On Aug. 4, 1962, the New York Yankees already had a 5 ½ game lead over the Minnesota Twins, and the Bronx Bombers would go on to win the AL pennant handily. In the National League, meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers were enjoying a five-game lead over the rival San Francisco Giants, and no one could have imagined how the rest of the season would play out. We know now, of course, that the Giants and Dodgers would finish the season with identical 101-61 records, and San Francisco would defeat Los Angeles in a three-game playoff and go on to lose to the Yankees in a long and hard-fought championship series.
On Aug. 4, 1962, in Fairfield, Connecticut, about 45 miles northeast of the Bronx, my parents were married. In a couple of weeks they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, they rented a house in Tuscany and invited their family and friends to join them. As I type this, I’m looking over an olive grove, surrounded by the people I love most in the world. The only thing that could possibly make this better would be some baseball.
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Garfoose wrangler, author, and newly-minted Italian leaguer Dirk Hayhurst discusses baseball, his new book, and his decision to move across the pond.
I recently chatted with former Padres, Blue Jays, and Rays right-hander Dirk Hayhurst about baseball, his new book, and his upcoming move to Italy. I've talked to Dirk (who has a blog and is active on Twitter as TheGarfoose) a few times over the years, and it's always good to catch up with a fellow “Monty Python” fan. (Sadly, we did not discuss “Python” this time, so you'll have to settle for Sir Not Appearing in This Interview.)
We did discuss Dirk's decision to make Italy the next stop in his baseball career. This strikes some people as an unusual choice, but Dirk views it as an adventure. Although he has never been to Italy, he looks forward to working and living in a country whose culture moves at a more relaxed pace than the United States.
What to make of fantasy players shifting across the diamond? Michael looks at the fallout of the Fielder signing, plus potential position moves by Miguel Cabrera, Mark Trumbo, and the already-certain moves of Hanley Ramirez
For fantasy owners, the difference between first- and third-base eligibility is huge—at least in leagues that ignore defense. That defensive liability can still have repercussions in real-world baseball, however, which trickles down to fantasy if a player can’t stick at the hot corner. Last week’s news featured several players going from the right side of the diamond to the left, but not all of those moves may be permanent and not all may be beneficial.
Five more bodies heaped on the bonfire of failure, but which one might not belong?
As we continue the rundown of the 50 most disappointing prospects of all time with the next five, two things have become clear: first, between my own research and reader suggestions—everyone has a favorite let-down, it seems—I could easily sail past 50 and perhaps 100. Second, of the current players on the list, no one kicked about Alex Gordon, but Matt Wieters still has many believers.
For this third installment, I’ve added five more players to the pool, and as with previous installments, I will conclude with one active player. Again, the order isn’t important—we’ll attempt a ranking at the end of the series. Finally, a restatement of definitions: we are not looking for over-drafted players, but rather prospects who gave legitimate indications that they had major-league star potential.
Todd Walker, 2B, Twins Drafted 1994, first round, eighth overall The LSU star, MVP of the College World Series, was selected in what would prove to be a weak, almost perverse first round, perhaps best symbolized by the great Josh Booty, who went fifth overall, well ahead of Nomar Garciaparra, Paul Konerko, and Jason Varitek, who went off the board in that order with the 12th through 14th picks of the round. Walker preceded them as well, and based on minor-league performance, you can’t argue with the Twins’ choice. The Twins took their time with the college player, partly because they didn’t know if Walker would be developed as a bad second baseman or a bad third baseman, partly because they’re the Twins and that’s what they do. As such, Walker moved one level at a time when he might have been ready to hit in the majors from the get-go. His apprenticeship should have culminated with a .339/.400/.599 season at Triple-A Salt Lake City, but for various reasons, including being blocked by Chuck Knoblauch, his lack of a position, conflicts with Tom Kelly, and extended bouts of hitting well below his apparent capabilities, his major-league career got off to a slow start. When he stumbled out of the gate in 2000, the Twins demoted him, then traded him to the Rockies. He spent the rest of his career wandering from organization to organization. Frequently platooned, he had only two offensive seasons in 12 that were of the quality suggested by his minor-league numbers.
The Duke of Flatbush departs the stage, but not without leaving his mark on the game, a city, and an era.
On Sunday, the baseball world learned of the passing of Duke Snider, who made his name for the Brooklyn Dodgers at a time when New York was the center of the baseball world, with its three teams each boasting a future Hall of Fame center fielder. "Snider, Mantle, and Mays," wrote the great Red Smith. "You could get a fat lip in any saloon by starting an argument as to which was best.”
I have seen the future, and its name is FIELDf/x. OK, so we kind of knew that. But today, FIELDf/x started to seem a lot more real, and even more exciting than I’d imagined. You may have noticed that BP had a man on the scene at Sportvision’s PITCHf/x summit whose liveblog was actually live. So why am I doing this, when Colin already did? Well, for one thing, Colin arrived fashionably late, and I was all over those first 14 minutes that he missed. For another, his computer died before a lot of the fun started. And for still another (this is a third reason, now), I thought it might be fun to do a Simmons-style quasi-liveblog (written live, published later) that would free me from worries about frequent updates, and allow me to write at length. Most likely that length turned out to be a good deal longer than anyone has any interest in reading, but if you’re determined to catch up on the day’s intriguing events without sitting through eight hours of archived video, you’re welcome to peruse what lies below. If you’d like to follow along, here’s an agenda, and here’s where you should be able to find downloadable presentations in the near future.
Here we are in sunny California, home of the cutest girls in the world, if the Beach Boys are to be believed (I gather there’s also a more recent chart-topper that expresses a similar view). Okay, so by “we,” I mean the attendees at the 3rd (annual?) Sportvision PITCHf/x summit, held at the Westin San Francisco in—you guessed it—San Francisco. I, on the other hand, am watching from the other end of the continent, via a webcast that dubiously claims to be “hi-res,” despite being blurry enough to make deciphering text an adventure (I guess “hi-res” is relative, in the sense that there are even lower resolutions at which it could’ve been streamed). And sure, maybe the Beach Boys weren’t thinking of this particular gathering when they extolled the virtues of California’s beach bunnies. But never mind that—it’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon here in New York, and how better to spend it than to watch a video of some fellow nerds talk about baseball in a dark room some 3,000 miles away? Well, to describe the experience at the same time, of course. Let’s get this quasi-liveblog started.
Rob McQuown covers more potential draftees for the Scoresheet supplemental draft, which begins in a few hours for most leagues.
One of the best aspects of playing Scoresheet baseball is the accessibility of the people who run the game. Jeff Barton, whose comment to Part 1 helped level-set expectations for what the best teams might have, is an active participant on the game forums and blog, where veteran owners also weigh in with their hard-earned experience. Since this is the time of the year when Scoresheet has a few “abandoned” teams looking for friendly homes, it is good to keep in mind that while good teams are indeed quite good, the bar isn't usually set unbelievably high, and while there's a pride of accomplishment in turning a franchise around in Scoresheet baseball, the task isn't nearly as daunting as that faced by real-life GM's who take over for predecessors who may have set the team back for many years.
For example, as noted yesterday, the team in the “300” league is charmed, and was fortunate enough to receive a trade offer of Jason Heyward for Javier Vazquez last year, which helped another team win a championship but became an even better deal for Team McQuown with Vazquez becoming a “crossover” in the offseason and Heyward being, well, Heyward. Long story short, without any other trades which could be called “great”, the team was in such a bad situation that one expert forum respondee noted, “I see only three definite keepers, trade all the slots you can. Definites: Votto, CarGo, Ethier.” [keeper slots can be traded for players or picks]. The team has had 2 straight awful weeks, and still remains in first place this year, however. “Results may vary”, as they say, and even yours truly and the team's co-manager didn't see the turnaround happening so quickly. (kudos need to go to co-manager Brian Joseph - Baseball Daily Digest Editor and he who was smart enough to see a great year coming from Barry Zito, not to mention Mike Leake's immediate impact).
Kicking the tires and checking the oil with the man who keeps the bus on the road for Tampa Bay.
BOSTON-Scott Kazmir describes Joe Maddon with a word rarely used in conjunction with a major league manager. "He's cool, a real cool guy," Kazmir said of Maddon, the manager who has helped transform the Rays franchise from laughingstock to playoff team. "He just really fits in here. We have a young team and he's like a young guy. He is someone you feel comfortable with. He's just cool."
The national pastime shows up on the printed page in books devoted to other subjects altogether.
A couple of years back, I devoted a column to randomly selecting baseball books from my collection and commenting on passages found therein. I have about as many non-baseball books as I have baseball books, so today I decided to do something different: I would go to non-baseball books and try to find baseball references in them. This proved to be a lot more difficult than I imagined. In fact, given the time constraint between coming up with the idea and my filing deadline and the fact that I have a finite number of books, I only came across four such references. Here they are:
The Young and the Toolsy, featuring future stars Carlos Triunfel and Wladimir Balentien and many others.
1. Jeff Clement, C Four-Star Prospects
2. Chris Tillman, RHP
3. Carlos Triunfel, SS Three-Star Prospects
4. Wladimir Balentien, OF
5. Juan Ramirez, RHP
6. Phillipe Aumont, RHP
7. Michael Saunders, OF Two-Star Prospects
8. Tony Butler, LHP
9. Robert Rohrbaugh, LHP
10. Greg Halman, OF
11. Danny Carroll, OF