Happy New Year, everybody! Welcome to the first Weekend HaloLinks of 2013. I presume that many of you from outside California got a glimpse of our sunshine whilst watching The Rose Parade? That broadcast is one of those things we locals fear, because it merely encourages people to leave their snowbound existence behind in the frozen tundra of other places, move here, and sit in front of us in the fast-food drive-through line. And those are the ones who need to customize their burger orders for all 6 people in the SUV while we sit staring at their NYY license plates.
You will notice that despite the general dearth of activity in baseballdom, I have still found a way to pump up your weekend with hours of click-able content. Sure, there is nothing quite as spectacular as an HH interview with Albert Pujols, but I blame Albert for that. It can't be my fault. I know that, on this end, the line is always open. Of course, it might help if Pujols or Trout spent winters here in The Golden State, land of eternal sunshine. Hey, wait a minute, Mark Trumbo was raised just 3 miles from where I am sitting now! So to whomever it is that is assigned the duty of reading HH daily from behind the IP address of the LAA Front Office, send me an email and hook us up. I have an expense account. I can pay for his lunch, which is probably formidable.
Recapping my holidays, I blew it this year by asking Santa for some cool power tools. Every one of those wishes was answered. Had I realized that I had been such a good boy this past year, I would have begged for season tickets.
- Well this is fun! Rob Neyer put forth his Top Baseball Stories of 2012 and...forgets all about that whole Mike Trout thingy. The Giants winning their 2nd WS in three years tops his list, followed by 10 other candidate story lines for the #2 spot. Included are such historically eternal gems such as Jamie Moyer getting a W at age 49, and the Marlins having yet another fire sale. But nothing about the single finest MLB performance in decades. Nope. Well, the very first three words of the very first comment in response (from an Oakland fan, no less) are "Uh, Mike Trout?" So Neyer does come back in the comments and acknowledges his boner (which we all know make the whole thing hilarious), but he appears to be at a complete loss as to what to do about it. So he does nothing. Maybe he plans on a follow-up article, perhaps focusing on the Top SoCal Baseball Stories of 2012 in the American League, or something.
- Say it ain't so! Well...on second thought...never mind. Go ahead and say it. Probably long overdue anyway, but Adam Kennedy is likely declaring his retirement. Apparently Kennedy has yet to fill out his paperwork with Uncle Bud, but Mike DiGiovanna tweets that he is moving on to the next phase of his life and is opening a training facility here in Anaheim.
- Jeff Fletcher of the ocregister must have spent his holidays lost deep within the bowels of BBR, and managed to pull up a fairly amazing stat. Last year the Halos had only 8 Plate Appearances by a left-handed batter, while facing a left-handed pitcher. Over the past 10 years, the closest other occurrence of such rarity came in with the Houston Astros of 2003, with 61. In other words, no other team in the past 10 years comes even close to the 2012 Halo L-on-L rarity.
Buster Olney, beyond the EastSPiN paywall ranks the LA Angels at the very top of the Top 10 lineups in baseball. I would give you more, but that would mean surrendering money to Bristol, Connecticut. If one or more of you already have, by all means click away. ** BONUS! ** It's my understanding that Olney earlier has ranked the Angels as the #1 outfield as well. Evidence of this can be found in the very first comment for this link, wherein a Detroit Tigers fan still burns with jealous rage at the very mention of Mike Trout. (Let's face it, folks, the more success that Mike Trout enjoys, the more people are going to hate him merely because of his success. It's a human thing and has nothing to do with the kid, or our team, or baseball, or even sports. Let's hope we all get to live with this for a long, long time.) The part there that must gall some certain people, would be that Torii Hunter went from LAA to Detroit and the LAA outfield improved to become the very best in all of baseball. Hmmm...
This Date In Baseball History: 1898 - One time office boy, future owner, and namesake for the Brooklyn ballpark Charles Ebbets becomes President of the Bridegrooms, the franchise that will later become the Dodgers..........1904 - The Highlanders, who will later become the Yankees, announce that they will move their Sunday home games to Ridgewood Park on Long Island, only to get the kibosh from Commissioner August Herrman because that would be too close to The Superbas. The Superbas used to be the Bridegrooms and, yes, will become the Dodgers..........1928 - Jimmy "Pee Wee" Reese is purchased from the Los Angeles Angels of the PCL by the New York Yankees and will become Babe Ruth's roommate. 44 years later he comes back and will ask the California Angels for a job, and will be with the team until he passes 1994 at the age of 92..........1957 - the Dodgers become the first team to purchase their own airplane..........2002 - After 6 years of mediocrity, Tony Tavares decides to resign as President of the Anaheim Angels. Just in time to miss out on the franchise winning the World Series.
2010 - Rory Markas, beloved play-by-play announcer of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, passed away suddenly on this date in 2010 at his home in Palmdale at the age of 54. Apparently, he was the victim of a heart attack. Here's to you, Rory (click to listen):
The Designated Hitter Flurry
- Do you know what topic is going viral (relatively) throughout the world of baseball chit-chat during these frozen days and nights of idle news wires? Implementing the Designated Hitter rule for the National League. No kidding. Ann Hiatt of The Week online magazine kicked things off on Tuesday, getting picked up by Yahoo! News and inspiring the whole flurry. Her reasoning? It's more fun. While I agree, that sure ain't going to overwhelm the puristas of The Old Guard but it did give folks something to talk about.
- Rob Neyer (again!) opines on the DH matter on Wednesday and I can sum up his position thusly: why bother? Deep stuff, there. Mere moments later, Matt Hunter over on Beyond The Boxscore jumps into the fray not to add anything himself, but to promote discussion. Precisely like I am doing here.
- But right between all of that Craig Calcaterra of HBT over at NBC Sports chimes in with a rational observation worthy of consideration as to why the NL needs to start thinking about dropping the DH. In short, the growth of specialization among players is rendering the hitting skills of pitchers useless. His best paragraph: "And it’s not like this will get better. If anything, it will only get worse. In the absence of any expectation for pitchers to hit before reaching the NL combined with the absence of any financial pressures that might make adding a specialist to the roster problematic, there is nothing that will incentivize teams to make their pitchers better hitters. It makes no real sense to have pitchers batting now. We certainly wouldn’t set it up that way if we were starting from scratch today." And this from a guy who professes to be an NL-style anti-DH voter. Good on him for being fresh.
- Anyway, DH topic things are now rolling in the news vacuum. Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus, perhaps subconsciously inspired, picks up the baton and proposes a solution: "Some time prior to the free agent period starting (so before the World Series ends), teams are required to make a decision. For the next season, they can decide whether their home park will be a DH park or a pitcher-batting park. The decision holds all year, but teams can switch back and forth from season to season as they desire. Everyone submits their choices in a sealed envelope and they all get revealed live." He goes on to ask "How fun would the day after that be?" and I have to admit, it would be pretty fun, indeed.
- So, not to be outdone, I am going to follow Matt Hunter's lead and poll all you fine lads and lassies, skewed as this topic shall be amongst AL-style fanatics. For the record, I am in complete agreement with Calcaterra. The part of his essay that truly resonates with me is this: "The game is not played by all-around ballplayers anymore. Pitchers are just dreadful at hitting and, increasingly, are unable to even bunt particularly well. The strategy and gamesmanship my NL friends like to talk up is rather contrived when one thinks about it. Really, these machinations are more about the avoidance of pitchers batting than taking advantage of it. The whole dance in which managers spend so much energy to optimize minor matchups, often costing them their best pitchers and best hitters runs counter to the idea of my best nine playing your best nine and let’s see who wins." Of course, here in the American League, the use of a DH really means "my best ten versus your best ten", but the point still stands.
- The 2013 Class of Hall of De-Fame voters continues to run unabated. John Fay goes into vapor lock over PEDS and decides avoid his vote completely. As been stated before, this actively punishes the chances of Kenny Lofton. Since the ballots are now in, the dialog has shifted to a higher elevation, looking down on all these scribes the mess they made, and the mess they are in.
- Will Lietch at Sports On Earth observes how BBWAA voting "has stopped being about the merits of the individual players and more about voters taking personal, almost political, stances, drawing lines in the sand, taking some sort of stand about the importance of their job without, you know, taking that importance all that seriously."
- David Murphy at Philly.com pretty much tells the voters to get the heck over themselves, already. "The reality of the situation is that baseball has already decided what voters should do, and any writer who attempts to argue otherwise is simply attempting to add a level of power to his vote that does not exist (and, frankly, that should not exist for anybody who considers themselves a journalist)."
- Grant Brisbee upstairs at SBN starts pillaging the voters in search of "The Most Asinine Hall of Fame Argument" and nails a lot of their stupidity to the cross. And he gets bonus points for using the word "skullduggery"!
- Also upstairs, Mike Bates drills into the whole Bagwell/Piazza guilty by insinuation garbage.
- But, FINALLY, it appears that somebody is stepping forward to beat the BBWAA back and forth across their smug faces with their own hypocrisy of PEDs versus amphetamines. Joe Sheehan, from his pay-per-view newsletter (To which I have failed to subscribe. I must consider doing something about that.) is quoted by Jason Brennan up at SBN with this gem: "...you cannot defend the idea that steroids alone fundamentally changed the game's statistics in a way that the previous generation's drug of choice didn't." Sheehan hits the mark, in my book, as evidenced from the responses on SBN. All the do-PEDs-impact-performance and guilt-by-association dialogs come screaming back again, but now within the context of amphetamines.
- And, in conclusion, allow me to introduce all of you to our nemesis: Murray Chase. There is simply not enough space left in this weekend's Linkage to accommodate all of the ridiculousness of this mind-numbing diatribe. Take heart that the days of such dinosaurs are numbered. And, no, unlike REAL dinosaurs, they will not be sticking around as peacocks and eagles to burden us into eternity. Chase is the only voter I have found to be worse than Troy Renck, who's main reason against Larry Walker is, and I am not making this up, "he...didn't care enough."
- In other news around the MLB, the Cleveland Indians have their new TV deal in place. Ten years, $400 million. $40 million per year, FOR THE INDIANS! Oh, misery. That's going to end up forcing a lot of Kroger commercials on the very people who tend to decide our President.
- Wahoo! It's January, which means Scott Boras Hunting Season. No matter where you stand on the whole Boras-As-Evil-Emperor meme, this is the traditional time of year when he makes his biggest noise. It's Boras versus The New Rules. Everybody pull up a chair and grab your popcorn.
- The coolio thing I linked to a while ago, where some guy was visualizing AL uniforms as soccer kits, has apparently gotten enough love to motivate the artist to do ALL of baseball. This week's entry is the NL Central. I cannot wait until he gets to the AL West!
- You know that part of how we all mock TV broadcasts, and guys like Eric Karros and Gubi for their insipid filler, passed along to us as "insight"? Well, Sam Miller hoists their juicy carcasses up on their very own booby petards! I cannot decide whether my favorite is for pitchers to insist on getting enough run support, or for pitchers to learn how to pitch.
- If you are a young and aspiring sports journalist, or if you have offspring who want to be a baseball writer, I highly recommend directing your attention to an interview with Tom Verducci. For all the rest of us, the best juice comes right up front: "I love noticing the small details within a game, for instance, and sometimes you look around in the press box and you can count the heads that are down—playing solitaire, checking their fantasy football team or buried in Twitter." Here's looking at you, Murray Chase. And you, Mark Whicker.
- Next to last, just for the online gamer within all of you...Brushback Baseball!
- And, finally, for those few who have no idea of what "online gaming" might possibly mean, a re-issue of the 1961 Edition of Strat-O-Matic Baseball is still available on eBay.
(Quick hits of interesting stuff that sit out on the fringe of our baseball emporium...)
Sergio Romo gets upset that he still lacks celebrity stature, and requires ID at airports..........Somebody with the Atlanta Braves woke up from their holiday siesta, and learned that the screaming Native American on their BP cap is not being well received..........Lance Berkman, he with the one decent season out of the last six, might actually suck up a roster spot on the Rangers! That, of course, would then become the Rangers' Big Splash, trumping even their recent signing of setup reliever Jason Frasor.........Recently retired Hideki Matsui, "Godzilla", LAA outfielder in 2010, had a cameo in a real Godzilla movie! "Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla", released in 2002 just prior to joining the Yankees and MLB. Click into this and slew to the 36:41 mark...........Wouldn't it be cool if our future skipper turned out to be none other than Darin Erstad?
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: Down in San Diego Way, Ciro's Pizzeria is hosting a Tap Takeover and Keep The Glass Social Gathering sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company.
Saturday: Brewhub in Huntington Beach is the launching point for the Orange County Microbrewery Tour, essentially a beer tour and pub crawl.
Sunday: Up in San Jose, Wander over to Wine Affairs and enjoy a Stouts versus Porters beer tasting.