Who was the best manager in baseball in 2012? I’m going with Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics.
My criteria are twofold: I go with the skipper whose team is a winner and whose team achieved its success in disproportion to its expectations and talent.
By those standards, Melvin is a slam dunk (and I apologize for using a basketball term).
Think about it. Did anyone seriously believe as the season started that the Oakland Athletics could make a serious run at the America League West title given the powerhouse teams assembled by the defending champs in Texas and the Pujols-improved Angels?
Did anyone seriously think after the first two months of the season that the A’s could turn it around and contend for the division title?
Did anyone seriously think with about a month to go that Oakland — improbably staying afloat in the wild card race — would be able to overtake the Rangers and emerge as division champions?
No siree, Bob.
So here’s my ballot for the BBA Connie Mack Award:
1. Bob Melvin, Oakland
2. Buck Showalter, Baltimore (You can make a case for him as No 1, certainly, but I give Melvin the edge for overcoming even lower expectations than the birds had)
3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco (I know, I know. I’m a Giants fan. But look how the Giants responded when Melky Cabrera went away for steroids and the Dodgers spent their way to a title except they ended up eating the G-men’s dust.)
Honorable mention: Joe Girardi, who probably was a contender for the Nobel Prize in medicine this year, given all the Yankees’ injuries; Davey Johnson, because he brought the Nationals to the playoffs and the best record in the NL.
Which metro area had the most successful baseball season? After listening to the Athletics overtake the Rangers on my way home from work last evening, I was all set to declare the Bay Area the cross-league, total victory champions.
But then I remembered that Baltimore-Washington is eligible, and a check of the standings this morning shows the Orioles and Nationals with a combined 191 victories. That’s three better than the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s at 188.
Third place goes to Los Angeles, with the Angels and Dodgers piling up 175 wins. The New York metropolitan area checks in at fourth with 169 wins for the Yankees and Mets. And in fifth, the White Sox and the wretched Cubs trailed with a mere 146 victories, well below the .500 mark of 162.
Does anyone else on the planet care about this matter? I doubt it.
What people do care about is predictions on who will meet in the World Series.
I’d love to see an all orange and black series with the Orioles facing the Giants, and another Bay Bridge series between the Giants and A’s would be fun.
No team is a lock to make it out of its first round, let alone get to the Series. Acknowledging that the playoffs are all the more so a crap shoot with the new wild card format, I’ll pick the Giants to square off against the Yankees.
Posted in Baseball
Tagged Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals
The most intriguing pitching matchup in baseball today has to be Tim Lincecum and Stephen Strasburg. The game will be played in the sunshine at AT&T Park in San Francisco this afternoon, and I’d love to be there.
Lincecum has gone from being one of the undisputed top few pitchers in the game the past few seasons to a bafflingly miserable lower echelon ranking this season. Strasburg — the latest in a series of pitching messiahs — is living up to his billing.
Timmy has a bit of extra motivation for this start, and I’ll bet Strasburg is revved up high as well. Let’s hope it’s a good one!
A national touring production of “Damn Yankees” is swinging by the Modesto area, and the news dredged up some unexpected pleasant memories. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Senators, and I think I know why.
Growing up an Indians fan in the 60s, I knew that if I went to a game at Cleveland Stadium, the odds were always better for a Tribe win if the Senators were in town. But it goes deeper than that.
With the Nationals in our nation’s capitol, the Senators take on a patina of old-timey cool. There are two ex-Senators clubs, of course: the Twins and Rangers, each created when the original teams fled the District for greener (as in money) pastures.
The franchise that is now the Twins was the one on which “Damn Yankees” is based. Even though I was born before they headed to the Twin Cities, I have no memory of that club. But the Texas-bound Rangers that formed as an expansion team in ’61 I knew well, and that team seemed damned to an eternity of being “last in the Amerian League,” as the saying goes.
I’ve just looked over the Washington Nationals roster, and I don’t find enough recognizable talent to project anything more than a mediocre team in 2012. I’d like for the Nationals to succeed, though, and break that ancient curse.
Posted in Baseball
Tagged Baseball, Cleveland Indians, Damn Yankees, expansion teams, Minnesota Twins, musicals, New York Yankees, plays, Texas Rangers, theater, Washington Nationals, Washington Senators
In the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, this is my rookie year for voting in the group’s end-of-season awards. In the BBA, the Willie Mays Award goes to the top rookie, and here’s my ballot influenced heavily by the great MLB.com statistical rundown on rookies:
1. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta – Braves: Playing virtually every game at 1st base, Freeman posted great numbers with 161 hits, 21 homers, 76 RBI and a .282 average. Those are impressive numbers for a veteran and all the more so for a rookie.
2. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels – A close second in my book, he hit even more homers (29) than Freeman.
3. Jemile Weeks, Oakland Ahtletics – A mid-season call-up, this dude put some energy into the A’s. He hit .303 with 22 stolen bases (although he was caught 11 times.
Honorable mention: Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners (edged out by a step at the bag by Weeks); Danny Espinoza, Washington Nationals; Darwin Barney, Chicago Cubs; Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals.
That’s one heck of a rookie crop, and there are others showing lots of promise I’m omitting.
Note: The only players of the above I saw play in person were Weeks and Hosmer.
This is 2009, and Google pretty much rules the world. For no particular reason, tonight I typed “baseball caps” into the Google Images search bar to see what would come up first.
And here it is, at right: the “6 Panels Baseball Cap with Brass Buckle” as displayed on made-in-china.com.
The irony cannot be escaped. The first image for the All-American baseball cap is a generic black hat on a Web site in China where, for all I know, the people are banned from viewing my blog (poor comrades!).
I did a quick check of several of the caps in my closet, and at least half were made in China. Of the Major League Baseball caps I checked, the Giants, Cubs and Nationals all said “made in China.” My Phillies and Mariners caps are from Macau, and the Marlins lid is from Bangladesh. I couldn’t determine the origin of my Brewers lid, which is from New Era.
I’ve come to two conclusions. The Chinese must love our national pastime, if only for economic reasons. And I need to find a few more caps from the American League.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged baseball caps, Chicago Cubs, China, Florida Marlins, Google, Google images, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals
I spent the day with my son and two of his friends at the Great America theme park in Santa Clara, Calif. While I joined the guys for several rides, I sat a few out and amused myself by taking inventory of the baseball caps people in the crowd were sporting.
As the San Francisco “Don’t Even Think About Moving Here, Athletics” Giants will unequivocally tell you, Santa Clara County is Giants’ territory. So it wasn’t a surprise that I spotted more orange and black caps than any other. But it was nothing close to even 10 percent of all the caps on display.
The cap that most got my attention was a green Giants cap not unlike the one depicted, only the crown was spangled with glitter and the word “FRISCO” was emblazoned across the back. If San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen weren’t already dead, this cap surely would have killed him.
There were other colorful variations on Major League Baseball caps, such as a red, white and navy Oakland A’s lid on a guy ahead of me in a roller coaster queue. Another guy had a Yankees cap the color of lima beans with white piping (which actually was kind of cool).
I didn’t count, but the team most represented after the Giants and A’s was the Pittsburgh Pirates. The yellow-on-black “P” cap seems to resonate with young men.
After that, it was a mish-mosh of sox (Red and White), Yankees, Phillies, Nationals, even a Tampa Bay Rays cap. One Cubs cap, too, come to think of it.
Refreshingly, I didn’t see a single Dodgers cap all day.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Americana, amusement parks, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, culture, Great America, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, roller coasters, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals