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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Turns out that the autographed baseball everyone was talking about earlier this week was purchased by someone close to the Mick:
On Monday, we told you the story of the Mickey Mantle baseball that was signed "F**k Yogi. Before putting it in their upcoming auction, the folks at Grey Flannel Auctions tried to sell it first for $2,750.
Not sure why they care, exactly. It's not as if this sort of thing being out in circulation is actually going to have a negative impact on Mantle's legacy. Indeed, he pretty much has it made in this regard. The man's a demigod, and nothing short of a closet Nazi affiliation is ever going to tarnish his image among fans. There could be 820 autographed balls, each with something more vulgar than the last, and people will still love the Mick.
Phillies' owner Bill Giles: All right, Scott, how much do you need?
Scott Eyre (doggedly): Two hundred and forty-two dollars!
Giles (pleading): Aw, Scott, just enough to tide you over till the bank reopens.
Eyre: I'll take two hundred and forty-two dollars.
Giles starts rapidly to count out the money. Eyre throws his passbook on the counter.
Giles: There you are.
Eyre: That'll close my account.
Giles: Your account's still here. That's a loan!
At least that's how I picture this thing going down.
Lincecum gets a pay raise:
The Giants and Tim Lincecum have reached agreement on a one-year, $650,000 contract, a source told The Chronicle. Lincecum then confirmed the figure. That constitutes a 62 percent raise over the $405,000 he earned last year. There is actually a split component to the deal. If Lincecum somehow wound up in the minors, he'd be paid at an annual rate of $243,000.
Indeed. Most of the folks who complain about baseball players being overpaid in free agency seldom mention how most are underpaid while they're still obligated to the team which drafted them.
Polls and baseball, together at last! Quick! Someone light the Nate Silver signal!
Sixty percent of baseball fans are bothered by steroid use by players, and 44 percent say Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll . . .
I suppose this is interesting in the abstract, but given that citizens don't have a direct role in validating or punishing a baseball player's performance like they do with politicians through the vote, I wonder if polls like these don't lend themselves to a greater cynicism and fatalism than do political polls. And if we are going to run polls like these, let's at least get more of them. I mean, I hate the exercise, but this poll would be far more useful if we could compare it to a poll of, say, Pete Rose's popularity circa 1989 or Roberto Alomar's in 1996.
Regardless, someone should probably tell the doomsayer columnists that, for all of the "A-Roid" outrage they are mustering, 56% of people either think A-Rod should be in the Hall of Fame or don't have that strong an opinion about it, and 59% either had a favorable opinion or no opinion about the guy. Maybe that's not stellar -- and a 44% Hall-opposition rate would keep him out if writers felt the same way -- but it's certainly better than you'd expect given the coverage over the past couple of weeks.
Buster on changes in attitudes and latitudes:
Talent evaluators within the game will make judgments about fastballs, about defensive skills, about a hitter's swing. But increasingly, it seems, makeup is regarded as a pivotal factor on whether a player is acquired or dumped -- and this might be part of a broader evolution in Major League Baseball, a shift in focus away from the need of the individuals, to an emphasis on the greater good of the organization.
I tend to think that this is more important than a lot of my sabermetrically-inclined friends believe. Or used to believe anyway, because even most statheads these days will acknowledge that the mere fact that you can't quantify chemistry doesn't render it unimportant. We've all worked in offices with jackasses, and there can be no denying that it has an impact on everyone's productivity.
But even if we acknowledge its importance, the concept is still often overstated. And Buster, I think, overstates it here:
The most prominent example in recent years might be the Tampa Bay Rays. After the 2007 season, the Rays moved to trade outfielders Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes. Other Rays felt Young simply was on his own program, conducted himself with sense of entitlement, and simply didn't work hard enough; in one memorable moment, teammate Carl Crawford, a player with a staggering work ethic, was ready to fight Young out of his frustration that Young simply didn't try to improve. Dukes played hard, but because of his off-field issues, he seemed unhappy a lot; this sapped energy out of the room.
I'm sure that in a candid moment Maddon would say that his life was made easier with Young and Dukes gone, but I can't help but think that "getting the best" out of the Rays' players was far easier given the fact that the players Maddon had in 2008 had a lot more "best" to give. Do we forget that Matt Garza was kind of a jerk himself last season? Do we ignore the fact that his jerkiness was far outweighed by the fact that he was the Rays' best starter? Is it possible that upgrading from Iwamura to Evan Longoria at third base and having the entire rotation improve dramatically had a bit more to do with the atmosphere lightening up than simply canning Dukes and Young?
Like I said, I don't want to overplay this hand, because I don't doubt that losing perceived troublemakers is increasingly important to teams. But like they say, no one ever talks about how great the chemistry is on a losing team, and when you're a troublemaker on a winner, you're considered "colorful."
(thanks to Jason at IIATMS for the heads up)
Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once - the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show? Somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, the women all have long legs and brains . . . and if Greenpeace and the NRDC get their way, the toilet paper will be beige and scratchy:
On Monday, Greenpeace for the first time issued a national guide for American consumers that rates toilet tissue brands on their environmental soundness. With the recession pushing the price for recycled paper down and Americans showing more willingness to repurpose everything from clothing to tires, environmental groups want more people to switch to recycled toilet tissue.
If they're really looking for environmentally-friendly options, they should probably consult George Brett.
Tim McCarver has won a legal victory against the investment advisor he claims fleeced him:
Memphis native and sports broadcaster Tim McCarver has been awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages as a result of the arbitration claim he filed over losses from Morgan Keegan & Co. mutual fund investments.
Probably good that he let his lawyer make the statement. If he had made his own statement, it would have gone something like this:
McCarver: You see, the arbitrators took my arbitration complaint, and then they arbitrated it. In that process, known as arbitration, they came to the conlusion that I was due an award. And then, as arbitrators are required to make a ruling following the proceedings -- again, known as arbitration -- they made that ruling, in the amount of $100,000. So I will be receiving $100,000 in the form of an arbitration award.
Buck: Thanks Tim. And while we were discussing that, Bobby Grich came out of retirement, turned an unassisted triple play, and then left the stadium on the back of a winged stallion of some kind. We'll try to get a reply for you right after these messages.
(link via BTF)
I've defended the Citi-Mets naming rights deal against the political attacks because those political attacks have tended to be misinformed and hypocritical. The Mets deal is a big fat obvious target, but the criticisms ignore the fact that there's an underlying contract in place that can't magically be undone. More generally, these attacks stink of political opportunism. After all, there are multiple other bank expenses -- including marketing expenses -- that the taxpayers shouldn't be underwriting and no one is attacking them with such vigor.
But That doesn't mean that naming rights deals are good things to begin with, and yesterday congressman Barney Frank pretty much nailed the concept to the wall:
“Marketing expenses should be for real marketing, not ego boosts, which is what I think naming rights are . . . Important men, in particular, like to hang out and ingratiate themselves with sports figures, and after the fact try to figure out how to make sense of the sponsorships as marketing or economic development . . . I don’t think anybody has ever opened a bank account or decided to buy a CD because a bank’s name is on the stadium."
Sounds about right. And he's also right about the Citi-Mets deal in particular:
Frank is not demanding that the bank break a valid contract that the Mets have said has no escape clause. “If there’s some cancellation fee, fine, but if it’s binding, it’s binding,” he said . . . “We can’t force them to break an existing contract” with the Mets, Frank said. “But we can put in some pretty strict conditions on them going forward.”
I'm sure there's a lot about his day-to-day politics that I don't agree with -- I disagree with everyone in every party about something at some point -- but when Frank starts talking informally about something, he usually makes a lot of sense.
Rijo is out, Bowden is reportedly right behind him:
The Nationals, according to multiple industry sources, are strongly considering firing general manager Jim Bowden and replacing him with Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava.
Nats Assistant GM Mike Rizzo is considered by many to be solid talent evaluator and a GM prospect himself. That said, given the circumstances of Bowden's imminent departure, I understand the desire to go outside of the organization to fill the vacancy.
Someone asked what the catching platoon was that I referred to yesterday. I'm ashamed to admit it because there's no way it pans out, but it's John Baker (FLA) and Dusty Ryan (DET). It's a sim league and I chose them based on MARCEL projections that are probably way off for at least Ryan because he's so young. I'm assuming it will be a disaster, but I couldn't bring myself to draft any of the dreck that was left on the board. And like Yogi (or someone) said, a catcher is very important. Without one, you have too many passed balls.
I don't even want to think about my second base situation. Mostly because we're like 20 rounds in, and I still don't have one. But hey, I have Renteria at short, and I'm sure he'll range to his left to get whatever is hit over there, right?