December 7, 2013
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Monday, June 15, 2009
A whole article about the San Diego Chicken and not one mention of "The Baseball Bunch?" Johnny Bench must have some powerful lawyers.
For 35 years, Ted Giannoulas has jumped and run — and flattened Barney — at ballparks across America, climbing into a feathered costume to go to work as the San Diego Chicken.
He still makes a ton of money doing it too. Those 50 appearances this year are going to make Giannoulas six figures, according to the article. And it's not like there can be a ton of overhead. I mean, it's pretty much man + chicken suit, right?
Nothing says "I love you Dad," like stinky lockers and used carpeting:
With only seven days remaining until Father's Day, Yankees-Steiner Collectibles, the exclusive provider of game-used memorabilia from the original and current Yankee Stadium, introduced a second lot of unique and iconic pieces of baseball history in the "Yankee Stadium Legends" online auction. People can now find once-in-a-lifetime gifts, perfect for sports-enthusiast Dads. The newest additions to the auction include:
Cast off the lockers! Follow the carpet! No! Let us gather lockers together!
Also available are 1'x1' pieces of live sod ($120) and "Final Season Crystals with Genuine Dirt from the original Yankee Stadium" ($80). I hope they come with certificates of authenticity, because I'd hate it if someone tried to sell me fake dirt from the Bronx.
A little memorabilia never hurt anyone, but I simply don't get this level of fetishism.
As we sit around waiting for Manny Acta to be fired, the guys at USA Today point out something I did not realize:
Sunday's loss to the Rays completed a series sweep by Tampa Bay and dropped the Nationals to 16-45, the exact same record the '62 Mets had after 61 games.
Yes, they're bad, but they haven't felt historically bad to me this year. I mean, if you go back and check, I bet I said way more bad things about Washington in last year's ATH recaps than this year's. They've lost a lot of games, but the stink has been of a certain type -- lots of blown games by the bullpen and some generalized dread -- but hadn't, in my mind at least, worked its way down to a 1962-Mets level. Or even a 2003 Tigers level. But numbers don't lie.
Well, often they do, but in this case the don't.
That's the speculation from Jon Heyman anyway:
Manny Acta appears to be on his way out as Nationals manager, and while respected ex-big league manager Jim Riggleman reportedly will be installed as the interim manager, team higher-ups also have begun internal discussions about permanent candidates. One of those candidates to replace Acta, according to National League sources, is Bobby Valentine, who is currently in his seventh season as manager of the Chiba Lotte Mariners in Japan.
I think Valentine is as good a candidate as any, and to be sure, his contract situation with Chiba Lotte is such that he is probably looking for a Major League offer. But please, can someone tell me what "National League sources" are? If it's someone on the Nats, that could be news, but presumably Heyman would say a "Nationals source" if he had one. Isn't anyone else in the National League speculating just like anyone else?
This morning I linked Ozzie Guillen's colorful take on Wrigley Field. Last week Deadspin did its Deadspiny thing with the place. Of course, neither Ozzie nor Deadspin can be said to represent mainstream sentiment (the latter hates everything; the former lives for chaos), so this morning Stu Courtney of the Sun-Times takes up the subject. After noting the pros and cons (its a hard place to work but a magical place to play; its a good place to watch a ballgame, but when you have to use the word "urine" to describe the ambiance, something is amiss) he asks the fans' opinion:
What's your take on Wrigley: shrine or dump? Is it an enjoyable place to watch a game? Would you like to see it modernized with a Jumbotron, an automated scoreboard and more family-friendly features that would make it easier to bring the kids? How would you rate it compared to other big-league ballparks, such as the Cell?
OK, maybe Courtney is trying to stir up crap too, because no one in their right mind wants a Jumbotron, dot races, a plethora of kids' promotions, and all of that jazz, do they?
How about this: a structural rehab, whatever can be done to expand clubhouses and make them more comfortable, and a minimalist, conservative approach to any expansions or upgrades a la what has happened to Fenway Park over the past handful of years. If it means that the Cubs play on the south side, in Milwaukee or, hell, in Grant Park for a year, fine, but the goal should obviously be to fix what's broken, not "modernize" it in the aspirational sense of the term.
The new Satchel Paige biography sounds really, really good:
How fast could Satchel Paige throw a baseball? It’s hard to know because there were no radar guns to measure ball velocity when Leroy Paige, better known as Satchel, became a pitching star of the Negro Leagues in the 1930s. In his discerning, empathetic and hype-free new Paige biography, Larry Tye cites the eyewitness account of one of the white reporters who finally began paying attention to Paige in 1934: “All you can see is something like a thin line of pipe smoke" . . . Mr. Tye’s willingness to come to these or any other level-headed conclusions about his subject is made remarkable by the elusiveness of hard facts . . .
I could read tall tales about Paige all day, but it will be really really nice to read a levelheaded account of the man's life that gives us some insight into Paige the man as opposed to heavy helpings of Paige the myth.
Only 29 shopping days until my birthday in case anyone, you know, is hurting for ideas.
Apologies if I seem a bit distracted today. My daughter, who will start kindergarten in the fall, begins "Safety Town" today, and it has me all nervous and anxious. Not because it means she's growing up and ever-so-slightly leaving my control and supervision, really, but because I found a page in the printer tray in the den this morning that read "The first rule of Safety Town is that you do not talk about Safety Town. The second rule of Safety Town is that YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT SAFETY TOWN."
Dear God, what are they doing there?!
I am Jack's general dissatisfaction with the quality of the National League Wild Card race.
I have a really, really hard time talking on the phone. Really, I can't stand it. I tend to think that it's because I'm an observer by nature and that without seeing the non-verbal cues people give off I'm lost in a conversation. It's possible, though, that I just have stunted social skills. Either way, it means that you're going to go a long, long time before you see me interview anyone in this space, because it's a skill for which I am positively ill-equipped.
But Jason at IIATMS is not that way, and neither is Josh at Jorge Says No! Each of them are really good interviewers, and each of them have really good interviews up today. First is Jason, who chats with Robert Tuchman, founder and president of New York-based TSE Sports & Entertainment author of the new book "The 100 Sporting Events You Must See Live". A lot of good stuff there about both his book and his business, which will be of interest to anyone fancies forging a career in sports or sports media.
Josh interviews former Red Sox Brian Daubach, who now plies his trade as a manager in the Can-Am league.
Great work guys.
Pirates 6, Tigers 3: The Pirates ain't the walkingest team you're ever going to see -- in fact they're one of the worst -- so it's not like Dontrelle Willis was simply outworked by the opposition in giving up eight walks in three and two-thirds. Pittsburgh Penguin forward Bill Guerin threw out the first pitch and had better command than Dontrelle did. The Tigers are three up on Minnesota in the Central. That's great, but they don't have any room to experiment with Willis any longer. He simply can't be allowed to pitch for this team any more this season. In other news, the 1909 throwback uniforms these guys wore were sweet as hell.
Yankees 15, Mets 0: Johan Santana was terrible. His fastball was at 89-90, and he couldn't locate anything anywhere close to where he wanted it. Jerry Manuel continued to impress too. When David Wright was livid over a called third-strike in the sixth, it took Manuel a minute to get out there, and when he finally did, it seemed like he was arguing out of a sense of obligation as opposed to passion or pique. How he got ejected during such a low-wattage argument I'll never know, but I'd like to think he pulled one of those "Psst -- throw me out. Really, I need to be run in this game or I'm going to lose my team. C'mon, do me a solid, OK?" things.
Orioles 11, Braves 2: Brad Bergesen has only given up six runs in his last 32 innings. Not that he needed to be that good against the Braves on Sunday, as Ty Wigginton hit two home runs and Robert Andino drove in three runs and freakin' stole home. The steal was on a botched rundown play so it was not some feat of derring-do. That botch caused Bobby Cox to pull Yunel Escobar from the game. I can't recall Jeff Francoeur ever getting pulled out of a game for doing something stupid (and it's certainly not for a lack of opportunity) so why Escobar had to go I have no idea. I can only guess that Francoeur has Bobby Cox's grandchildren locked in a tower someplace and vows not to release them unless he's given 160 starts a year.
Phillies 11, Red Sox 6: Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz all sat, but this loss isn't attributable to a lack of bats for Boston. Josh Beckett just came undone in the seventh, and got no real relief from Daniel Bard, as everyone except Greg Dobbs smacked the ball around for the Phillies.
Indians 3, Cardinals 0: St. Louis must have had an early flight out of Cleveland. Cliff Lee takes a no-hitter into the eighth -- broken up by Molina Unit No. 1249BHG5 -- and this one was brought home in a cool one hour, fifty-eight minutes. Lee finished with a three-hit shutout, getting the job done on a mere 93 pitches. Oh, and since I mentioned throwback uniforms above, allow me to offer a few more words on the subject: on Saturday, Cleveland and St. Louis wore some of the weakest throwbacks you'll ever see. Each team was wearing pullovers as opposed to their usual button-downs, which appeared to come from the mid-to-late 80s. Except they kind of didn't. The Indians wore the specific pullover they sported on Saturday from 1978-1985, when they switched to a button-down model. Except they never wore the Wahoo cap like they wore on Saturday during those years; they only had the block C, meaning that this wasn't really a throwback as much as it was a mishmosh. The Cardinals were a little better -- their gray road pullover was actually worn by the club between 1971 and 1975, and again from 1985-1991. But if they're going to go with unfashionable 1970s and 80s throwbacks, why not go with the powder blues? Sure, they looked terrible on the Cardinals, but it least it was interesting.
Marlins 11, Blue Jays 3: Yet another game in which one team scores at least 11 runs. Ronny Paulino went 4 for 5 with a couple of homers and three RBI and the fish rapped out 18 hits. Between the sweep and Halladay's groin, the Jays couldn't have imagined a worse series than this.
Angels 6, Padres 0: Jered Weaver was fantastic, pitching his first career shutout. Juan Rivera was pretty spiffy himself, hitting two homers.
Dodgers 6, Rangers 3: For those who care about such things, Andruw Jones went 3-8 with a couple of homers against the Dodgers over the weekend. Those who don't should just know that Chad Billingsley gave up three runs -- only two of them earned -- over seven innings to notch his ninth victory on the season.
Royals 7, Reds 1: Johnny Cueto's line shows zero earned runs and five unearned, and the game story talks about how Jerry Hairston's errors led to all of that unearnedage, but the fact remains that after the first inning error, Cueto still had to give up a run scoring double to Migiel Olivo, and after the third inning error, Cueto still had to give up a walk, a triple and a single for those runs to score, so it's not like he was totally boned by his defense. Sometimes you gotta suck it up and pitch through an error or two, and Cueto didn't necessarily do that.
Giants 7, A's 1: San Francisco Sweeps Oakland, allowing only three runs all weekend. Matt Cain (CG, 4 H, 1 ER, 9K) was impressive: He allowed no hits after the third inning, and retired 19 of the last 20 he faced. Nate Schierholtz hit an inside the park home that bounced high off the base of the wall and forced Jack Cust to wait for it come back down forever. This is what I was talking about a couple of weeks ago when I said that triples are more exciting than inside the park homers. Sure, this was neat, but it was essentially a function of some quirk (i.e. the high bounce), whereas triples are more often just flat out speed. There was no play at the plate on Schierholtz here, so really, how exciting could this really be?
Rays 5, Nats 4: If the rumors are to be believed, this was Manny Acta's last game as the Nationals' manager. Acta didn't always get as much out of his teams as he could have, and a change is probably needed, but it's not like the manager was the difference between winning and losing in Washington. Acta is by all accounts a good guy, so here's hoping he latches on someplace else quickly and gets another, better shot to manage again someday.
Rockies 7, Mariners 1: I guess Colorado isn't going to lose again. Too bad they dug such a hole for themselves beforehand, because L.A. is just too far ahead and there are at least five other teams hanging around Wild Card land.
White Sox 5, Brewers 4: Mark Buehrle hit a home run (and Josh Beckett did in the Sox-Phils game). See, I told you it was fun to watch pitchers bat.
Cubs 3, Twins 2: Clearly firing hitting coach Gerald Perry is what led to this offensive outburst on the part of the Cubs. The new hitting coach is named Von Joshua, which I'm pretty sure was the name of a bad guy in one of the Lethal Weapon movies.
Astros 8, Diamondbacks 3: My arguments against interleague play are somewhat undercut by the fact that this matchup -- the only intralegaue matchup -- was by far the least interesting of the entire weekend's slate. Sometimes it's hard to be a purist.