Cleveland Indians news and links, 12/28/13: Asdrubal Cabrera, the Hall of Fame...


Looking back on the Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo trades, examining Baseball's Hall of Fame, and more

1) Rest in peace, Mike

Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer shares a story from more than twenty years ago, when Mike Hegan (who passed away on Wednesday) did him a kindness after Hoynes missed the team bus to the airport (in the days when reporters traveled on the team plane).

2) What are we going to call the holiday???

I was saying the other day that there ought to be a holiday in Cleveland to celebrate the four-week stretch in 2006 when the Mariners traded both Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo to the Indians for Eduardo Perez and Ben Broussard. Bill Bavasi was the GM for Seattle at the time. Rob Neyer recently caught up with Bavasi:

"The Choo and Cabrera trades were a product of my own stupidity and good work by the Indians."

You really should go and read the rest of what Bavasi told Neyer. I include the money line for Tribe fans, but Bavasi gives a sense of what it is probably like for many new GMs, especially those without a huge budget, and he comes across as a very likable guy, willing to accept accountability for his decisions.

3) We teachers are always signing autographs

The Indy Star has a fun story on Twins pitching prospect (and Baseball America Top 100 member) Alex Meyer. Meyer signed for a $2-million bonus after being drafted in the 1st round in 2011, but that hasn't kept him from working a second job every offseason, as a substitute teacher in his hometown of Greenburg, Indiana, for $63 a day.

Given my own line of work, this news wins Meyer points in my book.

4) Hall of Fame with Posnanski

Joe Posnanski is writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, and as usual, he's got some interesting things on his mind.

First he discusses how the HOF took a stand on by insisting that Negro League players be enshrined (something that wasn't going to happen if the BBWAA alone was making decisions), a move prompted in part by Ted WIlliams' induction speech, in which he said:

"Baseball gives every American boy a chance to excel. Not just to be as good as someone else, but to be better. This is the nature of man and the name of the game. I hope that one day Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson will be voted into the Hall of Fame as symbols of the great Negro players who are not here only because they weren't given the chance."

Posnanski says it's time for the Hall to again take matters into its own hands, by removing the BBWAA from the process in order to do something about the PED-connected mess that the ballot has become.

Then, in a second post, Posnanski says part of the problem is that so many get caught up in the honor of induction, what it means for the players themselves, rather than considering what the Hall of Fame means for baseball and for fans.

5) Cattle call

Want to work in Major League Baseball? Yeah, so do thousands of other people! The Winter Meetings are most famous for the hot stove happenings that go down there, trades, free agent signings, etc. If you're there in person though, what you more than anything else is a sea of people walking around with resumes. SB Nation's Jeb Lund attended this year and spent time with the young men and women spending hundreds (if no thousands) of dollars in hopes of landing an internship.

6) This week's off-topic topic

I don't read as many books as I would like. I do spend a lot of time reading, but so much of that is online, reading baseball news and analysis, along with long form work on a wide variety of topics. Between that reading, my commitments to LGT, and (of yeah!) my actual job, it's hard to find as much time for book-length works than I used to. I did find time for some good ones though.

These works were not published in 2013, but a list limited to such books would be very brief, so instead I'm listing my...

Favorite books I read for the first time in 2013:

6) Wonder (R.J. Palacio) - My job leads me to read a fair amount of books aimed towards 11-year-olds. They're often enjoyable enough, but rarely stand out. This one is different though. The kids feel more authentic and it really does a nice job of helping kids to see the harm that comes from judging people on their appearances. If you've got a 4th to 6th grader at home, you might find them a copy of this one.

5) A Visit From the Goon Squad (Jennifer Egan) - The Pulitzer Prize winner from 3 or 4 years ago, I really enjoyed its vignette-style presentation of somewhat-connected characters, which travels backwards in time before returning to the present, and then venturing into the future. It would rank higher if it hadn't sort of fallen apart for me during the final act.

4) Maphead (Ken Jennings) - For Jennings (the guy who won all those episodes of 'Jeopardy' a few years back), maps have been a great passion since boyhood. He investigates map-making on any number of levels, going back thousands of years, and also visiting the world Google Earth. He covers the worlds of Geocaching and Road Atlas Rallying, as well as the National Geographic Bee, and the people who design maps for fictional worlds, such as those found in popular video games. I realize that may all sound very dry, but it really is a fun read.

3) Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy) - McCarthy's prose is spectacular, but the story is brutal, more so than maybe any book I've ever read. There are incredible passages and scenes that few others could possibly have created or presented so vividly, but the violence mounts and mounts, and while I'm glad to have read it, and richer for the experience, I'm not sure "enjoy" is quite the right word here.

2) War (Sebastian Junger) - Junger spent much of a 15-month stretch embedded with a platoon in a remote (and exceedingly dangerous) outpost in Afghanistan. I can't claim to have read a huge amount of military non-fiction, but this book seems to me a fine encapsulation of what the experience is like, not only the rush that comes from combat, but the attempts to fight off the sometimes staggering bordem of waiting.

1) Carter Beats the Devil (Glen David Gold) - The story of a magician's rise and fall (and possible role in the assassination of an American President!) during the first 25 years or so of the 20th century was the most pleasurable reading experience I had all year. The world it creates is a rich one of great depth, and the story manages to stay one step ahead of you until the end.

What are your favorite books from among those you read for the first time this year?


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