The Economist examines the cult of the genius GM.
In sports, just like the rest of life, the rich keep getting richer. Anyone who saw or read Moneyball knows that the deck is stacked against small-market Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. Their only hope of competing, Michael Lewis’s story goes, is to acquire brilliant, innovative general managers (GMs) like his protagonist Billy Beane, who have mastered the “art of winning an unfair game” by outmaneuvering wealthier clubs. The problem with this narrative is that there is nothing to stop the sport’s plutocrats from hiring the finest minds money can buy, just as they sign the best athletes.The deep-pocketed Dodgers have lured away small market Tampa Bay's heralded GM Andrew Friedman to find out what happens when a man who consistently builds winners with one of the smallest revenue streams in the game can do with a payroll in excess of $200 million.
Vin Scully: voice of the Dodgers for 64 years "My idea is that I'm sitting next to the listener in the ballpark, and we're just watching the game," Scully says. "Sometimes, our conversation leaves the game. It might be a little bit about the weather we're enduring or enjoying. It might be personal relationships, which would involve a player. The game is just one long conversation and I'm anticipating that, and I will say things like ‘Did you know that?' or ‘You're probably wondering why.' I'm really just conversing rather than just doing play-by-play. I never thought of myself as having a style. I don't use key words. And the best thing I do? I shut up."
Escape from Cuba: Yasiel Puig's Untold Journey to the Dodgers
For close to a year Puig had been trying to force an answer, to extract himself from Fidel Castro’s state-run sports machine, which paid him $17 a month, and sneak across the tropics to a mythical north, where even benchwarmers lived like kings. Two, three, four times, maybe more, he had risked everything and fled, only to be detained by the Cuban authorities or intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard—each failure making the next attempt more urgent. Finally, in June 2012, the 21-year-old outfielder left his home in Cienfuegos, on Cuba’s southern shore, and set off by car for the northern province of Matanzas, just 90 miles from Florida. He was traveling with three companions: a boxer, a pinup girl, and a Santeria priest, the latter of whom blessed their expedition with a splash of rum and a sprinkle of chicken blood.
Yo Dodger Blue (L.A. Loves You) (SLYT) "It's no surprise [Harry] Nilsson was a Dodger fan. They were both Brooklyn born, and both eventually relocated to Los Angeles. In the late 80s and early 90s, when Harry was doing little in terms of his "career," he was still actively writing songs and still coming up with ideas like this to amuse his creativity. These unreleased recordings probably come from 1990. The first version is a studio recording (musicians unknown) while the second version comes from KABC in Los Angeles, where Harry personally showed up to premiere the sing along. It's a catchy, rousing stadium chant that coulda/shoulda worked, though it was never officially adopted by the team." Links to both downloadable versions can be found at the blog For The Love of Harry Nillson. (via) [more inside]
Today is the 85th birthday of Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully. He will be returning next year for his unprecedented 64th season calling games for the Dodgers, in a career reaching back to the team's Brooklyn days and their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The New York Yankees tried to pry him away in the 1960s, but he remained with the team and has become an LA institution. In the 21st Century, he has inspired blog names and tattoos and even dabbled in the online world himself during a game last season -- as an experiment, he asked fans to get a topic trending on Twitter about Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis, "a nice boy." Later in the broadcast he announced sheepishly that Ellis was trending across the U.S. This coming Monday, he will be taking over the team's Twitter feed to answer questions -- tag your tweets #askvin. [more inside]
Happy birthday to Nancy Bea Hefley, the LA Dodgers stadium organist since 1988!
Hard decision as to what link to provide, but Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher whose single for the New York Mets in the 1986 World Series touched off one of the most improbable rallies in postseason history, died Thursday. He was 57. You'll be remembered, Kid.
If you are an East Coast baseball fan, there are two reasons to stay up past your bed time: 1) Your local nine are on a West Coast road swing 2) To indulge in one of the true joys of baseball: Listening to Vin Scully call a baseball game. In the October edition of GQ, Scully looks back on some of his most memorable calls, in a career that started in 1950 when the Dodgers called Brooklyn home. If reading Scully's recollections isn't enough for you, The website includes audio of the calls in question. [more inside]
Ralph Branca's story now manages to combine baseball, tragedy, genealogy, Judaism and the Nazis
Where have you gone, Delino DeShields? Seven years ago, Delino DeShields was released by the Chicago Cubs, ending a 13-year, 5-team journey through Major League Baseball during which he earned almost $29 million. He's now the hitting coach for the Billings Mustangs in the rookie-level Pioneer League, making as much money for the season as he used to make per game. The Washington Post goes to Montana to find out why. [more inside]
Torre's Stories. As part of their ever-expanding blog empire, Major League Baseball has invited Joe Torre to take up the noble habit of blogging. He joins the likes of Kevin Slowey, Bengie Molina, and Mark DeRosa as guys who apparently have time to blog between games. [more inside]
Twenty-five years ago today, after a 1-0 loss to the Dodgers, Chicago Cubs manager Lee Elia held a press conference. (SLYT/NSFW)
Blue Heaven: a tribute to Dodgertown. [ESPN link via]. Dodgertown in Vero Beach, FL became the spring training headquarters for the Dodgers and their many minor league teams in 1948. The site, which prepares the Dodger major and minor league clubs for the season, is being abandoned by the Dodgers for presumably less green pastures in Arizona. Voiceover narration is a bit maudlin, but the photographs are excellent.
"We're offering a fan amenity. Fans can elect to choose it or not choose it. We are offering basic ballpark fare that most fans enjoy." An all-you-can eat section at the Dodger stadium for the coming baseball season. Quintessentially American.