Monthly archives: January 2009
WBC tweaks rules slightly
The upcoming World Baseball Classic has announced six rules changes for the tournament starting on March 5.
Right and left
The sometimes mighty Casey has retired
Sean Casey has told a Boston radio station that he plans to retire and join a large, unnamed sports network run by a major professional sports league.
Bill Werber, 1908-2009
Werber broke in to the majors with the Yankees in 1930. He returned to the majors in 1933 and eventually was sold to the Red Sox. The Reds acquired Werber after the 1936 in exchange for Pinky Higgins. Werber finished his career with the Giants in 1942.
From the AP obituary:
Back on September 8, 1974, Werber wrote an open letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn in the New York Times about whether or not there should be a black manager in the majors. Werber was, to put it mildly, opposed to the idea. However, you can't read the article online unless you get a paid subscription to the newspaper.
'Sleeping Tigers' documentary available online
The National Film Board of Canada has made the documentary Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story available for viewing on its website.
The 50 minute film tells the story of one of Canada's finest amateur baseball teams prior to World War II, the Asahi team. This team, which was composed of all Japanese-Canadians, was a nearly unbeatable squad in British Columbia.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Canadian government (which had already been at war with Japan) decided to relocate all people of Japanese descent from the West Coast. This decision actually predated the U.S. government's decision to do likewise. The Asahi team members were forced to move east or move to internment camps and few, if any, moved back to British Columbia after the war.
It's a fascinating story and well worth investing an hour of your time in watching.
Here's a question for you: When were people of Japanese descent allowed to vote in British Columbia Provincial elections? The answer is here. You may find it surprising.
The Best Fans in Baseball(TM) can get cranky online
From a St. Louis Post-Dispatch online chat between readers and Cardinals GM John Mozeliak today:
Is this discount enough to make people actually want to see the Nats?
The Washington Nationals, aka the Worst Team in the Majors (59-102), have lowered the prices on about 14,000 seats.
Tickets will range in price from $5 to $325 per seat.
There is no truth to the rumors that the Nationals will actually pay people $5 to actually show up at certain games.
Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN now promises to be even worse
Yep, it's going to be a three-man booth with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, and Steve Phillips. STEVE PHILLIPS.
Yes, the man whom ESPN had host a series of mock press conferences and later forced people like Buster Olney to pretend they were asking him real questions. The man who drove the Mets to new heights with key acquisitions like Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, and Roger Cedeno.
I now look forward to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the SAP channel. Or the mute button.
My disbelief at this development has surpassed my ability to come up with snarky metaphors to describe it.
Think of the most horrible possible combination of sports announcers. Then double it. Then triple it. And you still won't surpass Morgan and Phillips for idiocy.
Random Presidential Inaguration - March 4, 1929 (UPDATED)
A cold and rainy Inauguration Day in Washington greeted the 31st President of the United States, Herbert Hoover. Nevertheless, the New York Times reported a crowd of about 50,000 to see the inaugural ceremonies.
Hoover, who had served incumbent Republican President Calvin Coolidge as Secretary of Commerce, defeated Democrat Al Smith in the general election by a 58%-40% margin in the popular vote and won 444 of 531 electoral votes, losing only 8 of the 48 states and even beating Smith in his home state of New York.
The big topic in Hoover's inaugural address was Prohibition, the hot button political issue of the time. Crime was a big issue, although Hoover wasn't ready to pin all the blame for the increase in crime to Prohibition.
However, Hoover also decided that one of the biggest problems with the enforcement of Prohibition was that a lot of people were breaking the law. So people needed to stop doing that.
The rest of Hoover's address was not exactly soaring oratory. There was talk about how the U.S. needed to work with the rest of the world to ensure world peace, but it wasn't going to join the League of Nations. There was discussion of increased funding for public health measures and the inevitable mention of tariffs. Hoover called for a special session of Congress to deal with such matters.
Unfortunately for Hoover, he had this passage:
Well, it was bright with hope for about six months.
Four years later, Hoover would get only 39.7% of the vote against Franklin Roosevelt's 57.4%. And Roosevelt won 472 electoral votes to Hoover's 59, winning 42 of 48 states.
For those not scoring at home, Hoover's VP was Charles Curtis of Kansas. He succeeded another Charles (Dawes). This was the only time in U.S. history when consecutive vice-presidents had the same first name.
Also at the inauguration: dirigibles! (NEW LINK)
Young agrees to take Gold Glove about 25 feet to the right
Texas Rangers infielder Michael Young, who won the Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008, has finally agreed to shift over to third base for the 2009 season. The Rangers want to give top prospect Elvis Andrus the chance to play at shortstop.
Elvis Andrus' parents were so excited about their son playing in America that they decided to change his name so he would match one of America's most iconic figures: Jimmy Carter's Secretary of the Interior.
Frank Williams, 1958-2009
After Williams' playing career ended, he was beset by problems caused by alcoholism and spent much of his time in homeless shelters and detox centers, according to his obituary in the Times-Colonist (linked above).
Williams started only one game in his career and it was a shutout, a 5-inning 7-0 win for the Giants in St. Louis on May 5, 1984.
The Paul Byrd semi-retirement plan
Free agent pitcher Paul Byrd says he doesn't want to sign a contract with any team now and go to spring training, citing a desire to spend more time with his family.
I'm not sure that teams will be banging down the door to sign up Byrd. However, good teams (like the Yankees and Mets) want to sign Freddy Garcia, so what do I know?
This is what my day has been like:
He will never be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered again
Todd Greene joins Dunder-Mifflin St. Petersburg
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon has named Todd Greene as the Rays new "quality assurance coach." The job is described as "instructional and self-scouting."
Dunder-Mifflin's quality assurance officer for the Scranton office hasn't updated his blog in a while.
Preston Gomez, 1923-2009
Preston Gomez, who played in just eight major league games, yet still spent 64 years in professional baseball a coach, scout, and manager, passed away in Fullerton today at the age of 85 most likely from complications arising from getting hit by a car at a Blythe, California gas station back in spring training of 2008.
Gomez played in the majors for the Washington Senators in 1944, but achieved more notoriety as the first manager of the San Diego Padres. Gomez skippered the Padres for their first three seasons before being fired early in the 1972 season. Gomez latered piloted the Astros for one and a half seasons and also managed the Cubs for 90 games in 1980.
Two rules changes up for vote this week
MLB owners are going to vote on two rules changes at their meetings in Paradise Valley, Arizona, this week.
If the second rule had been adopted for previous tiebreakers, here's how they would have played out:
In one game tiebreakers, the home team is 5-4.
You can get boxscores of all the tiebreaker games in one place at Retrosheet.
Tigers try to save money by signing pitcher with short name
The Detroit Tigers, after having to pay the luxury tax last year, have decided to cut back on some expenses by signing a pitcher who would save them money in the all important expense of "letters used for names on jerseys."
The Tigers have given a minor league contract to Taiwanese pitcher Fu-Te Ni. Ni, if he makes it to the majors, would tie Dodgers infielder Chin-Lung Hu for the record of shortest surname in major league history.
Presently, the Tigers roster has three players with four letter surnames: Bobby Seay, Brandon Inge, and Dusty Ryan. The six letters in Ni's full name would be fewer than the letters in 17 Tigers players last names.
Will the specialty of the house be Steak a la Selig?
MLB is opening up its first officially licensed restaurant. However, it will be in Tokyo. And it's not going to open until September 17.
The restaurant is supposed to feature a 500-inch television screen. I'm not sure that I want to eat a restaurant and watch a 40-foot high television image of Randy Johnson.
2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Results
(Gin Rickey) Henderson
Jim (Rice University)
Not making it in:
Jack (Morris the Cat)
William Zantzinger, 1939-2009
Dave Roberts, 1944-2009
Roberts pitched for the Padres (two other players with the same name have also played for the Padres), Astros, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Pirates, Mariners, and Mets. Roberts pitched in the 1979 World Series for the champion Pirates.
The Braves Statute of Limitations?
John Smoltz is expected to sign with Boston soon. This means that after being on Atlanta's big league roster for 21 seasons (although just playing in 20 seasons as he missed the 2000 season with an injury), Smoltz will likely finish his career in a Boston uniform.
Henry Aaron played in 21 seasons for the Braves (1954-1974) before playing his final two seasons for the Brewers.
Warren Spahn played for 20 seasons for the Braves (1942, 1946-1964) before playing his final season for the Mets and Giants.
Among players for other franchises, Ty Cobb played 22 seasons for the Tigers before playing his final two for the Athletics. Willie Mays played 21 seasons for the Giants before moving on to the Mets. Mays and Spahn both missed time because of military service.
The most seasons any pitcher had who pitched for the Braves and no other franchise is nine seasons by Rick Camp. The longest-tenured Braves "lifer" is Chipper Jones who will be playing his 16th season for the Braves in 2009.
It doesn't pay to get me angry
Orioles employing the Black Ships?
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun leads his story about the Orioles signing of pitcher Koji Uehara to a 2-year deal:
No doubt this involved Orioles scouting director John Stockstill steaming into Tokyo Bay in a giant black ship exposing the hermitic world of Japan to the wonders that are Baltimore.
Omaha, city of baseball stadiums?
This isn't about the College World Series, but rather the minor league teams of Omaha.
The city of Omaha is scheduled to open up a new stadium for the College World Series in 2011 in Downtown Omaha and it should seat about 24,000. It will be the home of the College World Series, replacing venerable Rosenblatt Stadium.
Coming to the rescue, as it were, is the independent American Association, which has announced that it will place a team in Omaha to play in the new stadium in 2011. That team does not have a name yet. Or even exists at this time.
Carl Pohlad, 1915-2009
Carl Pohlad, perhaps baseball's wealthiest owner, has passed away at the age of 93. The late owner of the Minnesota Twins was ranked as the 102nd wealthiest person in America by Forbes magazine.
When Carl Pohlad was 85, his mother passed away. She was 104. Invest in Pohlad genes.
Paving baseball and putting up a shopping center?
The Wukesong Sports Center, site of the Olympic Baseball Tournament in Beijing this past August, is going to be torn down and the area converted into a shopping center.
Coming soon to a television set not near me
The MLB Network's appearance on my cable provider (Time Warner) will happen as soon as there is leg of unicorn available in the meat section of my supermarket I fear.
On my cable system's website, the MLB Network's existence is not even acknowledged. (If that link doesn't work right, enter 91030 as the ZIP code.)
There is also a page that lists which HD channels are available:
I do get the channels that are first listed on the page.
Then there are a bunch of channels that are coming soon, including fairly popular channels like USA, Bravo, SciFi, and FX.
Here is the list of when these will become available in different parts of TWC's service area. I'm cutting and pasting it:
I knew I should have moved to Cudahy. My hometown (South Pasadena) isn't even on the list of "coming soon." Also note how the mysterious "The Farm" is listed under T. And the Point Mugu Naval Station is listed under Naval Base (Point Mugu). And people who live in Horsethief Canyon have better service!
The beauty of the MLB Network (STILL MORE UPDATES)
Despite advertising its spot on my cable system (Channel 276 or 470), here is what the MLB Network looked like to me on those two channels.
So I decided to take up Time Warner on their offer of 24/7 tech support. Eventually, a guy got on the phone and told me, "Well, most people got it today. Some get it next week. As for you, you'll get it on February 10."
"Or the 11th."
According to MLB.com's chief propaganda writer, Barry Bloom, the MLB Network is a big hit. Apparently some people can see it. They likely aren't Time Warner customers.
I know it was tough for Time Warner to make room on its cable systems for a channel it owns a stake in. And had well over a year to plan for.
It really makes me want to go back and get all my news via telegraph.
(UPDATE) Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball reports on the various problems that people (like me!) have had getting the MLB Network on their cable system.
I'm referenced later in Maury's post and I think the problem that my system has hardware problems. This could be why channels like FSN Prime and AMC show up on my system as if I'm looking at them on a set borrowed from Philo T. Farnsworth.
UPDATE 2 - The MLB Network disappeared from the onscreen guide on my cable system. I'm glad I got photographic evidence. The obelisk awaits....
The 10-yard lie?
The New York Times ran a front page article on New Year's Day about one of my numerous pet peeves in sports, the first down chains.
Maybe it's not a peeve (and I have enough peeves that are pets of mind that Animal Control has cited me), but I've always wondered why a sport that seems to love technology as much as football uses such a decidedly low tech method of determining first downs.
And here's where the system of measuring for first downs can go awry:
Why do they need chains? Why don't they just look at the original line of scrimmage when the first down was made and eyeball it? It would be just as accurate. And then you don't have to waste time in the game with people running in and out with chains.
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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