Wow . . . and wow.

First, and the Washington Post reports that in a Japanese poll in which respondents were asked to list their ideal bosses, healing Bobby Valentine made the top ten–the only foreigner.

Second, an article on the AP wire reports that Raul Mondesi–you know, the guy who was more or less run out of Major League Baseball for being a party machine rather than an outfielder–is running for mayor of his hometown, San Cristobal, in the Dominican Republic.

Back to Bill James

From the 1988 Baseball Abstract, preceded by six pages of imaginary dialogue, here’s Bill James’s list of the 20 best players in baseball:

  1. Wade Boggs
  2. Tim Raines
  3. Ozzie Smith
  4. Don Mattingly
  5. Tony Gwynn
  6. Darryl Strawberry
  7. Dale Murphy
  8. Roger Clemens
  9. Rickey Henderson
  10. Kirby Puckett
  11. Mike Schmidt
  12. George Bell
  13. Jack Morris
  14. Pedro Guerrero
  15. Alan Trammell
  16. Eric Davis
  17. Ryne Sandberg
  18. Phil Bradley
  19. Dwight Gooden
  20. Dwight Evans

With the benefit of hindsight, this still looks like a pretty good list, except maybe for Phil Bradley.

By the way, if Levi is even more scarce around here than usual, it’s because he’s got his very own blog now, solely devoted to books he’s been reading lately. He reads a lot.

Get ’em while they’re hot!

It looks like the Florida Marlins are beginning yet another fire sale.

This will be their second such sale in their twelve years of existence. Are they determined to make the Devil Rays look good?

Anyway, if you want a speedy center fielder for your beer-league team, you might call them up. Sounds like they’d consider an offer of a bag of batting practice balls.

Just keep repeating to yourself: Bud Selig has been good for baseball. Saddam Hussein was a threat. Bud Selig has been good for baseball.

Radio from space

On Tuesday, DirecTV replaced their Music Choice audio-only channels with a selection of channels from XM Radio. They’re carrying many of XM’s music channels, but only two talk channels — so no Bob Edwards, no BBC World Service, and no old-time radio (although I’m sure Chuck Schaden does a better job than XM).

However, one of the XM talk channels that is on DirecTV is MLB Home Plate — just in time for it to not be baseball season! When I tuned in briefly this morning to research this post, what I heard was a woman talking via phone about putting up sun shades for elementary school playgrounds because it’s 115 degrees during the day in Arizona. Guess they can only talk so much about steroids and/or Ned Colletti. Helpfully, DirecTV’s on-screen display said, “You are listening to Sports talk.” (The other talk channel available on DirecTV features some people apparently named “Opie & Anthony” and “Ron & Fez” — just thinking about it makes my ears hurt.)

On the other hand, listening to the XM ’60s channel is surprisingly similar to listening to my iPod, except that there’s probably no chance of a They Might Be Giants song popping up, and all the jingles are for XM — well, and there’s a DJ who actually does things like talking during the part of the jingle where a DJ is supposed to talk, which I have not managed to duplicate on my iPod. (Also, while I’m sure DirecTV’s numbering system for the XM channels makes sense to someone, it seems a little strange to have “The ’60s on 6” on Channel 803 instead of, say, 806 — and “Highway 16” on 814, and “Top 20 on 20” on 816.)

God Bless Take Me Out to the Ballgame

When I was a kid, I read a good book (the name of which I’ve forgotten) about an American boy growing up in China and going to an English school. He didn’t want to sing “God Save the Queen,” but not doing so got him in trouble. His father pointed out that he could instead sing, quietly, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” which shared a melody with the British anthem.

It will no doubt cheer BRPA2004 readers to learn that, while watching the White Sox win the World Series on Fox, those in attendance at the Rocketship realized that, while “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and “God Bless America”–two songs whose relative importance in baseball history Bud Selig seems to have confused–do not traditionally share a melody, there is, it turns out, no reason that they shouldn’t.

That’s right: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” can be sung–flawlessly–to the tune of “God Bless America.” (And vice-versa, I suppose, but, well, yuck. Why do that to America?)

Try it at home. Try it at your favorite ballpark the next time the PA guy demands a show of religious-themed patriotism rather than a celebration of what you’ve actually chosen to do with your day.

Or wait until I get Jim to sing it and post the MP3.

As the caption to a photo at the Neo-Futurarium of a boy flipping off the camera said, “See–everything in the world’s not made of toilet.”

Let that be a lesson to you

In the opening segment of last night’s episode of “The Simpsons” — the episode that was incessantly promoted during Fox’s baseball coverage — an attempt to speed up a baseball game ends with the entire universe being destroyed, so there.

Actually, the whole thing was completely unbelievable, because it depicted a World Series game, broadcast by Fox, that was not only being played during the day, but also had Harry-Shearer-imitating-Vin-Scully doing the announcing, rather than Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Come to think of it, if the universe is going to be destroyed anyway, that wouldn’t be the worst way to go out.

Games Brian Giles plays

1) Baseball

2) Touch Marquis Grissom Before He Gets to the Dugout

I knew about #1 from his All-Star appearances, his playoff appearance against the Cardinals this year, and his thousands of home runs against the Cardinals and Cubs in recent years.

But I didn’t know a thing about #2 until Viva El Birdos, in the midst of talking about the possibility of Giles becoming a Cardinal, pointed out that he’s clearly a goofball. From Gaslamp Ball:

“Announcer Tom Hamilton once remarked that when the Tribe defense leaves the field, Grissom would run like a madman for the dugout. Why? Grissom was trying to avoid a little game that Giles played: ‘Touch Marquis Grissom before he gets to the dugout.’ Grissom wanted no part of that, and I can see why after Giles presented Marquis’s birthday cake to him in the nude. Hamilton said, ‘Yes, folks, in the clubhouse, Giles presented the cake to Grissom wearing only his birthday suit…and that’s all I can say on the air.'”

Morganna the Kissing Bandit used to play a similar game, but I’m pretty sure she never tried it with Marquis Grissom.

Don’t you think Morganna ought to have a page? It could list her successful kisses and such.

No need to play the games

Now we can get back to Bill James. Using a quick little formula provided in the 1986 edition of the Baseball Abstract, here are the early predictions for 2006:

AL East

N.Y. Yankees (93-69)
Boston Red Sox (91-71)
Toronto Blue Jays (77-85)
Baltimore Orioles (76-86)
Tampa Bay Devil Rays (71-91)

AL Central

Chicago White Sox (90-72)
Cleveland Indians (87-75)
Minnesota Twins (84-78)
Detroit Tigers (73-89)
Kansas City Royals (62-100)

AL West

L.A. Angels (91-71)
Oakland A’s (87-75)
Texas Rangers (82-80)
Seattle Mariners (70-92)

NL East

Atlanta Braves (90-72)
Philadelphia Phillies (86-76)
Florida Marlins (83-79)
N.Y. Mets (80-82)
Washington Nationals (78-84)

NL Central

St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)
Houston Astros (88-74)
Chicago Cubs (82-80)
Milwaukee Brewers (78-84)
Cincinnati Reds (76-86)
Pittsburgh Pirates (72-90)

NL West

San Diego Padres (83-79)
San Francisco Giants (81-81)
L.A. Dodgers (79-83)
Arizona Diamondbacks (72-90)
Colorado Rockies (71-91)