So, since about Sunday evening, I’ve been laid out either in bed or on my couch, getting beaten down by a particularly nasty version of the flu. I haven’t been particularly plugged in to much of anything; just a reality consisting of the aches and pains that the flu drags along with it.
Then, at one point this afternoon, I rolled over and caught the ticker scrolling across the bottom of ESPNews; “Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus will be inducted in the Hall of Fame as winner of the Ford C. Frick award for 2008″. A rare smile crossed my face; my body was still chilly, but my heart was a little bit warmer.
Growing up, our family didn’t have a TV. I read books - every single Hardy Boy book ever published, in fact - and listened to the radio. My parents ran their own business, and often I’d go to work with them in lieu of having a babysitter. I wasn’t particularly interested in auto repair, so I’d find the radio. And in the radio, I found Dave Niehaus. He was usually welcoming me, along with all his other friends that were apparently listening, to a beautiful day out for baseball. It was always a beautiful day out for baseball. Listening to Dave string sentences together, I learned how to love baseball, even without seeing the game be played. His words painted a vivid enough picture for me.
I learned baseball from him. I learned that Jim Presley was terrible, Harold Reynolds was fast, that Alvin Davis was Mr. Mariner, and that the team didn’t have any pitching. They never had any pitching. Through Bill Swift, he taught me what a sinkerball was. Through Scott Bradley, he taught me that catchers could be left-handed. Through John Moses, he taught me that you can give anyone a nickname by just shortening their last name. And through Ivan Calderon, he taught me that hispanic players could have Russian first names.
Dave Niehaus taught me how to be annoyed by Bip Roberts, who seemingly killed us every March in spring training. I knew the games didn’t count, but listening to him call yet another hit for a guy named Bip just got my blood boiling. He taught me how to love Erik Hansen’s curveball, Mike Jackson’s slider, and Henry Cotto’s mustache. He made sure I never called Greg Briley anything but Pee-Wee, and reminded me that Ken Griffey’s real name was just Junior. I remember hearing Dave call Junior’s first at-bat in spring training of ‘89, as well as his Opening Day double in Oakland. I didn’t see either of those things happen, but you can’t convince me of that, because the call is etched in my memory stronger than any picture I could stare at.
Dave was the voice of 1994, when the M’s made a furious charge to take the lead in a division race that would never finish. And he was the voice of 1995, when I realized I didn’t care about labor stoppages or player’s unions but just wanted baseball to come back again. He was there on May 26th, when I heard him call Kevin Bass’ shot in the gap that broke Junior’s wrist. He was there on August 24th, when Junior launched a walkoff HR against the invincible John Wetteland to start the miracle run. I have these dates memorized thanks in large part to the audio of Dave’s voice that runs through my head. I can’t separate those moments from his descriptions, not that I would ever want to.
I don’t know Dave Niehaus. I’ve met him once, but I don’t pretend that gives me insight into who he is. All I know is what I’ve seen and heard; the man likes Hawaiian shirts, Lou Piniella, and the squeeze play. But I feel like I know more about him than that. I grew up with him, and he’s involved in more of my childhood memories than anyone whose last name isn’t Cameron. For me, Dave Niehaus was like that cool Uncle who always brought you something fun. He just happened to bring me baseball.
Congratulations Dave - you deserve this. You deserve to know that you taught me, and thousands of people like me, how to love this game and this team, and you did it well. Enjoy Cooperstown; I’m sure July 27th will be a beautiful day out for baseball.
The most important thing Jacoby Ellsbury learned last year is what he showed everyone in the World Series - that he could succeed in the majors.After spending just over a month in the big leauges at the end of last season, the rookie center fielder supplanted Coco Crisp as the starter in the World Series [...]
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Parochial interest compels me to link to Bryan Smith's review of the "16 more teams that could make some noise in 2008." CSULB was earlier picked in the coaches' poll to win the Big West conference, and Smith likes them as a possible candidate to go to Omaha:
After a summer spent coaching Team USA, Mike Weathers returns to Long Beach with what looks to be a nice, complete team. They do have some star power, with junior shortstop Danny Espinosa and closer Bryan Shaw both likely to land in the first three rounds in June's draft. Between Shane Peterson and Jason Corder this looks like a good, veteran lineup, and on the mound junior ace Vance Worley is healthy with two experienced seniors behind him. The Dirtbags are the favorite to win the Big West, and after watching a few veteran teams make runs to Omaha a year ago, I wouldn?t count them out for a trip to Nebraska in June.
Each year teams arrive at Spring Training with question marks. Some personnel decisions will have marginal impact but for a number of teams with post-season aspirations, making the right choice in March and April will go a long way in determining their[...]
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Big day for the Phillies today as they are scheduled to meet on Ryan Howard?s request for $10 million dollars for 2008 with the arbitrator. The Phillies are offering $7 million dollars and it is unlikely that the team and Howard will reach an accord prior to today?s hearing. The likely outcome is a messy hearing that sees the Phillies forced to argue and present evidence as to why Howard doesn?t deserve the money, while Howard must present evidence that he is worthy. I did a little research on the subject and found the whole topic of arbitration to be shadowy and mysterious. As near as I could discover, it appears to me that the largest arbitration award Howard is seeking would be the largest ever handed down, so there will be quite a lot of attention paid to the hearing from outside of the Phillies organization.
Interesting facts: the Phillies haven?t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2001, when they fought with Travis Lee. In their history, the Phillies have won all seven of their arbitration hearings.
The largest award I?ve found is the one Alfonso Soriano won in 2006 ($10 million). Soriano, however, had extra playing time compared with Howard. Miguel Cabrera won $7.4 million last year in arbitration and he had less experience than Howard has, so it seems virtually assured that the Phillies are going to see Howard walk away with more than their asking price.
If the Phillies prevail, their basic argument will be that Howard should make what Albert Pujols made in 2004, his fourth season in the big leagues, when he made $7 million. Ultimately the Cardinals went and signed Pujols to a 7-year deal worth $100 million, which is what the Phillies want to see happen here.More tomorrow...
The Cubs farm system garnered a lot of attention last year and figures to have an impact once again this season. The manor in which Lou Piniella handled his young players last year had a ripple effect throughout the organization. Baseball America and Scout.com are two of the most well respected publications in the business and both recently released their new prospect guides for the upcoming season.
It is always interesting to read the varying opinions....
The White Sox appear to be looking at Bartolo Colon as a possibility for their 5th starter. Bartolo[...]
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I knew Santino was going to have to go through all this . . . but I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life, I don't apologize, to take care of my family, and I refused to be a fool dancing on the strings held by all of those big shots. That's my life, I don't apologize for that, but I always thought that, when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings.
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