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Tuesday, December 02, 2008
You'd think that at a time when so many people are losing their wealth, their jobs, and even their homes due to investors overvaluing all sorts of intangible investments, people would want to invest in something they can see. That they can touch. That, above all else, is characterized by some sort of certainty. You'd be wrong:
Many avid collectors spend a lifetime -- and a fortune -- in pursuit of the rare find: an undiscovered manuscript, a rare painting or storied artifact. But some hobbyists in the world of sports memorabilia pay thousands of dollars for a collectible they have never seen -- or might not even possess.
I spent a lot of time collecting baseball cards between, oh, 1977 and 1987. Unlike some, I never found divinity or the answers to the universe's questions in my collection. But I did get a lot of enjoyment out of them. I sorted them. I admired them. I loved them. I laughed at them. Most of all I handled them. I guess that cost me a boatload of money.
This is nothing new, of course, as just about every guy my age figured out at some point in the mid-to-late 80s that cards were a bigger business than we first realized. It doesn't make it any less sad, however, that the very thing that made these cards valuable to me -- that I could sort, handle, and otherwise mess with them -- is the very thing that renders them worthless today.
(Thanks to Pete Toms for the link)
Midnight was the deadline. The following guys have a decision to make:
These 24 fellas have until Sunday to accept.
I had a great uncle named Harry Dorfman who had season tickets for the Detroit Tigers going back to the 1940s, so when I was a kid we were always right behind home plate. My parents tell me that I went to my first game in Tiger Stadium on the Fourth of July, 1978, but I don't remember a thing about it. The first one I do remember was June 17, 1979 against the Angels, when I was almost six years old. Alan Trammell hit a home run and from that moment on was my hero. Between then and when we moved away in 1985 I saw scores of games at Tiger Stadium. I remain convinced that it was the best ballpark in the history of the game. The fans were close to the field, it smelled of beer and cigars, and that's just how a ballpark should smell. While it's not fashionable now, the fact that the field was fully enclosed made the place truly special. It made it easy to shut out the outside world and focus only on baseball. It helped you to suspend disbelief.
So if anyone should be pining for the preservation of Tiger Stadium, it should be me, right? Wrong, and I wish these people would cut it out:
A key deadline for the group trying to save Tiger Stadium has been extended.
The Conservancy has now blown through approximately 1,384 deadlines. Each time they claim to be just about there, only to fall short and thus requiring a new deadline. If it weren't for the massive amounts of Ernie Harwell-inspired goodwill, its efforts would have long ago failed and ceased. Good for Ernie, who is a bigger hero to me than Alan Trammell ever was, but I believe that the failure of the Conservancy would have been for the best.
Part of this stems from a practical consideration, and that's that no interpretive center or rec center of educational complex will ever do justice to the majesty that was Tiger Stadium, and no shell of a nearly 100 year-old ballpark is going to be suitable as an interpretive center, a rec center, or an educational complex. They are entirely different beasts, and no amount of Nostalgia Brand Spackle will seamlessly connect such disparate concepts together without a massive infusion of the kind of dollars that no one in their right mind will spend in Detroit. Absent those dollars and the high rent architects and designers such a project would require to pull off successfully, any project at The Corner would be a sadly half-assed affair. I remember Autoworld, baby, and it wasn't pretty. You want to help Detroit? Look forward, not backwards for inspiration. You wanna revel in history? Go to the Henry Ford Museum.
Look, if I ran the world the Tigers would still be playing in a lovingly restored cathedral to baseball on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull. That ship sailed long ago, however, and what has happened to Tiger Stadium in the past nine years has been nothing short of an atrocity. If any of the the Conservancy's members had a loved one who was so abused, they would have called the cops. If my Uncle Harry had required the level of life support the Conservancy has demanded, we would have pulled the plug long before we did. I loved Tiger Stadium like I have loved no other building, but it's time to lop off the final bit that remains standing and begin remembering it for what it was rather than gawk at it with pity as we speed by on I-75.
In other words, it's time for a mercy killing.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:00am
Scott Simkus of the blog, um, Scott Simkus, thought his readers were tired of his interesting and informative posts about baseball history and decided to interview a bald lawyer/blogger yesterday. One of the things about bald lawyers/bloggers is that they crave attention and love to talk about themselves, so you can imagine that the interview goes on and on and on.
Cool thing, though: I bet I'm the only guy who has John Wockenfuss on his all-time team.
While I suspect that a lot of longtime ShysterBall readers are longtime THT readers as well, that probably doesn't go for everyone, so I'm going to try to make a regular point of letting you blog-feed-only people know that there is a lot of really spiffy stuff being posted over here every day. For example, today we have:
Holden Caulfield --er, I mean Joel Sherman of the New York Post has some sharp words for Andy Pettitte:
If Pettitte signs elsewhere, regardless of the dollar figure, he should be viewed as a world-class phony forever around here. There should be no more pardons. He should receive no invites to future Old-Timers Games, hear no cheers when the dynastic teams reassemble.
I suppose it's fair to call Pettitte out if you feel he reneged on a pledge to remain a true and blue Yankee forever end ever, but (a) I don't think that anything he said at the time amounted to such a pledge; and (b) even if it did, surely there is some reasonableness test to be applied to such a situation. Would Pettitte be a phony if the Yankees offered him the major league minimum while the Dodgers offered him a raise? Would the Yankees make any assurances that he wouldn't be DFA'd if he went 3-9 with a 7.53 ERA through June? Are they doing things with blood oaths in the Bronx now, or are all of the parties involved still business people?
But even if Pettitte is a phony and takes his phony left arm to Phonyville, California for all of that phony baloney money, is it really necessary to drum him out of the clubhouse the way Sherman does? No cheers and no Old Timers games? For a guy who was a key part of four World Championship teams?
Yankees fans and Yankees writers often wonder why a free agent would choose to play anywhere else but in New York. When I read stories like this one I wonder why anyone would want to at all.
Lar from the blog Wezen-Ball stumbled upon a gold mine of awesome yesterday, in the form of the 1981 Sporting News Baseball Yearbook, which featured "experts" -- quotes of dubiousness included because Bowie Kuhn was one of them -- predicting what baseball would be like in THE YEAR 2000!!!
The best one -- which I hope was a marked exhibit during the collusion hearings in the late 80s -- came from then-Labor Relations Director Ray
"I don't foresee a revolution, I don't think things will be much different from now if we all keep our heads and work out our problems. But as for $1 million a year or $2 million a year for everybody, there's no way that baseball could stand it..."
There are a ton more, so definitely click over to Wezen-Ball to look at how little we knew then and reflect upon how little we probably know now.
You lawyers in the audience may be curious to hear which law firms are representing which potential owners' groups in the sale of the Chicago Cubs. If so, AmLaw Daily has you covered:
OK, two out of three ain't bad. Especially when one of the two is Morrison & Foerster who, for those of you don't know, has represented numerous current ownership groups in various bits of business and litigation over the years, and who has also served as baseball's bad cop in representing MLB's licensing arm, Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. as it goes after trademark infringers. It was in this latter capacity that, back in 2002, MoFo sent out a bunch of cool cease and desist letters (like this one) to bloggers who dared use team logos in their posts. I don't hear much about that sort of thing anymore, probably because MLB figured out that you don't want to threaten the people who give you free advertising.
Anyway, all good lawyers know the old maxim about how it's great to know the law, but it's better to know the judge. With respect to the sale of the Cubs, Major League Baseball and the other owners are the judge. Morrison & Forester knows them well. This, I think, bodes pretty well for Mr. Ricketts.
Bud Selig says he's done in 2012. He also said that he was done in 2008 and 2004 and I'm pretty sure he was going to be done in 2000 as well. But this time, dadgummit, he really means it:
Reuters: Two years ago you told us that none of your cohorts would believe you when you said that in two years time when your contract was up, that you were going to walk away…
Doug Pappas had a clock on his website counting down the days until Bud Selig's retirement. Doug died in 2004, and the Society for American Baseball Research took it over and reset the clock when Selig re-upped in 2006. It doesn't appear that the clock is there anymore, but I'm mentally resetting it in his memory.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Since I usually wake up at 5:30 AM, I am pretty whipped by, oh, 8 PM. As a result, I really couldn't process all of the moving parts of the Javier Vazquez-to- Atlanta deal last night, and I still probably need a couple cups of coffee to think about it this morning. I do have one deep thought however, and it's this: Do any of the people on the Braves message boards who are so optimistic about Vazquez "coming to a neutral park" realize that he wasn't harmed all that much by his home park in the three years he pitched for the White Sox?
Home ERA: 4.25
Road ERA: 5.10
Home ERA: 3.57
Road ERA: 3.92
Home ERA: 4.72
Road ERA: 4.96
Yes, Vazquez should be a good addition to the Braves rotation, and yes, he should benefit by moving to the National League. But it's not as though he's being sprung from some awful environment to one in which he'll feel like he's back in Stade Olympique circa 2001.