The President of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum defends the decision to move the Legacy Awards Show

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Last week I posted  a link to Sam Mellinger’s story in the Kansas City Star about the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum’s decision not to hold its annual Legacy Awards Show this month.  Today I received an email from the President of the NLBM, Dr. Raymond Doswell, who takes issue with Mellinger’s characterization and, subsequently, my posting regarding it.  Dr. Doswell writes:

 

Thanks again for sharing information about the NLBM on your blog recently.  Let me say that much of what Mr. Mellinger wrote needs clarification.  He was, at best, “incomplete,” at worst “selective,” in his “reporting” of our plans.

Let me start by attaching the full press release regarding our awards and planned changes for the event moving forward.  I will also include you on our media blasts moving forward.

Some quick notes of clarification:

1.       The Legacy Awards were not cancelled; they were never planned for this year.  Not sure how you can cancel an event that was not planned.  It is traditionally held in January, but his date of last weekend for the event is his own creation.  One of the issues we always run into with January is being pinched between the Baseball Writers Awards in NYC, the Super Bowl, and the start of Spring Training. Plus, if you look outside, we are not having “chamber of commerce” kind of weather lately (8 inches of snow and ice just last week).

2.       It is not true that sponsors were not notified of the new direction.  As noted in our statement, we held a focus group with key sponsors and patrons after the last event to recommend changes.  The move from January to November was one of them in part for some of the reasons stated above.  We will have the 2011 season gala come back on 11/11/11 and it will feature centennial salutes to O’Neil and Josh Gibson.   We certainly wanted to announce things a lot sooner, I admit, and we may not have gotten notice to everyone we wanted sooner.  There was much happening in our leadership transition that needed to take priority.

We are very excited for our winners for this year and about our program moving forward.  The museum feels it has made a prudent decision to enhance all of our events for 2011 and position us for a great 2012 with the coming of the MLB All-Star Game.

 

I don’t deign to know enough about what goes on with the Museum to say anything particularly intelligent here.  At most I’ll say that, if Mellinger is correct and that the Legacy Awards have been held in January for the past decade, it’s a bit cute to say that “they were not cancelled; they were never planned for this year.”  Dr. Doswell admits that the decision was made late and that communication of it was less-than-ideal.  If that’s all it was, fine, but one of the signs of a healthy organization is that attention to this sort of thing is well-paid. Of course, as Dr. Doswell admitted to me in his email — and will admit to anyone who asks, I presume — the Museum is not where it wants to be and could use all the support it can get.

People familiar with the Museum will know best about this. For my part, I trust Sam Mellinger’s reporting and have come to have confidence in his opinions. Same for Joe Posnanski, who has previously voiced his concern over the state of the Museum and its management.  Still, in the absence of first-hand knowledge about this stuff, it seems only fair to provide Dr. Doswell with equal time, as it were. Read the press release in full. Read Mellinger’s piece if you haven’t already.  Read Posnanski’s from a couple of months ago.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.