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Monday, March 23, 2009
A run of the mill notes column yesterday, with this thrown in:
The Reds have let teams know that they will wait and see whether they need to move Aaron Harang during the season. Harang is scheduled to make $12.5 million next season and $12.75 million with a $2 million buyout for 2011. After going 34-23 with a 3.68 ERA from the start of the 2006 season until he made his four-inning relief stint on two days' rest on May 15, 2008, he went 4-11, 5.88. "Aaron's been OK this spring, because he battles so hard," one scout said. "But the life on the ball he runs in on left-handed batters isn't the same."
I just love the passing reference to the two days' rest thing. It's the sort of thing a lesser writer -- like me and every other self-important overreacting blogger out there -- would pound on for a week, casting all sorts of implied and not-so-implied aspersions on Reds' management in the most intemperate of terms.
Gammons, though: cool and concise, and just passive aggressive enough to add some pointed commentary to the note. Indeed, that half a sentence, coming from a guy like him, is far more damning than all of the wind a guy like me could bluster. Gammons has seen it all in this game and knows that there's no sense in going crazy. It's that kind of thing, I suspect, that keeps a guy from getting burned out over the course of a seven month season and seemingly interminable offseason.
Of the wishes I have for my own writing, chief among them is to one day have the discipline and ability to make the necessary point with an economy of words and the perspective that is due. I doubt I'll ever get there -- I love these little set-off clauses and ego-driven verbal gymnastics far too much -- but we all have to shoot for something.
It wasn't much in doubt, but now it's official:
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling says he's retiring from baseball.
Thank God Schilling has been relieved of practicing the discretion required of a working Major League ballplayer and can finally open up and tell us how he really feels about things.
Russ Smith from Splice Today has visited 17 ballparks. He runs them down today. The difference between him and most other folks who write this sort of thing (myself most especially): He's capable of honesty when it comes to his own team's park:
Fenway Park. Surprisingly, I have mixed feelings about Fenway, despite a slavish allegiance to the Sox. I haven’t been there in several years—the prices are prohibitive for a family of four—and so have thankfully missed out on the bandwagon fans since the team broke their curse in ’04, but the myth of the “lyrical little bandbox” is a little rich for my blood. Until recently, the groundskeeping and drainage was awful, so much so that one June night in the late 90s, after a violent but short thunderstorm had flooded not only the field but the ground floor inside as well, the game was postponed even though the sun was suddenly shining at the schedule start time. In addition, the seats are cramped and not built for people who weigh over 150 lbs. The hardcore fans can be very nasty, even to fellow Sox partisans, and only in puritanical Boston would a 40-year-old have to show identification to buy an overpriced Coors Light beer. That said, the atmosphere both inside and outside Fenway is truly electric; no baseball icon, in my opinion, tops the Green Monster; and I’ll never forget the day Pedro Martinez, then in his prime, fawned over one of my sons, giving him a piece of Bazooka bubble gum.
As Russ notes, every ballpark means something different to different people, so I never get tired of reading this kind of thing, and in fact, I should probably write my own sometime soon. Better yet: if someone can figure out that pay-for-content thing I mentioned this morning, I'd gladly take the road trip Russ suggests in his article -- all summer, hitting as many parks as possible -- and report my findings back to you.
Wait, I think I just figured out why pay-for-content is never going to work: people don't like to pay for the privilege of being made jealous.
The nightmare that unfolded in Oakland over the weekend hit particularly close to home for the A's organization:
Two of the officers, Dunakin and Hege, often worked A's games at the Oakland Coliseum, according to David Rinetti, the team's vice president of stadium operations.
Today is the final vote for the Marlins' stadium. As you're waiting for that, why not click over to Facebook and find out which President or Superhero the proposed park would be:
The most annoying Facebook gizmo in history appeared in December. Worse than Vampire Wars and the gifting of virtual beer, it inveigled users to write 25 Random Things About Me.
Hey, I actually liked the 25 Things About Me meme! The idea of a stadium having a promotional Facebook page, however? Kind of reminds me of when the Fruity Pebbles people had Barney dress up like MC Hammer. Too late, too lame, and mostly just embarrassing.
. . . this is simply an exercise in delusion:
If San Diego's offense were a restaurant, it would be getting one-star reviews from some observers.
Back when MLB.com really started to ramp up its editorial content, there were some who worried that it would essentially be Pravda, reporting on nothing but the wondrous glory that is Major League Baseball. That concern was put to rest a long time ago, and the site serves as a useful source of content, especially when it comes to transactions news.
But every once in a while you read a story like this and you can't help but wonder if a directive came down from on high to "pump up the Padres" due to slow ticket sales or something.
Kepner notes that Sabathia is becoming a leader. After noting that his slide step from the stretch helped Posada throw a couple of guys out, he cites other examples:
The Yankees lavished a $161 million contract on Sabathia to give their rotation an ace. As a bonus, they gained a team leader.
I can't help but read Sabathia's tone as one of amused confusion. As if he's found himself surrounded by a horde of Gotham reporters demanding to know the secrets of leadership, and the things they cite are the sorts of things folks in Cleveland and Minnesota like to do with one another as a matter of unnoticed course. On the Yankees, however, it's a sign of leadership.
Which is kind of fun and quaint until the first time Sabathia wakes up in a bad mood and decides that he doesn't want to play with others one afternoon and the next morning the stories are all about how Sabathia's leadership is in question or something.
Remember CC: It's New York. Which, from a baseball perspective, might as well be another planet.
As Posnanski continues his quest to figure out how newspapers will work in the future, Jay at Fack Youk wonders how blogs are going to work. After several very worthwhile paragraphs about what a person's bookshelf says about them and the arguable irrelevance of books when you're blogging your butt off every day, Jay asks a question all of us who do this to ourselves ask from time to time:
What if blogs charged for their RSS feeds? It would be worth $1 a month to me to not have to go to a site and check for updates. I constantly hear people talking about the untapped taxable resource that marijuana represents, but it's not like the alcohol industry is dying out. With the foundation of the print media crumbling under our feet, I don't hear nearly enough people proposing ways to monetize the amazing amount of content being written out there on the Long Tail.
Following that are several more good paragraphs about what's wrong with advertising and why cable TV is eating broadcast's lunch.
There's a lot of good stuff in there and I just wish I was smart enough to have some intelligent responses. In the meantime, I keep coming back to the idea that if I had anything approaching a good guess what the reader attrition rate would be if I started to charge for it, I'd consider it. But I really don't, and until then -- since I'm a pessimist -- I fear that charging for content would lead to me getting a solid income stream of, like, $500 a month with everyone else abandoning me for freer content. And really, that would be the worst of both worlds: not enough money to live on, not enough eyes to feel like I'm contributing to the greater baseball conversation out there.
Ultimately, it'll sort itself out. The key, I think, is for guys like me and Jay and Jason and Mark and Ron and Lar and everyone else plugging away at this thing to just hang on and keep plugging until it does.
Hey, it's not just cynical jerks like me who don't like the WBC. Even those who are said to embrace it the most have their qualms:
But the off-the-field contest between the two most powerful ball-playing nations -- Japan and the U.S. -- is a subject that Japanese league administrators and team management, local liaisons, players' union representatives and tournament officials prefer to discuss without being named.
As far as Americans are concerned it's moot for the next four years, but I'm not even lying when I say that I'd be way more behind the WBC if someone came out and admitted that this was a big sham designed to grease the skids for even more foreign players to come to the U.S. and ply their trade in Major League Baseball. That would at least make more sense than a once every four years tournament even the biggest supporters of which acknowledge doesn't pit the best against the best. Major League Baseball comes the closest to that promise, and it would be way easier to ratchet up the talent and competition of the Majors to where it approximates the optimal than it would be to rejigger the WBC for the next 16 years and fail miserably.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the heads up)
Things to read as you contemplate entropy: