Baseball Toaster The Griddle
Monthly archives: December 2008


2008 sails away ... (with news added)
2008-12-31 09:10
by Bob Timmermann
 Roald Amundsen's dirigible, Norge, sails over the Arctic in 1926.

Photo from the Life archive at Google.

So long 2008. I enjoyed a pretty high proportion of your 366 days. How about you?

May 2009 be a peaceful one, or at least mostly peaceful.

Mark DeRosa found out on New Year's Eve that he will be playing in Cleveland in 2009.

And Brian Fuentes will be playing for the Angels in 2009.

Back by popular demand...
2008-12-30 10:06
by Bob Timmermann

The Dirigible Los Angeles. Photo from the Life magazine archives on Google.

John McGraw would have loved this soccer player
2008-12-29 19:49
by Bob Timmermann

According to a BBC report, Chippenham Town striker David Pratt drew a red card THREE seconds into a match at Bashley.

Chippenham Town plays in the British Gas Business Premier League, also called the Southern Premier League. The match drew an announced crowd of 389.

When you have nothing to write
2008-12-29 13:24
by Bob Timmermann

Just run a picture of the Graf Zeppelin, because Americans always demand more photos of dirigibles.



From the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.



In the UK, they know the important categories
2008-12-27 13:40
by Bob Timmermann

The official website of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (that's Gordon Brown, for those not scoring at home),, there is a section about the history of the office and it includes a section on stats (linked above).

Some of the stats are ones that you would expect:

  • Youngest prime minister: Willam Pitt (aka the Younger) - age 24
  • Shortest term: George Canning - 111 days
  • Longest service in Parliament: Winston Churchill, a week short of 64 years

Then you get to the fun stuff:

  • "Took part in duels" -  There were four and William Pitt makes another appearance
  • "Interested in horse racing" - There are five, including Churchill.
  • "Bushy side whiskers" - There were three. And the list includes Lord Palmerston. But not Margaret Thatcher.
Royals head south to look for prospects
2008-12-27 11:57
by Bob Timmermann

Wayyyyyyyyy south.

According to The Times of Johannesburg, the Kansas City Royals have given 17-year old Dylan Lindsay of Gauteng, South Africa, a seven-year contract. But Lindsay won't report to the Royals until 2010 after matric. (Matric is the term used in South Africa equivalent to high school graduation and placement in college.)

Lindsay is expected to pitch for South Africa in the upcoming WBC.

Lindsay’s mother Tracey Lindsay said it had always been her son’s wish to one day rub shoulders with international baseball stars. She said his ultimate dream was to play for the New York Yankees.


Report: New York Times looking to sell its stake in the Red Sox
2008-12-24 17:07
by Bob Timmermann

The Wall Street Journal (via this Reuters link) is reporting that the New York Times Company is looking to sell it's 1/7th (actually 17.5%) share of the Boston Red Sox, along with its stakes in the Boston Globe.

The Times has said that it is evaluating the future of its assets, which also include online encyclopedia and several daily newspapers throughout the United States, as it tries to meet its debt obligations and cut its borrowing.

Debt is proving difficult for many U.S. publishers to handle because they are bringing in less cash to make them able to meet their obligations. This is partly because of the fading relevance of printed newspapers to people now used to getting news for free online. The world financial crisis has only worsened the ad sale declines.

The Times could raise at least $200 million if it sold its stake, analysts and sports bankers told Reuters earlier this month. The team, while not central to the Times's business, could be attractive to many buyers despite the recession because it is popular with fans.


And you thought you knew him
2008-12-24 15:44
by Bob Timmermann

It's nearly two years old, but that's ancient history in the YouTube world:

Fortunately, I have the day off...
2008-12-24 10:04
by Bob Timmermann

Well, and I'm also male, but that sort of ruins the joke...

The check's in the mail, Bud
2008-12-22 20:34
by Bob Timmermann

The New York Yankees, fresh off missing the playoffs for the first time since 1994 (or 1993 if you're one of those people who insist that 1994 shouldn't count), got their luxury tax bill from the MLB Commissioner's Office.

And it's not the $75 tab you got in Monopoly (unless you bought a new game, it's up to $100), it was $26.9 million. Which is actually less than what Alex Rodriguez will be paid in 2009.

The Tigers owe $1.3 million in luxury tax. Again, Detroit is not the place to for a good ROI.

Valentine out as Chiba manager after 2009 season
2008-12-21 19:32
by Bob Timmermann

Bobby Valentine, one of the most successful American managers in Japanese baseball, and the Chiba Lotte Marines, agreed to part ways after the 2009 season.

"It's better this way, it gives me a year, and I'm looking forward to the season," Valentine told The Daily Yomiuri by telephone after team president Ryuzo Setoyama announced the team's decision in a meeting on Sunday.

"They did something really good," Valentine said. "They said attendance was up over the past five seasons...revenue was up...the teams results in terms of wins and losses was up, and they thanked me for my contribution to that. And then Setoyama said the team needed a revolution."

Valentine said Setoyama and a new regime will take over the front office functions and baseball operations that the skipper had once overseen.

"This is going to be fun," Valentine said. "I'm not going to have to worry about where the players are going to be three years from now, or whether or not a turnstiles in center field is working."

Valentine led the Marines to a Japan Series championship in 2005 and just missed out on another Japan Series berth in 2007, when the Nippon Ham Fighters, who were managed by another American, Trey Hillman, defeated the Marines in five games in the Pacific League Climax Series.

Dock Ellis, 1945-2008
2008-12-20 00:40
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Dock Ellis, a pitcher for 12 seasons in the majors including the 1971 World Series champion Pirates, passed away Friday of complications of a liver ailment. He was 63 years old.

Ellis threw a no-hitter at San Diego on June 12, 1970 and later admitted to being under the influence of LSD at the time.

In 1971, when Ellis went 19-9, he started the All-Star game for the NL at Tiger Stadium and gave up a long home run to Reggie Jackson of the A's that would have gone over the right field roof if it had not hit a light tower and bounced back.

On May 1, 1974, Ellis started a game in Pittsburgh against Cincinnati and hit the first three Reds batters (Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Dan Driessen) before walking Tony Perez (who apparently could duck better) and being removed by manager Danny Murtaugh.

Ellis also pitched in the 1976 World Series for the Yankees.

Thanks to Diane Firstman of Bronx Banter for the heads up.

Perhaps it is best I don't speak German
2008-12-19 15:45
by Bob Timmermann

I do not know what this is about. But I am not sure if I want to find out.

It's a big deal to me, period.
2008-12-18 23:30
by Bob Timmermann

From the NY Times story about the press conference introducing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankees:

When C. C. Sabathia joined the Milwaukee Brewers last July, he was said to prefer that his name be written as “CC,” with no punctuation. Mindful of that, the Yankees spelled his name that way on the scoreboard Thursday, although they included the punctuation in A. J. Burnett’s first name.

Sabathia laughed when asked for his preference. “You know what, you can spell it the way you want, man,” he said. “I don’t care.”

And how does Sabathia write it? “I write Carsten, if I have to write my name,” said Sabathia, whose initials stand for Carsten Charles. “You guys write it however you want. That got blown way out of proportion. It’s not a big deal.”
Oh, it's a big deal my friend. You don't know how much just yet. But you've made a powerful enemy when you tell the New York Times style guide people that you don't need periods in your name. And an even bigger enemy in me, who thinks that the New York Times uses way too many periods.

The last check of the home page of the online Times reveals "M.L.B." "N.B.A." "N.H.L." yet "NCAA" and "PGA". (Although in other parts of the page there is "P.G.A." and "N.C.A.A.: And the page has an RSS feed. Why not an R.S.S. feed?

In a perfect world, I will become publisher of the paper and show up for work the first day wearing a UCLA sweatshirt and tell the editors that from now on my alma mater will have its name punctuated correctly. Not like this offense to my eyes.

But I fear that the all powerful Extraneous Punctuation Lobby will be difficult to defeat. And I will slink away from this battle with nothing left but a semicolon and an apostrophe to my name.

When it comes to punctuation wars, there are no winners.


Nick Willhite, 1941-2008
2008-12-18 07:17
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Nick Willhite, who pitched for the Dodgers, Angels, Senators, and Mets in a five-year major league career, passed away in Alpine, Utah on Sunday from cancer at the age of 67.

According to the LA Times obituary, Willhite signed with the Dodgers in 1959 for a $50,000 bonus, but didn't reach the majors until 1963. Willhite threw a shutout in his major league debut, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs on June 16, 1963.

The obituary also mentions that Willhite turned around a difficult post-baseball life.

Willhite bounced around from one job to another, working as a pitching coach at Brigham Young University and in the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees organizations.

Divorced three times and living on the streets of Salt Lake City as a drug and alcohol addict, he reached out to another former Dodger pitcher, Stan Williams. Williams put him in touch with the Baseball Assistance Team, which helps former baseball players in need. Willhite entered a treatment center in 1989 and eventually became an addictions counselor.

Dave Smith, 1955-2008; pitched for Astros and Cubs
2008-12-17 21:41
by Bob Timmermann

Untitled Dave Smith, an All-Star reliever for the Houston Astros, passed away Wednesday near San Diego at age 53 of an apparent heart attack, according to his former teammate Joe Sambito.

Smith picked up 216 saves in his 13-year career, all but 17 of them for the Astros. Smith made the NL All-Star team in 1986 and 1990.


A day at Providence Plainsboro Hospital
2008-12-17 14:19
by Bob Timmermann

Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli, according to a report from a Rhode Island TV station and, does not have a mitochondrial disorder, but rather a channelopathy.

Apparently, this is good news for Baldelli. However, the reports don't say what kind of channelopathy Baldelli has. But just a good kind. I really don't know what a channelopathy is. But I presume channels are involved.

I envision Baldelli checking into a fancy hospital in his native Rhode Island for fatigue, where he was first treated by the dean of medicine of the hospital, an attractive woman who did not dress appropriately for the job. Her original diagnosis was that Baldelli had an ax in his head and would be dead in a week.

However, a limping bearded drug addict with a permanent two-day growth of beard decided to take Baldelli's case. This person is actually a brilliant doctor, but also one of the most misanthropic individuals to walk the planet. He also sounded like he was trying to stifle an English accent. The doctor actually refused to see Baldelli, but would instead write his symptoms on a grease board, while a team of younger doctors would run numerous tests, most of them pointless.

Eventually Baldelli's heart stopped beating, but he was shocked back to life. Then a few days later he had a seizure, which turned out to be nothing. Then the misanthropic doctor sent two of the doctors to search Baldelli's home and found out that the player might have picked up a rare mold that is found in only two places in the world: Rhode Island and Turkmenistan.

Baldelli was then given massive doses of a drug to treat the mold. However, Baldelli only got worse. This was because the misanthropic doctor was wrong.

Eventually, the misanthropic (yet brilliant) doctor went to talk to his only friend, who was a handsome otolaryngologist. That doctor thought that Baldelli might have just had a bad sore throat, but he really didn't want to talk and he asked the misanthropic doctor to change the channel on the TV in his office because he wanted to watch C-SPAN.

The misanthropic doctor then stopped. He thought deeply. He limped off to Baldelli's room, explained the diagnosis and a musical montage started.

These things I additionally believe
2008-12-16 21:45
by Bob Timmermann
  • I am not signing Rafael Furcal to a contract.
  • The state of California would be easier to govern if we didn't decide issues by signing clipboards outside of Target.
  • I know many things, but I don't know how the NBA salary cap works. But I don't really care.
  • I have ordered my heirs to publish a festschrift about me after I pass away.
  • I have included instructions to tell my heirs what a festschrift is in my will.
  • The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the second biggest tourist trap in America. The biggest tourist trap in America is an actual trap that ensnares humans in a cage on the outskirts of Moscow, Idaho.
  • The BCS Championship Game will never be remembered because it has a name that is entirely unmemorable.
  • My idea to call the BCS championship game the Super Terrific Happy Time Bowl was rejected because the Super Terrific Happy Time Company refused to sponsor it. They said it didn't fit their image. The company makes air conditioners and meat grinders.
  • I still believe the purchase of an upright mixer by me was justified even though I have not used it for over an year. Why? Because I used it tonight!
These things I also believe
2008-12-15 12:31
by Bob Timmermann
  • The Christmas season does not start until after my birthday.
  • "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is the best animated Christmas special ever. Even though it has very poor animation.
  • The real villain in "It's a Wonderful Life" is Sam Wainwright. I think he was the guy pulling Mr. Potter's strings. At least that's what I saw in my special director's cut of the film. Mr. Gower was actually an undercover agent for the FDA.
  • Arkansas and I could settle our differences if the state would only legalize pygmy goat racing.
  • UCLA should put the NIT championship banner for 1985 back up in Pauley Pavilion. If I had to suffer through the Walt Hazzard Era, so should everybody else.
  • I could write two names on a piece of paper just as well as any of these people.
  • There is only one truly evil baseball team in the majors. And it's the Padres.


These things I believe
2008-12-13 12:10
by Bob Timmermann
  • People waste a lot of energy fretting over free agency signings. In all sports.
  • There should not be a college football playoff until I find out just what the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl is about. I believe no actual magic is involved.
  • The World Baseball Classic will never be as big as the FIFA World Cup until it gets Togo to participate.
  • I like sports talk radio as much as I like shooting myself in the head.
  • I have not shot myself in the head lately.
  • I live in a world where people think Matt Vasgersian is really funny.
  • I am buying a rocket to shoot me into space to avoid living in this world.
  • Most people don't find the actual counting of the Electoral College votes as exciting as I do.
  • The NFL Network is available only in Cuba, the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and to people who are rich enough to afford flying jet cars piloted by holographic versions of Rich Eisen.
  • People who root for Notre Dame will have to answer for it in their afterlife.
  • People who root for the University of Arizona or the University of Wisconsin will have to answer for it when their livers fail.
  • Football game halftime shows are, without fail, a waste of time that could be better spent doing something productive, like going to the bathroom or working on the rocket to shoot me out into space.
  • There is no professional sport for which I want to watch its amateur draft. Ever.
  • I am, for the most part, no fun.
  • I believe the final "answer" about "Lost" will be unsatisfying to me. Mostly because it won't involve catcher's interference.
  • I would have been accepted into Stanford back in 1983 if I hadn't answered their application essay by starting off, "This is a very stupid question."
  • I will never be able to visit all 50 states in person because there is a price on my head in Arkansas.





Sal Yvars: 1924-2008
2008-12-11 15:18
by Bob Timmermann

Sal Yvars, a backup catcher for the Giants and Cardinals for eight major league seasons, passed away in Valhalla, NY yesterday at the age of 84.

While Yvars was not well known for his contributions on the field, he achieved notoriety long after he retired from the game when he confessed his complicity in a sign-stealing scheme employed by the New York Giants toward the end of the 1951 season.

From the New York Times, February 9, 2001:

''I was the guy,'' Yvars, 76, stated flatly, his wife, Ann, at his side. ''I relayed the signals to the batter. Now, if you're asking me if we could have won the pennant without stealing the signs, I would have to say, 'No way.' ''

Yvars explained it this way. A man sat in the center field clubhouse with a telescope nearly 500 feet away from home plate. When he spied the pitch signal between the catcher's legs, he pressed an electronic buzzer that was wired to the bullpen. The bullpen was in right field and in direct view of the batter. The man on the end of the bullpen bench was Sal Yvars. One buzz meant fastball, two meant off-speed.

''If it was a fastball, I would do nothing, sit still, maybe cross my legs,'' he said. ''If it was off-speed stuff I would toss a ball up and down.''


The second best thing to watch next to the NFL Draft Combine
2008-12-11 07:34
by Bob Timmermann

You can pay $14.95 and watch today's Rule 5 draft live on the web!.

Find out who the next Brian Barton will be just seconds before somebody else types his name on a website!

Let me tell you how old I am
2008-12-10 00:01
by Bob Timmermann

Since I'm 43 now and not 40, I'm not allowed to have any existential crises over my age. You can visit Dodger Thoughts for that in late November.

But if you want to go back to what the world was like at the time I was born:

  • Vietnam was two countries.
  • Germany was two countries.
  • Yugoslavia was one country. (It is now seven separate countries)
  • The Soviet Union was made up of what is now fifteen separate countries.
  • As far as the U.S. was concerned, China was a large unnamed land mass off the coast of Taiwan.
  • Branch Rickey had been dead for one day.
  • There had never been a heart transplant in humans.
  • Babe Ruth was the career home run leader with 714, but the all time NL leader was Mel Ott with 511.
  • My mother had no idea what the sex of her baby was going to be and the doctors had no sure way of finding out either until I was born.
  • Barack Obama was four years old.
  • "Hogan's Heroes" had been on the air for just four months (and an episode was on while I was being born). "Gilligan's Island" was in its second season. "The Brady Bunch" would not go on the air for four more years.
  • There had been only four James Bond films.
  • The following people had not yet been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Casey Stengel, and Roy Campanella.
  • The NFL had just 12 teams. The AFL had 8 teams. The NHL had 6 teams. The NBA had 9 teams. The AL and NL had 10 teams each.
  • Warren Spahn, Satchel Paige, and Yogi Berra were still active in the 1965 season.
  • Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates were all 10.
  • The phone company gave you your phone. And you liked it.
  • You pretty much just could watch what the three big networks and the small syndicated stations showed you. And you better be home when the show you wanted to watch was on. And there were lots of commercials for cigarettes.
  • Japanese cars were considered to be of inferior quality to American ones.


And as the comments say, this was the #1 song when I was born:

Kubek honored with HOF's Frick Award
2008-12-09 12:48
by Bob Timmermann

Longtime NBC announcer Tony Kubek, who retired from broadcasting after the 1994 season, was honored with the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick award.

Kubek worked for NBC from 1965 through 1989 and then worked for the Yankees from 1990-1994. Kubek also called Toronto Blue Jays games from 1977-1989.

Back in July of 2008, Kubek was interviewed by Harvey Araton of the New York Times, where he said that he had not watched a baseball game since he left MSG and the Yankees after the 1994 season.

“Part of it was that I didn’t like what was happening in the game, or what was going to happen. But part of it was that I had been around baseball my whole life. Everyone around me had been in baseball. I decided I didn’t want to be in it anymore, to go home and spend time with my family. I said goodbye, and that was it. I haven’t seen a major league game since I retired, even on television. I’ve never seen Derek Jeter play, though I do recall seeing him work out when he was very young and still in the minor leagues.”


Do not expect Kubek back in the Bronx anytime soon. The year after he retired from the broadcast booth, he made his feelings clear about George Steinbrenner in an interview with the Daily News.

“George is a detriment to an organization,” he said. “He’s a loser, is what he is. The guy is a loser, and you don’t work for losers. I don’t care how much money he throws at people or charities, you don’t balance the scale by treating people like crap.”
Is the award made of recycled tires?
2008-12-09 11:26
by Bob Timmermann

A press release from the good people of FieldTurf (via MarketWatch) lists the winners of the 2008 FieldTurf Baseball Awards.

There were four awards:

  • MLB Team of the Year - Tampa Bay Rays
  • NCAA Division I-A Coach of the Year - Mike Batesole of Fresno State
  • NCAA Division I-AA Coach of the Year - Ed Servais of Creighton
  • NCAA Team of the Year - Fresno State

So, why did Tampa Bay win instead of Philadelphia? Perhaps this explains it (emphasis mine):

TAMPA BAY RAYS (MLB) -- Without a doubt, the success story of the year, the Tampa Bay Rays went from a last place finish in 2007 to first place atop the toughest division in baseball. The Rays rode their 2008 regular season success all the way to the World Series. They hosted games 1 and 2 of the first World Series to ever be played on an infilled turf baseball field at Tropicana (FieldTurf).

Fresno State won the College World Series, so I can see why its coach and team were honored, even though the Bulldogs play on a grass field.

I'm not sure how you qualify for NCAA Division I-AA in baseball as there is no such classification. The NCAA just uses Division I, II, and III. The Division II champ last year was Mount Olive and the Division III champ was Trinity of Connecticut.

Creighton does use a FieldTurf field for some of its games.


The Word of the Year
2008-12-08 21:58
by Bob Timmermann

Via the NY Times Wordplay Blog is a video announcing the 2008 Word of the Year as chosen by Webster's New World Dictionary.


Johnson named manager of USA team for World Baseball Classic
2008-12-08 20:29
by Bob Timmermann

Davey Johnson, who led the US Olympic team to a bronze medal in Beijing, will manage the US team in next spring's World Baseball Classic.

Other managers:

  • Rick Magnante (South Africa)
  • Robert Eenhorn (Netherlands)
  • Luis Sojo (Venezuela)
  • Stan Javier (Dominican Republic)
  • Vinny Castilla (Mexico)
  • Anibal Reiuz (Panama)
  • Tatsunori Hara (Japan)
  • Kim in-Sik (Korea)
  • Ernie Whitt (Canada)
  • Jose Oquendo (Puerto Rico)
  • Marco Mazziero (Italy)

I still haven't found who is leading the squads for Australia, China, Cuba, or Taiwan.

If it didn't happen recently, it didn't happen
2008-12-08 19:11
by Bob Timmermann

In Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, his lead paragraph is:

Joe Gordon, a nine-time All-Star second baseman for the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians from 1938 to 1950, was elected today to the Hall of Fame by a vote of a veterans committee. But former Dodgers stars Gil Hodges and Maury Wills and current Dodgers Manager Joe Torre all fell short of enshrinement.

There were actually three other players who had Dodger ties on the two Veterans Committee ballots. Dick Allen and Al Oliver weren't Dodgers for a long period of time, but they did indeed play for the Dodgers. And Dick, called Richie at the time, was one of my first Dodger heroes back in 1971.

However, Bill Dahlen played in seven seasons for the Dodgers (five of them fulltime) as one of the best shortstops in the NL. However, Dahlen had the misfortune of playing from 1891-1911. Dahlen also managed the Dodgers from 1910-1913. Cyril Morong, who sponsors Dahlen's page, wrote about Dahlen missing out on the Hall of Fame.

Wes Ferrell also pitched one game for the Dodgers in 1940.

Tribune Company opts for Chapter 11, but Cubs reportedly unaffected
2008-12-08 11:03
by Bob Timmermann

The Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today according to an AP report.

However, the Chicago Cubs, which are owned by the Tribune Company, are not affected by the filing.

In a press release, the company said "The Chicago Cubs franchise, including Wrigley Field, is not included in the Chapter 11 filing. Efforts to monetize the Cubs and its related assets will continue."

Gordon lone selection of Veterans Committee
2008-12-08 10:03
by Bob Timmermann

The Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its results today. Joe Gordon was the only player to make it in.

Gordon, who was the AL MVP in 1942, is the first University of Oregon baseball player to make it to Cooperstown.

Gordon is the fourth player from a Pac-10 school to make the Hall of Fame, the other three are:

  • Reggie Jackson (Arizona State)
  • Jackie Robinson (UCLA)
  • Tom Seaver (USC)

Players who started their careers prior to 1942 were voted on by a panel of 12. Players who started after 1942 were voted on by the 64 living members of the Hall of Fame.

Results of the 2008 Post-1942 Players Ballot (48 votes needed for election): Santo (39 votes, 60.9 percent), Jim Kaat (38, 59.4 percent), Tony Oliva (33, 51.6 percent), Gil Hodges (28, 43.8 percent), Joe Torre (19, 29.7 percent), Maury Wills (15, 23.4 percent), Luis Tiant (13, 20.3 percent), Vada Pinson (12, 18.8 percent), Al Oliver (nine, 14.1 percent), Dick Allen (seven, 10.9 percent).

Results of the 2008 Pre-1943 Players Ballot (nine votes needed for election): Gordon (10 votes, 83.3 percent), Allie Reynolds (eight, 66.7 percent), Wes Ferrell (six, 50.0 percent), Mickey Vernon (five, 41.7 percent), Deacon White (five, 41.7 percent), Bucky Walters (4, 33.3 percent), Sherry Magee (three, 25.0 percent), Bill Dahlen, Carl Mays and Vern Stephens (fewer than three).

Results from here.





A-Rod opting to be a Dominican in 2009 in the WBC
2008-12-04 15:52
by Bob Timmermann

Alex Rodriguez, who initially wanted to play for the Dominican Republic team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, only to be pressured in to switching to play for the U.S. team, apparently wants to play for the Dominicans in 2009, according to Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports.

Alex Rodriguez, who nearly sat out the inaugural World Baseball Classic because he did not want to choose between playing for his native United States or the Dominican Republic, the country of his parents’ birth, is changing uniforms for the 2009 Classic.

The New York Yankees’ third baseman, who was on a star-studded U.S team that failed to advance to the semifinals of the first WBC, plans to play for the Dominican Republic this spring, according to Dominican slugger David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.

Ortiz is hosting a charity golf tournament in the Dominican city of Punta Cana this weekend. He said Rodriguez, who is playing in the tournament, is expected to announce his decision at the function. Rodriguez and Ortiz are close friends.

“He wants to play for the Dominican team,” Ortiz said by telephone Thursday. “We’ll talk about it now after he gets here, and he’ll probably announce it here.”

The Group of 171 loses some members
2008-12-03 12:49
by Bob Timmermann

There were 171 players who filed for free agency this offseason and slowly the number is dwindling.

After Jeremy Affeldt (Giants) and Ryan Dempster (re-signing with the Cubs), a few more players have signed up.

Mike Hampton with Houston

Russell Branyan with Seattle

Bobby Howry with San Francisco

Trever Miller with St. Louis. Miller set a major league record last year by appearing in his 121st consecutive game without recording a decision. Streak ending game here.

No batter, no batter ...
2008-12-02 22:17
by Bob Timmermann

Amidst all the tumult of the 2008 season, I didn't notice until I received my SABR Baseball Records Committee newsletter that Jason Bergmann of the Nationals set a major league record this year for most at bats in a season without a hit OR a walk.

Bergmann was 0 for 40 on the season although he did have two sacrifices. Bergmann struck out 20 times on the season.

The previous record in this category was 35 at bats by Hal Finney of the 1936 Pirates. Finney was a catcher and he somehow managed to drive in 3 runs and score 3 times, although he does not have any sacrifices on his record. Sacrifice flies were not a statistic at the time.

The AL record is 32 ABs by Ellis Kinder of the 1952 Red Sox. Kinder did not have any sacrifices in 23 games.

In a different record, Rickey Nolasco of the Marlins ended his team's string of 301 consecutive games without a complete game when he tossed a 6-0 2-hit shutout against the Giants on August 19, 2008.

Blue Jays owner Rogers passes away
2008-12-02 11:36
by Bob Timmermann

Ted Rogers, the owner of the Toronto Blue Jays and a telecommunications magnate in Canada, passed today in Toronto at the age of 75.

Rogers bought the Blue Jays in 2000 and had the name of the team's home park changed from SkyDome to Rogers Centre. The AP obituary states that Rogers' company, Rogers Communications is worth about $18 billion. Rogers, along with Twins owner Carl Pohlad, were likely the wealthiest people to own a baseball team.

Globe and Mail obituary.

And Cleveland, so we meet again...
2008-12-01 18:57
by Bob Timmermann

Via Craig Calcaterra's Shysterball, which is now part of The Hardball Times, I found this story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer about the local transit (RTA) train from Hopkins International Airport to Downtown Cleveland.

It's cheap, reliable and fast.

But the RTA rapid that whisks riders from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to downtown in 20 minutes -- for $2 -- has an identity problem.

Airport employees and those who arrive for conventions love it. Vacation and business travelers generally spurn it in favor of cars or taxis.


The rapid helped lure the Society of American Baseball Research convention to Cleveland last July. Many of the hundreds who arrived by air took the rapid to their downtown hotel, said Susan Petrone, director of communications for SABR.

If my cat had not been resting on my lap while I read that, I might have reacted by throwing my computer across the room. Or possibly just gotten more indignant.

I have subsequently discovered that the Marriott people refused to give me any points for staying at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. The Forest City just keeps on kicking me in the groin and standing over me taunting me and pelting me with pirogis.

Darvish signs new deal with Nippon Ham
2008-12-01 16:04
by Bob Timmermann

Highly coveted Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for a reported 270 million yen (about $2.8 million) for one year. Darvish went 16-4 with a 1.88 ERA and 208 Ks for the Fighters, who finished in third place.

''The numbers I put up don't look bad, but the team did not win
the championship and I was unable to win any major individual
pitching titles. It wasn't a satisfactory season,'' Darvish said.


Henderson featured name on smallest HOF ballot ever
2008-12-01 10:59
by Bob Timmermann

There are just 23 players on this year's BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot and Rickey Henderson seems to be the only sure candidate to win induction.

In addition to Henderson, there are nine other first time candidates on the ballot: David Cone, Jesse Orosco, Dan Plesac, Mo Vaughn, Greg Vaughn, Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Jay Bell, and Ron Gant.

There are 13 holdovers including Tim Raines, Bert Blyleven, Mark McGwire, Jim Rice, and Tommy John. Rice and John are in their last years of eligibility.

To be inducted, a player must receive 75% of the votes. There are about 575 eligible voters (the exact number won't be known until all the ballots are in). Ballots are due by December 31. The results will be announced on January 12, 2009.

The Veterans Commitee will anounce its selction on December 8.

(For the record, the BBWAA ballot is smallest in terms of the number of candidates. I assume the piece of paper it comes on is about the same size as it always is.)

Red Sox reportedly sign Tazawa to 3-year deal
2008-12-01 01:24
by Bob Timmermann

The Boston Globe reports that the Boston Red Sox have reached an agreement with Japanese amateur star Junichi Tazawa on a 3-year, $3 million deal. The Red Sox had always been considered the favorite to sign Tazawa, although the Rangers had shown some interest.

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