11th and Washington

11th and Washington: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What will the Nationals show us in 2010?

I've had a lot of fun with predictions on this site -- everywhere, really; why else do we play fantasy sports, college football pick'ems, postseason salary-cap games and NCAA basketball tournament pools? But I'm not sure I'll try to forecast the 2010 baseball season, division by division. Half of the divisions appear to be wide open -- the AL West, NL West and AL Central -- while the other three have three apparent front-runners (Cardinals, Yankees, Phillies) who could all be sitting pretty come Labor Day, but could also be in a two- or three-team dogfight by then.

But if there's one team more than any other that I might have trouble gauging, one squad that I could see losing 90 games but also see winning about 85, it's the Washington Nationals. And I'm not the only one. At the very least, the Nats improved themselves more than any other last-place team from 2009, and with the No. 1 pick in the June draft, they could very well have a better record on draft day than any of the other top-five teams.

That the Nationals' offseason moves improved the team is pretty much universally agreed upon. As a Mets fan, several of their acquisitions either worried or disappointed me: Matt Capps and Jason Marquis would've been good fits for the Mets and Ivan Rodriguez, while probably no better than Omir Santos at this point in his career, could prove to be a valuable mentor to Washington's pitchers and catchers -- and perhaps Bryce Harper? -- at the least. Chien-Ming Wang could be another great low-risk signing, though I wouldn't go so far as to say it puts them in the Wild Card discussion. How those improved pieces perform is another matter.

Baseball Prospectus' initial PECOTA standings had the Phillies winning the NL East with just 88 wins and the Marlins bringing up the rear with 76. The Nationals were in third place at 82-80. The latest (as of Feb. 25) show Philly with 90 victories and Washington at 76-86. Ninety wins is a significant benchmark; back when it was 88 for the Phils, I felt the division could be a dogfight; if you figure that at least three teams should finish with winning records, that puts three within six games of first place if the leader nets 88. But whether Washington finishes with 82 wins (and its first winning season since leaving Montreal) or 70 wins, it's an improvement over last year's 59.

The one big remaining question I -- and many others -- have with the Nats is their defense. They had the worst fielding percentage in baseball in 2009, were seventh-worst in UZR, made the most errors and fielded the fifth-most chances over the course of the season. They'll now be playing Adam Dunn at first base (-13.8 UZR) and, with the exception of Nyjer Morgan in center from the start of the season, they haven't upgraded any positions defensively. Adding a ground-ball pitcher in Marquis (not to mention Wang) won't help hide any defensive liabilities. As good as the offense should be, I'm just not sure the team's defense is good enough, nor do they have a pitching staff of strikeout pitchers, to improve by the nearly 20 wins it would take to finish 81-81. But a 10-15 game improvement is certainly possible.

The Pirates are another intriguing story, for entirely different reasons. With some solid young players -- but not enough of the right veterans -- will they finally get on the right track toward ending their string of losing seasons? I so desperately want to see the team with baseball's best ballpark field a product for which the fans can be proud, but it's not going to happen this year, or even next. But with the right philosophy and a strong farm system, there's no reason this club can't mirror the success the Twins have had.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Photo Friday: Miniature baseball

I first started seeing photos taken with a tilt-shift lens a few weeks ago and was enthralled by the effect the distortion had on the photos. The small center of focus plays tricks with your eyes, making the photos appear to be minature models, yet in reality they're images of actual, life-sized people and places. So when a post on Gothamist featuring a fascinating time-lapse movie of tilt-shift photos included a link on how to create the effect in Photoshop, I spent an hour browsing my photos for suitable images.

Some images turned out better than others, but I like this inital effort. It's kind of a fun new way to look at some pics I'd grown used to seeing.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Great work on the front lines

We need to get John Schandler a job at the Mets Team Store. From today's Uniwatch post:

Silver medal (which as you know is much better than a gold medal) for John Schandler, who writes: “I work for a Nike Factory Store in New York. We are about to launch a baseball promotion, and I arrived at work on Monday greeted by a Yankee-clad mannequin at the front of the store. After much arguing, the manager allowed me to dress another manniquin in Mets garb. In addition, I was able to convince management to let me NOT use any black clothing.” That, people, is truly heroic work.

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Four of the top 100

Just a quick one before calling it a night. I may elaborate in the morning; I may not.

For all the talk -- the negative kind -- about the Mets farm system, it's not devoid of prospects. While it may not be deep, it's among the top half in one respect: Baseball America's Top 100. The Mets are one of 10 teams to have four players listed and only the Rays (seven), Cubs and Indians (five each) have more.

The Mets' ranked players:

56. Jennry Mejia, RHP
62. Ike Davis, 1B
77. Fernando Martinez, OF
88. Wilmer Flores, SS

They may not be ranked terribly high, but let's put it in perspective: These four made the top 100 out of thousands.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The new Topps

Every year, I buy myself a pack or two of the new Topps cards to see what they've come up with, and this year I may be buying quite a few more. The new design is one of the best in recent memory, and their cards of late haven't even been that bad. Compare that to 20 years ago, when the 1990 set looked like something out of the '70s (though the '70s sets weren't even that garish) and couldn't even coordinate colors for the same team.

This Prince Fielder card happens to be No. 1 in the set, starting the collection off with a bang by using a great photo from Fielder's walk-off shot on Sept. 6 last season. This card didn't come in my first pack; after that initial purchase, I bought a small box -- I think it was the "cereal box," the one with Gehrig on it, it turns out -- and when I got home to open them, I noticed that each one contained a Gold Refractor card. "Hope I get Seaver," I thought.

And then I got it. Sweet!

I also found Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Delgado('s last card/last card as a Met), Victor Martinez and Andrew McCutchen, among others. The team logo -- taken from the jersey front, it seems -- as a means to ID the club is unique and one of the first things that jumped out at me, especially on the McCutchen and V-Mart cards. The backs are sharp, too, with the hat logo and a clean, easy-to-read design, especially on one loaded with stats like Delgado's.

But these days, it seems the point of collecting isn't the cards of current players; it's the subsets and bonus cards in each box. The Seaver in the "cereal box" was a good start. As I went through the cards, I found Peak Performance cards of Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, History of the Game featuring Cal Ripken and Bill Mazeroski, Tales of the Game reminding us of Wade Boggs' chicken infatuation, Legendary Lineage linking Roy Halladay (thankfully in a Blue Jays uniform) with Seaver and pairing Frank Thomas with Fielder, and something called the Turkey Red subset (from which I got Mark Teixeira and Johnny Bench). My favorite is probably the When They Were Young group, depicting today's stars as children -- and it's not even limited to Little League photos.

The big subset/promotion/gimmick this year, though, is The Cards Your Mother Threw Out. My first one? A 1993 Chuck McElroy! Score! At least, that's the first one I got with the code, allowing me to have the actual card sent to me if I choose. (I suspect I'll pass.) But in the "cereal box," I did get two replicas. The cool one was a 1974 Dave Winfield, his first card. The front is a high-def reproduction of the card itself; the back, which I didn't scan, describes the history of the card and/or player that year. The second I opened wasn't as exciting -- a 2008 Tim Lincecum. I mean, those cards are two years old! I bought some that year. I think I may have this actual card. I understand the idea of including every year in this historical promotion, but it just seems funny to me. Though, I shouldn't complain (and I'm not, really); that '08 Lincecum is still better than a '93 McElroy.

Unfortunately, I don't know how many of these cards I'll eventually get. The price today is just too prohibitive. I can't imagine being a kid today and finding myself that interested in baseball cards. Unless allowances have kept up with the rate of inflation, how can a kid afford to collect cards on a summer-lawn-mowing income? And for the completists, how can you ever feel satisfied about collecting an entire set when sets these days include so many rare and valuable cards, from autographs to relics and the like, that anyone who manages to legitimately collect a full set probably spent as much money doing so as the most valuable piece in the set is worth. Still, I'm sure I'll buy a few more packs, another box or two. I'll keep the purchases to extra additions when I'm at Target or some place for another reason -- no more walking down to the corner drug store for the sole purpose of buying baseball cards. Sadly, those days have gone the way of my dirt bike and, well, the corner drug store not named CVS or Walgreens.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Photo Friday: Pure baseball

With the college season opening this weekend, I chose several photos I took in 1994. They're of baseball games at Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) and Brookdale Community College. This was still early in my SLR ownership, so I was psyched to take the zoom lens out to the fields, especially since I could pretty much stand anywhere along the fence at these venues. I have no idea who any of the players are, but that's the point for today -- this is junior college ball, guys playing mostly for the love of the game. With the exception of the metal bats, it's about as pure as baseball can get these days. With a few exceptions, these players have no professional aspirations, there are no stage parents complaining about playing time, ESPN and most newspapers aren't coming around looking for stories. They're just out there to play.

With the season beginning, Baseball America's preview content included a look ahead to the end of the season, which will feature the College World Series in its last year at renowned Rosenblatt Stadium. I never got there, and I won't this year, which is a shame. I don't know what the new ballpark will offer compared to Rosenblatt and whether the regular attendees of the annual tournament are looking forward to an updated, modern venue or if they'll be lamenting the old ballyard's loss. But I know it won't be the same to tune in each June to watch the college championship from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha -- which is among the top five worst sports venue names in America and may be at the top of the list. A shame.

But back to more positive thoughts. Two things in particular I love in this gallery: the dandelions on the Brookdale infield in the shots of the pitchers, and Brookdale's classic-looking uniforms, which you can see in the image above: the blue lettering and red numbers on the jersey taken from the Dodgers' clean uniform design, and the helmet (and cap) "B" logo borrowed from the Red Sox.

And yeah, the music choice may be a bit cliched, and it won't be the last time I use a version of that song, but it just fit the photos for this one. It's an instrumental piece recognizable from the start, no words to worry about. And though you may not know the players -- no words, no names -- you know the game immediately upon seeing the images. It's just baseball.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Excitement over Halladay

MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tweeted a photo from Clearwater this morning of Roy Halladay in his first bullpen session.

I bet a lot of Phillies fans are as excited about it as Charlie Manuel is in the background ...

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The cliche is here

At last, Spring Training is here.

With Notre Dame's recent struggles, my interest in college basketball has waned sooner than usual, to the point where I decided to plan our March vacation to Arizona during the Big East Tournament rather than the first week of the NCAA tourney. And so I find that today's first day of camp for several teams is more pleasant than I anticipated.

There's not much else to say, because so much of what I love is cliched and probably mentioned in every story about Spring Training's commencement. But I think what I enjoy most is the images, both the photos sent from on-site (particularly the images of stretching, non-star players or equipment, like the one I took at Dodgertown a few years ago) and the sights and sounds during the scattered broadcasts each March.

And the first one, Braves vs. Mets, is only two weeks from yesterday.

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Looking beyond the Verducci Effect

Tom Verducci has unveiled his red-flagged pitchers to watch this season (now with video!) for the dreaded Year-After Effect -- or the Verducci Effect, as Will Carroll dubbed it.

So watch out, Joba Chamberlain, Josh Johnson, Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez and -- in a perfect storm of workload and managerial risk -- Homer Bailey.

Verducci's yearly analysis of young pitchers' innings increase (hurlers 25 and younger who set a career high in innings by more than 30), developed with help from Rick Peterson when he was the A's pitching coach, has been pretty accurate in forecasting either a drop in production (usually seen in a rising ERA) or, in the worst cases, injury the following season. Two of the most notable examples for the latter are Francisco Liriano and Anibal Sanchez. The disappointing 2009 seasons had by Cole Hamels and Mike Pelfrey support the former. And so Verducci's list of the pitchers to watch affects both fans who don't want to see their teams' hurlers named and fantasy owners, who may add a red flag to their rankings sheets in preparing for draft day.

But rehashing what Verducci has already done wouldn't add to the conversation. Inspired by Pelfrey's joining the club in '09, I was curious to see what happened to the pitchers Verducci singled out in the years after the Year-After Effect. In short: Can we hope for -- or expect -- improvement from Pelfrey in 2010? David Gassko looked at the general numbers a few years at The Hardball Times ago, but I'm curious about specific pitchers.

Through a combination of digging up old Verducci columns in which he listed a particular year's at-risk pitchers and use of Baseball-Reference's Play Index tool, I set out to put together a nearly complete all-time list of a "red-flag roster," going back to those to watch for the 2002 season. But that became cumbersome, so I edited where I felt it necessary and mostly left the prominent names, or at least those who seemed to have the most potential at that time. As Verducci says nearly every year in explaining his theory, the workload is just one factor in this analysis.

Below I've charted the pitchers' seasons that prompted the alarms (the one in which he exceeded his career high in innings by more than 30), the year-after season (the one Verducci warned us about) and his "year-after-after" season, the one immediately following the red-flagged campaign. In an effort to keep the charts manageable, I'm only including innings (rounded down; I'm not bothering with the fractions), ERA and WHIP, unfortunately omitting data like batting average against and BABIP. Most stats are MLB only, though in some cases full minor-league numbers are asterisked. If there's any combo of MLB and minor league figures, that's pointed out in the notes below the charts.

Omar Daal162/2.88/1.21214/3.65/1.24167/6.14/1.68185/4.46/1.37
Sidney Ponson135/5.27/1.47210/4.71/1.46222/4.82/1.38138/4.94/1.43
Kevin Millwood174/4.08/1.33228/2.68/1.00212/4.66/1.29121/4.31/1.33

Daal was actually 27 years old and in his seventh Major League season in 1999, the year his innings jumped by 52, so he was outside the at-risk age range, yet he still had a precipitous fall -- and never posted an ERA below 3.90 again. Ponson's innings actually went up in his red-flag year, but we've since learned that he has general problems with restraint and conditioning. Millwood led the NL in WHIP and the Majors with just 6.6 hits per nine innings allowed in 2000. He's had the longest (assuming Ponson doesn't try to stick with a last-place club again) and most productive career, but he did take another step back in 2001.

Albie Lopez64/4.64/1.41185/4.13/1.45205/4.81/1.4655/4.37/1.51
Mac Suzuki110/6.79/1.71188/4.34/1.53118/5.86/1.6521/9.00/1.95
Ryan Dempster147/4.71/1.63226/3.66/1.36211/4.94/1.56209/5.38/1.54

Another trio with just one pitcher still active. Lopez's jump from 1999 to 2000 (when he was 28) was tremendous -- and after his red-flag season of 2001, he pitched just 78 more innings in the Majors, less than his increase from '99-2000. Suzuki was finished after 2002. Dempster led the Majors in walks in his red-flag year, but after a three-year stint as a closer, he became an All-Star again (as he was in his breakout year of 2000).

Mark Mulder154/5.44/1.69229/3.45/1.16207/3.47/1.14186/3.13/1.18
Brad Penny119/4.81/1.50205/3.69/1.16129/4.66/1.53196/4.13/1.28
Chad Durbin72/8.21/1.85179/4.93/1.458/11.88/2.048/7.27/2.42
Joe Mays176/5.52/1.58233/3.16/1.1595/5.38/1.45130/6.30/1.52
Freddy Garcia124/3.91/1.42238/3.05/1.12223/4.39/1.30201/4.51/1.33
Mark Buehrle51/4.21/1.44221/3.29/1.07239/3.58/1.24230/4.14/1.35
Tony Armas95/4.36/1.31196/4.03/1.38164/4.44/1.3831/2.61/1.07
Chris Carpenter175/6.26/1.64215/4.09/1.4173/5.28/1.58INJURED
CC Sabathia146/3.57/1.33*180/4.39/1.35210/4.37/1.36197/3.60/1.30

In his breakout year, Mulder led the AL with 21 wins and paced the Majors with four shutouts. He didn't have much of a dropoff in 2002 or '03 (though he pitched fewer innings). The signs came instead in '04 (225/4.43/1.36), after which the A's traded him to the Cardinals. After a decent '05 (205/3.64/1.38), he's never been the same. Penny saw an improvement in his 2003 numbers -- but none of this considers the Alyssa Effect.

With Durbin's '02 and '03 numbers so low, I checked his minor league numbers and saw that he pitched only eight in 2002 (injured), and 82 in 2003 (working his way back). But the reason I'm not too concerned with minor league numbers after the red-flag year is because I'm only interested in what these pitchers contribute to the big-league club. If they're still active in the Majors, we know they made it back.

Mays' breakout years was the only Major League season in which he posted a sub-4.00 ERA. Garcia went on to have a couple of productive years with the White Sox before his arm troubles began in recent seasons. With the exception of 2005 (3.12) and 2006 (4.99), all of Buehrle's ERAs have been between 3.50 and 4.00 and his WHIPs have been between 1.25 and 1.35 except for '05 (1.18) and '06 (1.47), so that's the kind of pitcher he is. Plus, he's got a no-hitter and perfect game on his resume. Armas' small sample size of 31 innings are key, because his ERA has been higher than 4.80 ever since.

And then we have two Cy Young Award winners. Carpenter missed 2003 after surgery, then went to the Cardinals (and pitching coach/healer Dave Duncan) and won 15, 21 and 15 games (and a Cy Young) before more surgery -- and then nearly won the award again in 2009. Sabathia's 2000 numbers are all from the minor leagues; '01 was his rookie year. He's steadily improved since, winning the Cy Young in '07 and avoiding the catastrophic injuries that several times have been predicted.

Vicente Padilla34/4.24/1.41206/3.28/1.22208/3.62/1.24115/4.53/1.34
Roy Oswalt141/2.73/1.06233/3.01/1.19127/2.97/1.14237/3.49/1.25
Ben Sheets151/4.76/1.41216/4.15/1.41220/4.45/1.25237/2.70/0.98
Jake Peavy28/2.57/1.11*97/4.52/1.42194/4.11/1.31166/2.27/1.20

I omitted Runelvys Hernandez from this group because he was one of several Royals in the early part of the decade who was overworked and flamed out. Plus, his entire 2001 season and much of '02, when his innings shot up, were in the minors, and I didn't feel like doing all the math. And Andy Van Hekken was flagged for 2003, but one look at his page there and you'll see why I didn't bother including him.

From 2004-06, Oswalt finished in the top four of Cy Young Award voting and added a third straight All-Star season in '07. Since then, he's seen a bit of a drop-off. Sheets' best season to date came in 2004, when he fanned 264 and led the Majors in K/BB at 8.25. His record was just 12-14 for a Brewers team that went 67-94, which is why I'm not including won-loss records in this analysis. I still wish the Mets had signed him. Peavy's 2001 numbers are from the minors and his 2004 ERA remains a career best, better even than in his '07 Cy Young season.

Carlos Zambrano108/3.66/1.45214/3.11/1.32209/2.75/1.22223/3.26/1.15
Dontrelle Willis157/1.83/0.88*197/2.97/1.21197/4.02/1.38236/2.63/1.13

Zambrano has remained pretty consistent -- right through his consistent, gradual decline the past couple of seasons. But he's apparently rededicated himself heading into 2010. Willis finished second in the NL Cy Young voting in '05 (to Carpenter, a fellow Verducci Effect alum) but has had other problems since.

Carlos Silva87/4.43/1.48203/4.21/1.43188/3.44/1.17180/5.94/1.54
Jason Marquis134/4.03/1.40201/3.71/1.42207/4.13/1.33194/6.02/1.52

Silva's 2003 innings represent his entire year, all of it in the Majors. Seattle has gotten five wins and 18 losses since signing him before 2008. Marquis' first year in St. Louis was 2006, but he turned it around after that, even finding success in Colorado in an All-Star '09.

Scott Kazmir134/3.29/1.31186/3.77/1.46144/3.24/1.27206/3.48/1.38
Matt Cain158/2.67/1.19*192/3.89/1.22190/4.15/1.28200/3.64/1.26
Francisco Liriano156/3.79/1.42*191/3.02/1.06121/2.16/1.00INJURED
Zach Duke148/1.46/0.97*192/2.44/1.21215/4.47/1.50107/5.53/1.73
Paul Maholm60/3.43/1.44*158/3.02/1.26176/4.76/1.61177/5.02/1.42

Kazmir -- there he is again. Would definitely be useful in Citi Field, but he hasn't yet become the Cy Young winner everyone thought he would. The Effect hasn't hurt Cain too much since '06, despite his 15-30 combined record in '07-08, which had a lot to do with terrible run support. The Twins tried to bring along Liriano (whose 2005 innings include the minors) slowly, as they did with Johan Santana, by pitching him out of the bullpen to ease him in. It didn't work. Duke led the Majors with 255 hits allowed in '06 but made strides last year, getting his ERA back down to 4.06 and his WHIP to 1.32. Maholm has also had two decent seasons since, posting ERAs for 3.71 and 4.44 and WHIPs of 1.28 and, less impressive, 1.44.

Cole Hamels35/2.31/1.03*132/4.08/1.25183/3.39/1.12227/3.09/1.08
Justin Verlander130/1.80/0.98186/3.63/1.33201/3.66/1.23201/4.84/1.40
Anibal Sanchez136/2.85/1.07*200/2.97/1.2330/4.80/2.0751/5.57/1.57
Jered Weaver76/3.91/1.24*200/2.39/1.00161/3.91/1.39176/4.33/1.29

Hamels' 35 minor-league innings in '05 were all he threw, but his previous career high was 101, so while his jump wasn't as big, it still fit the parameters. He then became a two-time Verducci Effecter with his huge jump in 2008 -- and those numbers don't include his 35 postseason innings. Verlander's '05 numbers are mostly from the minors, and it wasn't until 2009 that he seemed to get back on track. This is the year we'll see if Sanchez (whose '06 numbers include the Minors) can regain his no-hit stuff. Weaver's WHIP in '08 is a good sign. And it went down again (1.24) in '09, along with his ERA (3.75).

This was a big year for red-flagged pitchers. With all these big names, I decided to skip Sean Marshall, Scott Olsen and Jeremy Bonderman, as well as several who haven't really been heard from since, incluing Adam Loewen, who has given up pitching and trying the Rick Ankiel route.

Ian Kennedy104/3.81/1.35*165/1.91/0.99116/4.27/1.3023/1.59/1.10
Fausto Carmona101/5.52/1.53215/3.06/1.21120/5.44/1.62125/6.32/1.76
Ubaldo Jimenez151/3.80/1.36*185/5.16/1.51198/3.99/1.44218/3.47/1.23
Tom Gorzelanny61/3.79/1.31201/3.88/1.40105/6.66/1.8047/1.32/5.55
Yovani Gallardo155/1.86/1.00*188/3.35/1.1841/3.07/1.34185/3.73/1.31

All of Kennedy's numbers include a mix of Majors and minors, and 2006 is actually college and minors -- with only 2 2/3 innings in at short-season Staten Island. So those underwhelming stats are mostly with USC. Any further comeback from his recent injuries will be in Arizona after this offseason's trade. Carmona's '06 has 27 minor-league innings, and so far, his breakout '07 is a fluke.

Jimenez is an interesting case. He also pitched seven innings with the Rockies in '06, but I left those out. His '07 totals don't include the 16 postseason innings he pitched, which put him over the threshold for Verducci's list. And despite the red flag last year of pitching in the World Baseball Classic, he truly had a breakout season at 25. So perhaps this year we'll see a fall.

Gorzelanny has minor league numbers all around -- in '06, '08 and '09 -- that aren't included. He'll be 27 in July, so this is the year we'll know what we'll get from the big lefty -- if we don't already. The Brewers may have caught a break with Gallardo, who injured his knee covering first base in 2008 and had his innings limited that season. He posted decent numbers last year, so we'll see how he progresses this summer. Dustin McGowan was part of this class, too, but surgery knocked out his '09 season, so there are no further numbers for comparison.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidential players

For Presidents Day, I thought I'd go into the Baseball-Reference database and put together a roster of players and managers throughout history who share names with former presidents. I'm sure I'm not the first to compile such a list (and I did think of putting together a 25-man roster, by position, but got lazy -- which is fine). They're listed below in order of the most popular surnames. Each one includes honorable mentions for players whose given names -- first and middle -- are those of chief executives. I did not include any players/managers whose first names are the same as presidential last names (sorry, Madison Bumgarner, et al).

A few notes: Players listed as active (through 2009) by B-R are in bold, asterisks denote All-Stars and italics are Hall of Famers. Players with presidential surnames are listed with their common, known names (Bo Jackson, instead of Edward Vincent Jackson, for instance), but those with first and middle names of presidents have their full, given names listed (so you might not recognize Jonathan Tyler Lester, but it's Jon Lester). Those who are or were known by the same name as a president (Zachary Taylor is one) are in all caps, but those who share a name with a president but go by something else (Mike Adams was born Jon -- close enough -- Michael Adams) just have the given name noted in parentheses.

Abbie Johnson
Abe Johnson
Adam Johnson
Alex Johnson*
Art Johnson (1927)
Art Johnson (1940-42)
Ban Johnson (founder and president of American League; in HOF as pioneer/executive in 1937)
Bart Johnson
Ben Johnson (1959-60)
Ben Johnson (2005-07)
Bill Johnson (1884-92)
Bill Johnson (1916-17)
Bill Johnson (1983-84)
Billy Johnson*
Bob Johnson* (1933-45)
Bob Johnson (1960-70)
Bob Johnson (1969-77)
Bob Johnson (1981-83)
Brian Johnson
Caleb Johnson
Charles Johnson*
Charlie Johnson
Chet Johnson
Chief Johnson
Chris Johnson
Cliff Johnson
Connie Johnson
Dan Johnson
Dane Johnson
Darrell Johnson
Dave Johnson (1974-78)
Dave Johnson (1987-93)
Davey Johnson*
Deron Johnson
Don Johnson* (1943-48)
Don Johnson (1947-58)
Earl Johnson
Ed Johnson
Elliot Johnson
Elmer Johnson
Erik Johnson
Ernie Johnson (1912-25)
Ernie Johnson (1950-59)
Footer Johnson
Frank Johnson
Fred Johnson
Gary Johnson
Hank Johnson
Howard Johnson*
Jason Johnson
Jeff Johnson
Jerry Johnson
Jim Johnson (1970)
Jim Johnson (2006-)
Jing Johnson
Joe Johnson
John Johnson
John Henry Johnson
Johnny Johnson
Jonathan Johnson
Josh Johnson*
Judy Johnson
Keith Johnson
Kelly Johnson (Kelly Andrew Johnson)
Ken Johnson (1947-52)
Ken Johnson (1958-70)
Lamar Johnson
Lance Johnson*
Larry Johnson
Lloyd Johnson
Lou Johnson
Mark Johnson
Mark J. Johnson (2000)
Mark L. Johnson (1998-2008)
Mike Johnson (1974)
Mike Johnson (1997-2001)
Nick Johnson
Otis Johnson
Paul Johnson
Randy Johnson (1980-82)
Randy Johnson (1982-84)
Randy Johnson* (1988-2009)
Rankin Johnson (1914-18)
Rankin Johnson (1941)
Reed Johnson
Rob Johnson
Ron Johnson
Rondin Johnson
Rontrez Johnson
Roy Johnson (1918)
Roy Johnson (1929-38)
Roy Johnson (1982-85)
Russ Johnson
Si Johnson
Spud Johnson
Stan Johnson
Syl Johnson
Tim Johnson
Tom Johnson
Tony Johnson
Tyler Johnson
Vic Johnson
Wallace Johnson
Walt Johnson
Walter Johnson
Youngy Johnson

Archie Wilson
Art Wilson
Artie Wilson
Bill Wilson (1890-98)
Bill Wilson (1950-55)
Bill Wilson (1969-73)
Bob Wilson
Bobby Wilson
Brian Wilson*
C.J. Wilson
Charlie Wilson (Charles Woodrow Wilson)
Chief Wilson
Craig Wilson (1989-93)
Craig Wilson (1998-2000)
Craig Wilson (2001-2007)
Dan Wilson*
Desi Wilson
Don Wilson*
Duane Wilson
Earl Wilson
Eddie Wilson
Enrique Wilson
Fin Wilson
Frank Wilson
Gary Wilson (1902)
Gary Wilson (1979)
Gary Wilson (1995)
George Wilson
Glenn Wilson*
Grady Wilson
Hack Wilson
Henry Wilson
Highball Wilson
Icehouse Wilson
Jack Wilson (1934-42)
Jack Wilson* (2001-)
Jim Wilson* (1945-58)
Jim Wilson (1985-89)
Jimmie Wilson*
John Wilson (1913)
John Wilson (1927-28)
Josh Wilson
Jud Wilson
Kris Wilson
Les Wilson
Max Wilson
Mike Wilson
Mookie Wilson
Mutt Wilson
Neil Wilson
Nigel Wilson
Parke Wilson
Paul Wilson
Pete Wilson
Preston Wilson*
Red Wilson
Roy Wilson
Squanto Wilson
Steve Wilson
Tack Wilson
Tex Wilson
Tom Wilson (1914-14)
Tom Wilson (2001-04)
Trevor Wilson
Tug Wilson
Vance Wilson
Walter Wilson
Willie Wilson*
Willy Wilson
Zeke Wilson

Honorable mention:
Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Davis
Woodrow Wilson (Woody) Williams (1938-45)

Aaron Taylor
Arlas Taylor
Ben Taylor (1912)
Ben Taylor (1951-55)
Ben "Old Reliable" Taylor
Bill Taylor
Billy Taylor (1881-87)
Billy Taylor (1898)
Billy Taylor (1994-2001)
Bob Taylor
Bruce Taylor
Carl Taylor
Chink Taylor
Chuck Taylor
Danny Taylor
Dorn Taylor
Dummy Taylor
Dwight Taylor
Ed Taylor (1903)
Ed Taylor (1926)
Fred Taylor
Gary Taylor
George Taylor
Graham Taylor
Harry Taylor (1890-93)
Harry Taylor (1932)
Harry Taylor (1946-52)
Harry Taylor (1957)
Hawk Taylor
Jack Taylor (1891-99)
Jack Taylor (1898-1907)
Joe Taylor
Kerry Taylor
Leo Taylor
Live Oak Taylor
Pete Taylor
Reggie Taylor
Ron Taylor
Sammy Taylor
Sandy Taylor
Scott Taylor (1992-93)
Scott Taylor (1995)
Terry Taylor
Tommy Taylor
Tony Taylor*
Wade Taylor
Wiley Taylor
Zack Taylor

Honorable mention:
Zachary Taylor Shafer

Al Jackson
Bill Jackson
Bo Jackson*
Charlie Jackson
Chuck Jackson
Conor Jackson
Damian Jackson
Danny Jackson*
Darrell Jackson
Darrin Jackson
Edwin Jackson*
George Jackson
Grant Jackson*
Henry Jackson
Herbert Jackson
Jim Jackson
Shoeless Joe Jackson
John Jackson
Ken Jackson
Larry Jackson*
Lou Jackson
Mike Jackson (1970-73)
Mike Jackson (1986-2004
Randy Jackson
Reggie Jackson
Ron Jackson (1954-60)
Ron Jackson (1975-84)
Roy Lee Jackson
Ryan Jackson
Sam Jackson
Sonny Jackson
Steven Jackson
Travis Jackson
Zach Jackson

Honorable mention:
Andrew Jackson Bednar
Andrew Jackson Dunning
Andrew Jackson Knox
Andrew Jackson Leonard
Andrew Jackson Reese

ADAMS (28)
Ace Adams*
Babe Adams
Bert Adams
Bob Adams (1925)
Bob Adams (1931-1932)
Bob Adams (1977)
Bobby Adams
Buster Adams
Dan Adams
Dick Adams
Doug Adams
George Adams
Glenn Adams
Herb Adams
Jim Adams
Joe Adams
Karl Adams
Mike Adams (1972-78) (Jon Michael Adams)
Mike Adams (2004-)
Red Adams
Rick Adams
Ricky Adams
Russ Adams
Sparky Adams (Earl John Adams)
Spencer Adams
Terry Adams
Willie Adams (1912-1919)
Willie Adams (1996-1997)

Honorable mention for our sixth president:
John Quincy Adams Strick (1882)

Adam Kennedy
Bill Kennedy (1942-47)
Bill Kennedy (1948-57)
Bob Kennedy (1939-1957)
Brickyard Kennedy
Doc Kennedy
Ed Kennedy (1883-86)
Ed Kennedy (1884)
Ian Kennedy
Jim Kennedy (1970)
Jim Kennedy (manager, years unknown)
Joe Kennedy
JOHN KENNEDY (1957) (John Irvin Kennedy)
JOHN KENNEDY (1962-74) (John Edward Kennedy)
Junior Kennedy
Kevin Kennedy
Monte Kennedy
Ray Kennedy (Raymond Lincoln Kennedy; double presidents!)
Snapper Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Terry Kennedy*
Vern Kennedy*

FORD (16)
Ben Ford
Bill Ford
Curt Ford
Dan Ford
Dave Ford
Ed Ford
Gene Ford (1905)
Gene Ford (1936-38)
Hod Ford
Lew Ford
Matt Ford
Russ Ford
Ted Ford
Tom Ford
Wenty Ford
Whitey Ford

Andy Carter
Arnold Carter
Blackie Carter
Chris Carter
Gary Carter
Howie Carter
Jeff Carter
Joe Carter*
Lance Carter*
Larry Carter
Nick Carter
Paul Carter
Sol Carter
Steve Carter

HAYES (10)
Ben Hayes
Bill Hayes
Brett Hayes
Charlie Hayes
Frankie Hayes*
Jackie Hayes (1882-90)
Jackie Hayes (1927-40)
Jim Hayes
John Hayes
Von Hayes*

Eddie Grant
Frank Grant (Ulysses Franklin Grant)
George Grant
Jim Grant
Jimmy Grant
Mark Grant
Mudcat Grant*
Tom Grant

Honorable mention:
Ulysses Simpson Grant "Stoney" McGlynn
Ulysses Simpson Grant "Lil" Stoner
Grant Thatcher (Ulysses Grant Thatcher)

Billy Pierce
Ed Pierce
Gracie Pierce
Jack Pierce
Jeff Pierce
Maury Pierce
Ray Pierce
Tony Pierce

Honorable mention:
Franklin Pierce Harter
Monty Franklin Pierce Stratton

Claudell Washington*
George Washington (Sloan Vernon Washinton, but B-R lists him as George)
Herb Washington
La Rue Washington
Rico Washington
Ron Washington
U L Washington

Honorable mention:
George Washington Baumgardner
George Washington Bradley (1875-88)
George Washington Bradley (1946)
George Washington Case*
George Washington Crosby
George Washington Davies
George Washington Harper
George Washington Henry
George Washington Keefe
George Washington "Jumbo" McGinnis
George Washington Merritt
George Washington Noftsker
George Washington Payne
George Washington Paynter
George Washington "Hack" Simmons
George Washington "Buck" Stanton
George Washington Wilson
George Washington "Zip" Zabel

Ben Harrison
Bob Harrison
Chuck Harrison
Matt Harrison
Rit Harrison
Roric Harrison
Tom Harrison

Honorable mention:
William Henry Harrison Geer
Benjamin Harrison Taylor (1912)
Benjamin Harrison "Old Reliable" Taylor (dates unknown; Negro leagues player and Hall of Famer)
Benjamin Harrison Van Dyke

Craig Monroe
Ed Monroe
Frank Monroe
John Monroe
Larry Monroe
Zach Monroe

Al Nixon (Albert Richard Nixon, yet he played from 1915-28. Nickname was Humpty Dumpty)
Donell Nixon
Otis Nixon
Russ Nixon
Trot Nixon
Willard Nixon

BUSH (6)
David Bush
Donie Bush
Guy Bush
Homer Bush
Joe Bush
Randy Bush

Jesse Jefferson
Reggie Jefferson
Stan Jefferson

Honorable mention:
Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges* (Double-historical naming!)
Thomas Jefferson Dowd
Thomas Jefferson Gulley
Joseph Jefferson "Shoeless Joe" Jackson
Thomas Jefferson Jordan
Thomas Jefferson Pratt
Thomas Jefferson Raub
Thomas Jefferson Sullivan
Thomas Jefferson York

Art Madison
Dave Madison
Scotti Madison

Honorable mention:
James Madison Holloway
James Emmett Madison Holt
James Madison Pearce
James Madison Toy

Fred Tyler
Johnnie Tyler (John Anthony Tyler)
Lefty Tyler

Honorable mention:
Jonathan Tyler Lester

Bob Buchanan
Brian Buchanan
Jim Buchanan (James Forrest Buchanan)

Deacon Van Buren
Jermaine Van Buren

Honorable mention:
Martin Van Buren (Marty) Walker

Ezra Lincoln
Mike Lincoln

Honorable mention:
Abraham Lincoln "Sweetbreads" Bailey (best nickname ever?)
Abraham Lincoln Wade
Abraham Lincoln Wolstenholme

Elmer Cleveland
Reggie Cleveland

Honorable mention:
Grover Cleveland Alexander

Jim Clinton
Lou Clinton

Honorable mention:
Williams Clinton (Bill) Zepp

Bill Garfield

Honorable mention:
James Garfield (John) Durham

Charlie Harding

POLK (0)

Only Wes Chamberlain comes close to an honorable mention; his given name is Wesley Polk Chamberlain.

Though there is one minor league record for a player in 1909 whose first name is not known.

Honorable mentions:
Chester Arthur Crist
Chester Arthur Emerson

Honorable mention:
William McKinley "Pinky" Hargrave
William McKinley "Max" Venable

Honorable mention:
Roosevelt Brown
Theodore Roosevelt (Ted) Lilly*
Jack Roosevelt (Jackie) Robinson
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Ted) Wieand

TAFT (0)
Honorable mention:
Taft Shedron "Taffy" Wright

Honorable mention:
Calvin Coolidge (Cal) Ermer
Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma (Cal) McLish*

Honorable mention:
Truman Eugene "Tex" Clevenger
John Truman Wasdin

Honorable mention:
A Charlie Eisenhower played for the Laredo Broncos of the independent United League in 2006.

Honorable mention:
Douglas Reagan Ault

Art Wilson and Gary Carter deserve mention as being active in the Majors for the entire term of the presidents who share their surnames. Others active for a portion of "their" presidents' tenures include: Chief Wilson, Fin Wilson, John Wilson, Mutt Wilson, Squanto Wilson, 1914 Tom Wilson, John Edward Kennedy, Dan Ford, David and Homer Bush (George W. Bush) and Randy Bush (George H.W. Bush).

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Little Old New York

The still image above is from a British tourism film about New York City in 1963. Along with scenes from Idlewild (pre-JFK) Airport, Chinatown and the downtown skyline is a segment on Yankee Stadium. The footage was taken on July 25, 1963, which was the only home game against the Angels that year started by left-hander Al Downing. The announced attendance was 15,716, but it appears the actual figure was a bit less. There's also a segment near the end about the construction of the World's Fair attractions -- including the Unisphere -- for the 1964-65 exposition. (Thanks to Uniwatch for pointing out this video.)


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Friday, February 12, 2010

Photo Friday: Braves vs. Mets, 1991

This week's slideshow is another set taken before I got my first SLR (and, therefore, first telephoto lens), so the photos tend to be more of the wide-view variety. I cropped closer where I could, but for the most part, the view is what I saw 18 years ago.

A few highlights about this game. On a personal level, it was my first field-level game at Shea Stadium. We got a thrill out of being so close to the field, particularly during pregame warmups, when the players were so close. This collection of images also includes some personal favorites in terms of players: Howard Johnson, Gregg Jefferies and Todd Hundley. I also like how you can see the blue-and-orange racing stripe down the side of the uniforms, even at a distance. And one photo that's a particular favorite -- and I nealy used for the image at the top -- shows the outfield wall in left-center, with the old logos of the National League teams along the blue background. Those were so much more attractive to me than advertisements, which I prefer for the minor leagues, not the Majors.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Somewhere between disaster and excellence

This snowbound day has made for a flurry of writing.


Anyway, Ted Berg's thoughts about the Mets' offseason prompted me to comment (along with 56 other comments, if not commenters, to that point), but as I thought more about it, I thought I'd elaborate (beginning with what I wrote over there).

With all the doom-and-gloom discussion of this offseason (and I've been there myself), Berg's thoughts needed to be said. Thanks for that. At this point, with Spring Training about to start, I feel the need to step back and not worry about what could have or should have been done (though, to me, the biggest mistake was not bringing in a whole new medical staff), and instead let this team get through the spring and start the season. What they have now is not that much different from 2008, when they went down to the last day of the season in the race. Of the changes between then and now, most of them are upgrades: Jason Bay is an improvement over Moises Alou & The Replacements, Jeff Francoeur is better than Ryan Church and K-Rod tops the Bullpen by Kablooey (trademark pending) that was the undoing in '08.

I think the 2010 Mets will fall somewhere between disaster (2009's 70 wins) and excellence (2006's 97 wins). With their luck, it will probably be heartbreak (2007-08's average 88.5 wins). And there's a lot that can happen between now and October 3, not just for the Mets (good or bad), but four other teams in the NL East and 15 others in the National League. Who knows -- maybe we're in for a surprise, a team no one thought much of that gets every thing it needs from each component to put together a season it has no business having.

Dare to dream.

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Willie plays all fields

11:29 p.m. update -- The Daily Show interview was great, of course, and Jon Stewart's New Jersey roots made it unique, when Stewart mentioned Mays' days with the Trenton Giants in 1950. Back when the Trenton Thunder came along in 1994, the coverage of the city's baseball history had featured that connection, but I'd completely forgotten it. Mays was the first black player in the Interstate League, which was noted on this baseball signed by Mays that year.

Willie Mays is making the rounds in New York this week -- he's even on The Daily Show tonight -- to promote a new biography, the first that he has authorized. Last night's sit-down with Bob Costas on "Studio 42" was a joy to watch for someone who wasn't born until after Willie ended his career with the Mets in 1973.

My favorite Mays story has always been his afternoon stickball games on the streets of Harlem before he'd head up to the Polo Grounds for the game. In this day of SUVs with tinted windows and underground players' parking lots, you're not going to get that kind of interaction anymore. Though with blogs and Twitter and camera phones, who can blame the players?

Another thing that struck me during the two-hour program was that New Jersey's own Larry Doby was the runner when Mays made the catch on Vic Wertz's drive to center field in the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds. Mays said that he was more worried about making the throw to the infield -- knowing that he had scored from second on fly balls to the ballpark's vast center field -- than making the catch, but Doby had already rounded third, so by the time the ball got back to the infield, Doby was just getting back to second.

Two more segments of the interview are here and here, but they don't include one moment from early in the show when Costas refers to Mays' "classic Giants cap" on his head. It's bothered me for several years now that Mays regularly wears the hideous batting practice cap at his public appearances. But he must like the feel of it, because he wore the Mets version at the closing ceremonies for Shea Stadium. But Costas' reference to it as "classic" was grating. A cap with the SF logo would be nice to see, and a New York Giants replica lid would be truly classic.

I'll update this post tonight with the Daily Show clip -- if Willie's able to get there in all this snow. And though I have dozens of unread books around the house, someday I may have to get the Harry Potter-sized bio that has prompted this look back at Willie's career.

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Snow day

After one round of shoveling, the snow's still coming down here in New Jersey and the sidewalks and steps are again beneath a few inches. The plows haven't been back in hours, but at this point I may just wait for the morning, when it's all finished. At least I won't have to shovel all 12 inches at once.

What better weather to think ahead to one week from today, when the first groups of pitchers and catchers will stroll into spring camps in Florida and Arizona, a day before their first workouts. But it also reminds me of three years ago, when the Indians and Mariners had their opening series in Cleveland snowed out. I wonder how long before we see a scene like that at Target Field.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trying really hard to craft that silver lining

As I sit here going back and forth between being frustrated at the Mets' offseason (leading to doubts about the coming season) and letting the fan in me have hope, let's take a look at some forced parallels and other good omens that might serve as a precursor to a successful season in 2010. Just a few things to help instill hope. (I hope.)

In the NL East's existence, the Braves are the only team to win more than three division titles in a row.

The last time the Mets opened the season at home was in 2006.

The Mets also opened at home in 1969, 1973 and 2000 (not counting the two in Japan, though they were the home team for the first of those two as well).

The last time the Mets lost more than 90 games (91 in 2004), they won 83 the following season. The last time they lost 92 or more (94 in '83), they won 90 the next year.

All-time, the Mets have a better winning percentage for the season when they open at home vs. on the road (.480 to .477), when they close at home vs. on the road (.496 to .461) and when they both open and close at home vs. playing both on the road (.468 to .397).

Of the nine Mets managers to guide the team through at least two full seasons (should Jerry Manuel last the season), six improved their win totals in the second campaign, by an average of 13 victories. Of the three who didn't, Yogi Berra went from 83 wins to 82 but also led the Mets to the World Series in that second season (1973); Joe Torre went from 66 to 63 wins and Bobby Valentine won 88 in each of his first two years at the helm.

The Mets average 85 wins and a .525 winning percentage in the season following a team winning its debut appearance in the Super Bowl.

In 2009, the Yankees lost their highest-paid player and a Scott Boras client, Alex Rodriguez, for the first month-and-a-half because of surgery. In 2010, the Mets won't have their highest-paid (position) player and a Scott Boras client, Carlos Beltran, for the first month-and-a-half because of surgery.

The Mets have more success in even-numbered years (.484 winning percentage) than odd (.473).

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Dead Ball days

Great stuff here: a montage of black-and-white baseball photographs from the Dead Ball Era, set to the theme from The Natural.

You'll find a couple of pictures of Babe Ruth on the mound for the Red Sox, Ty Cobb at bat and Honus Wagner near the end. I love the uniform styles, too: the long sleeves, the collars turned up (the fact that there are collars at all!) the high socks and baggy pants. Early-20th-Century fashion is funny.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

Thinking of baseball on the day of the big game

It's Super Bowl Sunday, so that has me thinking ahead to baseball season (and I'm not the only one). After this game is when I really start to look ahead to Spring Training, counting the days, beginning fantasy baseball preparation, thinking about pulling a few more jerseys out of the closet.

Today's game has a few other connections. There are the two No. 9s above. Drew Brees, who wore No. 15 at Purdue, wears 9 because of Ted Williams (last item on the page). Michael Lewis, who wrote Moneyball, also penned a long-form feature on Eli Manning for The New York Times Magazine and played for the same baseball coach in New Orleans as the Manning boys later did. And Wezen-Ball did a great breakdown of the baseball histories in Indianapolis and New Orleans.

If the Colts win, they will share a birthplace with the World Series champion Yankees -- both franchises originated in Baltimore. If the Saints win, um, well, their coach, Sean Payton, will have won the first Super Bowl in which he appeared as a head coach, just as Joe Girardi won the first World Series in which he appeared as a manager.

Happy viewing, all. Go, Your Team! Two weeks until pitchers and catchers.

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Friday, February 05, 2010

Photo Friday: Memorial Stadium, 1991

I never got to see Comiskey Park before it was replaced by New Comiskey, and I still regret that a bit. But I was just 13 in the summer of 1990, and Chicago is a long way from New Jersey. There was no way to get there on my own, and our family trip that summer was to California, so Dodger Stadium was the ballpark away from home that I got to visit.

But a year later, I did get to see Baltimore's Memorial Stadium in its final year. As with the Rangers-Red Sox game at Fenway in 1993, the foursome of myself, my friend Matt and our fathers made the trip. It was a one-day jaunt down to Baltimore and back, about a 3 1/2-hour drive each way, not counting the time spent sitting without moving in the parking lot after the game. With the stadium jammed into a neighborhood, parking was limited, so cars were just lined up in the lots around the ballpark, as you can see in the photo on this page. We weren't in too deep, but we did have to wait for at least one car to move before we could depart, and the owner of it didn't leave the game as quickly as we did.

Other notable moments from the day: We saw Mo Vaughn's first Major League home run, I was definitely psyched to see Cal Ripken play (you'll notice his batting stance in one of the photos) and Wade Boggs struck out. I found this last one notable because, a week earlier in Boston, I'd seen Don Mattingly strike out, and neither did so all that frequently.

The next year, we went to Camden Yards in its inaugural season, and the differences were immense. Of course, Oriole Park is noted as the beginning of the "retro ballpark" trend, but in addition, it also marked a shift from building stadia on the outskirts of town to finding room in or near the heart of downtown. Or at least more accessible to the city itself and its public transportation. In some ways, it can be seen not only in Baltimore, but San Francisco, San Diego, Cleveland and Houston, just to name four off the top of my head that I've visited. The drive to Memorial Stadium on the city's east side included a civics lesson, while a visit to Oriole Park is as much a tourist destination as the nearby Inner Harbor.

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Alternate champions

The University of Texas is sending its pre-produced national champions gear to Haiti. This is, of course, a great decision and really a no-brainer (hey, H&M, take a hint, huh?). But when I read this, part of me thought of Haiti as this alternate reality wherein Texas football is the national champs and the Jets and Vikings are playing in the Super Bowl. Yet, in a further distancing from our reality, sometime next week, the champion of that Super Bowl will be either the Colts or Vikings.

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I'm askin', can you see?

Been a bit busy the last couple of days. On Monday, I only got four hours of sleep, took care of some things in the morning, then napped in the afternoon before work. Tuesday, I was out of the house all day, then did the same on Wednesday, when my wife, a friend from work and I drove to Philadelphia for the Mitchell & Ness sale. (I went in without a wish list, figuring I'd see what was available, and came away with three jerseys, three hats and a pennant of the Colorado Rockies -- not the baseball team, but the hockey team that would one day become the New Jersey Devils. One of the jerseys is right up there. I never really considered it, having only seen it online, because I have a current road jersey featuring David Wright's name and number and figured that filled the need. But seeing this one in person -- the blue and orange of the "NEW YORK," sans drop shadow, standing out so nicely from the gray flannel -- had me hooked. Then I went onto eBay and bought the home version of the Tom Seaver for $100, shipping included. I even saw the strangely numbered Tug McGraw, but had no desire for it.)

Anyway, I have three of the next four days off from work, so I hope to catch up on some posts, both timely as the news of the days warrant, and others I've saved drafts of with the intention of filling them out eventually. That list of drafts has gotten a little long for my tastes.

So we'll get to that, soon. For now, MLB.com columnist Mike Bauman seems to have decided that if MLB is going to try to speed up the pace of games from the first pitch to the final out, why not try to pick up the pace on the national anthem, too. Really? That's the column you felt had to be written? I find some anthem singers grating, too, but it's not the cause I'd choose if I had that kind of a platform.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Canseco's new book on 'The Simpsons'

"The Simpsons" last night looked into the future for Jose Canseco's next book (and Marge's last one).

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