Chibi Ichiro!

I believe this is supposed

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to be a comprehensive review of Ichiro’s career:

Perhaps he should think about adopting the ankle-length blue hair seen in this video as his real-life hairstyle…but I have a feeling that if anyone’s going to do that, it’s going to be Brian Wilson.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 8

5:05 — “My 29” is using the FSN graphics package, which isn’t particularly unusual, but their graphics seem to be making more noise than they currently do on FSN. Guess that’s part of the MyNetwork attitude.
5:10 — They’re not booing in Houston, they’re saying “Luke,” as in Scott, who just hit a 2-run home run.
5:16 — The Astros announcers mention that Brad Ausmus is a news junkie, and suggest that while his teammates are watching “Sportscenter,” he’s watching C-SPAN or CNBC. I’m sure Fox management sent out a quick memo with a suggestion of their own about which network should have been named there.
5:27 — A commercial for a concept I haven’t thought about for a while: Perkins restaurants.
5:35 — Watching the Pirates is making me hungry for pierogies for dinner. Good thing I have some in the freezer for just such an emergency.
5:49 — Waiting for the pierogies to thaw in boiling water, I switch to the A’s-Mariners game just to see it end, on a fly ball to Ichiro in center field.
5:50 — Meanwhile, the Pirates and Astros are already in the top of the 8th, so it’s a pretty speedy game.
5:58 — Yes, it’s sad when ballpark prices for food and souvenirs are so high that families are forced to choose one or the other, but kids are always ready to improvise.

Opening Day 2007: Hour 6

3:09 — NESN does an in-game promo for the Boston Globe’s online store without mentioning the actual web address. Guess everyone in New England is supposed to know already.
3:15 — My afternoon snack is Pringles Select potato chips. Yes, upscale Pringles that come in a bag. Now that they’ve had Lays in a can for a while now, I guess the reverse was inevitable.
3:18 — Some company is donating $100 to a food bank for every Rockies home run. It’d be a little more charitable if they were making a donation for every run, period.
3:23 — The wind suddenly kicks up at Coors Field and hot dog wrappers start blowing around, which allows the announcers to awkwardly transition to offering their best wishes to people affected by a recent tornado in Colorado.
3:26 — Okay, NESN does the “scorecard” graphics, too, like TBS. So they’re partially forgiven for their score bar.

3:30Oakland A’s at Seattle Mariners (FSN Northwest)
At last, another game starts.
3:34 — Listen, whoever was responsible for this FSN promo, you need either the dollar sign or the word “dollars.” This says “six million dollars dollars.”

3:42 — Wow, it’s a new rule that batters are supposed to keep one foot in the batter’s box when they take a time out. I predict that this rule won’t be enforced very vigilantly.
3:53 — Looking forward to the new Belle and Sebastian song “Piazza, Oakland DH.” He strikes out in his first appearance as such.

Twins, not in Minnesota but in Seattle

Levi’s clearly been too busy picking apples and hanging out with supermodels to post Bill James excerpts recently (and he’s probably had to return the book to the library by now), but as usual, I’m here to pick up the slack. As he threatened in one of the comments here, my father sent me his Bill James book collection, which consists of the Baseball Abstracts for 1984 through 1988 and The Baseball Book 1990. I’ve been flipping through the 1984 book today, and while the sabermetrics have been making my eyes glaze over, the introductory essays are very amusing. Take the Seattle Mariners, for example…

Whew! Am I glad O’Brien’s gone! Danny O’Brien had been conducting for three years a dastardly campaign to confuse the sportswriters and sports fans of this country, to render them utterly and hopelessly unable to keep straight who his players were. The Mariners had playing for them at the start of 1983 a double-play combination of Cruz and Cruz, Julio Cruz and Todd Cruz. He dispatched both of them in midseason, sending them (suspiciously) to the two teams which were on their way into the playoffs, causing further identification problems for anybody who might have trouble keeping them straight. The two best hitters on the team were two outfielders named Henderson, Dave Henderson and Steve Henderson. In addition to a “Todd” Cruz and a “Julio” Cruz, or “Steve” Henderson and a “Dave” Henderson, he had on his roster in 1983 a “Rod” Allen and a “Jamie” Allen, a “Jamie” Nelson, a “Rickey” Nelson, and a “Gene” Nelson. His roster included an inordinate number of people with names like “Moore,” “Clark,” “Thomas,” “Putnam,” and “Reynolds” and enough people named Bill, Bob, Jim, Dave, and Rickey to staff the reunion shows of “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Leave It to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” “My Three Sons,” and “Lost in Space.”

Further, the Baseball Abstract staff of investigative reporters has now uncovered evidence that many of these people were, in fact, not major league baseball players at all, but hired “ringers” or “rhymers,” as they are called, imported specifically to confuse the public. An unnamed source has told us that, as recently as August of 1981, eleven members of the 1983 Seattle Mariners were working in the tobacco industry. Investigator Paula Fastwon in Strawberry Hill, North Carolina, found this advertisement in the help-wanted section of the August 17, 1981 edition of the Strawberry Sunday News:

Growth-oriented company looking for a few young men to come help us fight forest fires in the Pacific Northwest. We have a lot of spare time to kill, so only those with some familiarity with American sports jargon need apply. Prefer applicants to have at least average manual dexterity and foot speed; those forest fires can come at you pretty fast, you know. Contact Dan at P.O. Box 1392, Strawberry Hill. (Emphasis mine)

Don’t think that’s suspicious? Well, consider this: 47% of the people in Strawberry Hill, North Carolina, are named “Henderson”! Apparently, O’Brien hoped, once he had the rest of the league properly confused, to get seven people on his roster named “Dave Henderson,” and then go to the winter meetings and start trading them; promising each opposing general manager that he was getting that Dave Henderson. O’Brien planned to keep the real Dave Henderson, release everybody in his system named “Nelson” or “Allen,” and make his bid for The Sporting News Executive of the Year award. The plan was uncovered by an alert security guard at the Kingdome, Dick Henderson, who contacted Danny Kaye, who passed the word to George Argyros. O’Brien pleaded for a chance to see his plan through, but was fired after uttering the unforgivable words, “What else did you expect me to do, you moron, you can’t make a ballclub out of moussaka.”

Elsewhere in the book, James predicts, “Some terrible things, unimaginably terrible things, are going to be done with computers in the next thirty years. Do not kid yourself that it’s not going to happen; deal frankly with the fact that it is going to happen.” Amazing how eerie this prediction was — it only took 10 years until spam came about and 20 years until this web site was founded.

In the form of a question

“Jeopardy!” is currently in the midst of a gigantic, 3-month-long tournament in which they’ve invited scads of former champions from throughout the 21-year run of the show back to see who gets to play in a special 3-day-long match against Ken Jennings. So on tonight’s show, a 5-time champion from 1989, a 5-time champion from 1995, and the College Tournament champion from 1993 were faced with this Final Jeopardy! clue, in the category Major League Baseball:

“The team names of these 2 expansion clubs start with the same 3 letters; one might catch the other.”

Only the 1989 champion got it correct. (The college champion got one of the two.)

Original comments…

thatbob: Which makes me wonder, when does an “expansion club” just start being thought of as a club? I thought the Mariners were around when I was (broadly) a kid.

Levi: Depends on how broad you were in 1977.

thatbob: For almost all of 1977, I was 2 years broad.

Jim: Given baseball’s love of history, as long as there are people who still remember when the Angels didn’t exist, they’re still an expansion club. (They were the first expansion team in modern baseball, in 1961, along with the team that’s now the Texas Rangers, but then was the Washington Senators, replacing the other Washington Senators, who had moved to Minnesota and become the Twins.)