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WeekEnd HaloLinks: just joshing around

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Josh Hamilton may be fighting demons, but he cooks up a few of his own for Arte at the same time.

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Josh Tatum was a 19th century American, who was handicapped by being both deaf and mute. In 1883 the US Mint released a new version of the Liberty Head nickel. This particular coin had a Liberty design on the face and little more than a giant "V" on the back. Josh was clever enough to notice that nowhere on the coin was the word "cents", and the coin was nearly identical in size to the highly common $5 gold piece. So Josh hooked up with a buddy familiar with electroplating and turned the silver nickels into gold nickels. And then he hit the road. Josh would go into an establishment and purchase an item priced at 5 cents and hand over to them his gold-plated nickel. The merchant would return $4.95 in change. Tatum was making a profit of $4.90 for every transaction + the merchandise.

By the time the Feds caught up with him, Josh had accumulated a small fortune. He was arrested and tried. However, on the most serious charges he was found innocent since not a single witness could state that Josh had claimed the coin to be anything other than a nickel. How could he? He was mute! And, in the end, he never tried to purchase anything that was more valuable than the nickel he was handing over.

The US Mint immediately responded by adding the word "cents" to the coin. And to this day we have, in our lexicon, the phrase "you're not joshing me, are you?"

By now you know where this is all headed.

Josh Hamilton is our gold-plated nickel, a shiny object that ends up being worth about 1/100th anticipated value. But Hamilton himself never laid claim to that higher value. Others did it of their own accord, jumping to that conclusion based on the sparkle of his exterior surface. Josh carries on in spite of his failing, his handicap as it were, and navigates the worst of judgments via the fortune of technicalities. Only time, and some higher authority, might stamp some sense into his psyche. And we leave it to history to learn if his value is ever appreciated. In the meantime, yeah, we've all been joshed.

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  • Mike Trout: We all know that Trout has had a recent problem with pitches up in the zone. Opposing teams know it. Don Baylor knows it. Trout knows it, too. But Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs points out that Trout has a larger problem. Trout is quoted by LAT as claiming that he "...was chasing the high pitch", and that the "majority of time, they were balls..." This, as Jeff documents, was not very true. It's not that the pitches Trout was chasing were above the zone, but that Trout was unable to deal with any pitches above the belt, whether they were above the zone or in the zone. Trout, then, is unable to deal with pitches up AND is unable to discern the difference between balls and strikes on pitches up. The old theory was that Trout had mastered stuff down low because that was where pitchers made their money, so he was forcing pitchers to elevate their pitches to avoid his established success, and walking pitchers right into what should be his wheel house. Turns out that this theory is a filed one, and trout's strikeout rate will be one of this year's big focal points.

  • Misc: From the OCR - Garrett Richards has progressed to the mound and "did well"...Roberto Baloquin is still being delayed by visa issues...and Sean Newcomb is damned intimidating...........The vintage LA Angels' halo cap ranks (by one man's opinion) as the very best feature of any MLB uniform, ever. Something that could use some modernization and re-application today.

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This Date In Baseball History: 1912 - It will take a couple of years to come to fruition, but this is the date when the Yankees announce that they will be changing their unis to pinstripes..........1989 - John Olerud, who is still with us today, undergoes brain surgery to repair an aneurysm, which has caused him to collapse the prior month. It will result in Olerud taking the unusual route of wearing a helmet while playing in the field..........2006 - In a Spring Training intra-squad game, young Koby Clemens smashes a home run of a non-roster pitcher. The next time Koby comes up to bat, the pitcher sends in a message bush back fastball. The non-roster pitcher was Koby's dad, 43-year old Roger...........2006 - Effa Manley, selected by Special Committee and taken from important figures out of the Negro Leagues, becomes the first woman enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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  • Moneyball II: The context of this article is basketball, but the roots and the resonance are pure baseball. We have entered a new phase in the narrative of statistical analysis and sports. We are no longer discussing the merits of deeper information and deeper understanding, but whether or not that deeper understanding defines the sport more than the understanding of the participants. And, yes, it's easy to pull forward quotes from players who ignore, or reject outright, the science behind that deeper understanding. So, in a sense, a lot of us fans are going to find ourselves at odds with more and more of the players we support.  By the way, in the article, Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post plucks at the tension string that infamously separates Lyle Spencer from we here at HH: "Back in the ’80s and ’90s," Greenberg said, "if someone wrote that a player was not good because they watched all the games, it’s almost if he or she was making that judgment based on their opinion. It was like, ‘I watched the games. This is what I saw. This is what I feel. For me, I don't even care...’


  • 2015 Draft: MLB Announced the Draft Bonus Pools for this year's amateur draft. Overall, we will see an 8.77% raise. The Angels are slotted in at $5,050,100. That's to be spread across the first 10 rounds AND everythign over $100K across the subsequent 30 rounds. Blech. Meanwhile, because the Astros farted all over their top picks last year and failed to sign them, they get rewarded with a carryover and end up at $17,289,200. The other Texas team, in Arlington, are granted a slot of $9,099,900. That's a lot of buying power for two franchises well-known for having and already-packed farm system. And it's a big deal to follow the pool guidelines: "MLB taxes clubs that exceed their draft pools by 0-5 percent with a 75 percent tax on the overage. The higher the overage, the more severe the penalties, so severe that no team has gone over the five percent threshold. Going over by more than five percent and up to 10 percent would result in forfeiture of a first-round pick and a 75 percent tax. From over 10 percent to 15 percent, it’s a 100 percent tax and forfeiture of first- and second-round picks. Clubs would lose two first-rounders and incur a 100 percent tax if they went over by more than 15 percent."...Now, I want you to think hard about how that suppresses the signing bonuses for players coming into pro baseball domestically. And then i want you to think even harder about the recent $31.5 million signing of Yoan Moncada. Because that means that Moncada alone - even before anybody considers the penalty Boston will pay MLB! - will get a larger signing bonus than almost every single player that will be drafted  this year by the Mets, Nationals, Mariners, Angels, Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays...COMBINED.

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This week's quick hits around the fringes of the baseball world...

Safety takes a cool step forward. Giancarlo Stanton has a custom batting helmet being readied in response to his horrific beaning last year. And it comes with a groovy "G" embedded into the design..........

That's certainly a lot cooler than these racquetball-styled goggles from years and years ago............

Frankie got his 2-year deal after all............

Reggie Jackson didn't hit it big as a candy bar, but maybe he will do better as a bag of sunflower seeds..........

LAA fashion tip: join the new century, follow Navy's lead, and change your helmets to matte...........

In case you missed it, B.J. Upton has changed his name to Melvin Upton, Jr. Here is his new uni with "Upton JR" on the back..........

You know you have jumped the shark into irrelevant and irrational hysteria when you bitch on a national stage about one of your most important employees showing up for work EARLY.............

Baseball players broke Twitter arguing over an eyeball bender yesterday.............

Mark Trumbo is having a good time this spring............

Graduate from USC, get signed by the Yankeesmake the Big Bucks...........

Speaking of Big Bucks, look where global MLB merchandise sales are fixating.

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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: With SF Beer Week now over, most of the events are wrapped up in the Sacramento Beer Week..........

Saturday: Sacramento Beer Week continues.........Firestone Walker is doing a Tap Takeover and Sucuba Release Party at Draught's in Thousand Oaks (personal note: I really hate typing "Draught's". Like, really??)...........Hit the Empire Polo Fields in Indio if you happen to find yourself on the other side of Palm Springs. Say, for example, driving to/from Tempe? Anyway, it's Rhythm Wine & Brews Beer Festival...........The San Jose Craft Beer Festival is being hosted at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds this day...........Meanwhile, the San Luis Obispo Craft Beer Fest is being hosted at the Alex Madonna Event Center.

Sunday: Sacramento Beer Week continues.........

Stay safe, everyone!