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Friday, March 06, 2009
Just surfing before stepping out for the day when I came across this interesting little nugget in a travel piece about Hana, Hawaii in the San Francisco Chronicle:
At the end of World War II, San Francisco industrialist Paul Fagan built the first-ever Hawaiian hotel outside Waikiki. He could hardly have chosen a more obscure location: It had been only 20 years since Hana, on the island of Maui, was linked to the outside world by a rough dirt road, and it would be almost two decades more before it was paved.
I know it's not practical in this day and age, but I've always been taken by the idea of teams just sort of disappearing to some warm and isolated locale for spring training. They used to do it all the time, spending a month or two doing deep knee bends or whatever in some far off town in the cotton fields somewhere, and then barnstorm their way back home for opening day. The spring training reports of the time read like dispatches from a far off land. I'm guessing they whetted the appetite of the bugs and cranks something fierce. And when the hometown nine made their first appearance in April, I imagine it truly was a dramatic unveiling.
The Angels' blog Three Days of Cryin' has a lengthy interview with former Red Sox and Angels shortstop Rick Burleson. I always knew who Burleson was, of course, but before this interview I really couldn't tell you much about his career beyond the highlights and lowlights of the teams on which he played, so this was a supremely enjoyable read. Highlights: Burleson's very centered and reasonable take on the life of a minor league manager and the behind-the-scenes details of what it's like to suffer a major injury as a player.
Definitely worth your time today.
Every retired player has to have a hobby, and it looks like Brady Anderson's is flipping houses (last item):
Brady Anderson, a former major league baseball player, has become a house designer with his re-do of a Malibu home he listed at slightly under $9 million.
Given the rumors about Anderson -- the steroid rumors, that is -- his timing was impeccable, in that he retired just before PED testing began. I'm less impressed with the timing of his entry into the high-end real estate market. But hey, dude made $42 million in his career, so I suppose he could afford to lose a couple of million on California real estate.
Ian O'Connor thinks it might be wonderful that the Yankees are going to be without the second best player in baseball for an extended period:
And yet this is no cause for the mass hysteria that greeted Y2K. The team could lose its most feared and productive hitter, and yet the sky isn’t falling on Tampa, the Bronx, or on any other corner of the Yankees’ vast universe. Why? Because an extended A-Rod absence would swing open a door of delicious opportunity, that’s why. The Yankees could go back to being the Yankees. They could go back to being the team that won four championships in five years with reliable pitching and a harmonious band of position players that didn’t need a slugger whose favorite teammates are Me, Myself and I.
If the ability to crush a baseball was as insignificant compared to character and teamwork as O'Connor implies, why doesn't he advocate for the Yankees to just sign O'Neill, Martinez, Brosius and, hell, Chili Davis right now? I'm sure their character is still intact, even if their bat speed isn't.
Update: I should have probably just linked this and said nothing more.
(link via BTF)
As I said in a comment the other day, I've been fighting the last war with respect to public funding for ballparks for quite a while now. Really, the time to rally against this sort of thing was a good 15-20 years ago, as the majority of teams have already gotten their taxpayer handouts. But even if whatever I say about this stuff constitutes an exercise in deck chair rearranging, I can't give up the fight, even if it's a losing one:
A South Florida lawmaker wants to give Miami-Dade County voters the right to approve whether public funds are spent on a Florida Marlins stadium. Rep. Richard L. Steinberg of Miami Beach has filed an amendment to a bill dealing with public funding of professional sports teams. Steinberg says voters should have the right to weigh in on whether tax dollars should be spent on a stadium.
Governance by referendum can be an inefficient thing, but when it comes to big giveaways that, over the long term, are only going to benefit some very narrow interests, it's probably not a bad idea to let the people have a say.
I missed this the other day, but in light of the problems in the Dominican, the chatter about a potential worldwide draft is increasing:
Recent cases of fraud and potential corruption involving the signing of baseball players in Latin America have cast new attention to the possibility of a worldwide draft in major league baseball.
And there certainly are problems down there and in other countries not subject to the draft. It's worth noting, however, that apart from addressing the kickbacks and other unseemliness, the powers that be in baseball have another, less-noble incentive to institute a draft, and that's to scale back the bonuses Dominican free agents have been getting in recent years. There's no escaping the fact that an international draft would work to lower salaries. And maybe that's worth doing if it does other good things. But in light of this obvious effect, you'd think that the writer would have asked someone from the union for a quote or two.
(thanks, as always, to Pete Toms for the link)
USA Today looks at why, apart from simply being a baseball-mad country, Cuba is able to produce so much talent:
"Everyone plays all positions until about age 15," says Adelio Garcia, manager for this team of top 13- and 14-year-olds from the western Havana district of Playa. "They like kids with many skills."
You read this thing and your first impulse is to be taken somewhat aback at how serious they take this. Then you realize that the traveling leagues and all of that jazz that we put our kids through is no less odd.
Things to read while you fume over the fact that a last minute hearing scheduled by your opponent in litigation is preventing you from being able to wear jeans to work today:
Speaking of that hearing, things may be a bit slower around here than usual today. Apologies, but unfortunately, my kids insist on eating and stuff.