95 Days to Opening Day

Opening Day for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers is April 5, 2007. That is only 95 days away.

The number 95 is represented by the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers

and the 1957 Milwaukee Braves:

Both those teams won 95 games in their respective regular seasons.

Braves Photo from SportsEncylopedia.com

Sunday Flashback

Today's Sunday flashback is going back to Sunday, July 16. The Rattlers scored the most runs in a game for 2006 with a 16-7 win over the SWING of the Quad Cities.

HERE is the boxscore from that day.

The Rattler lead was 10-7 heading into the bottom of the eighth. Then, Wisconsin put the game away with six runs. Luis Valbuena had a three run homer in that inning to help knock the SWING out.

Just copy and past the code below into your internet browser and relive that pleasant Sunday afternoon at Fox Cities Stadium.

javascript:mp.play({ w:'http://web.servicebureau.net/conf/meta?i=1112773651&c=14667&m=was&u=/w2.xsl', w_id:'20124', pid:'milb_ga', type: 'a_free'} );

Gehrig's Gum

Each Sunday during the off-season, I'll be taking a passage from Luckiest Man, Jonathon Eig's biography of Lou Gehrig.

This week's selection is about Gehrig's habits.

Simple routines were a source of comfort to Gehrig. Each spring, he would hand two dollars to Doc Painter, the team's trainer, and Painter would buy him forty packs of chewing gum. Each morning, when Painter arrived in the clubhouse, he would remove one piece of gum from a pack -- two if the Ynkees had a doubleheader that day -- and place the gum atop Gehrig's locker.

Gehrig liked to smooth the dirt around first base with his toe cleats before each pitch. He liked to spit on the palms of his hands between swings. When he drew a walk, he didn't drop his bat at home plate but tossed it gently in the direction of the dugout to make it easier for the batboy to retrieve. He believed in eating a big breakfast and getting a lot of fiber in his diet. He took a laxative called Agarol every night before bed. He seldom drank but smoked more than he cared to admit. He put himself through no elaborate pre-game rituals and required no long post-game rubdowns. Only the gum was an obsession. He wouldn't chew more than one stick a game, wouldn't accept a stick from anyone but Painter, and insisted on paying for it himself.

Baseball History -- December 31

Complete entry for December 31 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.

I could pick out a lot of highlighted entries, but there is only one that really matters.

A plane carrying
Roberto Clemente to Nicaragua on a mercy mission for earthquake victims crashes into the Atlantic Ocean. Clemente, who batted .317 in 18 seasons with the Pirates, is presumed dead at age 38.

There is a reason that it's called the Roberto Clemente Award:
The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to a player who demonstrates the values Clemente displayed in his commitment to community and understanding the value of helping others. Each club nominates a player in September. The winner is selected from 30 nominees during the World Series.

There is one more book that I need to add to my reading stack:

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss.

Maraniss did a great job on the biography of Vince Lombardi (When Pride Still Mattered) that I need to pick this one up tomorrow.

Late start today

Was out working on some of my resolutions early. That way I can say that I had one extra day when I break them.

Regular Sunday programming begins shortly.


96 Days to Opening Day

April 5, 2007 is Opening Day at Fox Cities Stadium. That is just 96 days away.

The number 96 is represented by Babe Ruth:

The Babe had 96 total bases in his 41 World Series games.

The Unnatural

This week's Baseball on TV post heads off the beaten path because The Truth is Out There.

The Unnatural is a sixth season episode of The X-Files.

Here is the summary from tv.com:

Mulder meets with Agent Arthur Dales' brother (also named Arthur!) and is told a tale of a talented negro baseball player from Roswell, New Mexico in the 1940's who may have been an alien that ran away from his colony because of his love for the game.

During the episode, we get the opinions of both Mulder and Scully about baseball boxscores:

Mulder: I'm reading the box scores, Scully. You'd like it. It's like the Pythagorean Theorem for jocks. It distills all the chaos and action of any game in the history of all baseball games into one tiny, perfect, rectangular sequence of numbers. I can look at this box and I can recreate exactly what happened on some sunny summer day back in 1947. It's like the numbers talk to me, they comfort me. They tell me that even though lots of things can change some things do remain the same. It's . . .

Scully: Boring.

The story is told in flashback from the point of view of Arthur Dales, a Rosewell, New Mexico police officer.

Josh Exley, is playing for the Roswell Grays* in the Cactus league and is more than happy to be doing that:

Catcher: "Hey, Ex. I heard the Yankees have been calling you."

Josh Exley: "I'm fine playing here in the Cactus leagues. It's nice and quiet." [The next pitch bounces off a much-abused cactus]

Umpire: "Ball!" [to Moose] "Leave the cactus alone, son!"

Catcher: "Gee, I don't know, Ex. The Yanks could use those 60 home runs a year. Well, now that, uh, Jackie Robinson's up there in the Bigs, people are saying you're going to be next. The first black Negro man of colour in the American League. Shoot, Ex, you'll be famous, man."

Josh Exley: "I don't want to be no famous man. Just want to be a man."**

Seems there is a threat on Exley's life and Dales is put in charge of protecting the baseball star.

As the episode continues, the policeman begins looking into Exley's background:

Officer: [answering phone] "Macon police department. Can I help you?"

Officer Dales: "Yeah, my name's Arthur Dales. I'm with the Roswell Police Department. I'm doing a background check on a gentleman I believe is from your area. His name is Josh Exley."

Officer: "You want information on a Josh Exley?" [He hands the phone to another man]

Bounty Hunter: "Yeah, name rings a bell. Yeah, I got a Josh Exley. A six-year-old coloured boy disappeared oh, maybe five years ago. Now do you got a read on this Josh Exley's whereabouts?"

Officer Dales: "Six years old?"**

Then, Exley (played by Law & Order start Jesse L. Martin) reveals hiself and his secret to Officer Dales to protect himself from the Alien Bounty Hunter.

Grey Alien: "This is ridiculous. You're supposed to be a big, bad policeman." [Officer Dales gasps in panic] "Now, hold up, Arthur. Now, before you go fainting again, listen to me. It's me, Arthur. It's Ex."

Officer Dales: "This is an interesting dream. Wake up. Come on, Artie."

Grey Alien: "Man, you ain't dreaming. This is what I really look like. This is the real me."

Officer Dales: "Ex? It's really you under there, Ex?" [He begins touching the alien face, poking around the lip and nose. Josh Exley puts up with it for a moment, then reaches over and sticks his finger up Officer Dales nose] "Ow!"

Grey Alien: "I ain't under anything, Arthur, and I'm trying not to be insulted by your reaction to my true face. Look, would it be easier if I looked like this?" [He morphs into a beautiful woman and climbs onto Officer Dales lap] "Would this be easier for you to handle?"

Officer Dales: "Mmm... No. Somehow, that's even weirder."**

Why would an alien take up baseball?

Josh Exley: "See, there's something you got to understand about my race. We don't have a word for laughter. We don't laugh. I don't know if you noticed in between all that fainting you was doing, but we have very tiny mouths, so no smiling even."

Officer Dales: "Wow."

Josh Exley: "But I tell you, when I saw that baseball game being played this laughter just... it just rose up out of me. You know, the sound the ball makes when it hits the bat?"

Officer Dales: "Yeah."

Josh Exley: "It was like music to me. You know, the smell of the grass, 11 men — first unnecessary thing I ever done in my life and I fell in love. I didn't know the unnecessary could feel so good. You know, the game was meaningless but it seemed to mean everything to me. It was... useless, but perfect."**

Yeah. That sounds about right.

Of course, this being The X-Files, there is no proof of aliens or conspiracy or much of anything at the end of the episode. But, there is this scene that is one of my favorites in the entire run of the series. Thanks to whomever put this up on Youtube.com.

Great episode of a great show.

*-A take on both the Homestead Grays of the Negro League and the Greys that are part of UFO and Alien mythology.

**-These quotes are taken from Red Wolf's X-Files Episode Guide.

It's (mostly) done

Well, it was (mostly) over Thursday and the story was at QCTimes.net yesterday.

Florida group buys Swing of Q-C

The sale of the Swing of the Quad-Cities moved one step closer to reality Thursday.

Main Street Baseball, the Florida-based company headed by Dave Heller and Bob Herrefeldt, announced it has signed an asset purchase agreement with Seventh Inning Stretch, which has operated the club under the leadership of Kevin Krause since 1998.

The agreement allows the proposed sale to begin to work its way through baseball’s approval process.

"So," you might be thinking. "How much?"

The sale price is undisclosed, but Krause said it is within the range of recent Midwest League transactions, putting it in the $7 million neighborhood.

“This brings a sense of finality to our agreement,” Krause said.

“Operating our club has been a passion of mine for almost a decade, and my hope is that things go well for them moving forward. We all hope the approval process will move quickly.”

How quickly?

Baseball’s approval process can take anywhere from 3-to-6 months to complete. Heller is hopeful that his ownership of a Class A club in Columbus, Ga., and Herrefeldt’s history of working as the vice president of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats can expedite the process.

“We’ve been through it before and honestly, we’re excited to get going. We love the potential we see in the Quad-Cities,” Heller said.

“I love that ballpark and the setting. It is unequaled. We are going to make changes, and our hope is that the fan experience at games in the future will be unequaled as well.”

Heller said specifics will be unveiled in upcoming weeks, but said his primary objective is “bring the fans closer to the action” and increase value for both fans and sponsors of the team.

After that, they can:
...envision to enthusiastically supply value-added catalysts for change in order that we may conveniently leverage existing scalable data while maintaining the highest standards.

Thanks to the Dilbert Mission Statement Generator for that. Try it and have fun with your own mission statement for the new year. Here is mine for RattlerRadio:
Our mission is to assertively foster excellent deliverables such that we may continue to synergistically pursue quality products because that is what the customer expects.

Yeah, I'll get right to work on that.

At the end of the QCTime.net story there is one comment (so far). It is, um, instructive of the work that the new owners have in front of them:
"Comment 1: Another out of town owner. Do we all remember our experience with Mr. Holtzman? Comment 2: I wonder how much the new ammenities that the new owner says are 'necessary' will cost us? "

Baseball History -- December 30

Complete entry for December 30 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.

Higlighted entries:
Happy New Year to a couple of Babes. The Phillies send the much-traveled
Babe Dahlgren to Pittsburgh for catcher Babe Phelps and cash.

Dahlgren is best known as the man who replaced Lou Gehrig in the lineup on May 2, 1939.
The Spalding Commission reports that baseball was invented by
Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839. The Commission is convinced by the testimony of Abner Graves, who claimed to be a childhood companion of Doubleday's. Grave's story is later "verified" when an old, rotting ball is found among his personal effects: The ball is now in the Hall of Fame. The Commission ignores the fact that Doubleday did not graduate from West Point until 1842.

In the name of Alexander Cartwright, don't confuse them with the facts.


97 Days to Opening Day

Before settling in to watch the end of the Airwolf episode Random Target -- yes, and the rest of today's marathon that includes the episodes Condemmed, An American Dream, Inn at the End of the Road, Santini's Millions, and Prisoner of Yesterday -- there is one more thing to do.

April 5, 2007 is Opening Day for the Timber Rattlers at Fox Cities Stadium. That is 97 days from today.

The number 97 is represented today by Ron LeFlore's 97 stolen bases for the Montreal Expos to lead the National League in that category in 1980.

From SportsEncyclopedia.com

Is this heaven?

No, it's another Airwolf Marathon on SciFi.

No way am I getting the DVD for season one or two. But, gosh, this is entertaining. How do you not get sucked into a show with a theme song like this?

After watching that, here are a few other questions:

How do you not get sucked into a show with a cello-playing super-helicopter pilot for a hero named Stringfellow Hawke?

How do you not get sucked into a show with a guy in a white suit who also wears a darkened lens on the left side of his glasses and has one of the cheesiest mustaches in television history? Oh, and his name is Archangel. How cool is that?

How do you not get sucked into a show with the lone female character being the person who would turn out to be Maggie Poole on Magnum, PI?

How do you not get sucked into a show with Ernest Borgnine sprinting for his life while carrying a toolbox?


I'm telling you right now, there is no way I am leaving the trailer for the rest of the day.

Jody, Jody Davis

Bleed Cubbie Blue has reached #53 on their list of the top 100 Cubs of all-time and former Peoria Chief manager Jody Davis checks in at that spot.
If this were a list of the most popular Cubs of all time rather than the greatest Cubs of all time, there isn't much doubt that Jody Davis would rank even higher. Why was Jody Davis so popular? Was it because the Cubs had struggled to find a catcher since Randy Hundley got old? Was it because Jody had overcome many obstacles to become an All-Star catcher? Maybe it was because of his blue-collar hard-working attitude? Or perhaps it was just because his name could be sung to "The Ballard of Davy Crockett"? Whatever the reason, to this day, almost twenty years since he last wore a Cub uniform, Jody Davis remains one of the most popular Cubs ever.

This might be a reason.
In the game in Pittsburgh that clinched the NL East for the Cubs in 1984, Rick Sutcliffe was throwing a two-hitter going into the ninth and Pirate centerfielder Joe Orsulak had gotten both hits off of Sutcliffe. With two outs and Orsulak coming to bat, Davis walked out to the mound, aware of the history that was about to be made. Davis told Sutcliffe that he wanted to catch the game-winning ball. Sutcliffe just rolled his eyes at the Davis' expectation that Sutcliffe could just strike out a batter who was 2 for 3 with a triple off of him that night. Davis went back behind the plate and Sutcliffe, despite his doubts, proceeded to strike out Orsulak. Jody Davis was a player who believed in the Cubs.

Belief is a powerful thing.

Speaking of Fruto

Last Friday, the Washington National website had their update on how some of their prospects are doing in Winter Ball. This was the headline:

Fruto baffling hitters in winter ball
Young right-hander impressing Nats in Venezuelan league

Emiliano Fruto has been one of the best relief pitchers in the Venezuelan Winter League this season.

Pitching for the Cardenales de Lara, the right-hander is 2-1 with five saves and a 2.61 ERA over 19 appearances. He has struck out 26 over 20 2/3 innings and has not yielded a hit over his last six outings.
The Columbia native is currently on the Nationals' 40-man roster, but it's unknown whether he will make the team out of Spring Training. At just 22, Fruto could benefit from spending some additional time in the Minor Leagues.

Mariner reaction to Zito signing with Giants

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has a story on yesterday's Barry Zito signing and how the Mariners will try to move ahead without signing the big ticket free agent.

The headline will give you a feel for the tone of the article.

M's record another offseason strikeout

Click on the headline to read the whole story, but I wanted to focus on one part of the piece:
"Now that all the major free agents are signed, we're looking for the trade market," [Mariner president Chuck] Armstrong said. "But you've got to trade something to get something."

Baker homes in on the unlikely possibility of trading Richie Sexson and/or Adrian Beltre. If there is going to be a trade it is probably going to involve prospects (read: Ex-Timber Rattlers) like Snelling, Fruto, and Soriano.

Baseball History -- December 29

Complete entry for December 29 is at BasebalLibrary.com HERE.

Highlighted entries:
The Mets acquire OF
Gary Matthews Jr. from the Pirates in exchange for cash considerations.

The Mets did not give the Pirates or Gary Matthews Jr. $50 million over five years for his services. The Angels just cutout the middleman and gave that figure to Matthews this off-season.
The New York Times reports that
Curt Flood will sue baseball and challenge the reserve clause.

What brought about the suit? Click on Flood's name in the entry above and you will get a bio of him that includes part of the story which goes a little bit like this:
In an act that Flood felt was "impersonal," the Cardinals traded him, Tim McCarver, Byron Browne, and Joe Hoerner to the Phillies on October 7, 1969, for slugger Dick Allen, Cookie Rojas, and Jerry Johnson. Flood balked at his trade to Philadelphia, which had a poor team and played its games in an old stadium, before usually belligerent fans in 1969. Flood fought the reserve clause. He first asked Commissioner Kuhn to declare him a free agent, and was denied. He filed suit on January 16, 1970, stating that baseball had violated the nation's anti-trust laws.

Flood missed the 1970 season, lost the case, and wound up playing the 1971 season for the Washington Senators. There is more detail about the case at Flood's Wikipedia page. Including this nugget:
Ironically, even though he lost the lawsuit, the reserve clause was struck down in 1975 when arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled that since pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally played for one season without a contract, they could become free agents. This decision essentially dismantled the reserve clause and opened the door to widespread free agency.


98 Days to Opening Day

April 5, 2007 is 98 days away. The Timber Rattlers will be taking on the Ryne Sandberg led Peoria Chiefs at 6:35pm that night. Have you picked up your Sandberg ticket package yet?

The number 98 is represented by a Cub number. The 1945 Chicago Cubs had 98 wins to claim the National League Pennant in 1945. The last time they went to the World Series.

Back to Airwolf.

Buhner for the Hall

SeattleMariners.com has a story about Jay Buhner being on the ballot for Cooperstown. The story starts exactly the way I would have started it:

It's rare when a baseball trade becomes part of a sitcom, but the swap between the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees midway through the 1988 season sure did.

During an episode of the "Seinfield" in 1996, Frank Costanza asks George Steinbrenner: "What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doin'!"

Then-Mariners general manager Dick Balderson certainly knew what he was doing when he acquired Buhner from the Yankees for left-handed hitter Ken Phelps and two Minor League pitchers.

Phelps spent the remainder of that season and part of the next for the Yankees, hitting 17 home runs and driving in 51 runs in 292 at-bats. Buhner spent the remainder of that season, and the next 13, becoming one of the Mariners' most popular and productive players.

He hit 307 home runs and drove in 951 runs for Seattle, and provided clubhouse leadership that helped the franchise reach unprecedented heights from 1995, when the Mariners captured their first American League West championship, through 2001.
When teammates needed a pat on the back, he was there with a soft hand. When someone needed a kick in the pants, he was there with a hard boot.

"Jay was very productive, obviously," former Mariners manager Lou Piniella said, "but he was a leader in the clubhouse. Having someone like Jay around makes it easy for the manager, it really does. When you have a bit of a problem that you don't want to correct yourself, you just go over and whisper in his ear and he would take care of it."

Though the Mariners never have retired a uniform number, Buhner's No. 19 remains off-limits to any other player. As a tribute to his impact on the franchise, the Mariners inducted him into their Hall of Fame on Aug. 24, 2004, joining former first baseman Alvin Davis and broadcaster Dave Niehaus in the exclusive club.

The Great Potato Caper

MILB.com has been posting a series of articles called Cracked Bats. The series focuses on the weird, strange, and/or unique happenings in the history of minor league baseball. The story this week is about an event that is all three.

Backup catcher's career mashed in 'Potato Caper'
Bresnahan released after tricking runner by throwing spud into outfield

It's been nearly two decades since Dave Bresnahan pulled The Great Potato Caper. And while the stunt may have contributed to the premature end of his baseball career, his spud-throwing session remains as one of the most talked-about events in Minor League history.

Bresnahan was a light-hitting backup catcher in 1987, playing out the year for a mediocre Williamsport team in the Double-A Eastern League. And when he and his teammates decided to have some fun at the expense of the Reading Phillies during the final weekend of the season, one of the most imaginative pranks in baseball history drew the expected guffaws.
It's understandable that people have had a hard time forgetting what Bresnahan did on a late August night in 1987. His actions at Bowman Field seemed to come straight from the pages of comedy script and to this day, talk of what he did still draws laughter. But there was nothing funny about the fallout after Bresnahan smuggled a potato onto the field and hurled it into left field in an attempt to fool the umpires, the fans and the Reading Phillies.

"I was the backup catcher and when you're sitting in the bullpen, you have to do something to break the boredom," he said. "So we had a lot of discussions from baseball to politics. We talked about all kinds of tricks people had done, whether they were in college or high school. We talked about bringing a potato or a roll of tape onto the field.
When Reading's Rick Lundblade reached third base with two outs in the fifth inning of the opener, Bresnahan put his plan into action. He informed home plate umpire Scott Potter that something was wrong with his glove and that he would need to get a new one from the dugout. The move would serve as the signal to his teammates that the plan was about to be enacted.

Stashed in his spare glove was the potato that would change his life. When Bresnahan trotted back onto the field, spud in tow, he called for the requisite low, outside pitch, one which the batter would take. During the pitch, he moved the potato from his glove hand to his throwing hand and upon catching the ball, sprang up and hurled the potato over the Swain's head and into left field.

Lundblade broke for the plate but upon reaching home, Bresnahan smiled, produced the ball and tagged him for the third out of the inning. He quickly rolled the ball back to the mound and headed for the dugout as he and his teammates enjoyed a good laugh.

"I started to run to the dugout and I hear the third-base umpire yelling that it's a 'bleeping' potato," Bresnahan said. "My roommate had a close friend who had an umpire for a close friend and we had called him about a week before to see how he would rule. He said he felt they'd just send the runner back to third and kick me out of the game.
Williamsport manager Orlando Gomez yanked Bresnahan immediately and eventually fined him $50. Potter called the runner safe and the inning continued. The Bills went on to win the game, but that wasn't the end of the story. Gomez was so incensed at what had taken place he helped orchestrate Bresnahan's release from Cleveland the following day.

"[Gomez] thought I did it to make him look bad," Bresnahan said. "But that was not the case. I still don't think he looks upon me positively, but he doesn't get it. He wanted to fight me. Jeff Scott, Cleveland's Minor League director at the time, saw great humor in it but they had to make an example that they couldn't have players pulling stunts. And I was just the backup catcher.

"I think the overreaction they had to it is what got all the attention. They got rid of me when other guys get second and third and fourth chances. I think it was unfair to get released. I guess if I was hitting .340 instead of .140 it would have been different."

He may not have played professional baseball ever again, but Bresnahan is doing okay now. He is now a real estate mogul in Arizona.

Lunblade is doing okay now, too.

Lundblade, meanwhile, enjoys nearly as much notoriety as Bresnahan.

Now a lawyer in Oregon, the Stanford graduate says the incident is a hot topic of conversation several times a year after folks come across his name on the Internet.

"It seems like not a year goes by without someone telling me about the potato incident," Lundblade said. "It's a story that has never died, and I suspect it never will. It was a fun moment in retrospect. Richie
Ashburn was the color guy for the Phillies and the following day he was talking about it.

"And he says 'The funny thing is, the Lundblade kid actually went to Stanford. The Stanford guy couldn't distinguish between the potato and the baseball.'"

The potato is doing okay, too. It can be viewed at something called the Baseball Reliquary in Monrovia, California. The picture of the potato below is from the Bresnahan section of their website and was originally taken by Larry Goren.

More Elkhorn

The Janesville Gazette had a story yesterday about the Walworth County board meeting regarding that baseball complex that may (or may not) include a minor league stadium in Elkhorn.

Board weighs sports complex risks

ELKHORN-Baseball is America's game, but is it right for Elkhorn?

Walworth County supervisors are asking themselves that question, weighing the pros and cons of a Chicago company's plan to bring a youth baseball and other sports complex to the county.
Intersport wants to build on 250 acres of county-owned land north of the law enforcement center and judicial center on County NN. The land now is rented to a farmer for corn and soybeans.

Supervisors are determining how that land could best be used-agriculture, residential development or a sports complex that company officials say would inject millions of dollars into the local economy.
Intersport estimates a $40.1 million building investment over five years, which would include 16 baseball diamonds, four soccer fields, three full-court basketball gymnasiums, 98 player cabins and a minor league baseball field.

It predicts an economic impact of $6.3 million to $7.7 million in the first year of operations and up to $150 million when all phases are completed.

More at the link.

Baseball History -- December 28

Complete entry for December 28 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.
Former major league P
John D'Acquisto is arrested on charges of trying to pass off a forged $200 million certificate of deposit as collateral on a deal at Prudential Securities Inc.
This is a close second to the time that Eddie Belfour offered a police officer $1 Billion (that's right $1 Billion). The story from early 2000:

No amount of money, it seemed, could keep Dallas Stars goalie Ed Belfour out of jail. Belfour first offered Dallas police officers $100,000, then $1 billion, if they would not jail him in connection with a scuffle March 8 at a hotel, according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

An arrest-warrant affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram describes Belfour, who helped the Stars win the Stanley Cup last season, as intoxicated and combative, spitting in one officer’s face following his arrest. Police had to spray Belfour with Mace, but he continued to resist them, kicking two officers in the chest as they tried to restrain him.

They report stated that later in the police cruiser Belfour began begging officers not to take him to jail by offering them $100,000, then progressively higher amounts until reaching $1 billion.

I would have taken him to an ATM to get his hopes up a bit. Then, when he couldn't deliver, I'd say, "Sorry, man."

Back to baseball:
Free-agent OF
Warren Cromartie signs a reported 3-year, $2.5 million contract to play for Japan's Tokyo Yomiuri Giants. The 30-year-old Cromartie, who hit .278 for the Expos last season, is the best American player to jump to Japan while still in his prime.

Cromartie was part of a very good Expo outfield in the late 1970's that included Andre Dawson and Ellis Valentine. Then, Cromartie made a move to first base to allow Ron LeFlore to take over in 1980. One year later, Tim Raines was playing in the outfield with Dawson and Valentine. Valentine left after the 1981 season and Cromartie was in the outfield with Raines and Dawson. Those were some very good Expo teams back then.

How did Cromartie do in Japan? He played seven seasons and was named Central League MVP in 1989 and was very productive. He even wrote a book:
The review is HERE. The review points out that Robert Whiting is also the author of You Gotta Have Wa, a great book about Americans playing baseball in Japan.

Back to Airwolf for a few minutes.

Later start this morning....

But, I have an excuse and it is a good one.

Made the mistake of turning on the television before heading to the computer this morning. Flipping through channels, a familiar site -- but one that I had not see in a very long time -- caught my eye on the SciFi Channel.

That's right. An Airwolf marathon on SciFi today!

If I didn't have a couple things to do today, I'd be staying in the trailer all day to watch the adventures of Stringfellow Hawke and his helicopter. Setting VCR to record!


99 days to go

There are 99 days until April 5, 2007 -- aka Opening Day at Fox Cities Stadium.

Now, if this wasn't a baseball site there would be a couple of ways we could go to represent the number 99:

A.) A song by Toto off their 1979 album Hydra.

I've been waiting so long
Oh 99
Where did we go wrong
Oh 99
I love you

I keep breaking your heart
Oh 99
How can we be apart
Oh 99
I love you

I never thought it would happen
I feel quite the same
I don't want hurt you anymore
I never knew it would work out
No one to blame
You know I love you 99

B.) Barbra Felton's character from Get Smart
C.) Gretzky.

But, since this is a baseball site (at least most of the time) The representation of 99 days until Opening Day 2007 on this site is:

Rick 'Wild Thing' Vaughn's uniform from Major League and Major League II.

Hall of Fame hopes for the Goose

MLB.com has been doing stories on the players on the ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a run up to the voting. Ballots must be turned in by December 31. The new inductees will be announced on January 9.

Earlier this week, I had a little something on Harold Baines.

Today, here is something on another Appleton Baseball Hall of Famer with a shot at Cooperstown, Rich "Goose" Gossage.

Gossage hopes this is his year
Former flamethrower seeks Hall induction as pioneering closer

Rich Gossage is hoping that his eighth year on the Hall of Fame ballot will be sprinkled with some magic. Each year since the Baseball Writers Association of America has had the opportunity to vote for him, Gossage, one of the top relief pitchers in history, has been less and less optimistic about his chances.

"I've felt the best this year, though, about the possibility of going in," Gossage said from his home in Colorado Springs. "I don't know if that's because of the feedback I'm getting from the writers who are calling me or what. The funny thing is, I always hear the good things. Nobody ever calls to tell me why they didn't vote for me. I guess they never would, but I never even hear it through the grapevine."
The Goose's baseball career line over 23 seasons is a road map of baseball stops around world: Chicago (White Sox), Pittsburgh, New York (Yankees), San Diego, Chicago (Cubs), San Francisco, Yankees again, Fukuoka, Japan, Arlington, Tex., Oakland and Seattle.

Gossage finished 124-107 with 1,502 strikeouts -- nearly one an inning -- and a 3.01 ERA. His 310 saves are 16th on the all-time list, but he never had more than 33 saves in a single season -- reaching that mark in 1980 with the Yankees.
...[W]hen it comes to closers, Gossage doesn't want to be compared to [Dennis] Eckersley or any other in the recent era, such as the Yankees' Mariano Rivera or the Padres' Trevor Hoffman, who took over the all-time saves lead in 2006.

"We're not even in the same league," said Gossage, who is 54 years old now. "Whether I belong in the Hall or not, I don't even know. I really don't. I guess what I based my hopes on, the reason that I thought I had a good shot, was that Rollie Fingers is in. I don't know what I did that Fingers didn't do. Is there something that I'm missing? I'm even more baffled because he's in the Hall."

Fingers, who was inducted in 1992, had 341 saves and threw 1,701 innings in 17 seasons. Gossage had 31 less saves in 1,809 innings.
Gossage's star has been rising among that privileged class. In 2006, when Sutter was elected, Gossage's name was penned on 64.2 percent of the ballots, up from 55.2 percent in 2005 and a big rise from the scant 40.7 percent he garnered in 2004. A former player needs to be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to be elected and has 15 years of eligibility.

Closing was different in the time of the Goose. He would pitch multiple innings throwing his fast ball hitter after hitter. Then along came one inning closers like Dennis Eckersly and Mariano Rivera. What does the Goose think about that?

"Don't even compare me with Dennis Eckersley or Mariano Rivera. I'd love to have been used like them."

HERE are the career stats for Gossage. Take note of his 1971 stats with the Appleton Foxes:
18-2 with a 1.83ERA in 25 games (24 starts) with 15 complete games and 7 shutouts.

Mariner Review

Corey Brock of MLB.com has a new story on the Mariners 2006 season:

Mariners improve behind youngsters
Number of high points mark 2006, despite last-place finish

With a new starting pitcher (Jarrod Washburn) and catcher (Kenji Johjima) in tow, Seattle entered 2006 with the hopes of climbing out of the cellar in the American League West.

That didn't happen, though the Mariners contended for the division title up until August and showed a nine-game improvement from 2005, and did so with a roster that relied on several young players like pitcher Felix Hernandez, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and second baseman Jose Lopez.

The Mariners feasted on the National League West in Interleague Play, going 18-8, but struggled mightily against their AL West brethren, going 19-38 against the A's, Angels and Rangers, including an 0-11 divisional road trip that saw them go from 5 1/2 games back to 14 by the time the trip was over.
The Mariners' bullpen proved to be one of the best in the league, especially at the back end where setup man Rafael Soriano (1-2, 2.25 ERA) and J.J. Putz (36 saves) gave the Mariners a strong 1-2 combination in the eighth and ninth innings.

There is a month-by-month section at the end of the story that has links to some of the stories that MLB.com did on the Mariners over the year.

First-year pitching coach Rafael Chaves talked with MLB.com about his thoughts on the pitching staff and getting the chance to work in the Major Leagues.

...[P]itcher Felix Hernandez
proved to be a hit with fans during the team's annual FanFest event at Safeco Field.

Seattle starter Joel Pineiro was named the American League's Player of the Week for winning consecutive starts against Cleveland and Minnesota. Pineiro didn't walk a batter in 17 combined innings over those two starts.

Hernandez tossed his first complete-game shutout on Aug. 28 as the Mariners defeated the Angels, 2-0. Hernandez got 16 ground-ball outs in a game that took just one hour and 51 minutes to play.

Pitcher Cha Seung Baek -- in his audition for a rotation spot in 2007 -- held the Rangers to four hits over seven innings in a 7-2 victory over Texas on Sept. 8. Baek was backed by home runs by Johjima and Sexson.

These aren't all of the stories. Just some highlights that feature ex-Rattlers.

Baseball History -- December 27

Complete entry for December 27 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.

Highlighted entries:
The Mets obtain slugging 1B
Mo Vaughn from the Angels in exchange for their #2 starter Kevin Appier. Vaughn did not play a game in 2001 due to injuries.

Vaughn played two years with the Mets (one good, one bad) before leaving baseball. Appier spent a season and a half with the Angels (and was part of the World Series Champions in 2002) before being traded to Kansas City for parts of two seasons. Appier pitched in ten games for the Tacoma Rainiers last season.
Free-agent pitcher
Ed Whitson, 14–8 for the Padres, begins a nightmarish association with the Yankees by signing a 5-year, $4.4 million contract.

Nightmarish? How so? Let Wikipedia explain:
Ed Whitson was a Yankee for all of 2 seasons, but is best remembered for his fight with then-manager Billy Martin. On September 22, 1985, while at a hotel bar in Baltimore, Maryland, he broke Martin's arm after a headed argument that spread to other parts of the hotel. Whitson's Yankee tenure was also memorable for constantly being heckled and booed during home games. This took place because he was a high price free agent signing that under-performed in the eyes of Yankee fans and the New York media. Also, the loyal Yankee fans sided with Martin over the brawl, and even blamed him for Martin's firing at season's end. Matter of fact, towards the end of Whitson's time in the big apple, he would only pitch road games because of the relentless jeering by his home fans.

Wow. Just. Wow.


101 & 100

Forgot to do this yesterday so...

Yesterday there were 101 days until Opening Day, 2007.

101 = The number of wins (97 regular season, 4 post-season) for the 1978 Midwest League Champion Appleton Foxes.

MILB.com has rated the 1978 Appleton Foxes #93 in their ranking of the top 100 minor league teams of all-time a few years ago. The article has stats for all the players on that team and a brief history of minor leaguer baseball in Appleton. Here is the first paragraph from that story:
Some great teams win with offensive firepower, while others win with overpowering pitching. Some teams have the benefit of a superstar’s presence in the lineup, individually lifting his team to the top. The Appleton Foxes of 1978 had none of these factors on their side. What they did rely on was quickness and speed - running their way onto the list of the top 100 great minor league teams behind one of the smallest players to play the game.

That was yesterday. Today there are exactly 100 days until Opening Day 2007.

100 = The number of RBI that Boog Powell had in the 1960 season for the Fox Cities Foxes.

You can find the career stats of this member of the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame HERE.

Baseball History -- December 26

Complete entry for December 26 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.

Higlighted entries inclue:
The Senior Professional Baseball Association folds in the middle of its 2nd season when the Fort Myers Sun Sox franchise collapses due to a financial dispute among club owners.

For more about the SPBA go HERE. A brief recap of the league from that Baseball-Reference.com article.
The Senior Professional Baseball Association was a winter baseball league based in Florida for players age 35 and over (with a minimum age of 32 for catchers). The league began play in 1989 and had eight teams in two divisions and a 72 game schedule. Pitchers Rollie Fingers, Fergie Jenkins (both future Hall of Famers), and Vida Blue, outfielder Dave Kingman, and manager Earl Weaver were the league's marquee names, and former big league outfielder Curt Flood was the circuit's first Commissioner. At age 54, Ed Rakow was the league's oldest player. Former strikeout king J.R. Richard was drafted by the league but cut in preseason.

More at that article including links to rosters and stats.
Matsutaro Shoriki, head of Yomiuri Newspapers, announces the official formation of Japan's first professional team, the Tokyo-based
Yomiuri Giants. The team is made up of players signed to compete against the American all-star team. Professional league play, with six teams, does not begin until 1936.

The Yankees of Japan.
Although it will not be officially announced until January, the Yankees buy
Babe Ruth from financially pressed Harry Frazee, paying $125,000 (one-fourth cash, plus $25,000 a year at six percent) plus guaranteeing a $300,000 loan with Fenway Park as collateral.

Try to imagine a sale this big being kept quiet for any length of time now. Try to imagine if the Yankees had Fenway Park as collateral now. Scary, eh?


A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens really nailed it when he wrote about the redemption of Scrooge on Christmas Eve.

Yes, it has been lampooned and ripped off by just about every hack out there. So, I may as well get in line.

There is something about the story. I've read it a few times and it has a power. It is rare that there is a poor adaptation to the story.

The Patrick Stewart version was on the other night. It just stops me in my tracks. It is not in the book, but there is one particular scene with the Ghost of Christmas Past that works so well in this movie.

The spirit takes Scrooge to the time when Belle, his fiancee, is breaking off their engagement and walking away. The younger Scrooge does nothing. The older Scrooge is screaming -- more and more desperately as Belle get more distant -- at the younger Scrooge to go after her. To say something, anything. But, Scrooge can't change the past. Only the future. And he did.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

A Christmas poem from MLB.com

Mark Newman takes a chance, er, takes a moment for a baseball-themed Christmas poem at mlb.com.

Hark, the herald angels sing.

Those wooden bats always made your hands sting.

A candy-cane day that smells like peppermint.

Hank Aaron, thanks for 755 homers you sent.

Reaching into a fireplace stocking for the mystery inside.

It was always that way with a Cracker Jack box, you sighed.

Pretty paper, pretty ribbons.

Another fantasy draft and someone says, "Jay Gibbons."

Here is the end.

The holiday season is all about tradition.

So is baseball, soon to undertake another mission.

To every daughter or son, to every Dad or Mom,

Merry Christmas and Peace on Earth, from MLB.com.

An A for effort, Mr. Newman should be given,
It's hard to work "Jay Gibbons" into a Christmas rhyme.
But, here is a rule that should never be riven,
Poetry should be written by poets every, single time!

Harold Baines

MLB.com has a story on Appleton Baseball Hall of Famer Harold Baines and how some are lobbying to get him in the the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Baines had a knack for the big hit
Left-handed DH makes strong case for the position

The first quotes in the story are from two other members of the Appleton Baseball Hall of Fame.

"Oh, absolutely," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, when asked if Baines was one of the best clutch hitters he ever witnessed. "When the game was on the line, Harold was awesome."

"Personally, I've never seen a more clutch player," added White Sox general manager Ken Williams. "There may have been guys who have hit more home runs, whether it was against left-handed pitchers or right-handed pitchers, or guys who have driven in more runs or played more games. But I'm talking for my money, there never has been a more clutch player than Harold Baines. Not during my time."
A candidate must get 75 percent of the vote to gain election. Results of the 2007 BBWAA Hall of Fame election will be announced on Jan. 9, and the induction ceremony will take place on July 29 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Along with Baines' tremendous RBI total [1,628], placing him 23rd all-time, the left-handed slugger finished with a .289 average, 384 home runs, 488 doubles, 1,299 runs scored, 1,062 walks against just 1,441 strikeouts and a most impressive 2,830 games played. Baines also checks in at 2,866 career hits, which ranks 39th, but also leaves him 134 short of what has been considered the magic number for enshrinement.

This particular number bothers Reinsdorf more so than Baines. The White Sox chairman, who counts Baines as one of his favorite people, feels somewhat personally responsible for Baines coming up short of 3,000.

"What really has bothered me for a long time is that if we hadn't traded him, he would have his 3,000 hits, and he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame," said Reinsdorf, who oversaw Baines' trade to Texas on July 29, 1989, and to Baltimore on July 29, 1997.

"We traded him twice -- and into bad situations where he was a platoon player.

"If he stayed with us, he would have gone over 3,000 hits. If he doesn't get in, it would really bug me. I talk to him about it, and he just shrugs it off."

How does Baines shrug it off?
"I was fortunate to play for 22 years," Baines added. "If I happen to get elected in my lifetime, I would be very grateful. If not, I still had a great career."

Quick Harold Baines story.

He was at Fox Cities Stadium for his induction ceremony a few years ago. He was just hanging out in the conference room of the main office watching the end of an interleague game between the Cubs and White Sox.

The Burlington Bees were in town and Randy Wehofer, the Bees radio announcer, needed to go back and make some copies -- the copier is in the conference room. I said something like, "Hey, wanna go meet Harold Baines?"


We go back there and I introduce Randy to Harold Baines. Randy said something along the lines of, "Great to meet you. I grew up in Chicago and always enjoyed watching you play."

Harold responds with, "Thank you. Are you a Cub fan or a Sox fan?"

"Cub fan," was Randy's reply.

"Your team just lost." Then, he laughed and so did everyone else in the room.

A trade

It seems to me like the Rangers gave up a lot to get Brandon McCarthy from the White Sox.

CHICAGO -- Brandon McCarthy basically woke up to a phone call some time around 10 or 10:30 Saturday morning.

But the talented young right-hander still had to feel as if he was part of some weird dream when he heard the news coming from White Sox general manager Ken Williams on the other end of the phone.

Williams informed McCarthy, 23, that he had been traded to the Texas Rangers in exchange for top pitching prospects John Danks, Nick Masset and Jake Rasner. A similar form of this trade was rumored as close to taking place back in November, but Jon Garland was the White Sox starter involved instead of McCarthy.

Danks, Masset, and Rasner all pitched for the Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League. Danks is one of the top prospects in all of baseball. Masset made it to the Rangers for a few games during the 2006 season. Rasner had the no-hitter broken up by Curt Ledbetter's game winning home run in the bottom of the eighth at Fox Cities Stadium on August 25.

Plenty of quotes from Appleton Baseball Hall of Famer and White Sox GM Kenny Williams in the story.

Saturday's deal had talks going back as far as one year, according to Williams, with scouts and even a video crew sent out to watch the Rangers' young arms in action. Ultimately, the deal had less to do with getting rid of McCarthy as it did with the White Sox return on their investment.

"When you are dealing with prospects like we are, these are just good baseball deals," Williams said. "It has nothing to do with money or, in this particular case, with one club losing confidence. I have the utmost confidence in Brandon McCarthy.

"I had so much confidence in Brandon that I ended up trading Freddy [Garcia] to put him at the front of the line to challenge for the fifth spot. The whole makeup of our club made Brandon expendable, as we believe there are other equal options for the fifth spot. But we also get stronger for the future."

A signing

The front page of the Journal-Sentinel sports section trumpets a Christmas present for Brewer fans:

An arm to lean on
Deal biggest in team history

Christmas came a day early for the Milwaukee Brewers and Jeff Suppan.

The Brewers reached agreement Sunday with free-agent right-hander on a four-year deal plus a club option for a fifth season. Terms of the deal were not announced but a source confirmed that it is worth $42 million, including a $2 million buyout of the 2011 option.

E.S.K at The Wisconsin Sports Bar is happy about the signing.
To me that is the best the Brewers have had since I can remember (course, alcohol has killed most of my memory). This also gives the Brewers a fantastic fifth starter in Villanueva should anything happen. I can see this rotation giving the Brewers 5 guys with 10+ wins, and three guys who are capable of 15+ wins.

Jeff at BrewCrewBall is happy about it, too.
Wow. I didn't think it was going to happen. Say what you want about payroll flexibility, but at least Suppan does improve the '07 club.

Optimism from Brewer fans. We do live in wonderous times.

Baseball History -- December 25

BaseballLibrary.com has three entries for December 25 HERE.

The one that gets on here today is a big downer, but who said that history is all lollipops and kittens.

Billy Martin, former infielder and 5-time manager of the Yankees, dies in a car accident in Johnson City, New York at the age of 61. Martin will be buried in Gates of Heaven cemetery in Valhalla, New York in a plot near Babe Ruth's. George Steinbrenner, who fired Martin four times (he resigned the 5th time) purchases the plot.

Oh, I can't leave this post on that note.

BaseballReference.com has a list of players born on December 25 HERE.

Pulled from that list for this site are:

Ruben Gotay 12/25/1982 (Former Burlington Bee)
Rickey Henderson 12/25/1958 (All-time Base Stealer)
Manny Trillo 12/25/1950 (Former Chicago Cub)
Nellie Fox 12/25/1927 (Hall of Fame)
Pud Galvin 12/15/18/56 (Hall of Fame)


Trying to get in the spirit -- Day 3

This will be last post until sometime late tomorrow morning.

For the last few days, um, weeks, er, months. No, years. (That's the word I was looking for) I have been trying to get into the spirit of the season. This clip from YouTube always seems to help.

Just click on it and may you and yours have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday Flashback

This week's Sunday flashback is the final game of the 2006 season. An extra inning win at Clinton on Labor Day. Enjoy the whole game or fast forward to your favorite parts.

Just copy and paste the code below into your internet browser.

javascript:mp.play({ w:'http://web.servicebureau.net/conf/meta?i=1112704659&c=14667&m=was&u=/w2.xsl', w_id:'26984', pid:'milb_ga', type: 'a_free'} );


There are 102 days to go until Opening Day 2007.

Here is a list of players who hit exactly 102 home runs in the major league careers. The Welcome Home banquet speaker* from 2006 is on the list.

Ollie Brown: 1965-1977

*Jay Johnstone: 1966-1985

Joe Oliver: 1989-2001

Lou Piniella: 1964-1984

George Sisler: 1915-1930

Eric Soderholm: 1971-1980

Steve Yeager: 1972-1986

Super Merry Christmas

I sent this picture out as an e-mail Christmas Card a few years ago. I'll say this: Metropolis, Illinois is a magical place around the Christmas season.

Gehrig, the Punter

This is the next brief excerpt from Jonathon Eig's book about Lou Gehrig, Luckiest Man.

This one is from the end of the chapter titled Charmed Life.

On a cool, clear day in the fall of 1928, after the World Series, Gehrig drove to the Bronx to visit a frien who worked year-round at Yankee Stadium, as a groundskeeper. Gehrig and the groundskeeper were chatting in the locker room when Sam Dana approached. Dana, one of Gehrig's former teammates on Columbia's football squad, was playing that winter for the New York Yankees of the National Football League.

Gehrig was a big star now, a World Series hero, and Dana wondered if he'd taken on airs. He wondered if Gehrig would remember him. He said hello, and Gehrig greeted him warmly.

"He hadn't changed a bit," Dana recalled. "I introduced him to all the fellas, and he greeted them all in his own shy way."

Dana waited until Gehrig had shaken hands with each member of the football team and then started to say goodbye. But Gehrig was in no rush to get home.

"I'll beat you at punting," he said, picking up a football from the locker room and challenging his old teammate to a kicking contest.

Dana and Gehrig walked onto the field. Dana was in his uniform. Gehrig wore a sport coat, slacks, and a pair of oxfords.

Dana was no punter, but he thought he had a chance, given that Gehrig probably hadn't kicked in a while.

"Oh, he won," Dana said. "There was no comparison. Lou kicked it fifty or sixty yards in his street clothes."

Back to the prospects

BrewCrewBall had a link to Baseball Digest Daily and their list of the Top 100 prospects in Minor League baseball.

Numbers 51-100 is HERE. No Mariner prospects in this section of the list. However, Jim Correll had Wladimir Balentien (WI '04) as number 100 on his list, but the ex-Rattler got pushed off the list by others.
I ranked Wladimir Balentien 100th on my personal prospect list, but don’t let that skew your judgment for him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a long-shot to be an all-star in the majors, but if you wanted to pick a dark horse to root for, you could do worse than this guy. Blessed with prodigious power and a cannon for an arm, Balentien profiles as a prototypical rightfielder if everything falls right for him. Now the downsides. With his power, Balentien doesn’t have to hit the ball square to get it out of the ballpark, yet he swings at everything as if he’s powering the entire Seattle Sailing Club each time he comes to bat. And it shows in his numbers, driving his strikeout totals to 300 in the last two seasons and a dip in batting average to .230 in the Texas League this summer. If he can learn to be more selective while maintaining his power and modest batting eye (70 walks), he could force himself into Seattle’s big league plans by 2008.

The Top 50 list is HERE.

There are two ex-Rattlers in this section, but no write up on either of them.

#27 -- Adam Jones
#22 -- Jeff Clement

Q & A with Dobbs

Greg Dobbs (WI '02) recently had a Q&A session with mlb.com. Click on the headline for the whole story. Exceprts below.

Father-to-be Dobbs reflects on holidays
With first child on the way, infielder sharpens focus on family

This promises to be a different kind of holiday season for Seattle's Greg Dobbs, as he and his wife, Heidi, are expecting their first child on Jan. 13. Dobbs thinks that the blessed event could come sooner than later.

"It could come any day," Dobbs said from his Southern California home last week. "We're in a holding pattern."

Dobbs -- who hit .370 in 23 games and was the team's top pinch-hitter -- shared some of his most unforgettable holiday memories and his New Year's resolution with MLB.com.

MLB.com: What are your fondest childhood memories in regards to Christmas?

Greg Dobbs: When I was really small, I thought I heard Santa's reindeer on our roof at Christmas. I got all excited and went and told my brother. We sat and tried to listen for him. Then the next morning, all the gifts were there, a few of the cookies were missing and half the glass of milk was gone.
MLB.com: What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?

Dobbs: I would say the coolest present I ever received came the year my dad went to Germany for a month for work. He went and bought an LGB train set that was made in Germany and brought it home. I didn't even want a train set, but the fact that he was miles away made it cool. To this day, it still runs.

Now it's back

http://www.snappersbaseball.com is backonline today.

Was that outage thing something with me? It wouldn't be the first time I've made a mistake this month, week, day, hour.

And one more

Sorry about the subscriber wall, but BA.com has put some good stuff behind there. They probably won't mind if there are two things that happen: 1.) I don't excerpt the whole article & 2.) You just think about subscribing.

They'll know that second one. Trust me. Why do you think Tracy Ringolsby wears that cowboy hat all the time?

Anyway, this story covers the trend of corporations buying and running many minor league teams.

Major Groups Grab More Minor League Teams

Ownership groups like Mandalay Baseball Properties, Ripken Baseball and Ryan-Sanders Baseball also continue to add teams to their portfolio--in both affiliated and independent minor league baseball.

According to Minor League Baseball, 19 ownership groups currently own multiple franchises. Between them, the groups own 54 of the 150 available minor league franchises, and they own many of the flagship franchises around the minors, from Round Rock and Corpus Christi (Ryan-Sanders) to Frisco and Dayton (Mandalay).

Skipping down to the section on Mandalay and the Dayton Dragons:

Greater resources and financial backing allow ownership groups to turn profits by presenting the ideals that have made minor league baseball a hit over the years--cozy ballparks and creative promotions--but on a much grander scale.

The Dayton Dragons, Mandalay's flagship franchise in the Midwest League and one of the most successful teams in the minors, have an 18-person game day staff. At its annual mascot training sessions--how many minor league franchises have ever had anything like that?--Mandalay brings in the iconic Phillie Phanatic to teach employees the joys of entertaining spectators. Instead of lining the outfield walls of their ballparks in Dayton and Frisco with traditional billboards, Mandalay displays advertisements on massive LED screens.

"Our whole approach is that the entertainment has to be fresh and we have to reinvest in the franchises to keep the people coming back," said Mandalay Baseball Properties president Howard Nuchow, who served as an executive with the NBA's New Jersey Nets for seven years before leaving to join the company created by former Sony executives Peter Guber and Paul Schaeffer, along with businessmen Hank and Ken Stickney. "It's all about entertaining fans."

Mandalay has turned entertaining into an art form. The group purchased the Rockford Reds in 1999 and moved the team to Dayton the following season after identifying the city as a promising market without professional baseball. Their forecasts proved accurate: Dayton has sold out every game for seven straight seasons and has a 5,000-person waiting list for tickets. Frisco, a Texas League franchise that moved from Shreveport in 2003, drew 580,480 fans in 2006--ninth-best among domestic minor league teams.

Another one from BA

Again it is behind the subscriber wall, but it is worthwhile to share this bit of information.

Jim Callis has an article about American League prospects who just missed Baseball America's Top Ten List in their respective organizations. The Mariner player who is just outside the Top Ten is an ex-Rattler from 2006.
Justin Thomas, lhp, Mariners. Thomas has the ability to throw strikes with three pitches that dance: an 88-92 mph fastball with cutting action, a nifty slider and a fading changeup. All can grade out as plus offerings at times. He reached high Class A and won 14 games in his first pro season, then added 13 scoreless innings in the California League playoffs.

Organizational Report Cards

BaseballAmerica.com has their organizational report cards posted for subscribers only HERE.

Each team receives an overall grade and is also graded in the following categories: Major Leaguers, Minor Leagues, Talent Level, Player Procurement, and Direction.

The Seattle Mariners, parent club of the Timber Rattlers, got the following marks from BA:

Overall - D+
Major Leaguers -D
Minor Leagues - D
Talent Level - D
Player Procurement - C
Direction - D

I'll excerpt the reasoning for the grades behind Minor Leagues, Talent Level, and Player Procurement because those are the three were affected by or affect the Rattlers the most.

Minor Leagues - D
Losing went down through the minors, with .456 winning percentage; lost San Antonio and Inland Empire affiliations for West Tenn and High Desert.

Talent Level - D
Kenji Johjima was only rookie to make an impact, and he wasn't exactly homegrown; among the worst group of prospects in the minor leagues.

Player Procurement - C
Unloaded veterans like Jamie Moyer, but didn't get any difference-makers in exchange; draft crop looks like it could provide significant boost in arms.

That's quite a little 'bad news, good news' game that Baseball America has going there.

Baseball History -- December 24

Complete entry for December 24 is at BaseballLibrary.com HERE.

Highlighted entries:

Red Sox star Jim Lonborg falls while skiing and injures his knee. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, 22–9 this past season, will fall to 6–10 in 1968.

Didn't there used to be some kind of curse that was associated with the Red Sox that explained these things?
Officers of the
New York Giants hand stockholder Francis X. McQuade a Christmas present, filing a $200,000 damage suit against the long-time club treasurer. The suit charges McQuade with seeking to "wreck and destroy" the club. McQuade countersues and after months of litigation, the NY Supreme Court will rule that McQuade is entitled to back pay, but not his job. A higher court will rule that he doesn't even get the back pay.
Why do I get the feeling this was a typical John McGraw Christmas?
Site Meter