Joe Vault
Category

By In Baseball, Joe Vault

Raúl

In the lost summer of 2001 — one of so many lost summers of Kansas City baseball — I was on the field watching batting practice with relatively new Royals general manager Allard Baird. People could never appreciate that he had an impossible job; he was trying to build a competitive baseball team with no money, no ownership support, no staff to work with. Especially: No money. Walmart CEO David Glass bought the team for less than $100 million in 2000 — this one year after the Cleveland Indians had sold for more than $300 million. That’s how little the Royals were worth then.

The stories from those days are legendary. The Royals would give $1,000 signing bonuses to anyone they drafted after then fifth or sixth round — yeah, a $1,000 bonus. They could not afford more. You suspect the $1,000 came only after negotiations; first the Royals offered baseball socks and McDonald’s gift certificates.

The team one year brought in a professional softball player in the hopes of getting a bargain. The team one year decided not to wear authentic Negro Leagues uniforms for the annual Negro Leagues Day — they could not afford them (the uniforms, both teams, cost less than $15,000 — business called in offering to pay for them like it was Little League). The Royals canceled the annual banquet to save money. There is a story, one that I believe, that the Royals were $1 million away from locking up the best player they have developed in the last 25 years, Carlos Beltran, to a long term deal … and ownership would not come up with the money.
(more…)

Read more

By In Baseball, Joe Vault

A Football Man in a Baseball World

This is random, I know, but today for some reason I ran across this story I did on former White Sox GM and current Executive Vice President Kenny Williams. It’s one of my favorite ever stories.

Read more

By In Baseball, Joe Vault

The Intentional Walk Rage System

All intentional walks are detestable. This is my personal philosophy, not unlike the way “Know Thyself” was the personal philosophy of Socrates. But even as a strict anti-intentional walk fundamentalist, I understand that some intentional walks are more infuriating than others.

So I came up with a point system to determine just how much I will despise an intentional walk. I call it my Intentional Walk Rage System (IWRS).

(more…)

Read more

By In Joe Vault

I Really Didn’t Need That Stew

For fun … here’s my greatest day in sportswriting:

(more…)

Read more

By In Baseball, History, Joe Vault

Musial

Stan Musial never got thrown out of a game. Never. Think about this for a moment. Musial played in 3,026 games in his career, or about as many as his contemporaries Joe DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky played combined. He played across different American eras — he played in the big leagues before bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, and he retired a few weeks before Kennedy was shot. He played when Jimmy Dorsey and Glenn Miller ruled the Top 40 charts, and he played when Elvis was thin, and he played when Chubby Checker twisted. He played before television, and after John Glenn orbited the earth. And he never once got thrown out of a baseball game

There was this game, early in ’54, the year that Edward Murrow went after Joe McCarthy and Roger Bannister ran a mile in four minutes, and Musial’s Cardinals trailed the Chicago Cubs 3-0 in the seventh inning. Cubs lefty pitcher Paul Minner was baffling the Cardinals — he had allowed just two singles, had faced one over the minimum. Then he found himself facing Musial with Wally Moon was on first base and two outs.

(more…)

Read more

By In Family, Joe Vault

An iPad Review

I left my iPad on a plane the other day. The crazy thing about it — as if there needs to be an extra layer of crazy about leaving a hugely expensive and personal and professionally vital device on an airplane — was that I thought about it five minutes before I did it. Not after. BEFORE. I put the iPad in the front seat pocket just as the plane was in its final descent, and I thought: “You know, I better remember this. I’ve got all my numbers and notes and work ideas and unfinished novels and secrets of the golf swing on this. It would be incredibly stupid to leave this iPad on the plane.”
(more…)

Read more

By In Joe Vault, Stuff

The Olive Garden

My wife worried, when I worked out an Olive Garden write-off with the great Tommy Tomlinson, that I would poke fun at Marilyn Hagerty’s now famous Olive Garden review. This tells me that I did not explain the idea well enough to her. I loved that review.

In case you missed it, Marilyn Hagerty is the 85-year-old author of the Eatbeat column in the Grand Forks Herald, a newspaper in Grand Forks, N.D.*

*At about 50,000, it is the third-largest city in North Dakota behind after Fargo and Bismarck.

(more…)

Read more

By In Baseball, Joe Vault

Baseball Night in America

Baseball, like life, revolves around anticlimax. That in many ways is the beauty of it. I realize that’s a hard thing to explain to someone who doesn’t love baseball, no, more than hard, it’s an impossible thing to explain because many people want sports to be more than life, they follow sports to jolt them out of the steady rhythms of the shriek of alarm clocks, the monotony of morning meetings, the rush to get our kids to soccer practice by 4 p.m. They want sports to be bigger than life. What’s the point, otherwise? There is nothing in baseball as jarring as a blind-side hit, as jaw-dropping as a perfect alley-oop, as tense and heart-pounding as a breakaway.

And the hard thing to explain, the impossible thing, is that many of us love baseball not in spite of these failings but because of them.
(more…)

Read more

By In Joe Vault

The 30-Foot Jump

We just don’t jump like we used to … I’m talking about human beings here, not me personally, though it is also true that I do not jump like I once did. I jumped off the last two steps on my front porch the other day and my left knee has not stopped hurting since. Still, in this particular case, I mean mankind.

(more…)

Read more

By In Joe Vault

The Biggest Winner

January 23, 2011
Weight: 247.3 pounds
Overweight by 71.3 pounds

What does inspiration mean in sports? Strip down the word. Remove its jewelry. I was there the night Derek Jeter hit the home run at Yankee Stadium while smoke rose from Ground Zero, and the crowd sang “New York, New York,” again and again long after the game ended, as if to shout “We’re still here!” And it felt … inspiring.

(more…)

Read more