Wednesday Wangdoodles

November, 5, 2008
Today's Link-o-Rama arrives via the home office in Otter Tail County, Minnesota

They killed the Tuba Man. The last time I was at Safeco Field, I tossed a pocketful of change into his hat. Now I wish I'd done that more often, over the years.

• Another in Bronx Banter's ambitiously long series of essays, Josh Wilker writes about his lasting Yankee Stadium memory. And because it's Wilker, of course it's worth reading.

• Yesterday I wrote a bit about Javier Vazquez, whom the White Sox reportedly would love to trade. Well, he's not the only one, as apparently Nick Swisher is available, too. Well, I said teams would be lining up around the block for a shot at Vazquez, and I suspect the same might be true with Swisher. If you look at Swisher's .219 batting average this year, you'd think he had a lousy season. You'd be right. But even more, it was an unlucky season. Swisher's walk percentage, his strikeout percentage, his line-drive percentage … they were all right in line with his career norms. So what happened? He just hit too many atom (as in, "at 'em") balls. Sometimes this happens, though usually not to Swisher's extreme degree. Just watch. Next year, if he's healthy, he'll hit .250 and score 100 runs.

• After weeks of desperate anticipation -- I exaggerate, but only a little -- we finally know who's going to serve as lead anchor on the new MLB Network: (now ex-)Padres broadcaster Matt Vasgersian. He'll be missed in San Diego, where he had a really nice thing going with partner Mark Grant. But Vasgersian seems like a good fit in his new job -- granted, I was sort of hoping it would be Brian Kenny -- and if he gets over his mild antipathy toward sabermetrics he might be great.

• I'll bet you thought these calls for the World Series to be played somewhere warm and neutral were new, right? Hardly. As Bob Timmermann pointed out (during this most recent World Series), baseball writers have been suggesting this since 1975, at least. Me? I've got a hard time imagining the Cubs in the World Series without Wrigley Field. If weather's really an issue, the (admittedly imperfect) solution is obvious: Play a few day-night doubleheaders during the season, then shave a few off-days from the postseason schedule, and you could finish the World Series before the fourth week of October.

• Courtesy of Jon Heyman, the Weirdest Rumor of the Month:

    DANA POINT, Calif. -- The Yankees are exploring a possible bid for free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, and are intrigued enough by Hudson's talent and reputation as an excellent clubhouse influence to bat around the possibilities of trading talented young second baseman Robinson Cano or even signing Hudson with the idea of moving him to centerfield.

I don't believe Brian Cashman could possibly be so foolish as that.

• You have to love Scott Boras, who is so shameless that it's almost endearing. Just off the cuff, he might almost convince you that Derek Lowe is the new Bob Gibson, it doesn't matter what Jason Varitek hits, and a national recession should have no impact at all upon salaries. Hey, at least you can't accuse Boras of having any vested interest …

• And finally, I don't feel that I can let today pass without a brief comment about the history that we all witnessed last night. Some of you voted for the winner, and some of you didn't. Some of you didn't vote at all, and some of you are too young to remember when race was a national obsession.

I'm too young to recall seeing overt segregation, but I'm old enough to remember (among other horrors) the Willie Horton ad. So I was heartened last night to read these words from one of Barack Obama's more strident detractors:

    I was born in 1964, and on the day I was born the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Prince Edward County in Virginia had to reopen its public schools. The county had closed the schools because they decided it was better to have no public schools at all than to have to admit black kids into them. Here we are, just 44 years later, with an African-American president, a president elected with the electoral votes of that very same Commonwealth of Virginia. I voted for John McCain because I admire him immensely as a person, and agree with him on many more issues than I do with Senator Obama. And I ask a rhetorical question: Can we McCain voters, without embarrassment, shed a tear of patriotic joy about the historic significance of what just happened? And I offer a short, rhetorical answer. Yes, we can.

And here's another:

    Let's not forget that there were people who thought it was crazy for Senator Obama to run for president: too young and inexperienced, "funny name," black. He had a lot of things going for him this year -- not least the apparent inability of the Clinton camp to master the rules of the Democratic nomination contest -- but it is remarkable how few mistakes he made, how disciplined and unflappable he was. I do not agree that running a campaign well is much of a qualification for office, but it is nonetheless impressive. And, of course, the fact that a black man has won the presidency is genuinely thrilling. Now I hope he proves to be more moderate than his record indicates.

We don't know what sort of president Barack Obama will be. We can't know. Jimmy Carter ran a fine campaign, and was both intelligent and principled. In many important respects, however, he wasn't much of a president. Many people who voted for Barack Obama believe he is our savior (if not our Savior). Many people who voted against Barack Obama believe he's a socialist (if not a terrorist). The truth lies well toward the middle. One thing he's not, though, is just another politician who's finagled his way into the White House.

When I was little, my mom would tell me, "You can grow up to be whatever you want." Just like moms have been telling their little boys forever in this country. I suppose that black mothers too have been giving that speech to their little boys, at least for the last 30 or 40 years. Now, though, they might feel like it's true.

That seems to me like a big bowl of good. Whoever you voted for.

• Oh, one more thing: a shout-out to our friend Nate Silver, who's been doing incredible work at and, using the same skills that make him a brilliant baseball analyst, nailed the election results almost exactly. Nate has become a phenomenon, and in four years we're going to see even more of him on TV than we did this fall. Well played, sir. Very well played (even if your trusty polls completely missed everything in Alaska).


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