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Cats and Dogs Sleeping Together
2005-01-10 12:52
by Mike Carminati

Sheez, I go away for a couple of weeks and the whole baseball world went to heck in a handbasket. Witness:

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The friggin' Los Angeles née Anaheim née California née Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?!? To quote Seinfeld, "Yeah, and I'm Jerry Cougar Mellencamp." Only in Hollywood (of Anaheim) could a name this ludicrous make any sense. I mean, we have withstood some silly stadium namings but we never had a team moniker qualified with "At Camden Yards" or "At Arlington".

It's worse than when Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol and became first "The Artist Formerly Known As Prince" and then eventually shortened it to "The Artist", all the while refusing to "cover" songs by Prince in his concerts. At least he was doing it to tick off his record label. I'm not sure exactly whom the Angels are trying to tick off. Besides Prince is a hobbit, and they are a terribly unpredictable lot after all.

The LA Angels were a once-proud minor-league team in the old PCL, which once had major-league ambitions and was given a special "open" classification. They lasted over fifty years, until the arrival of the major-league Dodgers in 1958. Now they are the punchline to a joke.

Or rather the joke was letting this punchless palooka of a franchise win a World Series just because of a monkey, Gene Autrey's ghost, and every analyst's favorite underrated, pocket-sized player, David Eckstein.

You Gotta Have Breakfast with Carl Everett!

Jeff Shaw found this tidbit: MLB auctioned off breakfast with the surly pseudo-star and actually found someone to pay $785 for the honor. It must have been the free shipping.

I only hope that it was a news reporter that purchased the tickets for the obnoxious nosh so that Carl can masticate with his favorite people. Just remember, fellows, no cell phones.

[By the way, the headline is inspired by "Lunch with Ed" by Dogzilla. You had to be there.]

Yankees Finally Acquire Johnson

In a saga that was years in the making and had a cast of thousand involved, Cecil B. Cashman finally pried Randy Johnson from the Diamondbacks. The Yankees will give the Unit $32 M over two years. Throw in the $9 M that they sent to Arizona, not to mention Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, and Dioner Navarro who went in the trade. That's a lot of cabbage even for the Yankees for a 41-year-old.

One could argue that the Yankees' current direction leads only to madness. Vazquez alone may make them regret the trade, no matter how bad he looked at the end of last season. Halsey and Navarro aren't the greatest prospects but the Yanks organization is so depleted, that they don't need the added strain. Besides, not even the Yankees can keep supporting a team payroll that is spiraling out of control, right? Then throw in Johnson's age, the fact that he missed a good deal of 2003, etc.

I say I don’t care. As a baseball fan, I can't wait to see the most dominant lefty since Steve Carlton pitch in Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte was a good pitcher in the Bronx, but we haven't seen anything like Johnson in Yankee Stadium since Ron Guidry's stellar 1978 season. Or was it Henry "Arthur" Wiggen's 1958 season with the Mammoths?

Here's a rundown of all the Yankee southpaws with at least 19 Win Shares:

NameYearWLERAPitching WSWin Shares
Ron Guidry19782531.7431.231
Lefty Gomez19342652.3330.831
Lefty Gomez193721112.3328.929
Herb Pennock19242192.8327.427
Whitey Ford19641762.1324.024
Herb Pennock19231963.1323.523
Tommy John19792192.9623.423
Fritz Peterson196917162.5523.323
Herb Pennock192516172.9623.323
Whitey Ford19632472.7423.023
Whitey Ford19612543.2122.422
Luis Arroyo19611552.1922.323
Ron Guidry19791882.7822.222
Whitey Ford19551872.6321.522
Whitey Ford19561962.4721.422
Jimmy Key19931863.0021.121
Dave Righetti1986882.4520.520
Lefty Gomez19312192.6720.420
Andy Pettitte19971872.8820.320
Sparky Lyle19771352.1720.220
Whitey Ford19621782.9019.820
Herb Pennock19281762.5619.620
Whitey Ford19581472.0119.620
Ron Guidry19832193.4219.519
Lefty Gomez193818123.3519.419
Ed Lopat19512192.9118.919
Joe Page19491382.5918.819
Tommy John19802293.4318.619

That's a great list. It even has Luis Arroyo.

For context, Johnson had 26.8 Pitching Win Shares in 2004 and had a career-high 28.7 in 2002. That's a far cry from Guidry in 1978, but he also wasn't pitching in the Bronx then.

And there's always the added dimension of Johnson possibly facing former teammate Curt Schilling when the Red Sox play the Yanks. As if their series needed the added media frenzy.

Taking My Ball And Going Home

The more I hear about the World Series champion Red Sox, the less I find them to be the media-darling, Disney-sojourning, warm and cuddly baseball ambassadors that baseball fandom has declared them to be. I guess the fact that the Red Sox's 86-year drought was shorter than that of both Chicago teams but created the Karl Rove-ian misimpression that the Sox were history's dupes pretty much squelched it for me.

Now, Doug Mientkiewicz, a minor supernumerary with the juggernaut Wild Card team, happened to be the first baseman in game four of the World Series and caught the last out of the game. Mientkiewicz held onto the ball as the celebration ensued. He then spirited the ball away in his wife's purse reminding one of the perhaps apocryphal story of Jefferson Davis retreating from the confederate capital in a dress during the Civil War. The ball is currently in a safety deposit box and there it will remain barring the next escapade by Danny Ocean's nebulously numbered crew.

The Red Sox now say that the ball is there's while Mientkiewicz envisions using it to pay for his retirement. MLB has already said that it's Mientkiewicz's ball. But the Kinder and Gentler Empire will have none of it.

It'll be interesting to see if this goes to court. I wonder if there is a precedent for this. I know in football players get to hold onto balls with personal significance. I don't know if a quarterback gets to keep the football he used when he took a knee to end a Super Bowl, however. I would think that the team could be generous given that they have been saving for 86 years to buy off a player for a World Series ball. Maybe giving him the starting first base job would be enough.

If the Red Sox do pry the ball away from Mientkiewicz, where will it end? Will teams have players strip down as they saunter to the dressing rooms after the game to keep any potential souvenirs? How about full cavity searches? And who was the Evil Empire again?

The Rosy Sox

And more on those exemplars of baseball decency, the Red Sox. The Massachusetts Lottery is officially sponsoring the World Series trophy tour.

Wait a sec, isn't trafficking with gamblers bad? Leo Durocher was suspended for a season because of it. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were suspended "for life" (which became four years) after they retired as players because of their association with casinos.

Oh, but those were players, not owners. Owners can traffic with whomsoever they see fit. There's no conflict of interest there.

I wonder if they got the Mientkiewicz ball if the Sox would be able to fund the tour themselves. They are a cash-strapped organization after all. Maybe they should just charge the fans for seeing the trophy. It is all about the fans after all, right?

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