Picking out some news links on a Thursday afternoon that we hope will be relevant on Sunday afternoon is a bit of a fool’s errand in the era of the 24 second news cycle. So while I will do a recap of the Angels and baseball news from the week, my primary goal in doing the weekend links is to provide you with things that pique your interest enough to want to come back and enjoy them. I’ll touch on themes, revisit stories, and link some longer form pieces that go perfectly with some weekend morning coffee or afternoon downtime.
The first installment is on a subject I love, the Negro Leagues…..
History is written by the victors and for a long time the victors at MLB have only recognized the segregated American and National Leagues as being “major” leagues. All those talented players in the Negro, Pacific Coast, and Cuban Leagues were overlooked. At long last the players in the Negro Leagues are getting their due and being tagged as “major.”
Statistics from the Negro Leagues will be added to the MLB database but it will take a while to do so, largely due to a lack of comprehensive records. The best records of Negro League games come from now defunct newspapers that served the black communities of their era and most are not digitized, many editions no longer exist. The folks at Seamheads have pored through as many of those old papers as they could find and have set up a fascinating site.
Move over 1927 Yankees(?) The 1933 Pittsburgh Crawfords featured five players who would end up in Cooperstown. There’s a legitimate debate about who was the greatest team in baseball history.
I can’t help but think that this recognition is the pinnacle of the life work of Buck O’neil. who worked tirelessly championing the league. You might remember him from Ken Burn’s “Baseball” for his smile, obvious warmth, and love of both baseball and humanity. He championed the Negro Leagues and was instrumental in getting the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum built in his native Kansas City. I read an incredible biography on him over the summer, “The Soul of Baseball” that I can not recommend enough.
I’ll be rolling out a series of baseball book reviews this offseason. Anybody looking to learn more about the league and/or its players should check out biographies on Oscar Charleston and Satchel Paige. Hank Aaron’s autobiography is powerful in so many ways as he integrated the Southern League as a minor leaguer before becoming the home run king. He also stopped in the Negro Leagues for a couple years. So did Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson. Those links are to books, not stats, and I recommend them all.
Still on the outside looking in is the Pacific Coast League, the original home of our Angels. I haven’t read either but an interesting history of the league and book focusing on its integration are on my list. We moved much faster on the West Coast.
In the meantime I’m starting How Baseball Happened, a novel on the true history of the game. Anticipate a review and interview with the author in early 2021.
So getting to that theme and longform business I promised. The history of baseball and the history of America are intrinsically intertwined. This longform piece on Devin Williams shows that continues to be the case. Best thing I’ve read all week.
Inside that piece it hits another theme: the lack of youngsters, particularly inner city youngsters, playing baseball. The Chicago White Sox are doing something great about that through their Amateur City Elite program and it is already yielding results in the form of players getting scholarships and drafted. And as with anything sports, the positive impact on the lives of all players is the true plus. This year the first girl made the cut to join the Elite team. Hey, other 29 MLB teams, let’s make this a universal thing.
Recapping the baseball news of the week, the Angels added lefty Alex Claudio to their reshaped bullpen. He signed for Noe Ramirez estimated salary and has similar career WHIP but a lower walk rate. The big difference is HR/9 rate. Noe: 1.5. Claudio: 0.7. Claudio also walks fewer guys.
Raisel Iglesias HR/9 rate is 1.0. Seems like Minasian is focusing on guys with low walk rates who keep the ball in the yard. Interesting concept.
Holby Milner, whose first pitch as an Angel was blasted for a walk off grand slam, landed a minors deal with Claudio’s former team in Milwaukee.
Who’s gonna sing Feliz Navidad?
I spent my Sunday watching The History of the Seattle Mariners: Supercut Edition
Yes it’s about the Mariners, BOO!
And it is from the boys at SBN, BOO, BOO, BOOOO!
But as I always say, hate the team not the player, you never know when you need that player for your team.
A very good documentary about a very troubled team, a team that I hate. But the boys at DORKTOWN at SBNation, boo, did a very good job on this. It’s just cool. I wish the Angels could be this cool.
Anyone have a bead on our remaining budget (in the If I were Perry rules)? I would still like two SP and a C (do we have other Holiday wishes?).
Can we afford to trade for Snell, and sign Tanaka and Casali? Or is that too much to wish for?
We budgeted $25 million before non tenders, he then cleaned another $7 million through that process.
The two Iglesias plus Claudio account for about $13 million after the Reds kick in $900k. That leaves, to our calculations about $19 million.
Snell would be $10 million. Casali fits and so so many back end starters and bullpen guys. Probably not Tanaka though.
I’d be all for Joe Musgrove. Huge upside potential. Slot him in the 3-4 spot and go get that top of the rotation guy and it’s a night and day difference.
Bauer (Still risky- but….)
Very down for a Musgrove trade.
Morosi mentions both Musgrove and Gray as potential trade targets this year (though only suggesting the Angels (or anyone) for Musgrove).
I agree with Nate – Musgrove would be a great get. How much though? Does he warrant and Adell/Marsh in the trade, or can he be had for less than that (if so, who would it take?)?
Did anyone have a Musgrove deal in their Perry plans?
Brent had him. Per the trade values site, Marsh = Musgrove, who has 2 cost controlled seasons left.
If Pittsburgh is truly rebuilding we might get away with Adams plus other pieces as Marsh will be getting expensive right about the time they’d hope to compete.
Well, now that the Trojan football season is over, I’m all ready for baseball again. Bring it on! I’m still mad that I entirely missed the second half of last season.
But you’re doing ok now, that’s all that matters.
Great read Jeff. Hey I’ve mentioned this before on the old site, but I know the son of PCL Angel Gene Lillard, who played on some of their greatest teams in the 30s.. He’s getting up there in age now, in his 70s. If CtPG is interested in interviewing him, let me know. He’d probably be up for talking about his dad. Might be one of the last first-hand connections to the PCL left on Gods green earth.
I’m 100% interested. Email me.
The Bilko Athletic Club by Gaylon White is a great book about the 1956 PCL Los Angeles Angels.
Speaking of questionable numbers, how do you compare the HR numbers of actual career leader Hank Aaron to steroid cheater Bonds. Since MLB allows the numbers of Bonds and the rest of the steroid club to stand, I welcome the numbers of the Negro League players being put into the mix.
True dat. While I am a huge Negro League fan, it was honestly more interesting than MLB baseball a lot of the time, I have never even thought that it should be considered a major league. It wasn’t even the PCL. There were some truly titanic players from the N League, but there was also a ton of tomato cans. On top of that they played a ton of games against teams like the Great Lakes Coal Barge Union 9…. total clown shows. But really, everyone’s aware of that, and while this is a total virtue signal from the MLB, who cares? It doesn’t do any harm, it will be noted that the raw stats aren’t reliable, but more people will here about awesome players like Cool Papa Bell and their adventures in baseball. I call that a net gain and when you add the fact that 20 years of modern MLB stats are most likely just as hinky as Negro League stats is anything all that “pure” being muddled numbers wise? It’ll be fine.
There have been plenty of tomato cans in the traditional Major Leagues as well. The Kansas City Athletics were nothing more than a Yankees minor league team masquerading as a ML team. During the WWII years MLB basically became the tomato can league.
I guess? Negro League still was never even close to the competition/talent level in the MLB. Talent pool was just way smaller. It’s still a shame that players like Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson n Turkey Stearns didn’t get a square go at playing against the best though. One saving grace is that I was actually surprised, when I looked into it how short a time the Negro Leagues were really in full swing before integration. They grew in popularity, which brought in more players who were really good, and integration happened just in time to get Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ernie Banks, Larry Dobby, Roy Camanella, Don Newcomb, Monte Irvin, Buck O’Niel etc a chance to play in the MLB. I think the N League was headed for a real golden age that would have continued on to include players like Brock, Gibson, McCovey, Stargell, Clemente and Robinson with those other guys and MLB would have totally missed out. Can you imagine some of the stats a guy like Aaron or Clemente would have put up against AAAA pitching for a long career? 4,000 hits? 900 Home runs?
I haven’t heard the term tomato can in a long time. Nice term from the past. Awesome.
So Perry has added Ray Montgomery (Brewers Asst GM) and Brian Parker (Intl Cross Checker for Duh Doyers) to his FO. Obviously laying the groundwork for being just another yes man for Arte and ignoring scouting and the Intl prospect market.
You said it buddy, not me.
Perry’s FO seems heavily influenced by scouting directors, scouts, international cross-checkers and number guys. Dom Chiti reportedly has a very good eye for pitching arms.
As long as those arms don’t go chiti chiti bang bang.
I wonder if the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator is made from the elbows of Angels pitchers?
The perfect cover for the perfect crime.
Very impressed with the quality and quantity of the new front office.
Get them a solid contingent of foot soldiers and we’ll be in good shape.
How does Perry’s quantity compare to his predecessors? Are all of these new hires replacing exiting personnel or are the Angels expanding the size of the front office to provide better international, amateur and professional scouting?
Not quite a book recommendation, but this analysis of the WAR value of potatoes is pretty great.
But can he pitch?
His off-spud is ++
Of course, potatoes MASH.
I’ve read the book about the history of the PCL and highly recommend it. For baseball fans, particularly those of us anchored to the west coast, it’s a must read.
Last year I visited the history of the PCL exhibit in Sacramento at the CA History Museum. In addition the great exhibits and displays, there was also a section about the integration of the PCL. I say this with a thank you for the book recommendation about the PCL integration. Post visit, I was searching for more information regarding this topic, and you’ve provided it.
Oh oh! Angels on Sunday night baseball April 4, 2021. (Just a few months away)
If the season isn’t delayed
We’re not even playing the Yanks or Sux. Somebody at ESPN will get fired for this ha ha.
We’ll be starting our ace “TBD”. Can’t wait to see the blazing triple-digit fastball, high spin-rate curve, and sub-60 MPH change-up.
Trevor Bauer, Dude?
The video game version.
Maybe the best article I’ve read in CtPG’s.
Thank you. But Brent’s gif-ed up breakdowns are my favorites.
If you consider the PCL a major league, then Steve Bilko, the most popular Angel of the 1961 season, would see his Major League home run total rise from 76 to 250.
There are certainly better experts on the subject than me, but PCL players were paid similarly and player contracts were sold across the leagues. The PCL had some major markets and broadcast deals for radio games.
If you get paid the same and step onto an MLB roster the second you get sent there, you are pretty much MLB in my eyes.
The only reason the PCL wasn’t part of the Major Leagues for the first fifty years of its existence was that the transportation system in America back then made it impossible to have, say, the 1932 Los Angeles Angels play the Yankees. The PCL is where Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and several other HoFers got their start.
Thanks JJ. That’s a lot on your plate bruh-bruh.
At first, I thought you were starting novel. Then I clicked the link, and some disappoint.
Mahalo my man
Ha ha. Thank you.
Writing a novel is a life goal but there’s no way I’m starting that project now
Man, my comment was so janggy. Guess I won’t be writing any novels soon.
I wrote a novel! A piece of historical fiction, Out of the Hands of Robbers, available on Amazon in paperback or eBook.
Jeff, just downloaded. I’ll give it a look this weekend!
Will take a look
Great links today, Jeff! You’re helping me stay about eight books behind on my reading list in perpetuity.
I’m normally good for 1-2 baseball books each year. Seems like I’m always wrapping one up on my spring training trip.
Ummm, content tasty.
Muchas gracias jefe Jeffe.
Really welcome news re: the Negro League’s recognition. It’s a bummer that we have to deal with celebrating their inclusion — and their 100 year anniversary — in more muted tones this year. I just hope that the stats can be harvested enough to get a sense of just how good Satchel Paige and others were.
Posnaski has a great column on this in The Athletic today.
The Negro League numbers probably won’t ever be complete and due to the high number of exhibition games they played will always be debated.
As much as we love numbers, we’re going to have to accept eye witness accounts and press clippings here. There’s no doubt these were great players.
That’s the only part I struggle with. It’s really tough to call Josh Gibson the HR king over Aaron or Bonds when we simply don’t know how many he hit in legitimate games. I thought the same when Ichiro was chasing Sisler’s single season hits record. How many of George’s 257 hits were questionable? It’s impossible to know if the standard for hit/error in 1920 was even comparable to 2004. I personally find it unlikely when the gloves of the era didn’t even have webbing. I’m sure Sisler got hits on balls that would have been outs in the modern game.
They were just as questionable as today’s.
The players were just as tough on each other as they are now. The Official scorekeepers were just as fair, as they are today.
Records in sports are ridiculous, fun, and interesting, when you think of them.