2/29/2008

Mariners 10, Padres 3

The Mariners beat the Padres 10-3 in an charity game Thursday. Here is the box score.

Quick peek at ex-Rattlers:
Jeff Clement ('05): 1-for-3, 2B, RBI, run
Wladimir Balentien ('04): 2-for-3, RBI
Matt Tuiasosopo ('05): 1-for-3, run
Bryan LaHair ('04): 1-for-1, run
Yung Chi Chen ('05): 1-for-2, run
Rob Johnson ('05): 2-for-2, HR, 2RBI
Eric O'Flaherty ('04, '05): 2IP, H, 0R, 2K

The M's play the San Francisco Giants this afternoon.

Sickels on Cabrera

Former Timber Rattler Asdrubal Cabrera gets a post on John Sickels' MinorLeagueBall.com. First a quick history lesson:

The Mariners were aggressive with Cabrera in 2005. He began at Wisconsin in the Midwest League, where he hit .318/.407/.474 in 51 games. Promoted to Inland Empire, he hit .284/.325/.418 in 55 games. He even got into six Triple-A games, hitting .217/.250/.304. Scouts continued to praise his defense, and it was clear he had some offensive potential, notably decent plate discipline. I gave him a Grade B, writing that I liked him a lot and that if he kept the hitting going at higher levels, he would be very valuable.

Seattle bumped Cabrera to Triple-A in 2006. Not surprisingly, he struggled, hitting just .236/.323/.360 in 60 games and looking rather overmatched much of the time. He was traded to the Indians for Eduardo Perez. Cleveland assigned him to Triple-A Buffalo, where he hit .263/.295/.337 in 52 games. He continued to draw raves for his glovework, but the hitting was obviously not very good. However, given his age (20) and lack of Double-A experience, this was hardly damning. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '07 book, but noted because he was so young he still had time to rebound.


Now, some projections for this year:

Cabrera is still just 22 years old. I don't think what he did last year was a fluke. He has good plate discipline, and while he won't be a big home run guy, he has enough pop in his bat that the pitchers have to respect him. Defensively he is excellent at both shortstop and second base in my opinion, and there's no reason for that not to continue. The metrics back this up.

In the short run, here are some projections for 2008:

James: .277/.345/.401
Shandler: .278/.345/.398
ZIPS: .258/.322/.384
Weighted Mean PECOTA: .266/.326/.388
Me: .270/.339/.390

These aren't terrific short-term offensive numbers of course, but given his age, decent plate discipline, and his defense, I'm still optimistic about how he will pan out in the long run.

34 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 34 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is The Best American Sports Writing (1997) edited by George Plimpton. This excerpt is from the article Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. This eventually became a book and a movie.

Throughout that day, [Rob] Hall’s friends begged him to make an effort to descend from the South Summit under his own power. At 3:20pm, after one such transmission from [Guy] Cotter, Hall began to sound annoyed. “Look,” he said “if I thought I could manage the knots on the fixed ropes with me frostbitten hands, I would have gone down six hours ago, pal. Just send a couple of the boys up with a big thermos of something hot – then I’ll be fine.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/28/2008

Thursday Motivation (2/28)

A self-made motivator from despair.com. Make your own over there. It's fun and feels good.

I feel better already.

The Deacon of the Foxes

Kevin Czerwinski of MiLB.com has a story on Appleton Baseball Hall of Famer Grover 'Deacon' Jones.
Grover Jones has spent more than a half century in baseball, serving the game at almost every level and in nearly every capacity. While he played in the Majors briefly and coached there for more than a decade, his greatest accomplishments may well have come far away from the bright lights of the big leagues.

Jones, who is better known by his nickname "Deacon," is one of the legendary figures in the history of Midwest League. He set a league record in 1956 then had one of the finest seasons in circuit history in 1966 before helping break down a racial barrier in the spring of 1973. While his place in baseball history may not be as prominent as some, Jones remains one of the great Minor League figures over the last half century.

"It's nice to be mentioned that way," said Jones, now 73 and living in Houston. "The game is bigger than all of us, though, and it goes on without Deacon Jones. I have a great passion for the game. It's always been about the game, and no one ever gets that."

The article covers his early career including hitting over .400 in 1956, two years in the Army that he did not enjoy, and getting the call up to the big leagues. We'll pick the story up where he starts in Appleton.

Jones found himself back in the Midwest League in 1966, this time in Fox Cities playing for legendary Minor League manager Stan Wasiak. He once again won the batting title, hitting .353 to lead the Foxes to the league title. Jones also led the league in RBIs (80), on-base percentage (.484) and extra-base hits (58).

He returned to the Class A circuit the following season as a player-coach, but it became clear that his career had peaked. Jones bounced around the Minor Leagues for five more seasons before the White Sox made him an offer in January of 1973. They wanted him to manage their Midwest League affiliate in Appleton.

"They called me in the office in Spring Training and I thought I was finally getting my papers," he said. "But they said they wanted me to consider being the player-manager in Appleton. My heart jumped."

Danville had made Bernie Smith the first African-American manager in Midwest League history a few days before the Sox gave Jones the job in Appleton. While Danville went on to finish in first place and reach the league finals, Jones was let go midway through the season as Appleton headed to a last-place finish.

"I can't say that it didn't make me feel good," Jones said of the opportunity. "But I don't make a big deal out of it. It was something that was going to happen to someone somewhere. We just happened to be the first two. But I don't think it had much of an impact on me because I can't hardly remember it."


The story wraps up with the mention of Jones being in five different halls of fame. Oddly, it mentions that Jones is in the Midwest League Hall of Fame, which I don't think exists, and does not mention that Jones is in the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame. [Second name from the top].

Here is the wrap up to the article.

The honor in which he seems to take the most pride, however, is his mention in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Jones was honored as the American Legion Player of the Year in 1951 when he hit .408 as a catcher. He became the first black player recognized by the Hall.

"I got everything I wanted out of the game," he said. "I was good to it, and it was very good to me."

About an Intrasquad game

The Mariners held their intrasquad game yesterday and Daren Brown's team beat Scott Steinmann's team 2-1. Coverage may be found at the following links.

Geoff Baker's blog at the Seattle Times has video in this post.

Jim Street has this report in his Notes section at the M's website:

Mariners win, and lose: Sacrifice flies by Jeff Clement and Matt Kiger scored both runs for Team Brown in Wednesday's 2-1 victory over Team Steinmann in the spring's only intrasquad game.

Center fielder Bronson Sardinha, a non-roster player invited to camp, slugged a home run in the fourth inning to give the losing team a 1-0 lead. Team Brown tied the game in the bottom of the fourth and grabbed the lead an inning later when Adam Moore singled and advanced to third on Sardinha's error.

Young pitching dominated the six-inning game. Team Brown hurlers Robert Rohrbaugh, Brodie Downs and Cesar Jiminez surrendered six hits, struck out six and walked none.

For Team Steinmann, Joe Woerman, Philip Barzilla and Steven Kahn surrendered six hits, walked two and struck out four.

Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News-Tribune gets a bit more in-depth and looks at some of the possible members of the Rainiers, many of whom are ex-Rattlers.

Guys such as Bryan LaHair, Rob Johnson, Yung Chi Chen, Charlton Jimerson, Rob Rohrbaugh, Cesar Jimenez, Brant Ust and possibly Jeff Clement or Wladimir Balentien could be among those headed to Tacoma for another season.

“All I’m trying to do is to make an impression on the coaching staff,” said LaHair, a first baseman who spent all of last season with the Rainiers.

LaHair went 2-for-2 on Wednesday, ripping a double down the line and showing decent speed for a guy who is 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds.

After being named the Mariners’ minor league MVP in 2006 after hitting .309 with 22 doubles, 16 home runs and 74 RBI in 114 games, LaHair’s star lost some luster last season as he hit .275 with 46 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI with 126 strikeouts.

...

Rohrbaugh pitched two perfect innings to start, and Jimenez was dominant at the end, also pitching two perfect innings and striking out four.

“Rob is a guy that when he’s locating, he’s going to keep hitters off-balance,” said Daren Brown, who managed Rohrbaugh in Tacoma last season. “He pitches to contact, and he’s looking to hit the bat in some place other than the barrel.”

...

“That is the first time I’ve seen Jimenez, for sure, and I heard a lot about him in winter ball, but I liked what I saw,” [Seattle manager John] McLaren said.

35 Days to Opening Day


Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 35 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Happy Days Were Here Again by William F. Buckley. This is a book of his columns and this one is the start of a July 20, 1992 column on John Kenneth Galbraith.

It is fortunate for Professor Galbraith that he was born with singular gifts as a writer. It is a pity he hasn’t used these skills in other ways than to try year after year to bail out his sinking boats. Granted, one can take satisfaction from his anti-historical exertions – the reader gets subversive pleasure out of his Sisyphean labors, and some wholesome pleasure from his yeomanry as a sump-pumper. Indeed his rhythm and grace recall the skills we remember as having been developed by Ben Hur, the model galley slave whose only request was that he be allowed every month to move to the other side of the boat, to ensure a parallel development in the musculature of his arms and legs. I for one hope that the next time a nation experimenting with socialism or communism fails, which will happen the next time a nation experiments with socialism or communism, Ken Galbraith will feel the need to explain what happened. It’s great fun to read. It helps, of course, to suppress wistful thought about those who endured, or died trying, the passage toward collective living which Professor Galbraith has beckoned us for over forty years, beguiling the subliterate world, here defined as those whose knowledge of what makes the world work is undeveloped.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/27/2008

Baseball on TV (2/27)

I found a clip of Bleacher Bums on YouTube. But, I don't think that I want a clip with Robert* from Everybody Loves Raymond using the F-word early and often.

There was a clip with with the last five minutes of Major League. But, I've used that movie way too much this winter.

Instead. Here is a clip from NewsRadio. Someone took out the non-essential bits and left the parts where they are trying to put together a promo for Yankee Opening Day. I will mention that I miss Phil Hartman...a lot.



*I know. Brad Garrett. It just seems funnier when you think of Robert Barone saying the F-word early and often.

Intrasquad lineup

Geoff Baker has the lineups for today's Seattle Mariner intrasquad game in this post.

The ex-Rattlers have been bolded:

Coach: Scott Steinman

LF Jeremy Reed
RF Willie Bloomquist
1B Greg Norton
CF Bronson Sardinha
SS Miguel Cairo
C Jamie Burke
3B Brant Ust
2B Tug Hulett
DH Rob Johnson

RHP Joe Woerman


Coach: Daren Brown

SS Mark Kiger
2B Yung Chi Chen
1B Bryan LaHair
RF Mike Morse
C Jeff Clement
LF Wladimir Balentien
CF Charlton Jimerson
3B Matt Tuiasosopo
DH Adam Moore

LHP Robert Rohrbaugh

There is also video of popup drills.

Look, I'm no genius

...and I know that I kid the Great.Lakes.Loooooooooooons a bit on this blog. But, the title for their first day of single game ticket sales is so 1997.

Loons' Ticketpalooza Begins at 9am Saturday

I can't take credit for this idea, but I'm going to take away one word and add one letter to the above headline and the event is immediately going to make you chuckle a bit instead of groan. Plus, there is 100% less Ministry.

Ticketpaloonza Begins at 9am Saturday

The first one is free. The next one will cost you.

36 Days to Opening Day


Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 36 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is a Babylon 5 novel, Personal Agendas by Al Sarrantonio. I love it when characters in a work of fiction set in the future talk about a work of fiction that is set in their past, but our present.

“Wow,” Dr. Stephen Franklin chimed in. “You’re talking real cloak-and-dagger stuff here. Sounds like James Bond."

“Who?” Garibaldi asked.

“James Bond,” Franklin explained, “was the hero of a series of twentieth-century Earth novels. He was always getting into impossible situations and always getting out of them. Very smooth guy.

“I’m…familiar with the James Bond books,” Sheridan said. “They were a bit silly, but enjoyable. The point here is,” he continued, growing serious, “that G’Kar needs us. I had a dream not twenty minutes ago that told me why I’ve been feeling so restless and uneasy since he had been brought to Centauri Prime. In my dream G’Kar said to me, ‘I’m standing behind you.’ Basically, that’s what he’s always done. Even though the protection of his homeworld always came first, I can’t think of a single instance where G’Kar was ready to sacrifice any of our lives to attain any of his goals. In his own way he’s been a constant friend.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/26/2008

Did you go?

The program at UW-Fox Valley by Byron Motley about the Negro Leagues was very good.

Here are a few things I didn't know: In the early 50's the Indianapolis Clowns made regular stops at Goodland Field to play the Papermakers. Satchel Page pitched for the Clowns in some of those games.

Motley's father Bob was an umpire in the Negro Leagues. The father and son collaborated on a book: Ruling over Monarchs, Giants, and Stars. I was running late getting back to work or I would have picked up a copy after the lecture.

Speaking of work, I gotta get going there now.

Haircut day

Geoff Baker has pictures from Spring Training...of ex-Rattlers Mark Lowe, Eric O'Flaherty, and Ryan Rowland-Smith...and their haircuts.

And the games will be starting when?

Seriously, here is the list of pitchers Seattle will be using for their first two spring games. Ex-Rattlers have been bolded.
We'll start with the charity game, since it's the one being played here in Peoria. That will see [Jarrod] Washburn take the mound first, followed by Miguel Batista, R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Eric O'Flaherty. A pretty good complement of arms that could all be with the team on Opening Day. Erik Bedard will then start the "official" Cactus League opener (never understood how you could have exhibition games on an exhibition circuit, but I digress), followed by Cha Seung Baek, Rowland-Smith, Jake Woods and Sean Green.

Kelley on Clement

Jeff Clement ('05) is the topic of Steve Kelley's column in the Seattle Times today.
That swing, a sweet, slight uppercut that ripples with power. That pop in his bat, as obvious as a knockout punch. That muscular left-handed cut that seems ideally tailored for Safeco Field.

Last September, after the playoff race had been lost and the Mariners were taking a sneak peek into their future, Jeff Clement stated his case.

In the second game of a doubleheader against Cleveland, he hit a tying, ninth-inning home run off Joe Borowski. The Mariners won that game in the 10th.

Two nights later, Clement's two-run, walkoff home run off Mike Wood beat the Texas Rangers.

In nine games and 16 at-bats, he hit .375, drove in three runs and because of his power and sense of the dramatic, Clement became the people's choice.

"To get an opportunity and to have some success, was great," said Clement before Monday's workout. "I'm not going to read too much into it, or too little into it. I was happy that when I got the opportunity, I did all right. It was a few at-bats and it went well. That's all."

Clement was muscle. He was drama. He was clutch. He was exciting.

A city that has been looking for the logical successor to Edgar Martinez at designated hitter thought it might have discovered him in Jeff Clement.

"Obviously I want to play in the big leagues," Clement, 24, said. "That's always been my goal from a very young age. That's all I'm shooting for and I'll let whatever happens, happen. There's not much more to say than that."

Look who unveiled a new logo

The Pulaski Mariners:


On a cold, rainy Wednesday afternoon in the middle of February, there was a hint of summer in the air for the first time in almost two years.

At a muddy Calfee Park, the owners and management of the Pulaski Baseball, Inc., debuted the new logo and 2008 season schedule for the new Pulaski Mariners.

Pulaski returns to Appalachian League action after a yearlong absence caused when the Toronto Blue Jays pulled their affiliation in late 2006.
Designed by the owners of the Pulaski Mariners, along with input from New Era Cap Company and Minor League Baseball, the logo uses Pulaski’s recognizable “P” symbol along with the compass logo from their parent club, Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners. The color scheme also borrows heavily from the parent club, although the grey coloring that will be utilized on the hat is more reminiscent of the Seattle Mariners colors from the late 1990’s, as opposed to their current uniforms.

It was a dark and stormy and muddy and colorful Wednesday. But, the logo looks good.

Look who was in Chattanooga

Mike Goff, the first Timber Rattler manager, spent yesterday getting a look at his new surroundings.
[Lookouts owner Frank] Burke treated Goff to a tour of AT&T Field on Monday, and Goff liked what he saw, saying the facility built in 2000 still looks brand new.

Goff has spent the past 15 years in the Seattle Mariners organization and was big-league bench coach the past two seasons. Nine of his years with Seattle were spent as the minor league coordinator for instruction.

He last managed in 1996, when he led the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to the finals of the Class A Midwest League.

“There will be an adjustment period, no doubt about it,” Goff said. “I managed in the Arizona Fall League in ’04, and finishing up the last two years as a bench coach, you’re basically managing every single game anyway along with the manager. It’s something that will take a little while to adjust back to again, but it’s not something I anticipate any problems doing.

“Managing is something I’ve always loved to do, and walking away from it the first time was very difficult.”

37 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 37 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Ancient Egypt with General Editor: David P. Silverman.

Shoshenq is best known for leading a campaign into Palestine that is mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 14.25-6), where he is called “Shishak”. At home, he managed to reintegrate southern Egypt into the kingdom for almost a century. However, the forces of separatism proved stronger in the end, and by the reign of Shoshenq III they affected not only Thebes but also the Delta, which saw the rise of an increasing number of autonomous princes. By the middle of the eighth century BCE, at the height of this so-called “Libyan anarchy”, no fewer than nine major kingdoms and principalities (most of them known collectively as the Twenty-Third Dynasty) coexisted in Egypt.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/25/2008

I'm sure this is just temporary...

Not sure what's going on, but I clicked on the RattlersReport link over at the left last night. It just took me to the sports section of the Post-Crescent.

Just kind of odd. Last year, the link stayed active through the whole off-season. Now, there isn't even a link on the main sports page. There were a few links there, including a bit about Appleton baseball history. At first glance, those links aren't there anymore.

Interesting.


Like the title says, I'm sure it's just temporary.

38 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 38 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Samurai Warlords: The Book of the Daimyō by Stephen Turnbull.
Such mobilization orders could only work if the daimyō had the ability to survey his retainers’ lands accurately and added their value of income. As the sixteenth century progressed, the means for doing this became more sophisticated, and a daimyō acquired a very detailed knowledge of the location and extent of his retainers’ holdings. It also gave the daimyō two additional powerful tools in ruling his domain. First, the kandaka meant that the retainer’s relationship with the daimyō could be expressed in terms of income, rather than the mere possession of land. Great income meant great responsibilities, and the appointment to prestigious positions, such as jōshu, keepers of castles, and bugyō, magistrates.
Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

There was no book cover, but there was part of a larger woodcutting that was on this page online. It is titled Samurai resting in the castle. The larger version has some Samurai playing go and others playing sugoroku. It must have been game night at the joukaku.


2/24/2008

And now a word from our sponsor (bumped)

Blogging may be a bit light over the next few weeks. There is a lot to do in the sales part of the job. Also known as, the part that pays the bills.

The main goal over the next few weeks is program ads and wall signs as the deadlines approach. So, if you're in the area and are interested in hearing more about what is available, e-mail me at rattlerradio@aol.com. We'll get someone from corporate sales in touch with you.

Now, back to the goofy stuff.

A few on some ex-Rattlers

Jim Street has this on the current Mariner closer:

Putz's fate wasn't always clear
It's a tough thing, giving up what you really enjoy doing, and J.J. Putz was somewhat reluctant to relinquish what he thought would be his ticket to the Major Leagues.

His goal was to make it to the big leagues with the Mariners -- as a starting pitcher.

"If someone had told me in 2003 that I would make the All-Star team as a closer in '07, I would have told them they were crazy," Putz said. "I had no desire to be a closer."

His time in Wisconsin is briefly touched on here:

After putting together a solid, 12-6, 3.15 ERA season in 25 starts with Class A Wisconsin in 2000, his first full professional season, Putz went 7-9 with a 3.83 ERA for Double-A San Antonio in 2001, and he was a combined 5-14 with a 3.53 ERA for San Antonio and Tacoma in 2002.

Here's a story from the Hanover (PA) Sun about Robert Rohrbaugh (WI '05):

On the brink of the majors

This is the left-handed pitcher who ascended quickly through the Seattle Mariners farm system and now has spent nearly two weeks in major-league camp at spring training in Peoria, Arizona. He is expected to begin the season with the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers in Washington.

He is one step away.

"I think Robert could get big league hitters out right now," said Brad Holman, who worked with Rohrbaugh in Class AA and now is the pitching coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates' affiliate in Altoona. "But it just depends on numbers and what the Seattle Mariners need at this time."

"He's knocking on the door of the big leagues," said Greg Hunter, the Mariners' director of player personnel. "He's adjusted to every level he's been at. He's gutsy, he's not intimidated."

Here is a Baltimore Sun column on Adam Jones (WI '04) getting settled into Oriole camp:

Orioles' Jones plays it cool
"I know the expectations are very high," Jones said, "but my expectations are a lot higher than their expectations. I want to play at a high level. I don't try to be cocky, really, but the numbers and projections are in my head."

It goes beyond that. Jones actually puts his own expectations down on paper before every season.

"I write them down every year," he said, "and I try to put them somewhere I won't see them all season. I hid them so well last year, I still haven't found them."

If you don't like this kind of kid, you don't like baseball. He has all the tools, has some style and has a clue about how to go about his business in a locker room that still has some crusty veterans waiting for the young guys to trip over their gloves.

If you're not doing anything for lunch on Monday.

Brett Christopherson of the Post-Crescent, had this in yesterday's paper.
Because of the speed and grace of James "Cool Papa" Bell, we get to read about Rosa Parks in our history books.

Because of the Ruthian power of Josh Gibson, we can experience the chills as we listen to Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.

And because of the golden arm of Leroy "Satchel" Paige, we get to turn on our TVs and see an African-American man campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination and a historic seat in the Oval Office.

Bell, Gibson and Paige made their marks playing baseball in the Negro Leagues.

But all three are also among those who cemented their legends through helping spark a movement that would shatter the walls of segregation, intolerance, hatred and ultimately reshape a nation.

"The gentlemen who played in the Negro Leagues at that time really paved the way for all of us to have the freedoms that we have," said Byron Motley, who on Monday will deliver a pair of presentations at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley in the Town of Menasha entitled, "The Negro Baseball Leagues: An American Legacy."

"It would have taken our country even longer to come as far as it has, and the Negro Leagues are really at the center of all of that. They helped break down those barriers because baseball was very important in our country back then."

The program is scheduled for noon in the UWFox Theater. It is also set for 7:00pm in the UWFox Student Union. Maybe I'll see you there at lunch.

For more on Motley, you can head over to his website.

39 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 39 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Modern Manners: An Etiquette for Rude People by PJ O’Rourke. This part is from Making Famous People Comfortable.

When the famous person you’ve met is not in your immediate company, ignore him or her completely. This is the modern use of the “cut direct” mentioned in Chapter 3. Whereas, in former times, the cut direct was used on enemies, it has now evolved into a polite way to show respect for famous friends. It is an article of faith among celebrities that they are constantly pestered by the public. Of course there are so many celebrities, and so few of them are celebrated for anything, that most of the time the public can’t be bothered. But it’s only common courtesy to act as though the famous people you know are so famous that the public is very bothered indeed. You don’t want to be seen as part of that public. Wait for the celebrities to pester you. They will soon enough. If they weren’t infantile self-obsessed hogs for attention, then our kind of society never would have thought they were important in the first place.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/23/2008

Minor League news

Jim Street, MLB.com's Mariner beat writer, has a minor league report.

The #1 pick from 2007 is the top part of the article:
The Mariners took a bit of a pitching hit when they sent three Minor League pitchers to the Orioles for left-hander Erik Bedard in the recent blockbuster trade.

But the cupboard is far from empty.

Thanks the plethora of arms selected in the past three First-Year Player Drafts, the Mariners are stocked with good, young arms -- none better than right-hander Phillippe Aumont, selected in the first round (11th overall) last June.

But it took so long to get his name on a contract, the Mariners' farm system didn't reap the benefits of having one of the top pitchers beginning his pro career with one of their farm teams. Aumont, instead, pitched in the World Cup for Team Canada -- and won MVP honors.

This early work helps, right?

"He's going to be around big league players and see how they handle themselves," said Greg Hunter, the director of player personnel. "It also allows our Major League staff to become familiar with him, or at least have some familiarity when they are looking at reports and statistics throughout the season."

Here is a look at ex-Rattler Bryan LaHair ('04):

LaHair made a strong impression last spring, batting .387 (12-for-31) with five RBIs in 12 games and doing a good job at Triple-A Tacoma, batting .275 with 12 home runs and 81 RBIs.

"He needs to keep producing, have patience and realize that as long as he keeps putting up the numbers and doing what he needs to do, he will get his opportunity," Hunter said.

And a look at a two other '07 draft picks:

Third baseman Matt Mangini, a compensation sandwich selection for pitcher Gil Meche, spent most of his '07 season at Everett where he batted .291 in 22 games and could move up to Class-A Wisconsin this season.

"He's a left-handed power guy and I'm really looking forward to seeing him this spring," said Hunter, who also singled out Daniel Carroll, an outfielder from Valley View High School in Moreno, Calif. He batted .323 in 53 games with the Peoria Mariners.


40 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 40 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is One Pitch Away by Mike Sowell. The book is about baseball’s 1986 post-season. This excerpt is from the chapter on Houston Astro starter Mike Scott.

He had a good arm and a ninety-plus-mile-an-hour fastball, but he lacked consistency and a good breaking pitch. His career won-lost record was 29-44. He knew time was running out on him. He couldn’t last forever on his potential. He wasn’t going to get many more chances.

He had a wife and two young girls to support. He had to start thinking of other ways to make a living. That was why he had gotten his real-estate license in the fall. Maybe he could sell houses for a living. He also thought about selling insurance, or going back to school to complete his degree. None of his options sounded very appealing.

The phone rang. Scott answered, and on the other end of the line he recognized the voice of Al Rosen, the Houston general manager.

“I know you had a bad year, Mike,” he began, “but I want you to know you’re still our fifth starter next year. It’s your job to lose. I’m not saying you can go to spring training and get beat up and not lose the job. But don’t worry about last year.”

The words of encouragement helped. Scott had been really down, and his confidence needed a boost.

But that wasn’t the main reason Rosen called. He had something else in mind. Rosen’s friend Roger Craig, the pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers, had taught several of his pitchers a new pitch, a version of the forkball called the split-finger fastball. It had worked so well the Tigers had won a world championship. Rosen thought the pitch might work for Scott, so he had persuaded Craig to teach it to the Houston pitcher.

“What do you think?” asked Rosen. “Do you want to go out and talk to Roger?”

“Sure,” said Scott. “I’ll go out there.”

What else could he say to his boss after the kind of season he had just had? All he needed to be told was what to do, where to go and when to be there. He didn’t know anything about this new superpitch everyone in baseball was talking about, but he was ready to learn.

At this point, Scott was willing to try just about anything to save his career.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/22/2008

Soul Patch Man

This Mariner's Notes part of the M's website has this little part about a new promotion at Safeco Field this season.
A few years after a popular promotion in which the Mariners offered free admission for fans willing to mimic Buhner's shaved-head look, fans entering Safeco Field will get to sport a little extra hair.

The debut of J.J. Putz Soul Patch Night arrives for the April 12 game against the Angels. The first 20,000 fans entering the park will receive a "stick-on" version of the chin tuft sported by the Seattle closer.

A month later (May 16), fans can get the full-body J.J. look, on his Bobblehead Night. Others scheduled to be immortalized in bobblehead likenesses -- or not -- are Ichiro Suzuki (April 25), Adrian Beltre (June 13), Hernandez (July 18) and Yuniesky Betancourt (Aug. 8).

Read the story of Moses Fleetwood Walker

Benjamin Hill of MiLB.com has this article that is well worth the read. Here's the start:
Even if Moses Fleetwood Walker had never played professional baseball, his life story would have been an exceedingly interesting one.

Walker was a well-educated and restless Renaissance man who logged time as an inventor, entrepreneur, lecturer and newspaper publisher (among many other professional and leisurely diversions). He also suffered from alcoholism, which played a role in several run-ins with the law. Most spectacularly, he was charged with second-degree murder in 1891 for his role in a violent incident outside a bar in Syracuse, N.Y.

What makes the story notable?

The details of Walker's dramatic and often contradictory life take on added meaning when one factors his race into the equation. As a mulatto who came of age in late-19th century America (and who was born before the advent of the Civil War), Walker inevitably was defined by the color of his skin first and his accomplishments second.

So it remains today. For Walker, to the extent he is remembered at all, is usually referred to simply as "the first black player in the history of the Major Leagues." He achieved this distinction when he spent the 1884 season as a catcher with the American Association's Toledo Blue Stockings, some six decades before Jackie Robinson's historic debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Now go read the rest.

41 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 41 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Summer of ’49 by David Halberstam. This is about the Yankee Clipper.

Joe DiMaggio was the most famous athlete in America. In fact, he seemed to stand above all other celebrities. Soon after he retired as a player, he returned with a group of friends to the Stadium to watch a prize fight. He was with Edward Bennett Williams, the famed trial lawyer, Toots Shor, the saloon-keeper, Averell Harriman, the politician-diplomat, and Ernest and May Hemmingway. Suddenly and immense mob gathered. Hundreds of kids, a giant crowd within a crowd, descended on DiMaggio demanding autographs. One kid took a look at Hemmingway, whose distinctive face had graced countless magazine covers. “Hey,” the kid said, “you’re somebody too, right?” Hemmingway said without pause, “Yeah, I’m his doctor.”

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/21/2008

Thursday Motivation (2/21)

They like it

The Tacoma Rainiers, PCL affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, look like they are set to sign a long-term lease to stay at Cheney Stadium.

Mike McCall, president of Rainiers owner Schlegel Sports Group, told Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg that his company initially wondered whether it would need to relocate the minor league baseball team, Ladenburg said during a meeting of Tacoma city, schools and parks officials. But the group has since concluded that things are working well in Tacoma and that it wants to remain here, Ladenburg said.

A deal, possibly in the range of 10 or 15 years, could be reached as early as March, said Mike Combs, public assemblies facilities director for the City of Tacoma. Negotiations between Schlegel and the city have been ongoing and will resume next month in Arizona during spring training for the Seattle Mariners, the Rainiers’ major league affiliate, Combs said.

McCall couldn’t be reached for comment. Rainiers President Aaron Artman said the team is encouraged by last year’s 10 percent increase in attendance, and by the response to the ballclub’s new emphasis on season ticket and group sales. The Dallas-based group bought the Rainiers in 2006.

The possibility of new development around Cheney Stadium is another positive factor, Artman said.

42 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 42 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis. This excerpt is about the duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

The full and better-recorded salvo came late in 1800 and early in 1801, during the debate in the House of Representatives over the presidential deadlock between Burr and Jefferson. Since everyone knew that Jefferson was Hamilton’s implacable political enemy, the kind of elusive target who seemed to be put on earth by God to subvert Hamilton’s visionary plans for a powerful federal government, Hamilton’s strong endorsement of Jefferson as “by far not so dangerous a man,” who possessed “solid pretensions to character,” only served to underline his contempt for Burr. “As to Burr there is nothing in his favour,” Hamilton observed, then went on: “His private character is not defended by his most partial friends. He is bankrupt beyond redemption except by the plunder of his country. His public principles have no other spring or aim than his own aggrandizement…If he can he will certainly disturb our institutions to secure himself permanent power and with it wealth. He is truly the Catiline of America.”

This mention of Catiline is worth a momentary pause, in part because the reference is so unfamiliar to modern ears as to seem meaningless, and also because it was so familiar to the leaders of the leaders of the revolutionary generation as to require no further explanation. By accusing Burr of being Catiline, Hamilton was making the ultimate accusation, for Catiline was the treacherous and degenerate character whose scheming nearly destroyed the Roman Republic and whose licentious ways inspired, by their very profligacy, Cicero’s eloquent oration on virtue, which was memorized by generations of American schoolboys. No one in the political leadership of the early American republic needed to be reminded who Catiline was. He was the talented by malevolent destroyer of republican government.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/20/2008

Wednesday Baseball Movie (2/20)

From The Sandlot:


Following the leader

The Kitsap Sun has this story on JJ Putz ('00). There may be registration required.

Putz More than the M's Closer

He's the king of the ninth inning and the master of the postgame shaving-cream pie.

J.J. Putz's value to the Seattle Mariners goes well beyond his status as the American League's best closer and a practical joker who leaves teammates looking both ways before they sit down.

He's the glue that holds the relief pitching staff together, having become a mentor to a group of young pitchers who comprise one of the most important facets of the team.

Don't just call Putz a closer. To them, he's their leader.

"J.J. took me under his wing when I got called up," right-hander Mark Lowe said. "He gave me the dos and don'ts of this game and I've taken every single one of them and used them for myself. You see a guy with the success that he's had, you're stupid not to take something from it."

Answering a few questions.

Geoff Baker's latest Sights and Sounds You Tube video is up at his blog. About two minutes into the video. Mark Lowe ('05) answers a few questions about how his arm feels. Lots more in the video including Jeff Clement ('05) trying to catch a knuckleball from RA Dickey.

My, Oh, My!

Congratulations to Dave Niehaus.

Niehaus wins Frick Award
Happy birthday, Dave Niehaus, you're headed for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Niehaus, a fixture in the Seattle Mariners' broadcast booth since they entered the American League as an expansion franchise in 1977, was named the 2008 winner of the Ford C. Frick Award on Tuesday and will be honored at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies on July 27 at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The news came on Niehaus' 73rd birthday. It marked the second consecutive year that the award for major contributions to baseball broadcasting has been won by an announcer who has covered his club since its inception. Niehaus follows Denny Matthews, the broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals since their debut season of 1969.

"What a birthday present," Niehaus said on a telephone conference call. "It's the most humbling experience. My phone has not stopped since the news got out."

'His Voice is Seattle Baseball'
Get out the rye bread, Grandma, longtime buddies Dave Niehaus and Dick Williams are going into the Hall of Fame together.

Almost three months after Williams was one of five managers and baseball executive elected into the Hall of Fame, Niehaus on Tuesday -- his 73rd birthday -- gained entry into the Cooperstown, N.Y., shrine, as the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award winner. Both will be inducted on July 27.

"This is great, really terrific," said Williams from his home near Las Vegas. "We go way back, to when we were both with the Angels. We have known each other for a long, long time."

Their paths first crossed in 1974, when Williams became manager of the Angels and Niehaus was a member of the broadcast crew. They renewed their friendship a month into the 1986 season, when Williams took over as manager of the Mariners, and have been close ever since.

A boy with dreams, Niehaus now in Hall
Dave Niehaus remembers tossing and turning in his sleep, finally waking up at 6 a.m. with a new purpose in life.

"I was going to be a dentist. But I was at Indiana University and woke up and thought to myself, 'I can't look down someone's throat at 8 in the morning the rest of my life.' Can't do that.

"The hardest thing to do was to call my parents and tell them. They had looked forward to me becoming a professional person. They said, 'What are you going to do now?' "

Well, he wasn't exactly sure but he always had this special interest in sports, especially baseball. He followed up by walking into the campus radio station, WFIU, and offering an audition. He was hired to do the school's baseball broadcasts. That was more than 50 years ago.

"A lot of things have happened to me since I took that turn on campus in Bloomington, Indiana," Niehaus said.

Here is the Ford C. Frick Award page at the National Baseball Hall of Fame Site.

43 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 43 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is Napoleon Bonaparte by Alan Schom. This part could be called Napoleon: The Early Years.

Facing Napoleon were the combined forces of the Austrian and Piedmontese armies, about fifty-two thousand men. His aim was first to sever all communications between the two allied forces, then defeat them one at a time, beginning with the smaller, less formidable Sardinian army, led by the fifty-eight-year-old general Baron di Colli-Marchi. The septuagenarian Belgian general, J.P. de Beaulieu, commanded the Austrian army, including General Colli.

When Beaulieu received word of Napoleon’s impending invasion, he was much alarmed and quickly set out from his GHQ at Milan down to Novi, ordering two divisions to move north and west to link up with him. The Austrian army was divided into three columns: a right wing, under General di Colli, was ordered to defend Stura and Tanaro; a center force, under Count d’Argenteau, was to cut off the left flank of the French army along the cornice at Savona; while Beaulieu himself headed the left wing en route for Voltri. From the outset, however, Beaulieu had problems with greatly dispersed troops, rarely in communication with one another or even with their own headquarters. Nor did the mountainous terrain help matters.

Acting quickly while Napoleon and his main force were still along the cornice, Argenteau reached Montenotte on April 9, 1796, catching the French off guard the next day and attacking them – unsuccessfully – at Monte Legino. Meanwhile, the same day, Beaulieu reached Genoa and set off for Voltri, where he attacked a surprised Laharpe, who was forced to retreat to Savona.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/19/2008

Some Spring Training Notes

The Everett Herald has this story on Phillippe Aumont and mentions a former Timber Rattler as a way to compare and contrast.
Ten years ago, a big first-round draft pick showed up at spring training with the Seattle Mariners and announced his potential with his mouth.

It was the second week of camp and Ryan Anderson, a 6-foot-10 18-year-old, threw a round of batting practice to a rusty group of Mariners hitters. They hadn't faced live pitching in months, and everything Anderson threw at hitters like Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriguez sailed right past their bats.

Then Anderson said something that still makes M's manager John McLaren cringe.

"I dominated them," Anderson told reporters.

Griffey and Buhner read those words and decided to teach the kid a lesson. They got a dozen baseballs and had them delivered to Anderson's locker with instructions for him to sign them, "To Junior and Jay, from the greatest pitcher of all-time."

"They were putting him in his place," McLaren said.

It's 10 years later and there's another big first-round teenager on the mound for the Mariners at spring training. McLaren is confident this one will say all the right things and require minimal steering from the older guys.

Right-hander Phillippe Aumont grew up in Quebec idolizing former Mariner Randy Johnson, he speaks perfect French, clear English and has left hitters mumbling their own chosen words after facing his 96 mph fastball.
Go check out the whole thing.

Australian Ryan Rowland-Smith (WI '04, '05) is the focus of a long story over at the Seattle Times.
No one has to remind Ryan Rowland-Smith how far he has come from his days of watching major-league baseball on videocassettes in his native Australia.

The country had no television coverage of non-Aussie sports when the second-year Mariners pitcher was growing up. So, a friend's father dropped off tapes of the 1992 and 1993 World Series for Rowland-Smith, who watched them for hours, glove in hand, as he dreamed of a life playing in America.

He'd ignore subtle jabs from neighborhood pals pressuring him to play rugby and cricket, or surf the waves near his home in Newcastle, on the country's south coast. He endured four-hour round-trip car rides to Sydney three times per week to find serious baseball competition.

Most of all, Rowland-Smith learned to tame creeping self-doubt. Could someone living so far from where most baseball is played make a living at its highest level?

Oh, and it's not just about baseball.

"He's always had a passion, ever since he was little, for sports in the U.S.," said his father, Rob, in a phone interview from Sydney. Rob is a celebrity sports trainer known throughout Australia as The Sandhill Warrior. "He loves ice hockey, so I got him a stick. He loved the NFL, so I bought him a St. Louis Cardinals helmet and jersey."

You read that right. A St. Louis Football Cardinals helmet and jersey. That's different.

The latest M's Mailbag is up at the Mariners site. Plenty of ex-Rattler stuff and this one may help Rattlers fans as well.

Who is in charge of player development for the Mariners?
-- Gregory W., Selah, Wash.

Greg Hunter is beginning his first full season as the director of player development. The former Washington State University player -- and member of the of the Kirkland, Wash., Little League World Series team in 1980 -- has been with the organization for the past 11 seasons, working his way up from a player development assistant.


2002 Home opener

The article about 2002's home opener is over at the main Rattler site HERE.

Marvel at the exploits of Greg Dobbs, Shin soo Choo, Dan Head, Lanny Patten, and Bill Martinez as the season opens in Beloit and continues with a doubleheader against Burlington to start the home schedule.

44 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 44 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book was an obvious choice with 44 days until the first game of the season. It’s I Had a Hammer by Hank Aaron with Lonnie Wheeler and it's about a time the Braves sent a scout to Eau Claire.

Around the end of June, one of the Braves top scouts, Billy Southworth, came to watch us play. I thought I made a pretty good account of myself when he was there, but I was surprised to read in the local paper that, when he was asked about the best prospects on the team, the only players he mentioned was a first baseman named Dick Enquist. [Wes] Covington and I were practically tearing up the league at the time. I’m not sure what the strategy was – things happened to black ballplayers that I still can’t explain – but for some reason, he didn’t want to single us out in the newspaper even though he knew we were the best players. I’m sure of this, because I’ve seen the report that he filed about me. He wrote, “For a baby-face kid of 18 years his playing ability is outstanding. I will see the remaining games but will send in the report now, ‘cause regardless of what happens tonight, it won’t change my mind in the least about this boy’s ability.”


Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/18/2008

Foreign sports

This isn't just a baseball site. It could also be considered a broadcasting blog. Here are a few broadcasting notes from the weekend.

This first clip is of SkySports Soccer Saturday. If my five minutes of research is correct, the FA Cup is a national soccer tournament in the United Kingdom. Soccer teams from every level compete. The broadcasters are reacting like this because Barnsley beating Liverpool would be like the Timber Rattlers beating the Los Angeles Dodgers with a game winning grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Stick with it to get the 'I Can't Feel My Face Move' by the Brian Howard, the Barnsley captain and goal scorer, when they go to the pitch after the match has ended. It's at around the 2:12 mark of the video.



I need to see if I can work the phrase: "Oh, Martin Atkinson, you bowled it!" into a broadcast this season.

Here is the goal...with the call...in French:


Sacre bleu!

Lastly, I found this one at Deuce of Davenport:

Australian Pool, sorry, Savage Speedball is different. Still can't decide what is my favorite part of this clip.

1.) The hexagonal table
2.) The heart rate monitor
3.) The lead announcer reminding fans to turn off their phones
4.) The announcer exchange that goes like this:
Analyst: He's doin' okay. He's doing all right!
Play-by-play: No, he's not, Tony! Not doin' well at all.
5.) The distance meter

45 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day 2008 for the Timber Rattlers is April 3. That is 45 days from today. This off-season, the countdown will be based on books. Each day between now and Opening Day 2008, I will pick a random book out of my library and excerpt a passage off the page number corresponding with the number of days remaining to the first pitch of the new season. I will try not to repeat a book during the countdown.

Today’s book is For the President’s Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush by Christopher Andrew. The excerpt is from the Woodrow Wilson administration regarding the Zimmerman Telegram.

Wilson’s address to a joint session of Congress on April 2, 1917, calling for a declaration of war on Germany, was one of the great speeches of American political history. It is best remembered for Wilson’s vision of a postwar world “made safe for democracy” with peace “planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty.” Americans, said the president, remained “the sincere friends of the German people…however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts.” They had been brought into the conflict by “Germany’s irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and is running amok.” Among the evidence of “running amok” that Wilson cited were German intelligence operations:

One of the things that has served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friends is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce.

Put today’s excerpt in a baseball context.

2/17/2008

Ceilings

Jim Street has this piece on Jeff Clement (WI '05). It explains why the catcher won't be starting the season with the Mariners.

Clement's ceiling too high to ride the bench

"We're not going to carry Jeff Clement as an extra catcher, or as a pinch-hitter," manager John McLaren said. "He's going to have to be an everyday player at a position. I'm not saying he can't make this ballclub, but we're not going to have him as a third catcher or as a backup catcher. He has too high a ceiling and he needs to play. If he's a starter, he'll be on the club. If not, he'll be in [Triple-A] Tacoma."

The only two positions available to Clement are catcher and designated hitter and there are no plans to give him playing time at first base or in the outfield.

And neither looks promising.

"I'm looking at [Jose] Vidro as our DH and Kenji [Johjima] as our catcher," McLaren said. "We're pretty well set with those two guys."

Clement is just doing his job.

Clement is making progress behind the plate, but still needs more work to become Major League-ready.

"Obviously, my goal is to play in the big leagues and help the team win," he said. "That's what I want to do, but at the same time, if I don't make the team this spring, if I don't and have to go back to Triple-A and catch there, I'll show up and work hard."

I wasn't going to do this...

But, after re-enforcing to the five readers of this blog how tortured my math skills are in the previous post, I thought that I'd give a pointer to another math/baseball post. This link doesn't involve a made-up stuff. Well, it kind of does...Or, does it.
Famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke's Third Law states, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Applied to the advanced baseball metrics we create, it could probably be paraphrased for the average reader (one unfamiliar with deep statistical musings), as, "Any sufficiently advanced baseball statistic is indistinguishable from a load of computer-generated bollocks."

To be fair, it is tricky to fault them for such a mentality. For most people, applying maths to baseball is neither easy nor particularly enjoyable - it takes a scientifically inclined mind to want to bother with this sort of thing. The stats crowd are, in essence, waving computer printouts and clamouring for attention in a space normally reserved for thoughts no deeper than 'Willie Bloomquist is such a gamer'. If I wasn't so fond of statistical analysis myself, I can see how this would be annoying (I used to think Willie was a good young prospect, after all). However, just because most people do not understand advanced statistical stuff doesn't mean they're dumb, or that they're irredeemable. Sometimes it's simply because we're not doing a good enough job of explaining ourselves.

Right there with you on that last sentence, Graham. Head over there and read the whole post to get an understanding of where the stat-heads are coming from on this issue. There is a flow chart or a diagram or something, too.

Another list

This one is from Ben Badler at Baseball America's Prospect Blog...and I also saw it "last night". The title of the post is self-explanatory:

From the Top: Measuring Which Farm Systems Are Closest To The Majors

In baseball, a team with a farm system in which the top prospects are at the Triple-A and Double-A levels means that team likely has several assets with a high degree of certainty. The more plate appearances a hitter has or batters a pitcher has faced in his professional career, the more reliable data points we have to forecast his future.

A prospect in Triple-A may have a track record of 2,000 minor league plate appearances, including several hundred in the highest levels of the minor leagues. A prospect in the short-season leagues or low Class A, meanwhile, has a much more limited body of work available to evaluate, and it is within the context of the lowest levels of the minors, where weaknesses like poor pitch recognition, an aluminum bat swing or a fringy array of pitches is less likely to be exploited.

Having more plate appearances or batters faced is helpful both in terms of being able to analyze a player’s statistics and by allowing scouts more time to evaluate a player’s tools and skills, to asses his development and to create a better forecast for the player’s future through his observations.

All that playing time doesn’t necessarily make the player more valuable; rather, it increases the certainty with which we can evaluate a player and forecast his future. That doesn’t mean Triple-A Red Sox outfielder Brandon Moss is a better prospect than low Class A Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider because Moss is closer to the majors—it means there is more certainty to which we can predict the value that Moss will provide to a major league team.

Badler goes through his methodology for his rankings:

It starts with every team's Top 10 Prospects (as rated by BA, of course).

Then: Level Score (5 points for AAA, 4 points for AA, etc); Ranking Score (10 points to #1 prospect, etc.); Individual CTM Score (Jack Bauer is not involved. Just multiply a players level score by his ranking score); Team CTM Score (Add up individual CTM scores and divide by 55...it makes mathematical sense...trust me). There are a few additional tweaks to the formula. Just read the whole post.

Oh, almost forgot, CTM = Close to the Majors

After all of this, it is revealed that the Los Angeles Dodgers are the system closest to the majors with a score of 3.89.

The Mariners check in with a 3.31 which is #12 on the list. I'll try to recreate that score here by showing the work. Columns below go Rank, Player, Ranking Score, Level Score, Individual CTM

1. Jeff Clement..................10........5........50
2. Phillippe Aumont...........9.........0..........0
3. Chris Tillman..................8........3.........24
4. Carlos Triunfel................7........3.........21
5. Wladimir Balentien........6.........5........30
6. Michael Saunders..........5.........4.........20
7. Juan Ramirez.................4.........1............4
8. Mark Lowe.....................3.........5.........15
9. Ryan Rowland-Smith...2.........5..........10
10. Matt Tuiasosopo.........1.........4.............4

Adding up the Individual CTM Scores = 178
Divide by 55...
Team CTM Score = 3.24

Close enough? He may have done this after the trade, which would take Tillman out and everyone else moves up one, the #11 prospect moves up to #10, and a train leaving Chicago at 5pm traveling 95 mph....

Math. It can be your friend and it can be your enemy.
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