Ah, love! There are just so many things to love about baseball, and opening camp smack in the middle of Valentine's Day season is a perfect homage to our fanaticism.I could wax poetically all day, but that would just piss off the missus. (Apparently, there appears to be some slight misalignment of priorities that need to be addressed.)
- Mike Trout: So rumors are swirling, thanks to Mike DiGiovanna, that the Angels are now negotiating with Trout on Mega Deal III (ARod having been parts I & II). Dave Cameron over at FanGraphs takes an interesting skew, one in which he suggests that, relatively speaking, even at $50 million per year Mikey would be playing at a discount. Of course, by his own admission, he confesses that such numbers are way out of bounds compared to accepted norms of today. But is does speak to just how incredible Trout has been so far. The true market value of his on-field contributions are so immense that there are no comparables. Mike Trout has already blown up Major League Baseball. And when he signs, that sound you shall hear will be the hearts of fans breaking all across baseball: from St. Louis, Missouri to Bristol, Connecticut.
- Mike Trout Contract: As SoCalWine observed in Wednesday's HaloLinks, there is a curiosity in our midst. It seems to be common knowledge that by waiting until after Opening Day his new contract won't count against the 2014 luxury tax. Prompted by that post, I went a-lookin'. And I agree with SoCalWine. Wholeheartedly. Why is this the current belief? I have searched the CBA, and carefully stared at multiple clauses. I have bounced around looking at how the CBA defines the various terms, and how they handle odd contracts. And it seems pretty clearly defined that the current payroll year used to calculate the tax started back on December 2, 2013, and runs out until December 1, 2014. And anything - ANYTHING - spent on payroll in between those dates will count towards the totals now being accumulated. There is no way Trout signs for $300 million without getting something right now, whether that is a signing bonus, or the first year of his long-term deal...something. And MLB will add that to the current period and use that on December 2 of this year when they inform Arte of his tax. If forced, I can cite chapter and verse in the CBA. Can any of you find out where in the CBA Arte is granted that loophole??? If your answer is simply "Because it starts in 2015", well, that dog don't hunt. The same would have been true if that deal were signed today, or yesterday , or a year ago.
- Albert Pujols: Pujols has reported to ST early, eager to get things going. And the news is glowing. "Pujols' left heel is fully healed, his right knee is sound, and he is lean and chiseled. He is looking forward to bouncing back and being the offensive force the Angels need him to be." And here I go again, getting all giddy and everything. You think I would learn by now...
- Jim Fregosi: Update on Fregosi. It turns out that he has suffered multiple strokes, not one. He has been removed from life support, and things look grim. As I type this Thursday night Fregosi is still with us, but the news at this time suggests that his remaining time with us could be very short. "...Jim Fregosi has been taken off life support after having suffered multiple strokes, according to multiple reports. He was hospitalized in Miami after suffering a stroke in the Cayman Islands last weekend while on an MLB alumni cruise and things Thursday appear to have taken a turn for the worse." (This, after a flurry of tweets went hastily flying around the Internet late yesterday inaccurately proclaiming his passing. Why so many find a need to be in such a hurry about such an outcome is well beyond my comprehension.)
UPDATE: James Louis Fregosi did not survive the night and, indeed, has left us for the pearly gates, from where he shall forever be looking down upon Angels Stadium. Fregosi was 71 years old, and while most of the headlines center on his managerial career, the greatness of Fregosi was well established as a player, in Anaheim.
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Before winter comes to a close, while we are still deep in those cold, dark nights...and you wake up in the middle of the darkened world with an urgent need to visit the outhouse, glow-in-the-dark-toilet paper would probably come in handy.
This Date In Baseball History: 1957 - Ten years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, the Georgia State Senate passed a resolution brought forth by Leon Butts that forbids whites and blacks from playing baseball together in any capacity other than at religious gatherings. The bill passed unanimously. Nine years later the Milwaukee Braves, with Hank Aaron in tow, will relocate to Atlanta.........1996 - An investor group led by Kevin McClatchy purchases the Pittsburgh Pirates, right at the beginning The Dark Ages. Included in the purchase was the proviso that they get the heck out of Three Rivers Stadium within 5 years. Thus, in 2001, PNC Park was born...........2001 - MLB starts quietly informing all umpires that, in clarification of an existing rule, they are to remove pitchers from a game immediately and without warning if the umpire feels that the pitcher intentionally threw at a batter's head. This will start making itself apparent in Spring Training.........2003 - The Chunichi Dragons spew back Kevin Millar to the Marlins after Millar gets cold feet about moving to Japan to further his career. Millar will end cashing in a World Series title in 2004 with the Red Sox..........2007 - Dragging Wrigley Field one more baby step into the millennium, Under Armour advertising is granted to the 7x12 foot bleacher doors on the outfield wall..........2009 - The LA Angels re-sign Bobby Abreu.
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.)
Hy Turkin had been a New York Daily News sports reporter for 6 years, known more about his love for numbers and data than his skills as a scribe. But in 1944 a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit the state of New York, being felt all the way to New York City. One can imagine that building codes for structures dating back decades had no provisions for this sort of thing, so NYC'ers were pretty shaken up. Turkin wrote a column about the quake using his own first-person experience. One reader was S.C. Thompson, who realized that the two lived right around the corner from one another. Thompson, a huge baseball fan, reached out Turkin, a baseball writer, and invited him to drop by and see his collection. This Turkin did, and the world changed.
S.C. Thompson, a professional traveling musician, had spent the previous 20+ years acquiring statistics for every player on every team in the entire history of professional baseball. Not just all the stats of all the players on all the teams of the past season, as everybody else had been gathering and publishing, or of a listing of participants going back all the way, but of ALL THE STATS FOR ALL THE SEASONS, EVER. And he had it as his private collection. Like most others in this series, it all started as 'argument settlers' after the Black Sox scandal, but grew well beyond that. Thompson was sitting on the largest collection of historical baseball statistics known to man.
Turkin and Thompson teamed up immediately to begin converting all the data in all the formats into a single publication. And in 1951, the Official Encyclopedia of Baseball was published (and survived for many years). The publication was a hit. Especially considering the time, this tome sold more than 50,000 copies. And this community of buyers included baseball writers themselves.
Turkin would pass away just 4 years later, in 1955, but Thompson would live until 1967, passing away in Long Beach, Ca.
- The Empire Strikes Back: We all know that the Yankees farm system has been pretty dry for years. And it has finally caught up to them in recent years. And the Yankees know this, too. While they have been tightening their belt in the MLB Free Agent market the last few years (leaving them some leeway for Tanaka), they are really going whole hog in the international player market. Essentially, blowing the unholy crap out of the market and decimating the marketplace for smaller-market ball clubs. Maybe the MLB does something about it, but that something will be coming only after the Yankees are done.
- Shameful Dads: This is horrible. Two adult men were seen painting over a mural of Roberto Clemente, thus destroying a source of local pride and inspiration for young Little Leaguers, potentially as a sponsor dispute or a local LL political bickering issue. "To many Hispanics, Clemente was their version of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier for blacks. Clemente suffered similar discriminatory treatment, especially early on, but succeeded so well on the field as a Pittsburgh Pirate that he became the first Latin American-born inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.For Puerto Ricans in the Azalea Park neighborhood, Clemente was a heroic historic figure. 'Everyone talked about this mural all the time, because it has been part of our history,' Diaz said."
- Baseball Biz: Well, now, THIS is interesting. Time-Warner Cable has agreed to be merged into Comcast. The jury is still out on what this might mean to subscribers, so we cannot say for certain what any long-term implications might be for the TWC's SportsNet LA and the Dodger Super Fund. Probably nothing for now. But we do know that SportsNet LA was a particular jewel in the eye of Comcast, so there is a possibility even higher costs than the current $5 per subscriber request that it is now. After all, this makes Comcast huge and powerful. By the way, for those of you who think that your future is to just cancel your cable service altogether and live off of Internet streams, you may want to think harder about the long-term viability of that which you deem to be independence.
Video Of The Week
(Do you know why people always celebrate these successes so fiercely? It's because of the 300 failures that immediately preceded it, all since deleted from their video cams.)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
Do you like, or dislike, Arte's move to a Ticketmaster driven private aftermarket exchange? Well, it's year two, and Forbes has taken notice of what he is doing..........You gotta love this. I'm inspired to invent my own mock jersey just so that we can all move on from Mickey Mouse jokes............Good going, Halos! As noted by Uniwatch, the LAA minor league equipment manager Brett Crane has going out of his way to whip up custom bat weights for each of the LAA Minor League affiliates...........On the other hand, here we have MLB always looking for yet another way to make a buck...........Vin Scull haters look away. The 99.999% of the rest of us click over and hear a great story of Scully's own baseball days as a player..........K-Rod is still K-ing...........Get your own BP 2014 now. I got mine right away, and it's awesome reading. And Beyond The Boxscore agrees. Look at the humor they found buried inside...........Shameful that we HH'ers cannot muster up the gumption, imagination, and Instagram moment to make this list. After all, we got rocks!
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: Craft Beer Lovers' Valentine's Dinner is being held at Pyramid Alehouse in Walnut Creek............nearby, in San Francisco, Mikkeller Bar is doing a beer & food event herself: Allagash Brewing Night Meet The Brewer Rare Beer Presentation..........In Albany, the Albany Taproom is doing Local Love beer & food............San Francisco Beer Week is still going on, check the schedule for today's stuff.............And, in case anybody still has any interest left, Beachwood BBQ is still carrying on with their Pliny Charity thing.
Saturday: Today at Albany Taproom we have a Barrel Aged Festival............K&L Wine Merchants is doing a Sour Tap Takeover at Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City..........Mikkeller Bar is back with Mikkeller Spartan Beer Tasting ...........Check out today's San Francisco Beer Week Schedule...........And, still, Beachwood and Pliny
Stay safe, everyone!