Tag Archives: Sports Illustrated

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Paul Goldschmidt among possible Phillies trade targets

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Cleveland willing to entertain offers for veterans including ace Corey Kluber

Much of the talk surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies during these early days of the Hot Stove season has understandably centered on some of the big-name free agents.

The Phillies have a great deal of money available to spend, and so they should be major players for some of the top available talents. However, free agency is just one way in which the team can improve itself.
Earlier this week, Scott Lauber at Philly.com quoted Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, a man squarely on the hot seat this off-season, in regards to the team’s approach:
“Part of the fun of this offseason is we don’t know which way we’re going to go. It could be a starter. It could be a reliever. It could be a hitter. It could be a defender. It could be some combination of that. It could be trades. It could be free agency. To be able to consider any opportunity is exciting.”
The staff at Sports Illustrated released a piece on Friday in which they explored some high-profile names reportedly on the trade block, and then tried to match those players with teams they felt were “Best Fits” for the players.
The Phillies were listed as such in relation to one big bat and a pair of star pitchers. The bat is that of Arizona Diamondbacks impact first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The pitchers were right-handers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, publicly placed on the trade block by the Cleveland Indians.

As stated by SI, Goldschmidt would “…easily improve any lineup of any contender. From here, the best fits look to be the Yankees, Rockies, Nationals, and Phillies, with the Astros a potential dark-horse.
Goldschmidt turned 31-years-old in September, so will play at that age all of next season. He is signed through next season at $14.5 million, a bargain for the level of production that his big right-handed bat yields.
Goldschmidt was born in the area in Wilmington, Delaware but he grew up in Texas. Over his eight seasons, ‘Goldy’ has crushed 209 home runs and roped another 267 doubles. His career slash line reads at .297/.398/.532 and he has been a National League all-star in each of the last six seasons.
He has four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves on his mantle, and was the NL’s Hank Aaron Award winner in the 2013 season during which Goldschmidt led the league in homers and RBI.
While his bat would improve most any lineup, it would be hard to see a genuine fit for Goldschmidt with the Phillies. The team already has Rhys Hoskins, who should be filling the first base position down in South Philly for at least the next half-dozen years.
They also have $40 million committed to Carlos Santana over the next two years, an albatross of a contract for a player whose only decent defensive position would be at first base. Goldschmidt has played no other defensive position other than first base during his big-league career.
In regards to the Phillies possible interest in Goldschmidt, the SI staffers believe it would hinge on the club losing out in the bidding for free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and finding a way to deal Santana, describing the scenario as follows: “…if they miss out on Harper and Machado both, though they’d have to ditch Carlos Santana somewhere in the process.
The Phillies are absolutely looking to improve their starting rotation this off-season. An experienced, quality arm to slot in between Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta in the rotation would go a long way towards helping the club push up to genuine contending status next year.
The SI staffers rate the Phillies along with the New York Yankees as the two best fits should Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff actually move either Kluber or Carrasco.

Kluber will turn 33-years-old as the 2019 season gets underway next April. After eight big-league seasons, all in Cleveland, he has a career mark of 96-55 with a 3.09 ERA, 1.070 WHIP, and 2.96 FIP. The righty has allowed 1,121 hits over 1,306 innings across 201 games, 196 of those as starts, with a 1,423/277 K:BB ratio.
Anyone who knows anything about pitching statistics realizes that those are true ace-quality numbers. Kluber has won a pair of AL Cy Young Awards and has been an American League all-star in each of the last three seasons.
Contractually he is extremely affordable. Kluber is owed just one more year at $17 million, and then there is a $1 million buyout. However, the team also would have club options for 2020 at $17.5 and 2021 at $18 million.
Carrasco should be familiar to any Phillies fan who knows team history. He was a signed by the club as a 16-year-old out of his native Venezuela back in November of 2003. He rose through the team’s farm system to become one of the Phillies top pitching prospects over the next few years.
At the 2009 non-waiver trade deadline, Carrasco was dealt as the lead piece in a four-prospect package to the Indians in exchange for pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.
The deal appeared a steal for the Phillies at first. Lee helped lead the team back to the World Series that October, then returned in 2011 as a free agent, becoming one of the best and most popular Phillies during the post-World Series years.
However, Lee’s career was cut somewhat short by injuries, ending at age 35 in mid-2014. Carrasco meanwhile developed into a top starter in his own right. Over parts of nine seasons he has a 79-62 record with a 3.71 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, and 3.33 career FIP mark.
Carrasco has allowed 1,018 hits over 1,094.1 innings across 207 games, 171 of those as starting assignments. He has a career 1,127/278 K:BB ratio and finished fourth in the 2017 American League Cy Young Award voting.
Contractually, Carrasco is even more affordable than either Kluber or Goldschmidt. He is owed just $9.75 million for next season and then has a buyout at less than $700,000 for 2020. There is also a team option in place at just $9.5 million for that 2020 season during which he would turn 33 years of age.
Each one of these three stars would be financially affordable to the Phillies. Each one would better the team measurably. The real issue would be what would it cost the team in prospects? Both Chernoff in Cleveland and Arizona GM Mike Hazen would be looking for a solid prospect package in return.

In order to get any of the three, we would likely again be looking at a team trying to acquire top Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez. You might have one or all of the Phillies top hitting prospects including Alec BohmAdam Haseley, and Mickey Moniak in such a package.
As SI related in their piece, Cleveland may not deal either arm in the end. The Indians are a top AL contender, and want to continue as such. “Being “willing to listen” doesn’t equal “actively shopping,”…this one seems like it would need a seriously perfect package in order to come to fruition.
Until actual free agent contracts are agreed to and trades are made, the Phillies are going to continue to be linked to most of the top available names. We’ll be here reporting on it all for you at Phillies Nation as the Hot Stove continues to heat up this fall and winter.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Phillies called ‘best fit’ in trades for Paul Goldschmidt, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco

Writers Write

Press box at Comerica Park in Detroit, home of the Tigers

The great Flannery O’Connor was quoted regarding writing: “I’m a full-time believer in writing habits…You may be able to do without them if you have genius, but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away.

What she was saying in her oh so elegant way was that we writers need to do: it’s not good enough to call yourself a writer, or to say you want to be a writer. Writers write. It’s in the doing. O’Connor was emphasizing that you need to do, and do regularly, or your talent will waste away.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last few years, but in particular over the last few months, as I prepare to transition from one career to the next. Whether I ever draw a paycheck, a royalty check, a residual check, whatever – my next career will be as a writer.

The importance in writing is not whether you make money from your creative output, though I will never undervalue the importance of earning a living. The earning is an entirely separate issue. What is at it’s most basic for a writer is that very output.

Writers write.

Flannery O’Connor, one of the great American writers

It’s the very thing that makes you a writer: the output. The creative release from inside. The rolling around in your head of an idea, of words and thoughts and images, and then transferring those into a piece for someone else to enjoy, or to learn from, or both.

In choosing to combine my God-given talent for writing with my love for the greatest game that was ever invented, baseball, I have stumbled across some very interesting opinions, thoughts, and considerations held by other baseball writers.

One that I’ve found of particular interest is the expressed thought from more than one “professional” baseball writer, and I use that term in parentheses only to differentiate someone who is currently drawing a paycheck for their efforts from someone not currently being paid, to not understand why someone would write “for free” for another entity.

Frankly, it’s difficult for me to understand how such writers don’t get it. It’s actually a fairly simple concept. You write for someone else, some other entity: a website, a newspaper, a magazine, because of opportunity. They are willing to give you not only the opportunity to express yourself, but they are giving you a forum that is likely larger than you would have on your own.

For instance, in my own writing, I have my own website. Have had it for years: www.mattveasey.com, and you can find my thoughts on a wide variety of topics going back over the last decade: politics, society, faith, life, family, media, sports, and many others. But beyond a few dozen of my own friends and family, who is actually ever visiting my website and reading my articles?

About six months ago, I specifically and intentionally decided to dedicate myself to writing almost exclusively about baseball. Why? It’s fairly simple. I have frequently heard throughout my life that if you can make a living doing something you love, you won’t actually work a single day. For me, baseball is a love. So I choose to write the game.

After I write an article, I put out a link to that article on social media, at Facebook and Twitter. At some point a few months ago, someone who had read my work offered me a position writing for the Fansided network, the fastest-growing independent network of sports, entertainment, and lifestyle sites on the web, which had entered into an agreement with Sports Illustrated to get more voices heard.

Within Fansided, I specifically am writing for their MLB arm, with the Philadelphia Phillies team feed called That Ball’s Outta Here, or TBOH for short. The name, of course, is based on the old home run call by the legendary Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas.

I don’t get paid. But what I do get is exposure. My words go out through a multitude of social media methods from both TBOH and Fansided, so any article that I write under their banner is exposed to thousands of social media users. By extension, some percentage of these are going to actually read my article. Some percentage of those are going to follow my writing more.

That is what you get from writing for an entity that is not paying you. They receive product from me, and other writers, in the form of my writing efforts. I get the exposure that their network receives. Fansided, for instance, has over 113,000 followers at it’s Facebook page.

When people read and enjoy your work, they tend to regularly follow you as an individual writer. Over time, you build an individual brand and fan base. If you’re good enough, and lucky enough, and produce enough, then at some point you have a shot at actually landing one of those paying gigs.

“Insiders” like Buster Olney enjoy one tremendous advantage: access

There is very little to distinguish a good writer who gets paid for his output from one who does not. The biggest difference is usually two-fold. First, the person getting paid for their writing can often concentrate solely on that writing. Others, such as myself, have another job/career and just can’t devote the time or effort that we would often like to our writing craft.

The other distinction, and it can be a key one in the world of baseball and other sports, is access. Writer’s who cover teams for Major League Baseball, or Comcast, or Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, etc are given access inside ballparks and locker rooms. They get to interview players, team officials, and others first-hand, and/or are inside the room during press conferences.

That first-hand access is the single most valuable resource held by those covering the game for a living today. Individuals such as Jon Heyman, Buster Olney, and Ken Rosenthal in baseball are considered “insiders” due to their particular access, and the contacts inside the game that they have developed over a period of years covering the sport.

This does not, however, grant these individuals some special knowledge of the game itself that makes their opinions any greater than those of us on the “outside”, but writing and commenting on the game. Having watched, followed, played, managed, and written on the game for decades, my opinions are as valid as any of these individuals regarding the game itself.

As a for instance, Heyman put out on social media this statement in regards to tonight’s Game 6 of the World Series, with Kansas City trailing San Francisco 3-2, but hosting the final two games: “that home teams won games 6 and 7 in recent year(s) isn’t relevant. what matters is Giants experience. kc in tough spot imo.

So Jon Heyman, baseball “insider”, is basically saying that history is not relevant, and that the only thing that matters is the experience of one of the two teams, and that this is all in his opinion (imo – in my opinion.) So his opinion should be taken as more important than history. Ludicrous.

The best predictor of an outcome, be it in politics, personal behavior, or baseball, is history. What is past is prologue. What Jon Heyman thinks, his opinion, is what is irrelevant. That the Giants have experience is not irrelevant, but it also is not the overriding factor here.

What is important? 74% of teams down 3-2 in a World Series and playing Game 6 at home have forced a Game 7. And since 1979, no team has won a World Series Game 7 on the road. Bottom line? That Game 5 gem from Madison Bumgarner, in fact both the Giants wins in Games 4 and 5, were must-wins. And even with those, the odds are against them and with the Royals.

I don’t mean to pick on Heyman. He generally does a nice job reporting on the game. But remember that when you are reading, listening, and following sports-related writers, columnists, reporters, commentators, etc that all you are usually getting is their opinion, which is frankly no better than yours or mine. The big difference? These folks have a platform to sound their opinion.

Ernest Hemingway, great American bleeder

It’s 2014: you have the opportunity to have your own platform. Think you know something about baseball, football, hockey, golf, politics, music, art, banking, teaching, public safety, religion, romance, or any topic on Earth? Start a blog. Go to Blogger, or WordPress, or any similar site, and start writing.

Think you’re a writer? If you have the gift, you’ll find out soon enough. But you’ll never find out if you don’t start writing and keep on writing. Ernest Hemingway said it most colorfully: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Get bleeding. Get writing. Writers writer.

Bryce Harper’s Coming Out Party

In writing up my final MLB Power Ranking last week, I finished up the Washington Nationals comments with this line: “I believe that this postseason could very well be Bryce Harper’s true launching pad to on-field stardom.

The Nats finished 2nd in the Power Ranking and were the team that I believed were best positioned to win the World Series. The San Francisco Giants killed that possibility by dumping Washington in four games in one of the National League Division Series.

But the postseason performance of Harper, limited to those four games as it was, may indeed have been that launching pad. Harper launched a few himself, blasting 3 homeruns. He also scored 4 runs and knocked in 4. He hit .294, registering a .368 on-base percentage, an .882 slugging percentage, and had an OPS of 1.251 as well.

Harper began his assault on Giants pitching in the bottom of the 7th inning of Game 1 with the Nats trailing 3-0. Against reliever Hunter Strickland, Harper led off and absolutely crushed a titanic shot into the right field upper deck at Nationals Park to get the Nats on the board.

Harper, who appears to thrive under pressure in dramatic situations, sensed the importance of getting the Nats crowd back into the game: “Get some runs on the board, get this crowd back into it. Getting them going was very exciting.” It wouldn’t ultimately be enough, as San Fran held on to win 3-2, going up 1-0 in the series.

Game 2 would prove to be historic, the longest postseason game by time in MLB history, tied for the longest by innings.
The affair wasn’t ended until Brandon Belt’s 18th inning homerun gave the Giants a 2-1 victory. Harper was conspicuous by his absence in the game, going 0-7, striking out twice and leaving a pair in scoring position.

With their backs to the wall as Game 3 headed out west to AT&T Park in San Francisco, the Nationals staved off elimination with a 4-1 victory. Harper was the centerpiece player. He scored all the way from 1st base on a throwing error by Madison Bumgarner in the top of the 7th, part of a 3-run rally that broke a scoreless tie.

Then, in the top of the 9th, Harper blasted a pitch from reliever Jean Machi over the right-centerfield fence to extend the lead out to 4-0 in what would end up as a 4-1 win, keeping the Nationals alive and moving them within a game of evening up the best-of-five NLDS.

Harper’s HR into McCovey Cove tied Game 4 of the NLDS

In yesterday’s game 4, again needing to win to stay alive, the Nats fell behind again, the Giants taking a 2-1 lead into the top of the 7th inning. With one out and Strickland, his Game 1 victim, again on in relief, Harper crushed a pitch well over the right field wall and out into McCovey Cove to tie the game.

Ultimately the Giants would again prevail in a 1-run game, winning the series 3 games to 1, all of their victories coming by that single-run margin. Except for his collar in Game 2, when most of the Nats failed to produce, Bryce Harper was producing the entire series. Great defensive plays, hustling on the bases, blasting homeruns.

Even since appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in June of 2009 as a 16-year old, Harper has been a marked man to some. Back then, SI’s highly respected baseball writer Tom Verducci called him the most exciting sports prodigy “since Lebron (James)” and commented that he “has faster bat speed than Mark McGwire in his prime.

Harper’s 2009 SI cover at age 16

Harper became the 2010 winner of the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the best amateur baseball player in the United States. He was then taken that year by the Nationals with the 1st overall pick in the MLB Draft. Thereafter he was consistently rated as one of the top 3 prospects in the game.

In the fall of 2010, Harper was selected to participate in the Arizona Fall League, a showcase league for many of the game’s top prospects. There he hit .343 and helped his Scottsdale Scorpions win the league championship. In 2011 at midseason, he was selected to play for the United States in the All-Star Futures Game, another top prospect showcase.

After rising through two levels in the minors over the last couple seasons, Harper was finally called up to the Majors on the same exact date as another phenom, Mike Trout, on April 27th, 2012, and made his much-anticipated MLB debut the following day. Ever since, Harper has routinely and unfairly been compared to Trout, a far different type player and personality.

Harper & Trout both called up to Majors on same day

Both Harper and Trout became MLB All-Star Game participants in their first year, and at season’s end it was Bryce Harper winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award, with Trout taking the honors in the American League.

Ever since that strong debut season, while Trout has become a regular AL MVP contender and a smiling future face of the game, Harper has battled injuries and perceptions by fans in road cities that he is spoiled at best, petulant and ornery at worst. Though snake-bitten by the injury bug, he has proven not spoiled and petulant, but simply one of the game’s great, all-out, hard-driving competitors.

On the injury front, early in the 2013 season he crashed into the outfield wall at Nationals Park on both April 29th and May 13th, injuring his ribcage in the first collision and his left knee in the second. He would aggravate the knee in a headfirst slide at the end of May. Likely compensating for the injured knee, Harper began to feel discomfort in his left hip, and the combination of all these injuries directly led to decreased production.

His one highlight was being elected to the MLB All-Star Game, and being selected to participate in the Homerun Derby. Despite battling his injuries, Harper advanced all the way to the Finals, where he was edged out by Yoenis Cespedes by 9-8. Harper is the youngest player to ever advance to the Derby Finals. In the off-season, he had surgery to remove a bursa sac from the left knee.

Hoping to put it all behind him and get a full, healthy 2014 season under his belt, Harper again suffered a debilitating injury, tearing a ligament in his left thumb while sliding headfirst into 3rd base in late April. He would miss 57 games, more than 1/3 of the season, and wouldn’t regain his full power stroke until the late stages.

While I am calling the 2014 MLB postseason the Bryce Harper coming-out party, he actually started bashing before the playoffs even began. As the 2nd half of 2014 moved along and the Nats pulled away to an easy NL East crown, Harper hit .305 with 9 homers after August 12th.

Based on his performances in MLB when healthy, it is clear that Bryce Harper is a special talent. He is still just 21 years old, turning 22 in the middle of next week. He has never, in college, the minor leagues, or the Majors, faced a pitcher who was younger than him.

Off the field, Harper became engaged this past spring to his hometown Las Vegas girlfriend, Kayla Varner. She is a soccer player at Ohio State University now, after transferring from Brigham Young. Both Harper and Varner are Mormons, with strong faith and family principles guiding their lives.

Harper and fiancee’ Kayla Varner

There is no doubt that Bryce Harper has been immature at times. Remember fans, he is 21 years old. Tell me about how mature you were at that age. There is also no doubt that Harper is one of the hardest working players on the field, in the batting cage, and in the workout room.

Bryce Harper still has some growth and maturity to add to his game. As he ages and settles down in his personal life, that is likely to come naturally. He also needs to find a way to stay healthy, which may require nothing more than simple fortune smiling on him for a change.

I believe that given health, the baseball world is about to be treated to the real Bryce Harper. He will become one of the game’s great all-around players, a regular contender for home run crowns, Gold Glove awards, and Most Valuable Player awards.

When we read back and look over what I believe will be his great career, for many of us it will be the titanic blasts struck in the 2014 NLDS that we will remember as the young man’s true coming out party to the larger baseball world. Bryce Harper is excitement. Bryce Harper is hustle. Bryce Harper is baseball.

Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook

Today in my mailbox the yellow package arrived from the folks at Baseball America. Contained inside was their annual Prospect Handbook product, the Bible for following baseball prospects.

Published annually, the Prospect Handbook contains the Top 30 prospects for each organization in Major League Baseball as evaluated by the staff of Baseball America.

The book contains a full page spread on the #1 prospect in each organization, shows a thumbnail photo of each of the top 10 prospects, with a bio and brief scouting report on every one of the 30 listed.

A new feature with the 2012 edition is the inclusion of both a scouting numerical “grade” and a “risk factor” for each evaluated prospect.

The scouting grade will reflect the state of the player’s current physical skills. The risk factor will show whether that player is more likely at this stage of his career to maximize those skills and to reach his potential.

The scouting grade is based on the traditional baseball 20-80 ‘OFP’ (Overall Future Potential) formula in which players are rated on their power, hitting ability, arm, base running/speed, and fielding ability.

The highest ranked players, those in the 75-80 range of the scale, are impact talents that can change the face of an organization. Most prospects will fall into the 50-55 range. You will rarely see players at a 30-35 or lower level make it into the book.

The risk factor was developed by the folks at Baseball America, and includes ratings of “Safe”, “Low”, “Medium”, “High” and “Extreme” that will reflect their opinion as to how likely it is that a player with a certain skill set is to maximize his potential and translate those skills to the big league level.

A “Safe” player is one that has already demonstrated they can play in ‘The Show, and only four players were given this rating in this initial roll-out of the designations.

At the current time, almost all talent evaluators in baseball would be in agreement that the top 3 prospects in the game overall are outfielders Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, and pitcher Matt Moore of the Tampa Rays. Trout and Moore were 2 of the 4 players awarded the “Safe” designation, because each player has performed at the MLB level and has shown that his skills do indeed translate to that level of play.

The highest-rated overall prospect is Harper of the Nats. Well known by baseball insiders for years, and by even the most casual fans by this point, Harper was a Sports Illustrated cover subject back in June of 2009 when he was just 16 years old.

Now still just 19, Harper is poised to become the latest teenage phenom to take the big league stage. His prodigious power and overall skill set have led Baseball America to hand him their only ’80’ grade. Coupled with a “Low” risk factor, only some freak injury would appear to be standing between this young man and baseball immortality.

Baseball America is the single most respected publication in the game today in the area of young player information. The writers and researchers key on the minor leagues, college and high school ball, the business side of the game, and stories of general interest in the sport.

Baseball American also covers foreign leagues to keep fans and insiders alike abreast of the latest news and information on players and teams overseas. Of course, there is some Major League Baseball coverage as well, particularly when it comes to the annual First Year Player Draft.

The 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook is available at this time through their website at http://www.baseballamerica.com for the price of $32.95, and ordering through them also gets you their upcoming ‘Top 100 Prospects’ issue and a bonus supplement showing extra prospects for each organization that just missed the Top 30 lists.

The book will be available in a few weeks through places such as Amazon and in book stores. Wherever you prefer, if you are a baseball fan, make sure that you pickup the book, and while you’re at it, get a subscription to the magazine, the website, or both.

The input of Will Lingo, Jim Callis, John Manuel, J.J. Cooper and others from BA will undoubtedly increase your own knowledge of the game. Baseball America and it’s publications are must-haves for anyone who wants to call themselves a true baseball fan.

April Fool’s

You pick up the receiver at work to answer a call to your business, and find no answer. The phone line sounds like it is dead in fact. And yet even though you answered the call, the phone just keeps on ringing.

Then you finally notice it…someone has taped down the ‘plunger’ on your telephone’s main box. When you picked up the handset to answer, the plunger stayed down, so you were in fact talking to no one when you answered the call. April Fool’s! Someone just got you with one of the oldest office pranks in the world.

Today is that day, April Fools Day, and all around the world there are people playing practical jokes on one another. The exact origins of this day are unclear, but there are a few stories that make sense down through history.

One traces all the way back to the Biblical story of Noah, when after the flood he sent a raven off in search of dry land too early. Tradition says that he did this on the first day of the Hebrew month corresponding with April.

Another story traces it’s origin back to the 16th century and King Charles IX of France, who changed the beginning of the year there from April 1st to January 1st. Those who continued to celebrate the old April 1st date were called ‘April Fools’.

A similar story comes again from that 16th century and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, which replaced the centuries-old Julian calendar as the still utilized standard around the world, and referred to those who continued to follow that Julian calendar as ‘April Fools’.

Also, many pre-Christian cultures are said to have celebrated May 1st, or ‘May Day’, as the first day of the summer planting season. Those who jumped the gun and planted in April were called ‘April Fools’.

There have been some well-known public April Fools jokes played over the years on a large scale.
One in 1996 had the folks at Taco Ball claiming that they had purchased the Liberty Bell and renamed it the ‘Taco Liberty Bell’. White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the purchase in a press conference, and dead-panned that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and renamed the ‘Lincoln Mercury Memorial’.

Not to be outdone by their fast-food rivals, Burger King revealed in 1998 the ‘left-handed Whopper’, which was designed that the condiments would drip out of the right side. The campaign was so sincere that day that people actually ordered the product at many stores, and some others even specified that they wanted the old ‘right-hand Whopper’ instead.

That same year of 1998, radio DJ’s Opie & Anthony were on the air in Boston, and issued an alert claiming that Boston mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a tragic car accident. The rumor spread like wildfire and was excacerbated by the fact that Menino was on a plane flight and could not be reached. The pair was fired in the aftermath when numerous news stations had to issue alerts regarding the hoax.

In the 1950’s, Dutch television news reported that the ‘Leaning Tower of Pisa’ had finally fallen over, and the station was bombarded with telephone calls for more information. In 1957, early gullible television viewers in Britain bombarded the BBC with calls after a program showing the harvesting of spaghetti from trees, wondering how these trees could be purchased.

In 2003, the producers of the television game show ‘Hollywood Squares’ played a prank on host Tom Bergeron by inserting two actors as the contestants, and instructing them to be ‘difficult’. The actors proceeded to give horrid answers and act in otherwise annoying fashion.

One of the most famous modern April Fools jokes was perpetrated by Sports Illustrated and legendary writer George Plimpton, who penned a 1985 article about a young New York Mets pitching prospect named Sid Finch who possessed a fastball that had been clocked at 168 miles per hour, and who had pinpoint accuracy.

On the web in 2003, numerous Chinese and South Korean sites ran with a story that claimed CNN was reporting the assassination of Microsoft founder Bill Gates, which resulted in a 1.5% drop in the Korean stock markets.

In 2005, the official NASA website had a link to what they said was a photo that revealed ‘water on mars’. When visitors clicked on the link, it took them to a picture of a glass of water sitting atop a Mars candy bar.

Whether it is done the old fashioned way in person, or over the phone, or on television or radio, or here on the internet, April Fools Day remains a favored day in the hearts of pranksters everywhere.

Watch out, because today you never know from where the next one may come.