Monthly archives: February 2007
Geek alert: Text of new rule 10 obtained!
A source inside the official scoring community gave me a peak at the actual text of the changes to the official scoring rules.
But I'm a guy who keeps score. There were changes to the details of baseball that I enjoy.
So here we go:
More specific information please
The Associated Press ran a story in its baseball wire with the headline "Ramirez talks to wall".
C'mon! I need more to go on!
Is it a magic wall?
The National Soccer Hall of Fame comes of age
The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY now measures up to its big brother up the road in Cooperstown.
Two people were voted in today by the panel of 141 voters (which includes my brother), Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy. Hamm scored 158 goals in international play along with notching 144 assists in 275 matches. She is regarded as one of the most influential soccer players in the U.S. irrespective of gender.
Hamm was left off of four ballots.
"If Bert Patenaude didn't get a unanimous choice, then no one will!"
DirecTV-Extra Innings deal in jeopardy?
According to Chris Isidore of CNN Money, the proposed exclusive deal for the Extra Innings at DirecTV may be in jeopardy as DirecTV and MLB are feeling heat from Congress and the cable companies appear ready to give the proposed MLB channel a better slot on cable systems.
Thanks to Diane Firstman for the tip.
The Veterans Committee sends black smoke up the chimney
The Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame, for the third straight time, elected nobody to join their ranks.
Ron Santo came the closest with 57 votes, five short of the necessary 62. Jim Kaat got 52 votes. Former umpire Doug Harvey also received 52 votes and former head of the MLBPA Marvin Miller received 51.
Wagner earns $2.35 million
No, not Billy. He makes over $10 million.
It's Honus Wagner. The rare 1909 Honus Wagner baseball card fetched $2.35 million at auction. The seller, Brian Seigel, bought the card for $1.265 million for it in 2000.
It is believed that if you hold on to the card, you also turn invisible.
Coming to a stadium not near you on the 8th of Tammuz, 5767
It's time for the Israel Baseball League!
Six teams will play a 45-game schedule. This article in Israel Insider talks more about the league. Ken Holtzman, Art Shamsky, and Ron Blomberg will be three of the managers.
One of the players will be Leon Feingold, who has reportedly risen as high as #12 on the IFOCE rankings. Yep, that IFOCE.
For those without a Jewish calendar, Opening Day is on June 24.
Biblical quotes dealing with baseball, albeit tangentially. Of course, classic New Testament quotes such as the one below aren't included:
"For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you." 1 Thessalonians 2:3. This deals with St. Paul trying to explain the rule about runners leaving early when tagging up on fly balls.
205 is the loneliest number
Norihiro Nakamura was given a non-roster contract with the Chunichi Dragons.
He was assigned number 205.
Nakamura will be playing in the minors.
Presumably with a two digit number.
A different meaning of 'reliabilty'
Janie McCauley of the Associated Press describes Giants outfielder Dave Roberts with the term "reliability". It's not just the headline, it's down toward the bottom.
Roberts, who has played well when he plays, has not exactly been a regular part of any team's lineup because of injuries and ineffectiveness against lefties. The most games in a season Roberts has played is 129. Last year was the first season that Roberts had enough plate appearances to be listed among the lead leaders in any categories. His OBP was .360, the same as Ray Durham and Kenny Lofton (if so inclined, you can figure out to another decimal place to find out who was the best of that group.)
Roberts first full year in the majors was 2002 and it's been the only one in which he did not spend time on the disabled list, although he likely would have been placed on the DL if he had been injured earlier in the season as he missed the final week of the season with a right oblique injury. Roberts was on the DL twice in 2003 with hamstring injuries. Roberts also suffered a hamstring injury that put him on the DL in 2004. In 2005, Roberts was put on the DL with a groin strain. Last year, Roberts went on the DL with a knee contusion.
But Roberts is a good reliable guy. He's not this guy.
Will the Veterans Committe ease up this year?
Jim Salisbury of Philadelphia Inquirer seems to think so.
On Tuesday afternoon, the results of the balloting of the Veterans Committee, which consists of all living Hall of Famers plus recipients of the Frick and Spink Awards did not elect anyone in its first elections in 2003 and 2005.
Two men got within eight votes, Ron Santo and Gil Hodges. A list of nominees can be found here.
As a member of the new Veterans Committee, Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt once said it would be highly unlikely that anyone who didn't pass grade in 15 years on the writers' ballot would be elected by the new voting body.
In my opinion, no one on the composite ballot (nonplayers), with the possible exception of Doug Harvey, has any chance of getting in. Marvin Miller and Walter O'Malley, two men who have influenced the economic aspects of baseball, and in turn, the game on the field, also have likely ticked off more than 25% of the voters. Also, there seems to be a hesitance among the players to vote for someone who didn't play. For a lot of players, the game of baseball is just one giant pickup game with no supporting personnel. Just like whichever film wins Best Picture at the Oscars tonight. I hear it won't have a director, script, editing, or any of the other things that go into filmmaking.
As for the players, Santo has been pleading his case in the press. It's somewhat sad that Santo has to play the "I'm going to die soon" card.
Hodges hit the 60% mark in three BBWAA elections and his totals went up after he passed away in 1972. Strangely, Hodges was at 60.1% in 1981, then went down to 49.4% in 1982, and then back up to 63.4% in his final year on the BBWAA ballot in 1983. So what happened to Gil Hodges in 1982? Did his ghost give some HOF votes nightmares in 1982? Was there a "Vote for Gil Hodges" tax credit put in place by Congress for 1983?
Not many of the other former players are getting a big push from writers.
Salisbury's article mentions a man who is campaigning for Mickey Vernon who had a wildly erratic career.
Jim Kaat, despite working as a Yankee brodcaster, doesn't seem to gather a lot of support. And despite their New York connections, Sparky Lyle, Joe Gordon, and Thurman Munson aren't being talked about much at all.
Billy Martin remains on the outside looking in as no one quite knows what to make of his managerial career. Was he another Leo Durocher? Martin won only one World Series in his career (1977), but had a great track record of making every team he managed better. Until he wore out his welcome with his propensity for drinking, brawling, and being an all-around miscreant. If he only had settled down with a Laraine Day type.
I've met people who think Maury Wills deserves a spot in Cooperstown, but I don't agree. Wills had a stolen base percentage of 73.8%, thanks mostly to his career year of 1962 when he swiped 104 of 117. Some say he revolutionized the game with all those steals, although that ignores the fact that Luis Aparicio was stealing a lot of bases (21 in his rookie year of 1956 and 56 in 1959). And Maury Wills hit a lot of singles and made a lot of outs.
There are no shortage of places on the Internet where you can find discussions of the statistics of all the candidates on the ballot. I'm trying to handicap the decision subjectively, since I think that is how the voters are going to do it.
So, just who is going to be the champion for Carl Mays?
It's all a matter of style
Alan Schwarz of the New York Times has a story about sabermetric stats. None of them are unfamiliar to people who frequent this blog.
But what gets me is that the New York Times insists on spelling it as "O.P.S." There is also a stat called "G.P.A." (gross production average).
Do these guys get paid extra to put in periods?
Mr. Rosenthal! Get rid of all those periods!
Finley goes for the NL West sweep
Steve Finley has gotten an invite to the Rockies spring camp and will be competing with Matt Herges to see if they can play on all five of the present NL West teams.
Uribe apparently cleared in shooting trial in D.R.
The lawyer for White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe believes that his client has been cleared of all criminal charges involving the shooting of a farmer in the Dominican Republic.
It seemed that the family of the man who was shot (who survived the shooting by the way) demanded money from Uribe, according to the linked report above from AP through ESPN. At first, the family demanded 30,000,000 pesos from Uribe. Later that amount was dropped to 300,000 pesos.
Were they planning to cut off two zeroes until Uribe gave them something?
"The Uribe family name has kind of been tarnished, but there's a God," Uribe said.
FCC investigating DirecTV/Extra Innings deal
The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Kevin Martin, disclosed in a letter to Sen. John Kerry, that the FCC is investigating the ramifications of the proposed deal to move the MLB Extra Innings package to DirecTV.
Kerry had asked Martin to investigate the "proposed $700 million television deal that could deny many consumers the ability to watch their favorite teams."
The deal with DirecTV is still just a proposal. It has not been formally announced.
Not that people don't want to complain about it. I've made peace with it.
Denny Matthews wins Frick Award
Kansas City Royals play-by-play announcer Denny Matthews is the winner of the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for 2007.
Matthews has worked for the Royals since their inception in 1969 and has been their lead announcer since 1975.
He is one of nine announcers in Major League history to spend an entire career with one team for at least 35 consecutive seasons behind the microphone. The others are Vin Scully (56 years with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers), Jack Buck (47 with the St. Louis Cardinals), Jaime Jarrin (44 with the Dodgers), Phil Rizzuto (40 with the New York Yankees), Nuxhall (40 with the Reds), Bob Uecker (36 with Milwaukee), Richie Ashburn (35 with Phillies) and Mike Shannon (35 with Cardinals).
Scully, Buck, Jarrin, and Uecker have all won the Frick Award before and Rizzuto and Ashburn are in the Hall of Fame as players.
Nuxhall will still be working with the Reds this year although he is battling lymphoma. Mike Shannon is beloved in St. Louis for reasons which are unknown to people living outside of the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
Not Aztec, Olmec!
The Washington Nationals today announced a working agreement with a Mexican Summer League team, Los Olmecas de Tabasco.
The Olmecs, for those unfamiliar with Precolumbian Mexico except through watching episodes of "The Simpsons", lived mostly in the present day Mexican state of Tobasco, which is on the Gulf of Mexico in the south. The Olmecs, who predated the far more famous Aztecs and Mayans, are known for their colossal heads.
Not that actual Olmecs had heads that large, but they certainly liked carving them.
And what did the Olmecs give to civilization? Zero.
Literally. The Olmecs are generally considered to have introduced the concept of zero.
The Simpson family received a giant Olmec head in the episode "Blood Feud", which originally aired in 1991. Mr. Burns bought the head at "Plunderer Pete's." The writers gave the head a made-up name which sounded more Nahuatl (aka the language of the Aztecs). But we don't really know what the Olmecs spoke. And the colossal heads aren't talking!
Los Olmecas (yes, the article and noun agree in gender) don't use the colossal heads as their logo as you can see in their website linked above, although the heads do show up if you mouse over some of the links.
However on this site, there are older versions of Los Olmecas logos and they did incorporate the colossal heads. Were the colossal heads dropped because they wanted to avoid the mess of a Chief Illiniwek controversy? Or was it just hard to get someone dress up as a 20 ton head?
I'm still waiting for Los Olmecas to take on the Rapa Nui Moai.
Deceptive headline of the day?
He could have just bought a Mac or asked a more computer-savvy friend for help.
A tour through the Champuru League
Paul White of USA Today is blogging a trip through Japan visiting spring (and winter) training sites in Okinawa and other parts of Japan.
The linked entry is to White's stop in Nago City where the defending Japan Series champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters train. White spoke to Fighters manager Trey Hillman about the Japanese media portrays the Fighters success stemming from Hillman's willingness to bunt more and play for one run.
"Give me a break," he said, more in exasperation than anger, as if he's heard this one more than a few times from the large and opinionated media contingent that covers every team in Japan. "We scored the same amount of runs per nine innings the year before when we weren't bunting as much. We bunted hardly at all then because we didn't have the pitching staff to play for one run. Last year, we also had the best ERA in the league. I can bang my head against the wall with the media, but I just ask them, "Be fair, look at the big picture."
White is definitely going off the beaten path in Japan and going to cities far less visited by American tourists like me.
Catfish's Stew favorite enemy pitcher?
The AP today has a story about a reliever in Florida's camp named Matt Lindstrom.
Matt Lindstrom must be the hardest-throwing, Swedish-speaking, former Mormon missionary in baseball.
And as many of us on Baseball Toaster have learned from last year, one of Lindstrom's teammate will be Dan Uggla. And Uggla means "owl" in Swedish.
Gold Glove popularity contest ballot released
You can go here to vote.
There are just three candidates for pitcher: Bob Gibson, Jim Kaat, and Greg Maddux.
There are six shortstop candidates: Luis Aparicio, Mark Belanger, Dave Concepcion, Derek Jeter, Ozzie Smith, Omar Vizquel.
You can review the other positions. One of the stats given by Rawlings to help compare the fielders is range factor, although it's reported strangely. Ozzie Smith's range factor is given as 442.477. Derek Jeter's is 355.672.
And the double play totals are off. For his career, Ozzie Smith is credited with 36 double plays. That's the total of DPs he was in his final season in the majors when he only played part-time.
Mark Belanger has 4 DPs in his career!
The return of El Guapo
But it's not to the big leagues. Rich Garces has signed with the Can-Am League's Nashua Pride.
Garces hasn't pitched in organized baseball in North America since 2002, but did pitch in the Venezuelan winter leagues. He will turn 36 in May.
Terry Forster is sitting by the phone I hear.
Baseball caps will no longer bleat
Taking a page from Paul Lukas's estimable Uni Watch Blog, I pass on the news that starting this year MLB's official game caps will be made of polyester instead of wool.
"Wool isn't a performance fabric. ... This is really the first time we're departing from that. It's purely to make sure we're keeping up with the performance attributes," says John DeWaal, New Era's vice president of global marketing.
Doesn't being the title of "Vice President of Global Marketing for New Era" sound like some job title in a dystopian world?
A world where teams have to wear these new batting practice caps.
In honor of President's Day (it seems that the singular form has caught on as the official spelling), here is one man's opinion of the best player whose name matches that of a president. I first look for someone with the same last name. If there are no players with last name, I will look for someone with the name as a first or middle name.
A McCain or Obama presidency would be the worst thing to happen to this list since Eisenhower was elected!
Baseball begins another useless popularity contest
Coming after the egregiously bad All Century team (note the "special selections" made to make up for Joe Sixpack's woeful knowledge of history), and the DHL Hometown Heroes (I know people in DC really, really miss Gary Carter), there will now be fan voting to choose an all-time Gold Glove team.
This section scares me:
From more than 250 players who have won a Gold Glove, the panel identified 18 outfielders, six players at each infield position, five catchers and three pitchers.
The full ballot will be revealed tomorrow.
Since no one can agree on who the best fielders are now with a variety of metrics available, now there will be a popularity contest to choose who was the best fielder at a position despite the fact that most of the candidates will not have been seen by the voters. And Derek Jeter's fielding will be matched up against Ozzie Smith's.
I'm guessing that there are a few people who should win easily:
I'm waiting for the big battle for the award for pitchers among Greg Maddux, Jim Kaat, and Bobby Shantz. Maddux will probably win because he's still active.
Catcher will likely be a battle between Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez.
Keith Hernandez will probably win at 1B because he still has a high profile in the game.
Bill Mazeroski would be the favorite at 2B.
The other two outfield spots are up for grabs. Roberto Clemente may get one of them. The third spot could be a free for all.
The Mets quest for former Dodger players continues
Sandy Alomar, Jr. signed a minor-league contract with the Mets.
On the 40-man roster now, the Mets have the following players who played for the Dodgers or were in the Dodgers farm system:
Among non-roster invites:
That didn't last long
Following in the footsteps of "You're in the Picture" and "Emily's Reasons Why Not," the Great Barry Zito pitching delivery change has been put on hiatus.
I still believe in a town called Hype
The Red Sox eagerly announced today that Daisuke Matsuzaka will make his spring training debut on the mound in a split squad game against Boston College on March 2.
So does the entire nation of Japan plus a good chunk of New England pause to follow this almost certainly anticlimactic event?
The BC Eagles haven't played a game yet since there is actually a thing called winter in New England. The Eagles are scheduled to play on the 23rd in Nashville against Belmont.
Nats sign the Second Coming of Damian Jackson
Washington signed Ronnie Belliard to a minor-league deal.
Cabrera beats Marlins in arbitration
Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins was the first player to win an arbitration case this year as a 3-person panel awarded him a salary of $7.4 million for the 2007 season. The Marlins had countered with $6.7 million.
Last year, Cabrera made $472,000.
There are three more players left with pending arbitration hearings: Carlos Zambrano of the Cubs, Todd Walker of the Padres, and Chad Cordero of the Nationals.
Rules changes for 2007, the revenge of Jae Seo!
You can read about them in this press release from MLB. It's the first major rules change since 1996.
Here are the major changes:
Foulke decides to retire
After feeling more pain in his elbow early in spring training, Keith Foulke announced his retirement today.
Foulke had signed a free agent deal with Cleveland in the offseason. Joe Borowski is now the leading candidate for the closer job in Cleveland.
Foulke's career started with the Giants in 1997 and he was sent to the White Sox at midseason as part of the "White Flag" trade where the Giants acquired Danny Darwin, Wilson Alvarez, and Roberto Hernandez. The White Sox received Foulke, Bobby Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Ken Vining, and Brian Manning.
After the 2002 season, Foulke was dealt to Oakland in a trade that was basically a Foulke for Billy Koch swap, although other players were involved. After the 2003 season, Foulke signed as a free agent with the Red Sox and was on the mound when the Red Sox wrapped up their first World Series win in 86 seasons.
Thanks to Diane Firstman for the heads up. Diane is still upset over the proposed migration of Extra Innings to DirecTV.
Comings and goings in Japan
Hideki Matsui leaves Japan to head to Tampa and spring training with the Yankees.
Lefty reliever Hideki Okajima has arrived in Fort Myers for Red Sox spring training. Today Daisuke Matsuzaka, the "other" Japanese pitcher on the Red Sox said in a press conference today that he's not going to change his pitching style.
Erstwhile Dodger Norihiro Nakamura is going to give it a go with the defending Central League champion Chunichi Dragons.
And 38-year old former home run king of Japan Tuffy Rhodes is going to try out with the Orix Buffaloes at their camp in Okinawa. Rhodes played for the Buffaloes when they were called the Kintetsu Buffaloes and hit 55 home runs for the Buffaloes in 2001 to tie Sadaharu Oh's single season record for Japan. Alex Cabrera of Seibu subsequently tied the mark in 2002.
The increasingly weirder world of the JD Drew contract
According to an AP story, if JD Drew doesn't play in a specified amount of games in a 3-year period (500 from 2007-10 and 375 from 2008-10), then his 2011 salary would be deferred at 1% per year and the payouts would go out until 2030.
Also, the Red Sox can specify 28 teams that Drew can be traded to.
Hmm..., there are 30 teams. Drew can't be traded for himself. I wonder which he team he can't be traded to?
MLB, Giants, and Bonds reach accord in trilateral talks
Barry Bonds has agreed to dismantle his nuclear weapons program.
Is less of Hudler more for Angels fans?
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have decided to use the primary TV broadcast team of Steve Physioc for just 100 games this year, down from 150 and add another team of Jose Mota and Mark Gubicza according to the Los Angeles Times's Mike DiGiovanna.
Southern California fans have a love/hate relationship with Hudler. Or really it's more like some fans like Hudler and others can't stand him. And Steve Physioc is Steve Physioc.
So there will be a little bit less of people hearing "All we need is a bloop and a blast!" or long rhapsodies about Chone Figgins. However, Mota, who also does Spanish language broadcasts for the Angels, manages to be uninteresting in two languages. Gubicza has mainly worked in the studio, so how he will work together with Mota is still to be seen, and I will be monitoring that experiment about as closely as I follow Third Division English soccer.
Sabean says Bonds will report on time
Without elaborating, Giants GM Brian Sabean assured reporters that Barry Bonds would report to spring training on time next week.
According to Barry Bloom's report in MLB.com:
"I expect him to be here by reporting day," Sabean said after pitchers and catchers arrived at Scottsdale Stadium.
Bonds is still not on the Giants 40-man roster.
Nats sign additional mediocre players
Washington fans can plan to be out of the District come October. Both Dmitri Young and Tony Batista were given minor league contracts.
GM Jim Bowden referred to Young and Batista as "assets" and could be used in a trade.
And if your favorite team is the one that trades with Bowden to acquire Tony Batista, go make an effigy of that team's GM in preparation for some mob action.
Get your complaints ready
ESPN and Fox have named their new baseball analysts.
Fox is adding Eric Karros (formerly of ESPN), Mark Grace, and Joe Girardi. Eric Byrnes (and his hair which has a separate contract) will contribute a monthly report and also appear on "The Best Damned Sports Show."
ESPN is adding Dusty Baker and Fernando Viña
Who's your Valentine?
Is it the only major leaguer whose first name was Valentine?
If you and your Valentine are going to have champagne tonight call this guy. (Or maybe his estate, since he's passed on.)
And not one of the players born on Valentine's Day have Valentine in their names. Their parents obviously were more original than I was.
Marlins win first arbitration case, await much bigger one
Kevin Gregg lost his arbitration case with the Florida Marlins and settled for a $575,000 salary instead of the $700,000 he sought.
The Marlins have one player left to go to arbitration: Miguel Cabrera. The arbitrators will be deciding between $6.7 million and $7.4 million.
Kit Keller: Professional - baseball?
Update - John Patterson of Washington also lost his case.
Owners 4, Players 0
Stand by for ... news!
The San Diego Padres signed 22-year old right-handed pitcher Cooper Brannan to a minor-league contract. Brannan is a former Marine who lost his left pinky during a tour of duty in Iraq.
Recently retired pitcher Troy Percival of the Angels and Tigers decided that he wanted to give something back to his college alma mater, UC Riverside. So Percival decided to donate a new clubhouse to the baseball team.
But for Percival, he just didn't write a check....
Let's talk about UC Riverside, a school founded in 1954, although back in 1907 it was the state's agricultural research center for citrus. Its teams are called the Highlanders, although its logo features a bear.
Percival decided not to rely on contractors to build the clubhouse. Instead, he did the work himself, estimated at over $100,000 in labor and materials.
And now you know the rest of the story!
UPDATE - The San Diego Union-Tribune says the ex-Marine is named Brandon Cooper.
MLB to allow more postseason roster tinkering
MLB ruled today that postseason rosters now no longer have to be set the morning of the day designated for Game 1, but rather just before the lineup cards are handed in before the start of the first game.
The New York Mets had said that they would have added a 12th pitcher to their roster. The Mets used 23 players overall in the 2006 NLCS and the Cardinals used all 25 players.
Poor Dave Williams.
Braves sale goes through pending owners approval
According to the Wall Street Journal and picked up by the Associated Press, the Time Warner has finalized a deal with Liberty Media to sell the Atlanta Braves.
The price of the Braves is not determined at this time since it is part of large sale and stock swap between the two corporations.
According to Tim Tucker's article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Under federal tax law, the inclusion of an operating asset - the Braves - in the deal can make the transaction tax-free, potentially saving Liberty hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains tax on the appreciation of its Time Warner stock.
Quality time ahead for the Benson family
Kris Benson of the Orioles will miss the 2007 season with a partially torn rotator cuff.
I will not include any NSFW links of Anna Benson.
End of transmission.
Breathe deeply and throw hard
Lee Jenkins of the New York Times has a story about how an Encino, California yoga instructor named Alan Jaeger has helped pitchers relax and throw hard.
Jaeger's clients include Barry Zito, Joel Zumaya, and Jason Hirsh. Jaeger's workouts take five hours, four hours of which are just meditation and yoga.
Thanks to Diane Firstman for the tip.
Braves settle up with Villareal
The Atlanta Braves and pitcher Oscar Villareal avoided arbitration after agreeing to a one-year, $925,000 contract.
I suspect that the Braves decided to settle when they found out that one of the arbitrators had Villareal in his fantasy league last year and realized he lucked out when he drafted a middle reliever who went 9-1.
Twins, Mauer avoid arbitration
Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins avoided going to arbitration as they settled on a four-year contract that will keep the catcher in the Twin Cities through the 2010 season.
Terms of the deal were not announced, but according to Maury Brown's arbitration scorecard, Mauer was asking for $4.5 million and the Twins were going to offer $3.3 million. UPDATE - Reports say the deal was for $33 million over four years.
Michael Cuddyer and Juan Rincon have still not settled their contracts and are set for arbitration among Twins players.
The Knights of the Oval Clubhouse
Marshall Purnell, the architect in charge of the project for the new stadium for the Washington Nationals, wanted to have a circular clubhouse in the new stadium to ensure that no player would go and hide in a corner, before settling on an oval shape that is supposed to evoke the Oval Office and the Ellipse.
"We decided we'd make it circular," said Purnell, to help discourage cliques and hierarchies among the mega-rich stars and lesser-paid journeymen and younger players who typically compose a big league team. "Then we decided on an oval," he said, because "the oval has to do with the city. You have the Ellipse, you have the Oval Office.
After all you wouldn't want Cristian Guzman to think he's better than Nook Logan. Or that Mike O'Connor is better than Saul Rivera. That would kill the delicate balance of clubhouse chemistry. And that chemistry is what the Nationals are planning to ride to the top of the NL East. Other teams are planning on using talent, but chemistry is a lot cheaper.
Of course, if Cristian Guzman is still on the Nationals when the new stadium opens next year, there will be other problems.
Thanks to Sam DC for the tip.
Once there was a ballpark here?
Barry Petchesky of the New York Times writes about the dispute between historic preservations, aided by a group called "Society of American Baseball Researchers" (which is apparently an offshoot of the Society for American Baseball Research), and Consolidated Edison over saving what is believed the last remnant of Washington Park in Brooklyn.
Washington Park was the home of the Dodgers (under different names) 1898 through 1912, after which the team moved to Ebbets Field.
All that is left is believed to be a wall from a shed built to house carriages. You can see the remnants here. The wall runs along 3rd Avenue.
MLB, EI, DTV, and IPOs!
Ben Silverman of Findprofit.com writes in a Yahoo! Business column that MLB's proposed deal to put Extra Innings on DirecTV exclusively could be a precursor for MLB to spin off its online arm, MLBAM, into a public company.
If MLB has done nothing else right in the past 50 years - and let's be honest, the only other thing they've done right in the past 60 years was integrating the game - they've done the Web right.
Reds spend money on decent pitchers! Film at 11!
Both pitchers are sewn up with Cincinnati through 2010. Harang and Arroyo combined to pitch nearly 33% of all the innings thrown by Reds pitchers in 2006. Arroyo had an ERA+ of 146 and Harang had an ERA+ of 128.
The Reds used 29 different pitchers last year.
Arbitration season kicks off
Settle your differences now or let a panel of three figure it out!
Joe Beimel and Josh Paul got salary arbitration started today.
For those not scoring at home, the owners lead the players 269-200 all time in arbitration cases.
I guess 16 years was enough
For two baseball players.
For Jeff Fassero, 16 years was enough of a career and he finally decided that even being left-handed wasn't enough to keep him in the big leagues.
For John Smoltz and his wife Dyan, 16 years of marriage was enough and the couple has agreed to divorce.
Just trying to keep that circle of life theme going.
Hank Bauer, 1922-2007
Former Yankee (and Athletics) outfiedler, as well as the manager of the World Series champion Baltimore Orioles in 1966, Hank Bauer passed away in the Kansas City area at age 84.
Bauer has the longest hitting streak in World Series history, 17 straight games from 1956 through 1958. Bauer had a hit in all seven games of the 1956 and 1957 series and in the first three games of the 1958 series before Warren Spahn of Milwaukee held him hitless in Game 4.
At the end of the 1959 season, the Yankees traded Bauer, along with Don Larsen, Norm Siebern, and Marv Throneberry to Kansas City in exchange for Joe DeMaestri, Kent Hadley, and an outfielder named Roger Maris.
Park finds his way to Flushing
According to the Korea Times, Chan Ho Park has signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the New York Mets.
No word yet from the New York papers.
Link via BTF
Just how much would you pay Harold Reynolds?
The New York Times quoting The Smoking Gun got hold of financial deals of Harold Reynolds contract with ESPN. It was part of a court filing for Reynolds wrongful termination suit for his abrupt departure last year. The reasons for the dismissal were never announced by ESPN, although the suit makes reference to a "brief and innocuous hug to a female intern."
Reynolds received a base salary of $750,000 for a minimum of 85 studio appearances in Bristol.
According to Baseball-reference's salary figures, Reynolds made about $2.16 million in his most highly remunerated year, 1992.
The story that everyone missed at the Caribbean Series
No, it wasn't the series win by the Dominican Republic.
It wasn't the last hurrah of Vinny Castilla.
The real story was the three-year suspension of Randall Simon for future Caribbean Series play. Simon was suspended for breach of contract and is believed to have signed two contracts with two different teams.
[Insert sausage joke here.]
The HOF's next worthy non-enshrinee?
Not that I think there is such a word as "non-enshrinee" but you never know.
Moving away from the fascinating world of pea soup, I bring you this article by Tim Marchman of the New York Sun about why Tim Raines likely will never make it to Cooperstown.
You can start looking for Buster Olney articles about why Tim Raines just wasn't that good for some reason he can't really determine. It's just a feeling.
Link via BTF
The Frank Robinson of soups
Such was the comment I made here in comment #60 about split pea soup.
I suppose there is good split pea soup made in this world. I know some people love it. But for me, it is something I cannot abide. And why is this so you may be asking? Actually, you're likely not asking and don't care one way or the other. But I will tell you anyway.
It all goes back to a hazy childhood memory. I don't even know what year it took place, but I'm guessing it was sometime around 1969 or 1970. The Timmermann family, Dad, Mom, and four sons, were on a weekend drive up the California coast.
Buellton's principal claim to fame in this era was one thing: split pea soup. In particular, Pea Soup Andersen's, a restaurant that actually specializes in serving split pea soup.
My parents must have really wanted some this soup and they dragged all four of their sons, who likely ranged in age from 4 to 10, and wanted them all to partake in the gustatory glory of split pea soup. But they didn't count on one thing: none of us had seen split pea soup before. Once my brothers and I saw what it looked like, we apparently decided, in a show of solidarity, to refuse to eat any. We insisted on eating off of the children's menu, which at the time consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here's a dessert menu from sometime in the 1970s.
Just why my parents thought their sons would, sight unseen, ride in a car for two hours and then get subjected to the green horror of pea soup, is still mind boggling. But what also surprised is how upset my mother was over the fact that we wouldn't eat the pea soup and how expensive the PB&J sandwiches were. I can't remember the exact price, but they were likely over $1 each. Throughout the years, the prices of the PB&Js were adjusted for inflation in my mother's retelling of the story about the trip to Buellton. Eventually, the sandwiches were served on solid gold plates and cost $50 each.
I actually ate split pea soup once when my grandmother (who lived with us and was the regular cook) made it at our home. I recall it as being one of the longest dinners of my life. A bowl of smelly green slop was tossed in front of me and I was told that my options were: 1) to eat it or 2) reconsider option 1 carefully. I was around 10 at the time and I believe that the moaning and wailing that I made as well as those made by my brothers put the kibosh on any future split pea soup dinners.
For all I know, if you like split pea soup, my grandmother might have made great split pea soup as she was a very good cook. But to this day, I associate split pea soup with a rare time that my mom tried to play hardball to get me to eat something. And also trying to make us feel bad about making them spend money. It was quite unusual on their part.
Now we can fast forward to early in 1993 and I'm with my parents at the Pasadena location of California Pizza Kitchen. My mom gets her order and realizes that it comes with whole slices of tomato on it. She peels them off and tosses them aside. I asked her if she had trouble eating them as she was suffering from colon cancer at the time.
She said, "No, I hate cold tomatoes."
Despite these clever mind games, I will still not split pea soup. And one day, I hope that Hap-pea finally hits Pea-Wee on the hand with his mallet.
Thanks for indulging this disgression from the usual offerings of obituaries and updates on whether or not Barry Bonds is ever going to sign his contract.
Selva Lewis Burdette, 1926-2007
Lou Burdette, born Selva Lewis Burdette on November 22, 1926 in Nitro, West Virginia, passed away in Winter Garden, Florida Tuesday at the age of 80.
Burdette pitched in 18 major league seasons, most of them with the Braves, but also with the Yankees, Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, and Angels. Burdette's shining moment came in the 1957 World Series when he won three games to the lead the Milwaukee Braves to their only championship. Burdette threw two shutouts against the Yankees in that series.
The linked article spells Burdette's first name as "Lou" although that was not used during his playing days. Most references use "Lew." But the story explains:
Burdette's family said Tuesday that "Lou" was the spelling of choice and would be placed that way on his gravesite.
Promise, threat, or boast? You choose
Tom Verducci of SI.com says that Barry Bonds wanted options that would easily vest for 2008 because he intends to play well into his mid-40s.
Giants pitchers are advised to make sure that all fly balls are hit to center or right.
Also, Bonds still has not signed his contract.
Hicks and partner finish Liverpool deal
Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks and Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillet, Jr. completed a deal to purchase the Liverpool football team, according to The Guardian. Hicks also owns the Dallas Stars of the NHL.
Overall, including debt taken on by Hicks and Gillet, the deal cost £218.9 million or about $430 million.
This season, Liverpool is third in the Premiership with 50 points, 13 behind leader Manchester United.
A time-honored excuse for retirement
Rick Helling announced his retirement today. Helling said it was time to spend more time with his family.
I've always thought the "spend more time with the family" was the reason given by politicians who are facing a scandal. Or getting eased out of their jobs.
Also, did you know that Helling actually pitched in 2006 in the majors? And Helling played on two teams that won the World Series (the 1997 and 2003 Marlins), although in 1997 Helling was traded for Ed Vosberg in August. And Vosberg is trying to make a comeback at age 45!
And in 2005, Helling was impaled in his left arm by a piece of a broken bat while pitching for Nashville of the PCL.
I also did not know that Helling played his college ball at Stanford.
Brewers lock up Hall for four years
Milwaukee locked up Bill Hall through his arbitration years as he was given a four-year, $24 million extension.
Thanks to Stolenmonkey86 for the non-death related tip.
Steve Barber, 1938-2007
Steve Barber, a hard-throwing, but often wild lefty pitcher for the Orioles, Yankees, Pilots(!!), Cubs, Braves, Angels, and Giants in 15 major league seasons, passed away at age 67 in Henderson, Nevada Sunday night.
Barber pitched 8 2/3 innings and walked 10 and hit two batters. Barber was one out away from the win in the ninth when he threw a wild pitch (his second of the game) with Mickey Stanley at bat that scored pinch runner Dick Tracewski from third base. Miller went on to walk Stanley to put runners on first and third and Miller came in to relieve.
Don Wert was up next and he grounded to shortstop Luis Aparicio who threw to second baseman Mark Belanger for the force, but Belanger dropped the throw and pinch runner Jake Wood scored to put the Tigers ahead 2-1.
The Orioles went down in order (with Frank Robinson leading off!) in the ninth against reliever Fred Gladding. Tigers starter Earl Wilson got the win and gave up only two hits in eight innings and neither hit to led a run. The Orioles lone run came on three walks and a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
Two weeks before the combined no-hitter, Barber threw a complete game one-hitter against the California Angels at Anaheim Stadium. Barber was two outs away from a no-hitter when Jim Fregosi doubled in the ninth inning.
In Barber's rookie year of 1960, he threw another one-hitter that was broken up by a hit by Hank Bauer in the sixth inning, who was Barber's manager in 1967.
Can Moneyball work with UK football?
David Runciman of Observer Sports Monthly penned a very long article about the applicability of statistical analysis to help English football teams become competitive.
In the end, Runciman wasn't optimistic that such analysis would help, but you never know, Adrian Boothroyd could become the Billy Beane of the Premiership.
Thanks to BTF for the pointer.
It is a long article in two parts. Enjoy it over lunch AND dinner.
Max Lanier, 1915-2007
Max Lanier, who pitched 14 seasons in the majors, which included three straight World Series apperances for the St. Louis Cardinals, passed away Tuesday in Florida at age 91.
During his career, Lanier led the NL in ERA one season, 1.90 in 1943. Lanier's son Hal played and managed in the majors as well. Papa Lanier batted .185 in his career and Son Lanier batted .225 as a shortstop.
Bucs bring back Sanchez and add Kolb
The Pittsburgh Pirates resigned the 2006 NL batting average champ and the pride of Burbank High Freddy Sanchez to a one-year, $2.75 million deal.
Pittsburgh also signed erstwhile good pitcher Dan Kolb to a minor-league contract.
The return of randomness?
The website Paper of Record is making freely available full images of the Sporting News back to its inception in 1886, so it looks like the Random Game Callback will return for the 2007 season, although I will just start with the 1886 season.
1886 through 2006 makes for 121 seasons, so I will be aiming to start in June and finishing up at the end of September.
I guess I will have another snowy Christmas
I guess I won't be seeing the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl on ESPN again this Christmas.
Belliard named as target of extortion case
Robert Patrick of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a report that former Cardinal second baseman Ronnie Belliard was the target of an alleged extortion. The brother of the man accused by Belliard identified the player to the newspaper.
Why a baseball player would get worried about having an extramarital affair exposed is even more surprising.
Belliard is currently a free agent.
Ray Berres, 1907-2007
Ray Berres, who played 11 seasons in the majors as a catcher and then served as the pitching coach for the Chicago White Sox from 1949 to 1966 (and 1969 as well), passed away in Kenosha, Wisconsin at the age of 99.
Berres was the second-oldest living major leaguer behind Rollie Stiles, who is 100.
The MVP settles contract
American League MVP Justin Morneau avoided arbitration with the Twins by signing a 1-year, $4.5 million contract.
The Twins also settled with Nick Punto (2 years, $4.2 million) and Lew Ford (one year, $985,000).
Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and Juan Rincon still have pending arbitration cases.
Mike Matheny, most recently with San Francisco as well as St. Louis, Toronto, and Milwaukee, retired after 13 major league seasons as a catcher because of the lingering effects of concussions.
In early December, Matheny underwent another extensive battery of tests at the Sports Concussion Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to determine if his symptoms had subsided. They had not. He said that on Dec. 28 he tried to exercise and after his heart rate had been elevated he experienced the same troublesome symptoms for a day and a half, such as fatigue, memory problems and a tough time focusing and seeing straight.
Step right up and sign up!
Austin Kearns resigned with Washington for three years and $17.5 million.
But former National Tony Armas, Jr. is headed toward Pittsburgh for one year and $3.5 million.
Hicks doesn't want to walk alone in Liverpool bid
Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is hoping to join up with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. in a bid to purchase the Liverpool football team. Hicks also owns the Dallas Stars.
Judge throws out suit for first 20,000 women in attendance
Orange County Superior Court Judge Jonathan Cannon dismissed a suit against the Los Angeles Angels and ruled that there were no violations of state law by having a promotion where only women entering the stadium last year on Mother's Day were given free tote bags.
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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