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Saturday, April 17, 2004

Walking The Birds

A few weeks ago, I was out walking my dogs on a long walk to a large park near our house. We don't normally go this way, so it was a treat for them. One Sunday morning, I spied a number of Vietnamese men with bamboo bird cages, and birds contained therein:

I asked them why they would do such a thing -- what was the point? The birds were still caged, even though they could sing, they got no special enjoyment from their prison being moved, even if temporarily, into the park. Naturally, none of the men professed to speak English, and so I went away as puzzled as when I first set eyes on the scene.

Such is the case with the Angels' use of Darin Erstad. I mean, I understand at some level the desire to keep him healthy by playing him at first base, but his defensive star shines brightest in centerfield. As well, there's no compelling evidence that Erstad hits better or stays healthier when playing first. But thanks to a communication gap between myself and the Angels organization, I'm stuck writing this blog instead of fixing the team so we have an actual chance of being something besides a .500 team -- where we almost are now and will be today if the A's win, a not unlikely scenario. Were I Stoneman, here's what I'd do:

  1. Move Guillen for a quality 1B. His contract and its duration is actually quite reasonable. It's not like his contract will weigh down the team for too many years.
  2. Move Erstad back to CF.
  3. Put Scot Shields in the rotation. He proved he's got the arm and the pitches last year. Instead of pitching in relief in ST, he should have been working on a third and fourth pitch and increasing his stamina.
  4. Move Anderson back to LF.
  5. If you can't stand Shields in the rotation, put Sele there. Sele had a better ST than Ortiz, and not by a little, posting a 4.24 ERA versus Ortiz's 6.66. (Is that an omen or what?) Why isn't he in the rotation?
  6. If possible, move one or both of Sele and Ortiz, possibly as part of the 1B trade mentioned earlier.
Crazy, I know, but I guess rational use of your players is for the birds.

This is an old Asian custom that has been around forever . This, to many in Asia is a form of sport . The best singers are worth alot of money & there are bragging rights toward the keepers . Plus thousands if not millions are bet on birds under the table in certain bird singing competions that go on in Thailand & Malaysia ( a Zebra dove ( geophilia striata ) was recently awarded the grand prize in the National dove singing competition in Yala , Thailand & a bird fancier from Singapore offered the bird's owner $ 167,000.00 U.S. for the bird ) . In the Philippines where I am from , we cockfight . I have personally seen a $ 250,000.00 dollar derby ( a group of roosters fight best of determined by the owners ) . I know it's hard to explain this to people from the West but it's our culture & it is what it is ...

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