Archive for October, 2009

Baseball for Everyone!

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Here’s a book written by Joe DiMaggio, titled “”Baseball for Everyone”. It was first published in 1948, but reissued in 2002.

Let me start with the Bio from the inside back jacket cover:
– “Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) played for the Yankees from 1936 to 1951, with time out for military service in World War II. In a poll taken in the 1940s he topped George Washington as ‘the greatest American of all time’.”

One remarkable aspect of Joe’s career, as noted in Peter Golenbock’s Foreword:
– “…(Joe DiMaggio) was a lifetime .325 hitter with such remarkable bat control that over his brilliant thirteen-year career he had only eight fewer home runs (361) than strikeouts (369), a feat, when you really think about it, that was even more amazing than his consecutive-game hitting streak.”

Here’s another accurate quote from the Foreword:
– “The book is also a time capsule in a way, because the advice and anecdotes come from long-gone baseball legends… ‘Baseball for Everyone’ is filled with pure baseball. DiMaggio’s knowledge of the game and his reverence for it come through on every page.”

“Baseball for Everyone” is organized as follows: first a general overview of the game, then a discussion about sand lot and semipro baseball. Joe looks at the minors and the majors, then goes over, position by position, how the game is supposed to be played. After that he dives into the subjects of hitting, pitching, base running, coaching and slumps. In so doing, Joe DiMaggio goes into great detail about topics and situations I never even thought about. And that’s what makes this book so instructive.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Joe DiMaggio himself:
– “I believe that the major reason for the greatness of baseball is the blood kinship of its players and its fans in their devotion to the game. One of their chief bonds is their fascination for intimate information about every aspect of baseball. And the more they find out, the keener they become as performers or as fans.”

– “Little can be done to increase a boy’s speed, but there is one very simple means of preventing its reduction. Provide a youngster with comfortable, well-fitting shoes…. See that they fit him.” (CubbieDude note: I got stuck in high school with a pair of baseball cleats which hurt to wear. All season long the coach told me to “play with pain”, etc. My football playing ended prematurely because the danged shoes weren’t right. Joe DiMaggio is spot on here.)

– “Whether a player is a boy in his teens or an adult who has made the majors, he has room for improvement, and his three chief ways of learning better baseball are through good instruction, personal observation, and intelligent questions.” (CubbieDude note: Joe is providing good instruction here by answering his own intelligent questions. It remains for the individual to exercise personal observation.)

– “Once I asked Red Ruffing, a top-flight competitor, why he frequently bore down so hard on the tail end of the batting order.
‘Those are the guys,’ he said, ‘who break your heart when they get a hit off of you, because you figure they’re not entitled to it. So I made up my mind long ago that if any of the weak ones were going to get a hit off of me they were going to have to hit my Sunday stuff…’”

– “The general prescription for a first baseman would be that he is ‘long, lean, and left-handed,’ but the prescription is only occasionally followed.”

– “…in baseball, as an old umpire once put it, ‘There are no ties – either you’re safe or you ain’t’.”

– “He cannot take time to get set – while the second baseman gets set the runner gets safe.”

– “An outfielder who can’t hit around .300 should be a Tris Speaker or a Terry Moore defensively if he isn’t to be a drag on the club. And the days of the outfielder who’s a good hitter but a poor fielder are gone, probably forever.”

– “…crowded stands, with thousands of fans smoking, make game conditions far different from those in the practice period. Before the game the crowd is small, and haze from tobacco smoke is at a minimum. As the game goes on the haze deepens, especially if the day is humid and there is no breeze to carry the smoke from the park.”

– “Perhaps the best cure is a day or two on the bench, but I’ve met few ballplayers who would volunteer to be taken out of the line-up during a slump. Depressed as he is by his slump, there’s always the fear in his mind that he may never get back in again.”

The book closes with a chapter on scoring (“How to Score”) by Red Barber. Red’s system is so redundant, convoluted and confusing to me that, if I didn’t already have a system in place, I think I’d just give up after reading this chapter and never try to keep score again. But that’s just me.

Nowadays, if I had the interest, I suppose I’d keep a video library of games I saw &/or attended, rather than maintaining scorecards. But, once again, that’s just me.

Finally, I noticed that, having been published originally in 1948, some of the names and dollar amounts are not particularly current. The names I will have to familiarize myself with, but the dollar amounts are easily updated. Just add 2 little zeros to each figure and you’re up to date. For instance, Joe talks about the $5,000 major league minimum salary. Adding two little zeros, that number becomes $500,000, a more current minimum salary figure.

I enjoyed reading this book very much. I recommend it in concurrence with the wording from the inside back jacket cover: “Baseball for Everyone is for all who love the game and savor the legends surrounding it.”

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GirlieView (10/30/2009)

Friday, October 30th, 2009

By now you’ve either seen, heard, or at least heard about this morning’s press conference featuring the Ricketts family. What are your thoughts? Are you enthused? Do you feel confident in the new ownership? Are you excited about things to come? Or are you more “wait-and-see”? Maybe you are feeling like all is lost? Let us know what you think!

For what it’s worth, I liked the Ricketts’. I have confidence in them and I actually can’t wait to see the changes they are planning, even if they feel the best action in certain situations is no action. If nothing else I feel that at least someone cares. That in itself makes my outlook positive. How do you feel about it?

In other news, I bought a new car this week. Got rid of my Jeep Commander and got a Toyota Venza. I’m in love with it, which is saying a lot because I never love my car. Just a transport mechanism. But I’m loving this one. I doubt anyone cares about any of this but it’s been awhile since I chit chatted and as we’ve all admitted, there’s not a whole lot of exciting baseball talk lately. At least for the next month or two.

Anybody dressing up for Halloween? Not here, but we do have about five bags of assorted sugary goodies to hand out to the hundreds of little visiting ghosts and goblins. In our town they have Halloween hours … trick or treating is from 5 – 7 pm and that’s it. I like that a LOT. Hope you’re equally blessed in your town. :-)

Lizzies

  • Maybe pith just ain’t your bag
  • Then we could of had a Alyssa Milano vs. Kate Hudson, what acting have you done lately?, cage match.
  • Wait, the baseball season isn’t over?
  • Ken Rosenthal mentioned recently that “Multiple teams are in contact the Cubs about outfielder Milton Bradley, with one source saying, “You would be shocked at the level of interest.”. I’m calling B.S.
  • players tend to have a big psychological component to their hitting, so if they think a hitting coach can help them, it might
  • I’ve already cooked and eaten my batch of crow on Lee. He carried this team and I’d hate to think of how bad it could have gotten without him.

Lizard

  • SWAG (Statistical Wild-Assed Guess)

I’m betting that acronym sticks around here! Have a great weekend and don’t forget to turn your clocks back and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. xxoo

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Who Earned Their Money in 2009? – Part I

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Fan Graphs has a nifty little tool that shows what the player’s approximate value if he was a free agent based on 2009 stats. We can compare that to what the player’s 2009 salaries were to see which players played up or down to their contract this past year. Today we take a look at five guys that I found intriguing. We’ll work through all of the players on the roster over the next week or so.

Derrek Lee
2009 Salary: $13 mil
2009 Value: $23.8 mil
Comment: I’ve already cooked and eaten my batch of crow on Lee. He carried this team and I’d hate to think of how bad it could have gotten without him.

Ryan Theriot
2009 Salary: $0.5 mil
2009 Value: $11.9 mil
Comment: He takes a lot of grief for his play at SS. You either love him or hate him. Regardless of where you stand on his ability, you can’t argue that he outplays his near-league minimum contract.

Aramis Ramirez
2009 Salary: $15.65 mil
2009 Value: $11.5 mil
Comment: We didn’t get as much as we paid for with Rammy, but I understand. I can deal with it if he comes back next year with a completely healthy shoulder.

Kosuke Fukudome
2009 Salary: $11.5 mil
2009 Value: $10.8 mil
Comment: Fukudome just missed playing up to his contract, though I feel like we paid for what we expected to be more run production from a power standpoint. We were told that he wasn’t going to be a 40 HR guy, but I’ve been disappointed with the power we’ve seen. Overall, I think he’s gotten more of a bad rap than he really deserves.

Jeff Baker
2009 Salary: $0.415 mil
2009 Value: $6.1 mil
Comment: In my opinion, Baker is the guy I want at 2B come opening day. The only way I consider otherwise would be if we saw someone like Chone Figgins or Brian Roberts brought in or if the great and mighty Starlin Castro comes up to play SS, which would move Theriot to 2B.

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Holy Cow!!

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The World Series starts tonight. The games will be telecast on FOX. While I have nothing personal against the announcing team of Tim McCarver and Joe Buck, it was Harry Carry who observed that some announcers are more interesting than others. Here’s a shout out to Harry.

Harry Caray’s autobiography titled “Holy Cow”, published in 1989, and written with Bob Verdi, is the subject of this review.

In opening we are treated to a first person account of Harry’s stroke (“cerebrovascular accident”) which occurred at a Palm Springs, CA, Country Club.

He discusses getting fired by Anheuser-Busch after broadcasting Cardinals games for 25 years.

The details of his life and career in St. Louis, Oakland, and Chicago are presented, with names and dates.

Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:

– “Anyway, every time I went to the ballpark – whether the Cardinals won or lost, whether the game was well played or not – I felt that excitement, I experienced that thrill. But when I stayed home and listened to the radio broadcasts, what I heard was as dull and boring as the morning crop reports.”

– “That’s why I say there’s not a bad announcer in baseball. Some are just more interesting than others. To me, you can tell an uninteresting announcer – when he throws a million statistics at you. Who cares whether a player’s got 120 singles or 140 singles? Or who cares if he’s had two hits in his last twenty times at bat? I’d rather know that he’s never had a hit off a particular pitcher – something that is actually relevant to what’s happening on the field.”

This is a very easy reading book. Although it was published 20 years ago, it feels current because the writing is good. I have heard the rough outlines of some of the stories included here before, but now I have all the details.

I recommend this book highly to anyone with an interest in Major League baseball from the 1940s through the 1980s, or with an interest in Harry Caray: the man, the myth, the legend. Or, I might add, with any interest in major league baseball announcers.

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Speak Out: Rudy Jaramillo

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

We tried this the other day with the world series, but it’s a topic that we’re probably not as passionate about this year after the debacle that was 2009. Since this is the first major transaction of the year, what better place to begin getting everyone’s opinions than here?

In case you forgot, the concept is simple. We always argue back and forth throughout the season about guys. We have people (me included) that at the time of a signing back peddle on how they felt. I think that’s OK as you begin to become more familiar with a player, but it’s nice to go back and have a point of reference for your feelings on a guy when he first started with the team.

For me, the Rudy Jamarillo signing seems to be one that has been hyped up just a little too much. I find it amusing that good hitters tend not to be good teachers and good teachers tend not be have been very good hitters. No coach can make that big a difference that it’s worth the hype Jaramillo has brought with his signing. When I saw the signing, I had a few thoughts:

  1. If Jaramillo is such a good hitting coach, head and shoulders above everyone else is what I’ve heard, then how could Texas possibly let him go after having him on staff for 15 years?
  2. If a hitting coach makes such a big difference, why didn’t the addition of Von Joshua make much of a difference mid-season? After all, he had a lot of experience with guys on the roster as they had come through the system.
  3. Does the Jaramillo signing for  multiple years force the new manager in 2011, whoever it may be, to not have complete control over who is on his coaching staff? It seems like it would.

I’d like to hear from you on the following.

  1. FOR / AGAINST / INDIFFERENT – rate your approval or lack thereof for the signing of Rudy Jaramillo
  2. What do you expect to see from the team as a result of his signing? Perhaps specific predictions on individual players. (i.e. – Does this mean someone like Soriano, who has worked with Jaramillo in Texas, will have the return to breakout status we need?)
  3. How much stock do you put in hitting coaches?

In addition, we really could use a better, more catchy name for this series as well as perhaps a logo to use for it if we have any designers in the mix. Just saying. Alright, let’s here it. The only way this works is if everyone posts their thoughts. Don’t be afraid.

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