Less than one month away now! As pro football deflates the media hype surrounding their own annual premier event, and as pro basketball moves their centers of excellence to the outposts of Atlanta and San Francisco, and as pro hockey skates around obscurity, Major League Baseball is about to thunder back onto the sports scene with a lot of all-new rosters for us to get excited about. This could be a watershed year. Let's get to the news while we still ahve time to digest it all:
- Doin' the 180: Pay attention here, folks. Over the past year Jerry Dipoto has been behaving like a baseball man unleashed. What was once a mighty farm system, that had then plummeted to the very bottom of the heap and was infamous for its poverty, is on the comeback. And it all due to the tenacity of Dipoto. he has made a massive number of transactions to restock the upper minors. Sure, it's been with mostly middling talent but the cupboard is no longer completely bare. And, along the way, there have been nuggets. For example, two of the Top Ten left-handed pitching prospects throughout all of baseball belong to the Angels: Andrew Heaney and Sean Newcomb.
- 2015 Promos: The Angels promo schedule for this upcoming season can be found here. The official franchise twitter feed is going to be leaking out pictures of key items. I still wish our marketeers were as clever as those up in San Francisco. Half as clever would be nice. A vast improvement, actually.
This Date In Baseball History: 1967 - Just 4 years after hanging up his spikes, Stan Musial is named General manager of the Cardinals, and promptly oversees a World Series winning campaign, the first GM to so do. Musial will retire from the GM position before 365 days on the job is up.............1981 - The Boston Red Sox lose Fred Lynn due to a front office clerical error. Failing to mail out a new contract by the formal league-mandated deadline, the Red Sox found themselves destined to lose Lynn outright to Free Agency. Before that would happen, the BoSox would trade Lynn to the California Angels...........2008 - After having played in only one full Major League season, coming in second place in NL RoY voting (Ryan Braun took top prize), Troy Tulowitzki is given a six-year, $31 million contract. This, we can see, would be a huge value for the Rockies. Except that Tulo would be signed to an even NEWER contract just three years later: extending him 7 more years for a $157.75 million deal. Tulo has averaged 102 games per season ever since. An outcome, oddly, that has kept the Rockies from trading him away.
Pacific Coast League History Nuggets
Baseball "brawls" of today are actually anything but. Sure, maybe one player gets a good grip on one other and a couple of choice punches are throw before everything is broken up and we end up watching a game-delaying dance wherein there the more securely any player is safely restrained from being an actual threat, the more that player emotes in outrage.
It wasn't always so.
In fact, the most phenomenal brawl in baseball history happened right here in Southern California, on August 2, 1953, between the Hollywood Stars and the Los Angeles Angels. The two franchises despised each other, and were especially hot under the collar as they fought a week long intra-city series. I shall send you to Baseball: Past and Present to read Joe Guzzardi''s 2010 recap. From there, you can hop over to a Graham Womack interview of Bob Usher, an Angels player who was an actual participant. Take it away, guys!
- Sherzer Shekel Shocker: Wow. How can this be? The details of Max Scherzer's contract were revealed and they hold some amazement. Most amazing, to me, is because the deferred money plan, the Nationals will be paying Scherzer all the way out to the year 2028. He will be owed $15 million dollars for his 44th year of age. I mean, that's like crazy talk! Compare that to, say our own Albert Pujols, who in his final contract year will be....uh...oh...er......yeah...Albert will also be almost 44 years of age (41, actually), and we will be paying him $21 million. Shoot.
- Pete Rose: Ignoring the fact that Pete Rose's post-baseball career is a living cartoon (which is his own natural-born right), I fear that we are getting to a point where the folks who don't give a shit anymore about whatever it was about gambling that motivated Bart Giamatti to ban him from all of baseball, permanently, will be the same folks who will have no clue as to how masterful Rose was on the field of play. And all he might be is some novelty, the blue stripe baseball player that somehow keeps hanging on around the fringes of what is important.
- Re-ejections: Sometimes something really cool comes out of all this Internetworky stuff. With Jim out on vacation, this story slipped all the way through the week to me. Beyond The Boxscore posted a very cool viz tool that lets us query and sort all kinds of sweet data about MLB ejections. For example, 39% of all ejections, ever, have been for arguing balls and strikes. But did you also know that there have been 25 ejections in history for "field conditions"? WTF? And since 1990 to today, the majority of ejections has been making a dramatic shift away from players and over to managers. Yeah, lots of ways to learn cool stuff.
- Time: I know it's not the biggest news, but consider this just a small Public Service Announcement. For some of you who are looking into ticket packages or specific games, MLB has finally released the game times for every game of the 2015 season. Good to know. Jump to the LAA schedule here, where all the start times are now included.
- Goodbye, Uncle Bud: Well, that's it. Bud Selig is done as Commish as of tomorrow. Personally, I have never been a fan. Jeff Passan at Yahoo writes a review, and a lot of it boggles the mind. My favorite paragraph, because of my personal opinion is this one of the reality behind baseball's economic groth during hte Selig era: "Baseball grew into a $9 billion-a-year business on the backs of corporations that helped drive up prices so the average consumer can’t afford parking, let alone tickets. Publicly funded stadiums are fundamentally wrong, and baseball’s first boom came on their backs – the thievery of tax dollars to build secular houses of worship where the god is a uniform and where the redistribution of profits is limited to the pockets of owners and cronies. The second boom is even worse: Companies pouring billions of dollars into local-television contracts that turn monthly cable and satellite bills into albatrosses for the working person, preying on the loyalty engendered by sports to bundle their checkbook to death."
Numbers are fun. You know that Hall of Fame that does not include Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Joe Jackson, Bobby Grich, etc.? Well, we really should be looking closely at, instead, the great case for Billy Wagner.............Speaking of HoF, this logic is kinda odd. This article advocates shifting the responsibility for finding a solution to HoF voting onto the shoulders of another party (the commissioner) while, at the same time, bemoans the fact that contemporary participants in the process are aiming to shift the responsibility for solving the problem to the next generation of participants in the process. You might note that the author does not have any answers himself...........Yeah. This is brilliant. MLB is going to take decisive action in order to cut down the overall time for games. Blame the fans and cut back the time between innings that teams use to shoot t-shirts into the stands............Oooh. Grab your popcorn. The folks across the street have filed another lawsuit against the Cubs for the ongoing renovations and view line obstructions...........Ok. This is fantastic! The Cards just released their promo schedule for 2015. Note May 27th. It's Boy Scout Night AND Girl Scout Night AND Beer Tasting Night. At the same time. I see no way this could possibly go wrong..........Technology in action: SAFECO Field to become the first baseball stadium to be lit by LED. In addition to cost and environmental savings, gone forever shall be the days when it takes a half hour or more to warm back up the vapor bulbs...........Mike Trout: The Face of Lots of Little Kids' Image of Major League Baseball............This has got to be how most of us baseball fans might define Purgatory...........Oh no! Oh, Dear God, NO!!! Jim Edmonds...THAT Jim Edmonds...THE JIM EDMONDS...has signed on to appear on The Real Housewives of Orange County, Season 10. Jim, if you are reading this, there is still time to retain your dignity. Call me.
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...
Saturday: 2015 North County Beer Festival is happening at the Moonlight Amphitheater in Vista.............Brews & Bros Craft Beer Festival is out in Upland at the Cable Airport.............Draughts Restaurant & Bar in Thousand Oaks is hosting a Lagunitas Tap Takeover.............In Pomona, at The Rookery, the 2nd Annual Anniversary Beer Fest is happening...........
Sunday: The Biltmore Hotel, downtown LA will be hosting Bock Fest beer tasting & release............Over at Altadena, at the Altadena Alehouse, a beer & food event titled Robert Burns Night is in swing. Bring a Burns poem for open mic. Guess how many folks show up with a copy of Tam O' Shanter??
LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: Last week's question was to identify Which special interest group lobbied Wisconsin to change the State Drink from milk to beer. The answer, surprisingly for some and unsurprisingly for others, is PETA. It turned into a national campaign, actually.
THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: Despite PETA's efforts, beer has not been made the national drink of the United States. What is the national alcoholic beverage? (A) wine, (B) whiskey, (C) cider, or (D) brandy.