Monthly archives: January 2008
Irony alert! Condition Red (Sox)
The Boston Red Sox hosted a tribute to Jackie Robinson at Fenway Park today.
Yes, Fenway Park, the place where Jackie Robinson suffered one of his greatest humiliations.
Wilkerson signs with Mariners, but where is Bedard?
Free agent outfielder Brad Wilkerson signed a one-year, $3 million contract with Seattle and according to Gregg Bell of the Associated Presss, this could mean that the Erik Bedard deal has been moved from the back burner to a front burner. Or possibly to a really good hot plate.
Happy Birthday to ...
Weekly puzzle #7
White smoke comes out of the chimney in the Mets front office
We think. Santana is headed to the Mets in exchange for Carlos Gomez, Phillip Humber, Deolis Guerra, and Kevin Mulvey.
The trade hinges on the Mets being able to give Santana a contract extension. So perhaps the smoke is sort of gray.
Cubs and Padres to play final Hall of Fame Game
Citing increasingly difficult schedule problems, this year's Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown on June 16 will be the final one. The Cubs and Padres will be the participants.
With the demise of the Hall of Fame Game, which has been part of the schedule since 1940, the midseason exhibition game will become a thing of the past. It was not uncommon for teams to schedule exhibitions against their AAA or AA affiliates, but players hated them (a lot) and for a long time.
Most famously, Cardinals player manager Rogers Hornsby refused to play an exhibition game in September, citing the demands of the pennant race. This was the straw that broke the camel's back for Cardinals owner Sam Breadon and Hornsby was traded to the Giants when the season was over. Even though the Cardinals won the World Series.
Estrada finds a place where he's wanted ... for the time being
Johnny Estrada, who was traded earlier in the offseason from Milwaukee to the Mets in exchange for Guillermo Mota, and then saw the Mets non-tender him after acquiring Brian Schneider from Washington, has now signed with Washington. Washington needed another catcher after Paul Lo Duca underwent knee surgery and will be out until Opening Day at the earliest.
I would draw a flow chart or a schematic to show where all the NL East catchers have gone this offseason, but I am, at heart, a very lazy man.
But will Pedro make anyone happy?
As most of you know, Pedro Feliz is now a Phillie, signing for 2 years and $8.5 million total.
Are Giants fans sad to see him go? Judge for yourself from the San Francisco Chronicle site.
On the Philadelphia side, Beerleaguer says:
Thanks to Martin Hoyt for the Bay Area pointer.
Winning the World Series isn't enough for Boston ...
Theo Epstein, when will your insatiable desire to be first in everything be sated?
Shrine of Eternals ballot announced
The Baseball Reliquary has come out with its ballot to choose members of its Shrine of Immortals. Here is info on the new candidates on the ballot:
Among the fifty eligible candidates for 2008, eleven individuals appear on the Shrine of the Eternals ballot for the first time. The newcomers, in alphabetical order, are:
Bedard heading to Seattle? (Updated)
According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the Mariners are set to acquire Orioles lefthander Erik Bedard in exchange for outfielder Adam Jones. Further players could be involved, but Jones and Bedard appear to be the principals.
UPDATE - In the Baltimore Sun, Orioles president Andy McPhail denies that any deal is in place.
Look to the east
The Japan Times' Wayne Graczyk has compiled a list of all 62 foreign players as well as the 10 managers and coaches who are signed to play (or coach) in Japan in 2008.
Do you miss Larry Bigbie? He'll be playing in Yokohama. Lew Ford? He'll be on the Hanshin Tigers. Hiram Bocachica? The Saitama Seibu Lions.
The most eagerly anticipated arrival in Japan is Micahel Restovich, who is described by his manager Sadaharu Oh of the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks as "the second coming of Randy Bass."
Spring training in Japan starts on February 1.
The Sultan of Swag?
A nephew of Babe Ruth (so the man says), also named George Herman Ruth, was convicted on one count of conspiracy to file false tax claims and 60 counts of filing false tax claims.
According to an AP report, Ruth did this, along with co-conspirator William Pilkey, while he was already in Federal prison for mail fraud.
Somehow, I get the impression that this guy has some issues with obeying the law.
Happy 90th Birthday, Ernie
Longtime Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell has turned 90 today.
Harwell started broadcasting in 1943 for the Atlanta Crackers and in 1948 he moved on to the Brooklyn Dodgers and then to the New York Giants in 1950 and he handled the television call of the famous 1951 Dodgers-Giants playoff. I believe there was a home run at the end of the third game.
From 1954-59, Harwell broadcast for the Baltimore Orioles and then moved on to the Tigers in 1960 and broadcast for them through 2002, with the exception of 1992 when then Tigers president Bo Schembechler fired Harwell.
It will be just a few more weeks before spring training starts. Harwell traditionally welcomed in each new season with this Biblical passage:
You can find audio clips of Harwell's work at his own website.
Weekly puzzle #6
Report: Canseco asked Ordonez for money to be left out of book
The New York Times is running a story by Michael S. Schmidt and Duff Wilson that reports that Jose Canseco asked Magglio Ordonez for financial help with a film project in exchange for not being named in Canseco's upcoming sequel to his first book, Juiced.
Ads, ads, ads
The Boston Red Sox are going to wear an ad for a data storage company, EMC, on their uniforms during their four-game tour of Japan, including the two season-opening games against Oakland. Because nothing says data storage more than "Boston Red Sox."
Earlier tours of Japan had been sponsored by AM/PM markets (which can be found about every four blocks in Japan's larger cities). This was the best picture I could find on short notice.
When I was in Prague, I went to a game in the O2 Extraliga, aka a hockey game.
The Czechs love their ads.
And here's a link to a better photo of the team's uniforms from a couple of years ago.
Walking where the Third Man walked
Before I finally put my European trip to bed here and go back to the world of leather-covered spheroids, I'd just post a few pictures from one of my favorite parts of my trip, a walking tour of Vienna that covered many of the scenes in one of my favorite films, "The Third Man." This 1949 film directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene was set in postwar Vienna and was shot mostly on location (some of it was filmed in London) and the ruins of the once proud city are as much the star of the films as Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten are.
If all goes smoothly, I should be back home around 7 pm PT. I'm waiting for my connecting flight from Munich to Frankfurt and then presumably back to my own bed.
Germany did not acquit itself well from a service standpoint on my last day.
I had a late train that got to Munich after 1 am. I took my proof of a prepaid reservation to the desk clerk at the hotel. The clerk told me that I needed the few extra lines at the bottom of the voucher or else I would have to pay.
"But I made a reservation and you got the money off my credit card. Here's the whole email (showing him the full email I had saved on BlackBerry).
"But I need the paper. You can go to an internet cafe to print it out."
(Cultural tip: Germans do not respond to people banging their head on the counter in frustration.)
But the guy let me have a room and I called Orbitz back in the States and eventually (at a cost I refuse to contemplate until I get my Verizon bill) a supervisor told me that she would call the hotel and set them straight.
So at 3:30, I finally fall asleep and get up at 7:30. The morning clerk said no one called, but it didn't matter. They knew that I had already paid. I waited for my apology. And waited. And waited. But I was hungry, so I went to get breakfast.
Most of my foreign travel has been to Japan, the land of the Profuse Apology. Apparently that is not the case with Germany. Even the hotel in Vienna apologized for failing to make up my room.
I will say that the Czechs and Slovaks were nice and helpful, especially to a visitor who couldn't even figure out how to say thank you.
I have been to Germany before, but it was mostly in the north, where people seemed much friendlier and likely less drunk.
Despite my whining, I liked Central Europe. I just didn't care for Munich, a city predicated on drinking heavily and nothing else as far as I could tell.
I will remember fondly Prague's medieval charms, Vienna's copious amounts of great chocolate, Bratislava's best efforts to get me to like their city. The Alps also more than exceeded what I expected of them in terms of scenic beauty.
But I guess it is time to get back to the workaday world. Oh well.
We're off on the road to Bratislava
Actually, I'm taking the train from Vienna to Bratislava as it is just one hour away and with my railpass it's costing me just 4. My copy of The Economist cost me 5.20.
I was going to post a few pictures from my "Third Man" walking tour last night, but the wifi at my hotel did not cooperate. Oh T-Mobile is there any part of the world you don't provide poor service. The doorway where Harry Lime made his first appearance in the film will stay in my camera for a while.
My Blackberry, with one exception, has been a workhorse this trip. It's amazing how I can keep in touch with people back home while still being halfway around the world. I may go make a pilgrimage to RIM's headquarters.
My last full day is starting out a little rainy, but that has been the exception on this trip. Yesterday in Vienna was a gorgeous day, sunny and close to 50.
Now I just hope the good people of Bratislava have a tourist office in the train station or this could be an interesting trip. Somebody look up the name of the ambassador to Slovakia for me.
No, I have not been hiding in my apartment all this time
Greetings from the summit of the Zugspitze, which I got to via train and cable car. It was an arduous journey. This was actually taken on Tuesday. The Zugspitze is the highest mountain in Germany. I'm debating about whether or not to move my Blofeldesque hideout there, but I think it would be hard to hide away from all the tourists.
I also found one photo of myself on my camera that was focused. Which is odd since my camera is autofocused.
My hotel in Prague worried a lot about defenestrations.
Don Cardwell's no-hitter video from 1960
Cardwell passed away Monday.
Library Of Congress Posts Baseball Photos
Since Bob had some trouble with the Czech telecommunications providers last night, I thought I should step in and point out a new connection between baseball and libraries. The Library of Congress has just posted over 3,000 photographs on Flickr, many of which are baseball related photos from around 1912. You can scroll through the baseball photos here, or view a slideshow here.
Don't look for the final in your morning paper
The season opening games in Tokyo between Boston and Oakland on March 25 and 26 will start at 3:07 am PT.
See, the East Coast fans always get the better starting times.
I have my natto ready for "Breakfast at the Tokyo Dome."
Weekly puzzle #5
Not a rebus and really not a puzzle.
I have spent the last six days in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. I have seen people wearing caps for three different major league teams. Which ones?
I may not be checking the answers right away in US time zones.
Don Cardwell, 1935-2008
Don Cardwell, who pitched in 14 major league seasons, passed away Monday in Winston-Salem, NC at the age of 72. Cardwell had been suffering from Pick's Disease, a form of dementia.
Cardwell broke in with the Phillies in 1957. He was traded to the Cubs in 1960 and threw a no-hitter in his first start with them. After one year with the Pirates, Cardwell joined the Mets and pitched for the 1969 Miracle Mets in the World Series. Cardwell finished his career with Atlanta.
Johnny Podres, 1932-2008
Johnny Podres, whose long career as a major league pitcher and pitching coach will be forever overshadowed by his win over the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series that gave the Brooklyn Dodgers the borough's only championship, died Sunday in Glens Falls, NY at age 75.
My chance for a catchy tune ruined
For the first time in my life, I'm on a train that's leaving from Track 29.
Sadly, no one offered me a shine and the train is headed toward Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
I'm inexplicably drawn to cities that have hosted the Olympics and have long names.
Whenever the laws of any sport are broken, a duly authorized organization swings into action. It may be called the Umpires, Commissioner, Militia, the Rangers... or the the MLB Deptartment of Investigations. These are the stories of the men whose training, skill and courage have enforced and preserved our sport's laws.
If this is Saturday
Then I must be in Munich. Actually I got here Friday, but my body is still quizzing me on the day. I am composing via Blackberry in my hotel room.
Soon enough I can get breakfast and a head start on sightseeing before weather and jet lag conspire to keep me inside.
Weird dreams visited me last night during my various stretches of sleep. People whom I knew only in passing from high school showed up. Perhaps my subconscious had them on a waiting list to appear in one of my dreams.
I have learned what's on much of German TV in the middle of the night. Aside from a vast array of porn channels, there was Larry King. Larry was my jet lag friend in Germany the last time I was here. In 1994, he was interviewing Bill Cosby. Today, it was Suzanne Somers, but Mitt Romney will be the guest Monday. Poor Mitt.
I know people have remedies to get over jet lag, but I find the best solution is sleeping when you're tired. It has a certain simplicity to it. And I think that after today, the worst will be over. But now, I must go venture out in to the land of wurst.
And where did all that time go?
I had a couple of friends from Canada visiting me Wednesday and before we ventured down to Anaheim to watch their beloved Maple Leafs get taken apart by the Ducks, 5-0, I took them to show them around my alma mater, UCLA.
UCLA is not an easy to place to get to and you have to time it just right to avoid some hellacious traffic, but we cruised in around 1 pm and I discovered that there is underground metered parking. Who knew?
We came out of the lot at the base of the Janss Steps leading up to the
For those not familiar with UCLA, the four buildings making up the Quad are Royce Hall, Powell Library, Haines Hall, and Kinsey Hall. Except Kinsey Hall has been renamed "The Humanities Building" as the last of the physics department was moved out. And the late Professor Kinsey's name is now attached on the outside of Knudsen Hall and there is a "Kinsey Court."
Eventually, I wandered by the site of my first ever college class. It was in the Mathematical Sciences Building, Room 4000A. The room was open and we all found seats and I looked down at the room where I was introduced to college in the form of Math 31A, Differential Calculus.
Even though I took this class 25 years ago this coming October, the whole experience just rushed back at me. I was in college. There were lots of smart people around I assumed.
Would I be able to keep up? Would I know what was going on? Why am I taking calculus? I'm going to major in history! Why is this place so big? Why are so many people in this class? What do I have to take notes on? Why didn't the professor introduce himself? He just walked and started talking. Why? What? How? Why is this class introductory yet have the number 31?
As it turned out, it all worked out. I graduated in four years, although I stopped after two calculus classes as I realized that I really didn't understand the subject all that well, although I got an A in integral calculus. My tip for people taking the class: memorize the textbook.
Now, I'm sitting at home 25 years later and I'm getting ready to leave for a trip to Europe for 10 days. I've more or less planned it out, but I'm still willing to ad lib parts of the trip as I go along depending upon weather and jet lag. The time it took for me to go from the scared kid writing down everything the professor wrote on the chalkboard (I gave that up after about two weeks) to a man who just figures that he'll figure out what to do in Prague when he gets there doesn't seem like a long time ago. At least not today.
Weekly puzzle #4
And the new
Beats me. The Hall of Fame voting results from the BBWAA will be announced at 11 am PT. Which is when I will be driving to work, looking for a space in the garage, finding my way up to my office, figuring out who called in sick, rearranging the schedule, going into a small panic over what I have to do before I go on vacation, which is tomorrow.
So by the time I could put up a link, there will already be thousands of people screaming "Fraud!" or "It's about time!" or "Someone gave Shawon Dunston a vote?"
Have at it.
Day 16 of the Long March: BCS Championship Game chat
The Long March has come to the end. The only college football bowl game that really matters after 31 other exhibitions played in places from Honolulu to Toronto to Shreveport to multiple cities in Texas to multiple cities in Florida. We have reached the end of the line: the BCS Championship Game between #1 Ohio State (11-1) and #2 LSU (11-2). The game will start around 5:15 pm PT from New Orleans.
Remember, this is NOT the Sugar Bowl. This is the BCS Championship Game. It's the second one played under the "double host" format that the BCS is toying with. In 2009, there will be an Orange Bowl on New Year's Day and the BCS Championship Game will be on January 8, 2009 from Dolphins Stadium. In 2010, the Rose Bowl will be played on January 1 and the BCS Championship will be played on a date still to be determined.
The Ohio State University Fighting Definite Articles are 18-20 in bowl games, including a 41-14 loss in the first BCS Championship Game last year in Glendale to Florida. Since Woody Hayes left Ohio State, the Buckeyes have played in the Rose Bowl just three times. They have played in the Sugar Bowl three times, a 35-6 loss to Alabama in 1978, a 31-14 loss to Florida State in 1998, and a 24-14 win over Texas A&M in 1999.
LSU is 19-18-1 in bowl games. They have played in the Sugar Bowl (remember this game isn't THE Sugar Bowl) 13 times and the Tigers are 6-7 in those games, which include two losses to Santa Clara, but a win over Wyoming. Wyoming was the Hawai'i of 1968.
The Definite Articles and The Tigers have played each other twice. The teams tied 13-13 in 1987 in Baton Rogue and Ohio State won 36-33 in Columbus in 1988.
Day 15 of the Long March: GMAC Bowl chat
Seriously now, you're watching this one. Why? Compulsive gambling got you in its hold? If so, get your money down on the GMAC Bowl, coming to you from Mobile at 5 pm PT matching up Tulsa (9-4) and Bowling Green (8-4). The Golden Hurricane are 4.5-5 point favorites.
The Falcons play in the Mid-American Conference which is 0-2 in bowl games with losses by Central Michigan and Ball State. Bowling Green lost its first three bowl games, but has won its last four, the last one coming in the 2004 edition of this game against Memphis.
Tulsa lost to Central Florida in the Conference USA championship game. C-USA teams are 1-4 in bowls with East Carolina getting a win and UCF, Southern Miss, Memphis, and Houston all losing. Tulsa is 5-9 in bowl games, highlighted by a 26-12 win over Georgia Tech in the 1945 Orange Bowl. Or possibly the 28-17 win over San Diego State in the 1991 Freedom Bowl.
The two schools have never met before.
Spanning the globe to find new baseball playing countries
A group from MLB that included Reggie Smith is touring Ghana to introduce the sport to that West African nation. The article hints that the 2006 World Baseball Classic didn't get much notice in Ghana as the 2009 WBC is described as being new. But it is possible that the people in Ghana missed the WBC championship game because they were all caught up in the Notre Dame-Michigan NIT game that ESPN showed that ran into the time for the WBC.
Meanwhile, in Fiji, baseball is going to be introduced into the school system in hopes of making the island nation competitive with regional powerhouse Australia.
Day 14 of the Long March: International Bowl chat
And you thought the "minor" bowls were over? Wrong! Guess again. It's time for the only bowl game played outside the United States (although closer to more schools in the NCAA than the Hawai'i Bowl), the International Bowl. From Toronto at 9 am PT, it's a matchup between a pair of 7-5 schools, Rutgers and Ball State.
Rutgers came close to making a BCS Bowl in 2006, but ended up in the Texas Bowl, but couldn't recapture the magic this year. This will be only the fourth bowl game for the Scarlet Knights and the previous three have all been against schools with "State" in the name. Rutgers lost the 1978 Garden State Bowl to Arizona State, 34-18 and then lost to the Sun Devils again in the 2005 Insight Bowl, 45-40. Rutgers defeated Kansas State in 2006 in the Texas Bowl by a 37-10 margin.
Ball State has been in just three bowl games and lost them all. The Cardinals lost to Fresno State 27-6 in the 1989 California Bowl, and then lost 42-33 to Utah State in the 1993 Las Vegas Bowl, and finally lost 18-15 to Nevada in the 1996 Las Vegas Bowl.
Rutgers and Ball State have played each other once before in 1989 in New Jersey and they tied 31-31. This time, two teams go in, only one comes out victorious! It's New Brunswick versus Muncie from Toronto!
Gerry Staley: 1920-2008
Former major league pitcher Gerry (sometimes Jerry) Staley passed away Wednesday at his home in Hazel Dell, Washington at the age of 87.
Staley began his major league career in 1947 for the Cardinals and would pitch for 15 seasons before retiring after the 1961 season. Staley was an All-Star twice for the Cardinals and once for the Chicago White Sox. Staley pitched in four games in relief for the White Sox in the 1959 World Series.
In 1959 and 1960, Staley pitched over 115 innings each year, all in relief and put up records of 8-5 and 13-8 and ERAs of 2.24 and 2.42.
Clemens and others to spice up C-SPAN
The New York Times reports that the House Committee on Oversight has
Update - Other news reports state that the men listed above were invited to testify, not subpoenaed.
Day 13 of the Long March: Orange Bowl chat
Only four days more to go with the march! Just hold on. It'll be over soon enough.
Tonight is the Orange Bowl from Miami at 5:15 pm PT (or thereabouts). This game matches #5 Virginia Tech (11-2), the ACC Champion, and #8 Kansas (11-1), who didn't even win its own division in the Big XII.
Virginia Tech lost to LSU 48-7 and to Boston College 14-10, but then beat the Eagles in the ACC championship game to earn a trip to the Orange Bowl. Kansas went 11-0 and then lost to archrival Missouri 36-28 and ended up in the BCS more or less by default as bowls don't like to invite teams that lost their conference championship game.
The Hokies are 7-13 in bowl games and lost their only trip to the Orange Bowl back on New Year's Ever 1996 to Nebraska 41-21. Their last BCS appearance was in the 2005 Sugar Bowl, a 16-13 loss to Auburn.
Kansas is 4-6 in bowl games. The Jayhawks have played in the Orange Bowl twice and lost each time. Kansas lost to Georgia Tech in 1948, 20-14, and to Penn State, 15-14, in 1969.
This will be the first meeting between Kansas and Virginia Tech.
With this being the Orange Bowl, you are guaranteed a long halftime show that will likely be overdone.
The Big XII is 4-3 in bowl games this year. The ACC is 2-5.
Day 12 of the Long March: Fiesta Bowl chat
Only one game to draw people's attention and I'm guessing that not a lot of people are going to watch. But from Glendale, Arizona, it will be the Fiesta Bowl between #3 Oklahoma (11-2) and #11 West Virginia (11-2) at 5 pm PT.
The Sooners missed out on a chance to make it to the championship game because of road losses to Colorado and Texas Tech. But they did beat Missouri twice.
West Virigina was primed to play in the BCS Championship but lost its final game of the season at home to Pittsburgh. The Mountaineers have since lost their coach, Rich Rodriguez, to Michigan and will be lead by interim coach Bill Stewart. So far there have been five interim coaches in bowl games this season and they are 0-5 and only UCLA came close to winning. The other teams were Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Arkansas, and Houston.
Oklahoma is 24-15-1 in bowl games. They are 1-2 in the Fiesta Bowl, defeating Wyoming in 1976 41-7 and then losing to Arizona State 32-21 in 1983 and to Boise State 43-42 in overtime last year.
West Virginia is 11-15 in bowl games. The Mountaineers lost their only previous trip to the Fiesta Bowl, 34-21 to Notre Dame back in 1989.
Oklahoma and West Virginia have played three times, each time in Norman. The Sooners have won two of the three meetings. The teams have not played each other since 1982.
My prediction for the game: Matt Vasgersian will make too many pop culture references. Terry Donahue will talk a lot about coaching in the Rose Bowl. Pat Haden will kid Terry Donahue about beating UCLA when he played there. The game will last longer than it should.
Number 16 comes back to Yankee Stadium for one night
No, it's not this #16. It's Pope Benedict XVI who will celebrate a Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20. Pope Paul VI celebrated Mass there in 1965 and Pope John Paul II did as well in 1979. (6 and 2 haven't been retired by the Yankees yet.)
Approximately 80,000 people are expected to be allowed in for the Mass.
The highlight of the Mass is expected to be when the Bleacher Creatures do their roll call substituting the Litany of Saints for the Yankee players names.
Day 11 of the Long March: New Year's Day bowls chat
Happy New Year! It's the day when a lot of people park themselves in front of the TV and watch football from sunrise to sunset (your darkness may vary). Then you get to end of the last game of the day and you think to yourself "Just who the hell is playing in this game?"
There are four "minor" bowls and two BCS bowls. Although from my perspective, there is the Rose Bowl and five other bowls. But people in Georgia and Hawai'i may disagree.
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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