My latest at the Diplomat is on the opening of the third World Baseball Classic.
The Dominican Republic, led by Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez, is the odds on favorite to win the Classic, followed by the United States and Japan. In 2009, however, a strong Dominican team failed to escape pool play, losing twice to the Netherlands. The popularity of the WBC in Korea and Japan may give those teams an edge in morale; U.S. play in the first two tournaments occasionally seemed lackadaisical, as players looked ahead to the Major League season.
Indeed, the major league connection has proven a handicap for many of the American teams. Major league teams have discouraged many of their players (especially pitchers) from participating in the WBC due to injury and exhaustion risks. Consequently, some of the most devastating players in baseball, including Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and Johnny Cueto, are sitting the WBC out. On the other hand, the participation of Joey Votto lends no small degree of punch to the Canadian team.
The broader question is the extent to which the WBC helps produce a Pacific rim baseball community. Although major Japanese and Korean stars have played in the United States (and American players are common in Japan), the trans-Pacific relationship remains substantially outside the integrated system that characterizes baseball in the Americas. Of course, whether such integration is desirable is an altogether different question; baseball has a distinct character in each of Korea, Japan, and North America, adding a regional and cultural richness to the sport.
Given that I am now a person who has written about baseball in America, I believe that my invitation to join the Baseball Writers Association of America shall arrive any day. In anticipation, I am already becoming indignant about steroids, and increasingly impressed by the feats of Jack Morris. In any case, I will cheer heartily for Canada if Joey Votto is part of the team (unclear at the moment); otherwise, United States.
It’s nice that the Yankees are embracing what we here at LGM have known forever:
Part of the Yankees’ argument: a concession that in the baseball world, they are, in fact, the “Evil Empire.” In its legal papers, the team referenced a number of articles from the past decade using the term in connection with the Yankees, and conceded that the team has “implicitly embraced” the “Evil Empire” theme by playing music from Star Wars during their home games.
The panel of judges sided with the Yankees, ruling that the Yankees are strongly associated with the phrase. Allowing anyone else to use the phrase exclusively would likely cause confusion, ruled the judges.
“In short, the record shows that there is only one Evil Empire in baseball and it is the New York Yankees,” wrote the judges. “Accordingly, we find that [the Yankees] have a protectable trademark right in the term . . . as used in connection with baseball.”
Now if we can only get the Chicago Cubs to trademark the term “irritating morons” we’ll be getting somewhere.
As baseball fans know, every stadium has some version of the “race” between innings where the fans can root for a meaningless computerized competition between different colored objects. In Seattle for instance, it’s speedboats. Usually these remain computerized.
The Washington Nationals have taken a different tack, having people in president outfits run the race. They have 4–the Mt. Rushmore presidents. Until now:
The most anticipated move of the Washington Nationals offseason was finally made Friday night, as the club announced that William Howard Taft would become the 5th Racing President.
The justification for this is that Taft was the first president to throw out a first pitch, for the Washington Senators in 1910.
The real reason: the world likes to see fat men run.
The clear next frontier is to have a James Madison character. The battle between a fat man and a tiny man who barely weighed 100 pounds is sure to enrapture the baseball-game attending public.
Stan the Man, RIP.
Stan Musial, one of baseball’s greatest hitters and a Hall of Famer with the St. Louis Cardinals for more than two decades, died Saturday. He was 92.
Stan the Man won seven National League batting titles, was a three-time MVP and helped the Cardinals capture three World Series championships in the 1940s.
The Cardinals announced Musial’s death in a news release. They said he died Saturday evening at his home in Ladue surrounded by family. The team said Musial’s son-in-law, Dave Edmonds, informed the club of Musial’s death.
12th career in WAR, but had only one season with WAR over 10. Crazy combination of consistency and longevity. Salary peaked at $75000 from 1951-53, ~$620000 in inflation adjusted terms.
Has another single day seen the death of two baseball legends of this magnitude?
The great Earl Weaver has passed.
Earl Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with theBaltimore Orioles, has died, the team says. He was 82.
Weaver was traveling on an Orioles fantasy cruise in the Caribbean when he collapsed in his room with wife, Maryanne, at his side on the cruise’s ship at about 2 a.m. Saturday, the New York Daily News reported.
Weaver never regained consciousness, the report said.
Ryan Freel, utilityman for the Reds, committed suicide last Saturday.
From 2003-2006, his prime seasons, Freel hit .274 with a .368 OBP–he walked in almost 11 percent of his plate appearances, and he was hit by 33 pitches. Over that span, he averaged 46 steals and 90 runs scored per 162 games. Of course, he never came close to playing 162 games in a season, both because he was a supersub and because he couldn’t stay healthy. The most Ryan Freel season was 2005, when he suffered day-to-day back soreness in May, left foot inflammation that disabled him in June, and his second knee surgery in as many seasons in August. Despite that, he was worth nearly three wins in 103 games and 431 plate appearances, posting a TAv just below league average and more than doubling the totals of his closest teammates in both Baserunning Runs (5.7) and Fielding Runs Above Average (10.7).
We haven’t come up with a perfect way to quantify the value of positional flexibility, which saves roster spots and allows GMs greater freedom in constructing their teams. But it usually takes more than one player to do what Freel did, and even when one player wears as many hats as he did, he rarely wears them all so well. “Flexibility in the field,” as we wrote about Willie Bloomquist in last year’s annual book, often “boils down to an ability to be bad at a multitude of positions.” Look at a list of last year’s utility players. You won’t find any Freels.
I had the opportunity to watch Freel for the better part of four seasons. It was always a joy.
I was sure that Mark Judge had the stupidest sports column of the year wrapped up for his Bryce Harper, Conservative Hero piece. But the Howler clearly wants to up the ante. And thus we have Matt Lewis arguing that conservatives should root for Detroit over San Francisco in the World Series. That conservatives hate San Francisco is no surprise. The glory of this is in why Detroit is really a good conservative city:
Detroit has real people who work hard for their money and cherish their jobs. Detroit loves hockey. Detroit loves to buy American. Detroiters like their boats and their beers. You do not ask to see the wine list in the bars around Comerica Park. Pabst Blue Ribbon, please. Tall boys.
Awesome. Conservatives are happy to let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt, but they have no shame in talking about how Detroit is where real Americans live. Conservatives want to outsource every American job to China, but they love American-buying Detroit residents. And tall boys, well hell, we all know that’s a metaphor for Detroit residents having large penises.
This is also great:
After all, the Auto union member and the hippie/feminist/gay rights activist (take your pick) would kill one another — if they ever met.
Oh right. You mean the last UAW members who you conservatives have tried to destroy? Does that include, say, the friends of Michael Moore? Do they want to beat up feminists and hippies? Or is Lewis stereotyping unions? I’m sure he’s a big fan of Walter Reuther and the social/racial justice programs of the UAW in its heyday so I’m sure we all know the answer…..
In the end, the Bryce Harper piece is actually worse than this. But this is pretty bad.
I got nothing against the Giants, but as an associate member of the Detroit diaspora, I gotta cheer for the Tigers in this one. Let this serve as an open thread for Game 1.
The new minor-league baseball team in Hillsboro, Oregon (Portland suburb) is challenging the Albuquerque Isotopes for greatest logo/name in the game:
One presumes good taps at the park. On the other hand, my friend lives in Hubbard, Oregon where he says the Hubbard Hop Festival includes no beers where hops are discernible. So who knows.
Pete Rose is a self-admitted big fan of Derek Jeter, but the all-time hits leader has done some math and says the New York Yankees shortstop will not touch his record.
Rose told the website Sports on Earth this week that not only is time not on Jeter’s side — he’s 38 years old and 952 hits shy of tying Rose — but the Yankees also don’t have the flexibility to move him to another position should Jeter remain productive at the plate.
“I don’t think he will break the record,” Rose said. “First of all, I don’t think he wants to leave the Yankees. And the Yankees, they’re about winning. Jeter had a great year this year, but he’s what? Thirty-eight years old? And he’s a shortstop? How many 40-year-old shortstops you see walking around? Not too many, right?
“And they can’t put him at third because A-Rod’s there. They can’t put him at second ’cause [Robinson] Cano’s there. He don’t help them in left field — he’s got to be in the center of things, you know what I mean? What are they going to do? Put him at first base?”
Move an aging, steadily less productive hitter to an easier position just in order to accumulate stats? That’s crazy; what kind of manager would let that happen?
First Bolsheviks no hitter since Browning. Congrats to Homer Bailey!
Incidentally, is there serious debate to be had regarding Johnny Cueto‘s appropriateness as Cy Young award winner?