Let's take a single minute and step away from this week's madness, shall we? Where were you 14 years ago, in 1998? It wasn't that long. You can recall easily. Gene Autry passed away, along with Frank Sinatra, Lloyd Bridges, Phil Hartman and Flip Wilson. Baseball lost Dan Quisenberry and Mark Belanger and Harry Caray. From Bob Kane to Wendy O. Williams, Roddy McDowall to Gene Rayburn, James Earl Ray to George Wallace, Jim Murray to Shirley Povich, Alan Shepard to Barry Goldwater, we all lost a great deal of cultural legacy that year. Rev was still in the faith that the baseball writers of the LA Times were a credible source for information and fomenting his irrational hatred for Jim Edmonds. Cecil Fielder played first base on that 1998 Halo team. Chuck Finley was the most valuable player. Troy Glaus had not yet taken over third base from Dave Hollins. Mark McGwire would top Roger Maris for most home runs in a season. Cal Ripken finally took a night off. And, in non-baseball news, Google was born and John Postel died.
Remember now? Sure you do. It wasn't so long ago. Fourteen years is not a very long time. And fourteen years before I was born, to the day, was the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Our first "911". It had not been that long prior when I was brought into the world. Not long at all. Do you know how, every Sunday, baseball teams around the country have picked up the post-911 New York institution singing of God Bless America? Well, every December 7th held its own traditions of grief, mourning, remembrance and bitterness that held fast for several decades. Not one of those included cake and candles. My sacrifice of an annual childhood celebration pales in significance in the overall scheme of things. But for one very young individual person out of the billions inhaling air on this planet, it meant a lot. It was as much as I had to give. That photo above stared me in the face with the morning paper every year. Flags at half mast. Somber news memorials on all 7 television channels. Grandparents weeping. I did not protest. And, in the end, my own personal birthdays have not meant that much to me in terms of anything that I might personally receive, and they never have. I have not missed that part of birthdays at all. Not even on this one. Birthdays - mine anyways - are more about respectful silence. My day to give, even if all it was was respect.
But, still, a birthday does have meaning in other ways whether I intend or not. And, this year, part of it means I have passed yet another orbit of the Earth around the Sun and have had the pleasure of spending hundreds of those hours being entertained by all of you for the entire trip. And, for that, I thank each and every one of you! Now...onward with another go 'round that Sun!
- As WiHalo posted in yesterday's links, Mike Scioscia is considering the movement of Mike Trout out of the leadoff spot, ostensibly to nab more RBI's. I want to link again to what I linked to last Friday: Beyond The Boxscore has taken a look at the evolution of leadoff hitters and determined that Mike Trout is the pinnacle of leadoff hitting evolution. Less than a week later Scioscia parks his butt in front of a microphone and suggests that the team should consider shutting down this ideal offensive weapon that has landed in his lap, and he justifies it by surrendering to the collective wisdom of the BBWAA. I want desperately to tee off on this whole story in some massive way, but I honestly come to a complete loss for words. Just click the link and read through the article. Go. I promise that I will wait right here.
- What I will reveal on a tangent to this topic is that I have already started a research project concerning the number of lineups used by each team over the past 20 seasons, and how that may or may not have anything to do with reaching the playoffs. I had started this before Sosh trolled me but it is nowhere near complete. Look for that in the coming weeks.
- Hey! While nobody was looking our Mike Trout added two GIBBY awards to his mantle: Rookie Of The Year and Play Of The Year.
- Here we are, deep in Let's Make A Deal Season. It's only natural for somebody to pop up with the occasional Curtis Granderson comment. A few around here are tired of it. Most of us just smile and move on when we see it. And I suspect more than a few wonder what the hell this meme is all about, and/or how the hell it all started. So since it is the season, I went digging on this one. As far as I can tell, the whole meme actually begins here and here, minutes apart by FredFredrix. That was way back on November 11 of 2009. A couple of days worth of mumbling goes on before ihearhowie2.0 picks up on the idea (although it is not yet a joke). But ihearhowie2.0 does get the momentum rolling. Now, for the next two days, Granderson is a hot topic and the idea is bounced around again and again until, magically, an actual public rumor pops up on the national stage that is this very idea. Rumors swirl. Dozens and dozens of posts are made. Eventually, of course, the whole Granderson topic jumps the shark. My own contributions begin here. We are on overload. It's getting to giggle proportions. So, the mockery picks up steam here and here and here, before the final meme begins to come into focus here. Back and forth things go a little, and then BAM!, at 6:59 PM of November 1th, 2009, ryanfea gives birth to an official Halos Heaven meme. Now, after the birth, several of us had to nurture this thing a little bit to keep it from dissipating, but that is merely farming fertile land discovered, blazed, and cleared by others. And, for the record, Granderson IS available!
- And, on the subject of the New York Yankees, you all need to soak in the glory of MFY Fail. This are those days we all predicted would eventually happen. The Yankees are hamstrung tot he point of invisibility during these Winter Meetings. Those days are here. Don't overlook them. Glory in them, if the opportunity presents itself. Such as when the east coast homer media uses, as they do with this story, a closing line such as "The Bronx Bargain Hunters? It's just not right."
This Date In Baseball History: 1939 - The BBWAA waives the five-year wait rule and vote Lou Gehrig into the Hall Of Fame before he is lost to ALS..........1939 - AL owners vote in an "anti-Yankee" rule that prevents the league's pennant winner from buying, selling or trading players during the following season..........1957 - The BBWAA changes their rules of eligibility and block Frank Malzone from realizign the Rookie Of The Year award, handing it to the Yankees; Tony Kubek..........1973 - The Kansas City Royals perform a talent dump at the benefit of the Yankees, sending a young Lou Piniella and Ken Wright to New York in exchange for
Scott Kazmir Lindy McDaniel..........1988 - Nolan Ryan signs with the Texas Rangers, becoming the first ball player to be a part of the original four expansion teams..........2004 - In response to the Balco revelations, the MLB Player's Association authorizes Donald Fehr to instill tougher testing and sanctions against players found using steroids..........2011 - Tim McCarver becomes only the second baseball broadcaster (behind the same Tony Kubek, above) to be named winner of the Ford C. Frick award for something they call "excellence in broadcasting".
- I want to lead off the general MLB stories with a link to an incredibly brilliant graphic that Deadspin published this week. The graphic reveals just how explosive public funding has been for sports venues over the past century. That's taxpayer money, going to prop up a community of citizens which include the likes of Frank McCourt, Marge Schott, Donald Sterling and Jeffrey Loria.
- I love this. I absolutely love this. Davey Johnson has planted his flag and declared "World Series Or Bust!" Now, perhaps I am alone here, but isn't the moral imperative for any sports franchise in any sport to win their competitive challenge? And isn't the competitive challenge always the championship event? Isn't that why they charge their patrons gobs of money to broadcast their events, or to attend their venues, etc.? Is there some franchise anywhere that enters their season rationally declaring that they have no intention, desire, or need to win anything?
- Color me Surprised: MLB will not have Extended Replay in place for the start of the 2013 season. Wait until 2014. Maybe. The issue is not one of technology. It's because MLB has to figure out how to implement something that does not embarrass the league, the players or the umpires. These three organizations cannot, apparently, come to an agreement in time.
- You know you hate EastSPiN. You think you have your reasons. You think you have enough reasons. But I am here to tell you that, no, you do not. You need some more nails for that coffin. Deadspin takes the lead here. You probably are not aware of the entire phony Sarah Phillips episode. How EastSPiN got hoodwinked into hiring a hoax "journalist" is inspiring enough, including how they reacted when the reality hit them (by Deadspin). It's important to note that the person who hired this non-existent Sarah was named Lynn Hoppes. Hoppes was the same guy exposed by Deadspin plagiarizing Wikipedia over and over and over again, and ESPN pretended like nothing was happening. There is a lot of material throughout Deadspin covering all this. Well, the latest update occurred just this week. John Walsh, EastSPiN VP and Executive Editor went before a journalism class at Maryland University and created a bald-faced lie to cover his tracks and attack the actual person who reported their failure, and on a personal level. EastSPiN definitely has it in for Deadspin. But Deadspin still fought back, and is now winning. EastSPiN Credibility? Less Than Zero.
- We all hate the ridiculousness that is the MLB blackout rules, and the silly lack of logic that lies behind them. Know hope! Some people are actually trying to do something about it and making progress. An anti-trust lawsuit aimed at breaking up those rules was allowed to proceed by a federal judge on Wednesday. Keep in mind though, that resolution on this via any court process is still years away. As the article notes, the discovery period alone could take a year. MLB is in no hurry.
- From time to time we get solicitations to share some link or offer online with our loyal readership. I ignore those, leaving it to Rev to determine how much spam he wishes to tolerate on his site. But the latest one is so far off the wall that I just have to share. This stuff is completely unlike any baseball merch I have ever witnessed. I am not even sure how to react to it, it's so new to me. But it IS the gift-giving season, so I just have to share.
- Speaking of gift-giving, I regret to report that your hopes to find Don Larsen's game-worn jersey from his World Series perfect game have been dashed. Unless your dad is Warren Buffet. It just sold at auction for $756,000.
(A roundup of this week's LA Angels-related rumors and transactions...as if you just woke up, recovering from last weekend's Links.)
- There is no practical way to even pretend to be able to stay in front of the rumor mill on the last day of Winter Meetings. In the past week we sent Jordan Walden to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Tommy Hanson. We gained Joe Blanton, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson via Free Agency signings. We lost prospects Angel Sanchez to the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Kehrer to the Marlins via the Rule 5 draft (Kehrer in the AAA phase, in case you missed it). We gained Robbie Widlansky from the Orioles in that same AAA phase, and we picked up prospect Tommy Field off the waiver wire. Meanwhile, we are in and out and in and out and in and out on Zack Greinke, with Zack's wife being the real final authority on the outcome, all of which makes perfect sense within the context of my link. Just keep in mind, everyone, that the off-season does not conclude at midnight tonight. It's still a long way to April.
- Here is something to watch for concerning the Rule 5 draftees lost and gained. Craig Calcaterra over at HardballTalk reports that the MLB League Office has alerted teams that it will be monitoring very closely the traditional reports of "injuries" to these draftees that teams in the past have used to stash them instead of carrying them on the roster as they were supposed to.
- You know the nation has already started to scrape the bottom of the barrel when the subject of discussion turns to Mark Reynolds. If only guy could play third base. And not strike out faster than Leisure Suit Larry.
(Quick hits of interesting stuff that sit out on the fringe of our baseball emporium...)
Here during Hall Of Fame season, what with all the had wringing over PEDs candidates, it might be handy to take a look back at some of the REAL cheaters! Some of those people are already in the HOF, and we aren't even talking about "greenie" usage..........But, let's talk about "greenies" for a second. Add Barry Larkin to the list of people who must obviously feel the need to rip all the abusers of greenies from the Baseball Hall Of Fame...........Robin Yount shoots Cubs manager Dale Sveum. At one point, rumors were that Sveum would hire his buddy Yount as a coach. Sveum then denied this. Sveum then gets shot by Yount. You decide!.........Not to be outdone, Andrew Cashner of the Padres was accidentally stabbed in the thumb in a hunting accident and is out 3 months.
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: Out in Long Beach, at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing, there shall be the Stillwater Artisan Ales - Evil Twin Brewing, 12% Imports Night.. (I have a couple of six-packs of Westvleteren 12% on their way even as I type this, so maybe I can host a similar event at my own place!)..........Friday & Saturday The Pizza Port in Carlsbad is hosting a Strong Ale Fest beer festival..........Saturday: out in the Inland Empire, in Redlands, Hangar 24 Brewery is staging the 2012 Pugachev's Cobra Release & Barrel Aged Beer Tasting..........over near LAX, in El Segundo, the Deschutes Brewery Tap Takeover is occurring at Rock & Brews..........West Hollywood enjoys the Shmaltz Sweet 'n' Surly 16 beer festival at The Surly Goat...........and, perhaps the best event of all this weekend, right around the corner from Angel Stadium the Phoenix Club (which always puts forth decent beer festivals!) will be putting on OC Brew Ho Ho.
And a special call out to Throwbacks on Saturday, with their Farewell Christmas party from 7pm to close as they lost their lease. This party will include, at 11pm, the auctioning off of the infamous Throwbacks Shuttle Bus! A special thanks to ladybug for the notification.
So Christmas Shopping Season is now in full swing. Only 17 shopping days remain! You have seen them at swap meets and state fairs, everywhere, and now you can own one of your very own. If they just figure out how to drag a lawn mower behind it, this might be the perfect vehicle.
Stay safe, everyone!