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Tuesday, July 07, 2009
At least one major media outlet does this every summer, but it's always fun. Today it's the Sporting News' turn. They break up 1 (Fenway), 2 (PNC), 3 (Wrigley), 4 (Camden Yards); and 5 (AT&T) into separate pages and then lump 6-30 together. There isn't a lot of analysis here -- I think some editor just decided that lists were good things because dorks like me link to them -- but there are worse ways to spend the doldrums of your afternoon.
Comments? Apart from the unfortunate use of Nyjer Morgan to pose for a picture in and extol the virtues of PNC Park ("I walk to PNC Park every day . . .It's definitely great playing for a club that has had so many great players in the past . . . How can that not inspire a player?") there is little to take issue with here. Given the sameness of most of the newer parks, most of the distinctions to be made are minor ones. I mean sure, you could spend five hours arguing how there is no WAY that the Ballpark at Arlington should be ranked seven slots behind Progressive Field in Cleveland, but there are probably 329 better things you could do with that time. All of these newish parks pretty much have some bricks, some faux-timey flourishes and a lot of convenience, but with a couple of exceptions, they're all the same. And even those exceptions -- San Francisco and Pittsburgh -- are more functions of setting than the parks themselves.
The only real beef I have here is that I think Dodger Stadium is ranked too low at number nine.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:11pm
Yesterday, in light of the imminent Cubs' sale, I called for a makeover of Wrigley Field. Today there's some talk about it:
On the table is a $250 million makeover timed to celebrate the ballpark's 100th anniversary and update the shrine of Major League Baseball to last for another century -- and possibly host the 2014 All-Star Game.
None of this is new, but now that there is about to be new ownership it's a bit less of a pipe dream than it was when it was first proposed. But maybe just a bit less, as the article suggests that the Ricketseseses may not want to spend the necessary dough to make it happen. At least not yet. Which is understandable.
Understandable, anyway, until the next owners' meeting, when the new Cubs bosses get a load of John Henry and the gang from Boston lighting cigars with 1934 Gold Certificates while dining on panda steaks, all thanks to their FenwayBucks.
UPDATE: OK, it's not just the Ricketesesess. Marc Utay has a term sheet (or whatever) too, and both bids are being submitted to the bankruptcy court. Someone please wake me when all of this businessy stuff is over and we talk about putting a jumbotron in centerfield and replacing the ivy with CVS ads and stuff.
UPDATE II: Or maybe Utay isn't involved.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 3:19pm
Nothing makes baseball better than gambling!
The final spot for the National League All-Star roster is up for grabs, and the governors of Hawaii andPennsylvania have made a friendly wager to rally online voting support for Phillies' outfielder Shane Victorino, also known as the Flyin' Hawaiian. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle and Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell agreed to the stakes earlier today. To win, one state must vote for Victorino more than the other. Voting for the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Final Vote takes place until Thursday, July 9 at 4:00 p.m. (EDT) on http://www.mlb.com or http://www.phillies.com.
The stakes: If Pennsylvania wins, Lingle sends eight cases of pineapples to Rendell. If Hawaii wins, Rendell sends Lingle eight cases of cheesesteaks.
Given that Pennsylvania has almost exactly ten times the population of Hawaii, I hope Lingle got odds. Of course, since cheesesteaks are about ten times better than pineapples, maybe those are the odds.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:35pm
Jon Weisman transcribes a Red Barber television interview from 1982 during which he describes how Vin Scully got his start:
I was out at the end of the football season, doing a California-Stanford football game. And at halftime, the engineer handed me a note and said, "Ernie Harwell has joined Russ Hodges at the Polo Grounds." So, flying back to New York, I kept thinking, "Well, who are we gonna get? Who are we gonna get for the third man?" Then I said, "That red-headed fella that went up to Boston did a good job," so I sent for him, and talked to him for a little bit. And I said, "Would you be interested?"
There's much more to it, so do click through and read it all.
(thanks to YankeeFanLen for the heads up)
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:52pm
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Dodgers 8, Mets 0: Somewhere on Long Island there's a guy who went to last night's game for the express purpose of booing Manny and holding up a sign with a syringe on it or something. And, yes, Manny was booed and was even ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes! Dude from Long Island was probably loving it! Too bad, then, that Manny also knocked in three runs and then, after his ejection, watched the Dodgers complete a pretty damn dominant performance from the clubhouse while eating candy and drinking soda or whatever it is Manny does.
Rays 3, Blue Jays 1: Phun Pfact: Map makers will sometimes slip in phantom streets or towns or something so that they can tell if a competing map maker is really just copying their work. I suspect that the people who put together box scores do the same thing. Evidence: the "pitcher" named Marc Rzepczynski. He doesn't really exist. He's a copyright protection device. He was created by the NBC Sports people so that they can tell if Yahoo! is ripping off the scores. At least I'm pretty sure that's the case.
Tigers 8, Royals 5: Verlander wasn't particularly sharp, but he strikes out 11 because the Royals aren't particularly sharp either. According to the game story, Verlander's 141 strikeouts are the most by a Detroit pitcher before the All-Star Game in 37 years. Of course that was Mickey Lolich, and Mickey Lolich used to pitch approximately 598 innings a year back in the early 70s, so Verlander's feat is far more impressive.
Pirates 6, Astros 3: I can't think of a single thing to say about this game, so I'll say this: my son, Carlo, recently discovered the book Where the Wild Things Are. He loves it. I loved it when I was a kid, and I love reading it to him. I think our love of it is based on the fact that, deep down, we both have anger issues. Nothing crazy -- neither of us are violent or bombastic -- but both he and I are easily frustrated and often stomp around a bit in something not unlike the book's wild rumpus when things don't go just the way we planned. The book, you see, is really about anger, and how it's natural and follows a predictable but necessary arc before resolving itself and how ultimately it's OK. But the thing is, the beauty of the book has a lot to do with the fact that it's only ten sentences long and can be read in a couple of minutes, even if you linger on the pictures a bit. It follows that anger arc and resolves itself pretty quickly, resulting in an almost therapeutic effect. Which makes me wonder how in the hell they're going to make a movie out of it. And why they felt the need to in the first place. I hope my son never gets wind of the movie, because I don't want the wonderful few minutes we spend with the book each night to be sullied in any way.
Sorry Pirates and Astros fans. I'll try to pay more attention tomorrow night.
White Sox 10, Indians 6: I'm struggling to think of a trade that was as disastrous for both teams involved as the Perez-DeRosa trade has been this far for Cleveland and St. Louis. Paul Konerko drove in seven. Why is it, despite the fact that he's 33 years-old and has been in the league for 12 years, that I still think of him as a Dodgers' prospect? Same thing happened to me with Robin Ventura for his whole career. No matter how old he got, I pictured him playing for Oklahoma State in the 1987 College World Series. Maybe the White Sox uniforms have some sort of time warping effect or something.
Cardinals 5, Brewers 0: Both Brewers' bench coach Willie Randolph and hitting coach Dale Sveum were ejected. I said at the beginning of the year that it may be awkward for both of these former managers to be in subordinate roles this year. I'd like to think, then, that their ejections were really auditions for any managerial openings that pop up the rest of the year.
Braves 2, Cubs 1: Javier Vazquez continues to get no run support, but he didn't need much last night, as he gave a single run in seven innings. His ERA is down to 2.95, but because his record is only 6-7, he doesn't make the All-Star Game. Total ripoff.
Red Sox 5, A's 2: Round numbers galore: Beckett's 10th win, Bay's 20th home run, Giambi's 0 for 4. I guess what I'm saying is that nothing out of the ordinary happened.
Reds 4, Phillies 3: Way to bounce back after getting slaughtered. A couple of homers for Brandon Phillips and a single off of Brad Lidge carried the day.
Yankees 10, Twins 2: Production from all over the Yankees' order in this one, as Cano, Gardner and Cervelli combine to go 7-14 with 6 RBI.
Rockies 5, Nationals 4: Defensive breakdowns killed the Nats, with the last being a potentially inning-ending comebacker that Joe Beimel threw to the wrong guy down at second.
Rangers 8, Angels 5: And we're tied again, as Andruw Jones -- on an unexpected hot streak -- blasts a three-run homer in the course of a big fifth inning. In addition to the game, the Angels lose Vlad to a knee injury that, while maybe not terribly serious, has to be enough to keep him from ever playing the field again, right? I mean, he has to be a DH at this point, doesn't he?
Orioles 12, Mariners 4: Luke Scott was a one-man wrecking crew (3-4, HR, 3B, 7 RBI). From the game story: "Ichiro Suzuki has turned down MLB's request to participate in the Home Run Derby." Wait, what? The guy hits six homers a year. The only reason they'd want him in there is as a cynical rating ploy for the Japanese market, which I'm assuming gets the All-Star broadcast. Good for him for not wanting to be used like that.
Diamondbacks 4, Padres 3: Four in a row for Arizona, all coming after Mark Reynolds yelled at everyone on his team. Coincidence? Well, yes, it most like is a coincidence, actually.
Giants 3, Marlins 0: It's probably against the rules for Tim Lincecum to have dressed up in Barry Zito's uniform and pitch last night, but he apparently did it anyway (8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER).
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:42am
Not that he knew what was happening or anything, but check out the kid on the far right of this picture laughing at Ryan Dempster breaking a bone.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 8:50am
Things to read when you realize just how rough it is out there in the big, big world:
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 11:22am
This morning in the recaps, I said this about Ichiro refusing MLB's request that he participate in the Home Run Derby:
The guy hits six homers a year. The only reason they'd want him in there is as a cynical ratings ploy for the Japanese market, which I'm assuming gets the All-Star broadcast. Good for him for not wanting to be used like that.
I'll admit that those are some cynical words. And maybe I'm wrong about that. Just seems plausible to me, because really, why else are you gonna ask Ichiro to be in the Home Run Derby?
In response, commenter Jack Marshall (and some others) made reference to a famous old story about Ty Cobb, and mentioned Wade Boggs' alleged batting practice home run power -- and anomalous 1987 season -- as well:
The intriguing aspect is that, at least according to the last Ty Cobb biography, some players in Ichiro’s general category have really been like that: the book says that late in his career Cobb told everyone he was going for homers that day just to prove hitting them was no great accomplishment, hit a couple, and then pronounced distaste for that kind of brute game and never swung for the fences again. I would have loved to see Wade Boggs, who had the rep of being a batting practice slugger, in a home run contest.
What Jack is referring to is the story in which Cobb claimed to have told reporters before a game sometime in the 1920s that he simply preferred not to hit home runs because they were inartful or crude or supported racial equality or something. As proof, Cobb set out one day with the intention of hitting home runs to show them that he could do it if he wanted to, but he simply didn't want to. And by gum, he did! Next day, of course, and for the rest of his career, he returned to being the ball-sprayin' Georgia Peach everyone knew and loathed.
Except I seem to remember that Ty Cobb story being debunked a couple of years ago by Neyer or someone. I couldn't find the link immediately, so if anyone can find it, please let me know. Even if I'm wrong about that, however, I find it implausible. Why? Because Cobb was a lot of things, but chief among those things were that he was (a) very, very smart; and (b) very, very greedy, and each of those things cuts against that story having any veracity.
As for being smart: there is no way Cobb didn't know and appreciate the inherent value of a home run vs. a triple, double or single. Sure, he may have had a big home run day once upon a time, but if he could hit home runs at will like he claimed, he certainly would have because it would have simply been smarter baseball in the 1920s, which is when that story took place, and Cobb was all about smart baseball.
As for greedy: Cobb was as good a money maker as he was a hitter, and I'd wager that he, more than anyone, knew the kind of money Babe Ruth was making in the 1920s. As such, Cobb knew that if he could have been reborn as a home run hitter after years of being a batting champion, he'd have been richer than Croesus (as it stood, he had to content himself with being slightly less rich than Coesus).
All of which is to say that while it's possible that Ty Cobb was capable of a bit more power than he showed in his career, he was no home run hitter and he knew it. I suspect Ichiro knows it too, and for that reason, he wisely doesn't want any part of the Home Run Derby.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 11:49am
You all know my "Bull Durham" fixation, so of course you know that I'm going to find a story about the renovation of the old Durham Athletic Park interesting.
Sadly, nothing in there about the guy who donated the scoreboard. Or his daughter.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 1:49pm
It's like a family secret around here, the embarrassing aunt who wets her pants in public that nobody will talk about.
-- Longtime commenter and A's fan, APBA Guy, on the curious silence of the Bay Area sporting press regarding Jason Giambi's slide into .195/.331/.371
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 2:05pm