Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! For those of you planning to skip the festivities (and, really, there’s not much point if you aren’t between the ages of 21-25), here’s some baseball-ish articles for your perusal. Between this and Froggy’s usual Monday collection, you should be good to go...
pdx_twins_fan found an interesting ESPN tidbit on new Twin Jonathan Schoop, who speaks four languages. This is not unusual for people on the Caribbean island of Curacao; it’s a former Dutch colony, English is widely used, most TV is from nearby Spanish-speaking Venezuela, and the island tongue classifies as its own separate thing. Kevin Baxter describes how, since 2000, Curacao has produced an inordinate number of big-leaguers. The whole island is about the size of Ramsey County, and has far fewer people. Get with it, Saint Paul.
After Minnesota signed Schoop, and before they signed Nelson
Muntz Cruz, veteran CBS Sports scribe Jonah Keri suggested the Twins could surprise people this year. Predictions aren’t my fave, so what I liked better was this interview with Keri by Chris D. Davies of SB Nation’s Cleveland site. Keri, a Canadian, wrote a book about why Montreal lost the Expos; he talks about that here, and his attempts to avoid Haut Tayks when describing the whole sordid affair. You won’t agree with him about everything, yet you do have to respect his professionalism.
Last winter’s dry free-agent market has a lot of writers currently concerned about the same big teams always competing for rings, while smaller-salaried clubs sell off veterans for prospects. Jon Tayler is dismayed by Arizona dumping slugger Paul Goldschmidt; Grant Brisbee feels similarly about Seattle’s teardown. Jacob Shafer believes even more teams should be tanking. Michael Baumann argues that this trend presents an opportunity for team executives willing to take risks rather than go the safe route everyone else is following; makes sense to me, as even sports executives who play it careful get fired eventually.
In darker executive-firing news, Seattle has a rather ugly court case involving their former “director of high performance” Lorena Martin, who was placed on leave in October and fired in November after stating on social media that the team displayed hugely hostile sexist/racist behavior. The Mariners say she was a terrible employee and claim unnamed staffers “who were in a position to know” can refute all of Martin’s allegations. The courts will settle this, but I speak from experience that if your former employer wants to find people who’ll slam you, they can.
Former Marlins president David Samson drunkenly told Miami clubgoers how happy he was embracing their hatred of the stadium deal (there is cussing):
In a rather strange story, MLB donated a few thousand bucks to some blatantly bigoted Mississippi Senate candidate (the bigot won, narrowly). When word of the paltry donation came out, MLB hastily asked for its $5K back. Beyond The Box Score’s Daniel R. Epstein explained why this snafu probably had nothing to do with MLB being fond of bigot Senators, and everything to do with maintaining friends on all sides in Washington. More recently, some politicians are threatening to undo MLB’s recent international signing deal with Cuba; as Craig Calcaterra writes, “anybody have any popcorn?”
Meanwhile, Jose Canseco says he wants to run for President.
Last March, we looked at the Saint Paul Saints and their legislative lobbying over a proposed minimum-wage increase, saying this might bankrupt the team. That increase is now law in St. Paul, to be phased in over several years. It does grant the Saints an exemption, but only for players on the roster (most of whom make less than dirt). The other staff will be paid minimum wage. Quite rightly so, if you consider this typically demanding job description.
A rather dodgily-named website called “Booze Traveler” had 12 Surprising Features of Your Favorite Baseball Stadiums. You’ll know most of them. What you won’t know about are the bras hidden inside San Francisco’s outfield decor.
A good article I missed in October: “Preserving Negro League History Has Never Been Easier, Or Harder” from The Smithsonian. While more and more statistical data is available all the time, much original reporting on the games and players has been lost, as for years the subject was ignored by many historians. A director at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City estimates only 200 surviving players are left today.
And, finally, one from the wrong sport. NFL kicker Adam Vinatieri always had a powerful leg but no accuracy; he learned accuracy from a coach who uses a wheelchair and has never kicked a football in his life. This man really wanted to work for a football team, so he watched endless hours of videotape on kicking form. Now he’s considered the league’s top expert. One of those tales that’s either inspiring or which reminds you how you’ve never really accomplished anything...
Anyhoo, that’s a bunch of browser windows I can close now! Stay safe Monday night — remember, you may be sober, but not every other driver on the road will be. And happy 2019!