About that blog title

If you haven’t checked out the updated thing on the side, and who really checks out that thing on the side, you would not have noticed  there’s now a short explanation for this blog’s title. I have put together a collection of my work over the years in an ebook called, The Pursuit… (you get the picture).

The collection was prompted by a question a few years back, when a friend over at Marky Zuckerberg’s place asked me if I’d ever written a book. Now, the answer to that query was “yes,” though then as now the only potential audience for those works was any little shit who had managed to install malware on my hard drive. And, as evidence of my brilliance, I deduced the fix to this issue was to put together another unpublished piece of work.

I spent the past few years rounding up some of my favorite pieces from my nearly 30 years of writing, covering the subjects of news, sports, general interest columns, personal anecdotes, politics and fiction. My former newspaper employers were mostly receptive to me reusing my old works, except one who I won’t name here. I then put those works together in the ebook format, figuring I’d give that method of publishing a test drive to see if it was something I wanted to pursue further down the line.

Right now, the book is available only at Amazon, here. If I see any reason to expand it to other platforms, I’ll do that in time.

RIP to the HBP Maestro

Don Baylor died over the weekend. It can’t be said enough, but screw cancer.

For many, Don Baylor will be remembered as the 1979 AL MVP, the first DH to earn the honor, even if further examination shows he was not the most meritorious selection in the award’s history. Others will remember him for his undeniable leadership skills, both during his days as a player for six different AL clubs and then as a manager of two different NL teams. Still other fans might recall him as one of baseball’s most imposing figures, whether in the batter’s box or on the basepaths, where he was remarkably nimble for a man so solidly built.

But to me, none of that is what defines Baylor. The essence of Baylor was the pivot.

Don Baylor is No. 4 on the all-time hit-by-pitch list, and second among players whose career took place when the world was in color. Yet Baylor’s got a legitimate stake on the modern-day crown, given his higher rate of HBPs than Craig Biggio and the fact that Biggio’s post-19th century record was helped by PEDs (his enormous, space-age-fibered elbow guard was unquestionably a Plunking Enabling Device). And, most important, lil’ Craiggy didn’t perfect the pivot.

Of Baylor 267 career HBPs, an imaginary 86 percent were of the exact same type. The pitcher would deliver a fastball up and in, and Baylor would rotate his shoulder inward about three inches, allowing the ball to catch him on the soft space (to the extent Baylor’s body had any soft areas) on his upper back, while satisfying the rule mandating the batter try to get out the way while not actually doing anything to get himself out of the way. Baylor was as interested in getting out of the ball’s path as Pete Rose was of verifying the ages of his spring training conquests.

And after each plunking, Don would saunter down to first, no hesitation, no glares at the pitcher who just gifted him a base and absolutely no rubbing. The ball was the only participant in the exchange to suffer any damage.

No one took a hit by pitch like Baylor did, at least in my baseball-watching lifetime. And now that he’s gone, perhaps MLB can make it possible that no one ever has to.

The idea that batters need to make an attempt to get out of the way of inside pitches to earn an HBP has simply never made sense. It should be the pitcher’s responsibility to avoid hitting the batter, not the batter’s obligation to bail him out for his wildness.

It’s a simple change, and one that would be easier for the home plate ump to determine. If a pitch hits the batter on a ball that’s anywhere inside the vertical plane of the batter’s box, the batter gets first. And if the batter is hit anywhere outside the box, it’s simply a ball or strike, depending on the pitch’s location. C’mon Rob, don’t just be open to talking about considering the idea of a change. Do it for Don.

After that, then we can find a way to honor fellow weekend loss Darren Daulton, perhaps with a rule requiring at least one World Series participant per decade be comprised of oddballs, cranks and future felons.

TBtB: the Results

As revealed over at BTF, the name chosen as the new moniker for the San Francisco Giants is China Basin. You are cordially invited to use this in all future internet conversation.

  1. San Francisco Giants – China Basin
  2. Texas Rangers – The Ballpark in Arlington
  3. San Diego Padres – Mission Field
  4. Boston Red Sox –  Fenway Park
  5. Washington Nationals – Nationals Park
  6. Tampa Bay Rays – Suncoast Dome
  7. Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Park
  8. Seattle Mariners – Cascadia Field
  9. Pittsburgh Pirates – Allegheny Park
  10. Kansas City Royals – Kauffman Stadium
  11. New York Mets – Willets Point
  12. Los Angeles Angels – Autry Field
  13. St. Louis Cardinals – Busch Stadium
  14. Detroit Tigers – Tiger Field
  15. Miami Marlins – Fish Tank
  16. Cleveland Indians – Jacobs Field
  17. Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field
  18. New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium
  19. Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park
  20. Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards
  21. Colorado Rockies – Coors Field
  22. Houston Astros – Astrodome 2000
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks – Sonoran Grounds
  24. Minnesota Twins – Great Northern Park
  25. Cincinnati Reds – Riverfront Park
  26. Toronto Blue Jays – SkyDome
  27. Los Angeles Dodgers – Chavez Ravine
  28. Chicago White Sox – Sox Park
  29. Atlanta Braves –
  30. Oakland A’s –

TBtB: Texas Rangers

Part 2: Texas Rangers
The next stop on our cavalcade of taxpayer palaces is Arlington, the hyphen in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area. We’re going here next because the venue is in danger of soon meeting the wrecking ball, on account the old ballyard has already been hosting pro ball for more than two whole decades.
Among the very first of the retro parks, it was long known by the clunky The Ballpark in Arlington, a name that would fit nicely in front of a gated subdivision, a place the McMansions Suck woman would ridicule. The Chalets on Kensington. The Cottages of Red Hill. The Ballpark in Arlington. It has sported two other forgettable names before landing its current moniker, the even clunkier Globe Life Park in Arlington. All of the iterations have what must be a city-mandated “in Arlington” appendage. I doubt any makes the cut in our exercise.
However, coming up with a suitable replacement might be a little tricky, given the location. Arlington doesn’t have the rich history of a San Francisco, or even that of Dallas or Fort Worth. It’s a city that seemingly only exists to support pro sports teams and to employ Baseball Think Factory’s Bob Dernier. We may need to get a little more creative on this one, or at least extend our reach throughout the Metroplex.
Make your case for a new name below, and try to avoid any Cowboys references. Virtually the entire internet doesn’t like that, as far as I can tell.

Ballpark History

Built: 1994
Capacity:  48,114
Name: Globe Life Park in Arlington (previously: The Ballpark in Arlington Ameriplex Field in Arlington, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington)
Other Ballparks used by Club inCurrent City  Arlington Stadium (1972-1993)
Distinctive Features: The grassy hill in center that serves as batter’s eye, where teenagers scramble to retrieve homers blasted to straightaway center.
Ballpark Highlights:  In just the 54th game ever played there, Kenny Rogers threw a perfect game for the Rangers.
On June 12, 1997, Texas lefthander Darren Oliver delivered a pitch to San Francisco’s Darryl Hamilton, officially kicking off interleague play in Major League Baseball.
On July 1, 2006, Gary Matthews Jr. made one of the most incredible, and lucrative, catches in recent baseball history, robbing Houston’s Mike Lamb of a homer.
In 2010, in the 39th season of Texas baseball, Ranger fans finally got to witness a home postseason victory with a 7-2 win over the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Texas had lost its first seven home playoff games, including two in the team’s ALDS win over the Rays.

50 Shades of Gray Matter

I am troubled. Deeply troubled. On an almost-daily basis, I engage in self-destructive behavior. I know it’s not healthy for me. It doesn’t satisfy me, but still I can’t help myself. I’m powerless to control this insatiable demon.

I don’t know if there’s a support group for people with my addiction. So, this may be the closest I come.

My name is Dan. I am a Yahoomasochist.

Far too frequently, I defy every informed instinct I possess, and wade into the comments section of a frontpage story on Yahoo. Or, I’ll follow a not-so-helpful link from a friend into the deeper recesses of the internet, a place entirely void of any shred of humanity. The Deplorables website, for instance. I routinely check in on the Facebook updates of a former colleague who can only be described by the clinical term, batshit crazy.

I can’t say why I do it. Am I hopeful that this time, the assembled commentariat will surprise me with a lively and intelligent discussion? Or am I just looking for carnage, the accident on the opposite side of the interstate that I simply can’t avoid staring down.

In either case, the voyage only leaves me feeling angry, ill, or merely hopeless. It’s tempting to respond, as a few brave souls occasionally do, but their words of wisdom, logic or simple sanity are swept away by the tidal wave of horrific spelling, random capitalization and faulty logic. Oh, and the racism, sexism and all the other delightful isms.

Many of these commenters can only be described as professionally stupid. There’s simply no way one could reach that level of ignorance without actively working at it. This is not just obliviousness to fact and reason, but being introduced to the concepts and voluntarily and forcefully opting out.

But if they’re stupid, what does that make me? I’ve got to trudge up three flights of stairs (no elevator service here), just to reach breathtakingly moronic.

Please help.

Commenting is now open.

 

 

TBtB: Giants voting thread

 

We have selected four potential names as a replacement for the replacement for the replacement for PacBell Park, which, as corporate names go, wasn’t half-bad. They are listed below.

If you’d like to vote, you’ll need to visit Baseball Think Factory. Registration is pretty easy and painless, and your identity is secure if that’s important to you. My “handle” over there is or SoSH U at work.

Choose one of the four choices, then add in the full name you prefer. If you like Pacific, but think it should be Pacific Grounds, choose C, then write in the preferred full name.

Further debate on the merits of each choice will continue to take place in the nominating thread.

And, it should go without saying that we are restricting this to one vote per person. And, just so you know, I’ve got Kobach on speed dial and that SOB is just itching to dig up some irregularities.

  1. China Basin
  2. Golden Gate
  3. Pacific
  4. West Bay

What About Bobby?

Sometime in the recent past, before the Hall of Fame again modified its eras for Veterans Committee consideration, I sent a letter to a member of the previous screening committee. At the time, it was sent to the Expansion Era Committee, though that era is now called the Modern Baseball time frame, encompassing players whose peaks fell between 1970 and 1987.

I have no idea if that letter ever reached its intended target. So, what the hell, I’m going to repost it here, on the extraordinary off chance it finds one of the members of this crucial but overlooked Hall body. That group meets again this year, to put together the list of 10 names the voting committee will consider for Hall induction in 2018.

Dear xxx,

I’m writing to you based on your position on the Historical Overview Committee for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I believe you and your fellow committee members have an opportunity to review the case of a ballplayer from that era who badly warrants a fresh take on his career: Bobby Grich.

I was a baseball fan during Grich’s career. I remember when he signed with the Angels as one of the biggest names in that first free agent class. Neither an Orioles nor an Angels fan, I seemed to lose track of him after that. I don’t think I was alone.

So when I read, several years back, that Grich was a deserving Hall of Famer, I was stunned. It wasn’t until I gave him a second look that I realized the second baseman was not just a legitimate candidate for Cooperstown, but clearly worthy of joining the other all-time greats in the HoF.

Here we have a quality defensive infielder, who once joined Brooks Robinson and Mark Belanger to form perhaps the greatest infield defense ever assembled. The four Gold Gloves he won speak very clearly about his reputation with the leather.

But he wasn’t just a glove. He combined good patience with excellent power throughout his 17-year career. Sure, his batting average is a little low for a Hall of Famer, and almost certainly obscured his credentials when he first hit the ballot back in 1992. But we know better now that BA isn’t the most useful stat when determining a player’s offensive value. Grich’s lifetime on-base percentage of .371 and his slugging percentage of .424, compiled in an era before balls were flying over the fence at record rates, would be laudable for a leftfielder. For a second baseman with a great glove, they’re simply excellent.

A comparison with the premier second baseman of his day, Joe Morgan, illustrates this nicely. Sure, Grich comes up short across the board when compared to Little Joe, but his line of .266/.371/.424 in 8220 plate appearances is not that far behind Morgan’s .271/.392/.427 slash line, though Morgan’s career was obviously much longer. However, one doesn’t need to be as good as Joe Morgan to be a Hall of Fame second baseman, otherwise Cooperstown’s second base roster would run just three players deep. It’s possible that playing at pretty much the same time as an all-time great second sacker like Morgan further muted the perception of him. We saw that happen with Tim Raines, though Rock was fortunately able to escape Rickey’s considerable shadow in his last gasp with the BBWAA.

You may not be convinced that Grich is, in fact, Cooperstownian timber. I understand. What’s undeniable, however, is that he’s never really gotten a good look from the electorate. He was gone after just one vote. The candidacies of other players under your purview, such as Steve Garvey and Dave Parker, got 15 years of consideration from the BBWAA, and each time these fine players were found to be not quite good enough.

Your screening committee does incredibly important work. You have a chance to allow the historically overlooked to get a second look from a fresh set of eyes. No one deserves that fresh look more than Grich, a great player and respected professional who, through no fault of his own, fell through the cracks the first time he was eligible.

I hope when you set out to put together this year’s ballot for the committee, you take another hard look at the full career of Bobby Grich. I’m confident if you do you will find him quite worthy of a place on the ballot for the Modern Game Committee to fully examine.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

 

 

Dan Markham

 

Update: Obviously, my Grich push didn’t resonate, if it even reached the proper people. Grich, and equally qualified second sacker Lou Whitaker, were not included in the 10-person slate sent on to the Golden Era Veterans Committee. Hall-unworthies Garvey, Mattingly and Dave Parker were. It was quite disappointing.