Siberian Baseball

Sunday, August 31, 2008

New stuff at the site store

If you're looking for something a little different and would like to be walking free ad space for the site check out the Spreadshirt store (via the link in the right column or right here).

There are two new ones for fans of either the North or South Siders and are in handy long sleeve format which is just perfect for cool October nights.

They will also be somewhat warm if the Cubs break through with some post season success and hell freezes over as well.

For South Siders:

For North Siders:

Secondary highlights

Aside from the Red Sox pasting the White Sox for most of the weekend - 8-0 and 8-2 wins on Friday and Saturday, with a 4-2 loss Sunday - the highlights have to be Ozzie Guillen's comments following the Saturday night game.

After Dustin Pedroia wore out the White Sox pitchers for two days, Guillen was extra quotable after the game.

"I never thought I would walk a jockey," Guillen said. "I must be the worst manager ever in the history of baseball right now, walking a guy that just came from being on the top of Big Brown to beat the White Sox.

"Right now he's on a roll."

Pedroia was 4-for-4 with three runs and a walk on Friday and 4-for-4 with two runs and a walk from the clean up spot on Saturday, prompting Guillen's exceptional comments.

Then again, good ink seems to follow Pedroia lately, including a feature story on him in ESPN the Magazine that focused on his constant jawing at opponents and oddball behavior in the clubhouse.

The title? 170 Pounds of Mouth. You really have to respect a man who Manny Ramirez thinks is crazy. I don't quite know why, but you do.

(Image from:

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, it's here. No what?

It's official - instant replay has officially arrived for Major League Baseball. How long before these clowns screw something up?

From now on, home run calls -- and only home run calls -- can be reviewed to determine whether or not a ball was over the fence, fair or foul, or subject to fan interference.

Which is precisely where the command center comes in. When an umpire crew chief decides that a potential home run might benefit from a peek at instant replay, he will head to a replay kiosk constructed in a separate location at every ballpark. There, the crew chief will communicate with one of MLB Advanced Media's replay engineers, who will guide him through as many available replay angles as he desires.

OK, let's see if I have this right:

* In a game criticized for being "too slow" they are now going to allow umpires to stop play and review video.

* That video won't be on site - instead, it will come from a tech compound several states away.

* The league itself isn't very sure that they are up to the task.


"It needs to be instantaneous," said Bob Bowman, president and CEO of, a subsidiary of MLB Advanced Media. "Taking a live feed and redistributing that is one thing, but taking a live feed, cutting it, slicing it, dicing it and sending it back to the park so an umpire can see it -- all in a relatively short period of time -- is frankly a skill set that we needed to develop."

Points for honesty, not so much for practicality.

I'll be a good soldier here and wait and see what happens, but several things trouble me:

* The league says this is it as far as replay goes. That's a load of crap. This is as far as it goes until they can prop it up as a successful venture. Then, they will use it as a test case to expand "just to close tags" or "just as long as it puts the Yankees and/or Red Sox into the playoffs.

* This isn't football - time matters in baseball. Part of the excitement of a late-inning homer in a close game (especially in October) is knowing that the other team's closer isn't ready to go yet. Sure, managers stall and the poor sap on the mound preens and waits and tries to give the bullpen more time, but eventually they have to pitch after giving up a backbreaking bomb. MLB hopes the replay process will take 2 1/2 minutes - how long do you think Mo Rivera needs to get ready? What about Bobby Jenks?

* I swear that I'm not going to play the "tradition" card here. I'm not that breed of fan who tries to place the honor of the game above all else. But again, this isn't football. Teams, players and fans have been at the mercy of the umpires for as long as there have been games. By now, it's part of the strategy - it's worth a manager's time to brush up on the evening's plate umpire, just as it's worth their time to brush up on the starting pitcher. Bottom line, the umps have been 300 feet away since the 1880s - a few missed calls weren't the end of the world.

* If the replays are coming from the networks, good luck. Even with the advent of HD, it's not very easy to see where the ball is or where it's going. They zoom and pan and try to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but it's really never that great. I have a bad feeling that there will be a day in the near future that will feature two umpires squinting at the screen, knowing that they stopped the game and that the clock is ticking and will have the same thought, "Crap, I can't see a damn thing."

* Out of every time that you have seen the announcers break down a fair/foul call, how many of those have fallen into the "definitive proof" category? Sixty percent? Sixty five?

* I don't trust the commissioner. I think he's an idiot caretaker. There, I said it.

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

It's hard to argue with the man on that

Regardless of your political leanings - and if we can't escape stupid political discussions in the realm of baseball, where can we retreat to? - it's hard to argue with Barack Obama when he speaks on the state of Chicago baseball.

From the recent ESPN interview, via the Chicago Tribune:

"I'm not one of these fair weather fans,'' the junior senator from Illinois and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party explained. "You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball. Southside."

It's hard to argue with that assessment (even as a Cubs fan) and it shows that a.) Obama's staff has done a wonderful job of prepping their candidate to have that everyman finish or b.) Obama has been to a game at each park in the past few years and understands what's happening beyond the security detail's perimeter.

(While John McCain has been seen at several Diamondbacks games in his home state, my money says he pores over the box scores every morning trying to find results from the last Cleveland Spiders game.)

Rich Daley must be fuming this morning when he realizes that he's on the cusp of losing his "most powerful White Sox fan" title. I expect Obama's entire motorcade to get the Denver boot on his next trip home.

(Image from:


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

John Challis 1990-2008

John Challis died Tuesday afternoon after battling cancer and spreading his message of optimism and the joys in life as his story spread through MLB and professional sports in general.

From the Post Gazette obituary:

When asked a few weeks ago how he would like to be remembered, John said, "I could see people having some beers and hopefully remembering how I always tried my best, no matter what I was doing. That's my message just for people to always do their best, no matter what they're doing or how stupid it might seem. And no matter what, there will always be a reward, no matter how small it is."

The web site for John's foundation is Donations can be made through the web site.

(Image from:


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pop goes the tissue

Joel Zumaya was pretty sure his career was finished when he felt a pop Tuesday night, but at least people saw this injury happen and he won't have to endure jeering about his Guitar Hero skills this time around.

According to the Detroit Free Press (via Ballhype user The World of Isaac):

"It felt like my arm exploded, and I thought my career was completely over," he said.

A postgame medical exam disclosed that what Zumaya felt was the breaking loose of scar tissue from his shoulder operation last fall.

While hardly career-threatening, it's a problem that prevents him from pitching effectively and freely -- at least now.

Well, that's better, though not necessarily if you are in affiliated with the Tigers as a fan, teammate or in any other capacity.

Just 9.5 games back in the AL Central, 11 in the Wild Card, Tiger fans!

(Image from:


Friday, August 08, 2008

Brains and thoughts

From the always outstanding Palehose 8.


Baseball, a game of tradtion

Without launching into a long-winded diatribe - my favorite kind! - it's worth noting that today marks the 20th anniversary of the first scheduled night game at Wrigley Field.

After the first attempt to electrify Wrigley was stymied by that pesky world war in the 40s, when steel was required by the war effort and the Cubs passed on adding lighting, Chicago tried again in 1988. Opposing to the end of an era, some fans protested the addition of lights and neighbors wondered what would happen when the bleacher creatures were set loose on the area after dark.

After the first game on 8/8/88 was rained out, the first night game at Clark and Addison was completed the next day and the earth failed to spin into the sun.

It's just something worth keeping in mind when the arguments flare up over the traditions in the game that purists hold dear, be it the use of body armor at the plate or putting Spiderman's face on the bags.

For Cub fans, the lesson can also be applied to proposed changes to their favorite ballpark, from adding logos to the outfield walls to cleaning the urinals for the first time since man first walked on the moon.

Twenty years later, we have the team's manager making public comments about the need for less day games to help keep his players fresh. So much for sentimentality.

(Image from:

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Charlie Hough returns to White Sox

Taking a page from Brett Favre's playbook, knuckleballer Charlie Hough has decided he isn't quite ready for the links yet, announcing his return to the Chicago White Sox.

After pitching his last game in 1994 as a Florida Marlin at age 46, he's announced via his agent that knuckleball pitchers could easily pitch indefinitely, as the pitch requires very little arm strength.

Mark Buehrle was on hand before yesterday's game to welcome the former Sox hurler back to the fold.

(Actually, this is for a show heading to the United Center this week. From the actual caption: White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle hands the ball to "Baby T-Rex," a person in a dinosaur costume promoting "Walking with Dinosaurs," a show coming to the United Center.)

(Image from: Charles Cherney of the Chicago Tribune)


Monday, August 04, 2008

What Hawk Harrelson knows

The Chicago Sun-Times runs a feature called, "This much I know," where they interview people and publish the list of quick hits.

I guess it was morbid curiosity when I clicked the link for Hawk Harrelson and stumbled across pure gold.

For instance, he's an announcer because he sucks at golf. That probably explains why he's such a first cut rate announcer - he'd rather be doing something else, instead.

Also from the goldmine that is Harrelson's mind:

I was the White Sox general manager in 1986. I can tell you being a general manager is the worst job in baseball. No question about it.

It might just be that the Hawk was one of the worst at the job. I have an army of Sox fans who are behind me on this one.

Lou Piniella is one of my dear friends. I just want to kick his ass.

I would love to see the line on a Harrelson/Piniella fight.

Up until '05, I never really realized the difference of winning a World Series to losing a World Series. My wife asked me which was better, '67 or '05. I got to tell you, it's '05. The difference is immense.

I've never even been to a World Series game and I'm pretty sure I grasp that concept.

(Image from:

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Uncle Lou must drive like an old lady

The Cubs have traditionally played day baseball at Wrigley Field (duh) but the team has been limited in the number of night games it plays by a standing ordinance in Chicago that was designed to lessen the impact on the neighbors.

Twenty years later, there's a healthy bar district surrounding the park and a general circus atmosphere on most warm evenings, so the Cubs are hoping to expand those night games to include Fridays and Saturdays.

The team cites late travel on Thursday nights - get away days that end weekday series - as a big reason to allow Friday evening games. The funny thing is that instead of mentioning far-flung ballparks in San Diego or Miami, the first games that sprung to Lou Piniella's mind was last week's series in Milwaukee.

"A good example is Friday," Piniella said. "We had an afternoon game in Milwaukee on Thursday, and we get in late and have a day game on Friday."

Exactly how slowly does the Cubs' charter bus travel? Did they walk part of the way? Did the rookies start to get fussy and force Lou to pull the bus over for bathroom breaks and a half hour at the McDonald's playland in Kenosha?

I can't see this request being a big deal, save for one factor - the big money in play by releasing fans into Wrigleyville at 4 p.m. on a sunny Friday, where they continue to drink and pop the collars on their polo shirts.

If I'm a bar owner in the neighborhood, I'm not a big fan of losing roughly 5 hours of prime drinking time, especially when everyone leaves the park primed for a party. When strange things start to happen in the request process, it's not a stretch to assume that the bars are stepping in.

* Mark Cuban appears to be a frontrunner in the race to buy the Cubs. Not worth an entire post, but worth keeping an eye on.

The final five are:

Real estate executive Hersch Klaff and media investor Leo Hindery are among the five groups Tribune Co. approved to continue bidding on the Chicago Cubs baseball team, sources briefed on the matter said.

The other three approved bidders are Internet billionaire Mark Cuban; Tom Ricketts, chief executive of Chicago securities and investment bank Incapital LLC and son of the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.; and Michael Tokarz, chairman of MVC Capital Inc., two sources said. Both requested anonymity because the sale process is ongoing.

While each bid is over $1 billion, it's a bidding process to buy a license to print money. I don't care what Bud Selig says, it's virtually impossible to lose money while running the Chicago Cubs.

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Did Manny really beg to stay?

It's a ritual of the summer that even the least observant baseball fans can't help but notice.

Fourth of July fireworks, sales on grills and charcoal and Manny Ramirez publicly expressing his displeasure with team management. To be honest, I was a little shocked that the Red Sox actually traded the guy this time around - that's not how this little dance was supposed to go.

Don't get me wrong, I think it was a solid decision at the core and Jason Bay showing up to play every game has to even the scales out versus Ramirez deciding when he wants to play and when he wants to sit by using excuses not seen since grammar school with a geography quiz looming.

I read this week that in the last go-round, where Ramirez sat in Seattle, he would have been fine, except he couldn't remember which knee he claimed to have injured.

Rookie mistake.

I just wanted to point everyone over to this strange little article from (link via Deadspin) that claims Ramirez had his agent contact the Red Sox at the last minute to try and nix the trade. Once the team option had been dropped - making Ramirez an unrestricted free agent this offseason - he had hoped to return to the Red Sox with those conditions in place.

Here's where Sawx fans are free to get angry:

If the Sox dropped the option years on his contract - which they had agreed to do if they traded him - Boras said Ramírez would not be a problem the rest of the season.

Other tidbits of note:

* This quote from Theo Epstein, which is notable because of the use of past tense in describing Ramirez's career. Not his career in Boston, his career. I could be wrong, but he doesn't seem to draw the distinction:

"[Ramírez] had a remarkable run here," Epstein said after asserting he would not engage in finger-pointing at one player. "His whole career was remarkable. He is one of the best righthanded hitters in history, and no one can ever take that away from him."

* David Ortiz is not happy with the move. Definitely worth keeping an eye on this, especially if the lineup can't find a way to protect him without another power hitter batting behind him.

* John Henry was in the "Keep Manny, he's too good a player" camp, but ultimately chose to trust the team that brought two championships to Boston.

* Jason Varitek being a good soldier and talking about closure and the need for the team to move on.

(Image taken for Siberian Baseball)