What ever happened to a kid you probably never even knew existed? But you should have. Jay Mazzone is one of those great baseball tales I was writing about above. "As a 12-year-old, he joined the Orioles in that magical season of 1966 when they won their first World Series. He captured the attention of the national news media as he picked up bats and balls with metal hooks attached to his limbs. As a 2-year-old, he lost his hands after his snowsuit caught fire." Even cooler, here is an audio interview with Mazzone taped last year.
- A fun way to make people's heads explode: Mike Piazza turns out to have been a defensive whiz behind the plate! In that link mix, you will discover that Bill James Online links to The Hardball Times Baseball Annual for 2009, wherein more of this supporting data is said to exist. Not being a subscriber, I am happy to take their word for it. "My conclusion is the same as his from that article: Mike Piazza was not a defensive liability who made up for it with his bat. The greatest offensive catcher in the history of Major League Baseball was a good defensive catcher as well."
- I'll bet nobody saw this one coming: the Dodgers just got very, very rich this week.
Barry Bonds selling his Beverly Hills mansion. Looks like it comes with its own trampoline!!..........Justin Sellers poppin’ wheelies..........Nolan Ryan goes looking for the new biggest weenie for his ballpark, and selects himself..........Hall Of Fame fix it reading. Worth linking to just for the phrase: "Joe Morgan Super Friends Committee", but pay special attention to the point they are making with the example of Gil Hodges..........King Felix may be getting, uh, "Kingier". Al Capone and Babe Ruth signed a baseball? Kind of the antithesis to hero worship, no?
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:
Friday: Head to Long Beach and get your stink on, my friends! Beachwood BBQ & Brewing is at Part 3 of their food/beer tasting series, focusing on Wild Ales, and cheese (this is Friday AND Saturday). Meanwhile, the Congregation Ale House is hosting a Cheese festival all week long (including Saturday & Sunday, too).
Sunday:Living quite refined up in Davis, Monticello Seasonal Cuisine will be the location for a Beer Dinner with Dr. Charles Bamforth. As we have noted before, Dr. Bamforth is professor of malting and brewing science at UC Davis. That's got to be one of the best gigs on the planet...sigh.