Men like Hugh Alexander, baseball men will tell you, are the bedrock of the sport. Alexander was a baseball lifer, a superscout near the top of the Philadelphia Phillies hierarchy, considered one of the best organizations in baseball during the 1980s, at the twilight of Alexander’s career. A widely syndicated 1983 story by Philadelphia writer Bill Conlin said Alexander, then 66 and a part of the baseball world for half a century, “personified baseball.” He was, as Conlin wrote, “a man with a face from a Saturday Evening Post cover by Norman Rockwell, a sage who speaks the earthy poetry of his game and his time from a yeasty treasure trove of reminiscence.”
Posted by Jack Moore under Primary Sources on Apr 18, 2014
Posted by Jack Moore under Boston Red Sox, John Farrell, Play of the Week on Apr 15, 2014
At this point, it is clear that Major League Baseball’s new replay system leaves something to be desired. This weekend’s Yankees-Red Sox series saw an odd play in which Yankees shortstop Dean Anna was obviously tagged out at second base per the replays played on the Fox Sports 1 broadcast. However, MLB replay headquarters either didn’t have the same angles as the broadcast or they flat-out missed the call, as the play was upheld after replay.
The next night, the Red Sox were on the losing of end of a rightly-overturned call at first base. Farrell came out to argue the overturned call and was promptly tossed from the game — arguing a replay occupies the same space as arguing balls and strikes, and Farrell must have known he was cruising towards a tossing.
The imperfections in the replay system are worth noting, and must be fixed before it can be considered a success. But it was striking, as I watched Farrell scream his lungs out at the umpiring crew: I hadn’t seen a manager lose his mind at the umpires yet this year, two weeks into the season.
Posted by Jack Moore under Moneymoneymoney, Primary Sources on Apr 11, 2014
San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, according to a 1986 United Press International report, was the “pot at the end of the rainbow” for baseball scouts. The city of 123,000 had produced 270 major leaguers over the past 15 years, including 21 on rosters for the 1986 season.
“They’re hungry,” Dodger vice-president Al Campanis told UPI reporter Aurelio Rojas. “They have fairly good builds. They want to get fame and acclaim and money to eat and in that country that means being an entertainer, prize fighting or baseball.”
The year prior, then-White Sox manager Tony La Russa discussed the rise of Latin American talent with Peter Gammons, then with the Boston Globe. “It’s in a Latin kid’s blood,” La Russa said. “That’s why I believe that if you give a young Latin player the time to fully adjust to the culture — on and off the field — you’ll have someone who’s easier to manage than the American stars.”
Posted by Jack Moore under Play of the Week, Umpires on Apr 07, 2014
Plenty of words and pixels have been devoted to Major League Baseball’s new instant replay system. Whether you think of it as the game’s savior or as merely another stepping stone to a dull, anti-septic, technocratic future, it is here to stay, and debating its worthiness is pretty played out already one week into the season.
Instead, let’s talk about an overlooked and perhaps even unexpected aspect of the replay system: the strategic knowledge of managers will be tested in a big way.
Posted by Jack Moore under Primary Sources, Ryan Braun on Apr 04, 2014
Dr. Lawrence A. Golding was one of the first academic voices in the discourse of drugs in sports. Golding, now retired, owned the title of “Distinguished Professor” at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’s Department of Kinesiology. Before that, from 1958 through 1976, Golding was at Kent State University, where he became Director of the Applied Physiology Research Laboratory and performed a number of experiments and interviews aimed at figuring out exactly what drugs — like amphetamines and steroids — do to an athlete’s body.
Golding was a pioneer. Steroids and performance enhancing drugs were a peripheral issue at best in the sports world at this team, and most of the focus was on international competitions like the Olympics. Few had thought about the issue at all, much less applied scientific principles to it.
Consider the May 1973 headline “Physicians Differ On Use Of Cocaine For Injuries,” part of a series on sports and drugs by Newsday’s Sandy Padwe. “Some doctors say it would be a good drug for an athlete to use if he were competing with minor injuries,” Padwe wrote. “Other physicians say an athlete using cocaine wouldn’t have the body control he needs.” It seems safe to say our drug discourse has changed over the past 40 years.
Posted by Jack Moore under Montreal Memories, Play of the Week on Apr 01, 2014
When I decided to buy a ticket to this past weekend’s exhibition games at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, I wasn’t expecting to get much out of the actual baseball. Spring training baseball is never about the baseball, and I expected that to be the same in Quebec as it is in Arizona.
But everybody, even the foreigners like myself, could tell as we filed into the stadium and the sections deep into the outfield and deep into the top deck filled up that this was a little more than an exhibition game. By the middle of the first inning most of the 45,000 fans in attendance were parked in their seats. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this game counted.
Posted by Jack Moore under Primary Sources on Mar 28, 2014
Wednesday’s ruling from the National Labor Review Board granting Northwestern University football players the right to form a union as employees may be the biggest sports story of the new Millennium. ESPN legal analyst Lester Munson called it a “a historic first step in a process that, together with litigation against the NCAA and legislation in Congress, could change the face of college sports.” The Nation’s Dave Zirin wrote “the established order in the sports world has been shaken to its foundation.”
If there is an analog to the NLRB decision in baseball history, it comes in 1976, when MLB arbitrator Peter Seitz granted free agent status to pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. This was the final blow struck to defeat the reserve clause. The ruling left every major league player yet to sign a contract in 1976 eligible for free agency by the end of the season; those who had signed could be reserved one final time in 1977 before becoming free agents. Essentially, the whole league hit the free market at once, the exact kind of chaotic situation necessary to force real change.