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Thursday, December 04, 2008
As we speak, snow is falling on empty baseball diamonds. GMs and reporters are planning to get on airplanes and head to Las Vegas tomorrow after telling their wives that the Winter Meetings start on Friday night instead of Monday. Prince Fielder is sitting in a lounge chair and enjoying the realization that Ho-Hos are vegetarian. In other words, it's slow season, and when slow season strikes, you start thinking and reading about stuff that isn't quite baseball.
One thing that I just read (and I have no idea why I was reading it, but there you are) is a post from Arianna Huffington about the nature of blogging. In it she says:
Blogging is all about connecting to others. The bond between blogger and reader creates an intimacy that is a much-needed corrective to the isolation that hard times bring. I'm always amazed by the things I learn from commenters I've never met but feel that I know. And I'm equally amazed by the things I keep discovering about myself in the course of writing and clarifying what's important to me.
She may be kind of loony, but she's not wrong. As I went on and on at length about back in October, the whole blogging thing works for me because of the conversational nature of it all. Because of the commenters who teach me way more than I teach them. Because when you write 160+ posts a month, you don't have to worry about being wrong once in a while, and the fear of being wrong is what makes for some really tepid writing and analysis in the first place.
It's a scary world these days, and between the wars and the economy and everything else, it's not easy to find a comfy place in which to relax. This place serves that purpose for me, and I just wanted to thank all of you for helping to make it what it is.
This is a kind of neat article about some insanely complicated master control room equipment for monitoring video feeds and stuff. I say "kind of neat" because I don't understand about every fifth word, so I'm erring on the side of caution. Anyway, it appears that the MLB Network has bought one of these bad boys:
Among the most recent customers of the NV8576/Kaleido-X integrated system was Major League Baseball, which installed it for its new MLB Network, slated to debut Jan. 1. The network is broadcasting out of the former MSNBC studios in Secaucus, N.J., which was undergoing a massive retrofitting at press time.
Of course, if the MLB Network hired the right kind of employee, they wouldn't need so many people to monitor all those screens.
It's OK if you don't get the reference. It's a pretty pathetic reference.
The MLBPA has issued its annual report on players' salaries. Highlights:
The average salary in Major League Baseball this season was $2.93 million, the players' association said Thursday in its annual report. The 3.6 percent increase was the smallest since 2004, when the average declined 2.5 percent from the previous season.
Don't you hate it when things are phrased that way? "The smallest since . . ." and then the year range is, like, two years?
The average salary had been $3.15 million on opening day, according to the commissioner's office, but the figure always declines during the season as higher-paid veterans are released and replaced by lower-paid young players.
That's something I never think about. There are always 500 stories in the papers about average salaries in April, but none at the end of the season, so we're usually being misled.
The New York Yankees topped the major leagues in average salary for the 10th consecutive season despite a disappointing year in which their streak of postseason appearances ended at 13. The Yankees' average of $6.86 million was down from a record $7.47 million last year.
That's some pretty sharp editorialzing for an otherwise straightforward news report. Must have been written by a Rays' fan.
The Chicago Cubs were second at $4.68 million, followed by the Los Angeles Angels ($4.56 million), the Chicago White Sox ($4.5 million), the Los Angeles Dodgers ($4.37 million), Boston ($4.2 million) and Detroit ($4.15 million).
Which of these teams is not like the others in terms of bang for-its-buck?
The commissioner's office will not determine its final figure for several weeks. Major League Baseball's numbers usually differ slightly than those of the players' association because of different methods of calculation.This is not technically true. Yes, the Commissioner's Office comes up with different numbers, but it's not because of methodology. It's because Bud Selig goes in and writes the suffix "-gajillion" at the end of every figure. And just because it's in crayon doesn't mean it's any less official. He's the Commissioner.
I'm two days late on this, but tHeMARksMiTh has a really good post up about the economy's effects (and potential effects) on baseball. One thought that appeals to my inner conspiracy theorist:
Is this the perfect time for collusion? . . . think about it. If you were to collude to really drop players' salaries, this is the time isn't it? When they drop, people think it was the economy that affected teams and consequently lowered salaries.
Mark doesn't go all-in like a tried and true tinfoil hat wearer like me would, but if reasonable people like him are thinking about it, you can bet that the union guys have thought of it already too. Just wait: if Dunn really does sign that 3/$36 million deal, someone will scream collusion.
Heck, collusion arguments are fun, so it may even be me!
Anyone who enjoyed Wezen-Ball's post about the fun predictions contained in the 1981 Sporting News Preview should click on over to Scott Simkus' blog, where he has unearthed a 1926 interview with John McGraw in which Little Napoleon makes a few predictions and historical observations of his own. The predictions aren't as bold -- McGraw picks the Giants to win the 1926 pennant, natch -- but the things he has to say about the importance of baseball in New York and the economics of the game have some time-warping effects all the same.
WaPo's Dave Sheinin notes that Frank Howard is out of a job and makes a pitch for the Nationals to do something about it:
At 72 years old, Howard is, in fact, a free agent, having been let go recently by the New York Yankees, for whom he had been working as a professional scout. He had a lifetime contract with the Yankees, courtesy of longtime owner George Steinbrenner, but -- with the Boss in poor health, and having ceded control of the franchise to his sons, Hal and Hank -- Howard was approached about terminating the contract, and agreed to do so . . .
I agree completely. History matters in baseball, and the Nats -- a team without much of an identity of its own -- have a century's worth of baseball in Washington lying around waiting to be claimed.* Even if they don't need him as a scout, Howard could prove incredibly valuable just by hanging around to do media, meet the fans, and serve as an ambassador for Nats' baseball. It's not like the Texas Rangers are claiming him.
Added bonus: if the Nats take my advice from yesterday and sign Adam Dunn, they could print up a bunch of posters with the 6'6" Dunner next to the 6'7" Howard and call it "Return of Hondo" or somethin'.
Like you wouldn't buy one?
*Before you chime in with the wisecrack, no, the Senators were nowhere near as bad historically as we tend to think of them today (See: Neyer, Rob: Big Book of Baseball Lineups).
Remember how, in the early 90s, team nicknames took a turn towards the intangible? The Heat and the Magic spring to mind, but there were many others.
I thought the trend had died, but the renaming of the Supersonics (itself a rather conceptual nickname) to the "Thunder" seems to have revived this ugly business. Now it's extending to baseball:
So long, Warthogs. The Twin City’s minor-league baseball team has a new name — the Winston-Salem Dash.
Ugh. And it gets better! According to the article "Mandalay’s own graphic designers did most of the work on the new purple, black and silver logo."
I assume that by "silver," they meant "teal."
If I were a millionaire philanthropist I'd pretty much become Batman, because -- well, just because. Batman is cool, and if I have to explain it to you you're beyond help. Of course, that gig is already taken, so I'd specialize: I'd only take cases and mete out black-caped vigilante justice to people who mess with baseball. Stuff like this:
[Joe] Easter is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can help law enforcement arrest the people responsible for stealing precious items from his Kingston home on the 5600 block of Ohio 180.
I wouldn't take the reward, though. I'd donate it to the Jimmy Fund or something and then disappear into the night.
As you have no doubt already heard, the Padres have traded Khalil Greene to the Cardinals.
The trade is on hold, however, pending the results of Gary Templeton and Sixto Lezcano's physicals.
From the Myrtle Beach Sun-News' Sean Horgan, as he contemplates the Hall of Fame ballot:
I also think you can make a Don Sutton-type argument for David Cone at some point, even though he's only packing 194 wins.
Can someone explain to me what a Don Sutton-type argument that doesn't include win totals looks like?