February 23, 2007

Link-O-Rama

  • Newspaper article about the Phillies or romance novel? You decide:
    There's something different about Abraham Nunez. His pleasant smile has evaporated. His twinkling eyes have hardened.

    I've seen prose like that about Derek Jeter, but Abraham Nunez?!

  • The NBA's trading deadline came and went with shockingly little action yesterday, but the week of unfulfilled rumors leading up to it did coax this interesting quote from Kevin Garnett, on the topic of why he hasn't asked for a trade:
    It sounds like people want better for me. And my perspective is, why do I have to be the component that's moved? Why can't organizations change? Why can't things change in the front office to bring in different people to better it?

    It's nice to know that Garnett views the situation almost exactly the same as I do, which is to say that he's not even close to the problem, whereas the people in charge of surrounding him with teammates are a disaster. Put in Garnett's shoes, I might look at the mediocre roster and inept decision-makers around me, and decide to get the hell out before it's too late. To his credit, Garnett sees things differently: "Man, I have hope. I'm not one of these people who just up and bail when things are tough."

  • Garnett is, however, "one of these people who" trash talks a random scrub on the opposing team. Ricky Davis apparently chooses slightly more interesting targets to converse with during games.
  • Friend of AG.com Seth Stohs has been pumping out an incredible number of good interviews lately, including Pat Neshek, Kevin Slowey, Danny Powers, and Chris Coste within the last two weeks alone.
  • This site has always been more about analysis and opinion rather than rumors and scoops, but I occasionally get some inside information or juicy gossip thrown my way. Usually it's off the record and in private--and some of the time it's ultimately off base--but every once in a while someone with accurate information doesn't mind sharing it here publicly. For instance, back on February 9 an anonymous reader posted the following note in the comments section:
    You might not have Jason Williams to kick around much longer. Rumor has it that Gordon Wittenmyer is going to Chicago to cover the Cubs and that Williams might be getting a new job too. St. Paul is already advertising for one of the jobs.

    That's obviously not exactly earth-shattering news--even on a blog some might say is obsessed with the newspaper industry--which is why I didn't think enough of the note to re-publish it outside of the comments section. However, sure enough the aforementioned job listing showed up and now I see that Gordon Wittenmyer has indeed left the St. Paul Pioneer Press to cover the Cubs for the Chicago Sun-Times.

    For now at least it looks like Jason Williams remains at the Pioneer Press, although like LaVelle E. Neal III and Joe Christensen at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he's been forced to suffer the indignity of blogging. For LEN3 and Christensen it seems like a welcomed opportunity to interact with readers and share information that otherwise wouldn't have made it into the newspaper, but thanks to some of that off-the-record, in-private gossip I'm fairly certain Williams doesn't feel the same way.

    UPDATE: Entries like this are why, in addition to being the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, LEN3 is going to be an excellent blogger:

    My buddy Jim Souhan has arrived and already has stirred up controversy. He was in the corner of the clubhouse, talking with Torii Hunter about MY basketball game. I've routinely admitted to being the worst basketball player--ever--from Chicago, but I haven't been on a court with Jim for about six years, and I don't know why he's bringing up my game at 8:45 a.m.

    All I could do was confirm his story. "It's true, Torii," I said. "I've created a new position--power guard."

    That story is amusing enough that I'm willing to let him off the hook for being buddies with Shecky Souhan.

  • The world's best NBA player-turned-blogger, Gilbert Arenas, explained how he ended up dunking off a trampoline alongside a bunch of Elvis look-alikes in the middle of the All-Star game.
  • Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday that he expects both Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson to make the Opening Day starting rotation. I liked the Ponson signing, which is merely a minor-league contract unless he makes the team, at which point he costs $1 million. However, Ortiz is a given in the rotation because of his $3.1 million salary and having both of them alongside Carlos Silva might be too much for even the Twins to overcome once they reluctantly decide to trust young talent in the second half.
  • Interestingly, Christensen used his new blog to publish Gardenhire's comments on Ponson about a dozen hours before they showed up in the actual newspaper, utilizing one of many advantages to blogging.
  • As perhaps the world's lone remaining Barry Bonds fan, I enjoyed this spring-training tidbit from the San Francisco Chronicle:
    Matt Cain was throwing cheese to Barry Bonds, maybe not 95 mph, but close enough. When Cain got Bonds to swing and miss at a chest-level fastball, he flashed a big smile from the mound and threw another heater, this one belt-high. Bonds fouled it off the ceiling of the cage.

    Bonds then looked at the kid barely half his age standing 60 feet away and said, "Throw it again." Cain said, "OK, here it comes."

    And there it went. At the Giants' first workout for position players, less than 24 hours after Bonds flew in from Las Vegas, he connected with a serious fastball from Cain and smashed it over the fence in right-center field at Scottsdale Stadium. With that, Bonds left the cage, flipped his bat and declared, "I'm ready."

    Bonds was interviewed by Jim Gray at the NBA All-Star game and gave such friendly, joking answers that my mom asked, "Is that the same Bonds who everyone hates?"

  • In an interview with The Big Picture, former ESPN.com writer Dan Shanoff said a whole bunch of stuff I agree with about blogs, mainstream media, online versus print, and various other topics I cover here regularly. It's worth reading, as is Shanoff's blog.

    UPDATE: The Big Picture also just published an interview with Dan Steinberg, who blogs for the Washington Post's website. As a "mainstream blogger" he provides an interesting perspective and, as you might expect from someone who writes a great blog, gives a lot of really good answers.

  • I'm on camera at NBCSports.com at least once per week these days and took part in a mainstream print media photo shoot a couple weeks ago, yet decided--completely at random and for absolutely zero reason--to experiment with my facial hair. I didn't shave for the first 20 days of February and find it oddly fascinating that my beard's progress can be tracked via my weekly video reports. It's like time-lapse photography, except with way more fantasy baseball involved.

    You can see what the beard looked like after three days and what it looked like after three weeks. If for some strange reason you're not into watching the hair on my face grow from week-to-week, updates on the situation were also available via my Rotoworld colleague Gregg Rosenthal's blog. Seriously. Back on February 2, when the experiment was in its infancy, Gregg wrote: "Aaron Gleeman's stubble shows up in the baseball show."

    Then, after returning from a lengthy trip to Japan, Gregg reported that "Tiffany [Simons] and Aaron Gleeman's burgeoning beard held down the fort on the baseball show" while he was gone. If nothing else, the last beard to get this much play on Rotoworld was Johnny Damon's Jesus look. I'd show you what it looks like now, except I chickened out and ended the experiment the other day so I could take a clean-shaven headshot for something.

    Truth be told, it was a sorry excuse for a beard. There was far too much coverage in the neck area and not nearly enough coverage in the goatee area, which made the whole operation look ridiculous. With that said, I'm proud to have at least gone from "stubble" to a "burgeoning beard" within the span of 17 days. It makes me think that, if given enough time--perhaps six months or 15 years--I could come up with a legitimate, Ron Silver-like beard that we could all be proud of.

  • Say what you want about Pacman Jones, but who wouldn't want to be buddies with a guy who carries a trash bag filled with $81,020 into a strip club to provide "visual effect." I have so many questions about this story that I don't know where to start. Isn't the point of going to a strip club that the women there provide all the "visual effect" needed? Why a trash bag? Was the money bundled neatly in large denominations or did he stuff a bunch of singles in? Why $81,020 and not, say, $80,000?

    There are about 1,000 other potential questions where those came from, even without getting into what actually took place once Jones got to the strip club (it sounds like he got Britney Spears-level crazy). When he's not reporting on my facial hair, Rosenthal's blog is a great place to find Pacman-related updates, especially given that the mainstream media seems remarkably hesitant to cover the story for whatever reason.

  • Howard Stern, Bubba the Love Sponge, and MLB radio together under one big roof? It doesn't get any better than that for me, but can we get the damn stock price up a little bit before I go broke?
  • Dave Campbell of the Associated Press penned a nice, quote-filled feature on Jason Kubel, who enters spring training with the designated-hitter job his to lose. Considering how quickly many fans have given up on him after two injury-wrecked seasons, I expect Kubel to shock a lot of people with how well he plays in 2007.
  • After making this discovery, I can't decide if it's a sign that I've truly "made it" or a sign that Wikipedia has jumped the shark, because it seems to me that it has to be one or the other. (For the record, I had nothing do with the creation of the page. Some other loser can be blamed, mocked, and ridiculed for that.)
  • As discussed here in the past, I have an irrational fear of talking on the phone. I have zero problem chatting in person or on camera, but something about phone conversations freak me out, which is why my mom has always jokingly told people that I was "scared by the phone at a young age." It's an amazingly inconvenient phobia for someone who often gets asked to do radio interviews, but thankfully a little prodding from my employers has caused me to take some baby steps to get over the fear.

    I'm signed on to do a weekly call-in segment for an NBCSports.com show, the first of which took place yesterday afternoon, and I'm booked to do Baseball Prospectus Radio early next week. I'd need a time machine to make good on the dozens of radio shows whose invitations I stupidly rejected over the past couple years, but hopefully as I get more comfortable doing the phone-in thing I can make up for passing on so many good opportunities. Either that or I'll finally be able to order pizzas for myself.

  • Please check out my new article on draft strategy over at Rotoworld.
  • Last but not least, I want to thank everyone who answered my call earlier this week for suggestions, advice, and ideas on a few topics. I've looked over the 80 comments and 30 e-mails I received, and jotted down quite a few notes from the various information offered. In particular, I found some good ideas for subtlely improving the look of the site, a couple new features to implement, and some names to fill out my Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com tournament bracket.

    As long-time reader Barry Hess pointed out to me last night, one of the great things about this site is that it allows me to be what Malcolm Gladwell describes as a "connector" in his book, The Tipping Point (which, incidentally, I'm in the middle of reading right now). Without this blog, how else could I get in touch with a dozen web designers and a handful of realtors who'd like to help me, not to mention hundreds of strangers willing to offer up their ideas? The internet is a hell of a drug.


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