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Off Base
Texas Holds Em

June 27, 2006

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary defines a Texas Leaguer as “a poorly hit ball that loops meekly over the infield and lands for a hit.”

Dickson goes on to attribute a “term used everywhere but in the Texas League” to the 1933 Baseball Scrap Book, and this little gem to, of all people, H. L. Mencken: A Texas Leaguer is “a pop fly which nevertheless takes the batter to first base.”

(Mencken also said: “Conscience is a mother-in-law whose visit never ends.”)

The Texas League, according to Dickson, is simply an “AA minor league with eight franchises, in San Antonio, Midland,” etc.

I say, if you’re looking for breath-of-fresh-air Major League-ready ball players, and especially if you’re a Dodgers’ personnel man, the Texas League is the place to go. Take Interstate 10, go about 900 miles, bathroom break in Casa Grande or Las Cruces if you must, and turn right pretty much anywhere you want.

You’ll find the Texas League Players of the Year especially handy in Los Angeles. Like say, last year’s winner, Andre Ethier. Tell me Ethier’s not a find. And check out this list of TLPOY and Pitchers of the Year award winners who went on to play for the Dodgers:

1966 - Tommy Hutton, Albuquerque
1966 - Fred Norman, Dallas/Ft Worth
1968 - Bill Sudakis, Albuquerque
1971 - Enos Cabell, Dallas/Ft. Worth
1980 - Tim Leary, Jackson
1981 - Steve Sax, San Antonio
1982 - Darryl Strawberry, Jackson
1983 - Sid Fernandez, San Antonio
1987 - Dennis Cook, Shreveport
1990 - Henry Rodriguez, San Antonio
1999 - Eric Gagne, San Antonio
2005 - Andre Ethier, Midland

Though not winning awards, but still fine examples of Texas League production, pitching a year each in Texas, Fernando Valenzuela and Don Sutton won 28 games between them.

And a few non-Dodgers Texas League award winners for your consideration: Dizzy Dean, Hank Greenberg, Al Rosen, Gil McDougald, Phil Linz, Joe Morgan, Nate Colbert, Bobby Grich, Mickey Rivers, Willie Aikens, Billy Jo Robidoux, Gregg Jefferies, Ray Lankford, John Jaha, Johnny Damon, Chad Tracy, Frank Tanana, Dennis Eckersley, Calvin Schiraldi, Andy Benes, Keith Foulke, Kirk Saarloos, Jeff Francis.

BTW: Props to Billy Beane, for that nice winter trade. Andre Ethier to Los Angeles for a sack of mush…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged.

Philanthropy Watch: Hey, we really have to say “way to go” to Warren Buffett. You done good, and the Parrotheads are proud…

Jackass of the Week: It’s been quite a week for the voters, what with Ozzie Guillen, John Rocker and Jeffrey Loria making such incredible asses of themselves. Brett Myers really had us going with that beating the crap out of his wife thing, but jackass isn’t the right word for Myers, so no trophy for that guy. Sorry bleep-hole, even in a jackass contest, you’re an unbelievable loser.

Besides, it’s a tie this week. Major League Baseball shares the honors with Eternal Image, Inc., for teaming to promote the sport’s latest merchandising creation – coffins and urns emblazoned with the team logo of your dead fan’s choice. No joke.

I couldn’t make up marketing copy like this. These are direct quotes from the cemetery tchotchke maker’s website: “Death is not a fun topic. We know – we’ve surveyed mourners, mortuary owners, funeral directors and clergy to get their views on the funeral process.”

“For many people, plain is just fine. Vanilla ice cream, generic coffee, basic black, a pine box. For the rest of us there needs to be more – a form of self-expression that reflects a life well-lived.” In other words, nothing says “final statement” like a Tampa Bay Devil Ray fish-head, glued on a piece of shiny wood, placed six feet under.

My final resting place has been set for years, actually; otherwise I might’ve considered a little blue around the edges. An old buddy of mine, a guy named Evans, has pledged to spread my ashes on the warning track at Chavez Ravine. It’s been arranged so that whatever time of year I bite the dust, October being a good guess, Evans is to wait until the November R.V. Show, and while feigning interest in a Winnebago, slip quietly onto the track to pour...

Investors Wanted: Invest a thimble full of venture capital today, make major league minimum tomorrow…

Policy Note: Each time a baseball player is arrested for spousal abuse, BaseballSavvy.com rips him a new one. Figuratively, of course. The boys in the hole can handle any literal applications that may be forthcoming. We also like to mention Bobby Cox whenever these things occur. It’s been our policy for years. In fact, while we hope it’s not necessary for some time, Eternal Image can supply the coffin with tomahawk highlights, and we’ll supply the epitaph: “Bobby Cox, arguably baseball’s finest regular season manager; wife beater.”

Mixed Reviews: So far, Ned Colletti has shown a good eye for free agents, and an ability to sign them. His trades have been busts. No G.M. gets it all right, and especially not in such a short period of time, but Colletti’s true test starts right now.

This business about trades being difficult to make for one reason or another is a bunch of BS. Fred Claire said it all the time. So did Paul DePodesta. Of course trades are difficult to make. But there are always things you can do. If you do them better than your counterparts, you win.

Front office performance is part of what makes a championship season. Like players, G.M.s have career years, and it’s in that year that his team has its best shot. Because of his work in San Francisco, Colletti understands that.

With 22 or 23 out of 25 parts in working order, the Dodgers are in good shape to turn their season. That’s more than most clubs can say. My guess is we’ll see a top prospect dealt, and a veteran that will surprise us...

Private Joke: With his booming home run over the weekend, BaseballSavvy.com favorite Joe Randa is on the precipice of double-figure RBIs for the season…

Subscribe Free to BaseballSavvy.com: To really get the full effect, you gotta get the email Click here...

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….




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