Walking in a winter meetingland
The most fascinating feature of the Las Vegas Airport, without a doubt, is the slot machines. I simply cannot imagine why that works as a business model. It seems to me that if you are a slots player coming into Vegas, you would want to get to your casino slots as soon as possible and you would not want to spend your time at the airport playing slots. And if seems that if you are a slots player coming OUT of Vegas, you would be broke and sick of the ringing bells and just plain exhausted by it all.
Apparently not, though, because every time I am here I see people playing the airport slots. I guess the allure is too great. I can see the mind working.
ANYWAY, I've spent most of my time the last few days working on a big
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People are wondering if the Yankees can REALLY buy a whole new starting pitching staff in one offseason. Answer: Sure, why not? They already have
And then maybe the Yankees will add
Anyway, if the Yankees have those three to go along with
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I do not at all like the Kansas City Royals signing of reliever
But I do not like it, do ... not ... like ... it. I do not like it because Farnsworth hasn't even been league average the last three years. I do not like it because he throws a million miles an hour and can't get people out. I do not like it because he once slammed reliever
To be fair, however, I do like Dayton Moore, and I believe he has a good feel for pitching and how to build a bullpen. And he was insistent that the Royals needed a hard-throwing righty to make it all work. There's no doubt that Dayton Moore is a lot smarter than I am, so I am willing to begin on the premise that I am wrong and he is right and that Farnsworth will indeed help the club and be a difference maker.
But I will also pass along what one longtime observer of Farnsworth said: "The good news is it'll reduce wear and tear on
Through some kind of beautiful fate, I went to a lunch and sat next to Twins manager
Now, I have admitted here before, and I will admit again, that if I had a closer view, if I watched Gardy manage every game, if I watched the way he handled the bullpen every day, if I watched every one of
But I'm not sure any of that matters in the end. There are a lot of ways to win baseball games. And I love watching his teams play, love the way his pitchers throw strikes, love the way his outfielders go get the ball, love the way they execute. More than anything though, I just like the guy, and I think his players generally like him, and I believe that matters. I know from my own experience that I have liked my sports editors for more than 20 years now, and because of that I wanted to work hard for them.
Here is a small list of players who were in their prime and already had good seasons before going off to World War II:
-- He hit .322 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs for the Athletics in '41, and then he missed all of '42, '43 and '44 and most of 1945 -- almost four full years. He was a useful player after he returned, and actually drove in 100 runs again in '49. But he was never again as good as in '41.
-- Joe D. missed three full seasons because of the war. And he was a right-handed hitter at Yankee Stadium, which was a dead zone for righty power bats. As great as everyone thinks he was, the Great DiMag was probably greater.
-- He was a good player who walked a lot and scored a lot of runs for the Pirates before going off to war after the '43 season. He missed two full seasons and only played as an everyday player for one full season after returning home.
-- He walked 106 times in '42 and also hit 14 homers for Cleveland with 82 RBIs. There's no telling if that was just an outlier season, but he missed all of '43 and '44, most of '45 and was never again a full-time player.
-- He was a star for the Browns in '42, hitting .313/.413/.499. He even received a little MVP consideration. He missed three full seasons after that, and he was only an OK player for a couple of years when he returned. Then he faded away, mostly forgotten.
-- He was a truly great player going into his time at war. Then he missed all of '44 and most of '45. He had one more great year left in '46 (.275/.405/.533 with 10 triples, 30 homers and 113 walks) and then because of a balky back and other factors he never got 250 at-bats again in a season for the rest of his career. Maybe his career would have turned out similarly no matter what, but I think Keller has one of the great what-if careers in baseball history.
-- He's a bit older than the others on this list -- he turned 30 before the '43 season. But he was clearly not on his way down. He missed three full seasons, played only 101 games in '46, but he hit 51 homers in '47 and 40 more in '48.
-- Baseball's greatest What If -- well, right up there with
-- He hit .359 with 19 triples in '41 -- he was 27 that year -- he went to war for three full seasons, and was never a full-time player again.
-- He was second in the MVP balloting in 1942 and then he missed the next three full seasons. Slaughter is a controversial figure because of his racial views -- just the other day I got an email from someone whose father had some very troubling stories about Slaughter -- but there's no question that he was a great player. And he missed three prime years.*
-- Obviously the Splendid Splinter is the most celebrated of the baseball war heroes, in part because he would later lose more time while serving in Korea. It's always fun to predict what Williams' numbers might have looked like. It doesn't take a whole lot of creativity to come up with a scenario in which Williams would have hit more than 714 homers in his career.
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Speaking of Splendid Splinters, I'm sure you noticed that there are now new standards for the bats that major leaguers use. You need to be some kind of wood engineer to understand it all, but the basic point seems to be that the strongest bats have the wood cut EXACTLY parallel to the grain direction of the tree. I'm not much with artwork, but I guess that means the strongest bats would have grain lines that look like this:
Well, what has happened -- and I KNOW I could be getting this wrong -- is that there were no slope standards for the cut of wood on bats. So that means that bats would have something like a 1 in 5 inch SoG (Slope of Grain), which means that for every five inches the grain line would deviate one inch off of parallel. Apparently, that's really, really bad. And the theory seems to be that's the reason that so many bats were shattering with shards of wood flying everywhere.
So the new standard is now 1-in-20 SoG; the grain line cannot deviate more than an inch over 20 inches. I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about here, and I have no idea if this will make any difference at all. But, hey, we just report the news as we understand it.