The Screwball: All the news that’s fit to invent again

Even as we head from Thanksgiving toward Christmas, baseball is still supplying a whole lot of news. Some is fact. Some is gossip. And some, of course, is absolute fiction.

It’s near Trollywood

News out of L.A. is that the Angels have traded for former St. Louis third baseman David Freese, partly to fill the hot-corner void and partly to troll the rival Rangers, who haven’t forgotten (and will never forget) the 2011 World Series villain and who the Angels will play 19 times per season every season. The other news out of L.A. is that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving next door to Jennifer Aniston, with additional plans to cut down the hedge between the houses and to leave the curtains open even at night.

Nominal interest

From comes word that the Minnesota Twins are opposing the WWE’s trademark of the “Bella Twins,” a.k.a. professional wrestlers and not-ugly twin sisters Nikki and Brie Bella. From, meanwhile, comes word that Arte Moreno stands in similar opposition to the Victoria’s Secret Angels and has invited them to discuss the matter in his hot tub.

Maintaining flexibility

WEEI reported that former free agent catcher Brian McCann, in efforts to appear more attractive to prospective bidders, is willing to try new positions. From Jeter Publishing, meanwhile, comes word that McCann has already read, and reportedly enjoyed, the galley proof of The Kama Jetra.

Sources have added that now that McCann has signed with Jeter’s Yankees, he will continue to work on his positional flexibility, especially on off days.

Was it a Ford Scape?

From Twitter—in fact, from the feed of one Jose Canseco—comes the news that when the former Bash Brother got pulled over by police late last week, he had goats in his car. Now from comes word that when a still-angry Jerry H. Smith of Waltham, Mass., got pulled over by Boston police last week, Bill Buckner was stuffed inside his trunk.

To be or not to bezoar

Various outlets are reporting that David Ortiz and Shane Victorino have donated their recently shaved-off beards to the charity group Movember, and that with the aid of Boston-based Gillette, those mystical whiskers have been fashioned into “beard ball trophies” and made available to the highest bidder. Various other outlets are reporting that the current bid leader is ZZ Top’s Frank Beard, who, for reasons all his own, will use the beard balls as ball-moss proxies in his bizarre arboretum. Meanwhile, still other outlets are reporting that serial investment doofus Rollie Fingers made a winning bid of $52,000 on what turned out to be a hairball from one of James Franco’s cats.

Another hairy situation

Numerous outlets have repeated—correction—reported that after losing a “beard-off” and thus the title King of the Beards to WWE star Daniel Bryan, A’s outfielder Josh Reddick agreed to let Bryan shave his beard on national television. Now, the Movember newsletter is reporting that the Shane Victorino beard ball trophy has been tested for purity and has in fact shown traces of Reddick DNA, prompting testy accusations that organizers have “cut” the product with less-mystical Reddick whiskers in order to cash in on eBay by selling additional balls of the Victorino beard.

Meanwhile, the National Enquirer is reporting that on Oct. 30 the 26-year-old Georgian underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist and is expected to begin his sixth major league season in right field for the Athletics.

Sweet dreams

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

Recently Saturday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a letter from pitcher Tim Hudson, who spent nine seasons with the Braves before agreeing to a two-year contract with the Giants last week, to Atlanta fans: “When I was traded from the Oakland A’s to the Atlanta Braves before the 2005 season,” it began, “a childhood dream was realized.” The same day, the New York Constitution-Journal published a letter from Alfonso Soriano that began, “When I was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees on July 26, an adulthood dream was realized—a dream I’d had every night for four straight years.”

Coincidentally, the C-J also published a letter from Brian McCann this week: “When I signed with the New York Yankees last week, an adult dream was realized—a dream I’d had ever since reading The Kama Jetra.”

Pull of the push

The AJC is also reporting that in efforts to build support for the construction of a new Atlanta Braves stadium in Cobb County, located just north of Atlanta proper, anonymous advocates have devised a series of push-polling robocalls to Cobb County households. Sample question: “Does knowing that the new comprehensive transportation plan already exists and is fully funded make it more or less likely that you’ll support the Braves’ move to Cobb?”

Meantime, the Houston Morning Constitutional is reporting that anonymous Astros advocates are directing similar robocalls to Harris County residents. Sample question: “Does knowing that there is already a comprehensive transportation plan—namely, idling in traffic for three hours while cursing former GM Ed Wade—make it more or less likely that you’ll support the Astros?”

Body of work

Per a report in The Star-Ledger, a body-language expert determined that Alex Rodriguez lied during his interview on radio station WFAN two weeks ago. According to a separate report, body-wonderland expert John Mayer will soon open a rollercoaster and a Skee-ball game on Katy Perry’s chest.

Hot topic

A Dallas Morning News report quotes new Ranger Prince Fielder saying of the Texas heat, “I kind of like it. It keeps you loose. Heat helps you get the muscles loose.” A separate report notes that Fielder might be surprised at how hot an Arlington August really is, noting that “some muscles get so loose that they are officially labeled ‘free-range,’ while others go so far afield that experts consider them ‘feral.’” In the final paragraph, the writer also notes that he didn’t make a fat joke such as “Fielder will find that as blubber renders, it turns to a waxy substance called whale oil, a primary ingredient in soap and margarine,” even though he totally could have.

Prophet margin

Also on the Fielder front, several outlets are reporting that the first baseman recently tweeted that he is “(e)xcited to join the Rangers and play in front of all those fans,” adding #rightfieldbeready. More interesting, at least according to The Nostradamus Times, is that the reputed seer once etched #bereadyforatradestraightoutofleftfield in the Provence mud. According to a separate report in The Nostradamus Times, Nostradamus also predicted that in contradistinction to the heliocentric model espoused by his contemporary Copernicus, future generations would come to understand that planet Earth actually revolves around “Monsieur Alex ‘A-Rod’ Rodriguez.”

Household name

The news out of Anaheim two weeks ago was that the Angels were interested in a certain Joe Smith. The news out of Anaheim last week is that they did in fact sign the man, inking to a three-year contract a plumber from Yorba Linda.

Like father. . . reports that Manny Ramirez Jr., a 6-foot-4 first baseman and son of you-know-who, has signed to play baseball for the University of San Francisco. Meanwhile, The Jokes Just Write is reporting that if the young first baseman ever takes a swing at a teammate in the dugout, pushes a traveling secretary to the floor, dives for a relay throw and then lies directly on top of the ball, urinates behind an iconic left-field wall, tests positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, high-fives a fan just above the left-field railing, plays 17 games for the Sacramento River Cats and makes his Chinese Professional Baseball League debut against the Brother Elephants, he’ll have a lot of interesting stories to tell his children someday.

Oh, and he’ll also serve as a great example of Manny Jr. Being Manny Sr.


In an interview with AZ, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson used a recent Diamondbacks goodwill tour of Australia—actually, just two D-backs players went Down Under, but still, goodwill was had by all—as evidence that his team leads the league in “doing the right thing.”

From a different angle, sabermetrician (and geometrician) Robert R. Robertson of Hindsight looked at the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts and accused the Angels of “doing the obtuse thing.”

Diff’rent strokes

From NBC Chicago comes this revelation: Eleven-year-old Cubs fan Natalie Adorno cheers so often and so loudly from her season-ticket seat that one annoyed fan has contacted the club in efforts to stifle her public enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, from Puppies N’ Rainbows magazine comes this revelation: Despite the best attempts of writers and editors, not everyone is a subscriber.

Inclined to agree

The Pittsburgh Tribune Review has reported that 15-year veteran Lance Berkman is “leaning toward retirement.” Subsequent reports have indicated that as of last week, and with specific regard to Berkman, not a single big-league team has contacted the structural engineers who in 1990, and then again in 2008, straightened and stabilized the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Proving their metal

The Associated Press is reporting that come 2014, fans will have to pass through metal detectors as they enter each of the 30 major league stadiums. At the same time, The Wonderful World Of Metal is reporting that Megadeth, Napalm Death, Darkthrone, HammerFall, My Dying Bride, Slipknot and Hatebreed will stage a benefit concert for the prevention of metal-enthusiast pigeonholing by dedicating all pre-tax profits to the funding of a separate detector for each of several metal subgenres: thrash metal, death metal, black metal, power metal, doom metal and alternative metal. Sources say that in order to pass through a specified detector successfully, fans of each associated subgenre will be encouraged to mosh and/or headbang to five characteristic songs that sound indistinguishable to everybody else.

Some nerve

According to reports out of D/FW, the nerve irritation that Rangers ace Yu Darvish suffered in the lower part of his back late last season has subsided. In other nerve-irritation news, word out of the Rangers clubhouse is that Darvish must still contend with Derek Holland and his Harry Caray shtick.


The Associated Press is reporting that former White Sox scout Victor Mateo has been sentenced to an eight-month prison term due to his participation in a kickback scheme involving the signing of 23 prospects in the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, Martial Arts Daily is reporting that former Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter retired not because of recurrent shoulder issues but, rather, because he is training for a kick-back scheme against Johnny Cueto.

Statistical bump

Word from South America is that Mariners catcher/designated hitter Jesus Montero suffered cuts to his knuckles in a car wreck in Venezuela. Word out of FanGraphs is that Montero’s contact rate has slightly improved.

Owners meeting

Word’s been swirling that free agent second baseman Robinson Cano is being marketed as baseball’s Michael Jordan, which is interesting because word’s also swirled that right-handed starter Ervin Santana, against whom Cano has gone .324/.350/.784 with five home runs and 10 RBI in 37 career at-bats, is being marketed in his own free agency as baseball’s Craig Ehlo.

Strings attached

And speaking of Santana, is reporting that the Indians have spoken with Carlos Santana about playing some third base during offseason workouts. Meanwhile, Aging is reporting—and Surely You Saw This One has confirmed—that the Yankees, in anticipation of losing Robbie Cano, have spoken to Jimmy Page about playing some second base. At the same time, An Absolute is reporting that the Astros, using the perennially successful Yankees as their exemplar, have put in a call to Blind Lemon Jefferson.

Signing, er, singing period

As seen on TV and the Internet, the Mets decided to brighten everyone’s Christmas by recording—and, more importantly, releasing—a video featuring several players singing Sleigh Ride against a yuletide backdrop of snowmen, sleighs and of course the Home Run Apple. Not seen, but easily envisioned, are the crosstown (and decidedly richer) Yankees singing It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas and Winter Wonderland just before turning south toward Miami and Tampa Bay and singing Do They Know It’s Christmas?

The path not chosen

The Royals have announced via Twitter that the team will feature alternate road jerseys in 2014. Meanwhile, in a persuasive op-ed, has suggested that whatever team signs free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz should feature an alternate-route jersey: “Bearing an easy-to-discern path that is far superior to the one that Cruz has chosen, the jersey should be worn by the nearest outfielder whenever a deep drive is launched in Cruz’s direction.”

Probably low-rise

In other jersey-related news, Crain’s Detroit Business is reporting that in the wake of the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade, has discounted Kinsler’s jersey by $75.02 and Fielder’s by $43.02. Meanwhile, My Funny Bizness is reporting that Fielder’s pants have been zoned for residential use.

The grass is greener

And speaking of Kinsler, the Tigers’ new second baseman told the Detroit Free Press last week that “(t)here is something about the Tigers uniform. It is very classic. There is an old-school type of feel to the Tigers organization, and I’m a huge fan of old school.” In a separate interview, former Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the Free Press that, coincidentally, he’ll be serving as an adjunct professor at the new Old School, teaching other recent retirees how to decry the state of music these days, how to forward emails about kittens and/or government cover-ups, and how, in the most efficient way possible, to remove unwanted children from a privately owned lawn.

News peak

And speaking again of Fielder, various outlets are reporting that he chose the jersey number 84 to begin his career as a Ranger because it represents the year of his birth. Meanwhile, edgier outlets are theorizing that Fielder chose the symbolic number because he is planning to shorten his traditional home-run stroke as part of a new hitting philosophy that he is calling doublethink.

PEHs is reporting that the Mariners have announced their new coaching staff, and that it includes 14-year major league vet Howard Johnson. In related news, the site announced that in exploring the archives, it discovered a 2002 Bret Boone interview in which the second baseman responded to a PED question by saying, “No, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last year.”

Sign of the times

Per a report in Sports Business Journal, Molson Coors has decided to sell its 15 percent stake in the Colorado Rockies while retaining the naming rights to Coors Field. Separately, the Less Well-Known Sports Business Journal is reporting that the Marlins have decided to maintain their current ownership arrangement while selling the Marlins Park naming rights. The LW-KSPJ further reports that on March 31, having sold the rights to a cleverly named consortium, the Marlins will open their home schedule—pure coincidence here—against the Rockies in the newly anointed 1927 Yankees Park.

Difference of opinion

Various outlets are reporting that D-backs closer Brad Ziegler is miffed that the Cardinals have signed free agent PED user Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $53 million contract. “It pays to cheat,” Ziegler tweeted. Meanwhile, other outlets are reporting that Tiger Woods has issued a thoughtful counterpoint.

Preaching the fundamentals

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that in the wake of the Jhonny Peralta signing, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak declared that it isn’t the Cardinals’ responsibility to serve as MLB’s “morality police.” Meantime, Al Jazeera is reporting that in hopes of earning the position, several members of the Taliban have been reading The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, watching Field of Dreams and eating ballpark nachos, albeit Halal.

Truth in advertising

In a pair of stories about Hyun-Jin Ryu, reveals the level of stardom that the Dodgers lefty has reached in his native Korea by highlighting two of his recent TV appearances, one on a Korean game show called Running Man and the other in a commercial for Ottogi-brand noodles. is also reporting that the Running Man/Ottogi combo reminded several scouts of Coco Crisp, the speedy but noodle-armed center fielder.

Take a gander has also revealed that in the wake of the Red Sox World Series parade, pitcher Jake Peavy bought one of the amphibious duck boats in which players had ridden and moved it to his home in Alabama. Meanwhile, is reporting that if Peavy ever tires of the duck boat, he has reason to believe that he can sell it to clinic practitioner Anthony Bosch.

Style preference

Several outlets are reporting that dreadlocked Pirates outfielder and 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen served as a presenter at the recent American Music Awards. In an immediate follow-up, one reporter noted that the last time anyone associated with the AMAs made use of “dreads” was in 1992, when an unnamed honcho whispered to the same reporter, “Off the record, the AMA absolutely dreads a performance by Color Me Badd.”

Bum steer

From the Twitterverse comes the revelation that Rays ace David Price last week tweeted, “Everyone that’s traveling for Thanksgiving please be careful! Driving conditions will be rough with these storms! Ladies… let ur man drive!” And while Price has come to the ace’s defense by claiming that he actually meant “let ur-man drive,” i.e., “let primitive man drive,” which the site claims is merely a humorous Flintstones reference, it appears that Price is already on the short list for’s annual Man of the Year award.

In separate news, the staff is reporting that Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has canceled his subscription, apparently after misunderstanding the meaning of “sexist.”

Market price

Several outlets are reporting that free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz wants $75 million over four years. At the same time, This Is News?.com is reporting that pretty much everybody wants $75 million over four years.

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John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.

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