Yes, Terry Leach will be included in the 1991 Minnesota Twins anniversary bobblehead set

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This story is less interesting because of the baseball and bobblehead angle than it is for something else, but first the background:

The Twins are selling a set of bobblehead dolls commemorating the 1991 World Series championship team. And it has every player plus manager Tom Kelly! At least now it does. At first it was only going to have 24 players plus Kelly, leaving out one: reliever Terry Leach. They subsequently fixed that, and now Leach will be included, but why was he originally left off?

Here’s where it gets interesting to me.  Here’s the story from the Star-Tribune:

At first, team spokesman Chris Iles said the collection was limited to 25 dolls, so the team bumped Leach to make room for Kelly … A few hours after the announcement, the Twins executive in charge of the promotion said Leach was omitted only because the team mistakenly sent to the factory in China a roster that included just those who played in the ALCS [which Leach did not].

While it may be more polite to Leach to suggest it was an oversight, does the second explanation make sense to you?  If you’re commemorating the World Series champions, why would you look at the ALCS roster?  At the same time, it does make some logical sense to me that a special order of some plastic knicknack from some Chinese (or wherever) factory would have to come in lots of 25, because that’s the kind of number that lots of things might come in. Part of me wonders if someone said “crap, if we go to lots of 26 the packaging is all messed up, we have to order custom and that’s gonna cost a lot. Who do you think we could leave off without someone noticing?”

To be clear, I have no idea what really went down and I am not for a moment suggesting that the Twins were doing anything sketchy. The part of me that wonders that sort of thing is the part of me that is cynical. And the part of me that gets a good chuckle at silly stuff, such as the prospect of people having meetings about bobblehead policy in which nefarious plots are hatched.  That part of me thinks that the first explanation was the truthful one and that someone made the judgement that Leach was expendable, never thinking it would be a big deal.

But even more interesting to me in this the role of the public relations professional.  I’ve had some dealings with these sorts of people in the past. Mostly corporate spokespersons, but some political too.  It’s a tougher job than you think, because they’re so rarely given complete information.  Sometimes by design — it’s not a lie if the person saying it doesn’t know better! — but usually it’s because stuff that needs PR attention happens fast, it’s hard to get full information from the people in charge and the PR person is forced to think on their feet. Often that leads to explanations of things that are plausible but aren’t exactly, well, truthful.  They did their best with the information given, ya know? Like this, which is one possible thought process that went into that second explanation:

“Why is this my problem?  How am I supposed to know why there’s no Terry Leach bobblehead?  I’ve been working on this Justin Morneau rehab update all day.  OK, think. Think.  Hmm, maybe Leach wasn’t in the World Series. I was five-years-old when that went down, so let’s look that up.  No, he was in it. Damn.  ALCS?  Hmm, he didn’t pitch in the ALCS.  That might work.  Heck, it’s not like anyone will notice this or make a big deal out of it. I mean, who has so pathetic a life that they they’re going to sit for 25 minutes and scrutinize a press release about a freakin’ Terry Leach bobblehead doll?”

Oh. Man. I hate it when I actually insult myself when writing other people’s imagined inner-monologues.

In other news, you can buy the bobblehead set — Terry Leach included — for $391 starting Monday at 9 a.m. at www.twinsbaseball.com/1991. Proceeds will go to the Minnesota Twins Community Fund.

Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell, Ivan Rodriguez to be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday

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This Sunday three players will be honored in Cooperstown as Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez become the 313th, 314th and 315th members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Executives Bud Selig and John Schuerholz will be inducted as well, making it 316 and 317.

Raines was quite possibly the NL’s best player in a five-year span from 1983-87.  WAR thinks so, placing him ahead of Mike Schmidt, Tony Gwynn and Dale Murphy, all of whom got more plaudits at the time. Raines hit .318/.406/.467 during that period and averaged 114 runs scored and 71 steals per year. During those five years, only Rickey Henderson scored more runs (572-568) and only Wade Boggs had a better OBP (.443 to .406). That Raines had to wait until his last year of eligibility was in large part due to him being a very similar player to Henderson. Which is kind of an unfair comparison — Henderson is one of the best players of all time — but that’s how the voters operate sometimes.

Bagwell likewise had to wait a bit longer than he should’ve, mostly due to thus far evidence-free beliefs that he used PEDs. On the merits, Bagwell was one of the best first basemen of all time, with a career line of .297/.408/.540, 449 homers and 1,529 RBI. Between 1994 and 2001, he averaged — averaged! — a line of .306/.428/.589, 37 homers and 120 RBI while playing in perhaps the worst hitters park in history in the Astrodome.

People whispered about Rodriguez and PEDs just as much as they did Bagwell, but he got in on the first ballot, suggesting that the BBWAA is getting over its hangups. He is also clearly deserving of induction. Rodriguez, the 1999 AL MVP, was named to 14 All-Star teams and he won 13 Gold Gloves. He finished his career with a .296/.334/.464 line, 311 homers and 1,332 RBI. His 2,427 games caught is a major league record. He was, without question, the best defensive catcher of his era and many believe he was the best of all time. If he’s not, he’s in the top two or three.

As for the executives: we’re long on record as believing that Bud Selig’s induction is a disgrace. It was nonetheless a foregone conclusion, as the Hall of Fame has tended to view induction as part of retiring commissioners’ severance package. If there was any remaining doubt about him getting in, the fact that the committee which elected Selig was, more or less, hand-picked by people loyal to Selig and/or Major League Baseball put it to rest.  John Schuerholz is clearly deserving as he was one of the top executives of the past half century, starting out with the Orioles and then building winners in both Kansas City and Atlanta, sustaining those organizations’ success for far longer periods than most teams experience it.

Beyond those two, ESPN’s Claire Smith will be on the stage to accept the 2017 J. G. Taylor Spink Award, given to baseball writers. She is the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor.  Athletics broadcaster will be honored as the Ford C. Frick Award winner for broadcasting. Smith passed away in 2005.

The ceremony will be held on a big lawn a mile south of the Hall of Fame. If you’re in the neighborhood, admission is free and lawn chairs and blankets and things are welcome. If you’re not in the neighborhood, the festivities will be broadcast live on MLB Network and will be shown via webcast at http://www.baseballhall.org.

Aaron Judge broke a tooth celebrating the Yankees walkoff win

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Brett Gardner hit a walkoff homer last night, giving the Yankees a dramatic 11-inning win. A grand celebration ensued. And then a trip to the dentist presumably ensured for Aaron Judge.

Seems that Judge broke a tooth during the scrum, as Gardner’s helmet — which was bouncing around, not on Gardner’s head — bounced up and smacked Judge in the mouth. Judge quickly went to the clubhouse and wasn’t available for comment afterward. If he was, he likely would’ve said “Thith wath a great win. Gardner juth looked for hith pitch and put a good thwing on it.”

Judge is expected to make the start tonight for the Yankees.