Monthly archives: December 2006
The Rose Bowl and me: Part six
January 1, 1999 - Wisconsin vs. UCLA - 1999 was the first Rose Bowl to be part of the BCS and was the first year since 1946 that it was possible for a team other than one from the Pac-10 or Big 10 to play in the game. However, as the season shook out, the 1999 game matched up the Pac-10 and Big 10 champs although one of the teams really wished it wasn't there.
Wisconsin had won the Big 10 and had a 10-1 record, losing only to Michigan. Wisconsin finished in a 3-way tie for the conference title with Michigan and Ohio State and won the tiebreaker to earn the Rose Bowl bid, that being the team that had gone the longest since appearing in the game. Not many people were happy to see Wisconsin play in the game as the Badgers were considered a dull and unimaginative team. However, Pasadena merchants were no doubt looking forward to the increased sales from visiting cheeseheads.
UCLA won the Pac-10, but really wanted to be playing elsewhere. The Bruins had started the season 10-0 and won the conference. They were primed to play in the Fiesta Bowl, which was the first BCS championship bowl under the new system. But the Bruins had to play a game in Miami the first week of December that was a makeup of a game that was postponed because of a hurricane threat. And Edgerrin James ran through, over, and around the Bruins defense to the tune of 299 yards and the Hurricanes won 49-45. So the Bruins had to "settle" for the Rose Bowl and Arizona, which thought it was finally going to shed the title of "only Pac-10 team not to play in the Rose Bowl", had to settle for the Holiday Bowl.
The Rose Bowl and me: Part five
January 1, 1998 - Washington State vs. Michigan - Unlike the previous Rose Bowls I had attended, this game the closest to having a 50-50 split of fans of both teams as both schools had good reasons for wanting to see this one. Michigan was 11-0 and ranked #1 in both polls. Washington State was 10-1, ranked #8, and they hadn't played in the Rose Bowl since 1931. This game was also the last one played under the Pac-10 vs. Big 10 contract. Starting in 1999, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) would take over. This was the last Rose Bowl without a "presenting" sponsor (an ABC requirement). The last time, you would be guaranteed that the Rose Bowl would be played on January 1 or 2.
Michigan's team was known for a stingy defense led by Heisman trophy winner Charles Woodson, the first defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy in the two-platoon era of college football. Woodson also ran back kicks and sometimes lined up on offense. Michigan's offense was steady, but not spectacular, and quarterbacked by Brian Griese.
Washington State had a high-scoring offense, averaging over 40 points a game. Mr. Charm himself, Ryan Leaf, was the Cougars quarterback and pro scouts were drooling over him and looking at him as the second coming of Drew Bledsoe. Michael Black was Wazzu's big ground threat and he ran for over 1,000 yards.
While Wisconsin and Northwestern, who made recent trips to Pasadena for the first time in decades, were embraced by the media as Cinderella stories and the subject of numerous stories about their loyal fans finally being rewarded, there was much less of that for Washington State. Wisconsin had the advantage of the sheer number of its fans and Northwestern showed that the mainstream media was controlled, not by liberals or conservatives, but by people who lived in Evanston, Illinois for four years. Washington State's most prominent alum in the media was ABC's Keith Jackson, who was his usual professional self in working games involving the Cougars. Washington State's cause was hurt by the fact that they played in a very out of the way place, in a small stadium, and weren't #1. While Leaf would go on to become one of the NFL's least amiable players, he wasn't quite that bad in college. Just sort of bad.
Sam Chapman: 1916-2006
I thought we should remember the career of one Sam Chapman, who passed away on December 22.
In his brief obituary, it is noted that Chapman, who played 11 years in the majors interrupted by World War II, was nicknamed the "Tiburon Terror" when he was a high school football star and he played on the last Cal Bears team to win the Rose Bowl. Chapman was a blocking back and punter. In the game, Cal intercepted four Alabama passes and allowed only three completions. Yet the game was considered an aerial circus. I don't believe Cal completed a pass the whole game.
That was in 1938 when the Bears beat Alabama 13-0. The Ritz Brothers were there along 89,997 others.
The Rose Bowl and me: Part four
January 1, 1996 - USC vs. Northwestern - For the first time in my life, I went to the Rose Bowl where I didn't have a strong rooting interest, but I was able to get tickets again through the same coworker who got me the 1994 tickets. However, the tickets that the Pasadena city council members got to sell to constituents were in the end zone, not at midfield. And the price for tickets was now $75.
I expected that I would go to the Rose Bowl and end up rooting for Northwestern. After all, the Wildcats were such a good story. They were a historically bad program that somehow managed to go 10-1 and win the Big 10 when Ohio State lost to Michigan in its last game. And USC was the opponent. USC was not a good story. They had lost two games (Notre Dame, UCLA) and had a tie (Washington). The Trojans star was Keyshawn Johnson. He was pretty much the same then as he is now.
The Rose Bowl and me: Part three
January 1, 1994, UCLA vs. Wisconsin - For the first time since 1963 when Ron Vanderkelen almost led the #2 Badgers to an upset win over #1 USC, Wisconsin was coming to Pasadena. And it seemed like the entire state showed up in Pasadena. Half of Milwaukee turned up. The entire city of Oconomowoc came to Pasadena. Sheboygan I believed stayed home and watched everybody else's place. It was a cooperative agreement. And everybody was promised tickets. But only 101,237 got in. And it seemed like about 90,000 of them were wearing red and acting in a maniacally friendly manner. And the Wisconsinites went home happy as UCLA turned the ball over six times to gift wrap a 21-16 win for Wisconsin. Except for the numerous people who filed suit against tour promoters who didn't deliver tickets that people had paid for.
Although UCLA had clinched the Rose Bowl by beating USC in its final game with the Rose Bowl on the line for both teams, an event that rarely happens (USC is 15-6-1 in games of that nature.), Bruin fans looked at their Rose Bowl tickets not as a chance to root on their team, but instead as a nice opportunity to make a tidy profit by scalping the tickets to visiting Badger fans, also known in the trade as marks or pigeons. Apparently economics majors scooped much of the tickets and quickly gauged the supply and demand curves for the tickets and priced them appropriately. The tickets had a face value of $46, but they were selling for up to $400.
Cue the 'In memoriam' montage
Bruce Markusen of MLB.com lists the names of the many baseball figures who passed away in 2006: From 23-year old Tampa Bay farmhand Charlie Wagner to 111-year old Negro League player Si Simmons.
The odd and troubling case of Chris Brown's death
Mike DiGiovanna and Miguel Bastillo have more on the mysterious death of Chris Brown in the Los Angeles Times.
Brown, 45, died early Tuesday at Memorial Hermann Hospital. Though gravely ill during a 25-day stay in the intensive care unit, Brown communicated to relatives that he had been detained by robbers in Houston, brought to his home in nearby suburban Sugar Land, tied up and abandoned while robbers set his home ablaze.
My brief recounting of the 1979 L.A. City High school baseball championship game in which Chris Brown (and a few other famous people) played in.
The Rose Bowl and me: Part two
January 2, 1984 - UCLA vs. Illinois - With New Year's Day falling on a Sunday, the Rose Bowl, as was its long-standing custom, took place on a Monday. The reason for this was actually because the Rose Parade made church attendance in Pasadena too difficult. This policy dates back to 1893. It actually would have been in place for the 2006 game except it was played on January 4 because it was the BCS championship game. The 2006 parade was on January 2 and it took place in a rainstorm. If you're Catholic, you might know that January 1 is a holy day of obligation anyway and you're supposed to go to church, but Pasadena Catholic churches generally tell you to only come to Mass if you can make it easily. However in 2007, you don't have to go regardless of where you live. I'm sure you were all glad to know that.
But in 1984, it was another picture perfect day. Over 101,000 made their way into the Rose Bowl that day to see an apparent mismatch between a 10-1 Illinois team and a 6-4-1 UCLA squad. The Illini were making their first appearance in Pasadena since 1964. They had won their three previous Rose Bowls, including a 45-14 rout of UCLA in 1947, the first year of the Pac-10 (then called the Pacific Coast Conference) vs. Big 10 (then called the Big 9) contract.
Chris Brown 1961-2006
Former Giant, Padre, and Tiger third baseman Chris Brown died in Houston yesterday as the result of a house fire.
Brown was an All-Star in 1986, but injuries derailed his career. Brown was a star on the same Crenshaw High team as Darryl Strawberry. Brown had recently been working as a truck driver for Halliburton in Iraq.
The cause of the fire is under investigation and arson is suspected.
To be precise, Brown's home was in Sugar Land and he passed away in Houston.
The Rose Bowl and me: Part one
(First of a six-part series)
Despite being a big baseball fan, for me, the single best one-day sporting event is the Rose Bowl, aka the Grandaddy of Them All®. (Note, don't mess with the Tournament of Roses people and their intellectual property rights!) Before it became all BCS-ized, it was the event to watch every New Year's Day. And now with the addition of an extra BCS bowl, the Rose Bowl will still be played on New Year's Day or January 2 (never on a Sunday!) in the venerable old stadium in the Arroyo Seco of Pasadena.
The game starts around 2 pm on New Year's Day. Normally, January 1 in Pasadena is sunny with pleasant temperatures and the San Gabriel Mountains make a dramatic backdrop. By the time game ends, the sun has set, the weather has become cooler and the lights of the Rose Bowl seem to put the players on the field into sharper relief. (Or in this this case, just plain dark.) The Rose Bowl even makes me want to watch marching bands perform. And I never want to watch marching bands. Then again, it's also really hard to get in and out of your seats and go to the bathroom at halftime, so you better want to watch the bands perform.
I've been fortunate to attend six Rose Bowls in my lifetime. And I have a ticket for the 2007 game.
So today, I will start a series of posts about the Rose Bowls I've been to. I hope you find them interesting.
And no, they won't all involve UCLA, although four of them do. But they are all Pac-10 vs. Big 10 matchups.
Angels reach deal with Hillenbrand
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have reached a preliminary deal with first baseman/designated hitter Shea Hillenbrand for a one-year deal with a club option for 2008.
On Hillenbrand's ESPN.com page, there is a pronunciation guide for his name. But only his first name.
Boxing Day baseball book suggestion
Happy Boxing Day to all of our friends in the UK and other outposts of the British Empire that still celebrate that day!
I recently purchased for myself volume 2 of Peter Morris's book Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball: The Game Behind the Scenes.
In the first book (which came out in May), I noticed my name in the acknowledgments. You mean you don't read the acknowledgments? They're the best part. I e-mailed Peter and asked what I did to get mentioned and he told me that my contributions would be there in Volume 2.
And indeed they are. And when you get the book, there is no need to hunt around looking for it. I'm in the index! Three different entries! And Peter spelled my name correctly.
I haven't finished reading the book yet, but Volume 1 was excellent and Volume 2 is shaping up to be great also. Especially when I get to page 91.
Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on Christmas Eve?
The Blue-Gray Game?
Lakers vs. Heat?
Just hanging out with family in Michigan?
Back to work on Tuesday.
The Curse of Jeff Conine?
Ken Griffey broke his left wrist in an accident at home and will be in a cast for three weeks. This was right after the Reds acquired Jeff Conine for outfield depth.
Courtesy of Diane.
You've got to get up early in the morning to beat the Red Sox one day next year
Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe reports that because the Boston Marathon will have an earlier start in 2007 (10 am ET), the traditional morning Patriots Day game at Fenway Park will also have an earlier start. Expect to hear songs like this one at Fenway.
The start time for the game between the Angels and Red Sox hasn't been approved by the MLBPA and the Angels yet, but the likely starting for the game will also be 10 am ET, which means that the first pitch on the West Coast will go off on at 7 am PT. That will leave the Angels plenty of time to fly cross country to play at Oakland on April 21. In a night game.
Commenter stolenmonkey86 provides not only the link, but the headline, for Dontrelle Willis's arrest for DUI in Miami early this morning.
Let that be a lesson to you kids. If you have a Bentley, build a toilet into it.
Otown? Oriolestown? Birdland?
The mayor of Vero Beach, Florida claims that the Baltimore Orioles are interested in moving in to the soon to be vacated Dodgertown site. The Orioles currently train in Fort Lauderdale. The Orioles are publicly claiming that they want to keep their spring training in Fort Lauderdale.
Wayne Krivsky: Bored blogger's best friend
The Reds, feeling that they needed a right-handed hitting platoon mate at first base to go along with Scott Hatteberg, acquired Jeff Conine from the Phillies for minor leaguers Brad Key and Javier Moran.
Conine is also expected to play in right field.
For those keeping track, Jeff Conine is 40.
NPB changes its playoff format again
If you read here back in September, you would remember that Japan's Pacific League gave its first place team a one-game advantage in its league championship series. The regular season champ had to win two games to the challenger's (either the second or third place team) three. And the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters won the Pacific League with two straight wins over the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks. The series never got to Fukuoka and the Central League wanted to avoid a scenario where a team in the playoffs didn't get to host a game in one of the rounds.
But for 2007, there will be no handicap. Now that both leagues will have playoffs, the 12 teams agreed, for at least one season, to make each round of the playoffs best of three and then best of five.
Everyone will want to find this book under the tree Monday
For some reason, I don't think most people who visit here will be buying this book.
It's just 40 pages long. That's just 27 pages fewer than the number of inches in the author's height.
The day of miscellaneous signings!
Doug Brocail re-signed with San Diego, who also claimed Craig Stansberry on waivers.
The Royals signed David Riske and Zach Day and re-signed Brandon Duckworth.
Washington continued to cement its stranglehold on the NL East by giving Robert Fick a minor-league deal.
The Twins will bring back Rondell White.
Einar Diaz will be the likely backup to Ronny Paulino at catcher in Pittsburgh.
The Red Sox signed eight guys to minor league contracts and their quality is highlighted by the fact that the AP story mentions Alberto Castillo first!
Barajas now tries a deal with Philadelphia
After backing out of a deal with Toronto at the last minute, Rod Barajas has apparently signed with the Phillies.
This leaves the Phillies with a three-headed catching monster of Barajas, Chris Coste, and Carlos Ruiz.
Mike Carminati weeps.
The deal is really done
The Boston Red Sox wired $51,111,111.11 to the Seibu Lions team to complete the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal.
The Lions management said they were going to do four things with it:
Gee, thanks for the help, but maybe I'll talk to someone else.
The ongoing JD Drew soap opera
Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe tries to bring everyone up to speed on whether or not JD Drew's bat speed is going to decrease because of a shoulder condition.
In September 2005, while in his first season with the Dodgers, Drew underwent surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder that at the time was described as minor in nature. Paul DePodesta, who was the Dodgers' GM at the time, was quoted as saying the club was aware he had an "arthritic shoulder" before signing him to a five-year, $55 million deal before the '05 season.
Scrambling around for new homes
Courtesy of Dodger Thoughts commenter Dark Horse is this report that Jayson Werth is going to sign with Philadelphia.
Washington adds another important piece of the puzzle with Ray King. However, it appears that Nats GM Jim Bowden is just using scissors to cut pieces of the puzzle to fit in.
The Pirates signed Cuban pitcher Yoslan Herrera and Japanese pitcher Masumi Kuwata.
Taking 'God's Team' to extremes
No, this is nothing about Notre Dame, but the Catholic Church's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, thinks that the Vatican could round up enough players to form a soccer team and even be a good enough to play in Italy's Serie A.
Personally, I think the Vatican would be better off forming its own domestic league. Or start competing in UEFA and trying to qualify for the World Cup. I suppose a Vatican team would be on the road a lot as there's not a lot of space for a stadium. But do we really need a Sistine Chapel or St. Peter's when we could build a high quality state of the art soccer stadium.
Think big. Maybe the 2014 World Cup will be held entirely in the Vatican!
Igawa signs 5-year deal with Yankees
The Kyodo News Service is reporting that former Hanshin Tigers pitcher Kei Igawa has signed a 5-year, $20 million contract with the New York Yankees. The Yankees put in a $26 million bid to negotiate with Igawa.
The Banterers of the Bronx are discussing it at the end of the top post. Expect more comment there.
Padres nearing initial deal with Giles
The initial being M for Marcus Giles who was non-tendered by the Braves. Once the deal is done, the Padres would have the Giles Brothers, Marcus and Brian.
There is no word if the J. Geils Band will being playing any gigs at PETCO.
Bonderman re-ups with the Tigers
Bring me the head of Peter Magowan
While Bud Selig may not have said that exactly, T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News reports that the Commissioner was displeased with the size of the contract that the Giants paid out to Barry Bonds.
Sources say commissioner Bud Selig is seething over the contract, in part because of the money, and in part because he would have been happy to see his friend Aaron's record preserved until a more suitable successor makes a run. Despite Bonds' claim that he didn't know what he was taking, he did admit to a federal grand jury that he used steroids.
Right now the Giants lineup looks like this
Miscellaneous Matsuzaka missives
Actually none of these are missives, they're articles. But when I want alliteration, nobody, nowhere, can stop me no how!
You can sample Fred Claire's cautionary tale about Matsuazka that appears on Yahoo.
Or you can try Gordon Edes's much longer story in the Boston Globe.
Alternatively, you can just take a nap. The choice is yours.
White Sox continue to collect former Dodger catchers
Following last year's signing of Sandy Alomar, Jr., the Chicago White Sox have signed Toby Hall as a backup catcher to A.J. Pierzynski.
Hall signed a 2-year deal worth $3.65 million.
Cecil Travis, 1913-2006
Former Washington shortstop Cecil Travis passed way in Fayetteville, Georgia Saturday at the age of 93. Travis played 12 seasons in the majors and missed out on the 1942-44 seasons because of World War II. Travis lost two toes due to frostbite during the war.
Travis made the All-Star team three times and batted .314 for his career with a career OPS of .786,
Cecil Travis will be on the veterans ballot that will have its results announced February 27.
Link from BTF
White Sox figure that anybody must be better than Ross Gload
The White Sox traded Ross Gload to Kansas City in exchange for pitcher Andrew Sisco.
Last year, Sisco appeared in 65 games for 58 1/3 and had an ERA of 7.10. According to Baseball-reference.com, Sisco's closest comp is Craig Skok. The White Sox are apparently hoping that Sisco has a Mike McDougal like resurgence.
Actually, Gload had an OPS of .816 in limited action last year, but has no place to play because Paul Konerko and
Wells finally signs contract extension with Toronto
And this was no regular contract extension for Vernon Wells. It was one for seven years (through 2014) and worth $126 million. According to the AP, it is the sixth largest contract ever signed in baseball.
Wells has the right to terminate the agreement after the 2011 season and has a no-trade clause.
Here is how the payouts go, according to the linked AP story:
Wells is due $5.6 million next season in the final year of his old contract. The extension calls for a $25.5 million signing bonus, payable in three $8.5 million installments each March 1 in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He will receive a salary of just $500,000 in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2009, but his salary jumps to $12.5 million in 2010 and $23 million in 2011. Wells receives $21 million in each of the final three seasons.
Tampa Bay adds a less than free agent
The Devil Rays got a player to sign with them, the old-fashioned way, by giving him the option of "our way or the highway". Former Yakult Swallows third baseman Akinori Iwamura agreed to a three-year contract with Tampa Bay after the Devil Rays put up the highest bid for him.
The Devil Rays bid $4.55 million for Iwamura.
The last posted Japanese player who has not settled his contract situation yet is Kei Igawa (Hanshin Tigers pitcher), who is working out a deal with the Yankees.
The Devil Rays had a waiver claim on pitcher Bobby Livingston revoked yesterday and the Commissioner's Office awarded Livingston to the Reds instead. The Devil Rays were ruled to have made an improper claim because they immediately traded Livingston to Philadelphia after the waiver claim. Which apparently isn't something you can do.
Red Sox add a former All-Star pitcher
And he's better than Lance Carter!
Brendan Donnelly is headed to Boston in exchange for Phil Seibel, who has pitched just 3 2/3 innings in the majors and that was in 2004. Seibel was injured in 2005 and rehabbed in the minors last season.
Donnelly was the winning pitcher in the AL in the 2003 All-Star Game. Donnelly also sealed my everlasting enmity toward Frank Robinson.
In 2005, Robinson told the umpires to check Donnelly's glove and pine tar was found and was Donnelly was duly ejected. However, Robinson and Angels manager Mike Scioscia then got into a screaming match almost looked like they were going to come to blows, which would have been kind of funny. Meanwhile, in the Washington dugout, exiled Angel Jose Guillen yelled obscenities at his former teammates in a variety of languages.
Donnelly was suspended (again rightfully so) and so were Robinson and Scioscia for their onfield behavior. Robinson appealled to the Commissioner's office that he didn't deserve to be suspended essentially because "the other guy started it." You would think a man of Robinson's age wouldn't stoop to an excuse that doesn't wash when you're seven years old.
(For those still paying attention, the Red Sox also signed J.C. Romero as a free agent.)
Biz of Baseball asks 30 people about the state of the game
Maury Brown rounded up 30 people to give their comments on the state of baseball today. There are academics like Andrew Zimbalist and Rodney Fort, old schoolers like Buzzie Bavasi and Tal Smith, and even guys like Alex Belth and Jon Weisman.
In my opinion, baseball will be fine as long as the players don't play Guitar Hero too much.
Rangers, D-Rays agree to move series to really Goofy place
The stadium seats just 9,500. Buy your tickets now! The seats are supposed to be extra-wide so eat a lot!
And the most important Red Sox deal yet!
At the bottom of this Hartford Courant article about the Red Sox signing Julio Lugo is a report that Doug Mirabelli will come back for another year as the backup catcher in Boston.
The Red Sox gave up both Cla Meredith and Josh Bard to the Padres to reacquire Mirabelli last year. Mirabelli had a .595 OPS last year. Bard, who should be starting for San Diego in 2007, had an OPS of .926. Meredith had a 1.07 ERA in 50 2/3 innings for San Diego.
Lamar Hunt, 1932-2006
Lamar Hunt was involved in a lot of sporting ventures in his life: football, soccer, tennis, and basketball, but not baseball. Yet, I still thought his death tonight in
Hunt, who came from an extremely wealthy family (he and his brothers tried to corner the silver market in 1979-80), but he reportedly lived a frugal life, flying coach and driving himself and his family in station wagons. He was instrumental in the AFL's merger into the NFL, creating the professional sports powerhouse that it is today. Yet, it is likely that Hunt will not be remembered for his effect on American sports as much as sports owners who draw far more attention to themselves like George Steinbrenner, Jerry Jones, Al Davis, or Jerry Reinsdorf.
But, except for a few hardcore soccer fans, few people might know that the American equivalent to the FA, the US Open Cup is named for Hunt. Do you have a soccer team that you think might be able to compete with the big boys of MLS? Well, see if you are eligible to compete. The 2006 Cup was won by the Chicago Fire, which beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 3-1.
The Cup has been awarded since 1914. Bethlehem Steel FC, Maccabee (Los Angeles) SC, and Fall River FC have won five. The Rochester Raging Rhinos of the A-League were the last team not in MLS to win the US Open Cup. That was back in 1999.
Nats send Vidro to Seattle (provisionally)
As long as Jose Vidro waives his no-trade clause, Washington and Seattle are expected to conclude a deal that would send Vidro to Seattle in exchange for Chris Snelling and Emiliano Fruto.
The story finishes with this ominous line: "The trade means one thing for the Nationals: According to baseball officials, shortstop Felipe Lopez will be switched to second and Cristian Guzman will remain at shortstop."
I still think this would be a better hitter than Neifi Perez
Behold the batting robot.
Look at the power in that swing!
White smoke appears in Newport Beach out of Scott Boras's office?
The AP is reporting that the Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka have reached a preliminary agreement on a contract.
The toughest players are never tendered
28 players were not tendered a contract and became free agents.
Pick and choose your favorite!
One of them is Jose Reyes!
Not the good one.
The Prisoner's Dilemma and the Dollar Auction for Matsuzaka
John Thorn wrote this lengthy piece which Maury Brown picked up for the Business of Baseball blog.
There is much talk of game theory and I am not one to judge how much sense it makes. I enjoyed reading it, but I will let everyone else try to make their own judgment about it.
The Matsuzaka contract deadline still holds at 9 pm PST Thursday. Will ESPN have a countdown clock and a live camera posted outside of the Scott Boras compound waiting for white smoke to come out?
Kapler retires and begins revisionist look at his career
Boston outfielder Gabe Kapler announced his retirement today to become the manager of the Red Sox's Class A team in Greenville, the Drive, where every game ends with John Elway or Joe Montana throwing a touchdown pass.
"A place where I'm going to be rewarded emotionally and spiritually to have an extreme impact on somebody's life can be much more powerful than hitting a home run in a clutch situation," Kapler said. "It feels right inside of my body."
I'm sure all of Kapler's 64 homers in the big leagues were clutch. But I'm glad everything feels right inside his body. I must admit I do wonder what some of those players at Greenville are going to think.
Kapler's greatest moment in the majors was on September 14, 2005 when he tore his Achilles tendon rounding second base after a Tony Graffanino home run and had to be replaced by pinch runner Alejandro Machado.
Les Rangers accordent 8 M$ à Gagné !
Plusieurs équipes du baseball majeur ont courtisé Éric Gagné au cours des dernières semaines, mais au fil d'arrivée, les Rangers du Texas ont su se montrer plus convaincants que les autres. Le Journal de Montréal a appris hier que le releveur mascouchois a conclu une entente d'une saison - d'une valeur garantie de 8 millions - avec cette formation de la Ligue américaine.
One of my archenemies refuses to quit
No, not Frank Robinson, the other one, Russ Ortiz. Heather Gripp of the Daily News has a story about Ortiz trying to regain his form in winter ball in Puerto Rico.
Oritz was 0-8 with an 8.14 ERA last year for Arizona and Baltimore. You never should have kept the ball, Russ.
With Castro ailing in Cuba, Seattle signs a Batista
Miguel Batista agreed to a three-year deal with the Mariners for $24 million Monday. Batista will be 39 when the contract ends, but as Batista says, "I don't pitch with my birth certificate. So, don't bring up my age."
The Mariners "bolstered" their starting rotation by acquiring Horacio Ramirez from Atlanta last week in exchange for reliever Rafael Soriano.
So that's what Matsuzaka translates to
Scott Boras and the Boston Red Sox are negotiating feverishly, or possibly with a touch of the flu, to try to sew up a contract for Daisuke Matsuzaka before Thursday night's deadline.
"In Japan, he's known as the national treasure," Boras told some three dozen media representatives -- nearly all representing Japanese outlets. "Here, he will be known as Fort Knox."
Boras held a press conference at his office in Newport Beach. The deadline for a deal is 9 pm PST Thursday.
Oliver! The Angels want some more
Darren Oliver and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim agreed on a one-year deal for $1.75 million.
Oliver's father, Bob Oliver, also played for the Halos from 1972-74.
If Darren Oliver makes the big club, and the Angels don't have any other lefties in the pen after J.C. Romero was cast aside, he would be the third son of a former Angel to don the (red/blue/periwinkle) of the Halos.
The other pairs:
Anticipating further questions, no Dick Schofield's father, also named Dick, did not play for the Angels. And Bobby Valentine is not Ellis Valentine's father.
Current players in the majors who have a chance to join this elite crew are: Adam Laroche, Jaret Wright, Aaron Boone, and Prince Fielder. And maybe somebody else I forgot.
Lofton nears deal with Texas
The much-traveled Kenny Lofton is close to signing a contract with Texas.
Texas would be Lofton's eleventh different team after Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, the White Sox, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, the Cubs, the Yankees, Philadelphia, and the Dodgers.
Mesa proves indestructible and signs with Tigers
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick is reporting that Jose Mesa will come back for a nineteenth season in the majors. Mesa signed a one-year contract with Detroit, pending a physical where Mesa must demonstrate the ability to throw fielded balls at least five feet out of reach of any Tiger infielder.
Another look at baseball's 'irrational exuberance'
Alan Schwarz in the New York Times discussed the phenomenon in baseball of owners and executives complaining about sharply rising salaries (9.3% each year for the past 10 years), while still paying out the high salaries.
Major League Baseball has devoted resources to educating club officials on how to make better decisions on contracts. One step was emphasizing how most players in their early 30s, though known commodities, quickly lose their productivity and value.
Sutton likely to be Nats new color man
Hall of Famer Don Sutton has emerged as the likely candidate to replace Tom Paciorek as the analyst for Washington Nationals broadcasts. Sutton has apparently edged out Steve Stone for the job.
Don Sutton's son, Daron, left his job with Milwaukee to replace Thom Brennaman in Arizona. Thom Brennaman left to go work with his father Marty in Cincinnati. Marty Brennaman's former partner, Steve Stewart, was let go by the Reds. And so ends this tale. Unless the Padres hire Stewart. They need a replacement for Tim Flannery. But one ever hears the Padres TV announcers because they're not part of MLB Extra Innings. And if you did, you would have to listen to Matt Vasgersian, which is a multimedia attack on your senses. Vasgersian actually can make you smell things incorrectly. He's that awful. Well, unless you're talking about Ted Leitner and I better not say anymore.
Marquis signs with Cubs
And a loud cheer not heard in the Mound City since the end of Game 5 of the World Series goes up!
The least-liked cog in the Cardinals "machine" that won the World Series, Jason Marquis, is reported to have signed a 3-year deal with Chicago from anywhere between $20 million and $28 million.
It is often said that Cardinals fan don't boo any of their own players. After watching Marquis make a few starts in September, I can state that that is definitely NOT TRUE.
Marlins add another Sanchez for no particular reason
He really can't hit. (Career OPS .702, 4 home runs in over 1300 ABs)
Nevertheless, Florida is giving Alex Sanchez a minor-league contract. It's possible that new Marlins manager may want to use Sanchez in the leadoff spot and then move Hanley Ramirez lower in the order.
Sanchez played just 38 games in AAA Louisville for Cincinnati before being released.
Orioles reach agreement with Payton
The Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Orioles have signed outfielder Jay Payton to a 2-year deal worth $9.75 million.
The Orioles wanted to sign either Carlos Lee or Luis Gonzalez, but failed to land either player. Baltimore is still trying to work out a deal to acquire Marcus Thames from Detroit.
Link via BTF
Some come back, some go away
The Giants are bringing back Steve Kline on a 2-year deal worth a reported $3.5 million.
The White Sox are bringing back Mike McDougal on a 3-year deal worth $6.45 million.
Houston will return Brandon Backe who is rehabbing an injury.
Brandon Inge will stay with Detroit for four years worth $24 million.
But Marlon Byrd will leave Washington for the greener pastures of Texas on a one-year deal.
Russ Springer will stay in the NL Central and move from Houston to St. Louis for one year at $1.75 million.
In the special category of "really big guys who play first base who never were quite as good as we thought they would be":
Royals ask, Octavio Do(es)tel
The Kansas City Royals augmented their fearsome bullpen after reaching a preliminary agreement with Octavio Dotel. The Yankees took a flyer on Dotel last year as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. The results in New York were less than ideal as Dotel put up a 10.80 ERA in 10 innings. Dotel signed a one-year contract for $5 million plus incentives.
The Royals also signed John Bale (whose name is a complete sentence), who pitched the last three seasons in Japan for the Hiroshima Carp.
Yankees sign Pettitte for one year, $16 million
The deal won't be official pending a physical that won't be for about 10 days, but Andy Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, says that his client has signed a one year, $16 million contract with the Yankees with an option for an equal amount in 2008.
Is NPB waiting for the Black Ships to arrive?
Jim Allen of the Daily Yomiuri says that Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) needs to radically change its economic model, where are all 12 teams operate more or less as independent entities in regard to all revenues, or else be swallowed up by MLB.
If NPB can not make the necessary painful decisions--and this is extremely likely--other more aggressive businessmen will seize the reigns and euthanize NPB's wheezing, obsolete feudal system.
"Bakufu" is another word for "shogunate."
So is Bud Selig MLB's equivalent of Millard Fillmore and by the time the "Black Ships" arrive who will be MLB's Franklin Pierce? Will we get interesting drawings of MLB's Perry that look like this? Although he looked more like this? Although this is the only Matthew Perry that most people know.
Sorry, the history major in me got loose.
Jose Uribe, 1959-2006
Uribe played his first year in the majors, 1984, under the name Jose Gonzalez, but then opted to go by his other surname, Uribe, causing some people to call him "The Player to be Named Later."
The fans at Candlestick Park enjoyed chanting "Oooo! Ree-bay!" As did a Giants fan visiting Dodger Stadium in 1988 who sat behind me the whole game.
Also, in 1988, Uribe's wife, Sara, died of heart failure after giving birth to the couple's third child.
Mets re-sign Mota for 2 years (minus 50 games)
Despite the fact that he will miss the first 50 games of the 2007 season because of a 50-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, the Mets re-signed reliever Gulliermo Mota to a 2-year, $5 million deal.
Mota was 1-3 in 37 2/3 IP with a 6.21 ERA with Cleveland. Then he joined the Mets and was 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings. In seven posteason games (8 1/3 IP), Mota had an ERA of 5.40.
The Mets 51st game won't be until June 3 at home against Arizona, barring any postponements.
Bonds, 1 year, $16 million, 22+ homers?
Jays ink Canadian portside hitter
Matt Stairs, the pride of Saint John, New Brunswick, signed a one-year deal with Toronto.
Stairs will no doubt entertain his teammates with exciting tales of watch Saint John's famous Reversing Falls Rapids.
Visa problems dash Japanese player's MLB bid
21-year NPB veteran Masumi Kuwata had to give up his unlikely attempt to play in MLB because he was unable to obtain a U.S. work visa in time. Kuwata had to obtain the visa for minor leaguers, which is a different type than what a Daisuke Matsuzaka would apply for.
Kuwata led the Central League with a 2.22 ERA in 2002 ("Deuces wild!"), but injuries and age have limited his playing time in recent years.
Rule 5 draft results
The Rule 5 Draft has come and gone. The Cubs took troubled Devil Rays outfielder Josh Hamilton and then shipped him to the Reds.
9th inning rally gives Taiwan Asian Games baseball gold
Chih-Sheng Lin singled in two runs with one out in the bottom of the ninth as Taiwan beat Japan 8-7 to take the gold medal in baseball at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. Lin's single was proceeded by a double by Chin-Feng Chen.
Japan had taken the lead in the eighth, 7-6, on a 2-run homer from Yoshiura Takashi. Japan's team consisted entirely of amateur players.
South Korea, who had won the last two quadrennial competitions, took home the bronze medal.
There is commentary about the game in the following post by people who were awake during the game.
White Sox send Garcia to Philadelphia
The Chicago White Sox traded pitcher Freddy Garcia to Philadelphia in exchange for pitcher Gavin Floyd and a player to be named later.
Whom Kenny Williams subsequently named: Gio Gonzalez.
A taxing day for the Cubs
The Cubs have shipped Freddie Bynum to the Orioles, who also signed Paul Bako.
The Bynum deal apparently was very taxing and sent Cubs GM Jim Hendry to the hospital with exhaustion. Get well soon, Jim.
Then again there is the matter of the 4-year, $40 million deal that Ted Lilly is expected to sign with the Cubs.
Pettitte v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas?
Andy Pettitte has announced he will pitch again in 2007.
His agent Randy Hendricks is quoted in the AP story:
''There is no timetable other than all deliberate speed.''
See 349 U.S. 294. Point #2.
Hummel wins Spink Award
Rick Hummel, longtime Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and now its baseball columnist, won the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Spink Award.
Hummel was hired by former Spink Award winner Bob Broeg back in 1971 and worked the Cardinals beat for 24 years.
Cleveland finally reels in pair
The long delayed official announcement of David Dellucci's signing came to pass today after the outfielder finally passed his physical. It had been delayed by illness on Dellucci's part.
Cleveland also signed former Oriole, Brave, Met, Cub, Devil Ray, and Marlin reliever Joe Borowski. Borowski saved 36 games for Florida last year.
Royals and Mets make titanic swap
Brian Bannister heads to the City of Fountains while Ambiorix Burgos heads to Flushing!
Hope you were seated for that.
Lugo heads back to the AL East
The Boston Red Sox have reached a preliminary agreement with free agent shortstop Julio Lugo for a reported four years and $36 million.
As seen earlier on Dodger Thoughts, J.D. Drew signed a 5 year, $70 million dollar contract with the Red Sox.
Ortiz wins DH Award
David Ortiz won the Edgar Martinez Award as the top DH in baseball. The award has been given out since 1973.
Presumably, it was not named after Edgar Martinez in 1973. Martinez was 10 years old back then and presumably not dreaming of coming up to bat four times a game and then hanging out in the dugout the rest of the game.
Finalists for the Frick Award announced
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced 10 finalists for this year's Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters.
The living candidates are: Dave Niehaus (he plans to get out the rye bread if he is chosen), Joe Nuxhall (he plans to sound even more homespun if chosen), Tony Kubek (he will be workmanlike and not upstage anyone if chosen), Denny Matthews (he will remind people that they do play major league baseball in Kansas City), Ken Harrelson (his acceptance speech would certainly be loud and self-serving and would drown out the mass suicides).
Two pitchers staying put
ESPN.com (although this is an ABC link) is reporting that Vicente Padilla will re-sign with the Rangers for 3 years and $34 million. Padilla's sunny disposition will brighten up everyday in Texas.
Meanwhile, Walt Jocketty opted for cost certainty with Chris Carpenter and gave him a new, 5-year, $65 million deal that could go up to $77 million with an option in the sixth year.
Giants haul in a bunch of players
The Giants re-signed Pedro Feliz, signed former Giant Rich Aurilia, and reportedly will sign Bengie Molina.
With Barry Bonds a free agent, Pedro Feliz is the longest tenured Giant. Feliz drove in 98 runs while sporting an OPS+ of 79. Bonds, a slacker at 77 RBI, had an OPS+ of 156, his lowest since 1988.
Phillies sign Gary Matthews
Philadelphia, feeling left out in the free agent market, signed a Gary Matthews of their own.
The Phillies inked Sarge Senior to their broadcast team. The venerable Harry Kalas signed a 3-year deal.
That... just... might... cover... Kalas's... career...
Gambling issues in the Dominican winter league?
Officials of the Dominican Republic winter league are investigating rumors of gambling and possible game throwing according to the Associated Press.
The announcement came four days after pitcher Pascual Coco and outfielder Enmanuel Sena were dismissed by Santo Domingo's Escogido Lions amid allegations the last-place team was intentionally losing games.
Pujols plans apology
Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols will reportedly apologize to Phillies first baseman and NL MVP Ryan Howard for saying that he thought that the MVP should come from a playoff participant.
Pujols is sticking by his statement that if you don't do well in school that you will end up playing for the Phillies.
Reds to file grievance over Majewski trade
Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky said at the team's Redsfest that he would file a grievance with Major League Baseball about Washington trading reliever Gary Majewski to the Reds despite Majewski being injured. The trade took place on July 13.
Washington GM Jim Bowden denied that there were any shenanigans, dirty-dealing, subterfuge, dissembling, or duplicity on the part of the Nationals. Except Bowden used different words.
The free agents are a-signin'
With the arbitration deadline passed and the winter meetings startings, the free agent signings should be coming quickly.
Cleveland signed a pair of relievers, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz to one year deals. Hernandez is 42 and Cleveland will be his ninth team.
Dave Roberts officially signed a 3-year deal with San Francisco. The 34-year old Roberts will be in the vanguard of the Giants youth movement.
Seattle is very close to signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal with Jose Guillen.
Dear people of Michigan, where's my gift?
A most unlikely score in a Pac-10 game. There had been two 13-6 games in the USC-UCLA series. One won by USC in 1945 and then UCLA returned the favor in 1946. The game in 1945 was in September as USC and UCLA played each other twice that year as travel restrictions made it a lot simpler to schedule someone crosstown rather than crosscountry.
It's the lowest scoring game of the 15 USC-UCLA games I've seen in person. USC beat UCLA 17-13 in 1985.
The last time an unranked UCLA team had beaten a USC team in the top 5 was in 1959. That year, UCLA surprised USC, which was 8-0 at the time and ranked as high as #2 in the country. The Bruins were led by Billy Kilmer at quarterback and he played the game in modified sneakers that helped out an ankle injury he had suffered while umpiring an intramural baseball game (or so it was reported). The game's only touchdown came in the fourth quarter, set up by a controversial 46-yard pass interference penalty against USC on a play that looked to be an interception by Willie Wood. But one of the side officials called one of the other USC defensive backs (there were three on the play) for pass interference. USC Coach Don Clark was perturbed. UCLA banged in a touchdown a few plays later.
USC lost the next week to Notre Dame on the road, 16-6, and Clark was let go at the end of the year and replaced by John McKay. UCLA beat Utah the following week and then hosted #1 Syracuse for the final game of the year. The Orangemen slaughtered the Bruins 36-8.
USC, Washington, and UCLA all tied for the conference title and Washington got the Rose Bowl bid on an athletic directors vote (USC was ineligible to begin with because of NCAA sanctions) and the Huskies beat Wisconsin 44-8 in Pasadena to cap off a 10-1 season.
But enough history. Enjoy the rest of the games tonight. I shall celebrate by ordering a pizza most likely.
Saturday's college football thread and possible live blog
If Verizon cooperates, I'll try to update this from the Rose Bowl, although I'm not leaving quite yet.
Your options today (all times PT):
The College Cup from St. Louis - UCLA vs. Virginia at 9 am, UCSB vs. Wake Forest later.
update We are live from the lawn in front of the Rose Bowl. The atmosphere here is dry. My chicken sandwich was good and it cost me just twenty bucks for a decent parking spot.
Update I am out near the UCLA players family lunch. Christian Taylor has a lot of relatives. I count eleven.
Update - It's warm here today. I've lunched with both USC and UCLA fans. Except for the color of the clothing they are pretty much the same.
I'll get back to you ... eventually
I had a somewhat similar experience back in ninth grade when I was at this guy's house. He had a big book of addresses of former players that you could write to for autographs. This was in 1980. I picked one player to write to and for reasons I can't remember it was Joe Cronin. I sent him a polite letter, a 3 X 5 index card and some postage. I never heard back.
Then when I was a senior in college (1986), I got a call from my mom saying that I had received a "letter rejected, addressee moved" stamp on a letter that I had sent. It was the one I had sent to Cronin in 1980.
Rejected from beyond the grave, as Cronin had passed away in 1984.
People staying put
Tom Glavine with the Mets for one year.
Ray Durham with the Giants for two years.
Geoff Blum with the Padres for one year.
The battle of L.A., Part Three, the less interesting years
The last five games in this series include a couple good ones (maybe not aesthetically), but the amount of drama drops as the years go on.
Kenny Williams, the sly fox
The Chicago White Sox, who apparently missed out on the Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews sweepstakes, re-signed Scott Podsednik for one year at the nice price of $2.9 million.
Why spend all that money on a mediocre center fielder when you can spend it on a left fielder?
A place where a man can slow down to a walk and live his life full measure, but he has to keep his watch on Pacific Time.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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