Ichiro has nothing on Tsuyoshi Shinjo except about 2,500 Major League hits

Over at Hardball Talk, Craig Calcaterra passes along video of Ichiro pitching in an NPB All-Star Game in 1996. It’s incredibly impressive, but Ichiro’s got nothing on Tsuyoshi Shinjo.

This is apparently from a pre-game ceremony after Shinjo retired and not actual game action, though anyone who speaks Japanese is welcome to chime in with more details. Most importantly, Shinjo’s uniform number is just a picture of his face. Also, he’s wearing an amazing glove:

TIP: If you’re ever bored at work and there’s not enough on TedQuarters to satisfy you, check out some of the commercials Shinjo has starred in. Actually, just subscribe to YouTube’s Tsuyoshi Shinjo channel. CAMEO APPEARANCE: Benny Agbayani.

Friday Q&A, pt. 2: Food stuff and randos

Via email, Carl writes:

Ted, I just ate a sandwich where the bread was too hard and all the softer stuff inside the sandwich squeezed out to  the sides every time I took a bite. It kinda ruined the sandwich for me. Do you know of any ways to stop this from happening so an otherwise good sandwich doesn’t lose its sandwichy goodness?

I’d have to see the bread to know if this will work, but you can try “scooping it out,” the common carb-cutting technique. If the crust is strong enough to hold up, pulling out some of the bready middle should create open spaces to contain the sandwich stuff, allowing it to essentially replace the part of the roll you’ve removed rather than trying to crush it between two sides of a roll.

Also, I don’t know what you’ve got inside the sandwich, but maybe try piling all the ingredients on one half, topping it with cheese, and toasting it in a toaster oven for a minute to let the cheese melt and act to bind the rest of the sandwich stuff.

What about pheasant stuffed with squab stuffed with quail? Squab is a massively underrated meat, for what it’s worth. Really good stuff.

Alternately, what about pork stuffed with lamb stuffed with beef? Obviously the cow is the biggest of these animals, but I figure you’re not going to want the beef on the outside because you’d have to dry it out to get the pork cooked. But pork on the outside means maybe you can cook the lamb and beef to medium rare, with the added benefit of the delicious pork fat seeping into the interior meats. Actually, I can’t believe I’ve never considered this before. Somebody get John Madden on the phone. We’re past due for the Porlambeef.

The Jets in a baseball game against the Mets, definitely. Who’s your offensive line, if you’re the Mets? Just based on size alone, and picking from the Mets’ whole 40-man roster, you’d probably have to go with Lucas Duda and Robert Carson at the tackles, Jeurys Familia and Anthony Recker at guards and Frank Francisco at center. Those guys would get trounced by the Jets’ defensive line. No matter how good Kirk Nieuwenhuis is in the backfield, the Mets aren’t getting a single play off against the Jets’ D. Also, the Jets have way more dudes, and for the Mets to field a full football team with everyone playing only one way, they’re going to have to field some guys who will be absolutely torn apart by NFL players.

The Jets’ ace in the hole, also, is that Jeremy Kerley can supposedly throw fastballs in the mid 90s. And every guy in their receiving corps and defensive backfield is probably fast enough and coordinated enough to lay down an occasional bunt hit then steal some bases, and cover a lot of territory defensively. The Mets would obviously still kick the crap out of them in baseball, but I think it’d be a closer game.

Not this week, sorry. I was kind of hoping no one would notice. On average, I wind up eating probably three or four sandwiches for every one that gets reviewed, and I’m planning a vacation for January and trying to be healthy and save money until then. I’m not intentionally avoiding sandwiches or anything, I just haven’t been eating sandwiches with the frequency I typically need to find a sandwich worthy of review. If I happen upon one, I’ll write it up here. More on the vacation certainly to follow, but I expect it will provide much fodder for food porn here.

It’s cool that there’s going to be some sort of professional sport on Hempstead Turnpike once the Islanders leave, but unless the Cosmos bring back Pele they’re not going to recapture the magic of having Pele on your soccer team.

I’m for it. Heartily. One of the best perks at my last job was that the soda machines had cans of Yoo-hoo for 50 cents. This office has free soda, but no Yoo-hoo. It’s good because it’s both a beverage and a dessert.

I don’t know. Wikipedia says it doesn’t even necessarily have meat in it anymore, which is about the most flagrant type of false-advertising. You can’t name a food item for another, more established type of food item when it has no relationship to that thing.

“Hey have you tried lingonbacon?”
“No, but it sounds amazing.”
“Sorry, it’s a vegetable, and it sucks.”

Friday Q&A, pt. 1: Baseball stuff

Via email, Nick writes:

Ted, what about Matt Diaz?

I assume he means what about Matt Diaz as an option for the Mets, not just what about Matt Diaz in general. Diaz, you probably remember, was one of the preeminent Major League lefty-mashers in the latter part of the last decade, one of the few players who manage to hang around the league as the right-handed side of an outfield platoon.

But Diaz is hardly the player now that he was in 2009, when he rocked an 1.103 OPS against southpaws. He’ll be 35 by Opening Day, he hasn’t hit lefties all that well since 2010, he’s now utterly useless against righties, and he’s not much in the field. I’d rather take my chances with Andrew Brown or an Andrew Brown type, or just play Mike Baxter everyday.

Via email, Chris writes:

Ted, how do you think the 2013 Mets will be?  Will they contend for the second playoff spot or will it be a year to punt and wait for 2014.

I don’t think “punt” is the right word, because I don’t think teams should ever entirely give up on seasons before they even get started. If there are ways to improve the team around the margins with relatively inexpensive short-term deals and such, they’re worth doing because almost anything can happen in a baseball season and there’s no sense not entering the year with the best team you can put together.

But there are years when teams should go all in and jeopardize their future payroll or roster to compete in the present, and this is not that type of year for the Mets. The Nats look too strong, and there’s too much uncertainty up and down the lineup for them to target 2013 as a year for contending and act accordingly. Again: That doesn’t rule out contending, so it’s not punting the season. It just means you don’t sign older free agents to big contracts or trade away prospects for established players.

83-79. I think they’ll start moving in the right direction.

Wait, they don’t allow tailgating at baseball games? I definitely tailgated at several Mets games this year. Saw some pretty impressive spreads, too. You just need to pour your definitely-not-beer into a cup.

Totally depends on what it’d take to extend Dickey’s contract, and I’m not sure which reports I believe on that one. If Dickey’s actually available for as little as two years and $26 million on top of his $5 million 2013 option, then it’s Dickey. If it’s significantly more than that, it’s Niese. And though I’ve been discussing trades quite a bit in this space, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with keeping both of them if there’s no worthy package on the table. There are a bunch of ways to win baseball games, and having a deep starting rotation is certainly one of them.

I don’t think the Rangers hate Michael Young nearly as much as the Internet hates Michael Young, and the Internet hates Michael Young because he has been bad at pretty much every position according to defensive metrics, his offensive numbers are a bit inflated by the park in which he plays, and, like many high batting-average guys, he earns a ton of praise from those who limit themselves to the stats on the back of baseball cards. Plus, though his leadership is frequently trumpeted, he complained when the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre and moved Young off third base. But despite all that, I suspect the Rangers are looking to part ways with him mostly because they’ve got so many position players who merit playing time. And I’d bet Young enjoys something of a bounceback season on offense.

I think I am still biased by my faith in him and his administration, and I suspect if Omar Minaya made some of the same moves Alderson has I’d be killing him for them. But I do think Alderson’s still working towards the appropriate goal, creating a sustainable winner with young players developed from within. Whether or not he’s going about that the right way is yet to be determined. Next offseason, when all the payroll money frees up, should be a pretty good test for him.

I’ve read a bunch of people kill Alderson for the Mets’ 2011 and 2012 drafts, and I think that’s extraordinarily silly for a variety of reasons. Mostly because it’s way, way too early to judge the outcome of the 2011 and 2012 drafts.

Ahh, this

Via Big League Stew, via dee-nee.com:

Here's what the Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura fight would look like on RBI Baseball.

For what it’s worth, I was standing around in the visitors’ clubhouse at Citi Field at some point this season while the MLB Network was showing a special on the Ryan-Ventura fight. The Braves were in town, and several Braves were sitting on the clubhouse couch watching with the same amount of enthusiasm me and my friends probably would if we were watching the same thing. Dan Uggla in particular seemed massively entertained; when they showed the clip he was all, “don’t do it, man! Don’t charge the mound… don’t charge the mound! OHHHH NO YOU CHARGED THE MOUND!”

Prospect trade freakout

OK, this is not going to happen. But it came up on Twitter and I’m wondering what you think.

Wil Myers, you may recall, is the Royals’ top prospect. He hit 37 home runs across Double- and Triple-A with a combined .314/.387/.600 line at age 21 in 2012. Myers was recently ranked the fourth best prospect in baseball by Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com and placed third on John Sickels’ preliminary top 50 position-player prospects list.

Zack Wheeler, you probably know, is the Mets’ top prospect. He managed a 3.26 ERA across Double- and Triple-A with 148 strikeouts, 59 walks and a 1.168 WHIP as a 22-year-old in 2012. Wheeler was recently ranked the seventh best prospect in baseball by Jonathan Mayo at MLB.com and placed fifth on John Sickels’ preliminary top 50 pitching prospects list.

The Royals are widely rumored to be seeking starting pitching help this offseason, as the Mets are widely rumored to be seeking outfielders. I’ve got my answer on this one but I’m more interested in your thoughts. And, again, I don’t think would actually happen, since straight-up prospect-for-prospect deals of this magnitude are typically the stuff of video games:

Hall of Fame gains an amazing mustache

In addition to former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert — who once employed my great-great grandfather Adolph Von Berg in a brewery a few blocks from my current home — a veterans’ committee elected pitcher/manager/umpire Hank O’Day and 19th century catcher Deacon White to the Hall of Fame today.

I mention all that here because Deacon White had a Hall of Fame mustache if I’ve ever seen one. It’s kind of amazing he wasn’t already in:


Friday Q&A, pt. 2: General baseball

Via email, Steve writes:

The biggest impact steroids had was keeping people on the field when their bodies would have broken down. McGwire could not stay on the field until he used and countless players could play no more after stopping. Palmiero doesn’t sniff 3K hits without. Just how do you account for this effect to vote some into the hall?

It’s a good question, and something I admittedly gloss over when arguing for suspected or confirmed steroids users’ inclusion in the Hall of Fame. I think you have to account for it by adjusting the benchmarks for the Hall of Fame, the same way you would when evaluating guys from the dead-ball era or hitters who’ve played their whole careers in Colorado.

For a variety of reasons, offensive numbers from the late 90s and early aughts are inflated over historical norms, both in single-season and long-term returns. All we need to do to account for that is to understand that hitting 500 home runs during that time should be considered less impressive than hitting 500 home runs when Frank Robinson did it.

For what it’s worth, if I had a ballot I’d vote for McGwire but not Palmeiro. Lots of personal biases playing into that, of course. I happen to really like Mark McGwire.

I suspect not, since the corollary to Triple Crown talk in Cabrera’s MVP case was that he moved to third base for the good of his team (and his team made the playoffs, even if they did so by feasting on a host of crappy teams in their division and still finished with a worse record than the Angels). But I’m guessing that if everything else stayed the same except Cabrera DH’d all year and never moved back to third base, he’d still win the AL MVP. And you know what? Whatever. Miguel Cabrera’s awesome, let us not forget.

Man I hope so, because pepper games are fun. Also, “No Pepper Games” would be a fine album title.

Moment of truth approaching

The BBWAA released the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot today. New to the list: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza. Those players, you probably know, have been explicitly, legally, or at least vaguely linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and did outrageously impressive things on baseball fields during an era in which many players used performance-enhancing drugs.

All of them should make the Hall of Fame.

This debate seems likely to get furious and stupid in the coming weeks, and I’m not all that eager to participate further. Here’s what I wrote on the subject in 2009:

[T]here’s talk that four of the very best players of this or any era — Manny [Ramirez], Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds — should be excluded from the Hall of Fame. I like the Hall of Fame, and I fear if those men don’t make it in, the honor will someday seem like the Gold Glove Award or something, like some sort of pageant that bears little correlation to actual accomplishments within the game.

I know there are guys we think should or shouldn’t be in, but the Hall of Fame does a pretty good job of recognizing the achievements of the best players to ever play. We can get caught up in thinking it’s a pristine place, but its membership includes guys who doctored the ball and guys who popped pills, not to mention abject racists and legions of players who benefited from playing in a segregated game. The common thread is not integrity, but that each man enshrined was among the greatest players of his generation.

Yes, the pre-Manny steroid users did something wrong, but baseball did not adequately prevent them from doing it and so they got away with it. Yeah, that kind of sucks, but some of them managed to dominate a bunch of other guys who were doing exactly the same wrong thing, and unless those successes are somehow stricken from the record, the deserving should be honored for them. Bonds’ home runs all still count, right?

I’ve been singing the same tune since. Essentially: I want to keep caring about the Hall of Fame, and if they shut out Bonds — indisputably one of the best players who has ever lived — then I will find it hard to keep caring about the Hall of Fame.