Have you ever gone to one of those great neighborhood New Year's Eve parties carrying a few choice bottles of Russian River Supplication, only to see it devoured before the balance of attendees can return to attacking their six-packs of Corona? I did. I hate New year's Eve parties. The only positive comes at midnight when, by virtue of living in Santa Ana, the world outside turns gloriously into a ghostly re-enactment of Battle of Shiloh.
Anywho, that is now behind us. Just as are the last three seasons. Thankfully, you are all still here. Ladies and gentlemen, we can rebuild this franchise. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's most successful baseball team this year. Welcome to 2014!!
- Joe Blanton: Angels News!! Alden Gonzalez tweets that, in his opinion, the Halos would plan on bringing Blanton back to Spring Training if they cannot find one more proven starter. Looking to trade him at the last minute is shave some cost. So this news is, then, little more than status quo. But it represents some hopeful thinking by SOMEBODY, at least. Hopeful that Blanton looks great in ST, for one thing...
- Mark Mulder: With the Minor League contract & ST invite signing of Mulder, which feels to me more like the 2014 episode of The Ryan Madson Story, Mulder will most likely start hitting the top of everyone's winter list of Comeback Player Of The Year prospects. "While baseball will spend the next month figuring out which MLB team wins the right to pay a star from Japan upward of $100 million, it's Mulder and his maybe $1 million contract that might just become the most interesting signing of baseball's offseason. We love an underdog, don't we?"
- Carlos Ramirez: Young Carlos really needs to work on his media strategy awareness. When you have bad news about you coming out, you really want it to hit the media late on a Friday, and when the world is mesmerized by something more exciting elsewhere. Like a Super Bowl or something. You don't let it happen when there a bazillions of sports news cycles thirsting for any drop of any kind of news. But there it is. Let's turn our attention to a more topical angle, as MH252525 introduced yesterday. Because the official MLB announcement was "a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program", as Alden tweets this clearly means that it was not PEDS, but something that the real world has declared illegal and, therefore, MLB added it to their own books. So here is the MH252525 topical part: with the legalization of pot, in the state of Colorado for example (where maybe only pro athletes can now afford the stuff!), doesn't this make the offical MLB list of "drugs of abuse" now a moral one, instead of a technical one? And, if yes, is it the role of MLB to play moralist? Hmmm...
- Math: This interests me. In reviewing the best and worst player contracts for each AL team, The Sporting News sums up the Angels as Ibanez versus Pujols. Now, on the surface this is a no-brainer (as long as you ignore the incredible value that comes from Mike Trout's current contract). But here's what I find intriguing: Ibanez is 41. Pujols is (purportedly) only 33. If Pujols is still putting up 29 home run seasons in 2021 (like Ibanez just did in his age 40 season), will average player salaries close the gap by then and make this contract seem not as bad in that year as it looks from this direction? How much? Enough to giggle at the thought of $5MM in 2014 MLB Monopoly dollars versus $30MM in 2021 MLB Monopoly dollars? Remember, in today's dollars these two contracts are considered as far apart as it is possible to get on the LA Angels.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
How about a cap older than grandpa? Lost up in Canada, the owner claims this cap to be vintage, and not a reproduction. My mind boggles at the claim: "Stored well for 75 years." I mean, like, has this dude had any other calling in life than to ensure that this cap has been stored, and stored well, and repeated this duty daily for 3/4 of a century? How, if only it didn't look like an NFL ref's cap...
This Date In Baseball History: 1943 - The Army drafts Yankee right-handed pitcher Red Ruffing. Red Ruffing is, at the time, 37 years old. And it is well known that he has not had the luxury of 4 toes on his left foot for more than 20 years. Ruffing will end up being elected to the HoF, and carry the worst ERA of any pitcher in the Hall (unless Jack Morris gets elected next week).........1962 - Directly adjacent to Colt Stadium, home of the Colt .45's, ground is broke on Harris County Domed Stadium, the first domed sports venue on planet earth. Yeah, the Astrodome. Which started coming back down a month ago..........1973 - Goerge Steinbrenner leads a consortium of wealthy like-minded sporting fellows and purchases the Yankees away from CBS..........1981 - Terry Francona is honored as the top amateur baseball player in America and wins that year's Golden Spikes Award, after leading the Arizona Wildcats to the College World Series title..........1982 - Just shy of his 37th birthday, Tony Conigliaro suffers a stroke and lapses into a coma on his way to the airport and will remain in a vegetative state until his death in 1990............2005 - The Angels officially change their name from The Anaheim Angels to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Unsurprisingly, this really pisses off approximately 300,000 people, all residents of Anaheim who immediately respond by conquering one of The Nine Worlds surrounding Yggdrasil to reassert their importance in the Universe.
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)
John Heydler, born in 1869, also grew into his role of influence by starting as a major consumer of baseball stats. His direct participation didn't start until he was assigned by to go out and cover a few games of the local Washington Senators. He quickly was tabbed as that paper's full-time baseball writer. By his mid-thirties Heydler had developed a reputation for being a stickler for accuracy, and comprehensive in his statistical reviews and details. The then-President of the National League, Harry Pulliam, hired on Heydler for the explicit purpose of culling through all the published game logs, cleaning up the data, and publishing official league statistics. So Heydler, starting as League Secretary in 1903, became the first author of the Official stats. And Heydler's rise came at a most opportune time.
Statistics being kept at that time were very arcane, and inconsistent. And there was a great deal of debate over which stats were of value. Harry Chadwick, still all-powerful and in his 80's, happened to hate the very popular Earned Runs Allowed. In Chadwick's world, pitching data should not be conflated with anything that might be considered data from the defense behind the pitcher. Chadwick insisted that runs should only be earned when they were the result of a base hit, and not because of bases stolen. Because of items like this, Chadwick refused to print ERA anywhere. And Chadwick worshipped, instead, pitcher Wins. Other publications manufactured all kinds of bogus sums in an effort to measure the growing effectiveness of pitchers and their impact on the game.
Heydler, half the age of Chadwick, waited patiently for Chadwick to pass from the scene. This occurred in 1908 when Chadwick would die as the result of pneumonia after catching a game in inclement weather. Heydler pounced. Not only would Heydler, leveraging the powers of his official capacity, return ERA to preeminence, but by 1912 Heydler had recognized that the game had changed enough such that pitchers might not pitch entire games. And thus it was John Heydler who instituted the methodology of dividing the runs earned by innings pitched, and then multiplying back out by 9 to get the version of ERA that we use today.
Yes. You read that correctly. In today's media many old guard scribes and ill-informed fans - not to mention Harold Reynolds - still cling to a notion that Wins defines pitching greatness. This is an idea that actually died a fair death in the early 1900's, and was supplanted by the metric of ERA. And it is ERA that had once been the revolutionary idea and now, 100 years later and after standing the test of time, ERA being dismissed in favor of Wins in the current Jack Morris HoF debate, with ERA being tossed into the bag of tricks belonging to basement nerds.
- Hall Of Fame: This is your last weekend to pop your pocorn and fill out your ballots, folks! Here is a chance to compare some stats. Next Wednesday the official results will be announced. My guesses (NOT my vote!) are: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas getting in easily. (In fact, the writers might even slip up and accidentally give Maddux the first unanimous ballot.) Craig Biggio will slip in despite Murray Chass. Mike Piazza I figure to be 50/50. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will begin their climb towards eventual enshrinement. And Jack Morris will barely miss the final cut, feeding the old guard press all the chum they need while they wring their hands on the long road to the Veterans Committee.
A-Rod: Maybe on the very same day (unless Uncle Bud intervenes so that the HoF gets the stage all to themselves for one day), the arbitrator in the suspension appeal case of ARod versus MLB will be announcing his decision. It matters not which way that particular wind blows, it shall blow a foul smell for all of us. Methinks it might be a major subject of my post next Friday...
Baseball Biz: The Phillies have jumped aboard the TV Contract Gravy Train. "Calkins Media has learned those terms include a contract believed to be in the 20- to 25-year range. Financial terms have been kept secret, but one source referred to the deal as "massive." That would fall in line with some of the other deals around the country that MLB franchises have agreed to for local rights fees." Regular readers of WeekEnd Links will know that we report as much news about the TV contract phenomenon as we can find. The last bit of news here was that recent pressures may be rising in the political arena which would threaten to undercut the value of these contracts. But, in the meantime, Philadelphia might just have found a way to "Albert Pujols" their way into the lead in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. "The Phillies will not start their own network, but still likely get the financial windfall many expected. While the Los Angeles market is bigger, Philadelphia’s deal could be close to that money."
Video Of The Week
(Back in the day when men were men. They smoked no matter what they were doing. They walked out of the stands and onto the field as if they owned it. They took what they wanted. And they wore plaid bell bottoms...)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Yesterday Jim gave you his favorite GIFs from this past year. Well, here is mine. Pretty significant coming from a guy (me) who still finds fault in our PitchF/X alternative...........Whilst forecasting the odds the the future holds for women in baseball, Hardball Times concludes GM most likely, then Umpire..........The Astros want to go back to opening their roof between innings. Sosh would have to agree. I wonder if he has some mythical data against doing this? Roof Open ERA, anyone??..........Some places still believe in home plate collisions, and team brawls. Not to mention 64 ounce beers..........Are you a Millennium who doesn't get Vin Scully? Deal with it!..............After MVP-voting baseball writers - for 2 years in a row - have dissed the all-around greatness that has been Mike Trout, baseball writers sit around and predict the 2014 season, and they all think that baseball writers will give Mike Trout the MVP............Who is this ClassicMLB11 on YouTube, and what do they know about copyright infringement avoidance that I don't know? Whatever, watch Devon White steal second, third and then home versus the Red Sox at Anaheim! While you and I have been sitting around twiddling our thumbs during this slow baseball news period, Trevor Plouffe laughs at our idleness and solves the greatest of mysteries.
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!)
BEER PUZZLE OF THE WEEK: To be classified as a microbrewery, what is the annual bottle limit for production? 4,999, 9,999, 14,999 or 19,999? [The answer to last week's puzzle question is: TRUE. Triple Bock was an experimental ale release only in 1994, 1995 and 1997. There was so much maple syrups used in the brewing process that each bottle contained 340 calories!]
Stay safe, everyone!