I call this time of year in the baseball calendar the "silly season". It's filled with bestowing awards and moaning about awards not bestowed. It's filled
with speculations on trades and free agent signings more than actual trades and free agent signings.
It's also filled with the copycat talk of young executives in this Age of Analytics. I am particularly amused at the similarity in the chatter of new Mets
president of baseball operations David Stearns and beleaguered longtime Yankees honcho Brian Cashman.
When Stearns were introduced to the press last month by Steve Cohen, MLB's wealthiest owner, he quoted one of Cohen's favorite phrases as the owner looked on approvingly: We are trying to find "the best in class" as his goal for Mets' future fromt office hirings.
A few weeks later, Cashman responded by defending his staff even if "it doesn't mean we're best in class" (quoted by Bob Nightingale in USA Today, accessed on line November 12, 2023). Cashman angrily accused the media of overplaying the Yankee reliance on analytics, but there is no doubt they
are still searching for "the next best thing" in advanced logorithms designed to addle the traditional fan who I argue is not dumb but skeptical.
Fortunately, there will be substantial baseball news shortly. A clue to where organizations are headed will be this coming Tues Nov 14 when 40-man rosters for every one of the 30 MLB organizations will be announced.
As an ardent Oriole fan, it will be interesting to see who is protected and who is "non-tendered" a contract and thus can become a free agent. I have loved the contributions in recent years of Bird bargain basement infielders Ramon Urias and Jorge Mateo, but it is hard to see both returning next season.
Mateo has spectacular speed, base running talent, and infield savvy but a very erratic bat. If it comes down to an either/or, Mateo might get the nod
over Urias whose power numbers slipped in 2023 and occasionally had rare defensive lapses.
Ramon was a 2022 Gold Glove third baseman though he played less than 90 games there. He is also a fine defensive second baseman and came up to the Cardinals primarily as a shortstop. His younger brother Luis was traded from Milwaukee to Red Sox late in 2023 and his Boston roster spot might be as precarious as Ramon's.
Ramon and Jorge are endangered because the Orioles are blessed with young talented infielders. 22-year-old Gunnar Henderson, signed as a high schooler in Selma, Alabama, starred at both shortstop and third baseman in 2023. He will likely be voted the American League Rookie of the Year although Josh Jung has strong credentials from the Texas Rangers world champions.
I don't get carried away with that award - along with Manager of the Year awards, which will likely go to Baltimore skipper Brandon Hyde, the award does not guarantee longevity of career.
Waiting in the infield wings are two rookies who excelled in the minors in 2023. Joey Ortiz played at New Mexico State, the same alma mater as budding Oriole ace Kyle Bradish. I am drawn to players who come from unheralded schools and have something to prove. Ortiz won't be 26 until July.
Another infield stud is Jackson Holliday who won't turn 20 until Dec 4. Son of 7-time All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday, Jackson was number one MLB pick in 2023 after graduating from high school in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He rocketed through four levels of the minors in 2023.
Already on the Oriole roster, and a solid contributor since late June to the 2023 AL East champion, is Jordan Westburg who starred at perennial college power Mississippi State. He is another shortstop that can play second or third base and he will only turn 25 on February 18, just as Oriole spring training is heating up.
The competition among those infielders will be fierce. So will it be betwen upcoming outfielders Colton Cowser, Heston Kjerstad, and Kyle Stowers. They will try to unseat at least one of the incumbents, Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander who will be a free agent after 2024 season.
It's quite possible before I file another post before baseball's winter meetings in Nashville in early December that some of the Baltimore core and some prospects are traded for starting pitching, bullpen help, and/or a solid run-producing bat. I just caution people to read carefully headlines in the blogosphere. Many posts are about what writers want and not actual news.
As for other news about my favorite non-baseball teams, only Columbia's women's basketball team looks promising. They lost six solid contributors
from the 2022-2023 team that won their first Ivy League title. Snubbed by the NCAA selection committee, the Lions went on to play a competitive WNIT final against Kansas at the historic Phog Allen field house in Lawrence.
Senior Abby Hsu returns and she is developing into a complete player not just a sharpshooter with the enviable quick release.
The Lions are playing a very tough pre-league schedule with most of the games at home at Levien Gym, Broadway W 120 Street SE corner.
Upcoming are Duke Tu Nov 14 6p.
Towson Th Nov 16 7p.
Northeastern Sa Nov 25 4p.
Providence W Nov 29 11a - the annual game to which hundreds of NYC schoolkids are invited.
Villanova Sun Dec 3 2p.
Memphis Wed Dec 6 6p.
Wagner Su Dec 10 2p.
Ivy League home season begins with Penn Sa Jan 6 2p. More informatioin at gocolumbialions.com
And now before I close, some tips on the upcoming TCM (Turner Classic Movies) schedule. All times EST.
The two sports-related movies in November are F Nov 17 5p "The Set-Up" (1949) maybe the best boxing movie ever.
Robert Ryan who was a boxer at Dartmouth gives one of his riveting performances.
F Nov 17 is All-Noir from 730A "Too Late for Tears" (1949) with Lisabeth Scott as not exactly the girl next door LOL
Through 8p "Between Midnight and Dawn" (1950) Mark Stevens, Edmond O'Brien, Gale Storm
Among other highlights: 1215p "Detour" (1945) about as grisly as "Too Late For Tears"
130p "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) the first Bogart/Lorre/Greenstreet collaboration - we'd love to trust Mary Astor. However, . . .
315p "Born To Kill" (1947) - Lawrence Tierney almost typecast and Claire Trevor a year before she plays another Claire in "Babe Ruth Story"
615p "Naked City" (1948) the original, a film that producer/inspirer Mark Hellinger never lived to see completed
Sun Nov 19 345p "Pat and Mike" (1952). Set in a golf world with legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias in a cameo appearance, look near the end
for Chuck Connors, former first baseman, at the start of a career that led to TV's "The Rifleman".
Also on Nov 19 at 10p Belafonte's "The World, Flesh, and the Devil" (1959) by no means sport enters here but quite a film about aftermath of
a nuclear war with only Belafonte, Inger Stevens, and Mel Ferrer as survivors.
Every Tuesday in November is Gloria Grahame night - one of the queens of Noir who always attracted good directors:
Tu Nov 14 triple-feature starting at 8p "In A Lonely Place" (1950) with Bogart as writer with anger problem to put it mildly.
Directed by Nicholas Ray, then married to Grahame.
Followed by two Cold War era films: 945p "The Glass Wall" (1953) directed by Maxwell Shane with Vittorio Gassman
and 1130p "Man on A Tightrope" directed by Elia Kazan with Fredric March
Tu Nov 21 8p "Bad and the Beautiful" (1952) Grahame's Oscar that she should have gotten for "Crossfire" (1947)
"TBATB" is one of the best films about Hollywood, dir. Vincent Minnelli with the wonderful David Raksin title song
10:15p "Odds Against Tomorrow" (1959) minor role for Gloria but Robert Wise directs bank robbers Ed Begley Sr., Belafonte and Ryan whose
racial enmity sabotages the plans
Tu Nov 28 8p "The Big Heat" (1953) dir. by Fritz Lang with Glenn Ford and co-starring Jocelyn Brando, Marlon's sister
10p "Human Desire" (1954) another Lang not for faint of heart with Ford and Grahame and Broderick Crawford
1130p "Naked Alibi" (1954) with Sterling Hayden, Gene Barry, Chuck Connors again - have not seen this one about police brutality.
That's all for now. Always remember: Take it easy but take it. And even if recovery from ubiquitous covid is slow like mine,
stay positive, test negative.