So this happened last night at Fenway.
In this article about the Red Sox’ recent moves, Alex Speier touches on their trade of Casey Kotchman for Mariners’ utility man Bill Hall. It’s been said this offseason that the Sox are especially concerned about the luxury tax and are doing everything in their power to remain under the $170 million salary threshold. This threshold is determined based on the average annual value of a contract, Bill hall’s 4 years at $24 million for instance would be a cost of $6 million against the luxury tax threshold. However, since his contract was structured differently, and since the Brewers were paying the Mariners almost the full amount of the contract, Bill Hall’s expiring contract is actually worth around -$1.5 million against the threshold.
Expiring contracts have a significant trade value in the NBA, but I’ve never heard of any baseball trades being made for this reason. Bill Simmons goes so far as to suffix Expiring Contract onto the end of any player in the last year of a contract, so at the very least, we should refer to Bill Hall as Bill Hall’s Expiring Contract for this season, right?
Hall is in the last guaranteed year of a four-year, $24 million deal that will pay him $8.4 million next season. The Mariners, according to a major-league source, will pay $7.5-8 million of his salary â€” essentially sending the Sox the same money that was given to Seattle by the Brewers when the Mâ€™s acquired Hall last summer.
Hallâ€™s contract is evaluated for luxury tax purposes as being worth $6 million in 2010, based on its AAV. But the full amount of the cash transfer â€” call it $7.5 million â€” will be deducted from the Soxâ€™ payroll as determined for luxury tax purposes. That being the case, Hall will actually reduce the Soxâ€™ payroll in calculating the competitive balance tax by roughly $1.5 million dollars. Overall, then, the Sox were able to sign Beltre and add Hall and a player to be named at a cost (for CBT purposes) of roughly $2 million in 2010.
Or, Bullying the Ballot Box.
Red Sox Nation’s power as one of the more active constituencies when it comes to MLB All Star balloting is well known. With that power comes great responsibility. Such as the responsibility to vote AAA player Lastings Milledge into the All Star Game. It makes sense, if the National League team is weaker, the AL is more likely to win and thus take home field advantage in the World Series. Also this:
…At the very least we’d be teaching MLB a valuable lesson on how to take a person’s name off the digital ballot if they’re not even wearing a major league uniform at the time. Why is Milledge even eligible?
Via Baseball Musings.
Today’s Sunday Globe Magazine has a 5,000 word profile of Jerry ‘RemDawg’ Remy. Interesting to read that his bubbly, fun loving on-air persona is so far from how he is when not doing game analysis. In the off-season, he stays out of the public eye completely “preferring to sit alone in his den, in front of his 70-inch flat screen, and smoke his Marlboro Reds”.
There are some other tidibits including Remy quit smoking this year, his side business makes about a million dollars a year, and he hates giving speeches. Remy was soundly criticized for promoting The Remy Report a couple years ago, but toned it down drastically last year.
This profile was definitely not written for a sports fan and features many apparent contradictions, but it will give you a quick sketch of the man.
He’s great, I just don’t know how long he’ll last, and there’s whispers he’s hurting already this year.
Old friend Julian Tavarez used the ‘beer goggles’ excuse for signing with the Washington Nationals.
“Why did I sign with the Nationals?” Tavarez told a group of reporters. “When you go to a club at [4 a.m.], and you’re just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J. Lo. And to me this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It’s [4 a.m.]. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me.”
A couple years ago, I was at a Red Sox game and got a tour from one of the minority owners after the game. She took us out the players parking lot and outside the entrance, Julian Tavarez almost ran us over. Twice.
(Via Hot Pink Sheets)
Rickey Henderson is going to get a call from the Hall of Fame today telling him to pack his bags for Cooperstown. I spent a couple hours yesterday looking though old articles about Rickey because heâ€™s always been one of the more enjoyable and enigmatic players in the game of baseball. (And hey, he played for the Red Sox in 2002, so he could be called one of my favorite Sox, right?)
Take a second to click through and enjoy Rickey being Rickey:
Joe Posnanski made a great argument that Rickey should be the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Famer, including the mindboggling statistic:
“He walked more times just leading off an in inning than Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Luis Aparicio, Ernie Banks, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg and more than 50 other Hall of Famers walked in their entire careers (more than Jim Rice, too).”
Of course, a writer 70 year old sportswriter left him off and now wishes he hadnâ€™t. The BWAA might want to have some editorial control over writers who use their ballots to make a point (or in the case of Corky, just goof).
Rickey was nonpareil as a leadoff hitter, and according to this short collection of stories about Rickey, he agreed. â€œThere ain’t no other leadoff hitter but me.â€
In 1982 Rickeyâ€™s manager, Billy Martin, wanted Rickey to get the season stolen base record at home in Oakland. This is a Rickey anecdote I hadnâ€™t heard.
“Billy told that Chicken (Stanley) to get his butt thrown out, so he wouldn’t be on second in my way,’ Henderson said. ‘But I hit the ball too hard, and he had to stop at second. Billy wants me to run, but Chicken’s in the way. So Billy tells him to get picked off. Get caught. So they throw a pitch and Chicken is way off base, and they don’t even try to get him. We’re playing Detroit and (Tigers manager) Sparky (Anderson) didn’t want me to get it. So he wouldn’t let them tag Chicken. He’s way off the base, and no one’s even trying. And that old Durwood Merrill (the second-base umpire) is getting madder and madder. He knew what was going on. He didn’t like it. He made them make the play on Chicken. I think Sparky was mad. I go on the next pitch. And I make it, I’m in there. And that old Durwood, he called me out because he was still mad at Billy and Sparky.â€
He finally got the record in the next game. Over the years, Rickeyâ€™s speech after getting the record has become something critics touch on proving he was selfish and arrogant. This, because the last lines of his speech are, â€œLou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I’m the greatest of all time.â€ Interestingly, the article from Time has no reaction to the speech and Lou Brock helped him write the speech before the game. Also, most of these article are full of teammates (like Don Mattingly and Dennis Eckersley) praising Rickey as a teammate. (Update: Via the comments, the speech was after he broke the career record, not the single season record, so that’s why it wasn’t mentioned in the article. My point remains, though, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with his speech and “Rickey is selfish” is a media driven storyline, not borne out by facts.)
Also, via the comments, for those who say Rickey is selfish, there’s one girl in Oakland who would disagree.
See, I told you Mattingly liked Rickey.
“When Rickey was traded back to the A’s in the late 80’s, I remember watching a game the Yankees were playing in Oakland. Before the game, Rickey was hitting off the tee, and Mattingly was sitting there setting up the balls for Rickey. Mattingly liked Rickey. This was the moment that I realized that all the negative writing about Henderson was wrong. Don Mattingly was the most respected player in baseball at that time. If Don liked Rickey well enough to sit there and tee up balls for him when he was playing for the opposition, Rickey must be okay.
Rickey suffers from being inarticulate and a lack of education, just as Roger Clemens does. When they speak to the media, they have a hard time expressing themselves clearly, so they come off as jerks. I’m glad this article shows Rickey talking in a comfortable setting. It gives us a new insight into the man.”
In reading several of these articles, I found that Rickey was able to turn on and off the Rickey speak that made him seem inarticulate. And especially earlier in his career, he didnâ€™t appear to use it at all. Roger Clemens was just a dumbass, but for Rickey, it seems like it was more of an act. â€œ He needed no coaxing to cruise into Rickey-speak, a mixture of a streetwise preacher and an eccentric professor.â€
Hereâ€™s Eck relating a story about Rickey having trouble with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. His fondness for Rickey is clear.
This Sports Illustrated article from 2003 is overflowing with Rickey anecdotes. Iâ€™m going to go out on a limb and call this article the definitive compendium of Rickey Henderson Anecdotes. (Thereâ€™s a â€™25 Greatest Rickey Henderson Storiesâ€™ meme out there that you can find with Google, but this article is the source for it, and it has more than 25 stories so you may as well read IT instead.) One of my favorites, Rickey griping about his contract, “If they’re going to pay me like [Mike] Gallego, I’m going to play like Gallego.”
Thereâ€™s also the â€˜tenureâ€™ story, the Olreud story (which is untrue), and TWO uncashed check stories, among several others.
The first mention of Rickey I could find in SI was when he was awarded Player Of The Week in October 1980 for having 12 steals.
Rickey was on the cover of SI 4 times:
In 1982, when he broke the single season stolen base record. In the accompanying story, â€œMedich and his catcher, Ted Simmons, had the downcast aspect of persons about to become answers to a trivia question.â€ Also, we find out that Kirk Gibson was once considered one of the faster major leaguers, which blew my mind. I had no idea.
In 1986 when Peter Gammons previewed the All-Star game by comparing Rickey to the other preeminent leadoff hitter of his time, Tim Raines.
Obviously, Iâ€™m going to snip the Rich Gedman quotation. Rich Gedman was one of my first favorites.
“Boston catcher Rich Gedman looked at Rickey Henderson, who was getting dressed. “He’s built like Superman,” Gedman said of the Yankee centerfielder. “When you play against him, you try to say, ‘Don’t let him bother you,’ because there are times there is nothing you can do to stop him from doing whatever he wants to do. He’s from another planet. Unfortunately, you can’t help thinking about him. We’re only human.”
“In the seventh inning, after getting such a jump on his steal of second that Whitt couldn’t make a throw, Henderson pulled up a few steps short of second and walked to the bag. “That kind of hotdogging isn’t right,” said Whitt (box, page 34). The A’s went on to win 6-3, and the next day Henderson was quoted in the papers as saying, ‘I can steal on Whitt whenever I want.'”
Bill Jamesâ€™ response to Rickey setting the single season stolen base record in 1982 was exactly what you would expect. Curmudgeonly grumbling about how the stolen base isnâ€™t an extremely effective offensive weapon and then plenty of statistics to back it up. The early Bill James byline was an exciting find, though. And, in 2001, James made his feelings for Rickeyâ€™s game clear, “Somebody asked me did I think Rickey Henderson was a Hall of Famer. I told them, ‘If you could split him in two, you’d have two Hall of Famers.'” (It’s important to note that Bill James was correct in his assessment of Rickey’s use of the stolen base because in the same year that he set the record for steals (130), he set the record for caught stealing (42).
Though Rickey and Bill James may have been of a closer mind than they knew. In this 1989 NY Times article, Rickey wants a new contract from the Yankees and is refusing to waive his no-trade clause. ”My average is down, but with a leadoff hitter, you don’t consider average,” he said. ”On-base is what’s important and mine is right up there.” I donâ€™t think ANYONE was talking about on-base percentage in 1989 EXCEPT Rickey and Bill James.
Check out Rickeyâ€™s Wiki. He played 2 or 3 years of Independent ball after leaving MLB. Rickey was there doing his thing, hoping to get another job in the majors. Incidentally, he had an OBP of over .450 in his Independent league career.
And finally, hereâ€™s the obligatory New Yorker profile on Rickey complete with a story about getting thrown off an airplane and the quotation defining his last couple years playing for crowds numbering in the hundreds and low thousands. â€œI just donâ€™t know if Rickey can stop.â€
And, of course, a hearty congrats to Jim Ed Rice, as well. I’m glad he finally got in.
It was a good year on Unlikely Words. In case you missed some or all of it, I went through the year and pulled out a few links to my favorite posts. Favorite is loose here and applies to something either I wrote or really enjoyed on the internets. What did you like this year?
In no real order…
A horse statue was vandalized in Saratoga Springs, Billy Ripken and Ken Griffey reminded me of how I spent the second half of the eighties and one summer after Sophomore year of college and Guns n’ Roses released an album leading to me telling 2 stories of my younger days.
I documented 12 cities that banned plastic bags, as well as the the 2008 Election and was PSYCHED this got linked by Kottke and Wonkette. Bill Simmons listed his favorite sports journalism and I found links to almost all of them as tons and tons of musicians told John McCain “Donâ€™t Play My Song! and I compiled a list. I was hoping this would catch on, but, alas…
A seafood truck crashed in Worcester. Someone rented a refrigerated truck and the lobsters were sold all over town. Until they were discovered, seized and…dumped back into Boston Harbor, which seems like it could only happen in Worcester, the Paris of the Eighties.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks was my favorite book this year, Mad Men Season 1 my favorite TV show, and Eastern Promises my favorite movie. However, my favorite movie to talk about was the utterly horrible Unknown. It’s not unwatchable, though.
“Dodgers touch Colon for run in fourth” was my favorite headline of the year, while seeing Sir Ben Kingsley as Ian MacKaye was my favorite video. The Barack Brains T Shirt (Bad Brains logo/Barack) tied the Cry Celtic Green T-Shirt for garment of the year. And I got an iPhone.
A hawk attacked a girl at Fenway Park and I introduced the world to cold cut flavored jelly beans, which surprisingly elicited a prompt reaction from the inventor of Jelly Belly (see the comments). I continued hating sharks while Pat Matheny continued to hate Kenny G’s “Lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing.â€
Eliot Spitzer banged a prostitute and I was there to flow chart it. I also created a recipe to make Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream at home, watched my street flood, enjoyed this article about getting stuck in an elevator, and found out BJ Upton’s BJ stands for Bossman Junior, which is just awesome.
And finally, my favorite picture of the year:
Happy New Year everyone, thanks for reading and see you next year.