Before the Internet boomed to popularity, Baseball Digest was a smorgasbord of reading for fans.
It is difficult to imagine today, but once upon a time there was life without the Internet.
The world, at that time, was not brought to your doorstep, and this was perhaps harder on the baseball fan than on anyone else in the country, for the coverage of the sport was what you found in your local newspaper.
Players have always been quick to come up with quips, dating back to the days of Babe Ruth.
It was Art Linkletter, one of the great personalities from the early days of television, who created quite a franchise through a show and book entitled Kids Say the Darndest Things. Linkletter would talk to grade school-aged kids and draw out some classic responses. Cover baseball for a while and you find out that isn’t only kids who say the darndest things.
Of all the athletes, baseball players have always been by far the best at coming up with classic lines. Maybe it’s all the time they have to think of things to say, but it was probably more as Roy Campanella, the great Brooklyn Dodgers catcher, pegged it when he noted, “you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play baseball.”
Back in 2003, just after Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi had cut over 20 million from Toronto's payroll and was still managing to moneyball his way to an 86 win season, some members of the Toronto press foolishly accused him of racism. The accusations, which concerned the racial make-up of the team, were so crudely conceived and without basis in reality that they are not worth going into here, but, ironically, Riccardi was so concerned with finding undervalued players at the time that he'd have surely gone after a certain race if those players were devalued simply because of their skin color. In other words, he'd have loved nothing better than to pick up all the best Negro League players in 1940.
Marvin Miller wants no part of an invitation to Cooperstown.
The Hall of Fame was in the headlines last week, and not just because the retirement of Mike Piazza kindled the inevitable debate over the catcher's Cooperstown credentials. No, an even more deserving honoree made waves via what was almost certainly a first: a request to the voters not to be elected.
Can the Astros farmhand make good his escape into minor league free agency and put together a big league career?
Following the World Series, and before the major league free agent market opens up, the list of minor league free agents is released. Oftentimes this can result in a shuffling of organizational soldiers and career minor leaguers, but on occasion potential late-start major leaguers slip through the cracks and end up available as well. One of the intriguing names on this year's list is former Astros farmhand Brooks Conrad. The 27-year-old Arizona State product struggled through most of 2007 during his third go-round at Triple-A, and failed to crack the majors this time around due to those struggles and also the ceremonial season-long Craig Biggio Death March, not to mention the signing of Mark Loretta. What can Conrad provide to a new employer in 2008 and beyond, and is he anything more than a solid Triple-A lifer?
Bobby Jenks: The next Goose Gossage? Bobby Estalella finds a job. Tony La Russa finds a new broken toy in Tony Womack. Syracuse could give the Devil Rays a good battle. These and other pontifications in today's jam-packed Transaction Analysis.
This column isn't about Bud. It's about Tuesday's USA Today feature, What's the Problem with Baseball?" and its companion, "Ten Ways to Improve Baseball." In the same week that USA Today won praise from Time for its journalism, it published a pair of articles which would embarrass a small-town weekly. These articles were built around the results of a Gallup Poll conducted from June 27-29. The complete results of this survey, with historical data for context, are available from the Gallup Web site. Comparing USA Today's breathless hyping of baseball's "problems" to the actual data shows how authors Peter Barzilai and John Follaco selectively reported the results that supported their conclusion.
That's so 2002. Haven't they heard? In interviews, and his annual online chat, the Commissioner has made clear that baseball is back, bigger and better than ever. All its problems are receding, thanks to none other than Allan H. Selig and the visionary Collective Bargaining Agreement he negotiated last summer. Listen to Bud for a few minutes and you start to believe that if only baseball could spare him for a few months, he could bring peace to the Middle East, create a stable, multi-party democracy in Iraq, and swoop down to pick up Osama Bin Laden on his way back for the World Series.
Not that I care about increased offense (I love baseball all the same),
but no one in baseball looks at the strike zone, or how it is called.
It's obvious some umpires have a more liberal strike zone than others,
and I was wondering if any of you know of any empirical studies done on