So. A-Rod. First Ballot Hall of Famer? Discuss!
In more serious news, Russell Johnson, the actor who portrayed the Professor on Gilligan's Island, passed away yesterday from kidney failure, Johnson was 89. Even as a kid I thought that this particular professor was a dumb as a brick for not setting aside his passion for bamboo radio transmitters and pay more attention to Ginger....Dave Madden, who played the role of Reuben Kincaid, the booking agent for The Partridge Family who never got up enough game to hit on Shirley Jones (in hot pants!!!), also passed away yesterday at age 82. The lesson here, kids, is to aim high, take the chance, and always make a run at the hottie. Because we are all going to die anyway.
We here among the living are lining up for the 2014 season. Don't forget: aim high, take the chance, and lets make a run at the
- Arbitration Dollars: Today is the day that teams and players submit the dollar amounts for arbitration and find out how far apart they are from one another. For the Angels, this will include first timers Ernesto Frieri and Fernando Salas, to go along with David Freese and Kevin Jepsen. Welcome to the Halos, Dave and Fernando! Too bad your 2013 season sucked so bad. We need your money to keep a certain youngster happy. Jepsen, you are about to learn the consequences of the occasional gas can. Ernesto, you are going to be one happy man. (Interesting note: last year there were 133 players who filed for arbitration, and every single one of them settled before their hearing.)
- Tanaka Take: Every now and then, and often when something of import occurs throughout Baseball Land, we SBN authors get flamed with a mailing from Bovada, the online wagering service. Yesterday it was the odds of who would sign Tanaka. Normally, since I post predominantly on Fridays, I am the last to get the chance to get the news out there. For example, Grant Brisbee up at the mothership did a post with this stuff. The Angels come in at 15 to 1 odds, whereas the Yankees are the favored at 3 to 2. But there is a part about this info that I wonder about, in the context of LAA. In this particular case, one has to wonder where the pros are getting their inside info in order to set those lines. 15/1 seems pretty long to me, especially given Arte's history of last second hell raising, something that goes way back. Heck, 15/1 matches up with the Rangers, and nobody has had the Rangers in on this guy at all. And notice that the Rangers aren't being so vocal about standing down from Tanaka. Honestly, if I were in Vegas today I would plunk a 50 down on that one. I've done worse.
- John McDonald: John Joseph McDonald first stepped on to a Big League field in an official game on July the 4th, 1999. Playing for Cleveland, with the Indians down by 5 versus the Royals. He came in as a pinch hitter for Pat Borders and lined the second pitch he ever saw into center field for a base hit. This ignited a rally that would fall just short, but it was a rally that witnessed Kenny Lofton single, Roberto Alomar double, and a Manny Ramirez home run - all while those guys were still with Cleveland.
Last season, the then 38-year old McDonald found himself in left field as the Phillies took the field in the top of the 9th of a 7-7 tie game with the Diamondbacks. Ethan Martin, the Phillies starting pitcher, didn't even make it out of the 1st inning. The Phillies had burned through their roster and had just moved Casper Wells in from right field to take the mound and hold the game as a tie. He failed. After getting the first two batters out, Wells then went through the next 6 batters and surrendered 4 runs. He was lifted, to be replaced by John Joseph McDonald in McDonald's one and only career pitching appearance. McDonald gave up a run scoring single to left field on a 0-1 pitch, gave up another first pitch single, and then got "Tuffy" Gosewisch to strike out swinging. None of which mattered.
In between, McDonald has spent a total 15 years in the Major Leagues. He has never had a season where he has seen at least 360 plate appearances. He has played for 7 different teams in both leagues, 4 of those teams last season alone. His 15-year career oWAR is -0.4. And now, at 39, you are going to get a chance to witness "slick fielding infielder" John Joseph McDonald in Halo red, come this Spring Training. Our Minor League System gets more vaunting every day.
- ST Non-Roster Invites: McDonald can now be added to the existing, lengthy, list of non-roster invites. The total is now 20. "Left-handed pitcher Hunter Green, the team’s first-round draft pick last year, headlines the group. He’ll be joined by pitchers Yeiper Castillo, Jarrett Grube, Wade LeBlanc, Michael Morin, Mark Mulder, Clay Rapada, Mark Sappington and Justin Thomas; catchers Jett Bandy and Luis Martinez; infielders Kaleb Cowart, C.J. Cron, Taylor Lindsey, Shawn O’Malley, Eric Stamets and Alex Yarbrough, and outfielders Zach Borenstein and Matt Long." A lot of interesting names on that list, with 5 players from Dipoto's two drafts. Except for that Borenstein fellow. Never heard of him.
- Erick Aybar: Aybar made the news, going 2 for 4 and scoring a run to help keep his Tigres del Licey squad playoff hopes alive in the Dominican Winter League. So Aybar is already showing mid-season form. Something to think about as some folks have high expectations for Aybar.
- Josh Hamilton: Hamilton appears to be BSOHL, putting on 20 pounds this offseason. In this day and age, weight gain in the offseason, especially if it is followed by a significant improvement in production, always leads to one unfortunate thing. Here's to hoping we get that far.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
Cole & Mason Baseball Bat Pepper Grinder. 19 inches of BBQ glory. Amazingly, it looks like 2 people have actually purchased this beast. Ten times larger than necessary. But for those few who can discern the difference between pepper you grind yourself and that which has been ground on your behalf, this stick beckons...
This Date In Baseball History: 1915 - As player-manager Nap Lajoie has recently left to join the Philadelphia A's, the Cleveland franchise officially changes their name from The Naps, to The Indians. This name choice had a little more to do with pairing up to the Boston Braves than it did to honor Louis Sockalexis............1916 - Benny Kauff, all-around asshat but the best player in the Federal League at the time of the Fed League folding, is purchased away from the Brooklyn Tip Tops by the New York Giants..........1922 - The one and same Benny Kauff, having just been acquitted by jury of auto-theft charges, is denied reinstatement by Commissioner Kennesaw Landis. Landis admits to Kauff's innocence in the theft, but determines that the information about Kauff's character raised during testimony is enough to threaten baseball's integrity (recall that the Black Sox Scandal was still fresh). Sidenote: Kauff's losing attorney, who got his ass kicked by Commissioner Landis, was Emil Fuchs, who would later own the Boston Braves and thus become Landis' boss.........1970 - The Yankees select Fred Lynn out of El Monte HS in the June amateur draft. Lynn chooses not to sign with the Yanks and continues on with a sterling career at USC. He will be drafted again in the 1973 amateur draft by the Red Sox and, in 1975, become the first player ever to win Rookie Of The Year and Most Valuable player in the same season...........2002 - Bud Selig, obviously inspired by the two previous failures in this same town, determines that Washington DC would make a lovely location for any team in the future that might choose to relocate. This is an idea that would certainly prove handy to any other team in need of stadium negotiating leverage.........2002 - Darin Erstad agrees to a one year deal with the Angels..........2003 - Torii Hunter is surprised to be offered a multi-year deal from the Dollar Tree Twins, and signs with them for a 4 year deal. When this deal ends, Hunter will join the Halos.
Great Moments in Baseball Statistical History
(Really. Click the link on his name. This astounding little news item occurs just prior to when my tale starts below.)
As we have already seen, great advances in baseball stats often come from OUTSIDE the usual suspects. And so it happens again in 1912 when what appears to be a random baseball fan walks into the offices of Baseball Magazine, demanding an audience. It turns out that, starting 20 years earlier, Lawres began collecting statistical factoids about baseball players to keep on hand and to use to settle arguments. It started small, with daily updates to his notes. Then it turned into a 4 hour per day obsession. From there his notes became an 80-page encyclopedia, and then exploded. By 1912 this obsession was a 500 page, hand-tallied, detailed, exhaustive, 100-year precursor to our Baseball Reference!
Lawres called his obsession "slavery", and he needed to get out from under the work. From his perspective, he had accumulated a great deal of meaningful information into one place, something never done before, and it would only remain relevant as long as it was kept up to date. So he had come to Baseball Magazine in an effort to get his work into publication, and into a place where others were assisting.
This is a site that might lock you out from too many accesses, but here is page 6 of the November 16, 1911 edition of the Sandusky Star-Journal (Sandusky, Ohio) If you cannot read it directly, the article is titled
"OWNS VOLUMES OF DOPE"
Chicago Fan Claims to Hare Becords of AH Ball Players For 17 Years.
Nov. J- Lawres of Milwaukee is perhaps the champion baseball fan of the country.
Lawres, who came to Chicago yesterday, said he started seventeen years ago to collect
statistics on baseball and now he has forty-two large volumes. It takes him three hours
each day, to keep his records up to date.
The staff of Baseball Magazine was stunned at what they had in front of them. They agreed to publish. This was the very first edition of Who's Who in Baseball, a publication that, although no longer important in the Information Age that is driven by the Internet, is still in publication to this day. Trust me, younger readers. Up until the last decade or so this WAS the tool we used the way we use BBR today.
But Lawres had started something, something big. It wasn't just two years later that others got into the business of publishing baseball statistics encyclopedias.
- "Instant" Replay: Boys and girls, it's on like Donkey Kong. MLB expanded replay was approved by the Umpires and Players Unions and will commence in 2014. Henceforth I shall refrain from the use of the word "instant" until they prove otherwise. But here are the particulars: Each manager gets 1 challenge (I hate the idea that it is incumbent on the managers to take action and get the umps to get their calls right. Almost as much as I hate the idea that we don't want to correct ALL the mistakes, just 1 or 2 of them. And just certain kinds.), unless any part of their own challenge results in an overturned ruling. Then they get their challenge back for one more usage in the game. Managers never get more than two challenges per game. Now, if a manager burns his challenges before the middle of the 7th inning, he is shit out of luck. It is only AFTER the middle of the 7th inning that any kind of review can help him again, but that review must be instigated by the umpire crew chief (or, stupidly, by the opposing manager). But the play must be within the bounds of what is reviewable (see "Play Types" in the link above), and what is reviewable will not include unwritten rules.
Here is where it gets fun. When a review is initiated, the crew chief and one other umpire will go to a designated booth that is connected - NHL style - to something called "The Replay Command Center", which is in MLB headquarters in NY. Regular MLB umpires will be sitting at The Command Center and it's the ump at The Command Center who renders final judgement.
Hey, what happens if the play in question happens to be the very play that ends the top half of the 7th inning? Hmmm. Oh, uh, there is no flag throwing here. It's all verbal. So how is a manager going to go all apeshit on an umpire without unintentionally invoking his challenge? Are we going to lose brouhas? And, when the manager does invoke his challenge, he has to lawyer up and call out each and every possible way that he might be challenging something, else he might be overruled on the technicality of not being specific enough or arguing the wrong mistake. All the rest of my questions would be worrying about what the NHL has proven to work on a smaller scale. But it's not like MLB has demonstrated a very high command of technology.
Whatevs, it should be quite entertaining in its own right.
- The Big Fizzle: Well, Arte, here goes another one. First you got caught up in the GMJjr excitement and ended up paying him $22.3 million to do absolutely nothing. Now you have Vernon Wells. After being DFA'd by the Yankees, Vern now finds that absolutely zero Major League Baseball teams have even the slightest interest in being burdened by his particular skills, as the Yankees released Wells outright. This, even though he would only cost some unlucky team $2.4 million for 2014. The Angels are now going to be paying Wells $18.6 million to do absolutely nothing. But, now that I think about it, that's not much different than Hamilton in 2013. At least now they could be claiming to have learned to front load that kind of folly. That's a form of progress, I suppose.
Video Of The Week
(Yeah, this has been around. But it's still funny as all hell!)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Youth sports is so full of asshat adults. How do kids not named Bryce Harper ever survive to the Big Leagues??...........Buckle up, friends, Doc Ellis gets a film bio, and we all know that it's gonna be a bumpy ride..........What happens when you mix incompetence with cluelessness and top it off with vanity? You get The Bud Selig Farewell Tour of 2014..........Jack Clark's attorneys have requested a dismissal of Albert Pujols defamation suit. And their argument is wrapped up in the definition of "juicer"..........This is from a long, long time ago, but I lost it. Now I found it. So why, exactly DON'T we have a posting fee system for domestic free agents??..........Some of you might recall my first retirement bucket list item, when that day eventually arrives: to hire a big-ass motor coach and spend a summer seeing every team and every stadium. What I call my "All Ballparks and All Teams and Many Minor League Stops In One Summer" road trip. So, some of you younger folks might not have yet developed the necessary patience for such a venture. For you, I offer up "30 Stadiums, 30 Days"..........
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. Enjoy the bonuses!)
Friday: Both Beachwood BBQ locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, host their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........Also Friday/Saturday/Sunday, the Doubletree Inn in Sacramento is hosting an interactive murder mystery beer & food event, The Dinner Detective.
Saturday: Up and coming Hangar 24 Brewery in Redlands is putting on their 2014 Vinaceous Release Celebration..........Both Beachwood BBQ locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, host their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........Also Friday/Saturday/Sunday, the Doubletree Inn in Sacramento is hosting an interactive murder mystery beer & food event, The Dinner Detective.
Sunday: Both Beachwood BBQ locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, host their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........Also Friday/Saturday/Sunday, the Doubletree Inn in Sacramento is hosting an interactive murder mystery beer & food event, The Dinner Detective.
BEER BONUS: Eyespy tripped over this incredible treasure map the other day. Maybe, after retirement, and AFTER my "All Ballparks and All Teams and Many Minor League Stops In One Summer" road trip, I might decide to sign you all up for shotgun!!!
Stay safe, everyone!