On this final weekend before Christmas, when all of you are actually spending more time with friends and family than you are hanging on to my every word here, I have been having a pretty fine time of the festivities myself. RubixsQube is back in town and HaloVet arrives tonight. The house is decorated beyond your wildest imagination and I am rolling through my industrious collection of Xmas tunes. I challenge one and all to try and match my ability to present numerous styles of The Christmas Song (hence this week's title). I can do rock, pop, reggae, world music, jazz, rap, hip-hop, American Standard, classical, jazz, smooth jazz, easy listening, chill, cheap-assed cheesy tenor divas, calliope, and on and on and on...
And what with baseball news bumming me out with so little new content with which to reward you, I choose to suffer the dearth of topical content by joining all in indulgence with my own friends and family. And my CD's. Yeah, I said CD's. No, they are not worth ripping to MP3. Not a single one. Besides, SBNation is choosing to barf all over me on this Thursday night and making editing nearly impossible. I'll be lucky to get anything clean published. But you people are worth the effort!
(By the way, thank you to all those who dropped kind words in the comments section of this year's holiday composition celebrating Grinchmas! If there remains anybody out there who has yet to read it, click away. The rest of us will wait right here for you to get back. And, for the rest of you, for 2014 I am thinking about being even more ambitious. Maybe something with ghosts...)
- Peter Bourjos: It was not uncommon for folks here on HH to decry the angst over selling Bourjos as misguided, and that Bourjos was being overvalued. Ok, there was something worthy of real discussion, and it was. Forget, for the moment, which side of that fence you took root and read this, where The Peter Bourjos Rehabilitation Project has begun in earnest. "Sure, Jacoby Ellsbury was the big-name free agent outfielder this offseason. However, the Cardinals snagged Peter Bourjos via trade at a much lower cost, and he might be just as good." All I can say is that nothing appears to make a baseball player more worthy of attention than being a player not in an Angels uniform, unless that player is named Mike Trout (and heaven only knows what the baseball world would think of Trout were he to be wearing an East Coast uniform). All I can say is that if the article predicts true to Bourjos' future, this will be the year when we traded Bourjos to the wrong team in need of a center fielder.
- Cruisin': The 2014 Winter LAA Fan Cruise to Mexico has been announced, with Tim Salmon and Tyler Skaggs in tow, "& more". Supposedly, details are to be found over here, but at this writing "over here" was pretty close to "no such where". No cruise details exist on that promised page. Fortunately, you can do as I did and drift up to the top of that page, where you can take your best shot at entering the text "cruise" into their gloriously awful text box for site searching. You know, the one that is darkly transparent over darkly rendered background of stadium graphics, and the text appears black on near black. Yeah, that one. Anyway, should you blindly succeed, you might locate this page. It is extremely helpful, because if you read real close you will eventually see some text - not a link, but just the text - which is the web address for the page which REALLY has details. And that page is, fortunately enough, NOT on the official web site. So it is, like, usable and all.
- Promos: Sure, we kicked the Giants' asses in the 2002 World Series, but they continue to kick our ass year after year in things such as bobblehead designs. The same with their whole giveaway lineup. Sergio Romo Super Hero Socks? A growth chart with 6'5" Brandon Belt? A 1954 World Series Replica Ring? Those are awesome! Then look at our lineup: blankets, coolers, a rally drum, camo shirts. Bleh. We keep rehashing the past decade. I suggest a fan contest to stimulate some fresh ideas and reinvigorate the whole program with some humor and entertainment. Because we have gotten pretty damned stale.
- C.J. Wilson: As you know, Wilson got married to his international supermodel. I can certainly understand that part! The part I don't understand, though, is this modern propensity to connect so much of one's personal life into the public Internet. I'm just an old fart. I admit it. As witness, just follow along as CJ includes you in his honeymoon.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
Here on the precipice of Christmas itself, when little tikes everywhere twinkle at the though of Santa down their heater flue, why not don your very own Santa-styled baseball cap?
This Date In Baseball History: 1926 - Immediately after winning their first WS in 40 years, the Cardinals send player/manager Rogers Hornsby to the Giants for Frankie Frisch and Jimmy Ring. Hornsby will play another 11 seasons, collecting an MVP in 1929 with the Cubs, and manage into the 1950's. Frisch, meanwhile, will anchor "The Gas House Gang" for the 1934 Cards, which will play in 4 World Series with Frisch, winning two. Hornsby, by the way, throws a wrench in the original trade by refusing to sell back to the Cardinals his team shares at the price offered by Cardinal owners. NL President John Heydler denied permission for Hornsby to play for the Giants as long as he was a part-owner of St. Louis. Hornsby did end up getting his asking price, elsewhere...........1940 - Manager Connie Mack buys controlling interest in his Philadelphia A's franchise..........1973 - AL President Joe Cronin denies the Yankees the right to sign Oakland skipper Dick Williams..............1980 - Rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement set a deadline for tendering veterans. On this date, the Red Sox cluster up that deadline and Fred Lynn and Carlton Fisk become Free Agents. Fisk will sign with the White Sox, but Lynn will sign with the Angels..........2007 - Jonathan Papelbon's dog eats the baseball used in the final out of the 2007 World Series triumph over the Rockies..........2009 - Doc Halladay, who retired last week after signing a one-day sentimental contract with the Blue Jays, takes out a full page ad in Toronto to run a couple days later and thanks the fans for their support after accepting a trade to the Phillies. If I recall correctly, the Angels were NOT on the list of teams to which Halladay would accept a trade. And we haven't been in the playoff ever since.
Great Moments in Baseball Statistical History
(My primary source for this series is the excellent book The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz author, Thomas Dunne Books Publisher. This installment is dominated by Internet sources, after being tipped of by Schwarz.)
Harry Wright belongs in this series, at this particular juncture, primarily because of how Wright embraced the heavy use of these new-fangled statistics and built, in 1866, the very first all-pro baseball team: the powerhouse Cincinatti Red Stockings (the first iteration of that team and name, not the contemporary one).
Wright is enshrined in the Hall of Fame, with nearly every article about him pointing out how he invented fungo flies to outfielder before games, players backing up other players on the field of play, defensive shifts, and the farm system. As can be read in his SABR bio, Wright also created "such methods as hand signals to all players in the field, calling balls in the air...platooning, and the hit-and-run". All those are laudable, but it is the defensive shift thing that parks him as today's trailblazer. Through these sources, we can determine that Wright was extremely active in assembling his teams - bringing in players and swapping out existing players for new ones, etc. The method that Wright used to acquire such players was no accident. According to Schwarz(1), "...he was also a devotee of statistics, poring over box scores to asses players' skills."
(1) The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz (2004) Thomas Dunne Books, p.12
- Swan Songs: This I found this idea to be kind of interesting. Hardball Times published an article that compare the greatest final seasons in an MLB career. I would rather prefer setting aside the likes of Joe Jackson, Roberto Clemente, etc., whose careers were cut short by being taken off the field of play in their prime by forces beyond their control. Happy Felsch was pretty much guilty as hell in the Black Sox scandal and I would DQ (George Weaver is a set aside, not a DQ, IMHO). HBT's list then gets pretty short and would need to be filled out again, but that would still leave Jackie Robinson and his amazing 4.6 WAR at the ripe age of 37 at the top of the list. That must tick off the author, who wants to love Ted Williams' final year which aw a 4.8 oWAR. "In some ways, it would be fitting to give this "honor" to Robinson, as a bookend to his historic rookie year but, really, Barry and Ted are at the top of this heap. Between Bonds and Williams, you can take your pick." What he is dancing around is Williams' -2.2 dWAR that same season. Williams still had a great eye at the plate, and great fast-twitch muscles, but his aged body was a liability on defense. Robinson's offense had declined, but he was still a great athlete overall and his defense remained superb. (Postscript: not as superb as Vin Scully, it appears!)
- Safety First: It looks like protective headgear for pitchers is just months away from initial sightings in real games. " 'They're coming,' [Brandon] McCarthy said of the headgear. 'From everything I know they'll be available this year. I don't believe they're going to be mandatory. Actually, I'm almost certain they won't be mandatory.' " I predict that they will look kind of dorky at first, and most pitchers will be too manly-man to wear them, but 15 years from now they will be standard and we will all regret the days when they were not worn. I also predict that, as late as this development might be for some pitchers, it is just in time for human development overall. Just as with football, hitters are getting bigger and stronger and faster.
- Circle The Wagons!: First Jason Vargas signs with the Royals. Then Scott Kazmir signed with Oakland. Now Scott Downs has signed with the White Sox. Soon it will be Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson hooking up with teams elsewhere. And the next thing you know, every one of those guys will start killing it, and biting us in the ass. And I am going to be completely baffled by our roster reputation.
- HoF Sullied Silliness: We all know by now (or, well, we should all know) that the career of Jack Morris has become somewhat of the line in the sand between the traditionalists of subjectiveness, and the modernists of objectiveness. Morris himself has not helped his cause much with his opponents (Morris never bothered to prevent his opponents from scoring runs because his owners and managers never told him that this was to be one of his priorities). On neither side of this Divide are people likely to change their positions. But what amazes me is how those on the side of subjective traditionalism are growing ever more inane. "You know, it really doesn't bother me when someone votes for Morris. It really doesn't bother me when someone doesn't bother to learn a few basic things about modern baseball analysis. But it's rare to see this combination of willful ignorance and abject dismissiveness in one column. On some level, you just have to step back and admire the feat."
- The Price Is Wrong: (Ok, I apologize immediately for the crappy and over-used punnage there.) It is true that David Price is a monster ace pitcher, and would be on any staff in baseball. It is true that every team in MLB covets just that kind of proven talent. It is also true that the Rays have decided to make him available for acquisition. What cannot be true is this: "In any case, the Rays seem slightly shocked that the offers haven't been better for one of the game's very best left-handers..." Tampa is dipping their bucket into the Golden Well of Yesteryear, the one we have all learned is the stuff of fools. I mean, really, today's challenge is to identify any deal in recent history that worked out for the receiving team wherein they gutted their system of all their best youthful talent in exchange for any player that would mandate an enormous payout just to keep him from walking out to the open market in pursuit of an even larger payout after only 2 seasons, and cost the team $20-$30MM along the way?
Video Of The Week
(In honor of Carlton Fisk above...)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
I am not the person around here who is qualified to expound on art, so I won't go into how much I regret the style used. But I really do like the whole concept of baseball cards that commemorate injuries..........George Kaplan stole some of my Weekly Thunder by introducing all of you to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and his BBR page. Well, there is more to be had in that particular fun bag!..........Tanaka comes, Tanaka Stays, Tanaka Comes, Tanaka Stays. Tanaka is approaching irrelevance..........If we are really, truly, feeling aggrieved that Mike Trout is getting short-changed in MVP voting, maybe we just all pool some money (Kickstarter, anyone?) and buy him one!..........I know this is old, but it took me a while to trip over it. We are in this Baseball Tree of Life somewhere, if you look hard enough.
In the spirit of the holidays, I conclude with this. Baseball Bats replaced with Candy Canes..........
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...
(In this most festive time of year, Beer Holidays are few and far between. Still boatloads of Nutcracker ballets throughout the State. Enjoy the bonuses!)
Friday: Clearly having jumped the shark, now The Ugly Sweater Party concept has hit the food truck and brewery scene at Alosta Brewing Company in Covina.
BEER BONUS #2: Chin Music Beer.
BEER PUZZLE OF THE WEEK: The shape of the drinking vessel directly influences what in your beer? Temperature, head augmentation and retention, taste and smell, or color? [The answer to last week's puzzle question is: FALSE. The first non-carb beer was Gablinger's Diet Beer, brewed by Rheingold Brewery, and introduced as far back as 1967.]
Stay safe, everyone!