Monday, December 3rd, 2007
4:16 pm - 4:16  
According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, if you happen to be sitting on my front stoop this evening, the sun will set at 4:16 P.M., EST. As a matter of fact, due to the vagaries of celestial mechanics, the sun will continue to set at 4:16 for the next ten days. Then, a week from Friday, sunsets will start getting minutely (literally) later. Meanwhile, sunrise will continue to get later through the new year, bottoming out at 7:13 A.M on New Years Eve, and staying there through January 8th. Late sunrises don't bother me much. Quite the opposite, since it seems like I often wake with the sun, so the later the better. I just want the sun to stay out longer at night.

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I haven't talked any baseball in awhile, but the Winter meetings are this week, so it seems like a good time to bring up a few things. It hasn't been terribly busy off-season so far, but a few deals have been made. The most fun place to keep up with the latest player deals has been over at The Griddle, where Bob Timmermann has been summarizing each deal in rebus form. They aren't especially easy rebuses, either.

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The Dodgers haven't done much apart from hiring a new manager, some guy named Torre. I was stunned at how fast Grady Little fell out of favor with the organization, especially since it appears that Torre was hired before Little resigned. Awkward, much? Not to mention the fact that they'd also talked to Joe Girardi before Girardi took the Yankees job. It does appear that the separation was mostly mutual, but it's still a shame. I was pretty happy with Little up until the team fell apart in September. From various reports I've read, it seems like he just lost interest once things went south. The Dodgers had exactly two managers for the first thirty-six years I followed them, and six in the following ten.

I think Torre will help. He won't let the clubhouse get away from him, the way Little seemed to. It'll be interesting to see how he handles roster very different from what he's had for the last few years.

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The hiring of Joe Torre, along with several of his coaches from the Yankees, at long last fulfills an old fantasy of mine. Come the spring, Don Mattingly will be a Dodger. It's a shame it's twenty years too late.

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There's an interesting article over at the Hardball Times today on offensive consistency for whole teams in 2007. It comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone who watched them that the Dodgers get a special note for being the weirdest offensive team in 2007.

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Baseball Analysts has an article on the upcoming Rule 5 draft. The Rule 5 draft allows teams to draft players from other teams' minor league systems. The players available are those with a certain number of years of service in the minors who are not currently on a team's 40-man roster. Players drafted have to be placed on the drafting team's major league roster (25-man roster) for the entire season, or else returned to the original team.

The only reason I bring it up is because one of the players available is Jamie D'Antona, who was one of the three Cape Cod League players profiled a few years ago in The Last Best League. At the time he seemed like a can't miss prospect, but while he's had some success in the minors, he hasn't exactly set the world on fire, either. It'll be interesting to see if he goes to another team.

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I'm trying to decide whether to spend a week watching spring training games in March. This will be the Dodgers final spring in Vero Beach. They're moving next year to facility they'll share with the White Sox in Arizona. (Don't get me started.) I can't really schedule anything until the spring schedule comes out. It's complicated because MLB is sending them to frelling China for a couple of exhibitions in February. (Don't get me started.) I'll likely drive down. Gas will be expensive, but still probably be cheaper than the combined cost of a plane ticket and a rental car. Plus I can throw my bike in the back of the truck.

I haven't been to Dodgertown since 1999. Part of the thing holding me back is that I worry that things have changed since I was last down there, and I'll be terribly disappointed. When I visited in 1989, it was by far the most fan friendly of the complexes I saw. The players and coaches were just so damn accessible. Most newer facilities put chain link fences between the team and the fans. Vero was designed for a more innocent time. In 1989, to get from the clubhouse to Holman Stadium, the players had to walk through and with the fans. There were also lots of ex-Dodgers in camp as instructors who had lots of free time to chat with fans. I got to talk with Reggie Smith, and Burt Hooton, and John Roseboro. Even got to meet Sandy Koufax, the guy in the icon up there. When I was there in '99, things were more restricted. A new clubhouse had been built next to the ballpark, so the players were less available. There seemed to be fewer of the ex-players, too. Maybe it was because by then Fox owned the team, instead of the O'Malleys. Maybe it's just the times. Whatever. The worry is that things will be even more closed, and I'll only be able to watch the workouts with a pair of binoculars. Sigh.

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Speaking of the O'Malleys, Walter O'Malley, the most hated man in Brooklyn, was elected to the executives wing of the Hall of Fame today. Dick Williams finally made it in as a manager, and deservedly so.

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It didn't occur to me until I was getting ready to post that 4:16 P.M. can also be written as 16:16. Huh...