Re-writing baseball's birthplace

No, not talking asterisks here. I’m talking ’bout the earliest known reference to a game called “base ball”, found in England, of all places, in 1755. Big deal? I could care less where the game came from, personally, but it’s interesting for the sake of history, I guess.

Julian Pooley, the manager of the Surrey History Centre, said Thursday he has authenticated a reference to baseball in a diary by English lawyer William Bray dating back to 1755 — about 50 years before what was previously believed to have been the first known reference to what became the American pastime.

The entry reads:

“Easter Monday 31 March 1755

“Went to Stoke Ch. This morning. After Dinner Went to Miss Jeale’s to play at Base Ball with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford & H. Parsons & Jelly. Drank Tea and stayed till 8.”

Playing baseball with 6 women? Could this “Base Ball” mean, I dunno, something else?

Continue reading Re-writing baseball's birthplace

Looking East

Back in May and even before the season began, I began to take an interest in the Japanese phenom Yu Darvish. Turns out, he’s being watched by the Yanks (and presumably every other team):

Even though previous reports on Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish weren’t glowing, the Yankees are taking a second look at the 21-year-old.

Billy Eppler, the Yankees’ head of professional scouting, and scout Gene Michael are in Japan, to see Darvish, who pitches for the Nippon Ham Fighters. The club isn’t expected to post Darvish, but if it does the Yankees want to be in a position to judge if they make a bid for him. The Yankees aren’t interested in Junichi Tazawa, the top amateur pitcher in Japan. MLB and Japanese clubs have a loose agreement not to go after each other’s amateurs, but a few MLB teams are prepared to ignore the agreement for the 22-year-old right-hander.

I’m not sure why the Yanks aren’t interested in Tazawa, unless their Irabu and Igawa experiences have sullied their outlook on Japanese pitchers. But this kid is 22. He might be worth approaching.

UPDATE (9/11/08, 3:30pm): Just came across this, relevant to the info above:

Right-hander Junichi Tazawa, who helped Nippon Oil to its first title in 13 years at the national corporate baseball tournament that ended Tuesday, will try to sign with a major league club without playing in Japan, baseball sources said Wednesday.

The highly unusual news came as a shock as the 22-year-old Tazawa was expected to draw the spotlight as the key figure in the first round of this year’s autumn amateur draft in Japanese baseball.

Major league clubs, including the Boston Red Sox, appear to be interested in Tazawa. The right-hander throws a fastball over 150 kilometers per hour and also has a forkball and slider in his arsenal. Tazawa pitched in all five games of the national tournament, posting four wins to help lead Nippon Oil to its ninth overall crown and was named the tournament MVP.

Continue reading Looking East

Reader mailbag: Tadthebad reflects on 9/11

A few weeks back, I posted a challenge to my readers: Contribute $100 or more to either the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides” or Jimmy Fund/Dana-Farber and you could post anything you want here. And that challenge still stands; if you contribute $100 or more, I will post anything (safe for work) you wish.

One reader, tadthebad, took me up on the challenge. Tad also was the source of the Jimmy Fund info for me. After many emails prodding him, today he sent me his posting, inspired by my message earlier this morning. With that as background, here is Tad’s posting, unedited:

Select View Full Post to continue reading.

Continue reading Reader mailbag: Tadthebad reflects on 9/11

A pause

Guys, I’m taking a pause this morning. I’m not an overly philosophical person, but this day always gives me pause. I was in NYC this day seven years ago. I watched the police and fire scream the wrong way down Third Avenue. I saw the smoke in the distance. I feared for friends working downtown. I feared that my father was down there, too. I remember the sickly feeling of being on one of the first trains out of Grand Central Station later that day, sitting staring blindly out the windows in disbelief. I will never forget the people sitting near me, covered and caked in this white dust, the debris from the Towers. The vacant look in their eyes. I have never heard a more scary quiet moment in my life. I hope I never will again. I remember finally getting home to my crying wife and my son, just a year and a half old at the time, holding them with all the thanks in the world, scared that the world as we knew it has ended.

This morning, I’m taking a break. I’ll pick it back up later. I hope you understand.

Continue reading A pause

Another look behind the Yanks curtains

This is a long one, but a sober, somber, honest view into the Yanks ownership and the transition from George to Hank & Hal. It’s a view worth taking a look at. And worth noting how it seems that Hal is really the one slowly coming to power while Hank remains the loudmouth that people are ignoring more and more.

Hal has slowly become more visible, allowing himself to be caught by reporters for short interviews while exiting Girardi’s office. “Hank doesn’t want to be there, but Hal does,” says a person who’s done business with the family. “And he’s not gonna want to share that limelight.”

And regarding Cashman and his quest for continued power, if he returns:
Of course, another possibility is more hot air. “Randy and Brian have put together a very functional leadership group,” says one prominent baseball agent. “Hank and Hal are more of an aggravation than anything. I don’t think Brian would be there after all these years if he couldn’t really run the club.” If the brothers decide to bring back Cashman, they will essentially be relegating themselves to figureheads.

Love the Yanks or hate ’em, it’s a compelling read about one of the most influential owners in MLB history and the transition to the next generation, however unwilling they might be/have been.

Continue reading Another look behind the Yanks curtains

Sabathia's being abused, sort of

For those of you with a real head for the stats and love data, this one’s for you.

CC Sabathia has been on a tear since joining the Brewers just before the All-Star break. Okay, you knew that already. Brewers manager Ned Yost has worked Sabathia hard with a 130-pitch game, two other games over 120 pitches and all but two games over 100 pitches in a Brewers uniform. This has shot Sabathia up the list of most abused pitchers and he recently overtook Tim Lincecum(!) for the top spot.

For the rest of you, here is the simple conclusion:

In 2007, CC Sabathia threw many more innings than he had previously and didn’t appear to suffer down the stretch. So far in 2008, Sabathia not only has thrown a good many innings but has had several high pitch counts as a member of
the Brewers. While there might be a hint at a short-term drop in velocity after a very high-pitch-count game, Sabathia has quickly recovered after that.

The Brewers have been playing rather poorly lately and probably will be leaning on Sabathia hard to make the playoffs. While I am not saying that Yost should let Sabathia throw 130 pitches every time out, there it does appear that
Sabathia’s stuff doesn’t take too big a hit when he does. If I am a GM trying to woo Sabathia in the of season, these large pitch counts would not bother me much. Sabathia has had no arm injuries and it appears that if used reasonably he can be a horse who carries a team on the days he pitches.

So there’s a full dissertation that Sabathia has been overworked, but the conclusion is that he’s a horse and should be able to withstand the beating. Got it? Good. Continue reading Sabathia's being abused, sort of

Can Schilling just go away?

Note to Schilling: We’re not all bitter and miserable.

Schilling ripped New Yorkers for reveling in the season-ending injury to Tom Brady – and then rubbed buckets of salt in the wounds of Yankees’ fans in a nasty Boston radio appearance.

The Yankees suck this year, and they’re bitter and mad and they’re making excuses over that,” the over-opinionated Schilling said on WEEI-AM.

The Yanks DO suck this year. I’m not making excuses. They had a great run last year to make it when I didn’t think they had it in them. This year, not so much.

I just wish McGwire would invite Schilling into his little fortress of solitude and disappear. Continue reading Can Schilling just go away?

Crank the hype machine

Uh oh, the hype machine’s gonna be working overtime today as Alfredo Aceves debuted last night, going 7 innings against the Angels for the win. The story on this kid is pretty neat, making it from A ball to last night’s win, all this year. He’s not as young as many other prospects at age 25, but he’s really blossomed this year.

“He told me he was going to give me seven [innings], so I guess I have to listen to him more often,” Girardi said. “He faced a tough lineup tonight but he threw a lot of strikes, he was ahead in the count all day and he was putting the ball where he wanted to.”

Let’s wait to annoint him, though. Remember where Kennedy was last September…? Continue reading Crank the hype machine

This is not news

Sorry folks, just because ARod said this doesn’t make it news-worthy.

A-Rod’s slip of tongue: Yanks done
Even Alex Rodriguez seems to have realized that the Yankees are not playoff-bound. After a 5-2 loss to the Mariners Sunday knocked them into fourth place in the American League East, behind the Rays, Red Sox and now the Blue Jays, Rodriguez was asked about being passed by Toronto. “Toronto’s playing really well,” he said. “I’ll tell you what, a lot of people should be happy they’re not in the playoff race, because they’d be the scariest team, with the 1-2 punch they’ve got over there with Halladay and Burnett.” But, Alex, if the Blue Jays are ahead of your team, and they’re not in the playoff mix, what does that mean about your chances to make the playoffs?

Continue reading This is not news