Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just a short note from the wilderness...

Actually Manassas, or Bull Run. The Wilderness is closer to Charlottesville. What you call this area used to be based on where you were from in relation to the Mason-Dixon line; now there's a town called Manassas VA, and a road called Bull Run Post Office Rd.

The 2009 season officially started today. I know, it's only spring training, but the boys in Red played their first game since slapping Pittsburgh 11-4 to closeout the season last September. Periodically throughout the season I hear a certain baseball song in my head, but no more so than the first game of the year, be it spring training or Opening Day:

"Let's GO! Batter Up! We're taking the afternoon off!

It's a beautiful day for a ballgame
For a ballgame, today.

The fans are out to get a ticket or two;
From Walla Walla Washington to Kalamazoo-

It's a beautiful day for a Home Run,
Or even a triple's OK.

We're going to cheer -
And boo-
And raise a hullabaloo-
At the ball game, TODAY. (lyrics by Jon Wiesman)

Of course, it wasn't a real game - and the Cardinals had lots of trouble driving in runners, ending the affair against Florida tied 5-5. 3 for 17 with RISP. Ugh. Good thing this is spring training.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More MLB nonsense

There was a story on the Saturday local news about Little League Baseball in the San Diego area.

In it, they profiled one Little League that had abandoned the use of ML team names for their teams in the league. They are either going with colors (Kearny Mesa Blue, Red, etc), or college teams. Can you imagine being 10 years old and playing for the Oklahoma Sooners as your little league team?

Why is this?

Because in their infinite attempts to grab as much revenue as they possibly can, MLB charges a fee to Little Leagues across the country to use MLB team names/logos for their teams. MLB claims this is because of their exclusive licensing agreement with Majestic. So, leagues who still want to use MLB team names are forced to buy their equipment from a Majestic dealer, which, as you might expect, costs a little bit more than the t-shirt screening shop down the street.

While this may make sense from a business perspective, it makes absolutely no sense from a marketing perspective.

They are poisoning the well for these kids, the future fans of MLB. What fun is it to play for the Kearny Mesa Blue, when you used to play for the Kearny Mesa Padres (sponsored by, perhaps, Dairy Queen)? So you become a fan of the Blue Man Group or Blue Monday or Blue Period instead of the Padres. Nice going, MLB.

This doesn't just apply to replicating the exact uniform shirts of major league teams. You write "Giants" on a shirt that's a little league team jersey, and MLB will come calling for it's fee.

I'm not trying to scare up new revenue streams for MLB, but you know there are parents out there who wear the apparel of the team their son/daughter plays for. To show support, to be involved. All that potential revenue lost.

And, kids are exposed at an all-too early age to the greed and callousness of contemporary life in these United States. You can't wear the White Sox logo because your league can't afford to pay the already overly rich MLB organization their prohibitive licensing fee.

I don't know if we can fight this, but I'm going to try. I ask all the Cardinal blogs out there to link to this story. Email MLB telling them, politely, what schmucks they are. Tell your friends too so they can get involved. Tell other team blogs. Tell anyone who cares.

This kind of nonsense has to stop.

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Kind of Leader Are You?

I took a week off, as previously mentioned, due to illness (mine and the family's).

In the interim, we learned:

- Selig doesn't want us to blame him for the steriods debacle;
- MLBPA former head Marvin Miller stated steroids never hurt or killed anyone, so what's the big deal;
- A-Roid held a press conference, at which he described taking a steroid he bought in the Dominican Republic;
- A-Roid was linked to a known steroids-tainted trainer;
- A-Roid was caught in a lie when the steroid he 'bought' in the DR wasn't available in the DR between 2001-03, with or without a prescription;
- BBWAA decided not to revoke A-Roid's 2003 MVP award; AND
- Lots of evidence got thrown out in the Barry Bonds trial unless the wife of his trainer testifies at the trial (trial begins a week from today).

Most of this stuff didn't surprise me (Selig's weaseling, A-Roid's caught in another lie, a liberal San Fran judge throwing out key evidence in a case against a favored adopted son). What did was the depth of the involvement, and lack of consciousness, the MLBPA had in this whole affair.

For years I believed the real evil in MLB was the owners. Greedy owners. Architects of the reserve clause. Constantly raising ticket prices. It's only since the steroids story broke this time around that I've realized the MLBPA are just as culpable, if not more so, than the owners.

They fought against testing.

They fought against punishment for positive steroids tests.

They allegedly warned players of upcoming tests so they could hide their drug use.

They only cared about how much money they could rake in and very little about the well-being of their players physically.

The whole thing stinks.

Steroid abuse had been long rumored at the MLB level, but back in 1998, when the first 'concrete' evidence of that abuse turned up (McGwire's can of creatine), baseball consistently refused to believe there was a problem, much less do anything about it. This continued for 4 more years before the Commissioner's office was finally, with pressure applied by CONGRESS, able to force testing of players, and ultimately to institute the steriod testing program as we know it today.

The blame for that lack of action rightly belongs to Selig. But not him alone. Donald Fehr and the rest of the union leadership are just a cupable and should be held in just as much contempt for what's happened to the game.

Selig had a singular chance to do something positive for baseball when this all appeared back in 1998. He did nothing.

Selig has gotten a do-over thanks to the leaking of A-Roid's positive test result. He, again, has a singular opportunity to do something positive for baseball.

He could make a stand.
He could suspend A-Roid, invoking the 1971 Commissioner decree that no drug use without a prescription is allowed.
He could release the rest of the 103 names into the public record.
He could revoke any post-season awards for any players who test positive for illegal substances.
He could ban for life all those with positive tests.

Public support would back him; the union would fight, but once exposed as the Machiavellian men they are, they would have to back down and accept what the Commissioner did.

And the Commissioner's office would wrest back some control over the game, control that has been slowly ceded to the players union over the last 40 years until now they are the ones running the league.

But he won't do a thing.

And Major League Baseball will continue to lose credibility, and with it will go the fans.

Cats Peel Orange

Backed by Derrick Anderson's 22 points, Villanova held off the Syracuse Orange(men) 89-86 to win the season series, win at the Carrier Dome for the second year in a row, and win their third in a row from Syracuse for the first time since I was a student.


So they are 10-4 in the conference, although the road they took there was a little different than I expected.

W vs Rutgers - check.

W at W. Virginia - uh, got THAT wrong. I should have known. This game was a must for the Mountaineers, who are fighting for an NCAA berth, hadn't beaten a meaningful opponent in the Big East all season, had Nova at their place, play good defense... just a horrible call on my part.

L at Syracuse - happily, got that wrong too.

So, they have the worst team in the league (DePaul), the rapidly disintegrating Hoyas, and Notre Dame left. 13-4 is still possible. 13-4 will probably not move them out of 5th in the conference, but who cares? They're a lock for the NCAAs at this point. The only suspense remaining is what their seed will be.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Family Down With a Nose; Listed as Day to Day (aren't we all)

It appears I've managed to transmit the cold I was fighting to the rest of my family - so blogging is taking a back seat for a couple of days. I'm the healthiest one in the family right now.

To recap: Mike was Typhoid Mary, now he's Florence Nightingale.

Intent is to have something up late this week; but if all else fails, Monday.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ankiel Settles, Ludwick Next?

Just moments before going into the hotel room at the Days Inn, the Cardinals and Ankiel agreed to a 1 year contract for $2.83M. Details of the deal weren't released, so we don't know if this is his entire base salary, or what the contract could be worth if he meets all his incentive clauses. My guess is this is the total value of the contract.

Ryan Ludwick is also scheduled to go to an arbitration hearing on 17 Feb. He's asked for $4.25M, and the Cardinals offered $2.8M.

Before the agreement was reached and reported, I made a comment here on what I thought would happen in this arbitration hearing. One of the other commenters pointed out the decision reached by the arbitrator would be one salary figure or the other. I looked it up, and guess what? That guy was right.

To summarize what's in that last link, at the arbitration hearing the arbitrator listens to arguments from both sides, which can present the following:

- The player's contribution to the club in terms of performance and leadership

- The club's record and its attendance

- Any and all of the players 'special accomplishments,' including All-Star game appearances, awards won, and post-season performance

- The salaries of comparable players in the player's service-time class and, for players with less than five years of service, the class one year ahead of him.

The parties may not refer to team finances, previous offers made during negotiations, comments from the press, or salaries in other sports or occupations.

(It would have been interesting to hear the comparable players arguments, since Ankiel was a pitcher until 2 years ago.)

I gotta ask. Since the result of the arbitration will be one of the two values submitted, why even hold a hearing? Why not certify someone as an impartial coin flipper and just flip a coin? Its the same 'go/no-go' criteria, and it doesn't waste the hour or the palatial hotel accomodations. Everyone could get in an extra round of golf. It's a win/win.

I would think an arbitrator would look at the offer sheets, listen to arguments, and arrive at a conclusion, which could be (a) the high number, (b) the low number, or (c) some number in between. I'm sure these guys go through an extensive training process to become an arbitrator, and probably sit in on a number of hearings as on-the-job training before being handed a case to try on their own.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Speaking of 'The Hammer'...

Bud Selig is reportedly considering:

a) Suspending A-Rod for his positive steroids test in 2003, and
b) Re-instating Hank Aaron as the all-time HR king.

Here's the link.

I'm absolutely speechless. No, seriously - speechless.

Oh, and Tejada might get deported for lying to Congress.

Jay Winik wrote a great book about April 1865. Someday someone's going to write a book about Feb 2009 and its impact on baseball. What an earth-shattering week this has been.

Arm and Hammer

We got some good news and some ho-hum news yesterday.

First the good news: Carp threw off the mound for about 10 minutes and reported no discomfort. That's the best news this week for Cardinals fans. Of course, with the adrenalin pumping and the excitement of being able to throw from the mound, everything feels great; how he feels physically this morning will be the real test. Duncan correctly pointed that out in the article.

The Cardinals aren't taking any chances with Carp. Kyle McClellan is prepping as if he'll be a starter this spring, and his workouts are the same day as Carp's. Nice planning. If Carp suffers a setback that prevents him from starting the 28 Feb game, McClellan will be ready to step in.

Next step, according to Carp, is to mix in some off-speed stuff and see how the arm responds.

If (and although yesterday's news was encouraging, it's still a big IF) Carp is ready to start the season with the big club, the rotation may shake out to be

Chris Carpenter
Adam Wainwright
Kyle Lohse
Todd Wellemeyer
Joel 'punching bag' Piniero

One thru four were pretty good last season. Not to drink the Kool-Aid, but all indications are Piniero worked his butt off getting ready for this season (oh yes, it is the final year of his contract), so he could be much improved over last season, which would make this a very good rotation.

The ho-hum news is all the banter about Rick Ankiel's arbitration hearing, scheduled for today. Seems the Cardinals offered him $2.35M and he wants $3.3M. I'll tell ya, in this economic environment I'll take the $950K difference and be quite happy thank you very much, but that's not how this cookie crumbles.

So it's Scott Boras and his stat-heads against the Cardinals. The Cardinal front office apparently has a couple of guys who worked arbitration issues for MLB in the past (John Abbamondi specifically, and he specialized in this stuff for 4 years). Boras is 3-5 in his past 8 arbitration hearings, and is widely considered to be an ass, so I'm sure that won't help Ankiel.

Rick is in Phoenix today for the hearing.

Yes, Phoenix. Apparently the hearing's in a hotel.

I find this incredibly funny. MLB is a multi-billion dollar operation, but they don't have an arbitration room/wing/floor in their coroprate offices to hold these kinds of hearings? Does the MLB players association not have an office building where they could do this kind of hearing? They have to do it in a hotel room?

I wonder if this is the notification Ankiel got: "Hey, your hearing is 12 Feb 09 at the Days Inn. Take 10 West out of the airport past Avondale. It's the first Days Inn you see off the highway. We're in the room with the Mystery Machine parked in out front."

8 guys crammed into a room with 2 queen-size beds deciding how much Ankiel gets paid next season. That would be hilarious.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

World Series Press Pins

There is an awful lot of stuff that can be considered memorabilia. Programs, ticket stubs, old soup cans, gum (gum?), movie posters, and of course, bats, balls, caps, jerseys, and autographs. One of the more obscure are press pins, which I've been interested in since 2004.

What is a press pin? It's what identified men as members of the press, and allowed them entrance to World Series games without a ticket. The first press pin was created in 1911 for the Philadelphia Athletics; since 1912, each team in the World Series has commissioned a press pin. Today members of the fourth estate are credentialed in other ways, and the press pin is, well, just a pin that has little intrinsic value.

Unless, of course, you collect them.

I'm no longer sure what caused me to become interested in this little niche area of collecting. I've never been a big autograph hunter, not a jersey collector either. I have some baseballs, but they were gotten the old-fashioned way, either by standing in the bleachers during BP, or by inheriting them (my Dad had an old ball with red and blue seam stitching). Baseball cards? Sure, however, that hobby has gotten just ridiculous over the past 15 years. I have some good cards, some good rookie cards too, but now everything has to be GRADED to get full value for them; and I don't trust the grading companies enough to send them my good cards and get the same card back.

At any rate, I thought the 2004 pin looked pretty cool:

So I picked up one. And that led to a few more. And a few more. After all, the Cardinals have won 17 NL titles.

At this point, I've managed to acquire one pin for each Cardinal World Series from 1964 to the present. Those were reasonably priced.

The rest are for the 9 NL titles from 1926-1946. Those aren't so reasonably priced. Due to the depressed economy, people are forced to part with some of their treasures to raise money, which means more of these pins will come up for sale. Due to the depressed economy, I haven't got the moolah to take advantage of these opportunities. So, the collection may stop here. But it is fun as a way to pass time for me.

Besided, enough ink has been spilled on the latest steroids nonsense, and Kennedy's release has been exhaustively covered by my fellow Cardinal reporters and bloggers. I thought I'd post a 'fluff piece' today for your reading pleasure.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

We pause in our preps for spring training... turn to college basketball for a moment.

I've somewhat purposely ignored my Villanova Wildcats this season. Initially I thought they were overrated. Granted, they did make the sweet 16 last year, before getting trounced by Kansas (correction: eventual National Champion Kansas), and had the nucleus returning this season. But they didn't play anyone in the non-league schedule, and their only tough non-league game, was a loss against Texas.

Then I thought they were very overrated. I saw their Big East opener against Marquette by accident. It was on New Year's Day, and I was waiting for the Rose Bowl to start. Nova couldn't shoot from outside at all against the Warriors (er, Golden Eagles), and the Marquette players were bigger, faster, and better. Cats ended up losing by 9. They followed that by starting 2-3 in the league, and 0-4 against ranked teams.

But since a funny thing has happened. They beat a good Pittsburgh team by 10. They hung with UCONN at Storrs, losing by 6. They clobbered Syracuse this weekend. And they've managed to stay in the top 25 all season.

This week's finds them #13 in both polls. They are 7-3 in the league, and of their 6 remaining games, 5 are very winnable:

tonight vs Marquette - the ol' "Return the Favor" Game (20-3, 9-1 league)
2/13 at West Virginia (16-8, 5-6)
2/19 vs Rutgers (10-14, 1-10)
2/22 at Syracuse - the ol' "Get the Favor Returned" Game (18-6, 6-5)
2/25 at Depaul (8-16, 0-11)
2/28 vs Georgetown (13-9, 4-7)
3/2 at Notre Dame (12-10, 3-7)

Granted, Georgetown and ND have disappointed this season but are very good teams, and the Mountaineers are always tough at home; but other than the almost assured loss in the Carrier Dome, Villanova quite possibly could finish the league season by winning 5 of their last 6 and have a 12-4 record overall in the league. That will clinch the #5 seed in the Big East tourney at a minimum, and probably get them a #4 or #5 seed in the NCAAs (depending on their Big East tourney finish).

So this is the first Villanova story of the season. Go Cats!

Monday, February 09, 2009

More 'Roids, and Kennedy shown the door

Ya know, some days you spend watching the second hand sweep the clockface while wondering, 'MAN will this day ever end?', and some days you're up to your waist in activity.

Today is one of the latter days.

Since my last post:

1. A-Roid admitted to using steroids while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-2003, in an interview with Peter Gammons. This was not during the Canseco years (in fact, Jose was out of baseball by then).

2. The Cardinals told Kennedy, "Thanks, but we're better without you. In fact, we're so sure we're better without you, we'll pay you $4 million to NOT be on our squad."

So there will be an open competition for the second base job.

Most observers were pretty down on Kennedy's time in St Louis - good glove, no bat. He did hit better last season, but not like what some projected. Here's what I find interesting:

- LaRussa is being reported as being the major driver in this personnel decision.
- Apparently things between Kennedy and LaRussa were worse than reported or suspected. This partially explains his lack of playing time last year, and why he allowed some frustration to be reported in the media. Also, for a club complaining about not having the money to sign folks like Sheets, being willing to throw $4M out the window with no return on investment just to get rid of this guy is very telling.
- Three members of the 2002 Angels played for LaRussa - Eckstein, Edmonds, and Kennedy. They've each left the team (via free agency, trade, and designation for assignment, respectively) in successive years. In the name of rampant speculation, I wonder if there's an underlying reason for the pattern.

Update to latest steriods debacle

Curt Schilling is recommending the remaining 103 players from the 2003 testing be identified publicly sooner rather than later.

I couldn't agree more. It isn't fair to make A-Rod twist in the wind, and it is better for all to have the names come out as a group rather then one at a time over the next - well, who knows how many months.

I'm sure the MLBPA and Commissioner's office will fight this, based on their confidentiality agreement; but since neither organization destroyed the test results, allowing themselves to get into this predicament, it seems to me to be too late to cry foul.

That's a lot of 'to' at the end of that last sentence, isn't it?

Some admin notes, then A-Roid

A couple of things:

- I've changed the email address associated with this site to the much more obvious ''. I can still be reached at the previousl email address, at least for a while.

- I've joined the 21st century and entered the unfettered world of facebook. It's been an interesting weekend poking around on the site. I've managed to find some folks I'd lost track of, not to mention some interesting people who spell their names phonetically.

- I've also re-organized the Cardinals links to the right. I've gotten all the UCB links I could remember (and find while sifting through email) onto that list, as well as a few others, and purged the deadwood. If I've left anyone off, let me know soonest and I'll rectify the situation; if I've inadvertently deleted someone, let me know that too and I'll add you back on.


On to the fun.

Alex Rodriguez popped positive for steroids during the 2003 testing. This revelation was all over the news this weekend. Apparently someone leaked his name to the press. What I find mind boggling about this whole situation is the arrogance of the players union.

As you remember, the 2003 testing was done as a trial, under agreement between the Commissioner's Office and the MLBPA, to see how prevalent the steroid problem was in baseball. Individuals would be tested with complete confidentiality, their names never to be revealed. 104 people tested positive for banned substances; as a result, MLB instituted a mandatory drug testing program in 2004 which has gotten progressively more stringent since.

Why hold onto those samples? What was the reason, seeing as they had served their real purpose?

As has been pointed out in other stories, these samples (and the documentation linking them to individual players) would have never seen the light of day had it not been for Barry Bonds and BALCO. That gave the federal government the pretext to supoena those tests, results, and samples under their ongoing investigation against Bonds. However, the union screwed up; and instead of just getting their hands on the stuff pertaining to Bonds, the Feds got their hands on EVERYTHING.

Cue the panic in locker rooms everywhere. Especially now that A-Rod has been outed.

This is going to turn into the Salem Witch Trials and the blacklisting of Hollywood types during the Cold War. Players will be surmised to be guilty just because their name comes up in conversation about steroids. Remember how overblown the mere allegation of Albert Pujols doping was 3 years ago? He managed to fight that off. Players implicated in this round of innuendo will be guilty forever in the court of public opinion, even if they manage to prove their innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Back to A-Rod. He's never been the most beloved Yankee, and he's reviled in several sectors of the league (most notably Boston). You think he's dreading his first trip to Fenway this season? You think those tickets just became the hottest ticket in Boston? Can you imagine the vitriol that will spew from the Fenway Faithful whenever he takes the field, in that and all successive games against the Red Sox?

I hope ESPN, or FOX, or ABC, or Lifetime, or the Spice Channel, or someone televises that first game. I can't wait to see what the notoriously pithy Red Sox fan comes up with to taunt A-Rod. A-Roid will probably be the tamest thing we see.

The 103 sleep in a cold sweat, fearing their names will come up eventually. On a personal note, God forbid Albert Pujols is one of the 103. I'm not sure my fan-dom for the great game of baseball could survive that nuclear detonation.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Hey Check this out

Rob Neyer's story today included a link to an injury report site on Pitch F/X.

The site lists dates on/off the DL, and specifics about the injury (ex: For Ben Sheets, it has: On DL 7/15/07, off DL 8/29/07, 45 days, Right Hand Sprain (middle finger)). It also has injury history summary for the past 1, 3, and 5 years, and a body part list (number of times a specific part has been hurt enough to land the player on the DL). For example, again with Sheets, he's been on the DL 3x for his shoulder.

With all the discussions about whether or not the Cardinals should sign Sheets, I had wondered if teams kept a catalog of medical issues on potential free agents, and why that data wasn't readily available on the internet. Now it is.

This is cool.

Not to Poke my Friends in the Eye, but...

Today Ben Sheets reportedly reached an agreement with the Texas Rangers on a 2-year deal. All that remained was for him to pass a physical.

At which point a torn flexor tendon was discovered. So much for passing that physical. Or getting the 2-year deal. Or a deal from any team, for that matter.

Now, I could sit here and tell you I knew all along there was something really, really wrong with Ben; that it was obvious from watching him try to pitch in late September and October. But I didn't. What I did know, however, was that he is injury prone. I don't know if its due to his mechanics, or the bad luck to have a high pain tolerance which means he hurts himself worse than us normal humans.

However, a guy who's always hurt isn't worth the $12Mil he was seeking. I've said that all along, and it turns out I was right.

Aren't you glad we didn't sign Sheets now?

While he and the Brewers discuss who will pay for his surgery, I now have a thought: Sign him to a 3 year deal - league minimum this season, $5-6 Mil for 2010 and 2011, but heavily incentive laden - so that if he does pitch, he's a real bargain, but if he doesn't, we don't throw Mark Mulder money at him.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Tell-Tale Heart

Not much Cardinal news to speak of. Dan over at C70 at the bat pretty well covered the salient points from Dave Duncan's interview (published in the post-dispatch yesterday).

The big news is two fold: Manny rejecting a 1-year, $25M offer from the Dodgers, and the ongoing Barry Bonds saga.

Some people are all up in arms about Manny's contract demands. I'm not. Yes, the money these guys get to play a kid's game (or what once was the kid's game) is ridiculous, but it has been so for years; this is not new. It was ridiculous when Kevin Brown got $15M a year from the Dodgers; it was ridiculous when Dave Winfield got $2.3M a year from the Yankees; hell, it was ridiculous when Mike Schmidt got paid $1M a year.

And this skewing of how much compensation one should get to play a sport isn't unique to baseball players. Remember when Latrell Sprewell famously said, "I've got a family to feed" regarding the NBA strike? I believe he was making upwards of $15M a season at that time. Makes you wonder who the family was he needed to feed - the greater St Louis area?

Although I agree Scott Boras feeds on the souls of the damned, this isn't something to get fired up over. The market will correct; Manny will accept some more reasonable terms (I can't believe I'd think $20M is more reasonable; that's still outrageous), or he won't play in 2009.

The more interesting story, to me, is the Barry Bonds saga. The judge presiding over his perjury trial has unsealed some documents (the trial starts 2 March). Here's what they said:

- Bonds tested positive for steroids in 2000 and 2001, his two highest HR years.
- Samples collected in 2003 were re-tested; steroids were found in those, too. Not surprisingly, this sample was tested by MLB in 2004, and passed; that should tell you all you need know regarding the standards MLB had for doping back then.
- Other ancillary evidence regarding taped conversations, etc.

All of it makes the government's case look far, far stronger than it did. All if it makes the argument Bonds is being persecuted because he's black much weaker. It makes me wonder what, if anything, MLB will do if the courts find Bonds guilty of perjury - will they place an asterisk next to his records? Will they expunge them entirely from the record books? And will this influence voters when he is eligible for the Hall in 2012?

The title of this post refers to a pretty good short story by Edgar Allen Poe. I wonder if Barry hears it beating whenever he walks into a room with baseball 'stuff' in it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

More MLB Crap for your Office/Sanctuary

One of the things you discover about kids is they are the consumers that drive the economic wheel. Especially young kids; they grow so fast you seem to be constantly buying new clothes for them. Not to mention all the things they need to be safe and comfortable (diapers, various kinds of baby wipes and powders, medicine, tylenol/oralgel for teething, food, and so on).

Kids are also a blank canvas on which to place all the things you like (and some of your hates and fears, although any responsible parent (like me) tries to minimize the damage there). Like, say, sports teams.

Well, Pottery Barn isn't dumb. The Pottery Barn Kids catalog arrived in the mail yesterday, with this photo on the cover:

Looks like Pottery Barn has joined the MLB family of merchandise outlets. Let's see what they've got for sale, shall we?

Well among other things (mostly bedding), they had these throw pillows on sale, although not actually called a pillow:

This is a kids store, but good grief there's some wierdness going on here.

- Since when are the White Sox represented by a Dinosaur?

- What the hell is that thing underneath the Indians hat? looks like a yam with bad acne.

- Apparently the Angels (how are angels not kid-cute?), Braves (a brave is a child - no one can draw a child Indian in Atlanta?), Cubs (at least they included a bear), Yankees (I guess a drunk fan shouting obscenities didn't make the cut), Giants (Paul Bunyan not available?), Dodgers (too busy scrounging nickels to sign Manny to include a surfer dude?), and Padres (where's the Friar?!?) couldn't be bothered to come up with a cutsie character for the sham.

- A Diamondback is a snake (or a bike), but there's a cat on that pillow?

- Is the Nationals character a bald eagle, or a chicken? Bald eagle would obviously fit the team in our national capital, and a chicken would obviously fit the actual team.