On New Year’s Day, my wife Tara and I traveled to Sarasota, Florida, to see our good friends, a retired professor and his wife. Vinny had been a colleague of mine at Quinnipiac University for 35 years. My friend greeted me and said we were all invited to a renowned artist’s house. The artist’s name is John-Norman Tuck. After shaking hands with John-Norman, he immediately started talking about my book Sandlot Stats: Learning Statistics with Baseball. It turns out this prominent artist is a huge baseball fan. He then escorted me to another part of the house and just wanted to talk about such things as the Hot Stove League and what I thought about how free agency was going and my thoughts on many of the recent trades and new Ray players. I will talk a little later about the Hot Stove League. As I strolled through his house, I was most impressed with his unique artwork. He told me he has a website http://john-normantuck.com/ that shows many of his art pieces.
The discussion returned to baseball. John’s favorite teams in order were the Rays (of course), the Tigers, the Dodgers, and the Giants. These teams became his favorite teams because he lived in their cities for a period of time. He then told me his boyhood idol was Al Kaline, who played for the Detroit Tigers. As a youngster, he adored and idolized Al Kaline. Many years later at a Rays spring training game he spotted Al Kaline. He would finally meet his boyhood idol. He walked up to his hero and told him how much he adored him as a teenager. Unfortunately, the bubble burst. His hero just shrugged his shoulders and walked away. We all have at one time felt the way John-Norman felt at that moment.
As we walked back to our wives and friends, John-Norman asked me to be his baseball buddy. He then proposed a contest between the two of us. On April 1, 2013, we would each pick the teams to finish 1 to 5 in each of the six divisions. Last year he told me he picked the Tigers to win the World Series. Yes, he was very close!!! I accepted his challenge. A posting of our choices will appear on April 1, 2013.
I mentioned the term Hot Stove League above. The Hot Stove League refers to the 15 week period from the end of the baseball season to the beginning of spring training. The Hot Stove League is not a league but is a term representing all signings and trades negotiated by teams during this period of time. At the half-way point of the Hot Stove League, ESPN conducted a survey to see which teams are most and least improved for the next season. The survey revealed the five most improved are the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Royals, Angels, and Dodgers. Just edged out were the Reds and Nationals. The five least improved for next season include the Marlins, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Mets. Just edged out of this dubious honor were the Rockies, Brewers, Mariners, and believe it or not the YANKEES. For the fans of those teams who have not done very much things can change before spring training. Later postings will follow the future results of the Hot Stove League.
As we enter 2013 and all teams start with a 0-0 record, I would like to look back at the fabulous hitting and pitching feats of 2012. The next two postings will address this.