Ok...ok...ok. Let's just face it. American football kinda owns this one weekend out of the whole year. Trying to pretend otherwise is a waste of time. Much like trying to pretend that one is above it all and sneer at the commercials and mock Katy Perry and insist that the game itself was boring. I suggest that we all just relax and go with it. In 72 hours it will all be over but the rehash (and the one still-standing obnoxious SBN blog site), and baseball will resume command. Meanwhile, a Super Bowl party recipe gift for those of you trapped indoors this winter. The very easiest and tastiest BBQ rib recipe completely do-able using just your oven. Seriously. It will change your life.
For those of you who yearn to despise the notion of Tom Brady, know that he could have been a teammate of Vladdie. Which means that there would have been even miniscule chance he could have played in Anaheim. Maybe even FOR Anaheim. It happens. Of course, then he would have just been C.J. Wilson version 1.0. So, while you dwell on that for a while, here are some Super Duper, Roman Numeral Ex Licks, Halo Links for your weekend viewing pleasure:
- Public Service Announcement: I am leading off with something that will come too late fo rme to include here (it's Thursday night for me). This morning, at 6AM PDT, MLB releases their Top 50 prospects List. Jump over to MLB.com to get your fix while I sleep in.
- Garrett Richards: We know already that Richards is tracking ahead of schedule, scheduled to start throwing off the mound as soon as the second week of February. Well, that will be timely, because that is the precise same time that his arbitration hearing has been scheduled. February 11th, to be exact. Talk about conflicted....
- Hot Stove Results: So Jon Heyman tries to recap the offseason maneuvering and summary the results for all us rubes. And, according to Heyman, the Angels are neither a winner, nor a loser, nor a jury still out, nor even a "TBD". So is this a good thing or bad?...............Well, I choose to admire the handiwork of Anthony Castrovince, instead, as he selects the Angels as having one of the three most underrated off-seasons. "All of the above provided the Angels with more long-term payroll flexibility, which they obviously need in light of those cumbersome contracts. I don't know if the Halos are a better team than they were in 2014 (98 wins is an awfully high bar in today's game), but they could be a deeper one."
- On The Corners: Alden Gonzalez spends some time focusing on the LAA, nee STL, corner infielders and think about what lies ahead for them in 2015, pivoting off of 2014 of course. Basically, the hope is that Albert Pujols keeps rebounding, tracking upward from his 2015 success, and that David Freeze makes up for the loss of Howie Kendrick. Um. Yeah. Where Gonzalez sees this: "Pujols, however, sees reason to believe he can be better in 2015. It revolves around his right knee, which underwent arthroscopic surgery in November 2012, bothered him while trying to compensate for plantar fasciitis on his left foot in '13 and wasn't as strong as it used to be in '14." and takes away this: "...he vowed to get it stronger." I just see a great guy getting older and getting more and more like me every day.
- Miscellaneous: First off, let's track some taxes. If you are the kind of sport who follows along on payroll obligations and tax ceilings, Jeff Fletcher of ocregister has updated his LAA payroll spreadsheet for your review..............Remember Gordon Beckham, who we got from the ChiSox? Well, he gone. Back to the ChiSox............Oh my, this is just too rich. Lyle Spencer just cannot...CANNOT!...let this go! The Dan Haren story? It's really all about Jeff Mathis. And these great catchers throughout Major League Baseball? Just scroll down towards the bottom to see the CERA reference. And, yeah, Jeff Mathis. I need more Lyle Spencers in my linkage life. They make my Thursday nights just so much more entertaining.............Oh geez. Don't tell me we now love ourselves PECOTA? If you want to dive deeper into the PECOTA magic, Nate Silver himself gives you a look behind the curtain. I, on the other hand, direct you to the advice I gave you concerning PECOTA projections last year. Quickly, just predict any team will win 83 games and you will, by the same margin of error as PECOTA, be right almost 76% of the time.
This Date In Baseball History: 1919 - Pat Moran is named skipper of the Cincinnati Reds. He gets the nod when previous manager Christy Mathewson suffers a bout of tuberculosis after being exposed to mustard gas while serving in World War I. (NOTE: it was NOT enemy gas. Mathewson [and Ty Cobb] were part of the US Army Chemical Service and Mathewson was involved in a training accident.) Moran would lead the Reds to the World Series title...BUT...this is the title made scandalous by the Black Sox, leaving Moran's achievement a little tarnished..........1926 - Not for the first time, MLB almost outlaws the IBB..........1952 - Little League Baseball names their first ever full-time president and moves their headquarters to Williamsport, PA. These are major events in the history behind the ejection of Little League founder Carl Stotz from his own organization..........1958 - Commissioner Ford Frick removes the All Star vote from we ignorant fans..........2007 - The Yankees agree to send staff to China and assist the Chinese Baseball Association in the development of the game in that country. It may sound like an obscure thing to reference, but not if you think long term and recognize what the Chinese can accomplishment out of that population when they put their minds to something..........2009 - This is chilling when you consider the names in the news during this past off-season. It is announced that Jon Garland signs with the DBacks to take Randy Johnson's spot in the rotation. Garland will join Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Max Scherzer and Doug Davis...........2012 - In another contract move that didn't work out as hoped, the Rangers sign Ron Washington to a contract extension to run through the year 2015.
Pacific Coast League History Nuggets
I am going to run this off-season series out focused exclusively on Bill Schuster. The dude was crazy, and everybody knew it. And he was a fairly good player player as well. There are enough tales to get the point across. Baseball has lost a lot of flavor over the years and I find it fun to turn the pages back and discover the oddballs we just don't seem to have anymore.
Schuster originally had a minor league tryout with the Boston Braves, and was reporting to Florida where Casey Stengel was his manager. Stengel apparently didn't like Schuster at all and Schuster was sold to the Seattle Rainers in 1940. Schuster would play for Seattle, then the LA Angels, then back to Seattle, and on to the Hollywood Stars, finishing up in 1952. And all along the way Schuster was full of antics.
"We had a pitcher who had just come down from the Major Leagues, and he had never heard of Schuster before. He was pitching to Schuster in a game at Hollywood and Schuster hit a ground ball right back at him. He neds down to pick up the ball, and when he straightens up, here's Schuster running right at him, sliding at him. He didn't know what to do. Someone had to yell at him to throw the ball to first base. He finally did, and he came back to the bench and said, 'That man is crazy.' That's something we already knew."
- RUGGER ARDIZOIA - Hollywood Stars
"I remember one time over in San Francisco, it's a clutch situation, and Bill hits a big pop-up, straight up. He starts to run, then realizes it's going foul. Bill runs over behind the catcher with his bat. While hte catcher is waiting for the ball to come down, Bill gets over behind him and - whomp, whomp, whomp - like he's hitting him over the head. Now the catcher knows Bill's there, and he's got to concentrate on the ball and the wind blowing while all this is going on behind him.
"Bill was called out on strikes at a game in Wrigley Field, and he stiffened up, as if he had been shot, and fell straight back. Well, a photographer just happened to catch the picture in mid-fall, so there's this picture of Bill falling backwards in the newspapers."
- CHARLES "RED" ADAMS - Los Angeles Angels
The Grand Minor League: An Oral History of the Old Pacific Coast League, p. 234, 235 respectively
Woodford press, Publisher
- Rule Changes: Well, at least someone is thinking. More than I can say about myself on the subject. Ken Rosenthal notes how Theo Epstein came up with a novel thought concerning how to speed up the game AND improve offense AND push back on the ever growing over-specialization in baseball. His idea is to require a relief pitcher to face more than 1 batter upon entering the game. No more "one and done" super-specialist. No more loogy. Fewer game interruptions, more strategic thinking by the manager. "Fewer delays caused by pitching changes. New strategies as managers decide how to best deploy their relievers. A reduction in the importance of same-side specialists. An increased number of opportunities for the best hitters to decide games. Where is the downside? Is there a downside?" You may disagree with the idea, but you have to admit that his was a more intriguing idea than what you came up with.
- Rob Manfred News: First off, your Bud Selig souvenir baseballs are now obsolete. Or collectible. Or something.............Next, Manfred votes no to uniform ads (Yeah! Suck it, Nike.)...AND...he says maybe to Montreal (why do we all forget that the Expos went 21 straight seasons at or near the bottom of the NL attendance list, never breaking out of the bottom third even when not outright last?)...AND...yes to the artificial retardation of remuneration for international players (via a draft). But I am intrigued by his openness towards daytime WS games. A mixed bag, if anything.
- Baseball Love: Ok, so this does nto apply to me, as I have remained deliriously happy in a 32-year old marriage, and counting. But that doesn't mean I cannot recall my pre-spouse days and nights. And I sure like the technology mashup that is being spawned from MATCH.com and their MLB integration. To hell with 29 dimensions of compatibility. Just find a lady who can love baseball almost as much as she could love me. What I don't get, however, is why MATCH.com filters based on distance from a zip code? I am not a member, of course, so maybe there is more to this, but the teaser page doesn't appear as though people can pick based on TEAM. One of you singles please tell me that they have thought this through better than that.
- MSM Futures: Sure, we despise ESPN. But that is not for a lack of effort on ESPN's part to find us new and intriguing ways to hate them. They are upping their game and have built an even more formidable 1st circle of hell in Bristol, Connecticut..............And now, for SportsCenter, they just went out of their way to hired three millenials and gorge themselves on this new-fangled social media thingy everyone is talking about. #nowwebesohip
Calling Billy Beane! Another Halo pitching catastrophe is there to be used to punish us. Joe Blanton wants to try again............I really really wanted Ichiro to end up in Seattle, where I could be happy at the anchor he will become. It would be fitting for a team titled "Mariners". But "Marlins" is pretty close............Hey! A preseason Bestest/Mostest'Highest list that we dominate! We own 2 of the Top 10 Most Overpaid MLB players of 2015............But take heart, Halo fans, our mid-west nemesis has some long-term payroll hell it can't escape............Ernie Banks' memorial procession is to run past Wrigley Field on his way to eternal rest. And all I can say is, "let's make two trips!"............But, please hurry. Apparently there is still time to visit Wrigley while the rat population is depressed............How is this? Jason Werth is found guilty and sentenced to 5 days in jail. On weekends. So what, ultimately, is his punishment? Not being able to mow his lawn?................... I remember when Angels baseball had a pretty miserable following. But, unlike the Astros, in my day we didn't have social media to embarrass us all the way into 3 billion pockets............Here is a review on that whole What Cap Goes Into the Hall of Fame? thing...............
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: Sierra Nevada Brewing, in Chico, is doing a blind tasting. Yummm, as in "Gee, I'm still not sure. Can I have yet another taste?"
Saturday: (Nada, but I am sure that if you take your snow shovel to the state of New York, somebody will buy you a beer. And it will be properly chilled.)
LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: I don't recall anybody taking a whack at last week's question: what is the national alcoholic beverage? (A) wine, (B) whiskey, (C) cider, or (D) brandy. the correct answer is (B) whiskey.
THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: Beverage can pull tabs were invented in (A) 1942, (B) 1952, (C) 1962 or (D) 1972? See if you can figure that out using just your own history (youngsters are forgiven for their ignorance). But, for all you turning to the oracle of google to play, a follow-up question would be to define how many years the pull tab did remain a beverage can standard.