Baseball Toaster The Griddle
Monthly archives: February 2006


A country truly in mourning
2006-02-28 23:37
by Bob Timmermann

A Canadian friend of mine told me that his country was in mourning after the Canadian men were eliminated from the Olympic hockey tournament.

But today, I think the country's grief has been compounded.

Why? Why God? Why dost thou make our neighbors to the north suffer so?

Cuba has a short list
2006-02-28 17:39
by Bob Timmermann

So I was doing my daily perusing of the People's Daily Online so I can keep up on officially sponsored Chinese news from Beijing.

They have an article on a short list of 35 players that Cuba has set for the WBC.

Of course this is the English language version of a Chinese paper. And it's likely that the press release was sent to them in Spanish. But I like this paragraph:
Trainers told the media that they had focused on striking the ball, a traditional Cuban weakness, often neglected on the island nation.

Prensa Latina, a Cuban site, lists the 35 players.

And what's the deal with Cubans and names that start with "Y".

Here are some of the first names: Yulieski, Yorelvis, Yoandry, Yoennis, Yuliesky, Yosvany, Yuniesky, Yadel and Yosvani.

Get your WBC ties here!
2006-02-28 11:47
by Bob Timmermann

The organizers of the World Baseball Classic have announced that early round games (i.e., not the semifinals or final) will end at 14 innings if the game is still tied.

If a semifinal goes long, the teams playing will have the option of suspending the game at finishing it the next day after recruiting some fresh arms.

No Buck? No justice?
2006-02-28 10:34
by Bob Timmermann

While some people, like Alex Belth took the failure of Buck O'Neil to make the Hall of Fame as sad, but not the end of the world, Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star wants somebody's head on a platter.

O'Neil himself sounded gracious.

"God's been good to me,'' the 94-year-old said after results of Monday's special election were announced. "You can see that, can't you? It didn't happen. They didn't think Buck was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. That's the way they thought about it and that's the way it is, so we're going to live with that. Now, if I'm a hall-of-famer for you, that's all right with me. Just keep loving old Buck.

"Don't shed any tears 'cause I'm not going to the Hall of Fame.''

WBC previews (almost 99% unoriginal material)
2006-02-28 09:43
by Bob Timmermann

I was debating writing detailed previews of the competitors in the WBC. Then I realized that: 1) I didn't have the time, 2) I didn't have the inclination, 3) I really don't think they would be all that well-informed. But I'll make some half-assed guesses at the end on how the tournament will turn out.

The San Jose Mercury News is running capsules of the pools.

  • Pool A China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan.
  • Pool B Canada, Mexico, South Africa, and the United States.
  • Pool C Cuba, The Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico.
  • Pool D Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Venezuela.

From the way I see it, Japan should cruise through Pool A with a 3-0 record. China will go 0-3. So the team that advances will be the winner of the Korea-Taiwan game. Korea's players have the edge in MLB experience so I think they will move on.

In Pool B, the United States should go 3-0 and will likely have a mercy rule win over South Africa, who will be lucky to play a full 9 innings in any game. So then you have Mexico and Canada. Since Mexico has more competent pitchers, I give them the edge.

Pool C is the hardest group to tab. Cuba is the only nation with experience in playing high stakes international tournaments. And the Cubans are in the middle of their regular season. However, the team is young (I'm going by reports, the Cuban rosters don't have a lot of info). When one of the top players in the league is 16 years old (Dayan Viciedo who isn't expected to play), that may be a sign that the experience may not be there. But there is talent.

Panama is a mess after manager Roberto Kelly quit. From my reading of Pananamian websites, there isn't a lot of hope for that team.

Then there is the Netherlands. Which has Andruw Jones. He's one of the few MLB players that's definitely going to suit up for the Dutch. After that it gets sketchy. Mark Mulder? Kirk Saarloos? I doubt it.

Finally, Puerto Rico which has some offense in Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Ivan Rodriguez, and Bernie Williams, but not much pitching after Javier Vazquez.

It's pretty much a coin toss, but I see Puerto Rico and Cuba making it out of this pool by default.

Pool D is the "Group of Death". The Dominican Republic team is loaded with hitters: Pujols, Ortiz, Soriano, Guerrero, and possibly Ramirez. That's a lot of home runs waiting to be hit. But the pitching staff without Pedro Martinez, looks good, but not great. And relying on a rehabbing Bartolo Colon wouldn't comfort me.

Then there is Venezuela. Which can trot out an All-Star pitching staff: Johan Santana, Freddy Garcia, Carlos Zambrano, Gustavo Chacin, Kelvim Escobar, Francisco Rodriguez. If those guys are in shape (and news stories indicate that the Venezuelans are really geared up for the tournament), they will be tough to hit.

Also ran: Italy, Australia.

The tournament kicks off at 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT with a game between Korea and Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) in Tokyo. The Dominican Republic will play Venezuela on March 7 in Orlando.

The next round would have the top two teams in A and B playing in Anaheim and the top two in C and D playing in San Juan. They would play three game round robins.

So one group should have Japan, Korea, United States and Mexico and the other will have Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

The top two in each pool move on to the semis. So look for the U.S. and Japan moving on from Anaheim with the Dominican Republic and Venezuela moving on from San Juan.
The U.S would then play Japan in one semi and the Dominican Republic would play Venezuela in the other.

I think the U.S. will edge Japan. I think Venezuela will beat the Dominican Republic in their third meeting of the tournament.

This will set up a U.S. vs. Venezuela final. George Bush sharing a bag of peanuts with Hugo Chavez! I can't wait. Who will win? Flip a coin. Then choose the other team.

Puerto Rico roster set for WBC
2006-02-27 18:39
by Bob Timmermann

Puerto Rico has set its 30-man roster for the WBC.

Puerto Rico is going to have to rely on the hitting of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado and then hope that guys like Ivan Rodriguez and Bernie Williams have something left in the tank.

Other notables are Javy Lopez (listed as a catcher), Alex Cora, Jose Cruz, Ricky Ledee, and Jose Valentin.

The pitching may be a little thin. Javier Vazquez is the likely ace and with pitch count limits, that's not going to help much. There aren't any standout relievers.

Puerto Rico is in Pool C with Cuba, the Netherlands, and Panama and will likely make it to the second round by default.

Nats fill the void on pitching staff
2006-02-27 16:42
by Bob Timmermann

With Brian Lawrence likely out for the year, the Nationals finally signed Pedro Astacio to a one-year deal.

Astacio was the Game 2 starter for San Diego last year against St. Louis in the Division Series.

17 elected to the Hall of Fame
2006-02-27 11:11
by Bob Timmermann

The special Negro Leagues committee added 17 members to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Seven Negro League players

  • Ray Brown
  • Willard Brown
  • Andy Cooper
  • Biz Mackey
  • Mule Suttles
  • Cristobal Torriente
  • Jud Wilson

Five players from the era before the Negro Leagues

  • Frank Grant
  • Pete Hill
  • José Méndez
  • Louis Santop
  • Ben Taylor

Four Negro League executives

  • Effa Manley, the first woman inducted into the Hall of Fame
  • Alex Pompez
  • Cum Posey
  • J.L. Wilkinson

One pre-Negro League executive

  • Sol White

Sentimental favorties (because they are still alive) Buck O'Neil and Minnie Miñoso, didn't make the cut.

Productive Molina outs
2006-02-27 09:08
by Bob Timmermann

In 2004 Buster Olney of was very big on the idea of the productive out.

The productive out was defined as:
A productive out occurs when ...

  • A baserunner advances with the first out of an inning.
  • A pitcher sacrifices with one out.
  • A baserunner is driven home with the second out of an inning.

There is also "Productive Out Percentage"
Productive outs divided by the total number of outs. For instance, if three of Player A's 10 outs are productive, his POP is .300. ran weekly totals for this (tabluated by the Elias Sports Bureau) for 2004.
However, articles such as this one by Larry Mahnken cast serious doubts on whether productive outs were predictive of anything. stopped running weekly totals in 2005, but Elias kept tabulating them. But in Olney's Insider blog entry for February 26, he revealed the leaders for 2005.

I'm sure everyone was waiting.

The AL leader was Tadahito Iguchi of the White Sox with 32. The NL leaders wer Luis Castillo of Florida and Omar Vizquel with 31. With Castillo moving to the AL, Vizquel should have the crown all to himself in 2006.

The Productive Out Percentage Leader (minimum 40 opportunities) were a pair of Molinas. Bengie Molina led the AL at .522 and Yadier Molina led the NL at .500. Three of the top 5 in the NL in POP were Cardinals, with David Eckstein and Abraham Nuñez at #4-5.

The most productive out making team in the majors was....

the San Francisco Giants with 211.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim led the AL with 187. Despite Iguchi's 32 productive outs, the White Sox did not crack the top five. The supposedly "smallball"-eschewing Red Sox had 184, the same as Detroit and Minnesota.

As Olney writes "The SABR world judges its value to be somewhere between useless and less-than-useless".

Hall of Fame will grow Monday
2006-02-26 21:40
by Bob Timmermann

On Monday, a special committee of 11 Negro League baseball experts (along with a ballot filled out by Robert Peterson before his death), will announce its selections after a 5-year study of overlooked figures from the Negro Leagues. The announcement is scheduled for 2 pm ET.

Here are capsules of the candidates. Here is the voting procedure.

Only 2 of the 39 people eligible are still living: Buck O'Neil and Minnie Miñoso.

Alex Belth's piece on Minnie Miñoso.

Venezuela loses Mora and Mexico loses Robles
2006-02-26 17:13
by Bob Timmermann

Melvin Mora of the Orioles has announced he won't be playing for Venezuela in the WBC because manager Luis Sojo wanted him to play center field and use Miguel Cabrera at third.

Mora said he would only move from third base for Edgardo Alfonzo, who will likely be playing second base for Venezuela.

Venezuela has a fairly good selection of outfielders to choose from (Bobby Abreu, Magglio Ordoñez, and Juan Rivera mainly), but none are good center fielders. Sojo may have to play the Endy Chavez card in center.

Also Oscar Robles decided not to play for Mexico after Grady Little hinted that he would likely lose his job to Ramon Martinez if he left camp. Grady Little will not be participating in the Viva Los Dodgers program this year I guess.

I'm not inviting these guys to my next dinner party
2006-02-26 14:09
by Bob Timmermann

Frank Thomas in the Daily Southtown.

Thomas: Don't you think I deserve that respect to get that done? Been voted the century's No. 1 player in your organization? I own every record in that organization. Don't you think I should have deserved a little more respect than that? Thomas: Exactly. Most definitely. And I've put out a lot of good over my career and time. I'm just telling you right now — wholeheartedly, I was extremely loyal to that organization from Day 1. Extremely loyal. Believe me, I've been slighted more than once over there. More than once.

But I've held the high road. I've always held my chin high and was the bigger man in a lot of situations over there. Whenever things went bad, who was the one guy they always came to? Who was the one guy they always came to when the (stuff) hit the fan for that organization? Me. Who always stuck up for the organization. Me. Always.

Kenny Williams responds to the Associated Press.

"He's an idiot. He's selfish. That's why we don't miss him," Williams said, responding to a Thomas interview that appeared in The Daily Southtown, a newspaper in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill.

"Jerry has done everything over the course of 16 years to protect that man, to make accommodations for him, concessions for him. He loaned him money, at times, when he needed money," Williams said.

"If he was any kind of a man, he would quit talking about things in the paper and return a phone call or come knock on someone's door. If I had the kind of problems evidently he had with me, I would go knock on his door," he said.

From Young to Swarzak
2006-02-26 11:51
by Bob Timmermann

Baseball America has posted its top 100 prospects. Delmon Young of Tampa Bay leads the list.

It happens every spring
2006-02-26 09:47
by Bob Timmermann

Brian Lawrence of Washington becomse the first notable player to go down with an injury during spring training. Lawrence has a torn right labrum and is expected to be out until at least August, although he could miss the whole year.

I still wonder why teams think that their players participating in the WBC are more prone to injury there than they are in training camp. Are Buck Martinez, Luis Sojo, or Manny Acta going to destroy every pitcher's arm. I've read also that some teams are worried that an inexperienced pitcher may hit someone with a pitch.

But consider the case of Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth who got hit by a pitch by Josh Beckett A.J. Burnett in the first game of spring training last year. Werth's wrist still hasn't healed correctly. What about Eric Gagne hurting his knee playing pepper?

Players are going to get hurt. There's no point in sticking them inside a plastic bubble. Some guys will still hurt themselves.

Not much news from me
2006-02-25 17:09
by Bob Timmermann

I could tell you about Aramis Ramirez dropping out of the WBC, but I've been too wrapped up in my new arrival.

No, I don't have a child. I just got adopted a cat a local animal shelter. So far he has spent his time hiding in my hall closet. Eventually I assume he will come out because he will want to eat. His name, for the time being, is Casey.

Rejected names:

  • Elmer
  • Grabowski
  • Ramsey
  • Vladimir

Venezuela has one hellacious pitching rotation
2006-02-24 19:06
by Bob Timmermann

Venezuela has chosen 15 pitchers for the WBC and has set up quite a rotation.

  • Game 1 against the Dominican Republic - Johan Santana, Carlos Zambrano, Tony Armas

  • Game 2 against Italy - Freddy Garcia, Carlos Silva, Carlos Hernandez

  • Game 3 against Australia - Gustavo Chacin, Kelvim Escobar, Jeremy Gonzalez

Francisco Rodriguez and Jorge Julio will share the closer job. Rafael Betancourt, Victor Moreno, Victor Zambrano, and Giovanni Carrara round out the staff.

The Dominican Republic's rotation

Dominican Republic cuts roster to 37
2006-02-24 18:59
by Bob Timmermann

The Dominican Republic team is hedging its bets a bit with its latest roster for the WBC.

There are 37 players on it.

Catchers: Sandy Martínez, Alberto Castillo, Miguel Olivo (he has said he doesn't want to play however), Juan Brito, Ronnie Paulino.

Pitchers: Miguel Batista, Daniel Cabrera, Bartolo Colón, Francisco Liriano, Dámaso Marte, Odalis Pérez, Fernando Rodney, Jorge Sosa, Duaner Sánchez, Julián Tavárez, Salomón Torres, Pedro Martínez, José Acevedo, José Valverde, Ervin Santana. Martinez wouldn't play until the second round if at all and Santana supposedly isn't going to play.

Infielders: Adrián Beltré, Luis Castillo, Pedro Féliz, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, José Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Miguel Tejada, Plácido Polanco, Ronnie Belliard.

Outfielders: Moisés Alou, Juan Encarnación, Vladimir Guerrero, Wily Mo Peña, Manny Ramírez, Willy Taveras, Sammy Sosa. Manny Ramirez's availablity is questionable, but the Dominicans are keeping the door open for him. Sosa's status is also questionable.

If you want to talk to me you won't have to do this
2006-02-24 16:39
by Bob Timmermann

But Barry Bonds is asking reporters to sign a waiver to allow them to be used in his ESPN reality series. No waiver, no interview.

There have been no interviews with Bonds recently published.

So how do you say "Balk" in Dutch?
2006-02-24 16:11
by Bob Timmermann

The men in blue for the WBC were announced today, they are mainly minor league umpires and some former major leaguers with a few others from the competing nations. The Japanese haven't settled on an umpire to represent them.

I have a great deal of respect for Japanese baseball and the way it's played. But man do they have some truly bad umpires in that country. You'd be begging to have Joe West umpire all of your team's games after you saw some of the guys in NPB. Castilla motivated by chance to win ring
2006-02-24 15:24
by Bob Timmermann
It's getting more like the World Cup
2006-02-24 12:51
by Bob Timmermann

Some WBC teams are playing friendlies before the tournament starts.

Red Sox pitching coach on the shelf
2006-02-24 12:29
by Bob Timmermann

Boston pitching coach Dave Wallace is going to be out for several months because of an infection in his right hip, which was replaced 10 years ago.

While we marvel at how medical science can provide us new joints to keep us moving much better than before, we still are at the mercy of microbes. Barry Bonds's recovery last year was hampered by a staph infection in his knee. Dale Murphy's career was pretty much ended by an infection in his knee. Sportswriter Dick Schaap died in 2001 of postoperative complications from a hip replacement.

I hope for a speedy recovery for Wallace, whom I've always thought to be an excellent pitching coach. Al Nipper will fill in for Wallace.

Dominican Republic sets its rotation
2006-02-24 10:44
by Bob Timmermann

Manny Acta, manager of the Dominican Republic WBC team, has set his pitchers for the first round (link in Spanish).

  • Game 1 against Venezuela - Bartolo Colon and Miguel Batista
  • Game 2 against Italy - Odalis Perez and Jorge Sosa
  • Game 3 against Australia - Daniel Cabrera and Francisco Liriano

Two pitchers are listed for each game because of the pitch count limits.

The article also states that Armando Benitez of the Giants isn't going to pitch in the WBC, which I hadn't seen reported elsewhere. (And I look for this sort of stuff.) There are plenty of relievers on the Dominican Republic roster however to make up for the loss of Benitez and Francisco Cordero.

Consolation for the Canadians
2006-02-24 10:43
by Bob Timmermann

They may have lost in hockey, but the Canadian men took no prisoners in the gold medal match in Olympic curling. They got a 6 in the sixth end!

The post in which I cheap shot Frank Robinson and the Nationals again
2006-02-23 19:49
by Bob Timmermann

An unnamed AP writer on sat down for a "Golly, gee whiz, Mr. Robinson you're so smart" interview with Washington manager Frank Robinson. It's headlined "Pearls of wisdom from a Hall of Famer". Ugh.

It starts out bad.
Thirty minutes a day with Frank Robinson. All baseball fans should be so lucky.


Later on:
On the decline of the stolen base, Robinson doesn't buy the excuse that swiping second exacts too much wear and tear on the body: "Well, for 100 years guys did it. I don't know why all of a sudden now that affects you."

Last time I checked, players stopped stealing bases because they've learned its a lot easier to score when you get four bases at a time on one of them fancy home runs that you hit over the fence. Perhaps the esteemed Mr. Robinson missed out on baseball from the 1920s through the 1950s. Not a huge amount of stolen bases then either.

On "true leadoff hitters": "They're becoming extinct. We've got to protect them, like some of these animals out there in the woods. ... We don't groom people in the minor leagues to be true leadoff hitters." OK, explain what that means.

Robinson said leadoff hitters should aim for 100 walks and 100 runs. No Nationals player achieved either last season.

You know how many leadoff hitters in the majors had 100 walks and 100 runs scored last year? Hmm. Zero. There were only six players with more than 100 walks last season. But basically, Robinson thinks all leadoff hitters should be Rickey Henderson, who went 100-100 seven times. Lou Brock never walked 100 times in a season. Neither did Maury Wills. How about Tim Raines? He must have done it. Nope. Babe Ruth did do it 13 times and Barry Bonds has done it 11 times.

Or does he want the return of Eddie Yost (who had seven 100 walk-100 run seasons). Eddie Stanky had six.

So essentially, Robinson wants all leadoff men to be Rickey Henderson or Barry Bonds. Who wouldn't?

Said Robinson: "It's not like I don't want to act like an old throwback, because I'm very proud of the era that I played in, but a lot of these guys get turned off by that. ... The worst phrase I hear people say is 'Well, when I played ...' or 'This is the way I did it' or 'This is the way it used to be done."'

Yet some of his players wish Robinson would talk about those old days every now and then.

"You think we would get more stories than we did," pitcher John Patterson said. "The amount of experience he's got, there's maybe a couple of people on earth who knows what he knows."

John, there may be a couple of people who know what Frank Robinson knows, but I really don't want to know them.

I hope the reporter got all of his Frank Robinson baseball cards signed after the interview.

Braves blanked before season starts - UPDATE
2006-02-23 18:45
by Bob Timmermann

Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution appearing in the Oxford Press (so you don't have to register) writes about Falcons owner Arthur Blank breaking off negotiations to buy the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner.

Time Warner wanted $400 million for the Braves and the Turner South regional cable network. Time Warner seems to be trying a different approach.
The negotiations with Fox about Turner South, reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week, signaled that Time Warner expects to sell the Braves and the cable channel to separate buyers. Fox is not interested in buying the Braves.

Update - Fox bought Turner South today according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Today in the WBC
2006-02-23 14:48
by Bob Timmermann

Some turn on, some tune in, but most drop out

  • Roberto Kelly quit as manager of the Panamanian team citing a lack of support from Panamanian baseball officials. Anibal Reluz takes over.

  • Jose Vidro won't play for Puerto Rico.

  • Francisco Cordero won't pitch for the Dominican Republic.

  • Manny Ramirez has dropped out of the WBC according to Red Sox owner John Henry. However, Ramirez's agent, Gene Orza, says that isn't official yet.

  • Tommy Lasorda's chiding of players who are dropping out of the WBC is not nearly as persuasive as Pope Urban II's speech that kicked off the Crusades back in 1095.

The post in which I cheap shot Jim Bowden and the Nationals again
2006-02-23 09:36
by Bob Timmermann

This article by Dave Sheinin in the Washington Post shows why it's easy to dislike Jim Bowden and the Washington Nationals.

As always, Bowden's predilection for two types of players -- "tools" players (those whom scouts grade highly in various athletic categories) and former Cincinnati Reds -- is in full effect this spring. Bowden's Cincinnati connections (he was general manager there from 1992 to 2003) led him this winter to former Reds such as [Michael] Tucker, [Ruben] Mateo and infielder Damian Jackson. Tucker and Jackson both have solid chances to make the team.

Tools? Suffice it to say that if the Nationals fail to construct a solid bench out of their collection of reclamation projects, perhaps they could field an excellent football team. Outfielder Kenny Kelly was once the starting quarterback for the University of Miami. Outfielder Tyrell Godwin was a running back and kick returner for the University of North Carolina. Outfielder George Lombard was a Parade all-American wide receiver who turned down a scholarship to Georgia, choosing baseball instead.

The Nationals say their prolific, bottom-feeding approach to player acquisitions this winter -- which also netted them veteran shortstop Royce Clayton, reliever Kevin Gryboski and infielder Marlon Anderson -- was the best way for a small- to mid-revenue team to try to compete in this marketplace.

Yes, the similarities between teams like the Twins and the A's compared to the Nationals is striking isn't it?

He's not fat, it's a glandular thing
2006-02-23 09:06
by Bob Timmermann

Last Saturday, the Reds rescinded their spring training invite to Josh Hancock because they thought he was overweight.

Three days later, Hancock is signed by the Cardinals and they seem to think Hancock is fine.

Mets use new helmets
2006-02-23 07:38
by Bob Timmermann

In Newsday's Mets spring training notebook, there is this at the bottom.

The Mets are experimenting with new ventilated batting helmets. The updated versions are much lighter, and feature a space-age design.

Omar Minaya has announced that he has added Jim Lovell to the Mets roster.

(Actually the Cubs are using them too and you can sort of see the "space age" design in this photo of Carlos Zambrano)

Rudy Seanez's ultimate workout
2006-02-23 07:26
by Bob Timmermann

The Salem News details Boston Red Sox reliever Rudy Seanez and his unique offseason conditioning program: ultimate fighting.

Perhaps the biggest change in Seanez is his ability to channel an anger nurtured from his preteen days in Southern California. Helping the transformation are those hours now spent at the San Diego Fight Club in El Cajon which, while appearing a bit off-kilter, have allowed the pitcher to center himself in a new way.

Looks like Seanez forgot the first rule about the San Diego Fight Club.

Darren Dreifort makes unsurprising announcement
2006-02-22 23:37
by Bob Timmermann

He's retired. Dreifort is headed for his 16th surgery in a couple of weeks.

In the Wichita Eagle, Dreifort says his arm is fine, but his knees are shot.

I actually had the good fortune to see one of Dreifort's best games, a 2-hit shutout in St. Louis in 2000.

Major league players, minor league umpires
2006-02-22 18:22
by Bob Timmermann

Talks between MLB and the umpires' union to get major league umpires for the World Baseball Classic have broken down and it seems likely that minor league umpires will call the bulk of the games.

Cardinals add 15 to their roster
2006-02-22 14:06
by Bob Timmermann

It's an international group, but I think they're too old to affect the NL Central race.

WBC miscellany
2006-02-22 11:15
by Bob Timmermann

This may be updated throughout the day

  • David Dellucci will not play for the Italian team in the WBC. At least Dellucci considers himself Italian.
  • Ichiro is starting some trash talking against the Koreans. Or at least the Koreans think so. Japan and Korea have a history of engaging in disputes that are a bit beyond trash talking however. (Check your history books for the results of the Russo-Japanese War.)
  • Manny Ramirez may not play for the Dominican Republic. Which may really shake up the balance of power in the tournament.
  • Vernon Wells will likely sit out the first three games of the WBC with a leg injury.
  • Miguel Olivo of the Marlins won't play for the Dominican Republic, which means that the team's weakest position, catcher, will be even weaker. I say that because Miguel Olivo likely would have been the starting catcher.
  • B.J. Schecther of says the WBC is doomed to fail. But he's not alone and I don't have to time put up the links from everybody else who doesn't like the tournament: George Steinbrenner, Mike Downey, Buster Olney, the guy outside where I work who screams at airplanes....
  • The championship trophy for the WBC was unveiled in San Juan today by Tommy Lasorda. Baseball officials told Lasorda that eating 30 pounds of silver would be bad for his health.

The loudest cheer in L.A. since Steve Finley's grand slam
2006-02-21 20:43
by Bob Timmermann

Pinch hitting for Weisman....

The Dodgers and Vin Scully have reached an agreement to keep The Dodgers Fans Reason for Living on the air through the 2008 season. Scully's contract was set to expire at the end of the upcoming season.

Discussion has migrated here.

Baseball Tonight becomes the "clutchest" show ever
2006-02-21 19:38
by Bob Timmermann

Tino Martinez will be an ESPN talking head on Baseball Tonight this season.

While it may appear that Tino is not coming up with a lot of insights, I am sure he will be able to banter with Harold Reynolds when it really counts. Orestes Destrade is joining the merry band in Bristol as well.

And the Ford Frick award goes to ...
2006-02-21 13:34
by Bob Timmermann

Gene Elston who broadcast games for the Cubs and the Colt .45s/Astros for 43 seasons.

The other nine finalists for the award were: Dave Niehaus, Bill King, Jacques Doucet, Tom Cheek, Ken Coleman, Denny Matthews, Dizzy Dean, Toby Kubek, and Graham McNamee.

The special election for Negro League players and executives will be held on February 27. Those candidates will be chosen by a special 12-person committee. One ballot is already done as the late Robert Peterson is believed to have filled out his ballot before his passing last week.

Neyer speaks, no make that Neyer types
2006-02-21 10:00
by Bob Timmermann
In a new and probably non-recurring feature here on the Griddle, I have an interview. The guest today is columnist Rob Neyer, who writes an Insider column which started out many years ago (1996 I believe) as Chin Muzak. After that ran afoul of trademark laws, the column eventually settled in to a name of "Rob Neyer".

Rob remains the only columnist with whom I have shared a taxicab that crossed a state line. Of course there was that one time that Scoop Jackson and I shared a high speed ferry between Helsinki and Talinn, but I digress. I did give some editorial advice on one of Rob's books Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups (Fireside, 2003). You can just skip ahead to page 123 for the important part.

And if you want to own the Rob Neyer canon, you can also find copies of Baseball Dynasties co-authored with Eddie Epstein (Norton, 2000), Feeding the Green Monster (iPublish, 2001) and The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers (Simon and Schuster, 2004). You can find out more about them at

Bob: The 2006 season (and it is going to start one of these days isn't it?) is, in theory, going to be a lot different from seasons past since baseball is "clean", but do you think that the upcoming season is going to be much different from seasons past in terms of teams making the playoffs and in offensive production?

Rob: No, I don't think this season will be noticeably different from last season. If the current drug-testing regimen was going to make a real difference in the offensive production, it would have been apparent last season (and maybe it was; ask me again in a few years). My opinion is that the players who were really serious about their drugs simply have switched to other drugs that are either untested or unknown by the testers.

Bob: What about the effects of the World Baseball Classic on team's preparations in spring training? Not necessarily injury worries (since I think a player can get hurt anytime), but what about players who are on the cusp of making the big league roster? And is there any time that this event could be held that wouldn't be inconvenient?

Rob: Well, November wouldn't be inconvenient, unless they wanted to play Sunday afternoon games, in which case ESPN would be going against the NFL juggernaut. The real reason they won't play in November, of course, is that it would cut into the players' vacation time. What they like about March is that they're working anyway. And playing actual games on TV is more fun than PFP.

Your question about players on the cusp is a good one. Now that you mention it, I suppose that somebody on one of the lesser teams -- Venezuela or Mexico, maybe -- will blaze across the sky so brightly that his professional employers feel compelled to give him an extra-long look at the end of spring training. But generally, I don't see anything serious happening because of the Classic (except for injuries and, as you correctly note, guys can hurt in spring training, too). Sidebar: I enjoyed the headline the other day . . . . "Villone might opt out of WBC" . . . Villone? Ron Villone?
Continue reading...

Where's Manny? There's Manny!
2006-02-21 09:59
by Bob Timmermann

In what I find to be a very brief and bizarre press release from the Red Sox, Manny Ramirez says he'll report to camp on March 1.

Earlier in the week, David Ortiz said he had no idea where Ramirez was.

Perhaps Manny Ramirez is training here.

Roberto Petagine lives as does Erubiel Durazo - UPDATE
2006-02-21 09:30
by Bob Timmermann

For some reason, the announcement by the Mariners of signing Roberto Petagine to a minor-league contract comes in a press release from a PR firm, not the Mariners.

Erubiel Durazo has signed a similar deal with Texas.

The Washington Whatevers
2006-02-20 20:19
by Bob Timmermann

Murray Chass writes in the New York Times that the Washington Nationals may be in danger of losing the right to the name "Nationals".

It appears that an outfit called Bygone Sports owns the trademarks and wants a lot of money from MLB to give up the name.

So let's see, the team has no owner, no new stadium on the horizon, an unpleasant, self-righteous manager, Jose Guillen, Cristian Guzman AND Royce Clayton, Jim Bowden as GM.

Can't we just put this team out of its misery?

Ball Wonk weighs in on the matter.

Throwing around the horsehide in Asia
2006-02-20 09:14
by Bob Timmermann

A common nickname (common if you lived in 1940 I suppose and also call $10 bills "sawbucks" or the telephone "the Ameche") for baseball was "horsehide", which not surprisingly comes from the name of the material used on the outside of the baseball. Except in 1974, Rawlings started using cowhide on its baseballs that it made for MLB. However in Japan, horsehide is still the material of choice.

But for the WBC, Asian pitchers are going to have to use a cowhide baseball. The cowhide balls tend to have higher seams and a large supply of the balls was shipped out to the competing national teams to give their pitchers time to adjust.

Curt Gowdy 1919-2006
2006-02-20 08:53
by Bob Timmermann

Announcer Curt Gowdy passed away at age 86 at his Florida home Monday.

Gowdy was the voice of NBC sports seemingly forever when I was young and he called baseball, football, and college basketball. He was the voice of the Red Sox from 1951 through 1965. In addition to winning the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Basketball Hall of Fame names the award it gives out to members of the media The Curt Gowdy Award. Gowdy also won the Pro Football Hall of Fame's honor for the media, the Pete Rozelle Award in 1993.

Most recently, Gowdy was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. (He announced 12 of them.)

New York Times obituary

In honor of Presidents Day
2006-02-20 00:44
by Bob Timmermann

The closest connection to any president of a former major leaguer who was born on February 20 is one Harry Raymond, who was born as Harry Truman on February 20, 1862 in Utica, NY.

This Harry Raymond was not the same Harry Raymond who was caught up in the Frank Shaw scandal investigation. Scandals were much more interesting back then.

Also while many people call today's holiday Presidents (or Presidents' or President's) Day, at least in California, the holiday isn't officially called that. Section 6700 of the California Government Code calls this holiday "The third Monday in February." The Federal Government (in 5 U.S.C. 6103) still calls this holiday "Washington's Birthday".

The last roundup for Bonds in 2006? And Brown calls it quits too - UPDATE 2
2006-02-19 21:06
by Bob Timmermann

In an interview in USA Today with Bob Nightengale, Barry Bonds says that "I'm not playing baseball anymore after this".

"I can't even tell how you may pain pills I am on or how many sleeping pills I'm taking," Bonds said. "I don't have a choice. I can't even run that much anymore. How can I run? I don't have any cartilage in that knee. I'm bone on bone.

"But I can still hit. I can rake. I can hit a baseball."

Additional info Toward the end of the first page of this Murray Chass column, Kevin Brown makes his retirement official.

Thanks to Repoz at BTF

Updated At least we know that Bonds is healthy enough to backpedal.

2006-02-19 11:45
by Bob Timmermann

Lounging around on a Sunday morning, I got an email from my good friends at (they email me frequently, but I doubt they will want to contact me after next week), telling me that the winner of the women's 1000-meter speed skating was Marianne Timmer of the Netherlands.

Ms. Timmer has been a star in speed skating for many years and is quite famous in her native land. (And you can probably find better photos of her than through the link I included). Her biography states that she was briefly married to former gold medalist in speed skating for the U.S. Peter Mueller, but now she is married to a Dutch soccer goalkeeper named Henk Timmer. And no, this isn't anything incestuous as the name Timmer is fairly common among the Dutch.

Of course, if she had married someone with my name, she could have used a name that I would have found much more interesting: Marianne Timmer(mann). Personally, I would think a name with parentheses would really stand out. The hyphen has already been done and I think we need different forms of punctuation in names. Wouldn't you want to meet someone with a & in their name. "Hello, I'm John Gomez & Goldstein!"

This leads of course to my surname, Timmermann, which is misspelled more often than not. After the first nine letters, people seem to get bored with spelling the name and leave off the last n. I wonder if Keith Olbermann runs into this problem. Former big league pitcher Tom Timmermann is related to me in some way, but I haven't worked out exactly how yet as we all come from the same small town in Illinois where saying the name Timmermann is like a scene out of Being John Malkovich and there are a lot of people to sort through. Tom was referred to as "Timmerman" in newspapers when he was first called up to the majors in 1969.

When I was on a vacation in Germany about 10 years ago, I ran into the phenomenon of people spelling my name correctly without even asking how it was spelled. However, if I were in the Netherlands or Belgium, people would ask because the name has variations like Timmerman or Timmermans. And in Scandinavia, Timmerman shows up more often than Timmermann. So, there are plenty of Timmermans in the world and they might even outnumber the Timmermanns.

Once when I was in college and I corrected the spelling of my name on some form, a student who was working at the desk said to me, "Well, that spelling is just an affectation. Why should I bother?" I wanted to break into a lengthy story about the changes in German orthography in the 17th and 18th centuries when many of the surnames started using the double n.

As an aside, I was once in a bookstore in Denver in 2003, where columnist Rob Neyer was autographing copies of his book Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups in which my name appears as an acknowledgment. A woman in line was waiting for an autograph of a book (I forget which one there were several authors there including Michael Lewis) and I pointed out my name in Rob's book. She looked at Rob and then at me and asked, "So are you two brothers?" Using my typical skill with women I replied, "Yes, we're twins and my mother gave us the same first name, but changed our last names so we wouldn't get mixed up." She didn't really like that answer and stopped talking to me.

But today, we should all raise a glass of jenever or eat some French fries with mayonnaise on them in honor of the best speed skater in the world with a truncated version of my surname.

Latin America WBC update
2006-02-19 08:27
by Bob Timmermann

Some news, provided through some suspect translating by me.

  • Adrian Beltre was named the starting third baseman for the Dominican Republic team. Manager Manny Acta says that Manny Ramirez and Moises Alou will definitely play.

  • Pedro Martinez is still iffy because of a toe problem.

  • Olmedo Saenz says he will play for Panama after all to honor his late mother. It was believed that Saenz was going to decline the invitation because of a dispute with Panamanian baseball officials. Bruce Chen is expected to be the ace of the Panamanian pitching staff.

  • Mexico, slipping under the radar, pared its roster to 33 players. Esteban Loaiaza, Elmer Dessens, and Vinny Castilla are the most notable names.

  • Felipe Lopez will not play for Puerto Rico.

Brian Sabean: Do the Giants win because of him or in spite of him?
2006-02-18 22:34
by Bob Timmermann

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle examines the career of Brian Sabean, general manager of the Giants.

And yet, in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of sports, Sabean finds his reputation on the line again after a 2005 season in which Barry Bonds missed all but three weeks and the Giants finished 75-87, which breathed life into Sabean's small, but vocal cadre of detractors.

Their principal arguments: The Giants' success over the last decade has more to do with Bonds than Sabean, that this general manager is too enamored with geezers, and he is too quick to dismiss the new-age statistical approach to player evaluation described in Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" and embraced by executives such as Oakland's Billy Beane and Boston's Theo Epstein.

Aussies set roster for the WBC
2006-02-18 19:33
by Bob Timmermann

Australia has announced its 30-man roster for the WBC.

Dave Nilsson returns! Trent Durrington gets a chance to star.

Australia did win the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics. The Aussies will be in Pool D with Italy, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.

Enjoy the Aussies while you can because it's not likely they can get past the two Caribbean countries in that group.

Pot and kettle involved in match to determine who is blacker
2006-02-18 15:38
by Bob Timmermann

George Steinbrenner is angry at Ozzie Guillen for his comments about Alex Rodriguez.

Guillen had already apologized for his initial criticisms of Rodriguez.

Ozzie Guillen: I just want to know what you're worth. Over ten million?
George Steinbrenner: Oh my, yes.
Ozzie Guillen: Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What can you buy that you can't already afford?
George Steinbrenner: The future, Mr. Guillen, the future.

Asia WBC update
2006-02-18 14:11
by Bob Timmermann has a report on the four Asian squads in the WBC.
To summarize it:

  • Taiwan (aka Chinese Taipei) has put Chien-Ming Wang on its 30-man roster although Wang has not said if he wants to play or if the Yankees will let him play. And there is this bombshell: The Chinese Professional Baseball League -- Taiwan's league, which is independent from mainland China .
    Just in case you weren't paying attention to world history for the past 60 or so years.

  • Some Japanese players are jealous that Shunsuke Watanabe is getting more attention than other pitchers on the Japanese team.

  • China (which is not Taiwan, did you know that? Good thing I have to keep me informed.) is having injury problems, which isn't going to help a team that will likely go 0-3 in the tournament.

  • Korea (this one, not this one) is dealing with one of its coaches, Dong-Yol Sun, who pitched in Japan, missing much of training because of the death of his father.

Notes: Tracy stresses accountability
2006-02-18 10:08
by Bob Timmermann

Manager wants Bucs to understand nature of winning baseball.

"There was one word that pretty much summarized the few things I had to say today, and that's accountability," said Tracy. "We're going to be accountable.

"Age, payroll and all of that kind of stuff for me is out the window. You are going to be held accountable for your actions. We all have to do that. That's just part of the business."




To be sarcastic.

[Slaps own face]

It's all in the translation
2006-02-18 09:53
by Bob Timmermann

One of the sanctioned websites of the Cuban government is Prensa Latina (The Latino Press).

A Spanish language article about Cuban catcher Ariel Pestano is headlined in Spanish Astro de receptores cubanos dice que Clásico será muy fuerte, or "Star of cuban catchers says that Classic will be very strong."

But in the English language version of the same site, the headline is Cuban Catcher Augurs Tough Classic.

The English article is several paragraphs shorter so perhaps the translator got bored or lost his thesaurus.


Alou names Opening Day starter for Giants?
2006-02-18 08:13
by Bob Timmermann

San Francisco Chronicle headline Schmidt no cinch to start in opener

Sacramento Bee headline Schmidt will be No. 1

What's the name of that movie again?
2006-02-17 23:40
by Bob Timmermann

Was it Fever Pitch?

Or was it The Perfect Catch?

Or maybe it was Fever Pitch?

But I don't think it was this Fever Pitch

Start your lobbying campaigns now for this Hall of Fame
2006-02-17 16:57
by Bob Timmermann

The Basketball Hall of Fame announced its finalists for induction for 2006.

  • Geno Auriemma
  • Charles Barkley
  • Joe Dumars
  • Dominique Wilkins
  • Dave Gavitt
  • Dick Vitale
  • Ralph Sampson
  • Chet Walker
  • Adrian Dantley
  • Don Nelson
  • Gene Keady
  • Van Chancellor
  • Pedro Ferrandiz
  • Sandro Gamba
  • John Isaacs
  • Ben Kerner

Bios here.

So, whom do you lobby? Do you send an email to your local NBA beat writer? Well, that would be the case if anybody knew who did the electing. To gain enshrinement, you need to be named on 18 of the 24 ballots by the "Honors Committee".

Ben Kerner owned the St. Louis Hawks and is probably most famous for trading the rights to sign Bill Russell to the Boston Celtics in exchange for local hero Ed Macauley.

Is this any way to run a baseball team?
2006-02-17 14:02
by Bob Timmermann

What sort of operation is located in one country, yet has its accounting department in a different one.

If you guessed the Washington Nationals, then you are right.

I've tried to figure out what sort of business model the Nationals follow, but so far I don't think there is one.

Albert Belle, high-tech stalker
2006-02-17 14:00
by Bob Timmermann

According to wire service reports Albert Belle used a GPS to stalk an ex-girlfriend in the Phoenix area.

Reached by The Associated Press on Friday morning, Belle declined to comment on the case.

"You didn't write a story about my Hall of Fame induction," Belle said. "You guys never report the good stuff that I do."

There is no joy in Bemidji
2006-02-17 11:54
by Bob Timmermann
Venezuela pares its roster to 35
2006-02-17 08:02
by Bob Timmermann just printed a summary in English and didn't have all the names, but the Miami Herald has all of them.

Pitchers: Johan Santana, Freddy García, Francisco Rodríguez, Víctor Zambrano, Jorge Julio, Kelvin Escobar, Giovanny Carrara, Ricardo Palma, Carlos Hernández, Gustavo Chacín, Rafael Betancourt, Carlos Silva, Francisco Butto, Víctor Moreno, Carlos Zambrano and Tony Armas Jr.

Catchers: Ramón Hernández, Henry Blanco, Víctor Martínez y Alex Delgado

Infielders: Omar Vizquel, Miguel Cabrera, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carlos Guillén, Alex González, Tomás Pérez, Marco Scutaro and Luis Rodríguez

Outfielders: Bobby Abreu, Endy Chávez, Magglio Ordoñez, Melvin Mora, Juan Rivera, Antonio Alvarez y Robert Pérez

Felix Hernandez will not be pitching as Seattle wanted strict limitations on his pitching.

The roster will be cut to 30 before the tournament starts.

I told him not to have Doug Eddings testify for him
2006-02-16 19:05
by Bob Timmermann

And so Josh Paul lost his arbitration hearing with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (who acquired Paul in an offseason trade) Thursday.

Where Marlins can jump as high as an elephant's eye
2006-02-16 11:19
by Bob Timmermann

The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, is trying to get the Florida Marlins to move to Oklahoma.

If that happens, I'll just sit alone and talk and watch Andre Dawson make lazy circles in the sky. It's also believed that if a major league stadium is built in Oklahoma, architects will travel to Kansas City for ideas because everything is up to date there. Relievers will be brought in from the bullpen in a pretty little surrey with a fringe on the top.

Gammons blogs
2006-02-16 10:55
by Bob Timmermann

Peter Gammons of now has a blog. However, it's an Insider subscription feature and it really reads more like a traditional column than Buster Olney's blog.

It's not like Gammons needs to include links to other stories since the GMs and agents are calling him anyway. Gammons' first entry actually is much more focused and devoid of pop music references compared to Diamond Notes. I don't think Score Bard could write a Random Gammons Blog generator.

And even though Gammons refers to Baseball Musings, it isn't linked. (Correction: There are links if you click on the "Readings" tab")

A skeleton in Uhlaender's in closet?
2006-02-16 10:19
by Bob Timmermann

Thursday February 16 is the day of the women's skeleton competition at the Winter Olympics in Turin (although the run is in Cesana).

The lone U.S. competitor will be Katie Uhlaender, the daughter of former big leaguer Ted Uhlaender.

But as Repoz points out at Can't Stop The Bleeding there is a big hole in the story that the younger Uhlaender tells about her father. She says in publications such as USA Today, Washington Post, and Reuters that her father tries to encourage her by telling a story of his first major league game, played at Yankee Stadium before a crowd of 60,000.

Well, here was Ted Uhlaender's first game in the majors.

This was Ted Uhlaender's first game at Yankee Stadium.

When Ms. Uhlaender gets back from Italy, she and her dad need to have a talk.

Is a lie a dream that never was true or it something worse?

Update - Uhlaender finished in sixth.

Ahh, Ozzie Guillen, you always make such good copy
2006-02-16 09:28
by Bob Timmermann

Ozzie Guillen in a subscriber-only interview for (which is why I haven't read the whole thing), unloads on Alex Rodriguez for his dithering about which team to play for in the WBC.

"I hate hypocrites: He's full of [expletive]," Guillen told Sports Illustrated. "The Dominican team doesn't need his ass. It's the same with [Nomar] Garciaparra playing for Mexico. Garciaparra only knows Cancun because he went to visit."

Interestingly, Guillen portrayed himself as a close friend of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, but became a naturalized U.S. citizen this winter. And it's not as if Chavez and George Bush are going to be hanging out together at any of the WBC contests. Although if they did, I would really like to be sitting in between them.

Third baseman for hire for WBC
2006-02-15 19:50
by Bob Timmermann

Eric Chavez wanted to play for the U.S. in the WBC, but didn't make the final cut. Now he says he would like to play for Mexico and says he qualifies because his father was born there.

Of course, Chavez told ESPN not to put an accent mark in his name as they do for other players with Spanish surnames and he also has told people to pronounce his name "cha-VEZZ" instead of "CHA-ves". (If that's unclear, he wants an English pronunciation of Chavez.)

But if Mike Piazza can be Italian and Dan Haren can be Dutch...

If they used great-grandparents, I could play for the Austro-Hungarian Empire team.

Cuba prepares for WBC in secret
2006-02-15 18:31
by Bob Timmermann

While the top contenders in the WBC (USA, Japan, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico) are loaded with major leaguers who will be taking out time from spring training, Cuba is stopping its own season and undertaking intense preparations for the tournament according to this report from

Security at the stadiums will be as tight as "a bank vault," said sports trainer Alexis Martin, with the goal of keeping the players focused and strategy a secret.

Guards will be stationed at all entrances, forbidding anyone but baseball's chosen to get through the doors. In addition, cars won't be permitted to park outside the stadiums nor fans allowed in the surrounding area.

Those crafty Cubans! They've got knowledge of the hit and run! Time to get on the hotline to defuse the international crisis!

Eat at Honus Wagner's house
2006-02-15 16:40
by Bob Timmermann

A Carnegie, PA man wants to turn Honus Wagner's old home into a museum and B&B.

The man with the idea, Stanley Klos was quoted as saying,
"One of the biggest attractions in Baltimore is Babe Ruth's home. Experts in the field believe [Wagner] was a much better player than Babe Ruth."

Babe Ruth Career OPS+ - 207

Honus Wagner Career OPS+ - 150

Sammy says "No Thanks" to the Nats
2006-02-15 16:28
by Bob Timmermann

Sammy Sosa rejected a contract offer from the Washington Nationals.

Sosa might play in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic, which is waiting until the last day to finalize its roster.

But Sammy might not even have a spot on that roster. The Dominican Republic could trot out this starting lineup (not in batting order)

1B - Albert Pujols
2B - Alfonso Soriano
SS - Miguel Tejada
3B - Adrian Beltre
LF - Manny Ramirez
CF - Willy Taveras
RF - Moises Alou
DH - David Ortiz
C - Miguel Olivo

(OK, catcher is really weak, but the US team has Matt Holliday around to play left field.)

The Dream Team - added info
2006-02-14 22:25
by Bob Timmermann

The U.S. has finalized its roster for the World Baseball Classic.

It's not exactly Magic Johnson and Larry Bird like, but it's got a good infield if you ignore the fact that the only true second baseman is Chase Utley.

The bullpen figures to be the U.S. strength: Chad Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Todd Jones, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Scot Shields, Huston Street, Mike Timlin, Billy Wagner and Dan Wheeler.

Jeff Francouer made the final roster and is the team's youngest player at 22. Roger Clemens is the oldest at age 43. Ken Griffey is the oldest position player at age 36. The youngest pitcher is Huston Street is who also 22 (but a few months older than Francouer).

The Yankees have the most participants on the U.S. roster with three (Jeter, Rodriguez, and Damon). Washington, Colorado, Houston, Boston, the Cubs, Atlanta, and Texas have two each. The World Champion White Sox have no players on the U.S. squad.

The participating nations don't have to finalize their rosters until March 2, the day before the first game and this roster is still subject to change, and of course, subject to a lot of commercial promotion.

Update - U.S. manager has already set up part of his pitching rotation. Jake Peavy will start the opener against Mexico and Dontrelle Willis will pitch the second game against Canada. I haven't found out who pitches against South Africa. That game is likely to be ended by the mercy rule so a lot of pitchers won't be needed.

Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Rufus!
2006-02-14 21:58
by Bob Timmermann

Rufus, a Colored Bull Terrier, won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Show.

Rufus beat out a Rottweiler (Working Group), a Pug (Toy), a Dalmatian (Non-sporting), a Golden Retriever (Sporting), a Scottish Deerhound (Hound), and an Old English Sheepdog (Herding).

It's the first win ever for a Colored Bull Terrier, ending a curse put on the breed by Frank Chance who was upset at one for attacking his cat back in 1909.

The 3-0 pitch ...
2006-02-14 13:11
by Bob Timmermann

John Walsh at the Hardball Times examines the 3-0 count.

Since 2000, Omar Vizquel has been 3-0 187 times and never swung at the pitch. Sammy Sosa has had 190 3-0 counts and swung 93 times.

AL vs. NL and hitting prospects vs. pitching prospects
2006-02-14 12:48
by Bob Timmermann

Alan Schwarz has a Hot Stove Heater about why the American League has had the upper hand on the National League recently in the All-Star game and in the World Series.

The summary: no one really knows. But Schwarz does have this line from a Pete Rose anecdote:
"Hey, baby," Rose cooed. "You haven't had anyone till you've had a National Leaguer."

Meanwhile, Rob Neyer writes (in an Insider column) about whether it is better to have good young pitchers or good young hitters in the minor leagues. The answer is something you'll have to pay for. But, the answer depends upon how fast you need results. And hitters tend to pay off more quickly than pitchers.

A woman? In the Hall of Fame?
2006-02-14 10:38
by Bob Timmermann

Despite what they said in A League of Their Own there are no women in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The All American Girls Professional Baseball League is just the subject of an exhibit, but there are no women with plaques hanging in the Hall of Fame.

But Effa Manley has a chance to be the first. Manley will be in the special election for Negro League players and executives next week. has been profiling the candidates all month.

Japan's player-manager
2006-02-13 19:25
by Bob Timmermann

Dave Wiggins of the Asahi Shimbun has a profile of Atsuya Furuta, the new player-manager for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Furuta was the head of the Japanese equivalent of the MLBPA except Japanese labor law required that an active player handle all the negotiating, so Furuta had no Marvin Miller or Don Fehr to guide him.

Wiggins states that Lou Boudreau is the only player-manager to win a World Series. However, several have pulled off the feat. Boudreau was just the last one. Before Boudreau, Mickey Cochrane was the player-manager for the 1935 Detroit Tigers, Frankie Frisch was the player-manger for the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, Bill Terry was the player-manager for the 1933 New York Giants, Gabby Street appeared in one game for the 1931 Cardinals, Rogers Hornsby was a player-manager for the 1926 Cardinals, Bucky Harris was one for the 1924 Senators, Tris Speaker for the 1920 Indians, Bill Carrigan for the 1915 and 1916 Red Sox, Jake Stahl for the 1912 Red Sox, Fred Clarke for the 1909 Pirates, Frank Chance for the 1907 and 1908 Cubs, Fielder Jones for the 1906 White Sox, John McGraw played in 3 games for the 1905 Giants, and Jimmy Collins for the first World Series champs, the Boston AL squad of 1903.

The last player-manager in the majors who was a catcher was Luke Sewell who played in six games for the 1942 St. Louis Browns.

Joe Borchard on his way to becoming the next Chad Hutchinson
2006-02-13 16:24
by Bob Timmermann

Following in the line of other Stanford quarterbacks who tried to play baseball and failed such as Chad Hutchinson, the leading hitter on the World Champion White Sox, Joe Borchard is thinking of giving up baseball for the greener pastures of the Canadian Football League.

Another Stanford QB didn't do so hot in the minors, but he came out OK in the NFL. And this Stanford QB wasn't the greatest college player, but he had a decent major league career compared to Hutchinson and Borchard.

Angels ready to close TV deal
2006-02-13 15:16
by Bob Timmermann

Now that his team has the court's approval to call itself the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Arte Moreno is about to close a 10-year, $500 million deal to have his teams game televised on Fox Sports Net West.

The Angels had previously split its broadcast among several outlets, including KCAL (Channel 9) and two UHF channels as well as FSN West, but the Dodgers are moving over to KCAL for 2006 and the Angels have opted not to have an over-the-air outlet for its games as FSN West is supposed to televise around 150 games a year.

Plans for an Angels-owned network are apparently done for a year. And I was so much looking forward to "Halo-ography". I could hear Terry Smith's soothing (OK, soporific) voice telling me all about the career of Merritt Ranew.

The problems of February
2006-02-13 11:06
by Bob Timmermann

Which sporting event to watch?

U.S vs Finland in Olympic curling? I know I never want to miss a chance to see Markku Uusipaavalniemi in action.


The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show from Madison Square Garden.

Strangely, one of these two events is televised live on the West Coast. And it's not the event with furry creatures involved.

And for your enjoyment, Ken has forwarded me the song "Curl" picked up via Deadspin.

Raul Mondesi is still retired
2006-02-13 08:58
by Bob Timmermann

This Spanish language story in the Houston Chronicle and the AP. Mondesi announces that he is pursuing a career in politics. And he's already changed parties after announcing his intention to run. He first thought of running for mayor of the city of San Cristobal, but now wants to run for the Dominican Congress.

Sosa is too proud to beg
2006-02-12 19:30
by Bob Timmermann

Despite the temptation of an incentive-laden contract from the Washington Nationals, Sammy Sosa says he won't play if he has to beg for a spot.

This part is probably telling of Sosa's plight:
The Nationals see Sosa as an insurance policy entering spring training, in case Jose Guillen's shoulder does not heal as quickly as they would like, and also with Alfonso Soriano's apparent refusal to switch from the infield to the outfield.

There used to be a PCL team here
2006-02-12 13:30
by Bob Timmermann

The Los Angeles Times had an article today about the bizzare style of governance of the wee city of Vernon, California, population 93.

Vernon hosted a PCL team from 1909 through 1924 (although they sometimes played in Venice or Los Angeles) until moving to San Francisco for the 1925 season to play as the Missions. Then that team moved back to L.A. in 1938 as the Hollywood Stars.

There is no truth to the rumors that I got my middle name from this city. I also found the article intriguing because there is a report of a private investigator tailing one of the principals in this story and pulling a gun on the woman fairly near my home. It appeals to my inner Jim Rockford. (Jim Rockford's middle name in The Rockford Files was Scott, which is James Garner's middle name.)

The Pirates have lofty goals in 2006
2006-02-12 12:01
by Bob Timmermann

The Pirates are hoping that "Tracyball" will lead them to the promised land of 82 wins.

Tracyball - n. - a baseball strategy defined as maximizing the number of balls in play successfully fielded on defense and the number of balls struck at on offense to be put into play.

This differs from other successful strategies which I will call, hmm "Torreball" or "Franconaball" which involve having a lot of players who get on base and hit home runs and score a bunch of runs. It's a bold strategy. There is also "Ozzieball" which is a variation involving lots of home runs combined with really good pitching.

Poor Pittsburgh. A team that has a stadium this nice deserves a team that is much better. But right now, the Pirates are a team that only Bill Plaschke could love.

Here are some Pittsburgh Post-Gazette predictions on the Opening Day lineup. The Pittsburgh press has picked up quickly that Tracy will be fascinated with having "professional hitter" Jack Wilson batting second. You know the guy who does the little things. Such as not getting on base much (.299 OBP in 2005) and sporting a 72 OPS+.

So when do the Steelers have their first mini-camp?

Krivsky continues scrounging for spare parts for the Reds
2006-02-12 11:09
by Bob Timmermann

New Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky, starting his job long after the major free agents have been signed, has added Scott Hatteberg to back up Adam Dunn at first base.

Since taking over, Krivsky has signed Timo Perez and pitcher Michael Gosling, and also fired interim GM Tim Kullman and special advisor Jim Beattie, who was reported to be getting the GM job fulltime. Beattie was also a candidate to replace Theo Epstein in Boston and Esptein was replaced by Esptein.

I hope that the next time I want to get a promotion at work that they make Jim Beattie the interim replacement. Then I know I'll get it!

Also a Cincinnati Enquirer interview with Krivsky.

The Cuban wild cards of the WBC
2006-02-12 10:02
by Bob Timmermann

Tom Singer of has tried to piece together a preview of the Cuban team. The team is expected to be young, but will have the advantage of having players in midseason form.

Cuba will be taking a break from its own domestic season to participate in the WBC. Cuba is in Pool C with Panama, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands and would seem to be a good candidate to advance to the second round.

Sanity reigns in Anaheim
2006-02-11 10:35
by Bob Timmermann

The Anaheim City Council has decided not to appeal its loss in a trial over the name of the Angels.

The Los Angeles Times article on the subject by Dave McKibben states that the City of Anaheim is out almost $3 million in legal fees and may have to reimburse the Angels for their legal fees which could add up to $7 million.

The difference in costs can likely be attributed to the Angels using attorneys who had access to a nicer photocopier.

My use of the word "sanity" refers not necessarily to the wisdom of the decision, but to the fact that the two sides will try to hash out their differences through mediation instead of the courts.

MLB's thinking that contraction isn't an impossibility
2006-02-11 09:52
by Bob Timmermann

The Marlins are looking for a stadium. The Twins lease is up at the end of the season. And Patrick Reusse of the Star-Tribune is worried that contraction may be back.

Under the terms of the Basic Agreement, MLB has the right to contract two teams before the 2007 season if it so chooses.

Don't worry folks, the Devil Rays are safe.

The relevant portion of the CBA is after the break.

Continue reading...

We'll never leave Jupiter - Marlins President Samson says
2006-02-11 08:18
by Bob Timmermann

For starters, Jupiter is not a good place for spring training. It takes several years to travel to there. I suppose you could play on one of the moons, but the spacecraft that takes you there has to be run by evil computers that can turn on you. And the gravitational pull of a large planet like Jupiter really makes it hard to hit the ball anywhere. And it's cold! But I suppose The Great Red Spot could compete with the Green Monster as a baseball stadium quirk.

I suppose Samson could be talking about the city in Florida where the Marlins train.

Another Yankee pulls out of the WBC
2006-02-10 12:51
by Bob Timmermann

The Italian national team will have to do without the services of Ron Villone. But Miguel Cairo says he's ready to go!

New documentary mixing jazz and Negro Leagues history
2006-02-10 11:16
by Bob Timmermann

Tito Puente Jr. and Irvin Mayfield combine with director Bernard Bailey on a new documentary about the Negro Leagues entitled For the Love of the Game which will come out in April. Presumably it will be better than the Kevin Costner/Sam Raimi film of the same closely similar name that came out in 1999.

I also felt that I need to check Belarusian jazz websites more often.

Milo Hamilton still not liking Harry Caray
2006-02-10 10:03
by Bob Timmermann

Ron Rapoport in the Chicago Sun-Times interviews Milo Hamilton and his "problematic" relationship with Harry Caray. Hamilton has a book out now titled Making Airwaves: 60 Years at Milo's Microphone ($24.95, Sports Publishing L.L.C.).

From my perspective, and I'm certain that many will disagree, is that both Hamilton and Caray were horrible broadcasters. They talked too much. They weren't particularly bright. They thought far too highly of themselves. The cult-like reverence of Harry Caray in Chicago and the statue in front of Wrigley Field sometimes reminds me of the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai.

Then again I recall being told as early as 1972 by my mother that Harry Caray was a bad person.

Soriano loses case, settles for $10 million
2006-02-10 09:19
by Bob Timmermann

Alfonso Soriano lost his arbitration case with the Washington Nationals and will be paid $10 million in 2006. Soriano had asked for $12 million. Nevertheless, Soriano still pocketed the largest arbitration award ever, smashing the record held by Andruw "The Flying Dutchman" Jones of $8.2 million in 2001.

The Nationals want Soriano to move to the outfield, but incumbent Jose Vidro says he's healthy, so there may be more moves for the Nationals. Especially if Sammy Sosa signs with Washington.

A country playing baseball that won't be in the WBC soon
2006-02-09 21:50
by Bob Timmermann

Jack Curry of the New York Times reports on the Irish National Baseball team and will be featured in a documentary titled The Emerald Diamond

According to Baseball, there have been 40 major leaguers born in Ireland, but the last one to play was Joe Cleary who pitched 1/3 of an inning for the 1945 Washington Senators and gave up 7 runs.

The Wayne Krivsky Era gets underway in Cincinnati
2006-02-09 21:37
by Bob Timmermann

New Reds GM, in addition to firing interim GM Brad Kullman, signed Timo Perez to a minor-league contract.

A new era dawns in the Queen City! Timo will lead the Reds back to the Promised Land!

Marlins continue stadium extortion tour
2006-02-09 19:00
by Bob Timmermann

Except in this case the businessman from Norfolk, who mysteriously is not named in this story.

The story mentions that Norfolk and Las Vegas are the two largest cities in the U.S. without a team in MLB, NFL, NBA, or NHL. The absence of a team in Las Vegas is understandable with concerns about gambling, but I think Norfolk's problem may be that a sizeable chunk of the people of the United States don't know where Norfolk is. Or what state it's in. (I have a low regard for the geographical knowledge of most of the United States.)

And it appears that the name of the mysterious businessman from the Tidewater area of Virginia is William Somerindyke, Jr.

Charlotte is supposed to be the next stop on the extortion tour, which has already been to San Antonio, Portland, and Hialeah.

NHL gambling story headed down a darker path
2006-02-09 18:45
by Bob Timmermann

Updating this bit of news, the Newark Star-Ledger reports that Wayne Gretzky did discuss the gambling ring run by his assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who is now headed to New Jersey to face arraignment.

Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, is reported to have bet $500,000 with Tocchet including $75,000 on the Super Bowl and bet on who would win the coin toss. Apparently, she won that bet and won $5,000.

The NHL would be much better off if it just had a steroids problem.

Update - Damien Cox of the Toronto Star looks at the NHL's relationship with gambling. Also Off-Wing Opinion covers the story in more detail.

Summary of the legal troubles faced by Tocchet.

And the jury says "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim"!
2006-02-09 16:52
by Bob Timmermann

It took just four hours and 15 minutes for the jury in the Angels/Anaheim name dispute in favor of the Angels.

So get ready for Opening Day on April 3: LAA at SEA!

Bengie Molina likely doesn't care

Baseball, softball eliminated again from 2012 Olympics - UPDATE
2006-02-09 15:20
by Bob Timmermann

The IOC decided to not even vote on the matter at its meeting today in Turin.

Baseball and softball can apply for readmission for the 2016 Olympics. But I suppose the allure of watching AA and AAA players duke it out against Cuba for the gold medal didn't appeal to a lot of people. IOC member Anita DeFrantz appealed for softball's reinstatement separate from baseball, but did not get enough support to even bring the matter to a vote.

The 2012 Olympics will have 26 different sports on its schedule. The IOC limits the number of sports to 28. Other sports that have also tried to get included, but failed are: karate, rugby sevens, and roller skating.

Update This story from the AP has more detail on the vote and quotes from the principals.
This part was interesting to me - During a debate before the vote, more than a dozen members – but only one European – spoke in favor of bringing the two sports back. Notably, the only one who spoke out against was a prominent European – Crown Prince Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.

For that injustice, we're not going to let the Dutch team have Andruw Jones for the WBC. Or Mark Mulder. Or Shea Hillenbrand.

February 9, 1971
2006-02-09 08:48
by Bob Timmermann

Like today, it was an unseasonably warm day in February when a large earthquake hit the San Fernando Valley. It was magnitude 6.6 earthquake. I was just five years old and didn't recall experiencing one before. But I remember was that it was loud. Very loud. The noise has stuck with me more than the shaking.

My family lived in Granada Hills, California in the area just south of what is now the 118 (Ronald Reagan) Freeway between Woodley and Hayvenhurst Avenues. My parents grabbed me out of bed and my three older brothers and I huddled in the kitchen (which in hindsight, is not a particularly safe place to be) as we listened to radio reports about what had happened.

As it turned out, my family lived in a mandatory evacuation area. There was a reservoir north of where we lived called the Van Norman Reservoir (it has since been replaced) that had some ugly looking cracks along its edge. My parents, who had lived in the house for about 9 years, didn't even know there was a reservoir nearby.

Continue reading...

Two more stars drop out of WBC (Gagne and Mauer)
2006-02-08 23:03
by Bob Timmermann

Not surprisingly, Eric Gagne has said that he will likely not participate in the WBC for Canada because he is rehabbing his elbow which was operated last summer. If Canada's pitchers were all healthy, they could have put up a fight, but in addition to Gagne, Rich Harden is out and Ryan Dempster is likely to skip the tournament.

Also, oft-injured catcher Joe Mauer is going to skip the WBC. The other catchers on the U.S. roster are Michael Barrett, Paul Lo Duca, Chad Moeller, Brian Schneider, and Jason Varitek.

Washington: Epicenter of all baseball news
2006-02-08 21:06
by Bob Timmermann

The Nationals are wooing Sammy Sosa and have signed Matthew Lecroy.

Meanwhile, the DC Council approved a lease for a new stadium for the Nationals, but the lords of MLB are skeptical about it.

Richard Levin, an MLB spokesman, said baseball officials had not received a copy of the emergency legislation passed by the D.C. Council shortly after midnight yesterday and sought to review the document before endorsing the deal. The council conditionally approved the lease provided that baseball officials accept a spending cap on District funds of $611 million

"We are very concerned about what we heard during the debate, and we need to read the materials and the legislative language so we can determine whether they are consistent with the agreements between Major League Baseball and the city," Levin said in a written statement.

Angels name case off to the jury now
2006-02-08 18:57
by Bob Timmermann

The Trial of the Century has gone to the jury in Santa Ana, California. The jury starts deliberating Thursday at 10 am (or 1 pm for those of you on the East Coast, it's like watching an NFL game.)

The City of Anaheim claims that it has lost $373 million. The Angels beg to differ and have pointed out how many tickets they have sold in 2005 and their increased season ticket numbers for 2006. One of the possible outcomes is that the judge, Peter Polos, could order the Angels to go back to being called the Anaheim Angels.

This isn't the GM you're looking for
2006-02-08 16:19
by Bob Timmermann

Wayne Krivsky is the new GM in Cincinnati.

This post was just a figment of your imagination.

Dang, the WBC has lost a luminary
2006-02-08 09:59
by Bob Timmermann

Carl Crawford has said he won't play in the WBC because of a wrist injury.

The official list of players from the U.S. provisional roster of 60 players who have begged off is now at four: Barry Bonds, Lance Berkman, Tim Hudson, and Crawford.

As for other countries, players who have dropped out after being placed on the roster are:
Mexico: Nomar Garciaparra
Panama: Mariano Rivera

This does not count players who asked not to be considered to start off with such as Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, and Tadahito Iguchi. Or even guys like Kazuo Matsui, whom the Japanese didn't want.

My Monday nights in the fall are free now
2006-02-08 09:50
by Bob Timmermann

Well, after the World Series is over that is.

But ESPN announced today that its Monday Night Football crew will be Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser (which likely means that Al Michaels is headed to NBC.)

Mike Tirico is in a word ... awful.

Joe Theismann transcends awful.
"I was talking to (insert team name and assistant coach) this week and he said that (insert name of player) would have a big game this week." Repeat that for nearly four hours.

And I'm in a minority here I know, but Tony Kornheiser's act got old back in 1996 and he pretty much exists not to edify the readers or viewers of his TV show, but to tell you how funny he is. And did anyone watch Listen Up?

Cuba, U.S. agree on some issue
2006-02-08 09:24
by Bob Timmermann

No we're not talking about human sacrifice, dogs and cats sleeping togehter, or mass hysteria.

But both Cuba and the United States are asking the IOC to reconsider baseball for the Olympics in 2012. The story is in Spanish.

Then again Fidel Castro and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are getting friendly with each other too, so maybe the U.S.-Cuba relationship will retain Yankees-Red Sox or Dodgers-Giants type of unfriendliness.

Reports point to Beattie as new Reds GM
2006-02-08 07:33
by Bob Timmermann

The Dayton Daily News is reporting that Jim Beattie will be named the new GM of the Cincinnati Reds. (Registration required)

Link picked up from BTF. link

Caribbean Series, Final Day
2006-02-07 23:45
by Bob Timmermann

Live from Maracay!

Venezuela goes for its Caribbean Series title since 1989 if they the Dominican Republic team from Licey tonight. If the Dominican Republic wins, then there is a another game tomorrow night. Juan Cruz pitches for the Dominican Republic and Jerermi (or Geremi) Gonzalez for Venezuela.

In the early game today, Puerto Rico edged Mexico 3-2 in 11 innings. The defending champions from Mazatlan went 0-6 in Venezuela. Puerto Rico was 2-4.

Update - And it's over. Venezuela, down 4-3 going to the bottom of the ninth rallies to win 5-4 on RBI singles from Alex Gonzalez (Boston variety) and Henry Blanco off of Jorge Sosa.

Update - And Blanco's single was actually a pop fly that shortstop Erick Aybar misplayed and it hit him in the head and rolled to the wall to allow Gonzalez to score the winning run.

D.C. Council rejects latest stadium lease and then changes its mind
2006-02-07 22:17
by Bob Timmermann

And the fate of a new stadium in Washington for the Nationals gets more and more complicated as the D.C. Council rejected a revised lease with MLB. This lease would have put a cap on cost overruns, but failed to win approval.

Without the lease, the D.C. Council cannot sell bonds to finance the stadium and the sale of the Nationals has been put on hold. Again.

Update This matter is far from dead apparently. Tune in tomorrow.

And finally it was approved after all.

Mr. Bettman, the New Jersey State Police are on line two -- Update
2006-02-07 19:39
by Bob Timmermann

Sorry to wander off of baseball, but it's a slow news day, but this caught my eye.

The New Jersey state police have made two arrests in a nationwide gambling ring run a New Jersey state trooper and Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet. The report says about a dozen current NHL players participated in the gambling, which is reported to be mainly on football and baseball.

Update - The plot thickens as Janet Jones and Jeremy Roenick are being named as possible participants in the gambling ring as well.

Alex Gonzalez headed to Philadelphia
2006-02-07 10:11
by Bob Timmermann
Puerto Rico vs Venezuela - Caribbean Series - Final
2006-02-06 19:23
by Bob Timmermann

Follow the action here.

Venezuela is 4-0 in the Caribbean Series and Puerto Rico is 1-3 and was eliminated from any chance of victory with a win by the Dominican Republic team earlier in the day.

Tomorrow's Venezuela-Dominican Republic matchup could be the decisive game.

Update - Venezuela wins 5-1, thanks in part to a 2-run home run by Rafael Alavarez in the seventh. Puerto Rico gets just two hits, both by Ruben Gotay, one of them a home run. Puerto Rico also makes four errors.

So, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic square off Tuesday night. If Venezuela wins, they're the champions. If the Dominican Republc wins, the two teams play again Wednesday in a playoff.

Murray Chass has declared the revolution over
2006-02-06 19:11
by Bob Timmermann

It turns out that Art Howe was the key figure in making Oakland a playoff team.

Other targets that Chass picks off with his shotgun approach are Kevin Youkilis, Jeremy Brown, Scott Hatteberg, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Ricciardi.

Mexico vs. Dominican Republic - Final
2006-02-06 15:36
by Bob Timmermann

Mazatlan vs. Licey on Day 5 of the Caribbean Series.

The Dominican Republic team must win this game to ensure that its matchup tomorrow against Venezuela will be meaningful. Mexico has lost all four of its games in the Caribbean Series, but second baseman Edgar Gonzalez is batting .786.

Puerto Rico (Carolina) plays Venezuela (Leones de Caracas) tonight. Venezuela is 4-0.

Update -- The D.R. team says alive with a 3-1 win over Mexico, running their record to 4-1 for the Series. Licey got 16 men on base for the game, but could plate just three. Mexico's only run came on a wild pitch.

Baseball from space
2006-02-06 14:06
by Bob Timmermann

This site has satellite images for 28 of the 30 parks used in Major League Baseball. There are 29 listed, but a satellite image of Busch Stadium is a picture of something that doesn't exist.

And for some reason, Miller Park isn't available and when I checked Google Earth, that part of Milwaukee isn't available in the necessary resolution.

Go figure. Maybe Miller Park has a Nike missile silo underneath.

Bengie Molina probably, maybe headed to Toronto
2006-02-06 13:24
by Bob Timmermann referring to an article by the baseball rumor mill worhorse Ken Rosenthal that Bengie Molina has signed a one-year deal with Toronto.

Blue Jays PR staff have already contacted representatives of the Ventures to get the rights to play "Walk, Don't Run" when Molina comes up to bat.
(Of course, the Ventures didn't write the song, but they have the most famous version and you can track it down here if you want to here a MIDI version.)

The wisdom of Chairman Cora
2006-02-05 20:04
by Bob Timmermann

The smartest man in baseball as designated by both Peter Gammons and Paul Lo Duca, Alex Cora, states that small ball is going take over baseball from now on.

"I know the game," Cora said, "and with everything going on with the steroid policy, there aren't going to be too many more 70 homer seasons or second basemen with 45 homers.

"We're gonna go back to 'small ball.' We saw it in the playoffs. Ozzie gave a lesson in how to play the game right."

Meanwhile later in the same story:

The numbers tilted heavily toward the hitters across the first half of the [Caribbean] Series. The four teams were batting .324 combined with 21 homers and 89 runs scored in a six games -- an average of 7.4 runs per game per team.

Venezuela led the way with 34 runs scored, averaging 11.3 per game, and a .376 team average. Only Mexico, at .284, was below .300 as a club.

The leading hitter was Mexico second baseman Edgar Gonzalez at .818, with nine hits, including a Series-record eight in a row. He was tied with Venzuela's Ramon Hernandez in total bases with 16, Hernandez delivered what historians called the first-ever Series cycle in the opener against Mexico.

Venezuela also had the best team ERA -- 3.33. Next was Puerto Rico, at 5.59. Venezuela's Geremi Gonzalez had the longest stint of any starter, going seven innings, and he's the leader with seven strikeouts.

Caribbean Series, Day 4
2006-02-05 19:51
by Bob Timmermann

After losing a tough 11-9 game Saturday to Venezuela, the Dominican Republic champions, Licey, used a six run seventh to rout Puerto Rican champs Carolina 9-2. The D.R. team is 3-1 and Puerto Rico is 1-3.

In the late game, the home country champions of Venezuela, los Leones de Caracas, edged Mexico's champs, Mazatlan, 4-3 in 10 innings.

Venezuela led 3-1 in the top of the 9th and Francisco Rodriguez came in to try to get the save, but surrendered a leadoff single and a stolen base to Trenidad Hubbard. Oscar Robles then struck out. Then Hubbard stole third. Which wasn't necessary since Juan Canizalez hit a 2-run homer to tie the game.

In the bottom of the 10th, Marty McLeary retired the first two batters then gave up a single to Luis Rodriguez and issued consecutive walks to Marco Scutaro and Rafael Alvarez. Out went McLeary and in came Ignacio Flores, who gave up a single to Alex Cabrera to score the game-winner. Venezuela is a perfect 4-0 and could clinch the series tomorrow if they beat Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic loses to Mexico.

Baseball in the Olympics gets another setback
2006-02-05 09:10
by Bob Timmermann

While softball and baseball officials were ready to head to Turin to plead their case for the readmission of their sports to the Olympics in 2012, it turns out the International Olympic Committee does not even have them on their agenda for discussion. But I hope the softball and baseball federation officials enjoy their trip to Italy nonetheless.

Wild day and night in the Caribbean Series
2006-02-04 21:08
by Bob Timmermann

In the first game of the day, in Valencia, Puerto Rico won just its second game in 16 Caribbean Series outings with a 10-9 win over Mexico. The winning run scored in the ninth on a throwing error by Mexico's second baseman, Edgar Gonzalez, who also had a streak of eight straight hits snapped.

The night game in Maracay was even wilder as Venezuela rallied from a 7-2 deficit after six innings to win 11-9 over the Dominican Republic. Venezuela scored five in the seventh and three in the ninth to make then a perfect 3-0 in the series.

The Dominican Republic scored at least one run in every inning except the ninth and in that inning they got a runner to second before Francisco Rodriguez got Ronnie Belliard to fly out for the last out.

Venezuela hit three home runs with Alex Gonzalez coming up with the big blow, a three-run homer in the ninth off of Jorge Sosa. The Dominican Republic team hit five home runs as Erick Aybar, Belliard, Anderson Hernandez, Miguel Tejada, and Jose Offerman all went deep. Alex Cabrera and Henry Blanco also homered for Venezuela.

Sunday sees a repeat of Thursday's game with Puerto Rico taking on the Domincan Republic and Mexico playing Venezuela. Through three games, Venezuela has scored 34 runs and Mexico has given up 37 runs.

The lesser Hall of Fame
2006-02-04 13:20
by Bob Timmermann

While the BBWAA manages to barely get one player elected in to Cooperstown and lots of people complained about it, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, chose six players for Canton: Troy Aikman, Reggie White, Warren Moon, Harry Carson, John Madden, and Rayfield Wright. Here are summaries of their careers.

So while baseball fans argue about the value of a relief pitcher and his worthiness to be inducted into Cooperstown, football fans get to dispute whether or not Michael Irvin had too many drug arrests.

An earlier post on the Halls of Fame.

It's a purported news story about a commercial, sigh
2006-02-04 09:54
by Bob Timmermann

What has the Super Bowl devolved into? You get news stories (this one is but others have shown up in less propagandistic outlets) about a commercial.

Here's how I view the broadcast television experience: Network shows me programming that I'm interested in (in this case, the Super Bowl). To make a profit on that, the network shows commercials during the game. I can live with this. I can go someplace else during the commercial or not pay attention as much.

Program content here. Commercials over there. Don't tell me that I should be on the lookout for a 30-second advertisement.

Of course, I've linked the story and you may have read it and I am just feeding into the advertising machine.

Maybe I'll just not watch and go see some Division III basketball game or something.

Where's Vince Young when you need him?
2006-02-03 19:51
by Bob Timmermann

The #1 team in college baseball, Texas, lost its season opener, 4-2 to the University of San Diego in San Diego.

So this takes Texas out of BCS consideration now doesn't it?

Caribbean Series, Game 4, Venezuela vs Puerto Rico
2006-02-03 16:22
by Bob Timmermann

Live from Valencia!

Orlando Trias pitches for Venezuela and Jim Magrane for Puerto Rico.
(Remember that these are clubs representing the teams, not national teams with strict rules on nationality like ... um ... never mind.)

And thanks to a Marco Scutaro grand slam (or as it's called in Spanish grand slam) in the second, Venezuela cruised to a 6-1 victory over Puerto Rico.

Venezuela and Dominican Republic, both 2-0, face off Saturday with Mexico taking on Puerto Rico. Then on Sunday, the teams start over again. The team with the best record after six games is the champ. If two teams tie with the same record at the top then there is a one-game playoff. And it's not unlikely that Venezuela and Dominican Republic could end up 5-1.

Caribbean Series Game 3, Mexico vs. Dominican Republic
2006-02-03 15:37
by Bob Timmermann

Live from Maracay!

Francisco Campos on the hill for Mexico, Julian Tavarez pitching for the Dominican Republic.

And the Dominican Republic wins 10-6, thanks to a six-run fifth capped off by a 3-run homer by Miguel Tejada. Mexico has given up 27 runs in its first two games.

Venezuela vs Puerto Rico next!

Seven seasons, three names, one park
2006-02-03 10:39
by Bob Timmermann

This is what Louis Prima would sing about the Giants home stadium. (Except I can't find the lyrics online, sorry, but it's a great song and it appears on This album.)

Not unexpectedly, SBC Park will become AT&T Park on March 1. As most of you know from the ubiquitous popup ads on seemingly ever news website, SBC (which stood for SBC) bought up the remnants of AT&T and switched to the more popular and even took over AT&T's old stock ticker symbol T.

Of stadiums currently in use here are the others that have had three or more different names in their lifetimes:

  • Anaheim - Anaheim Stadium, Edison International Field of Anaheim, Angels Stadium of Anaheim.
  • Florida - Joe Robbie Stadium, ProPlayer Stadium, Dolphins Stadium.
  • Oakland - Oakland/Alameda County Coliseum, UMAX Coliseum, Network Associates Coliseum, McAfee Coliseum.
  • Chicago - Weeghman Park, Cubs Park, Wrigley Field.

Dave Concepcion makes the Hall of Fame (additional info)
2006-02-03 10:15
by Bob Timmermann

The Caribbean Series Hall of Fame that is.

Translating for those of you who can't read Spanish, Concepcion is one of four new inductees into this Hall of Fame, which as far as I can tell, isn't really a place as much as just a list of people who have played well in the winter leagues.

The other three inductees are:

  • Pedro Formental, a Cuban star who also played in the Negro Leagues.
  • Celerino Sanchez, a Mexican infielder, who played two seasons for the Yankees in 1972-73.
  • Jerry White, who played 11 seasons in the majors and had a monster winter league season in 1979 when he hit .522. had an interview with Concepcion and a good story about his career.

A few Venezuelan players that have come after Concepcion have won #13 in his honor, but Concepcion discussed the reason he wore #13.

"The 58 jersey was too big, and I wanted 8, 11, 17 and a bunch of others, but they were all gone," former Reds great Dave Concepcion said during breakfast at his home on Thursday. "I thought about my mom and how she was born in 1913. I am glad because that No. 13 has brought me good luck. Nineteen was gone, too."

I looked at the photo and for some reason was shocked at the head of white hair Concepcion had. Concepcion started playing in the majors in 1970 which was around the time that I started to have an idea what baseball was. He played until he was 40 (the age I am now) and since he played for the Reds his whole career and I grew up in L.A., I saw him play on TV a lot. So I now have a vision of how I will look in 17 years. Except I will likely not be as wealthy as Concepcion.

While his Reds teammates campaign for him for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Concepcion will likely never make it as he will be compared to shortstops with more power like Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez (did you know he used to play shortstop? I've seen kinescopes!)

Anaheim mayor surprised by name change he says
2006-02-02 23:43
by Bob Timmermann

In the Trial of the Century of the Decade, Anaheim mayor Curt Pringle says Arte Moreno's decision to call his team the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim was a omplete surprise.

"It was a punch in the stomach," he [Pringle] said.

I never go to meetings where that happens.

A thaw in the baseball cold war?
2006-02-02 23:28
by Bob Timmermann

Reports from several sources, this one from ESPNDeportes says that Fidel Castro is interested in having Cuba play in the Caribbean Series again.

The four current participants: Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico, all seem to be in favor of Cuba coming back, but there is the small problem of Puerto Rico being part of the United States and that pesky embargo.

Give Orel Hershiser a job
2006-02-02 19:05
by Bob Timmermann

Orel Hershiser, who interviewed to be the Dodgers manager and general manager this offseason, but ended up working in the Rangers front office has quit that job too.

Hershiser is expected to go take a job with ESPN, where he can play the Olsen to John Kruk's Johnson.

Caribbean Series updates
2006-02-02 18:24
by Bob Timmermann

But MLB.Com is providing a Gameday application for the Caribbean Series.

Puerto Rico leads the Dominican Republic 3-2 in the fourth thanks to a 3-run homer by Pedro Valdes off of Juan Cruz.

Update The Dominican Republic has rallied to take the lead with single runs in the 6th and 7th.

Update Puerto Rico ties the game in the 8th on a single by Luis Figueroa.

Update Puerto Rico has two on and one out in the bottom of the 9th with Jose Valentin batting.

Update Entradas extras!

Update Anderson Hernandez picks up his fourth hit of the game in the 11th to drive in a run and put the D.R. up 5-4.

Update The Dominican Republic held on for the 5-4 win in 11 innings. Alex Cora was 4 for 6 for Puerto Rico in a losing cause. Mexico, the defending champions, is squaring off against Venezuela now.

Update Game recap in Spanish. And a recap in English now.

Update Venezuela leads Mexico 4-0 in the sixth. Alex Cabrera has driven in three runs with a 2-run homer and an RBI single.

Update After a giving up an unearned run in the sixth to Mexico, Venezuela struck back for two runs in the seventh and lead 6-1.

Update And Alex Gonzalez (Red Sox version aka the Venezuelan one) singles in two more and Venezuela is cruising 8-1.

Update Ramon Hernandez, playing first base for the Venezuelan team, has hit for the cycle and the game has turned into a 16-1 rout.

Update Venezuela broke the Gameday application, but apparently won 17-1.

Update Spanish language recap. Venezuela scored 17 runs and had 21 hits despite the two men who batted in the leadoff slot going a combined 0 for 7 (Alejandro Machado and Javier Herrera).

Update And an English language recap. Tomorrow Mexico plays the Dominican Republic and Venezuela plays Puerto Rico.

Nats ink a trio
2006-02-02 13:48
by Bob Timmermann

Jim Bowden, the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful GM in baseball ...

(I wonder what happened to me on that trip to China?)

Anyway, the Nationals signed Felix Rodriguez, Royce Clayton, and George Lombard. Rodriguez got a major league contract and Clayton and Lombard were given minor league deals with invites to spring training.

Royce Clayton and Cristian Guzman on the same team could create a vortex of bad hitting that may suck RFK Stadium into the Anacostia River.

Guamanian pennant races heat up
2006-02-02 09:38
by Bob Timmermann

The Guam Greyhounds scored a 12-2 win in a game shortened to 8 innings by the mercy rule over Bank of Guam Athletics to run their record to 4-1 in the Budweiser Baseball League.

I think the 18 walks handed out by Bank of Guam pitchers may have played a part in the lopsided score.

Remember that in Guam, Super Bowl Sunday is really Super Bowl Monday. The game starts at 9 am on February 6 there. If you're in Agana, here are some Super Bowl parties to attend.

Man, I am so ready for spring training.

Potential stay of execution for Olympic softball and baseball
2006-02-02 07:28
by Bob Timmermann

In this press release from the National Fast Pitches Coaches Association, the International Softball Federation will get a hearing before the International Olympic Committee next week in Italy.

Baseball's Olympic status will also be reviewed, but I haven't found much information (or any) about it.

While the International Baseball Federation has its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, the International Softball Federation is headquartered in Plant City, Florida in a part of town where satellites fear to go.

Private funding plan for D.C. Stadium falls apart
2006-02-01 20:53
by Bob Timmermann

For the, I don't know, 2051st time a deal to build a new stadium in Washington, D.C. has fallen apart.

A plan to use private funding from Deutsche Bank was given the kibosh by D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi after the bank asked for a $5 million "fee".

The next plan is to use, as one would expect, public money to build the stadium. This should set off a political battle in Washington between Mayor Anthony Williams and City Councilwoman Linda Cropp, who is running for mayor.

The streak is over as a streak has begun
2006-02-01 19:19
by Bob Timmermann

For those who bothered to read about Saint Louis University's 21-game streak of alterating wins and losses ended tonight in Kingston, Rhode Island as the Billikens beat the Rams 58-53 for their second straight win of the season. The Billikens had not won two straight games since March 2 and 5, 2005, when they beat Memphis and Marquette.

If SLU had lost, they could have had something going. They could have distinction. Now they are just a mid-major team with an 11-9 record. Those players need to learn perspective!

President of the Ohio Paul DePodesta Marching and Chowder Society
2006-02-01 17:21
by Bob Timmermann

Paul Schaffer of the Dayton Daily News wants Paul DePodesta or a similar type to be the new GM of the Reds.

Somehow I doubt Cincinnati is the place for the Moneyball wars to be fought again.

Caribbean Series starts Tuesday
2006-02-01 16:27
by Bob Timmermann

So are you in desperate need of a baseball fix? Well, tomorrow you can start taking in the Caribbean Series. Two games a day from Thursday through Tuesday.

Your viewing options are:

Various radio stations will also carry the games in cities such as New York and Miami.

Although the Venezuelan champs, Los Leones de Caracas, have the home country advantage, the Dominican Republic champion, Licey, has gotten a boost with Miguel Tejada joining the team for the tournament.

Bonus fact: The Spanish word for knuckleballer is "nudillista". Which is far less risque than it sounds since the word for "kunckle" is "nudillo".

Nun scouting
2006-02-01 16:20
by Bob Timmermann

It's not often that I watch a sandlot baseball game and say to myself, "Wow, that player would make a really good nun."

Bobby Valentine, still misunderstood despite being on a different continent
2006-02-01 15:28
by Bob Timmermann

Bobby Valentine, manager of the Chiba Lotte Marines, says he wasn't trying to rip departed free agent Lee Seong Yeop (or Seong Yeop Lee for our American readers.

"He's thinking about being a star, a megastar, and he's not going to be a star in this stadium," Valentine told The Hot Corner last week at Chiba Marine Stadium. "It's not going to happen." The Hot Corner is the name of the column linked here written by Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri.

Valentine has backtracked and he thinks that Lee will do well in the more comfortable Tokyo Dome, playing for the Yomiuri Giants. And I saw Lee play there and he ripped a shot to right field off of a sign with Shigeo Nagashima's face on it to win a million yen too.

Decline of Western Civilization sign #3,476,357
2006-02-01 09:15
by Bob Timmermann

You can download ESPN SportsCenter commercials on to your iPOD. Originally iTunes was going to charge $1.99 to purchase the commercials, which seems to violate some social contract in my opinion.

Last night, my iPOD served up these three items in a row:
1) A Mongolian throat singer
2) Tommy Lasorda being asked about Dave Kingman's performance
3) Leadbelly sining "Goodnight, Irene"

The Kentucky Derby, brought to you by ...
2006-02-01 09:08
by Bob Timmermann

Yum Brands. America's oldest sporting, event, the Kentucky Derby, has a corporate sponsor.

The event which some people consider the second-oldest sporting event in America, the Westminster Kennel Club show already has a corporate sponsor.

And the WKC has to be a sporting event! Why else would they have had Joe Garagiola calling the bark-by-bark for so long?

Review of Shades of Glory
2006-02-01 07:52
by Bob Timmermann

Except it's not by me, I'm linking to a review in the Christian Science Monitor of the of Shades of Glory which is the new book commissioned by the Baseball Hall of Fame on the history of the Negro Leagues and written by a panel of scholars, headed by Lawrence D. Hogan, a history professor at Union College in New Jersey. The book does contain a stastictal and photographic section, but the review indicates that it's lacking an index and bibliography. I haven't come across a review yet in any other publication, but I can't say I've looked everywhere.

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