The Week That Was in Baseball: January 23-29, 2012
Prince Fielder, Detroit's Latest Fat Cat • Jim Crane's Houston Name Game
Oscar Love for Moneyball • Why the Marlins May Soon Play Host to the Homeless
The Prince of Motown
If reigning Tiger star hitter Miguel Cabrera was thrilled to have Martinez hitting behind him in the lineup, he’s probably doing cartwheels over the fact that it will be Fielder abutting him in the lineup. (Just celebrate sober, Miguel; we’ve heard about you.) Fielder must be equally as happy, knowing that he’s got great protection in the lineup just as he did in Milwaukee with Ryan Braun.The Tiger accounting department, meanwhile, will be wide-eyed to see that three Detroit playersCabrera, Fielder and ace pitcher Justin Verlanderwill each be making at least $20 million a year over the next three seasons.
Nominations for Moneyball also went to Pitt (best actor), Johan Hill (best supporting actor), film editing, sound mixing and best original screenplay (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin). And by the way: Why nine best picture nominations? Because of new Academy rules in which any film that gets 5% of the total vote is nominated, up to ten films. So like the Hall of Fame vote, if Moneyball doesn’t win this year, is it eligible for next year’s nominees?
House the Homeless, or Else
And Then There Were Two
Posada was a solid supporting hitter in the lineup, seldom the star MVP candidate. Eight times he hit over 20 homers, topping out with 30 in 2003the same year he also set a personal high with 101 runs batted in. Only once did Posada hit over .300, and that came in anomalous fashion when he spiked to .338 in 2007. For his career, he hit .273 with 1,664 hits and 275 homersthe latter figure good for eighth on the all-time Yankee list.In 2011, Posada suffered a somewhat bitter final year in New York in which he struggled at the plate and, at one point, balked at playing when he looked at the lineup card and found himself batting ninth. But he stepped down proud to have played his entire career with the Yankees, saying that he “had the idea to play somewhere else, but it wasn’t in” him.
One More Time
Fallout of the Fellow Formerly Fausto
Now Playing at TGG
What's in a Name, Crane?
The Astros originally were not the Astros; they began in 1962 as the Colt .45s, changing it to the current designation in 1965 with their move to the space-age Astrodome. The name seems to have stuck with the locals; a Houston Chronicle poll released this week showed that 80% of respondents would like Astros just the way it is.
Some teams have changed names in the past through relocation, because it doesn’t quite make sense to hear about the Texas Senators or the Washington Expos. But below is a chronological list of some of the more curious rebrands by teams who weren’t on the move:
The New York Yankees. When they arrived from Baltimore in 1903, the fabled franchise to be was named the Highlanders because it played at Hilltop Park, atop a hill in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. When the rickety ballpark no longer suited the team and it decided to begin paying rent down the bluff at the Polo Grounds (home of the New York Giants) in 1913, it changed the name to Yankees in part because local newspaperstired of having to cram “Highlanders” into their headlineshad been informally calling them that anyway.
The Cleveland Indians. Originally the Blues, they became the Naps in 1905 in honor of star player Nap Lajoie, who had arrived in Cleveland several years earlier. When the fading star was released after 1914, the Naps became the Indians allegedly in honor of another player: Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play in the majors when he dressed up for the NL’s Cleveland Spiders from 1897-99. (Sockalexis died a year before the name change.) Even today, Native American groups frown on the ‘dignified’ tribute, claiming that racial stereotyping was behind it.
The Brooklyn Robins. First they were the Superbas, then briefly the Dodgersand then, in 1914, they became the Robins for newly-hired manager Wilbert Robinson, who piloted through 1931. Once he stepped down, the name went back to Dodgers, a reference to Brooklyn’s ‘trolley dodgers’ of times gone by.
The Boston Bees. The Braves’ disastrous 38-115 finish in 1935 forced an aging Babe Ruth to retire, owner Emil Fuchs to selland an attempted name change to make everyone forget about it all. The new owners tried to go with Bees, but they never used it on their jerseys and both fans and reporters kept calling them the Braves. Maybe had they striped their uniforms in bands of black and yellow and stuck antennae on their caps…
The Philadelphia Blue Jays. Stranger than the Bees’ plight was the happenings in Philadelphia in 1944 after one owner declared bankruptcy and his successor (William Cox) was quickly booted out by baseball for gambling. The Carpenter family took over and decided to officially rechristen the team the Blue Jaysbut their embracement of the new name was even more halfhearted; they even kept “Phillies” on the uniform. (Perhaps they didn’t have the funds in time of war to create new uniforms.) The schizophrenic identity likely confused enough people into staying with the old defaultas did the Phillies, who officially went back to calling themselves just that in 1946.
The Cincinnati Redlegs. During the Cold War, calling yourselves the Reds opened yourself up to a bit of scrutinyand possibly a seat in front of Senator Joe McCarthy to answer as to why. So to affiliate themselves more in line with Middle America than Moscow, the Cincinnati Reds renamed themselves the Redlegs in 1953; six years later, with the mass hysteria cooling off, they went back to Reds.
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Angels have been associated with everything in the Los Angeles Basin in their 50 years of play except for Azusa, Pomona and Rancho Cucamonga. The team nickname has always been the same; in this case, the location has been the transient issue. And it never got more controversial than in 2005 when owner Artie Moreno decided to change his franchise from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a novel attempt to connect with the big city north of Orange County. The City of Anaheimwhich had insisted on its name being part of the team identity as a condition to help pay for a redo of Angel Stadiumbecame infuriated and sued, but Moreno successfully argued that “Anaheim” is still part of the team name. (Never mind that sports editors chafe at the long name and simply refer to the Angels in print and online as “Los Angeles Angels.”)
The Tampa Bay Rays. For the first ten years of their existence, the Rays were called the Devil Raysbut the team’s florid tropical colors and two-worded nickname seemed so minor league, and their play on the field (ten losing seasons in ten years) only gave them more of a bush league reputation. Owner Stuart Sternberg, who took over the team in 2005, re-imagined the franchise as, simply, the Rays in 2008, trashing the marine template for more traditional colors; in four years since, the Rays have not suffered a losing season, winning two AL East titles and an AL pennant. See what branding can do?
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