Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven...
- GM Greats: Have you been following this? Two authors, Mark Amour and Daniel Levitt, are currently blogging their study and ranking of The Top 25 GM's of All Time. They are now into their Top 10, and Numbers 8 and 7 have career arcs that went through Anaheim, with some notable fame & infamy. Number 8 is Harry Dalton, and Number 7 is Buzzie Bavasi. Both are, actually, ranked higher than Billy Beane, who didn't even crack the Top 10. Sure, we can all think of ughs and duhs and snores when those names are mentioned, but read about them and realize that, in the context of their time, they had significant impacts on the upward trajectory of our franchise.
- Moving Day: The Big Event, "Moving Day", of the Angels officially moving from Anaheim to Tempe to crack open camp and launch the 2015 campaign, is set for February 12th. Among other things, Alex Curry will be covering the event for Fox Sports West, fans in attendance will have a chance to win prizes in a raffle, everyone in attendance will receive a ticket voucher for a future game, and the first 200 eager beavers will get a free Jersey Mike's sandwich. No, not this Jersey Mike. More like that Jersey Mike. Get it? GET IT?? Yuk, yuk, yuk.
- Top Dog: Ok. Let's play a game. Forget East Coast versus West Coast bias. Here is a Dodgers versus Angels comp. How many squirrely biases can you spot? I can 10. My favorite: "Shoemaker was one of the biggest surprises in baseball last year, going 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA after getting hit hard the previous two seasons at Salt Lake. But he showed an excellent split-change and unless hitters adjust, he looks like a guy who could have the same kind of success as Hisashi Iwakuma -- not overpowering, may give up a few home runs, but throws strikes and won't beat himself. His track record is enough of a wild card, however, that I'll give the edge to Ryu." So...the guy came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise. He kicked serious ass, has shown no signs of let up. But instead of wondering if Ryu can maintain an ability to behalf the pitcher of Shoe, let's wonder if Shoe can maintain his ability to be Shoe. Therefore, edge to Ryu.
- Uniform Appearances: In the race to determine which team has the snazziest looking uniforms, one dude takes up the challenge and finds the LA alternate whites to be worthy of 15th place. Fair enough, I think. Our unis are rather common, and without character. But my opinion runs towards the classic California Angels. They look much finer on my lawn.
This Date In Baseball History: 1921 - William Waldorf Astor's estate (Astor died 2 years earlier) sells 10 acres of property for $675K, which will then become Yankee Stadium...........1934 - News reporter Ford Frick is named Director of Public Relations for the National League and the world of baseball was changed forever. 3 years later Frick would be quoted denying that there was any racial discrimination going on in MLB but then later, when promoted to NL President, he would intervene and threaten permanent suspensions when players on The Greatest Team In Baseball Ever declared that they would protest against Jackie Robinson. He would also be instrumental in the creation of the MLB HoF, and the driver behind the BBWAA getting to decide enshrinement. He would become Commissioner in 1951. The Ford Frick Award bestowed to broadcasters for contributions to baseball, is the award granted to Dick Enberg just a few months ago..........1956 - Still trying hard to improve his facilities and grow his Dodgers franchise in Brooklyn, Walter O'Malley comes out in favor of the Wagner/Cashmore NY State bill to issue bonds and build a new Brooklyn sports complex. Obviously, that plan did not work out............1958 - The Red Sox sign Ted Williams to a new contract, making him the highest paid player in history. Brace yourselves: $125,000..........2006 - The Blue Jays sign free agent Benjie Molina away from the Angels. Molina, like the rest of us, was pretty shocked at how that all went down. By the way, the Blue Jays had just received former Halo teammate Troy Glaus in a trade with Arizona just 6 weeks earlier..........2008 - The Rangers hire ex-Halo great Nolan Ryan to become Team President. Just in time to burn out the young arms coming up in the powerhouse farm system.
HISTORY BONUS: 100 years ago Judge Landis weighs in on the Major League Baseball anti-trust standing. This is the trial where Landis sat on his verdict for years.
HISTORY BONUS: A pretty cool artifact. An official baseball...autographed by Rosa Parks...to Curt Flood.
Pacific Coast League History Nuggets
More great anecdotes about the legendary Bill Schuster as we lead into Spring Training and finish up our off-season history fun:
"You know, that dirty rat, when I joined the Portland club and we were in Los Angeles, I was his seventh hidden-ball-trick victim. And this was my friend! We were both from Buffalo. I hit a double, and he's talking to me about Warren Spahn and Frankie Drews and Sibby Sisti and I'm not paying attention.
"All of a sudden, he's standing next to me and says, 'Hey Ed, look what I've got.' He said, 'Why don't you make like a dive for it and we'll make it look good.' I said, 'Like hell.' So he hit me on top of the head. And here's Jim Turner thinking, 'This guy's been in the major leagues?' I could have killed Schuster that day, the dirty rat."
"Schuster was kind of crazy, but a clutch hitter. We were playing against the Angels one day. Bill had a bunch of free passes that he'd given to his buddies, and they were all along the first-base line. Well, Lenny Ratto was our shortstop, and Billy hit a line shot, one-hopper, headed for left field. The minute he hit the ball, Billy figured he had a single.
"Ratto made the greatest play that he ever made in his life: He dove, sliding on his elbow, and in one hop the ball's in his glove.
"Schuster's running along, and says, "Hey guys, I'll meet you at Gate 19 after the game.' He turns around and here's Ratto throwing a bullet to first to get him out. Schuster gets fined fifty dollars for not hustling.
"The next day, here's Schuster up at the plate. The story in the paper - 'SCHUSTER FINED $50 FOR NOT HUSTLING.' He hits a one-hopper to the pitcher. That pitcher is going to throw him out by a mile.
"Billy gets into a sprinter's stance, like Jess Owens. He shot down the first base line. He didn't stop at first base, ran all the way to the outfield and started climbing the wall. And when he came running back to the dugout he said, 'Now that's hustle!'
- EDDIE BASINSKI - Portland Beavers
The Grand Minor League: An Oral History of the Old Pacific Coast League, p. 233, 235 respectively
Woodford press, Publisher
- V-Mart Hambones: The Tigers got their dose of Bad Hamilton News yesterday, with Victor Martinez discovering that his rebuilt knee has been torn up once again. Martinez signed off on a new contract based on his season last year, re-upping for $68MM over the next 4 years. Icky start.
- Arms A-weighing: In case you have not noticed, we are rapidly approaching the opening of Spring Training camps all across baseball...and there is still a large contingency of bullpen talent going without a home. Has baseball turned a corner on the value of relievers? Has this taken the player community and their agents by surprise? KRod is still out there, but that might have a lot to do with his personal history. But the list of recognizable names go well beyond just Frankie. Phil Coke is still shopping to land a team. Joba Chamberlain might be overpricing his services. As Jon Heyman notes: Rafael Soriano, Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom and more are still out, standing in their field.
- Location, Location, Location: In all the chatter about a new stadium for the Angels, a timely article springs to our attention. Sure, the current narrative is Anaheim or Tustin, both pretty much the same thing demographically. But that turns out to be a very important factoid: that the demographics of the approximate locations being discussed have real value in terms of stadium attendance. Fangraphs dives into weekday versus weekend attendance, notes the differences for each team, and compares that to the overall population within 30 miles of the stadium itself. Uh, yeah, things like winning and losing should make more than the slightest difference. All things are certainly not equal. But, still...
- Stadium Financing: Well, once you have made you choice as to where to locate your shiny new stadium, you need to be concerned with how the financing of construction is going to come about. Local governments may still be tripping all over one another in their eagerness to redirect money out of your pocket and into that of some random sports team owner so that owner is installed into a sweet venture with excellent promise towards piping vast quantities of additional moneys into his or her pocket. But the Obama administration has submitted a budget that proposes to gut existing tax breaks that owners use to finagle local governments into creating tax-exempt bonds and issuing them to fund new construction projects. It's a subtle tweak to existing law that would have a huge impact, one that is predicted to fall quickly. But it's an opportunity to move the national dialog further along.
- Stadium Scamming? While on the subject of new stadiums, and locations, and financing wheeling and dealing, the legal challenge (three, actually) to the new Atlanta Braves stadium out in the 'burbs has reached the Georgia Supreme Court. The shenanigans are hardly new, however. The County creates some entity, has that entity do the dirty work that it wants done, and that entity doesn't have to uphold the same constitutional requirements imposed on the County itself. Not the first time this has been done. Won't be the last. Might be the last time in Georgia, however. I admire the language here, though: "In the worst-case scenario, then, the Braves could potentially be forced to fund the entire cost of construction itself. At a minimum, a decision by the Georgia Supreme Court striking down the bond offering would likely delay the team’s target completion date for the new stadium." Yeah. Wouldn't it an absolute abomination if the business owner ended up being responsible for the financial investments to be made in his own business?
I dunno. I can't see how a guy who is not on the field (Josh Hamilton) can still be expected to produce.............For those interested, Dino Ebel is hosting a youth baseball clinic in a couple of weeks. It's a part of Mike Sweeney's program, a guy I always wished had been drafted into the Angels system..........Cheating seems to be a pretty popular topic in sports these days, as Al Michaels charges the Twins with piping in fan noise during the 1987 World Series...........Is it me or do these look more like hockey jerseys rather than baseball unis?...........Oh boy, let's let the asbestos fly!...........One thing we all learn eventually, should we live long enough, is that is sucks to be born too early. Especially if you are an all-time great baseball player...........Hey Ho, fellow fans! Join me on Sirius XM Radio, tuned in to the SABR Show, starting February 15th??
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: San Francisco Beer Week Opening Gala takes place at Rogue Ales Public House (of course, by the time you read this it will probably be sold out, so the full SF Beer Week Schedule is here...........
Saturday: SF Beer Week continues..........2nd Annual West Coast Craft Can Invitational is over in San Carlos, at Devil's Canyon Brewing Company..........At The Bistro over in Hayward there is a Double IPA Festival..........The Good Hop Bottle Shop in Oakland conducts Lost in the Woods '15, celebrating new Belgium (on the outskirts of hte SF Beer Week events).
Sunday: SF Beer Week continues..........
LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: You could certainly tell the old-timers on this one: name the date that beverage can pull tabs were invented (A) 1942, (B) 1952, (C) 1962 or (D) 1972? The correct answer is 1962. They were actually invented in 1956 for bottles, by a guy in Canada, but for cans it was 1962 by a guy in Dayton, Ohio. Pull tabs didn't last very long because of the litter problem they generated.
THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: .Beer stein lids were created to: (A) Keep out dust, (B) Protect against the plague, (C) Make sure that no one drinks your beer, or (D) Identify personal mugs?