Charlie Manuel, snake-fighting playboy

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This has nothing to do with anything, but it’s a slow news day so far and I’ve been having a lot of fun checking out Baseball-Reference.com’s new Japanese League player pages.

Sadaharu Oh’s career numbers are incredible to look at and Tuffy Rhodes’ page is pretty great too, but my favorite is definitely Charlie Manuel’s stats.

Manuel, who apparently went by “Chuck Manuel” while playing in Japan from 1976-1981, had some monster seasons there in his mid-30s. From 1977-1980 he hit .320 with an average of 42 homers per season, including .325 with 48 homers and 129 RBIs as a 36-year-old in 1980.

And then there’s this, from Baseball-Reference.com’s “bullpen” page about Manuel:

The media fed off of Chuck’s playboy lifestyle, where “[h]is escapades allegedly started early in the evening and concluded right up to the pre-game warm-ups.” Chuck even was pictured in Japanese comic books, using his bat to fight giant snakes.

Chuck Manuel, snake-fighting playboy.

(Complicated handshake to the great Grant Brisbee for alerting me to Manuel’s page.)

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.