January 31, 2011

Happy (Belated) Birthday Nolan Ryan!

Better late than never, right?

On my desk I have a Baseball Hall of Fame page-a-day calendar.  It is full of pictures, trivia and what not.  Today (January 31) featured a quiz...which one of these Hall of Famers does NOT celebrate a birthday today?

Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron or Nolan Ryan?

I knew the answer right away...Hank Aaron. 

Why?

My friend Payman (you might recognize Payman from THIS) ALSO sprung from his mother's uterus on January 31 and told me late Sunday that he shared his special day with Ryan, Robinson and Banks.

Anyway. 

Out of complete boredom, I was looking up the accomplishments of one Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr. and while there were plenty that I was rather familiar with (the strikeouts, the no-hitters, etc.)...there were some that took me by surprise.

Did you know that Ryan is one of two pitchers in Major League history to give up ten grand slams?

Did you know that Ryan is the only big leaguer to have his number retired by three different teams (California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers)?

And lastly, did you know that former Cincinnati Reds outfielder César Gerónimo was the 3000th career strikeout victim for both Ryan and Bob Gibson?

Okay, that last one is more of a César Gerónimo fun fact than a Nolan Ryan fun fact, but all that aside...I was not prepared for the following video.

As the story goes...the future Hall of Famer did a guest stint on the aptly named "Ryan's Hope" in September 1975 while injured.

That said, there is really no way to know if it was this three episode arc (or more specifically...those shorts) or that injury that led to Ryan leading the league in losses in 1976.

Uh oh.


Dropping Links: January 31

If you're like me...you spent a lot of time in front of the TV this weekend.  No, not watching one of the many All-Star Games (NFL, NHL, Lakers vs. Celtics)...discovering that nearly the entire run of "Quantum Leap" is available via Netflix Instant.

Thankfully...Tony Arnoldine is around to let us know what we missed.

The highlight of the week that was in the world of baseball was clearly Brian Wilson's appearance on George Lopez Tonight. The eccentric San Francisco Giants closer was more like a comedian than a pitcher during the bit. Check it out on YouTube.

ESPN announced its Monday and Wednesday night baseball announce teams this week. Sean McDonough, Aaron Boone and Rick Sutcliffe will call the Monday offering, while Dave O'Brien and Nomar Garciaparra will handle the Wednesday affair.

The Mets' Citi Field will reportedly host the 2013 All-Star game, according to sources.

The Orioles signed Justin Duchscherer and continue to be interested in Vladimir Guerrero. The O's are quietly putting together a nice offseason.

Steve Garvey is interested in buying the Dodgers.

Do you have a story or website you'd like to point out to Tony?  Drop him a line over at tdine05@yahoo.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook to get your daily fix!


Welcome to the Jungle!

In 1989, the movie "Major League" immortalized the entrance of fictional Cleveland Indians closer...Ricky Vaughn.

Now...I don't bring up "Wild Thing" to segue sloppily to some hackneyed post on how Charlie Sheen is a screw up.  That piece is a dime a dozen and you can hit up the Googles if you want to follow that death spiral.

I bring up "Wild Thing" to segue sloppily to something Washington Nationals pitcher Collin Balester posted on Twitter.

I know that a lot of people use this song but I have been listening to it and it's pumping me up. My 2011 walk out song will be welcome to the jungle by guns and roses

Nice. Choice.

I once suggested to some co-workers that we start the day with "Welcome to the Jungle", but, unfortunately, it never caught on.

You see, I'm a big fan of entrance music.  Heck...I've even thrown out talk of entrance music into some of the interviews I've done on this site.

So I've gotta ask...who has the best entrance in the big leagues and what song would YOU choose to enter the ballgame to? 

Me?!?  I've gotta go with "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica.


January 28, 2011

Lil Ryan Howard is Awesome!

Looks like our good friend Gar Ryness (you can read The Hall's exclusive interview with the "Batting Stance Guy" HERE) has some competition. 

Check out this video of some random two-year-old at a Lehigh Valley IronPigs game imitating Philadelphia Phillies slugger Ryan Howard.  Not too shabby...the tyke's even got he's even got the former MVP's batting glove tic down!



A proverbial tip o' the hat to CrossingBroad.com for finding this gem.


January 26, 2011

Yankees Ink Bartolo Colon

In a desperate move to keep up with the other free agent signings out there...the Yankees went out and signed themselves an ace.

According to ESPNNewYork.com...the Bombers have agreed to a deal with the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner.

The New York Yankees are taking a chance on Bartolo Colon in their quest for another quality arm in the starting rotation. The team said it has signed the right-hander to a one-year, minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. He could earn $900,000 if he makes the big league roster.

Honestly, I can't figure out what the Yankees are doing.  First, they brought in Mark Prior.  Next...it was Andruw Jones.

And now...Colon?

Now, I'm not against it. I mean, if the dude can still throw...he can throw. But, Jesus, man, Colon is 37-years-old and hasn't performed at any discernable "big league level" in close to half a decade.  And all reports are that he's twice the man (literally) that he use to be.

Oh, and if you want a good chuckle...go check out dude's Baseball Reference page. Something tells me homeboy isn't 185 pounds with only one foot on the scale.

For his career, Colon is 153-103 (a .598 winning percentage) and a robust (see what I did there?) 4.10.  Good luck, Yankees fans...start printing your playoff tickets now.


January 25, 2011

We've Had a Gary Sheffield Sighting, Folks!

I'm told there's probably nothing to it (and let's be honest, there probably isn't)...but Gary Sheffield has been working out in St. Petersburg, Florida with the Seoul Nexen Heroes of the Korean Baseball Organization.

Again, there's probably nothing to it.  I mean, Sheffield is "99.9%" retired, right?

But let's imagine for a second that there is something to the 42-year-old taking some spring training cuts with the Heroes...the slugger would be, by far, the most celebrated American player ever to take his game to Korea.  All in all, dude has a pretty solid, Hall of Fame-worthy resume to his credit...including a career batting average of .292, 2689 hits, 509 home runs and 1676 RBI.

Then again, the 22-year pro hasn't seen live big league pitching since September 2009.

Now, a simple Google search can tell you WHY the Heroes were in Florida...they're one of four international teams calling the former Major League facilities home for some spring training.

What Google can't/won't tell you why Gary Sheffield was there.  But it sure is fun to speculate.

Pictures courtesy of Naver News.  A tip o' the hat to Dan (@mykbo) for the lead.


January 23, 2011

Billy Wagner Files Retirement Papers...Cooperstown Next?

Following a 2009 season where he saw himself, for the first time, not a closer, Billy Wagner dropped the following quote…“I don’t plan on talking to nobody, I’ve got nothing else to (accomplish).”

Close to two months later…he inked a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves and had, arguably, one of the best seasons of his 16-year career.

This past Thursday, the 39-year-old lefty officially filed his retirement papers…but will we see him as part of the Hall of Fame class of 2016?

“300 saves used to be the milestone mark when closers were two or three inning guys,” former Royals closer Jeff Montgomery once told The Hall of Very Good, “but 400 will be the new mark as most good closers will reach the 40 save per year mark even on mediocre teams.”

With 422 saves, Wagner sits fifth on the all-time saves list, and while closers haven’t always gotten the love they deserve from the writers, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman (who, coincidentally, will also be on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2016) are looked as no-brainers to get their ticket punched.

Conversely, the game’s all-time saves leader among lefties, John Franco, fourth all-time with 424 saves, recently received just 4.6% of the vote earlier this month. Lee Smith and his 478 saves has hovered between 36.6% and 47.3% during his nine year run on the ballot.

What can Wagner do to be a shoe-in?

To answer that, you have to go much deeper than just the number of saves he has amassed.

His career ERA of 2.31 is pretty spectacular!

Only once, during an injury plagued 2000 season, did Wagner’s ERA jump above 2.85. By comparison, Eckersley has a career ERA of just that (2.85) out of the pen…while Hoffman hovers around in the same neighborhood at 2.87.

Wagner’s 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings is as sick as his career ERA. To say that the 5’10” lefty doesn’t bring the heat would be like saying this weekend’s Bears-Packers match up lacks importance.

1196 punch outs (the most ever by a left-handed reliever) in only 903 innings is amazing.

In 1999, Wagner was the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year after closing out 39 games and holding opponents to a diminutive .135 batting average. He’s a seven-time All-Star, appeared in the post-season seven times (with four different teams) and in 2003, even closed out a no-hitter.

So why can’t Billy Wagner seem to get over the hump and be included in the same conversation as the other greats at his position?

Attitude.

That’s right, the same thing that managers crave from their closers is the same thing that might keep Wagner from becoming a baseball immortal.

Following the 2003 season, the Astros traded Wagner to the Phillies for Ezequiel Astacio, Taylor Buchholz and Brandon Duckworth. Something tells me that the Astros weren't looking for lightning in a bottle with the three bodies they got. I'm more inclined to believe they were looking to unload a problem child.

But back to that trade and before you give me some half-hearted “what’s a duck worth”, I’ll tell you this…in the two years following the deal, the trio of Astacio, Buchholz and Duckworth played in 76 games and combined for a 6.42 ERA with Houston.

In that same time, Wagner appeared in 120 games, collected 59 saves and had an ERA of 1.86 with Philadelphia. Unfortunately, repeated criticism of his teammates helped make Wagner’s stint in the City of Brotherly Love a short one.

Philadelphia’s National League East rival Mets were the next stop for Wagner. By many accounts, it was a combination of a 2008 season ending injury and a bad attitude that led New York to sign Francisco Rodriguez and, eventually, place Wagner on waivers.

"I don't want to end my career as a set-up man," Wagner said while the Mets looked for potential suitors. "I'd like to have that option (to close)."

Apparently, Boston missed that memo and they promptly picked up Wagner and used him as just that…a set-up man for their closer Jonathan Papelbon.

After announcing it would be his last season in the bigs, 2010 found “Billy the Kid” back in a familiar role…closing games for the Atlanta Braves. And with a career-best 1.43 ERA, 37 saves (in 44 chances) and 104 strikeouts in just 69 innings, the Braves found themselves a lefty who, apparently, had just crawled out of Doc Brown’s Delorian.

But then, true to his word…Wagner walked.

"(2010) has been nothing but great for me," Wagner said following his final game… Game 2 of the National League Division Series. "I thank God I got to retire as a Brave. It's the greatest honor I could ever have.”

So now we wait.

We wait to see how the BBWAA will treat the closer that was once deemed too small by many collegiate coaches.

We wait to see if, with the recent inductions of Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage, the writers have indeed changed their collective mind on closers.

Most importantly, we wait to see if the BBWAA will continue to be tough on those with what appear to be Hall of Fame numbers, but a piss poor attitude.

Only time will tell.


January 22, 2011

Ross is Back in Richmond

If you get excited knowing that former Major League pitcher Ross Grimsley is back as pitching coach of the Richmond Flying Squirrels, welcome to The Hall of Very Good...you're among friends.

Here's what the San Francisco Giants Double-A affiliate had to say via a press release.

In conjunction with their parent club, the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, the Richmond Flying Squirrels are pleased to announce their field staff for the 2011 season. Veteran skipper Dave Machemer will assume the role of Manager in Richmond in 2011. Pitching Coach Ross Grimsley will return for his second season with the Squirrels, and Ken Joyce will serve as the team's Hitting Coach.

This will be Grimsley's second year with Richmond and his 13th with the Giants organization.  Last season, his hurlers ranked fourth in the Eastern League in both ERA (3.71) and runs allowed (586).

Now, I bring up Grimsley's current employment so I can share this with you.

At The Hall of Very Good...we've been using the lefty's likeness as the site's visage for some time now.  Designed a couple of years ago by graphic artist "Foodstamp" Davis (I can get you in touch with him if you're interested)...you can now wear Grimsley's likeness across your chest.

And honestly, why wouldn't you?

Head on over to Zazzle.com now and pick one up!  Prices vary depending on the style and you can feel free to email me and let me know if there is a different style, color, etc. that suits you best.

Happy shopping!


Vernon Wells Already Loves LA!

Let's not kid ourselves, the American League East has dominated the headlines this offseason.

Sure, sure...the Cliff Lee-to-the-Philadelphia Phillies story is a big one, but the AL East saw the Boston Red Sox make some serious upgrades, the Tampa Bay Rays enlisted some former Sox and the New York Yankees piece together last decade's best fantasy league team.

Hell...even the Baltimore Orioles look to be getting into the mix by potentially taking a chance on Vlad Guerrero.

Not to be left out, the Toronto Blue Jays have decided to, for the second straight winter, trade away their marquee name.

Last season, it was Roy Halladay.

On Friday...Vernon Wells was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels.

You've gotta give Wells credit.  Immediately he took to the Twitters and posted this:

My 1st public comments go to the people that deserve it..the Toronto fans! Thx 4 the memories. I am forever grateful!!

But within minutes...

To my new home...LA! Winning is all that matters!! Let's do this!!

So suck it, Toronto...Vernon Wells says so. 

Well...basically.

With Wells, the Angels get themselves a three-time Gold Glove winner who, last season, hit .273 with 31 home runs and 88 RBI.


Tampa Bay Enlists Damon and Ramirez

Last month, stories started circulating that Johnny Damon was looking to play closer to his Orlando home and sign with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Also part of that story...Gary Sheffield.

Well, here we are, a month later, and the Damon story has come to a close.  According to numerous sources, the 37-year-old outfielder has agreed to a $5.25 million dollar deal (plus incentives) to suit up for the Rays this upcoming season.

And while the Sheffield part of the afore mentioned story didn't pan out...the "Damon to the Rays" headline doesn't end there.

Joining Damon in Tampa Bay...his former Boston Red Sox teammate Manny Ramirez.

That's right.  The Rays, who have been losing players left and right this offseason, opened up the checkbook and inked both Damon and Ramirez.

There's a zillion punchlines to be made here...but I think Jonah Keri summed it up best.

Throw in Kevin Millar, Dave Roberts, and Pedro's little person, and les jeux d'idiots sont fait.

Last season with the Detroit Tigers, Damon hit .271 in 145 games. For his career, he is a .287 hitter and is sixth among active players with 2571 hits...two behind Ramirez and his 2573.

And speaking of Damon's teammate with the 2004 World Champion BoSox...he hit .298 with nine home runs in just 90 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox.  With 555 home runs, the 12 time All-Star is third (behind only Alex Rodriguez and Jim Thome) among active players.


January 21, 2011

Kevin Millwood to the Bronx? Why?!?

Alright, gang...raise your hand if you're getting a little tired of the daily "which All-Star from a decade ago is heading to the Yankees now" stories.

All of you?

Well...here comes another.

According to ESPN New York, the Bronx Bombers are now setting their sites on Kevin Millwood.

According to a baseball source, (agent Scott) Boras has pitched 36-year-old right-hander Kevin Millwood as a possible rotation stopgap in the event Andy Pettitte doesn't come back -- and the Yankees have at least listened.

Now, are you ready for the major wrinkle in the story? 

Millwood is also being linked to his 2010 team, the Baltimore Orioles.  MASNSports.com reports that the 1999 All-Star has been playing golf with Orioles manager Buck Showalter this offseason.

Scandalous!

Alright, I'll be the one that says it...who cares?

This is the same dude that went 4-16 last season with a 5.10 ERA...all the while leading the league in losses. 

So let's be honest with one another...Kevin Millwood, Yankees?  Seriously?!?


Yankees to Andy Pettitte: "Don’t Favre Us"

With Mark Prior and Andruw Jones in the fold and rumors of adding Kevin Millwood and/or Freddy Garcia popping up across the interwebs...does it seem out of place that the New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was addressing a Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast earlier in the week?

Seriously, Cashman...a New Jersey Chamber of Commerce breakfast? 

I've been to a number of those things and while I always pretend to be interested to learn the new, exciting goings on of local "officials"...they're pretty boring.

But then, according to The Trentonian.

Wait...Trenton's newspaper is actually called The Trentonian?

Anyway...according to The Trentonian, the former wunderkind dropped the following:

“Andy has talking about being home for years,” said Cashman. “Being from Texas and having to be in New York for six months out of the year can be hard because he has kids and he’s missing important time with them. He’s opting not to play right now but that might change it might not. I told him don’t ‘Brett Favre’ us. You got to be all in and fully dedicated to play. Do I need him? I need him, but I don’t want him to play if his heart’s not in it.”

Interesting that Cashman dropped a "Favre" into conversation given it was Pettitte's former best friend Roger Clemens who used to jerk the Yankees around every offseason.  I dunno...asking Pettitte to not be a "Clemens" would seem to be more apt.

Now, this is the point where most sites would go the route of a Brett Favre dong reference...but The Hall will refrain.

Instead, it needs to be pointed out that if/when Pettitte returns, his 240 wins will rank him second behind Jamie Moyer (267 wins) on the active list.  Additionally, with 2251 strikeouts, the lefty is third behind Moyer (2405) and Javier Vazquez (2374) among active hurlers.


January 20, 2011

Andruw Jones Finally Joins the Yankees

Following the 2007 season, it wouldn't have been out of place for the New York Yankees to have gone after a 30-year-old outfielder who had just brought home his tenth straight Gold Glove.

Instead...they opted to stick with their rotation of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu and Melky Cabrera. All they did was combine for a .287 batting average, 54 home runs, 253 RBI and 60 stolen bases.

Andruw Jones, the afore mentioned 30-year-old outfielder, went on to become a shadow of his former self.

Well, here we are, three full seasons later and the Yankees have come around to do what The Hall told you they were looking to do a few weeks ago...ink the former Atlanta Braves superstar to a one-year, $2 million contract Thursday.

Last season with the Chicago White Sox, the five-time All Star batted .230 with 19 home runs in 328 plate appearances.

For his career, Jones is a respectable .256 hitter with 407 home runs and 1222...but dude is a long, long way away from the guy who finished second in MVP voting in 2005.


January 17, 2011

Dropping Links: January 17

After watching four teams advance to their respective conference finals in the NFL and Ricky Gervais hosting the Golden Globes (can he just host ALL awards shows, please?)...it finally occurred to me.  We are officially well into the new year.

So what else is going on in this, the third week of 2011?  Tony Arnoldine is dropping links!

Albert Pujols is giving the Cardinals an ultimatum. But the birds can't really let him get away can they?

The A's are close to signing Brian Fuentes, according to sources.

Baseball Analysts compare Bobby Jenks and Kyle Farnsworth, two relievers who have new homes. Farnsworth's agent somehow persuaded the Rays to give him $3.5 million for one year.

The Rangers and Angels are among the lead suitors for Manny Ramirez now that Jim Thome is off the market. I keep scratching my head seeing the Rangers tied to all these DH types, when they just pushed Michael Young to that spot.

When you're the Mets, potentially signing Willie Harris to a minor league deal is big happenings.

With Rafael Soriano in the fold, the Yankees might consider trading Joba Chamberlain for a starter, according to Jon Heyman.

And since I mentioned it off the top...here's the video of Gervais' opening monologue from Sunday's Golden Globes.  There's not a mention of baseball, but enjoy nonetheless!



Do you have a story you'd like to point out to Tony?  Drop him a line over at tdine05@yahoo.com. Also, be sure to follow him on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook to get your daily fix!


January 16, 2011

Source: Manny to the Angels

Figuring out where Manny Ramirez is going to land for this upcoming season seems to be dependant on who you ask last.

As late as Friday, ESPNDeportes.com's Enrique Rojas had the Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays and Blue Jays all still in the conversation.

Now, MLBBlogBuzz.com is coming out and saying that the Angels have all but locked up the slugger.

The reason...wigs!

Really?!?

There is a completely unsubstantiated rumor from someone close to the Angels organization that the Angels received a huge shipment of Manny Ramirez wigs last night. According to a source there were six crates worth. This could mean that the Angels are close to signing Manny.

Now, if Ramirez ends up back in Los Angeles (albeit this time with the Angels) to succeed Hideki Matsui as their DH, this wig thing looks genius. 

But if he doesn't...it's probable that the "unsubstantiated rumor" was nothing more than another in a long line of hoaxes.


January 15, 2011

Now Making Headlines...OZZIE Canseco!

Given his brother is (now, officially) on the latest installment of "Celebrity Apprentice", I'm pretty sure the hackneyed lead for what follows should include references "Celebrity Rehab" or "COPS".

But I'll refrain.

According to TMZ...Ozzie Canseco, former slugger Jose Canseco's twin brother, was arrested early Saturday morning for DUI.

Canseco was busted at 2:13 AM in Tampa, FL by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. According to the arrest report, Canseco had a blood alcohol level of .109/.108 ... slightly above the legal limit of .08%. According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office website, Canseco is still in custody and being held on $500 bond.

The Cansecos combined for 462 career home runs in their collective careers with Jose accounted for, well...all of them. In 24 Major League games, Ozzie amassed 13 big league hits...good for a .200 career batting average.


January 14, 2011

Jim Thome Signs with the Twins

Remember the other day, when I posted all that nonsense about Jim Thome possibly landing with the Texas Rangers?

Forget it.

According to Kelly Thesier of MLB.com, the 40-year-old slugger will get $3 million in guaranteed money from teh Minnesota Twins...plus incentives based on playing time

Last season, Thome hit .283 with 25 home runs and 59 RBI in 340 plate appearances for Minnesota.  His career total of 589 home runs ranks him eighth all-time.


It's Official...Jose Canseco is on The Apprentice

The worst kept secret is out of the bag (The Hall told you about it back in October)...Jose Canseco is a contestant on the upcoming installment of "The Apprentice".

NBC made it official with a press release today...here's the story courtesy of ET Online:

What drama might unfold when the likes of LaToya Jackson, Gary Busey and "Real Housewife" NeNe Leakes vie for the title of "The Celebrity Apprentice"?

Also competing for Donald Trump's approval will be Star Jones, Lisa Rinna, Marlee Matlin, Dionne Warwick, David Cassidy, John Rich, former "Survivor" champ Richard Hatch, Meat Loaf, Mark McGrath, retired baseball badboy Jose Canseco, rapper Lil Jon, model Niki Taylor and reigning Playboy Playmate of the Year Hope Dworaczyk.

"I am thrilled at the return of 'The Celebrity Apprentice,'" executive producer Mark Burnett said in a statement. "It has become America's Sunday night guilty pleasure, while at the same time, raising millions for charity. This season is the best yet. Buckle your seatbelts."

You'll remember back in November when news came that the former MVP broke a tooth while eating pizza during a challenge.  Ouch...that'll be a painful episode.

The show returns Sunday, March 6 on the peacock network...and I've gotta tell you, I'm excited to Canseco back on television. Dude was actually entertaining while he was on VH1's The Surreal Life a few years back. That said...I'm more excited that Gary Busey will be competing for Trump's eye.

Gary. Effing. Busey!


Vinny Castilla Falls in a Forest...Wait, I Think I Got That Wrong

The question "when a tree falls in a lonely forest, and no animal is near by to hear it, does it make a sound?" originated (according to Wikipedia) in the 1910 book Physics by Charles Riborg Mann and George Ransom Twiss.

Perhaps it should be changed following the official retirement of Vinny Castilla, but something tells me that "if Vinny Castilla retires from professional baseball during a press conference at Hector Espino Stadium in Hermosillo, Mexico...does anyone care" doesn't have the same ring to it.

Here's the news...courtesy of the blog Baseball Mexico:

Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in career homers among Mexican-born players is hanging up his glove and spikes for good. Vinny Castilla, the 43-year-old third baseman whose 2010-11 winterball season with the Hermosillo Naranjeros concluded this month with an opening round playoff loss to Obregon, announced his retirement as a player Monday.

"This was my last season," said Castilla during the emotional press conference. "I would have liked to retire with this team as a champion.  Unfortunately, we could not do that."

The third baseman wrapped up his Major League career in 2007 with 320 home runs and 1105.  His career batting average is .276.  A member of the Colorado Rockies' inaugural season in 1993, Castilla holds the distinction of being the last active player from that team at the time of his retirement.

The next stop for Vinny Castilla...he's expected to be a finalist on the 2012 Hall of Fame ballot a year from now.


January 13, 2011

Kerry Wood Inks Deal to Become Cubs Broadcaster...or Not

When the Chicago Cubs announced they were bringing back Kerry Wood, you knew something was up.

It just didn't smell right.

Why would a guy leave, according to numerous sources, at least two two-year $10 million offers on the table to go back to the same team who gave up on him following the 2008 season? 

And furthermore, why would he sign with said team for a paltry $1.5 million plus incentives?!?

"It boils down to what's comfortable and where I wanted to play, and this is the best fit for both," Wood said during a press conference last month. "This is where I want to play."

Nope...it ain't that easy.

Well, on Wednesday, came the whispers...part of Wood's deal with the Cubs included an agreement that he would move into the broadcast booth when he is finished playing baseball.

Ah ha...that has to be it!

According to ESPNChicago.com, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts (of CBS's "Undercover Boss" fame) promised the hardthrowing righty a broadcasting job in the future.

But then...the Chicago Tribune posted this nugget on their website:

We spoke with Wood and he laughed about the report. "That is completely untrue," he said. "I have no interest in broadcasting when my playing days are over. That has never been something that I saw myself doing."

Now, I'm confused. 
 
Is it possible that oft-injured might just be a good guy?  Is it possible that his claims to keep his family close to home (his wife is from surburban Waukegan) might be true?  Is it possible that there actually IS a thing called the "hometown discount"?

I guess so.

Now...I went through that whole exercise to bring you to this one.  Did you know that the Cubs actually had to POST Ron Santo's old job? 

I mean, I get it.  I've interviewed, hired and fired my share of employees in the past and I understand how, legally, you've gotta do what you've gotta do...but still do we need to see THIS?

WGN Radio seeks on-air talent to serve as analyst for broadcasts of Chicago Cubs games

Preferred candidate will have played with the Chicago Cubs -- or played major league baseball with previous broadcast experience as a game analyst.

Materials to:  Cubs Game Analyst, WGN Radio, 435 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

WGN Radio is an Equal Opportunity Employer

What "preferred candidate" is actually searching the internets looking for analyst jobs?  Is Tim Stoddard really out there banging away on his keyboard looking for jobs?

Something tells me that could probably make a few calls, see who is free and make a hire.

OR...they could flip on ESPN's Baseball Tonight or the MLB Network and snatch up any one of the misfits (Dave Valle anyone?) those networks trot out on a nightly basis.

January 12, 2011

Kevin Chanel Remembers "Trevor Time"

You're going to see, hear and read a lot of stories about the retirement of all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman...and rightfully so.

Frankly, the career eulogy banged out by my friend Kevin Chanel has them all beat.

I am forever indebted to Trevor Hoffman.

Back in 1995 my pal Hurricane Jr. and I were at a summer ballgame at the good ol’ Qualcomm. It’s no surprise, the Q’ was a shithole. Multi-purpose, but none of them optimal, it housed an equally ehhh product, the blazingly soporific Bochy-era Padres. Some teams were built on speed, others on power, some on pitching. Boch’s teams were adept at avoiding those trappings. They were built on bland.

One of the “keep ‘em in their seats” ploys of the time was the between-innings alternative to dot racing, the “show the players as fun-lovin’ Joes” break. For this particular half-inning we were presented with three players, presenting the three options for tunes you would be forced to hear in the next half-inning. Predictably, one player (we’ll just call him “Phil Plantier” for lack of a good memory) chose the very predictable Hotel California. Hey what do you expect? They’re ballplayers. Song number two, probably something by Journey. Who knows. But the LAST tune was fan favorite Trevor Hoffman’s get-on-your-seats-and-pump-your-fist anthem, Every Day Is Sunday by Morrissey.

Yup, Morrissey.

You can read the rest over at Kevin's site Bugs and Cranks...you won't be disappointed.


January 11, 2011

The Zavstache is Back!

When Clay Zavada hit the scene in 2009, he won over the hearts of many with both his ability and that beautiful Rollie Fingers-esque mustache.

Last year, an arm injury (and subsequent Tommy John surgery) sidelined the reliever for the season.

Well, prepare to cheer again, gang...the Zavstache is back!

According to Nick Piecoro from azcentral.com...the Arizona Diamondbacks have re-signed the 26 year-old Streator (Illinois) native to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Zavada was 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 49 games in 2009.  Following the season, he even took home the top prize at The American Mustache Institute's annual Stache Bash.

"As a proud person of Mustached American heritage and 2009 winner of the Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year," Dr. Aaron Perlut, Chairman of the Board of the American Mustache Institute said of Zavada's return to baseball, "we anticipate Mr. Zavada's transition from Tommy John surgery to be seamless and impressive, and demonstrate once again that in sports, there is no greater performance enhancer than a mustache."
 
The wonderfully follicled lefty is currently assigned to the Diamondback's AAA affiliate, the Reno Aces.


Trevor Hoffman Calls it a Career

And without throwing a pitch...Mariano Rivera is now your active saves leader.

Unable to find a team to take a chance on him and a rocky (at best) 2010 campaign, Trevor Hoffman has decided to put an end to his 18-year career.

"It's time to retire. It's time to move on," Hoffman told MLB.com. "This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn't certain I could maintain that anymore."

After making his seventh All-Star team in 2009, his numbers took a dip in 2010.  He blew five of his first ten save chances...and finished with only ten saves and a 5.89 ERA. 

For his career, the 43-year-old finished with 601 saves, a 2.87 ERA and as the all-time leader in games finished.

Hoffman should waltz into the Hall of Fame alongside Ken Griffey Jr. in July 2016, but given the nutso voting habits of the BBWAA of late...it's hard to predict what exactly will play out.

The San Diego Padres are planning a press conference Wednesday at PETCO Park to announce Hoffman's new gig with the ballclub. And yes...this is the same team that once released their long-time closer via fax.


Ted Williams Arrested!

I know what you're thinking, but no, not former Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams...that dude is off frozen somewhere (alledgedly).  But...I can see where you'd make the confusion with this being a baseball site and all.

That said, in a thinly veiled attempt to cash in on the internet phenomenon of the last week (remember all the traffic I once got for dropping "Two Girls One Cup" into conversation?)...word is that the aptly named "Golden Voice" was arrested last night in Hollywood.

Read this blurb from, of all places, a site called Gossip Cop:

Ted Williams, the man with the golden-voice who became an Internet sensation and TV darling last week, was picked up by the police last night after a disturbance in a Hollywood hotel.  The formerly homeless Williams, who has battled drug and alcohol problems, got into a heated argument with his daughter at the Renaissance hotel, say sources.

Well, that was a fun ride, Ted...you sure did clean up well for that week.

Since 1991, Williams has been arrested six times for robbery, escape, forgery, drug possession and as recently as May for first degree theft.  You can check out a gallery of his mugshots anywhere (everywhere?) on the internet.