Monthly archives: December 2008
2008 sails away ... (with news added)
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...
The Dirigible Los Angeles. Photo from the Life magazine archives on Google.
John McGraw would have loved this soccer player
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
Just run a picture of the Graf Zeppelin, because Americans always demand more photos of dirigibles.
In the UK, they know the important categories
The official website of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (that's Gordon Brown, for those not scoring at home), Number10.gov.uk, 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:
Then you get to the fun stuff:
Royals head south to look for prospects
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.)
Report: New York Times looking to sell its stake in the Red Sox
The Wall Street Journal (via this Reuters link) is reporting that the New York Times Company is looking to sell it's
And you thought you knew him
It's nearly two years old, but that's ancient history in the YouTube world:
Fortunately, I have the day off...
The check's in the mail, Bud
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
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.
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
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
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.
From the NY Times story about the press conference introducing CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to the Yankees:
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
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.
Dave Smith, 1955-2008; pitched for Astros and Cubs
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
Tampa Bay outfielder Rocco Baldelli, according to a report from a Rhode Island TV station and MLB.com, 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
These things I also believe
These things I believe
Sal Yvars: 1924-2008
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:
The second best thing to watch next to the NFL Draft Combine
You can pay MLB.com $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
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:
And as the comments say, this was the #1 song when I was born:
Kubek honored with HOF's Frick Award
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.
Is the award made of recycled tires?
A press release from the good people of FieldTurf (via MarketWatch) lists the winners of the 2008 FieldTurf Baseball Awards.
There were four awards:
So, why did Tampa Bay win instead of Philadelphia? Perhaps this explains it (emphasis mine):
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
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
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.
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
In Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times, his lead paragraph is:
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 B-R.com 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
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.
Gordon lone selection of Veterans Committee
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:
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
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.
The Group of 171 loses some members
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.
No batter, no batter ...
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
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.
And Cleveland, so we meet again...
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.
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
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
Henderson featured name on smallest HOF ballot ever
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
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.
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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