Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Around the Net in 80 Seconds

Well, beyond the normal mlb.com stuff, such as a headshot of Doyle in the latest Mariners mailbag, or the news that we've picked up two more old guys as NRI's, and the Mariners Caravan starting at IKEA today with Jamie Moyer, George Sherrill, and J.J.Putz appearing (and hopefully I'll make it there in time), there's some other fun stuff going on these days:

Sour Cream and Archives

A couple of days ago, I discovered that if you have a membership to the Seattle Public Library, you can log in to their website and search old newspapers without actually having to go to the library. This is fantastic -- for example, they have the entirety of the New York Times from 1851 onwards, in PDF image form, with searchable text (though it's not entirely reliable). So, for example, I'm trying to find out about a particular player's saga through the 1930's, and all I had to do was a text search on his name -- and it came up with tons of newspaper articles and box scores for me to peruse! It's very addictive.

You can either just look at the articles you were specifically searching for, or you can look at the "page map", which is an imagemap where you can see the actual newspaper page and click on the individual articles to read the PDF versions. It's great fun to see advertisements and pictures from the day (like in 1940, an ad for a truck that was "extremely affordable! Prices start at $453!") and to get cultural contexts for the baseball events.

The articles from the 1880's are really the most entertaining -- very vivid descriptions of the games and the crowds and everything. Eventually I might even finish the actual project I originally set out to do here and tell you all a pretty funny story.

The Chat in the Hat

Jeff Sullivan wrote Mariner Chat Room, Volume Two on Lookout Landing today -- if you don't already read Lookout Landing, you have to go read this post at least. It's brilliant and hilarious.

And only a month before Valentine's Day

Dave Haller over at Baseball Prospectus has been running a Diamond Mind simulation of what he calls the Battle of Champions -- the 2005 Chiba Lotte Marines vs. the 2005 Chicago White Sox. Both of these teams are near and dear to my heart, and the first two games of this simulation looked eerily similar to actual Marines games -- in Game 1, the Marines win 10-1. Sound familiar? It should if you were paying attention to Game 1 of the Japan Series. And then in Game 2 of the simulation, Masahide Kobayashi imploded in the 9th inning to give up a 4-1 lead to make it 5-4. Sound familiar? It should if you were paying attention to Game 3 of the second stage of the Pacific League Playoffs. And now, in Game 3, the White Sox won 7-6 as Yabuta blew a save... okay, wait, this one doesn't sound like a Marines game. I think this sounds more like a White Sox game.

(Edit: Game 4 is now up, the Sox winning again. Grrr.)

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what comes out of this overall -- I still do honestly believe, as I asserted in a USSM thread, that if this series happened in real life, the Chiba team would have a reasonable shot to take a couple games from the White Sox and maybe even win the series. I'd love to someday see an actual formal matchup between the World Series and Japan Series winners -- sort of like the Konami Cup was for Asia this year. Maybe the WBC will help make this become a reality.

Another acronym for the Hanshin Tri-gers

Speaking of goings-on in Japanese baseball, I was scanning Yahoo Japan baseball news as I do most days and came across the funniest article I've seen in a while -- 'CIA' formation! A 40-win starting pitcher trio!. I can't find an English version of this article anywhere, so let me summarize. Essentially, a couple weeks ago the Hanshin Tigers acquired pitcher Chris Oxspring for the 2006 season. So they've decided that this year's marketing gag, to go along with the famed 2005 Hanshin relief trio of "JFK" (for setup men Jeff Williams and Kyuji Fujikawa and closer Tomoyuki Kubota), they're going to have the starting pitcher trio of "CIA", for Chris Oxspring, Kei Igawa, and Yuuya Andoh. Even funnier, they later explain that "Since the CIA is the information agency that helps the president of the United States, our CIA will of course help support our JFK". Oh man. I *love* Japanese baseball. Even when they're not being total nutballs like this. I almost want to see the Tigers do something crazy like deciding they need to make acronyms for *everyone*. Like, making "KISS" out of Kanemoto-Imaoka-Sheets-Sekimoto in their lineup or something.

I'll HOF and I'll puff and...

In about twelve hours, they'll announce whether anyone was actually elected to the Hall of Fame this year, and I'll edit this post appropriately. If the MLB exit polls of a few of their writers is indicative at all, it looks like it might finally be the Year Of The Goose. Whether or not it'll finally be the year for Bert remains to be seen, though. Also, it might be a function of when I grew up and watched a lot of baseball, but I'll never forget Orel Hershiser's amazing run in 1988. It was the best of times for the Dodgers, and it was the worst of times for the Phillies. If I could choose only one guy on the ballot to vote in, it'd be the Bulldog -- but who knows what'll happen.

(Edit: Apparently Bruce Sutter is the only guy to make it in this year. Goose got 64.6% of the vote, but with next year's eligible guys including Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken Jr. and Mark McGwire, it'll be a really tough field. Still, I just don't see putting in Sutter and not Gossage. It doesn't seem right.)

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