SIX DAYS LEFT BEFORE SPRING TRAINING OPENS!!!
Well, this is it. The last edition of WeekEnd HaloLinks before we get to start seeing dudes in uniforms playing catch again. How awesome is that?!? Whose going to ST? When? Which parks are you going to visit? Vote and share below!!!
WIN FREE TICKETS TO OPENING DAY!
But now, with ST about to open and the regular season just weeks away, allow me to offer up a public service announcement. Tomorrow morning, at 4 AM PST, the final 2014 Guess Who? puzzle will be published. This puzzle is pretty close to the kinds of puzzles I have done lately, but far more complex. The most complex to date. There is a reason for that. The winner of tomorrow's challenge will receive two FREE field level tickets TO OPENING DAY!!
All the rules and all the info and the puzzle itself will be in the article, to be found in the usual Saturday front page location, so everybody gets a chance to get in on the fun! And I am serious. I have already paid the money to StubHub. I will have the tickets a couple of days before the event and will meet you for personal hand off. All that is missing is you, the first one to solve the puzzle. I buy your ticketsl. You buy your own beer.
Who says I am not a giver?
(By the way, don't fret. Next week we will start a different kind of puzzle, something I hope to be more accessible for more members.)
- Albert Pujols: Apparently the news that Pujols feels that he is back to 100% and had a normal offseason and is ready for Spring Training is no longer worth much more than a twitter post. Welcome to LAA and the West Coast news coverage, Mr. Pujols. Meanwhile, covering the same tweet, Rotoworld reminds us that Albert is still owed $222MM. Imagine signing a 34-year old once-juggernaut to a $222MM contract during this past offseason. I don't know about you, but that perspective looks just a teensy-weensy less exorbitant than it did.
- Josh Hamilton: Josh is fat. Do you know how we know that? We know that because Josh put on 28 pounds since last season. And last season's weight plus 28 pounds is more. Therefore, Josh is fat. Just ask Mike Trout last year. Fatties. All of 'em. Seriously, I have no idea the why behind this observation: "Prior to 2013, Hamilton committed to not eating processed foods or gluten. His power numbers dipped." Is the author angling for a Domino's Pizza sponsorship or something? And, you know that if Josh experiences a renaissance this season his additional muscle is going to be all PEDs rumors.
Once They Were Hasbeens: Well, hey what look at this! Somebody else is picking up OUR rejects for a change. As the Rangers are looking to sign the Amazin' Tommy Hanson for their 2014 campaign, that can only mean one single thing: if anybody is below us to catch our detritus, we cannot be the absolute bottom! I refuse to believe even for one second that the once promising Hanson is going to become chapter 144 in the epic novel of Once A Halo Mistake, Now A Halo Killer. Not. Gonna. Happen.......On the other hand, after paying Ryan Madson $3.25MM in 2013 to take the year off and rehab his arm after Tommy John surgery, Madson is doing scout showcases these days and has his suitors. Might. Possibly. Happen.
- Home Run Derby: Vegas has posted odds for Home Run King in 2014. Cutting to the chase, our reps are the longshots. "A trio of Angels is worth addressing as well. Albert Pujols (25-to-1) has dealt with foot and knee injuries the last two years and at 34 years old is less likely than a guy like Kemp to return to a high level of durability. Josh Hamilton, who struggled mightily in 2013 and has a checkered health history of his own, is a slightly better bet than Pujols if only because he's drawing longer odds at 30-to-1. Mike Trout is one of the best players in the game, finishing No. 2 in the MVP race the last two seasons, but he's unlikely to compete for a home run title just yet. He's a risky play even at a price of 30-to-1." Personally, I think that folks are short sheeting a real possibility that both Pujols and Hamilton totally jump back into top-tier respectability one last time, and do it this year. Also in that same article, "Before you bet on Trumbo, though, keep in mind that he's a career .250 hitter who could struggle early as he adjusts to a new league." I wonder if it occurs to folks that maybe "the new league" might need a spell to adjust to him?
Above and Beyond: Not. Your 2013 LA Angels: 7th most runs scored in all of baseball, only 20th best at getting more runs than what would be expected out of all that offense. "...an offensive efficiency measure would be to examine the rate at which teams turn baserunners into runs and...The basic idea is to examine if a team has scored as many runs as would be expected given their number of singles, doubles, triples, home runs, etc. We know that getting on-base is the most critical aspect of a plate appearance and having more baserunners should lead to more runs. But perhaps there are teams that are doing more with less." In our case, the answer is no. Emphatically not. We properly blame pitching for the horrors of last season, but we also need to think a little harder about things such as base running. What did not happen on the base paths last year, is also not going to happen this year, unless we learn that there is some sort of special attention being paid.
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Stuff On the Internet:
What? You failed to nab one of those reindeer butt bottle openers from two weeks ago before reindeer season closed for the Winter?? Ok, hipster, buy yourself one built into your iPhone case. Just don't drink and dial.
This Date In Baseball History: 1949 - Joe DiMaggio becomes the first player in the American League to earn $100,000 per season (Hank Greenberg had already reached that level with the Pirates two years prior, which SABR somehow missed). Now, I know what you all are thinking: yeah, but that was a lot of money back then! Well, $100,000 in 1949 is the equivalent to $980,392.16 today. Fernando Salas money.........1987 - For only the second time in history, a player has his salary cut from his previous year through binding arbitration as the Dodgers gut Orel Hershiser's salary by $200,000, 20% off his 1986 rate, which was the maximum reduction allowed. Hershiser's 1986 WAR was 2.2, down from the 5.9 WAR of 1985. Over the next three seasons, Hershiser would cement his immortality. (The first player to have his salary reduced was Aurelio Lopez of Detroit, in 1983. His salary went down $35,000.)........2009 - Sports Illustrated, on their web site, report that Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez is one of the 109 MLB players who had tested positive in 2003, during what was supposed to be a completely anonymous and private screening to determine the extent of PEDs in baseball. So, yeah, Uncle Bud and MLB Front Office staff have been gunning for ARod for quite some time.
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.)
Al Munro Elias
Elias! Now there is a name with which you might already be familiar. Al, along with his brother Walter, were traveling salesmen. But Al's passion was baseball, and his personal sense of order mandated that the recording of results be perfectly accurate at all times, as should be all statistics derived from those recorded results. Baseball, to Elias, warranted nothing less. And, in the true spirit of "if you want something done right, do it yourself", Al began a personal task of recorded results and statistics. Over time, he and Walter had accumulated quite a catalog of information, much of it rather unique (day -to-day batting averages, for example). This combination of salesmanship and a large quantity of of unique product somewhat in demand would be propelled into history when Elias was forced to abandon his day job due to illness. Co-opting Walter, in 1914 Al chose to turn his sales skills into selling his stats.
Initially, the primary news outlets resisted Al's pitch. Al and Walter survived by selling stat cards (think about what's on the back of any baseball trading card) for resale to small businesses where fans might frequent. Then, spurned on by an idea of Walter's the Elias brothers found a buyer in the New York Evening Telegram wherein they would provide the daily statistical leaders of the top 5 batters in each league. (up to this point, papers only ran the daily stats of the hometown players). It was in this way that we came upon the daily leader board, which has long since become insanely ubiquitous in all major sports, in all media, world-wide.
The insanity began, though, immediately. The leader boards were a huge hit and began selling to newspapers across the country, even being shipped off to troops serving in Europe during WWI. By 1918 John Heydler (remember him?) hired the Elias Brothers to take over the official record keeping of the National League. The Associated Press then contracted to distribute the Elias stats daily, turning this into a full-time enterprise which continues to this day. You know it as The Elias Sports Bureau.
- PEDS: H/T to HardballTalk, The Economist puts out an article concerning the very latest in performance enhancement: Xenon gas. The use of Xenon apparently increases red blood cell counts over a period of a couple of days. It's been around at least 10 years, been part of past Olympic training regimens, and is not banned by WADA. And yet, it absolutely does offer artificial performance enhancement results for athletes. So NOW what's your position on PEDs and punishment???
- Stats Magic: Wow. Here is a lot of intriguing data concerning fly ball hang times, with sorting of specific data points done byteams, parks, some pitchers. Of course, when I look at this stuff the first thing I do is ignore the text and look for the Angels and Anaheim and Halo players (none, by the way). I was rather impressed by the LAA consistency. Not just between their home and road numbers, which are odd considering what is believed to be a decent range in park factors around the AL, but also how close our own pitchers fare against visiting teams: visitor perform just like us. And why do visitors do better at extra base hits than we do in our own park?
- Babe Ruth: Here is a fun one. MLB sent off a reporter to call upon the grave site of Babe Ruth and chat up the caretakers at his cemetery in Hawthorne, New York. It's great to learn that his resting place remains a popular visiting spot among the faithful. It also turns out that his legacy in life has been inspiring spirited gifts ever since being laid to rest. "One day, my worker came down and got me. He said, 'You're not going to believe this one,'" said Nagle. "He was over here working, not interfering with people, and a car pulled up. A guy got out, and he was wearing a cook's apron. He has a pizza in his hands, and the steam is coming out of the box. He walks up the hill, deliberately, puts the pizza down. He opens the box and then he just walks away. He got into his car and drove away. We still don't know if somebody ordered Babe a pizza or what."
- R.I.P Ralph Kiner: HoF Kiner passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Kiner, a graduate of Alhambra HS here in Alhambra (between downtown LA and Pasadena for you non-locals), played for 10 seasons, then spent 7 more decades involved in baseball as an executive and broadcaster. A little factoid about Kiner in these days of BBWAA voting controversy is that Kiner, commonly considered one of the Top 100 players of the 20th Century, made it in on his final year of eligibility, and by only 1 vote. His is the closest near-miss in history. In his honor, from Youtube here is his short HoF bio with video, and here is Ralph Kiner pitching Wheaties breakfast cereal. And, lastly, let it be known that Kiner had game! Godspeed, Mr. Kiner.
- Baseball Biz: Update. As we have observed in this space before, the Time-Warner Cable is having some...uh...challenges in getting SportsChannel LA up into the expected orbital position. (Remember, we care about stuff like this because that is how teams - Arte - are counting on funding future payroll obligations. Think Mike Trout.) Well, things are getting down to the wire in the Dodgerburb. They have already pushed back the formal launch by a few weeks, and have taken to the LA streets with a custom-painted truck to try and rouse the rabble and get subscribers to call in to their providers and demand their right to have $5 extra extracted from everybody's bank account each month. Honestly, why didn't they get custom license plates that say "GIMME 5"??
- Mascot Hell: It's pretty harsh when your entire marketing centerpiece gets totally hosed by a 10-year old, but that's what happens here. And when a 10 year old boy tells you that the smile on your priest mascot makes him creepy as he does when he disses the Padres mascot, well, it's far too late. My two favorites: The Rangers burn "Here I don't really like how it's a horse. It just looks weird in a bad way." And then of course, the awesome recognition that he goes into here.
- Completely OT: During this past Sunday's Super Flop, among the parade of horrible commercials (when did Madison Avenue lose the last of its creativity, inspiration, imagination and humor???), there appeared a GoCam ad that included fresh footage of Felix Baumgartner's record sky dive. And this has inspired an entire new generation of enthusiasts to strive and perfect this "sport".
Video Of The Week
(Our game is almost back. A reminder...)
(Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)
A rare find. Daniel Craig portrays Ty Cobb in this vintage color photo..........Because a suspension of 200 games is simply not enough when you find that you have claimed absolute power of all things..........For those of you who were doing payroll math whatifs, Mark Trumbo ended up getting $4.8MM pre-arb. Pretty much as predicted..........Oh please please please. For ONCE can we have the guy who was a complete melt down while a Halo, stay a complete melt down now that we may get to face him a dozen or so times? Fernando Rodney is a Mariner..........Some guys get kicked hard when they are down. Schilling has certainly been down a lot lately, much of it of his own making I should admit. And now here comes the news that Curt Schilling has been diagnosed with cancer, in the event that you some special interest..........In case you missed it, SBN's "Basebal Nation" has come to an end. New articles of that vein are moving over to SBN's MLB main mast head site...........I am not qualified to opine in this particular beauty contest, but just having access to these links all in one place is a great way to spend your SABRE research fantasy weekend...........Wait a sec, WHICH Major league Baseball team is run by an billboard advertising genius??
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: This makes the ONE MONTH mark for Beachwood BBQ, both locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, which ARE STILL hosting their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle this weekend. Festivities take place on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........San Francisco Beer Week 2014 kicks off. The Opening Gala is at the Concourse Exhibition Center.
Saturday: Both Beachwood BBQ locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, ARE STILL host their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle this weekend. Festivities take place on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........San Francisco Beer Week has a whole lineup of events for today. Filter by date on the web page...........Noble Ale Works in Anaheim celebrates their birthday with a beer & food event...........And in San Diego, Karl Strauss Brewing Company is putting on their annual "Changing of the Barrels".
Sunday: Both Beachwood BBQ locations, in Seal Beach and Long Beach, ARE STILL host their 3rd Annual Pliny Fights Cancer Charity Raffle this weekend. Festivities take place on Friday, Saturday AND Sunday..........San Francisco Beer Week has a whole lineup of events for today. Filter by date on the web page.
BEER BONUS: This tip comes to us from our loveable ladybug. The 16 Best Bars of North OC.
Stay safe, everyone!