We shouldn't be surprised when players don't show the same appreciation for baseball history we do, but sometimes the truth still hurts.
In sports, familiarity is more of the heart than the mind. As player valuation becomes uniformly sophisticated across baseball, familiarity has become a non-factor. The new wave of decision makers are as versed in Wall Street jargon as they are in scout speak and aren't too prone to sentiment. (Nor should they be.) The Theo Epsteins and Andrew Friedmans of the world are savvy enough to avoid communicating to fans in those terms, but the mindset is still there. Players are assets, and transactions are opportunities to add value to the franchise. The bond between a player and the team's fan base may be given lip service in the media, but in reality, it matters not at all, or very little. As for the players, the bottom line is almost always the ultimate deciding factor—he's going to go where the dollars flow.
Sometimes, the sentimental and the pragmatic line up nicely. That's what I was thinking when the first messages popped up in my Twitter stream this week bearing the news of Prince Fielder's new contract in Detroit. The kneejerk reaction of many was that the deal was absurdly bloated. (It was.) Others thought Detroit moved well ahead of the competition in the AL Central. (As a Royals fan, that was my second thought.) If you're a Tigers fan, you might have jumped up on your desk and started doing the Dougie. (Can't blame you.) Me, I just thought it was cool that Prince was going to play for the same team on which his father made a name for himself. It's not clear why I should care.
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How one man came to support a borderline statistical candidate for the Hall of Fame whose other contributions strengthen his case.
My first memory about Minnie Minoso stems from 1977, on one of those bright afternoons when I had talked my grandfather into stopping at the dime store on the town square in Red Oak, Iowa. It's just as Sinclair Lewis as it sounds. The store sold baseball cards, and I was working on my Topps collection that summer by picking up four or five 10-cent packs at a time. Not everything at the dime store actually cost a dime, but fifteen baseball cards and one rock-hard piece of bubble gum did, and they came bundled in colorful wax wrappers that I liked so much that I refused to throw them away. My parents didn't give a rip about sports, but my grandfather had played second base in Class-B ball in southwest Iowa in the 1920s and understood what baseball could mean to a young boy. He was glad to fork over change for the cards.
Red Oak had, and still has, the type of rustic town square that was once the primary business district of small midwestern towns. Some communities have courthouses stuck in the middle of their square, but Red Oak has trees, a fountain, and a park. That day, I sat in the grass opening my cards, stuffing the gum in my mouth one piece at a time, while my grandfather lounged on a bench under a tree talking to a fellow retired farmer, who wore a green John Deere hat. The names on the cards didn't mean much to me at the time—it hadn't been that long since I had learned to read—but I loved the team names, the pictures, and of course, the numbers on the back. Suddenly I came across card No. 232 from the 1977 Topps set:
The author and museum curator discusses the history of the Giants and his thoughts on the 2010 team.
Richard A. Johnson knows baseball history, and as a lifelong fan of the team that calls AT&T Park home, he certainly knows San Francisco Giants history. The longtime curator of the Sports Museum in Boston, Johnson is the author or co-author of numerous books.
The Angels left-hander talks about the pressures of closing among a variety of subjects.
Brian Fuentes is a thinking man’s closer. The Angels left-hander has a deceptive delivery and underrated stuff, but above all he has a cerebral approach to the game. Originally drafted by Seattle, the 34-year-old Fuentes made a name for himself in Colorado, saving 111 games over a four-year stretch, before signing a free-agent contract with the Sons of Gene Autry prior to the 2009 season. Last year’s American League saves leader with 48, the laid-back and always-thoughtful Fuentes is a four-time All-Star.
Well, they say that those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. So let’s take a brief look at the history of run estimation. You could probably write a book simply on this topic, but for now I think a rather broad overview will suffice.
The historian talks about the vast research she has done on the social aspects of baseball.
Dorothy Seymour Mills is a giant among baseball researchers and historians. Mills and her late husband, Harold Seymour, were among the inaugural class of recipients of the Society for American Baseball Research’s Henry Chadwick Award, which honors the game’s great researchers, historians, statisticians, analysts, and archivists. She collaborated on three groundbreaking books with her late husband: Baseball: The Early Years , Baseball: The Golden Age , and Baseball: The People’s Game . Her most recent book is Chasing Baseball. Mills, now 82 years young, talked about her life as a baseball researcher during SABR’s annual Seymour Medal Conference, held recently in Cleveland. The award, which honors the best book of baseball history or biography published the previous year, is named after her and Harold Seymour.
One member's picks for the various BBWAA awards, friction in San Diego, and long schedules afford extra options in playoff rotations.
It will not be an easy task for the Baseball Writers Association of America, those who have been asked to select the American League's Most Valuable Player. Ballots filled out by the 28 voters (two in each city in the league) must be e-mailed back to the BBWAA headquarters by the time the postseason begins on Wednesday afternoon, and it is easy to picture a many of them mulling over their choices until the very last minute, because there is no easy choice.
Don't stop believing in the AL Central, the Orioles' annual late-season wing-clipping, and instant replay on the job.
White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen was chatting with a group of reporters this past week, when the talk turned to analyzing the remaining schedules of the two contenders in the American League Central. Some felt that the Sox had the easier path to winning their first division title since 2005, a season in which they also won their first World Series since 1917. Others believed that the Twins had the clearer path to a second AL Central crown in three years.
Enter instant replay, bad blood between the Mets and Phillies (and Brewers and Cards), plus news and notes from around the game.
Instant replay is here, although it's yet to be used after the first three days of being available to help umpires on home-run calls. While video may have killed the radio star, it is not expected to kill off the men in blue. Commissioner Bud Selig has made it clear that replay will not extend beyond boundary calls on homers, but even in its limited form, replay is stirring debate around the major leagues. Everyone has an opinion; people either love it or hate it, with seemingly no one standing on middle ground.
Sitting down to talk to one of the original 'Black Aces' about race and history in the game.
James "Mudcat" Grant made history, and now he is working to preserve it. One of only 13 African American pitchers to win at least 20 games in a season, Grant became the first to do so in the American League when he went 21-7 for the Twins in 1965. A big league pitcher from 1958-1971, Grant currently devotes much of his time to championing the rich heritage of black players in professional baseball. He is the author of The Black Aces: Baseball's Only African American Twenty-Game Winners.