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Home » Baseball

Squared Up: You're Doing A Heck Of A Job There, Tannie

Submitted by on February 14, 2011 – 12:16 PM26 Comments

Spring training, will you be my valentine?

Pitchers and catchers report

A couple days ago, reader Jenn fired an "eeeeee!" across the bow via email, all excited that baseball is back.

Yesterday, a certain pocket-sized Stupidhead who's getting to know his letters and numbers enjoyed working on W, I, L, S, O, N, and 1 with Aunt Dodo's shirt. Then Aunt Dodo sang "Meet The Mets" while Master S busted a move.

Today, the Daily News reports that Daniel Murphy is trying to learn how to play second base. That's going to go so well you guys. So well.

Here we go!

Chuck Tanner

I just reread the section in Bill James's This Time Let's Not Eat The Bones on Chuck Tanner the other day. Rob Neyer's look back at Tanner covers the subject the way I would have, but better, so I'll let you read that and not belabor the point (not sure I'd have made an admiring La Russa reference at the end, under the circumstances, given the resolutely blind eye he seems to have turned towards steroid use on at least two clubs). James, as he so often does, gets to the heart of the matter without meanness or mincing words.

I became a fan at the end of the '85 season, so most of the Pittsburgh testimony went over my head until I read Keith Hernandez's If At First a couple years later, and I wish I had that book to hand to do a comparison of how James and Hernandez treat Herzog. If any of you have it rattling around and want to quote from it in the comments, please do.

The frail flower of hope

Some fans won't have much to look forward to this season: aces retired, crappy trades got made, no trades got made, surgeries didn't go as well as planned.

Other fans can't wait to see how new additions to the lineup do, or can't believe they're finally rid of such-and-so, that bastard.

Still others, squinting at a telephoto shot from the morning workout: "Is that Luis Sojo? Jesus H."

What's got you worried? What's got you psyched? Do you not even get out of bed for less than the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview, or have you spent the last week marinating in wall-to-wall MLB Network coverage?

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26 Comments »

  • attica says:

    It's been an awfully long winter; I need my baseball back so bad it aches. My relief and delight is therefore palpable. I don't even think I care about the team's prospects this year — I just wanna watch some games!

  • Jessica says:

    Now I desperately want to read Bill James's treatment of the Tanner Braves.

    What's got me worried? Nate McLouth and Dan Uggla, in short. No opinion on the new manager yet.

    What's got me psyched? The prospect of future pictures of Master S in full Mets gear. (We plan to take our girl to her first game this spring, but it'll probably be minor-league.)

  • Monty says:

    I'm going to wait until I'm sure the Padres and Mariners are sure they're done trading away anyone who might be remotely good. Then I'll be able to calibrate my expectations accordingly.

  • Leigh in CO says:

    I'm just…psyched. About everything. The Rockies did some good stuff in the off season, what with the Tulo and the Cargo (suck it, Boras) signings, and all the other activity that gives me more hope than I've had in, well, forever, really. It just feels like it's a great team we are going to get to spend our summer with, and I cannot wait. This is one of the few years I can't get down to Arizona for spring training (sigh), but the new facilities look great, the team looks great, and April 1 is not so far off.

  • Kim says:

    One of my co-workers came into my office this morning all "Pitchers and catchers today. Are you excited?" Sure am!! Play ball!!! Even if the Yanks only have three starting pitchers as of right now. I'm too excited to care yet.

  • Laura says:

    I knew it was almost time for pitchers and catchers, but have yet to hit MLB.com and other sources for my fix. :)

  • Todd K says:

    I forgot that I had given Baseball Tonight a permanent DVR slot, and when I sat down to watch Top Chef Thursday morning, I was so excited to see an episode waiting for me. It really was Baseball Tonight, too; it wasn't a random half hour from a football game, as sometimes happens during the offseason. (I don't know.)

    All right, it wasn't *much* of an episode. Just "Pujols still hasn't signed" this and "Yankees rotation…boy, does it stink!" that, and "Let's bring in our expert Jayson Stark. Jayson, would you say the Red Sox have upgraded?" Then Ravech and Nomar attempted to throw popcorn into each other's mouth for five minutes. But it was good to have it back.

    So, how do we feel about Nomar as an addition to the behind-the-desk crew? Objectively, I know he's one of the better ones (a little below the excellent Chris Singleton; about even with Boone; significantly above Kruk and the "SOUVENIR CITY, BABY!" guy). But it's…a little too soon for me. I would have liked five more years or so to go by before I had to listen to Nomar holding forth on players who seem unhappy where they are, and the ins and outs of the disabled list.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Kim: Does AJ count? Seriously, I'm asking.

    @Todd: I don't miss E. Young, but I do miss Karl saying, "Souvenir City: E. Young, President, Chamber of Commerce." Nomar's okay; he's better than Mitch Williams, because he hasn't figured out yet that you're supposed to act like you know everything all the time.

  • Jenn says:

    My parents are going to spring training this year. It's something my dad's always wanted to do, and now that he and my mom are retired, they're going with a couple of friends. I expect a lot of kids-in-a-candy-store-type behavior.

  • Drew says:

    I don't know what to think about how my Tigers did this offseason. On the one hand, the Martinez signing was a bit of a coup, and they sorely needed another left-handed (or at least switch-hitting) bat in the lineup. I was disappointed they didn't pursue a middle infielder a little more aggressively (Uggla, in particular, and Jessica, you shouldn't be worried about him. I've watched him play here in Florida for years, and he's pure talent), especially now that Leyland's got concerns about Sizemore's post-op conditioning. Resigning Peralta was a big help

    The pitching staff is still something of a question mark. Verlander is the man, and Porcello is generally solid, even after a somewhat rough sophomore season, but Brad Penny hasn't had a productive season since W was still in office, and it's hard to say which version of Joaquin Benoit is going to show up. Hopefully, it's the one who pitched so well for Tampa last year. They desperately need help in the setup slot, particularly if Joel Zumaya's arm continues to break every time a stiff breeze hits it.

    Still, it's nice to see Mags back for one more year, and the young guys are playing incredibly well (Austin Jackson really deserved the ROTY). In the end, I'm not going to have an opinion until I see them in person, and I've got a little less than a month until my drive to Tigertown in Lakeland. Already can't wait.

  • Rachel says:

    Oh, Murph. I hope 2nd base treats you well, though I will miss staring at that fine ass of yours from behind the first base line. I held onto my Murphy 28 hat all through last season, despite my husband's predictions that my boy was done for, and it paid off. No fair weather stalker fan, me.

    It's baseball season! Time to kick back with some beer and chips and listen to Ron and Gary gang up on Keith in the booth! Time to watch Kevin Burkhardt's hair and face turn exactly the same color! Time for the Mets to be contenders in the division until September 1! WOO!

  • Amanda says:

    I am looking forward to yet another year of Vin Scully in the booth, because that is all I have to look forward to.

    Okay, okay, no need for such doom and gloom — I anticipate yet another year of growth in awesomeness from Messrs. Kershaw and Billingsley. Love those two, on and off the field. (Clayton had a "Welcome to Dodgertown" sign at his wedding reception this offseason. He's awesome.) And I'll nervously wait and see when it comes to Kemp and Broxton; they're both talented enough to bounce back but that doesn't mean they will or that I won't have a heart attack sometime in May. And I have no idea what to make of 80% of Ned's offseason trash-heap pickups, but I never do, so I'm used to that. At least my friend and I will have endless laughs over the return of Jon Garland, to whom we compare the speed of everything. ("My package hasn't gotten here yet!" "UPS is totally slow like Garland.")

    I'm basically of the mind that this year can't be worse than last year, and even if it is, we're all expecting it, so bring it on. I'll be happy as long as the team manages to get bigger headlines than the divorce.

  • Kim says:

    Good question about AJ. He counts technically but if I had the money I'd pay him to see a good psychcologist.

  • Jessica says:

    @Drew: Thanks for the reassurance!

    @Everybody Going to Spring Training: JEALOUS.

    My equivalent of having Baseball Tonight on the DVR (since we don't have cable) is finding Mac Thomason. Ah, the pessimism. Sweet, sweet pessimism.

  • Sarah says:

    Yay! Baseball is back!

    1) I'm sad about Pettite being retired and thus, a bit concerned about the Yankees. But you know? It's ok, because it would be good for the Yanks to spend some time rebuilding, working on the youngsters. Jeter et al aren't going to be around forever, so if Andy's retirement means there's some time spent developing what has to be a deep field of young talent, I'm ok with that.

    2) I'm still basking in the happiness of the Giants' World Series win, and hoping to be happily relocated back to California in time for the regular season to start.

    Did I mention I'm excited? :-)

  • Nilda says:

    @Sarah No AJ does not count until you realize that Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are getting a chance to make the rotation.

    So my Yanks have 2 starting pitchers, whatever AJ is, and about a ton aging/declining/newbies trying out. We have an infield with the right side getting OLD fast and who knows who will be at catcher.

    It's going to be a long season unless Cashman does something when he failed this past winter. The only bright side for me would be if the Yankees will finally got rid of the weanie and go in a different direction with the General Manager.

  • Melerin says:

    Pitchers and catchers! Finally! Even if my team only has one of the latter (Mister J. Mauer, Great Player and Head Case, at your service) and a scarily mediocre collection of the former, except for Frankie Liriano, who is also a great player and a head case!

    What I love is going in to work and having my Mariners-fan friend give me a nudge on the way past my desk, muttering "Pitchers and catchers!" Even if you don't root for the same teams, there's a camaraderie (sp?) in baseball fandom that I love.

    Plus, the dude roots for the MARINERS. How sort of cute and sad is that?

  • Bridget says:

    My 4th grader's current events report for the week is "Phillies Pitchers and Catchers Report for Spring Training." 'Nuff said.

  • StillAnotherKate says:

    Yesterday, I walked into my office and said "Today is my favorite day of the year!!" and someone said "What? Valentine's Day?" I, of course, looked at them disparagingly and with the tone one uses with a 4 year old, said "No. Pitchers and Catchers report."

    Actually, that's unfair to 4 year olds. When my nephews were 4 they knew about Pitchers and Catchers. We're raising them right. Their favorite 2 teams are the Yankees and whoever is playing the Red Sox.

  • FloridaErin says:

    The first Grapefruit games are on my birthday and I live 30 minutes from Tiger Town. Happy birthday to meeeeeee . . .

  • FloridaErin says:

    Well, nothing had me "worried" until today, but now I feel the need to make a formal statement on the matter.

    Thanks, Miguel Cabrerra. We all thought the winter had gone a little too smoothly and appreciate you stepping up and single-handedly fixing that for us.

    Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @FE: Yeah, I saw that. Yeeeeeesh.

  • Druck says:

    Daniel Murphy got hurt last year in the minors while trying to turn two while playing what position? Second Base. So good luck trying to play that position with a surgically reconstructed knee.

    Hank Stienbrenner needs to STFU. Seriously. The Yanks made to game 6 of the ALCS! I know the Yanks are supposed to win every year, but they did something every team but 2 failed to do. And taking a veiled shot at Jeter? WTF? Can you imagine the Yankee owner at the time telling the Press that Mantle needs to spend less time carousing with women and wine after the 1960 WS loss? Neither can I. When George went after somebody in the paper 80% of the time he had a reason (at least obvious to him) to do so. Hank comes off like a petulant ass in this case. Jeter's gonna end up with a monument beyond the Left/Center Field wall and Hank ain't. I think that's what this is about. George loved Derek and he'd be fucking pissed that his son took a punkass shot at a guy who brought FIVE Championships to NY.

    I always thought Derek was always slightly overated, and he's never been my favorite Yankee. But he was always solid to very good offensively and I never ever said "Please god, don't let them hit it to Jeter.." like I would with other guys coughKnoblauchcough. Plus he always gives the perfect sound bite, never gets into legal trouble, and isn't shooting photo spread of him kissing himself in a mirror. So he's got that going for him which is nice..

    If the Wilpons don't wise up and sell their portion of the Mets your looking at a prolonged stretch of seasons where they're either too finacially strapped to compete, or free agents won't come here because they're afraid their checks are going to bounce. I'm sorry but the Wilpons are business professionals, they know what the return on an investment should be, and when Madoff sells them on the fact that he can make them so much more ROI, while being unspecific exactly how that happens? That should raise some red flags. Greed's a funny thing I guess. Not so much to those that invested and lost their retirement accounts, but hey maybe they can get some free Mets tickets out of the deal? That would make it square right?

  • Cassie says:

    I'm a Cubs fan, so I'm . . . excited, and optimistic and anticipating a swift crush to that optimism. I'll still be excited, but after almost 30 years of it, I've grown to expect the feeling of having my Series dreams broken like an egg.

    However, I can still gloat – one of my roommates is a Reds fan, and one of our friends is a Nationals fan.

  • Drew says:

    @ FloridaErin: Had my annual trip to Tigertown in Lakeland on Saturday and watched the Tigers' starting lineup struggle against the Blue Jays' "B" team (split squad with only two starters along for the trip), but they managed to pull out a comeback 4-3 win.

    The young guys (Jackson, Sizemore, Boesch) are the most back to form (Mags can't hit, Cabrera's still on his way, but getting better), and this new kid, Andy Dirks, is especially great (non-roster invitee leading practically the entire Grapefruit League in hitting, and with a fair number of at-bats, too). Middle relief is a big question mark, but if this rookie reliever–the awesomely named Alberto Albuquerque–hangs onto his control, he's got some pretty nasty stuff (94 mph fastball, sharp slider, good curve, excellent changeup) that could help.

    Seen any games yet? How do you think they're doing?

  • FloridaErin says:

    @Drew So sorry that I JUST saw your comment! However. . . how about Verlander, eh? :-) I'm a little less concerned about Mags, now, and Cabrera looks great when he doesn't have a stomach bug. I have rotation . . . concerns, but I'm waiting to pass judgement until the second time through or so (PENNY!). My husband and I caught a couple games down here and were very, very pleased with what we saw from the young guys. They had to make some heartbreaking cuts, and that's a "problem" I'll take any day!

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