Time to shovel.

Well, that was interesting — a prediction for up to two inches of snow, and the overnight total was 10. And while everyone is bitching at the moment and I’ll probably be among them when the shoveling starts, there’s not a thing wrong with 10 inches of wet February snow falling on Michigan. Our ecology depends on a certain amount of moisture transfer from south to north, and last summer was dry. I’ll take it.

In the meantime, it’s a good morning to spend about 30 minutes here on the couch, catching up. Sorry I’m a little late today; this is a school vacation week, winter break, i.e., Keep Michigan Ski Destinations Solvent Week and I plan to spend it sleeping late. Because I don’t have much time, how about a little mixed grill?

I failed in my internet sabbath, but I managed to cut back enough — and pick up enough sleep — that my mood improved immeasurably. I was heartened to see the Wisconsin demonstrations continued, and picked up steam. Krugman:

Why bust the unions? As I said, it has nothing to do with helping Wisconsin deal with its current fiscal crisis. Nor is it likely to help the state’s budget prospects even in the long run: contrary to what you may have heard, public-sector workers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are paid somewhat less than private-sector workers with comparable qualifications, so there’s not much room for further pay squeezes.

So it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.

In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.

And if you missed this in the comments over the weekend, Coozledad has a contribution for your next open-mic night (with apologies to Paul Simon):

They rounded us teabaggers up and we’re off to Wisconsin
I stashed some oxy right here in my bag.
So we bought a case of Miller Lite
Skoal Bandits and Moon Pies
And rode off to teabag Wisconsin
Cathy I said as we boarded the charter in Branson
Dollywood seems like a dream to me now
It took me four hours to clean up
from eating those hot dogs we got at the Stuckey’s
Snacking on the bus
Little Debbies and Fritos
She said the man in the corduroy looked like a Jew.
I said be careful he probably works for George Soros!
Toss me a Xanax there’s probably one stuck in your waistband
right by that cheeseburger and your cellphone
So I knocked back another beer
She passed out in the seat
And a green fart rolled out the window.
Cathy we’re going to be lost when we get to Wisconsin
What they call barbecue ain’t the same thing
I hope they’ve got us some motorized shopping carts
I’ve come to teabag Wisconsin!
Done come to teabag Wisconsin!

I was singing the line about the man in the corduroy suit during my grocery shopping. I hope anyone who overheard had a sense of humor.

Well, I was ahead of the wave, and now I’m behind it: Blogs, they are so over:

The Internet and American Life Project at the Pew Research Center found that from 2006 to 2009, blogging among children ages 12 to 17 fell by half; now 14 percent of children those ages who use the Internet have blogs. Among 18-to-33-year-olds, the project said in a report last year, blogging dropped two percentage points in 2010 from two years earlier.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

Haven’t they figured out the secret yet? Let Paul Krugman do the work!

Finally, today’s question for the baseball nerds in the group: Why do pitchers and catchers arrive before everyone else in spring training? Is there a reason?

Shovel time.

Posted at 10:37 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

33 responses to “Time to shovel.”

  1. JMG said on February 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Dear Ms. Nall: Pitchers and catchers report early to spring training for two reasons. 1. The training of pitchers takes way longer than that of other players, because pitching is bad for the arm. In fact, if it weren’t for pitchers, there wouldn’t need to be any spring training.
    2. This is the way baseball has always done it, which in baseball is always considered a sufficient explanation for anything.

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  2. Jeff Borden said on February 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

    There’s a story out today that reemphasizes the stance of the unions, to wit, they will give up everything the governor wants except collective bargaining. The teabagging dunces calling them greedy low lifes may be unaware of this, particularly if they get their information from the right-wing bilge pump.

    Robert Reich is attracting some attention with an essay he posted on his blog. His theory is the GOP is taking a “divide and conquer” approach to workers, pitting private vs. public, union vs. non-union, etc. They’ve always done that though, right? The whole Southern strategy?

    I wonder if anyone is anticipating an economic boycott of Wisconsin? It depends heavily on tourism and draws a lot of visitors from pro-union Illinois. If I were Michigan, I’d be reminding vacationers here that their governor isn’t trying to strip basic rights from working people. The boycott of Arizona hasn’t gotten much press lately, but in the wake of S.B. 1070, there was a rush of cancellations of conventions, meetings and vacations. Wisconsin might face the same kind of treatment.

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  3. Kirk said on February 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

    JMG pretty much has it. The catchers are there early because the pitchers need someone to pitch to.

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  4. LAMary said on February 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I can’t wait until my right wing fundy co-worker arrives so I can hear her rant about the unions. The fact she has two brothers who are retired cops will not be considered. She brings them up if I say anything anti-cop. It’s all about context.

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  5. Sue said on February 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Re wet February snow: also necessary to maintaining the insulating snowcover on plants. I was happy to see it. And as snowstorms go it was gorgeous, lots of snow but also a very light day, almost bright.
    Although I was not pleased to be getting pelted with hail while I was shoveling yesterday, at least I wasn’t dealing with the icing and flood warnings south and east of us.
    And here’s a picture of a typical evil Wisconsin union thug:

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  6. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I always heard it was so the manager had time to read the player handbook to the pitchers before the rest of the team arrived. [ducks]

    Time for “Bull Durham” again . . .

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  7. Sue said on February 21, 2011 at 11:49 am

    MMJeff, that’s not necessary if the playbook is in the form of a comic.
    Time for “Major League” again…

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  8. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 21, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Back to JMG’s #2, then!

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  9. MaryRC said on February 21, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Oh, Coozledad. That was wonderful.

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  10. nancy said on February 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

    I asked another one of my baseball sources via e-mail last week, and his answer was, in part, JMG’s No. 2: One doesn’t question baseball traditions, one merely honors them.

    But yeah, that makes sense, all. So thanks.

    Why is so much attention paid to pitchers and their arms, and comparatively little to catchers’ knees? I once read that Johnny Bench had done the equivalent of 10,000 deep knee bends in the course of his career, maybe more. And I don’t think there’s a Tommy John surgery for those, yet.

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  11. Jeff Borden said on February 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Actually, much attention is paid to catchers’ knees, particularly if they are offensive threats. There are always at least two catchers so the primary guy can take a few days off through the season. Also, some pitchers prefer working with different catchers. Meanwhile, many teams will play their hot-hitting catchers at first base once in awhile to keep them in the lineup, but take the load off their knees.

    Why so much attention to pitchers’ arms instead of catchers’ knees? Check the average paydays for the two positions and you’ll get your answer.

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  12. prospero said on February 21, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Busting public sector employee’s unions is a Republican shibboleth. It’s lie the Golden Fleece of Republicanism.

    Of course, Public employee’s pensions are a legal obligation. Nobody used a gun. If state governments can just refuse to pay a contractual and very legal debt, why can’t I tell the bank, sorry, no cash here, I know I promised, under no form of duress, to pay you back this money, I simply don’t feel I can meet my obligations. And you are not getting back my Beemer. Attacking public sector workers and their unions is a perfect example of divisive and demagogic Republican garbage at it’s most revolting and unAmerican.

    And cops aren’t buying this bullshit, when the anti-union assholes attempt to buy their servitude by leaving police and fire pensions untouched. Cops are standing with government workers in Wisconsin, where the governor has admitted to cooking the books, with the express purpose of busting the union. This is more than anything an assault on teachers and public education, in part because they teach actual science instead of mythology.

    And this is, of course, all about “the bureaucracy”. Like every goniff working for Walgreens that spends office time emailing Obama/watermelon jokes isn’t working for a bureaucracy. Every business organization is, by definition, a bureaucracy, and in aggregate, they waste vast sums that dwarf all of government spending, and people just pay and pay without complaint. Of course, those private sector bureaucratic drones were dumb enough to forego collective bargaining, so now they’re making 1/300th of what the bigdogs get, and their pensions have been absconded out from under them.

    And Medusa can’t shut up about this.

    How about trimming the budget here, you idiot, or at least give back your share. Oh, and it seems Alaska likes Obamacare.

    According to Scalia and his brethren, corporations have the rights of individual citizens. Perhaps they should have the responsibilities that accompany citizenship, too, and actually pay taxes. They don’t, in droves. Hell tax them at my individual rate, if they have my rights as far as election funding. Budget worries finis. Big Macs will be more expensive, though.

    As for catcher’s knees, Carlton Fisk went into the crouch way more than Johnny Bench. Caught 2226 games to Bench’s 1742. Better stats lifetime. Better player in general. Actually, Pudge Rodriguez , Bob Boone, Gary Carter, Benito Santiago and a bunch of other guys caught more games than Bench. It’s all that Big Red Machine tripe. Of course, I’m seriously biased, and bleed Dodger blue. Spring training in Vero Beach in utero 1951. Now, Campanella was better than either of those guys. Pitchers vs. catchers. Pitchers’ impact on game outcomes is huge compared to catchers.

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  13. alex said on February 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Totally off topic, but I was quite impressed with the recent New Yorker piece on Scientology unmasked. And then comes this.

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  14. Kirk said on February 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    It is simply a travesty to say that Fisk was a better player than Bench.

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  15. brian stouder said on February 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    What Kirk said.

    And speaking of catchers, ol’ Joe Garagiola wrote a great book – Baseball is a Funny Game (if memory serves) – and was always fun to listen to as he called games with Tony Kubec, back in the day. He had an anecdote – forget who the individuals were in the story – wherein a player pointed to all the cather’s gear (the mask and shin guards and padding and so on) and referred to it as “The tools of ignorance”! ‘Course, this was enroute to making the point that a good catcher is really the captain of the team, since he sees the whole layout, plus he calls for particular pitches from particular pitchers in particular situations.

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  16. Sherri said on February 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Much attention is paid to pitchers’ arms because the margin between effective and ineffective is very narrow. A pitcher can go from good to abysmal with a drop of only a few miles per hour in his fastball. That’s why you’ll hear about a pitcher missing a start because of a hangnail or a blister – it affects his grip on the baseball, and that can be enough to make his pitches suddenly much more hittable. Catchers’ knees do affect their play, but in a much slower and less dramatic manner, and there are more ways to mitigate it.

    Pitchers report early mostly because they have always reported early. In the old days, when players didn’t train year round, it was because it took longer for pitchers to get into form. Nowadays, it’s probably more useful as an opportunity to get more chances to evaluate more pitchers. Pitchers are the most unpredictable players, and teams carry more of them than they used to.

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  17. deb said on February 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Kirk, re Johnny Bench: Word.

    In Madison, my son was deeply disappointed to miss Tom Morello’s appearances there. He (Morello) had this to say:

    “I really think that the future of the rights of working people in this country is not going to be decided in the courts. It’s not going to be decided in Congress or radio talk shows. The future of rights of working people in this country will be the fight on the streets of Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is the next Cairo.”

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  18. Dexter said on February 21, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    deb, thanks for the quote. Woody Guthrie and Joe Hill would have been proud of Tom Morello.

    It’s a very short time between “Pitchers and Catchers Report” and the start of inter-squad exhibition games. In Babe Ruth’s day, and up until the late 1970s, baseball players worked hard jobs in the off season, as most were paid just a tad above workingman’s wages for baseball. The Cubs had an outfielder in the late sixties and early seventies named Jim Hickman. Hickman was a stellar clutch hitter , a very good player who played for 4 teams in his career…he even hit 32 homers one year and finished 8th in the MVP voting. As good as he was, he only made $18,000 per year. That’s right. And he had to work in a textile mill in the off-season.
    The only similarity seems to be that the players like to use the old CW Post medicine ball now, again, to condition with.
    So my point is that all these millionaire players can afford not just to spend time at the gym, most of them have full gyms in their homes and they are really being paid to stay in form. All players live in temperate climes or have access to indoor facilities to throw, long-toss, pitching from mounds, whatever.
    Some players take off a week or two at season’s end to simply rest, then by Thanksgiving week they are in full throttle mode , conditioning for the upcoming season. Pitchers have to report a little early so the managers and coaches can begin to form a rotation for the exhibition games and check out pitchers who may have had shoulder arthro-surgery post-season…all this has to be totally fine-tuned. This extra time gives the management time to focus on pitching 100% for a few days before the other roster players report.
    Florida Spring Training games … what great memories of sitting in old, now torn-down Payne Park in Sarasota (those grounds are now a beautiful park for everybody) and sipping beer in cardboard cups and soaking up that hot sun, all slathered in sun-block, max SPF, watching my beloved Chicago White Sox.

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  19. Dexter said on February 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Weather report. The storm from the west arrived to the midwest in latitudinal layers.
    The reports changed almost hourly. We were supposed to get slight icing. We had thick ice everywhere at daybreak. It took a lot of work to just get into our two vehicles and get them de-iced. I was scheduled to visit friends thirty miles away for lunch but I stayed here. The wipers could not keep up and the ice kept re-forming and stacking. Pretty bad…then in an instant it turned to heavy, blinding snow. Within maybe 45 minutes we had a very quick 4 inches, and it it is still raging three hours later. My wife works 30 miles away and she had a helluva time getting there…it took her an hour and ten minutes.

    And Johnny Bench, yes. For some reason I hated his Big Red Machine. I hung out with other birds of that feather; we enjoyed taunting Pete Rose and Johnny Bench and all of them. We especially hated Rose, but we hated the uniform no matter who was inside it.
    Now I don’t give a damn about hating anybody, and I concur with almost all baseball people, Johnny Bench stands alone in history. #1. I know all about Campy, and Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra and Joe Torre and Ernie Lombardi , Mickey Cochrane, Gary Carter, Pudge Rodriquez as well as his namesake Pudge Fisk…but Bench stands alone—absolutely the best ever.

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  20. brian stouder said on February 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Speaking of ‘the end of the blogosphere’, and shoveling: there is a woman who should be a friend of nn.c (if she’s not already) who was a reporter for the Journal-Gazette, and who went on to become the PIO at Fort Wayne Community Schools. Today’s weather in Fort Wayne was particularly lurid, in that we were clear as a bell at 5:30 this morning – and the district issued no delays. By 7 am, the streets were a bedeviling mix of wet and driveable, interspersed with glazed-over and absolutely treacherous. Normally I take the girls to the bus stop, but as I scraped the ice off the car, Pam valiantly decided to take the girls to the bus stop (her van resides in the garage, and therefore was ready-to-go), and while sitting and waiting for the bus at the bus stop (a parking lot at anearby school), another mom slid into Pam’s van. Pam’s first reaction was that I had driven over to joke around, and had accidently smacked into her too hard; so she gets out of the van (and I can just picture the look she’d have had on her face at THAT moment!) – and the other mom bursts into tears!!

    Anyway, that all worked out, and then word arrived (via 3G, I think) that the bus wasn’t coming for at least another half hour – so the assembled ‘rents began working out who would take which kids to what schools, and Pam headed southward, on a cross-town adventure. Thanks to the mom that had slid into her, she was extra cautious; and as she approached the railroad crossing by the newspaper building, a motorcycle (!) ahead of her went down. Pam went for the binders, and got herself slowed and then stopped (although it might have been worse if they’d have been on the downhill side of the crossing). The guy got his bike up again, rolled forward, and wiped out again….and by this time, Pam was thinking that the tearful mom had actually saved Pam from a worse accident, by raising her consciousness about how terrible the streets were, here and there.

    And THEN –

    When Pam got home again, her facebook connection to Fort Wayne Community Schools was going like popcorn; people bitching and moaning about how stupid the district is, and why did they not delay, and why did they not cancel, and flame wars between opposing factions…and we thought of the altogether pleasant and engaging person who used to write for the J-G, and who now (amongst many other things) runs that Facebook page, and faces the bright lights and cameras, and (somehow) remains one of the most pleasant, conversational people you’d ever want to meet.

    Pam expressed the opinion that they might have to shut down that Facebook page, but I disagreed; it serves a certain purpose, even if only as a relief valve for our cranks and malcontents. One thing Pam learned is that you can wade in there and disagree with the folks, and if you do it in a non-flamethrowing way, it is like being a snake charmer – wherein the copperheads (and peckerheads) hesitate to respond.

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  21. Dave said on February 21, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Johnny Bench. Yes.

    Kirk, you’re obviously a lifelong Reds fan, no other reason that you’d have what I think is a pic of Jim O’Toole for a avatar.

    Dexter, it seems like I can remember reading SPORT magazine back in the early to middle sixties and players would talk about things like working for moving companies during the winter or selling insurance or cars.

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  22. MarkH said on February 21, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Dave beat me to it. In my supporting post for Johnnny Bench, I was going to ask Kirk who that was in his avatar. O’Toole’s name kept coming in my head, but, really, I don’t think it is. And, I should KNOW this, as my dad took me to countless Reds games at Crosley Field in the ’60s. So Kirk, please help us out.

    EDIT — My money’s on Jim Maloney.

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  23. Kirk said on February 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Gents, it’s pinch-hitting star Jerry Lynch.

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  24. MarkH said on February 21, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    OK, I’ll pay up. Maybe I should have known Lynch as well, as he also played for my other hometown team, the Pirates, before and after his stint with the Reds.

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  25. jcburns said on February 21, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Good thing I didn’t guess Jim Nabors.

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  26. brian stouder said on February 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I remember sitting way (way) up in the red seats in right field at the old Riverfront Stadium, certainly more than 30 years ago, and seeing Davey Concepcion hit a homerun (I think he sent it over the centerfield wall, but I couldn’t tell you who they were playing. Probably the Padres, but maybe the Giants).

    That somewhat unlikely event made the trip all the more worth it

    (back in the day, my favorite pinch hitter was Ray Knight)

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  27. Dexter said on February 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    I thought it was Jim Maloney.

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  28. brian stouder said on February 21, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Kirk, very cool!


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  29. MarkH said on February 21, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    Yes, Kirk, that IS cool.

    BTW, Brian — I’m sure you’re aware the inevitable has happened: Bahrain GP cancelled (duh). See ya in Melbourne on the 27th.

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  30. Dexter said on February 22, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I must have made twenty trips to Cincinnati over the Riverfront years for baseball. The most memorable had to be the all-nighter in line for 1976 World Series tickets when I had the ticket window slammed in my face when I only had two people in front of me. My first venture up into the stratospheric red seats was a new one…we were up higher than the highest struck baseball, making it impossible to my untrained senses to tell a home run from a pop-up.
    I once had a blue seat, a box seat right behind the Reds’s dugout. I probably just sat in it with a lesser ticket. It was Flag Day, June 14, 1978. Easy to remember, because Pete Rose got a hit, a ground single up the middle, his first hit in his long hitting streak. He ended up hitting in 44 straight games.

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  31. Jakash said on February 22, 2011 at 1:06 am

    I saw Pete Rose get hit #4191 (tying the record) at Wrigley Field from the cheap seats. As I recall it, there was then a long rain delay and when he came up again, for his first chance to break the record, I’d ambled down to a few rows from the field, as lots of people had left. (Something the fine security folk at the Friendly Confines would never allow today, btw.) If I’m not mistaken, he may have struck out. Regardless, he obviously didn’t get a hit, as he set the record in Cincinnati. I think he would have had one more chance to bat after that, but took himself out of the game, which I assumed at the time was to make sure he didn’t set the record in Chicago. I haven’t looked this up, so I couldn’t really say if this memory is accurate or has somehow been affected by the passage of time… I hope that this doesn’t put me in the same category as James Frey.

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  32. brian stouder said on February 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I remember wearing a Reds tee shirt and ballcap at Wrigley many years ago, and it was the game where Paul O’Neil was in the outfield (center?) and somebody hit a fly – and he lined up and then lost the ball in the sun and covered his head, and got bonked.

    I recall that Wrigley – or at least the section we were in* – erupted in an odd mix of cheers and derisive laughter!

    The Cubs rallied and rallied, and won the game, and as I left the place, people would see I was a Reds fan and either politely smile, or else cruelly chortle.

    Oh, well. It was still a fun day at the old ball game

    *on further reflection, that was the game that I had the best seats I ever had at Wrigley, about 20 rows in from the 3rd base line. Foul balls came into our area repeatedly, and it was amazing to watch their odd squiggs and gyrations, as they spun through the air

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  33. Kirk said on February 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

    You, too, can sponsor a player page at baseballreference.com. It only costs me 10 bucks a year. More prominent players cost more. It’s well worth it; that site is the best I’ve found for mountains of dependable baseball info.

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