By popular demand, discuss the start of it all right here.
Wednesday, February 28th, 2007
The Times comes through today with two pieces on the failure of the Veterans Committee to elect anyone to the Hall: an excellent news piece by Tyler Kempner and an editorial by Dave Anderson, suggesting that the system is flawed and must be changed. This is an about face for the Times, and it’s important to note who is and is not writing here. Two years ago, when the VC previously failed to elect anyone, Murray Chass wrote in the Times that this was actually a sign that the committee was working properly—a point he made without disclosing the fact, as we documented here, that he was actually a member of the committee—a truly obscene ethical lapse. However we feel about Santo and Kitty and Hodges, it’s clear the system needs to change. And it’s an absolute travesty that Marvin Miller—who isn’t getting any younger, people—is still on the outside looking in.
Behold the holy grail of baseball cards: the T206 Honus Wagner. American Tobacco put it out in 1909, but without Wagner’s permission, so the card was pulled from production. If you were prescient enough, you could have picked one up for a song back in the sixties (or before), when only six copies were known to exist. (In 1961, Jefferson Burdick’s American Card Catalog, the Bible of the collecting hobby—the “T206″ designation is actually its ACC catalog code—listed it at $50.) Now there are more than 50 in circulation, but only one is considered to be in “mint” condition. This card’s provenance includes a Great One from another sport—Wayne Gretzky had a financial stake in it at one time. Now it’s got another owner, an anonymous Southern Californian, who shelled out $2.35 million for the honor. Anyway, sure beats a Jeter card with Dubya.
Tuesday, February 27th, 2007
Like Gil Hodges and Jim Kaat, Ron Santo is one of those borderline HOF candidates that you’d love to see enshrined simply because, sometimes, nice guys should finish first. Doesn’t always work out that way. Santo came up short on the Veterans Ballot today, by just 5 votes. Hodges was 10 votes shy. Kaat 12. Joe Torre failed to draw the required number for induction, but it’s a safe bet he’ll make it down the road for his exploits in the Yankee dugout. Of course, the biggest and most obscene—heck, incomprehensible—snub is Marvin Miller. HELLO!!!
I’ve gone back and forth on the signing of Joel Pineiro. On the one hand, there’s the lousy results as a starter. On the other, there’s the decent stats as a reliever. On the first hand, there’s the $4 million contract, not much less than gambles on more established relievers such as Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel. On the second hand, there’s the fact that he heed be only league average or slightly worse to give the Sox 25-30 saves and keep the team in contention.
In 3.2 innings against the Tigers, Pineiro retired all 11 batters in a row while not allowing a single walk. In doing so he protected just a 1 run lead. He looked like he truly belonged on the mound with a scowl and presence to match that of Mike Timlin. He kept almost all his pitches at knees of the batters while hitting the corners and getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Long story short, I watched many of the other appearances he made out of the pen and found more of the same.
Sample-size concerns abound, of course. Just because a guy looks good at the tail end of a lost season on a lost team when he’s got nothing else to lose doesn’t mean he’ll look great in the ninth for the Red Sox at, say, Yankee Stadium no matter the time of year or look of the standings.
Still, Pineiro has all the earmarks of a scrap-heap acquisition that turns it around and leads the team to victory, a la David Ortiz or Brian Daubach. That would be a terrific story. He’s a likable guy, and easy to root for. It’s easy to picture him succeeding. Hey, it’s spring training! What’s wrong with a little optimism?
(Hat tip: Baseball Musings)
This photo, with its torqued bodies in violent motion, looks like something Peter Paul Rubens might take up if he were to come back to life as a baseball fan. The play is from September 2005—perhaps you remember it; Jorge held on for the out and the Yanks won, 8-4. It’s posted here as it suggests what is surely the worst case scenario for either the Yanks or the Sox: the potential injury to their prized backstop. The red cross on Tek’s helmet seems almost prophetic.
When Yankee fans talk here about team MVP’s, the discussion usually comes down to Mo, Jeter, Alex. Their values are astronomical, but the truth is that the one player the Yankees can least afford to replace is Jorge Posada. The Bomber bullpen is stacked—even if Mo goes down, the Yanks will convert most of their save opportunities. Losing Jeter or Alex would be tough, especially with Cairo as the primary backup, but finding a replacement on the market at one of those slots is not an impossibility. If the Yanks lose a starter, their Triple-A rotation can easily fill in. But Posada? The drop between his production and that of his likely backup, Todd Pratt, is enormous. Every time Jorge’s involved in a play at the plate, it’s going to be a cringe-worthy experience. Frankly, it’s probably worth conceding all but the most crucial runs to protect his health. Varitek, who’s already shown more wear and tear than Jorge, is in a similar position on the Sox. He had a down year in 2006, and look what happened: Boston was passed by the Blue Jays. I certainly hope these two can stay healthy this year; it’s fun to watch great players play, and it’s great for the rivalry to have the best on the field. A la santé!
Monday, February 26th, 2007
Deadspin and several other sites are reporting that this card—with Derek swinging through a pitch while The Mick watches from the dugout and Dubya searches for his seat—actually made it through production and has been distributed to the public. It’s a pretty good Photoshop job, no question, though putting Dubya in a city where there is a feeling of mutual loathing doesn’t make much sense. A gallery of lovely ladies, dotted here and there in the crowd, Where’s Waldo style, would have been preferable. Anyway, this has the smell of a ruse. Some one send us a card. Because if it exists, we surely want one.
Peter Abraham reports that Bobby Abreu has a strained oblique injury, and could be sidelined—according to Brian Cashman—until the beginning of the season or beyond. Had Bernie been in camp, obviously, this would have been just the opening he could have used to rejoin the club. Instead, he is at home, and the Yanks will make do, for the moment anyway, with the combination of Melky Cabrera (the primary backup) and the other kids in the system. If you’ve ever strained an oblique, you know those things can stay around for awhile. Ugh.
It’s gotten a bit much in Fort Myers. Manny Ramirez showed up today, in great shape, took his physical and stepped in — against Daisuke Matsuzaka. Plenty of storylines, not the least of which is that Manny showed up three days before the team said he had to, and one day before Major League Baseball said he had to. To recap, that means Manny Ramirez is ONE DAY EARLY TO CAMP.
So, of course, in a press conference with his agent, the Boston sports media tackle the important questions:
Manny is 34 now. Do you think it’s time for him to be more accountable instead of being babied like a 12-year-old?
[Genske:] “Well, I wouldn’t accept your characterization of his behavior to begin with, and again I’ll just say he’s reported to spring training here, he’s happy to be here he’s here before he’s required to be here, either by the team or the mandatory report date. He’s happy to be here and ready to go.”
Do you think since he’s your meal ticket, you should try to help him grow up?
[Genske:] “Again, I wouldn’t agree with your characterization, either of Manny’s behavior or of whatever else you’re talking about.”
Let me repeat: Manny Ramirez showed up early to camp! He … showed up … EARLY … to camp. Earlier than the team expected him, and earlier than the league required him. That is all.
Sunday, February 25th, 2007
Martin Scorsese for one of the worst films of his career. Marty, you were once great. Come back to us now that you got your Oscar. Other predictions:
- Another overrated film, Pan’s Labyrinthe, will win.
- Hellen Mirren will win and she will deserve the victory.
- Forrest Whitaker is not an underrated actor. For one of the only times in his career, he actually is very good and will also win . But let me repeat. He is not an underrated actor!
- I will bang my head several times against the wall tonight watching Hollywood be self-congratulatory and wrong in their judgments.
This is your thread to celebrate the movies.
As previously discussed, Beckett’s 2007 preview magazine did a poor job in explaining why it picked the Sox to win the AL East, the AL championship and lose to the Dodgers in the World Series. What little explanation it did provide was shallow.
"Shallow" is not usually the word used to describe Street & Smith’s annual preview mag. It’s universally considered one of the best — if not the best — in the business. Having bought it Friday, let’s take a look at the YFSF-related content.
We give the NYT a lot of crap here—quite justifiably—so it’s only fair to make a note of it when the Paper of Record comes through with the goods, as it does today, big time, with:
• A nice profile of perennial also-ran Colter Bean, favorite of saberites everywhere.
• A piece by Our Friend Murray on “Designated Hebrew” Ron Blomberg and the new Israel Baseball League.
• The return of Alan Schwarz to the Keeping Score column with a piece on the superiority of GPA over OPS.
• Everything you want to know about Japanese interpreters, but were afraid to ask.
• Don Larsen and Yogi, together again.
Lots of material for a lazy Sunday.
Saturday, February 24th, 2007
Driving up the Deegan at about 65mph this morning on a trip upstate, we couldn’t help but (unsafely) grab a shot of Yankee Stadium through the windshield in the early day’s sun, fresh with a "38 days until Opening Day" sign. Though we’re a member of RSN who hates this Stadium and everything it stands for, any sign like that brings a smile to the face. Plus, we figure a little good will with Yankees fans, giving them a glimpse of their hallowed grounds at the end of February, could go a long way.