Ending a yearlong dispute that sparked regional one-upmanship and talk-show ridicule, an Orange County jury Thursday decided that the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim could keep their geographically awkward name.So that note of optimism I sounded in my essay doesn't look so unwarranted. But as for the team's on-field performance, let's just say PECOTA isn't so impressed. When Nate Silver released the 2006 projections to the BP staff, he had the team coming in at 78-84 thanks to an offense worse than any AL team save the Royals. One reason for that is the anticipated presence of Darin Erstad, who comes in at a craptastic .264/.314/.364 weighted mean projection in 545 plate appearances, mainly as a first baseman. Since the Angels have announced that Erstad is moving back to centerfield -- thereby not only lessening the load his bat should be expected to carry but also increasing his chances for injury -- I don't think things are nearly that dire. As I told B., I see Erstad limping his way out of the lineup in 60-70 games. But PECOTA isn't exactly bullish on his first-base replacement either. Casey Kotchman's weighted mean comes in at an Erstadian .270/.328/.398 in 461 PA. The system simply doesn't think the 23-year-old's power is going to develop, but the fact that he clubbed seven dingers in 142 PA over the season's last two months leads me to believe he's turned a corner. Kotchman's been addled by various wrist injuries during his development, but if he's put them behind him, I think he's more likely to find himself on the upper reaches of his projection, somewhere between the 75th percentile (.284/.344/.428) and 90th (.299/.361/.463). That's not world-beating, but it is a difference of a couple of wins if it happens. (For more on Kotchman's projections, see Beyond the Box Score.)
After deliberating just over four hours in a trial that pitted the city of Anaheim against its hometown team, jurors voted 9 to 3 that the Angels did not violate five words in the stadium lease that required that the team "include the name Anaheim therein."
Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, who led the city's multimillion-dollar fight to restore the name, said: "There was a really a broader issue, and that was to make sure our identity of Orange County and Anaheim be preserved. We're very disappointed."
The city had asked for damages up to $373 million it said it would lose in media exposure and tourism revenue. The jury awarded it nothing. The city also may be on the hook for as much as $10 million in legal fees — their own and the Angels' — if the team seeks reimbursement.
City officials will discuss whether to appeal the decision at a meeting Tuesday, but council members said it was not likely.
Angel owner Arte Moreno — popular among fans for investing millions in superstar players, lowering beer prices and schmoozing in the stands — clapped as the verdict was read and gave a thumbs-up sign.
"Believe it or not, what we've been trying to do is enhance the Angels brand," said Moreno, a self-made billionaire from Arizona. "I know local fans were very emotional about it. We understand that. But in the long run … we believe this gives us a better chance of being a perennial upper-echelon franchise, and a chance to compete for a championship every year."
Age AVG OBP SLG MLVrMLVr is Marginal Lineup Value rate, the per-game comparison of how many runs a player would add to an offense of league-average hitters. None of these guys have a lot of power at this stage, but DaVanon's plate discipline is superior at this stage to Bernie's. Even with enough questions about his health (shoulder) to downgrade his contract from a once-rumored $3.5 million to $525K plus incentives and conditional options, he'd have been a better use of roster space than #51, if only to dissuade Joe Torre from pencilling in Williams as the DH to the point of 300-400 PA. The guess here is that nobody would have batted an eye if the Yanks had just tossed DaVanon $2 million back in December and been done with it. As it is, the Yanks are woefully thin on the bench and at DH, while DaVanon is likely the D-Backs' starting CF, at least until rookie Chris Young heals his broken hand (thanks to Rob Mc at 6-4-2 for calling attention to that news). Grrrrr.
Williams 37 .261 .336 .384 -.049
Crosby 29 .249 .302 .382 -.116
DaVanon 32 .266 .360 .389 .002
Sakoguchi likes to draw startling, jagged, and even surreal parallels in these paintings. In fact, 33 of the paintings in the new group (28%) feature “two-shots” of players or individuals shown either as contrasts or “hidden selves.” The one most pertinent to the question of race is the painting entitled “Cubanos,” where Ben explores the taboos of skin pigmentation (light-skinned Cuban Dolf Luque is “eligible” to play in the 1920s milieu of baseball, while dark-skinned Cuban Martin Dihigo is “ineligible”).A must-see, especially if you can't actually get to the exhibit.
It isn’t surprising that Sakoguchi would be interested in “otherness” as it is manifested in baseball. After all, we are talking about a Japanese-American who, as a very young boy, was interned at Manzanar, one of America’s “detention centers” during World War II. From an artistic standpoint, Ben’s interest in color probably stems from the early realization of how much importance it seemed to have in the minds and actions of those in power in America. As a painter, Sakoguchi wields a palette of colors that covers the artistic waterfront—from Impressionism to “plein air” to pulp art and back again.
Some of his most arresting images, however, are reserved for another casualty of American history—the Indian. During the deadball era, there were several Native Americans who fashioned notable careers in spite of their “otherness.” It could be claimed that the lone reason for their assimilation into the American culture of that time was located in their abilities on the baseball diamond. All of these themes are captured masterfully in “Chiefs,” Sakoguchi’s tribute to Chief Meyers and Chief Bender.
Sakoguchi has also mined the imagery of baseball that links the game with war, patriotism and other knee-jerk topics that people in present-day America use as tools of divisiveness and demonization. Eleven of the paintings (just under 10%) touch upon these themes, and they cover the full spectrum of baseball’s presence in American history. In “National Past Time,” Sakoguchi conjures up a baseball setting for the Civil War, making a comic contrast between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas (the height difference between the celebrated debate opponents has been exaggerated, with Douglas looking like a nineteenth-century version of Eddie Gaedel) that is nevertheless only half the story on the canvas. In “All-American Boy,” Ben’s colors are at their most impressive as he examines the two sides of heroism attached to the deadball era’s most celebrated role model, Christy Mathewson. Moving up to the present day, Sakoguchi has some fun with our current “red-blue” stereotypes with two paintings depicting Democratic and Republican presidents in that wearying-but-time-honored-act of throwing out the first pitch.
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