Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:33 pm
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Truth be told, the biggest news on Albert Pujols' first day as an Angel on Monday probably was something that actually occurred last Thursday, when he went mano y mano with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.
Texas signed the Japanese sensation not long after the Angels signed Pujols, escalating the AL West arms race.
Pujols said the two met last Thursday while he was working out in Los Angeles.
"He walked in and introduced himself," Pujols said. "He's a really nice guy, really humble.
"He said he's looking forward to the battle, working in the same division. It's going to be fun."
The Angels and Rangers meet for the first time in 2012 on Friday, May 11, in Arlington.
Sunblock Day? Yep. Getting warmer. In the 40s at 7 am, but high 60s and warm sun by late morning.
Likes: Pujols admitting Monday he already received his first fine as an Angel on his first day in camp. "My phone rang in the clubhouse," he said, chuckling. ... Talking late Hall of Famer Gary Carter with Felipe Alou the other day. Alou managed Carter in Montreal, and the two lived about 20 minutes apart in the Palm Beach Gardens area of Florida. "He was the kind of guy who brought light into a room when he walked in," Alou said. Great description. ... Alou also was chuckling reminiscing about Carter's rookie year, when the Expos still had Barry Foote catching and sometimes played Carter in the outfield. "Gary about killed himself running into a wall one time," Alou said. "That was the last time he played outfield. Barry Foote was good, but he was not a Hall of Famer." ... The thin-crust pizza at Oregano's. Went sausage and mushroom the other night. Abstolutely delicious. Plus, cool T-shirts the wait staff was wearing: "Legalize Marinara" read their backs. ... Loved The Help. Definitely worth seeing, if you haven't. ... Indestructible Machine, fantastic disc from Lydia Loveless.
Dislikes: Netflixed The Tree of Life and either I'm not smart enough (very possible), or this is one miserable movie. Oh ... my ... Lord.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I hear that there's a party tonight
"I probably won't go, but thanks for the invite
"'Cause I'd rather stay home and drink gallons of wine
"And that must be why nobody stops by"
-- More Like Them, Lydia Loveless
Posted on: January 9, 2012 7:13 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 7:19 pm
The 2012 Hall of Fame election -- by the numbers, and with the skinny. ...
Barry Larkin, 495 votes, 86.4 percent: Many numbers tell the tale, such as Larkin becoming the first 30/30 (homers/steals) shortstop in history. But how about in 1988, when he led the majors with only 24 strikeouts in 588 at-bats?
Maybe next year (or the year after)
Jack Morris, 382 votes, 66.7 percent: Great chance next year (which will cause massive coronaries in Sabermetric community), but he could run smack into wall via overloaded ballot that includes Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.
Jeff Bagwell, 321 votes, 56 percent: Start forging plaque after big jump from 41.7 percent last year.
In need of GPS
Lee Smith, 290 votes, 50.6 percent: A decade on the ballot and it's like he's trapped in a Republican debate. No traction.
Tim Raines, 279 votes, 48.7 percent: Criminally unsupported for guy who ranks second all-time in stolen base percentage (300 minimum attepts), though up 11 percentage points over last year.
Edgar Martinez, 209 votes, 36.5 percent: Fighting the designated hitter uphill battle. If you don't have 3,000 hits, it helps to have worn a glove at some point during your career.
Alan Trammell, 211 votes, 36.8 percent: Heading in the right direction after 24.3 percent last year, but still undeservedly playing the "bye" to the voters' "good."
Fred McGriff, 137 votes, 23.9 percent: CSI investigators -- or are those PETA reps? -- checking for pulse as Crime Dog's 493 career homers get no love.
Larry Walker, 131 votes, 22.9 percent: Even the Canadian exchange rate doesn't favor Cooperstown.
Mark McGwire, 112 votes, 19.5 percent: Big Mac Fan Club not allowing new members. Remarkably consistent from last year's 115 votes, 19.8 percent.
Don Mattingly, 102 votes, 17.8 percent: Just three more years left on the ballot. Hope Donnie Baseball's managerial stint with Dodgers outlasts that.
Dale Murphy, 83 votes, 14.5 percent: A Hall of Fame man, and even if he can't be in Cooperstown, I hope baseball somehow involves him more.
Rafael Palmeiro, 72 votes, 12.6 percent: Did this guy or his career really exist? Outside of wagging a finger at Congress, I mean?
Bernie Williams, 55 votes, 9.6: To those who support Bernie and Jorge Posada: How about we just put every Yankee who played between, say, 1996 and 2001, into the Hall?
No soup -- or future ballots -- for you
Juan Gonzalez, 23 votes, 4 percent: The Rangers had a homecoming ... and no Hall of Fame supporters showed up for Juan-Gone.
Vinny Castilla, 6 votes, 1 percent: Six votes?!?! Vinny had one Hall of Fame moment. That came near the end of his career when he walked into the stadium past me as I was arguing with a security guard who wasn't buying my press pass, stopped, grinned, then approached me in the clubhouse wanting the scoop ... and complimenting me for getting in the guy's face so spiritedly.
Tim Salmon, 5 votes, 0.9 percent: Not Cooperstown worthy, but easily could join Dale Murphy in the all-time good guys' Hall.
Bill Mueller, 4 votes, 0.5 percent: The guy won a batting title (AL, 2003), but I think somebody mis-read Mueller's moving receipts for Hall votes.
Brad Radke, 2 votes, 0.3 percent: I'm assuming the two who voted for Bad Brad are refugees who watched him, incredibly, win 12 consecutive starts while going 20-10 for an absolutely miserable Twins team in 1997.
Javy Lopez, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Had the Braves allowed him to catch on nights when Greg Maddux started, he may have earned two votes.
Eric Young, 1 vote, 0.2 percent: Very cool. Had no idea Eric Young's mother was in the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.
Jeromy Burnitz, 0 votes: Yeah, but he'll always have that starting berth for the NL in the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston on his resume.
Brian Jordan, 0 votes: Coincidentally, no votes for the NFL Hall of Fame, either.
Terry Mulholland, 0 votes: No votes, but gets points for being part-owner of the Dirty Dogg Saloon in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Phil Nevin, 0 votes: On the other hand, his managerial career (Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens) is taking off.
Ruben Sierra, 0 votes: Whatever happened to the Village Idiot?
Tony Womack, 0 votes: The New York precinct refused to consider him following that game-tying, Game 7 double against Mariano Rivera to set up Luis Gonzalez's game-winner in the 2001 World Series.
Tags: Alan Trammell, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Baltimore Orioles, Barry Larkin, Bernie Williams, Bill Mueller, Brad Radke, Brian Jordan, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Dale Murphy, Detroit Tigers, Don Mattingly, Edgar Martinez, Eric Young, Fred McGriff, Houston Astros, Jack Morris, Javy Lopez, Jeff Bagwell, Jeromy Burniitz, Juan Gonzalez, Larry Walker, Lee Smith, Los Angeles Angels, Mark McGwire, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Twins, Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, New York Yankees, Oakland A's, Phil Nevin, Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra, San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Terry Mulholland, Texas Rangers, Tim Raines, Tim Salmon, Tony Womack, Toronto Blue Jays, Vinny Castilla
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:50 pm
Ho, ho, ho, and all we're missing is the 'w'! How ... how am I ever going to get to my Christmas cards when I'm so far behind on Love Letters? Let's go, Rudolph:
FROM: Shashi R.
Re.: Let's Ease Up on MLB negativity based upon Braun, Pujols stories
Thanks for your piece on cutting out the negativity regarding baseball. When it comes to PEDs and professional sport, the entire public discussion has been a joke for years. Of course MLB players used and use PEDs, but for some reason fans, Congress, and, yes, the media have given the NBA and NFL a ridiculous pass for precisely the same behavior. For every 20 stories or comments regarding MLB and PEDs, maybe we see one story regarding the NFL. I'll never understand the hypocrisy. Either it's cheating or it's not, irrespective of the sport involved.
True dat. My feeling is, people have higher expectations for baseball because it means more to them. The old,"to whom much is given, much is expected." And I will say, that's not a bad thing either.
FROM: Charles S.
Hey a--hole, calling someone Mr. [Pujols] is s sign of respect and also because your colleague does not know Pujols personally and therefore should not call him by his first name. That's call being polite you jerk-off. Your colleague is not Pujol's best friend. Who the f-- are you to be castigating anyone for addressing someone like that. Didn't your parents teach you anything. Idiot.
Obviously, we need to tighten our firewall so Neanderthals like you can't get past it. You're going to lecture me about respect while using language like this? I fear for our country -- low-lifes like you bring our national IQ down with the monkeys. Go crawl back under the rock from where you arrived.
FROM: Mike M.
Re.: Pujols' arrival in Anaheim perhaps a call from higher up
I love your work, but this one was way off base. Of course he left St. Louis for the money. It was solely about the money. That's common sense, Scott. He got offered 30 million dollars more than what the Cardinals offered, that's why he left. He didn't go there because God wanted him to. Please don't write dumb articles again. You're usually pretty good, but you're better than this one.
Come on now. What I wrote was, there were other reasons aside from money why Pujols left St. Louis. And after the 99.9 pecent that covers the finances of the deal, there are. Trust me.
Re: Pujols' move leaves St. Louis in shock, Anaheim in awe
"It was a performance that, on one stunning and astounding December day, instantly turned bittersweet for anyone rooting for the Cardinals." Good column, but you're accusing Cardinals fans of something that isn't true. Did yesterday's signing change the score of Game 3 and alter the final result of the World Series? I think Cards fans still recall that Game 3 and the rest of this series with good memories.
I'll give you that. But isn't it going to be bittersweet from the standpoint that as years pass and Cards fans revisit that game and World Series, it always will be accompanied by the sting of the way Pujols left?
FROM: John D.
Grow up. We in St. Louis are not in shock. We have had a year to get used to the idea that Albert may be gone. Our franchise is far bigger and greater than any one player, even one who, had he stayed like Stan and Bob Gibson could have achieved true baseball immortality. In the end Albert will be associated with California, also known as the land of fruits and nuts. No offense. I have a feeling our little franchise here in St. Lou will do just fine! Let me know if you think otherwise, else I'll assume you agree and are just another coastal hack writer like so many others.
Inferiority complex? I never for a minute said or implied that your "little franchise ... in St. Lou" would not be fine. Last I checked, the Cardinals rank only second to the Yankees in World Series titles. I love that there's so much history that you only needed to refer to "Stan" -- no last name required. Everybody knows. Let me know if you think otherwise.
FROM: Jonathan G.
I assume you have received your ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame. I hope you will consider Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Don Mattingly, Tim Raines, and Alan Trammell for enshrinement this year. I also hope my note finds you well and you have a Happy Holiday season.
Ballot is sitting right here on my desk. Each of those names will be strongly considered. I'll write about my Hall of Fame choices probably the week between Christmas and New Year.
Re.: Finally voted to Hall of Fame, Santo a lesson on never giving up
Beautifully written column about a beautiful man. You really did Ron Santo justice with this piece. To echo your comments about a man's greatest legacy lying in his ability to continue to teach from the grave, perhaps what Santo has taught us, or perhaps more accurately reminded us of, are those rare moments in life when all bitterness, jealousy, hate, and recrimination fall from our hearts and we accept everything as it is and as it will be, and our empathy for others, even the seemingly worst among us, runs thick and deep. A man who lives with passion and heart is never forgotten. Santo was surely one of those. My sympathies and joy to his family and the great city of Chicago.
Beautifully said, Court. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Posted on: July 7, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2011 12:22 pm
Compared to Dick Williams, sandpaper was as soft as newly laid sod. The business end of a nail was as dull as a polished marble.
Acerbic comes to mind. Irascible. The subtitle of his autobiography, No More Mr. Nice Guy, was A Life of Hardball. There was nothing soft about this man, not until he was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.
As Hall of Fame closer Goose Gossage has said on more than a few occasions since, Williams was not a hugger. But when he finally got his long overdue notice that the Veterans' Committee had elected him, they shared plenty of hugs.
Why it took so long for the basepath Williams followed throughout a tobacco-stained life to lead into Cooperstown, I do not know. He was a baseball genius, one of the most brilliant minds ever to construct a lineup card. But I suspect his delayed Hall entry had something to do with the fact that he pissed off so many people along the way.
Oh, he was his own man all right. And from the time he piloted Boston's "Impossible Dream" season in 1967 through the 1980s, just about every loser within three time zones came begging for him to take over and perform some of his classic turnaround magic.
Problem was, wherever Williams landed, after his new employers got a load of his blunt manner and caustic "charm," the Fourth of July usually came next. It was fireworks time.
"I must lead all of baseball as a target for behind-the-back verbal assaults," he wrote in No More Mr. Nice Guy, co-authored by Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke. "I've been called mean, cruel, insensitive. I've been called a bully. I've been called a bastard and a son of a bitch."
Those who could see through all that, and those whose skin was tough enough, also called him a baseball savant.
"Dick Williams is the best manager I ever played for," Tim Flannery, former Padres utilityman and current Giants third-base coach, once said. "But as soon as he gets out of baseball, I'm going to run him over with my car."
His very first managerial gig was with those '67 Red Sox, a team that had finished ninth in the American League the year before. He steered them to the World Series, where they lost a seven-game thriller to the Cardinals. Then, seemingly just as quickly as he arrived, he was gone. He got into it with Carl Yastrzemski, feuded with owner Tom Yawkey, and Boston fired him in 1969.
It was only the start. In Oakland, he stunned Charlie Finley by quitting on the spot, telling the owner to stick it, after winning a second consecutive World Series title in 1973. He was unhappy with Finley's interference, and with the way the owner publicly humiliated infielder Mike Andrews after Andrews' untimely fielding gaffes in the Series.
In 1976, he was fired by the Angels after a brief tenure that included Williams ordering his players to take batting practice in a hotel lobby using Wiffle bats and balls, driving home his point that the hitters couldn't break anything.
He alienated his players in Montreal -- among other things, calling pitcher Steve Rogers a fraud -- to the degree that the Expos fired him during the 1981 stretch run just a few weeks before Montreal won the second-half (post-players' strike) division title and appeared in the playoffs for the only time in club history.
Locked in a power struggle with Padres president Ballard Smith and general manager Jack McKeon, Williams didn't show up on the first day of spring training in 1986 and was fired.
In Seattle, in the late 1980s, he called pitcher Mark Langston gutless.
But those are just the flashpoints. Legendary stuff, events that make Jim Riggleman's on-the-spot resignation with Washington last month look like a child playing dress-up.
The reason Williams was afforded so many chances to take on all comers was simple: Man, did the guy get results.
The Impossible Dream season in Boston remains legendary, both in New England and beyond.
His force of personality was greater than all of those egos in Oakland combined. Reggie Jackson? Vida Blue? Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, Catfish Hunter and Ken Holtzman? Are you kidding? To mold those guys into one unit pulling in the same direction, that's not coaching. That's managing.
He did not suffer fools gladly, and he did not tolerate threats to his authority. He was of a different age, a time before rookies were rushed to the majors, where managers are expected to provide on-the-job training.
"Playing without the fundamentals is like eating without a knife and a fork," Williams once said. "You make a mess."
If you knew Williams, the last thing you wanted to do was to make a mess around him. His expectations were through the roof. Few could meet them.
"It was all business on Dick's side, and that's what I really loved about Dick Williams," Gossage said Thursday. "No nonsense, absolutely no nonsense. What you saw is what you got, and that's what I loved about Dick.”
And I clearly remember greeting him at the winter meetings in '07, a day after his election to the Hall, the gruff old manager just beaming with pride and, yes, as Gossage said, even hugging a few people. It was quite a change, and quite a thing to see the way the Hall has the power to melt even the gruffest of hearts.
"Dick Williams' lasting legacy will be his innate ability to lead, turning franchises into winners wherever he managed," Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said Thursday. "No one wore the mantle of 'Hall of Famer' more proudly than Dick."
Dick Williams, dead at 82 of an aneurysm?
I pity the Grim Reaper chosen to go get him.