Peavy, A-Gone and beer-fueled trade rumors

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jake-peavy-091123.jpgAbout a week ago, rumors cropped up that the Chicago White Sox were looking into dealing for San Diego Padres stud Adrian Gonzalez.

There didn’t seem to be much to the rumors. The Chicago Tribune gave credence to a report that the White Sox, Angels and Padres had discussed a three-way deal that would send Gonzalez to Chicago and Paul Konerko to Anaheim. Then the Chicago Sun-Times trashed the idea, and the whole thing kind of went away.

But then just the other day, a Chicago White Sox blogger wrote about his “Evening With Jake Peavy,” in which the White Sox pitcher allegedly dropped this bombshell during a friendly encounter at a bar:

“We’re trying to get Adrian Gonzalez right now too.” I was like…”Really? I heard about that, but didn’t know if it was true.” He nodded and took another drink.

Peavy, of course, is a former teammate of Gonzalez, so it’s possible he has some inside information on trade talks. It’s also possible he simply saw the reports that everyone else saw. And thirdly, it’s possible that Peavy didn’t say it at all.

Even the author admits that “I’m sure there are some things about the meeting that I might be forgetting. I’ve tried to remember as much as I can, but I was also slightly buzzed at the time.”

It reminds of an encounter I had with a big-league pitcher back in 1997. I was out with some friends drinking beers, watching a cover band play classic rock tunes and having a nice, mellow night. I remember the band had a guest guitar player who didn’t really fit in with the rest of the scruffy group.

This guy wore a blue sport coat, had a $100 haircut and flashed a million-dollar smile. And although he strummed his Fender and moved his lips into the mic, my ears couldn’t pick out either his voice or his instrument. Clearly this band had an astute sound man.

During a break in the action, the band introduced their guest as Mark Langston, a 13-year veteran at the time who would hang on for a couple more years before calling it quits with a 179-158 record and 3.97 ERA.

My friends and I being Mariners fans, we couldn’t miss a chance to talk to our former hero after the show, even though he had left the team eight years earlier in the famous trade that brought Randy Johnson to Seattle.

We chatted with Langston for a bit, asked him how he was doing, and if he was going to play in 1998. He said he felt good, and that it looked like he would be with the San Diego Padres in the upcoming season, which turned out to be true. Then he autographed my buddy’s shirt and said it was a pleasure meeting us. On his way out the door, he stopped and turned back to us, offered us his phone number, and told us to give him a call if we ever made it down to San Diego. Free tickets were ours for the taking.

Of course, it’s possible it didn’t quite happen that way. That was 12 years ago, and I was slightly buzzed at the time.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.