FIRE JOE MORGAN: 11.05

FIRE JOE MORGAN

Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

 

Here's the Thing About These Two Sports

This is super old, but I still enjoy it.

November 10, 2005

Bill Simmons on the New England Patriots, a football team:

And for the first time, I'm wondering if the whole "been there, done that" syndrome has sunk in. More than any other sport, football teams rely on emotion over anything else.

October 18, 2005

Bill Simmons on the St. Louis Cardinals, a baseball team:

Not only are the Cardinals back at home, not only have they been handed a second life, but out of every sport, baseball hinges on emotion and momentum more than anything else.

I guess the distinction is that football teams rely on emotion more than baseball teams, but the sport of baseball hinges more on emotion (and momentum, of course) than the sport of football.

Hockey and basketball are both played by clockwork automatons.

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posted by Junior  # 5:07 PM
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Cricket and Rugby are played exclusively by Vulcans.
 
Cricket and Rugby are played exclusively by Vulcans.
 
All racehorses are stoic German men.
 
"Boggle" is a drably-painted drone.
 
Phil Hellmuth is actually the Bicentennial Man.
 
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Monday, November 21, 2005

 

Bruce Jenkins in the Hizzy

Bruce Jenkins is paid -- every week, presumably -- to write about things for the San Francisco Chronicle. Here's one example of what they get for their money. The subject is new Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti. (Thanks to reader Tony and others for the link.)

Some people in L.A. have expressed concern that Colletti was never a scout, but take our word for it: He sees the game as well as anybody.

He has excellent vision, and his position as GM means he has great seats to every game.

And that's the key: He sees it. He'll take statistics into account, but Colletti is the kind of guy whose first impression of a prospect might be, "There goes a ballplayer" -- and he'll be right.

The secret behind this amazing ability: He identifies them by their uniforms, and the fact that they are holding mitts and bats.

"To me," he says, "how a player approaches the game, how he approaches life, far outweighs what the stat line looks like." For Dodger fans weary of Paul DePodesta's computer-generated philosophies, there is palpable relief.

Really? This is what you want? A guy who actually says that the way a guy "approaches" the game is not as important as how well he plays the game? Look, DePo made some mistakes, and more importantly, he got absolutely housed by injuries. But why there is this sense of snotty "vindication," or something, by people who frown on actual analysis of players' abilities...I just don't understand it. It has the same flavor as a bunch of 19th century noblemen sipping brandy in a drawing room and laughing about the idea that women would get involved in politics, or something. "Well, of course, the very idea of this new approach is ludicrous. But we'll let them have their little fun, and then get back to the way things ought to be."

Along those lines, such mercurial talents as Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford are reportedly available in trade. The "Moneyball" guys can forget them. Way too fast and disruptive. Too much imagination. Too much of a threat to manufacture runs.

If you're going to snidely dismiss us, please cite players we would actually not want. Carl Crawford can play on my Moneyball team anyday. He's 24 years old. His OPS in the last three years has gone .671/.781/.800. His HR have gone 5-11-15. He is awesome. I might take Pierre as well, though his OPS dropped 100 points from 2004-05, and his .326 OBP last year just killed his team.

Also: "too much imagination?" What the effing eff are you talking about? That doesn't mean anything. These two guys do exactly what all baseball players do: they hit, run, and field. Does "imagination" mean "bunting?" Sometimes these two guys bunt. Or does it mean "steal bases?" Because lots of guys do this -- and these two guys do it well. The reason they are good is because they are good hitters and they are fast and play good defense. The reason Crawford is excellent -- and a potential MVP candidate someday, if you ask me -- is because he also hits for power, which Pierre does not do.

And please, please, please, stop using the phrase "manufacture runs." Please. I beg of you. It's really dumb.

The point is, don't criticize something you don't understand, Bruce Jenkins. Because, as the old saying goes, when you criticize something you don't understand, you make an ass out of you.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:46 AM
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

 

I Can't Believe We Didn't Write More About Bill Plaschke During the Season

The guy absolutely hates new things. He's doing backflips now that the Dodgers have hired an older baseball man to be their GM.

From prep school to old school, the Dodger focus flips today; smartly and solidly and finally.

You can always count on Plaschke for a cheap shot at Paul DePodesta, who no longer works for the Dodgers nor has any impact on Bill Plaschke's life at this point.

Did you know he went to HARVARD? What a nerd.

Everyone knows you can't run a baseball team if you went to prep school.

His name is Ned Colletti, and he's an old-time baseball guy, from his affection for snakeskin boots to his love of snake-free clubhouses.

Beautiful turn of phrase. This guy Colletti sounds like a real man. A real man who kills snakes with his bare hands and turns them into a fine pair of boots. A guy like that would never trade away heartandsouloftheteamPaulLoDuca, would he? No.

He even sounds like a baseball man. Ned Colletti. Boy, I like the sound of that.

Since Colletti became the Giants' assistant general manager in 1997, the team has compiled the third best record in baseball with Barry Bonds and a bunch of character guys.

Colletti, 50, loves the character guys.

Me, I'd take Barry Bonds. He's the best baseball player ever. Maybe second, to Babe Ruth.

He helped build a 2002 World Series team with a lineup that featured Benito Santiago batting fifth, David Bell playing third and Shawon Dunston doing whatever.

And Barry Bonds OPS-ing 1.381. He got on base 58.2% of the time that year. And slugged .799. But Shawon Dunston was also there!

Also, is the point of this paragraph that Colletti helped acquire mediocre players like Benito Santiago, David Bell and Shawon Dunston? I would want my GM to get good players. Not impress me by getting to the World Series with players I am shocked to see make it that far.

While the last Dodger regime didn't see the value in Adrian Beltre, Colletti was signing Omar Vizquel.

Adrian Beltre was one of the worst signings of the year, if not the worst. The Mariners paid him $11.4 million to OPS .716. What a bonehead move by the last Dodger regime, letting that guy sign somewhere else for way more than he's worth.

Plus, what does that have to do with Omar Vizquel? By the way, the Giants signed Omar Vizquel, a 38-year-old shortstop, to a 3-year deal worth over $12 million. Let's hope that works out for the man with snakeskin boots.

While the Giants struggled with injuries, their first losing season with Colletti, they were still in the race in the final week, and Matheny and Vizquel won Gold Gloves.

Gold Gloves are the worst award in baseball. Worse than the Rolaids thing.

For years, the Giants have succeeded despite a brooding superstar and a mid-level payroll. Colletti has been in the middle of all of it.

Let me replace some words in that first sentence to make it accurate:

For years, the Giants have succeeded because they had the best player of the last twenty years, and possibly the best player ever.

There. That's better.

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posted by Junior  # 3:18 PM
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It Takes Stuff Like This to Get Me Out of Hibernation

You knew it would happen. And you knew we couldn't let it slide.

Someone's picking Scott Podsednik for Sportsman of the Year over at Sports Illustrated.

His name is Mitch Getz, and he likes guys who are small. Loves 'em.

How inspiring -- and shocking -- it was to see Podsednik drive Astros' closer Brad Lidge's 96-mph fastball over the right-center field fence and into White Sox lore. His 408-foot blast gave Chicago a 2-0 lead over Houston, and helped the Sox sweep the Astros for their first championship in 88 years. As Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver said after the homer, "These things aren't supposed to happen."

It wouldn't have happened if the White Sox hadn't traded Carlos Lee's power for Podsednik's speed last December.

Maybe not. Podsednik had an amazing postseason wherein he slugged over 200 points higher than he did during the regular season. 200.

If Carlos Lee had done that, he would have slugged damn near .700 in the playoffs. It's probably just as likely as what Podsednik did.

I'm just saying.

Podsednik proved that smaller, tenacious, fundamentally sound ballplayers are just as exciting and valuable as sluggers, and for that he should be recognized as Sportsman of the Year.

Hold on. First off, there's a word in there I take issue with.

Valuable.

You're lumping in exciting and valuable, Mitch Getz, and the two have nothing to do with each other. Podsednik proved nothing of the kind this year. During the regular season, he was more valuable than a replacement player primarily because of his defense in left field, not his performance at the plate. And who says sluggers like Albert Pujols and Derrek Lee aren't tenacious?

Second, and this pains me to write, but Podsednik does have a legitimate claim to Sportsman of the Year -- but not for proving anything about smaller guys being equally valuable in baseball. He did well in the playoffs. He helped a moribund franchise win the World Series for the first time in many decades. That's a fact. But Getz would rather talk about how small and tenacious he is. What's next? Grittiness? Chone Figgins? David Eckstein?

With a crackdown on steroids this season, I renewed my appreciation for little rascals such as Podsednik, the Cardinals' David Eckstein and the Angels' Chone Figgins.

Huzzah!

Plus, calling them "little rascals" is so demeaning.

All three led their respective teams to the playoffs while combining for 16 homers during the regular season.

I'm going to make a chart.

Cardinals ... Albert Pujols
Angels ... Vladimir Guerrero
White Sox ... Arguably the Best Pitching Staff in Baseball

Okay, so it's not a pretty chart, but do you know what the names of the two columns are? That's right:

Team Name ... Who Led Them to the Playoffs

I'm going to miss people talking about you, Scott Podsednik. Thanks for the memories.

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posted by Junior  # 2:49 PM
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

 

Are We Really Going With This?

Hey, guys. Instead of doing a simple Baseball Tonight style desk piece about the baseball offseason, they should do a super-gay fake "press conference," complete with fake flashbulbs and guys like Karl Ravech and Buster Olney (and other real journalists), pretending to be journalists and looking positively humiliated for being forced to do so. It will be a great way for Steve Phillips to pretend that some idiot, in perhaps a "Major League" (the movie) style scheme where the point is to field a terrible team, decided to hire him as a GM.

What? They're already doing that? Oh.

What's that? They not doing the fake press conferences after this week?

Nevermind.

posted by Murbles  # 2:52 AM
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Thursday, November 10, 2005

 

Et Tu, Ryno?

Man oh man.

I felt that – to be considered the best pitcher in the league – the winner had to be able to win big games down the stretch and lead his team to the postseason...Carpenter deserved this award.

Even if you believe this, here are Chris Carpenter's stats for his last four starts in September:

21.2 IP, 22 ER. He went 1-3.

Granted, St. Louis had the race won, but come on -- if you're going to have a crazy rationale for giving someone an award, at least pick one that supports your thesis.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:56 PM
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Why, Mike Celizic? Just...Why?

Mike Celizic is wrong all the time. And the interesting thing about Mike Celizic and how he is wrong, is that he often explains his reasoning in a way that indicates that he knows he is wrong. It's very confusing.

To wit: here is his explanation for why Chris Carpenter should have won the Cy Young this year.

Get over the notion that Roger Clemens deserved his eighth Cy Young Award on the basis that he had the lowest ERA in 10 years and is as old as the Rocky Mountains and equally as admired.

Nice opening here -- a crazy run-on sentence, which also ascribes to people a belief I don't think they hold. I think most people held the notion that Roger Clemens deserved his eighth Cy Young on the basis that he had an awesome year. And comparing the amount he is admired to the amount the Rocky Mountains are admired is clumsy and bizarre.

The Cy Young Award goes to the best pitcher, not the most popular, not the one with the best human-interest sidebar nor the one who stands to get the most endorsement deals for hanging up another plaque.

Again, I think that there are plenty of people who simply believe Clemens was the best pitcher last year. I don't believe there were a lot of people who thought he should get the Cy Young Award because he is popular, or because they want him to get endorsement deals. (What does that even mean?)

And as much as I found what Houston Astros' Clemens did last season beyond belief, he wasn’t the National League’s best pitcher. That person would be Chris Carpenter, the St. Louis Cardinals ace who blossomed after seven years of underachievement into a starter who went 21-5 with a 2.83 ERA, seven complete games and four shutouts. And if it’s not Carpenter, it’s Dontrelle Willis of the Florida Marlins, the 2003 Rookie of the Year who rebounded this season after a sophomore slump to lead the NL in wins with 22.

But it’s not Clemens.


Now.

Solid arguments can of course be made for all three of these guys. Let's get this out of the way:

Carpenter: 241.2 IP, 204 H, 18 HR, 213/51 K/BB, 1.06 WHIP, .231 BAA. He went 21-5, 2.83.
Clemens: 211.1 IP, 151 H, 11 HR, 185/62 K/BB, 1.01 WHIP, .198 BAA. He went 13-8, 1.87.
D-Train: 236.1 IP, 213 H, 11 HR, 170/55 K/BB, 1.13 WHIP, .243 BAA. He went 22-10, 2.63.

To my eye, it's almost a wash. Carpenter and Willis get the slight nod in innings over Roger, but all three WHIPs are essentially identical, and superb. Carpenter wins in Ks, but Clemens's absurdly low hit total (probably party the result of good situational karma) deserves consideration. Clemens and Willis both allowed a ridiculous 11 HR. Really, any one of them is a good candidate. (I can't help but add that Johan Santana had a better year than all of them, and he didn't win his league's Cy, because... well, read my earlier post about Bartolo Colon. Neither here nor there.)

Let's see why Celizic favors Carpenter.

I’ll admit the arguments for Clemens are attractive, even if they’re not compelling. He rang up 1.87 ERA, which is the lowest since Greg Maddux fashioned a 1.63 ERA for the Atlanta Braves in 1995, when umpires were still giving him three or four inches outside the black on both sides of home plate... if the Cy were given to the best age-adjusted performance or the most impressive performance by a guy who uses a walker to get to the team bus, Clemens would be your man.

Why are you making fun of Roger Clemens's age? He's an unbelievable pitcher. Partly because of how old he is, but take his numbers and ascribe them to a guy half his age and they're still just as impressive. What point is Celizic trying to make here? Or is it just a lame joke?

But there’s a little problem with wins; Clemens had just 13 of them against eight defeats. His defenders will say quite accurately that the Rocket got less support from the Astros than Anna Nicole Smith would get from a Kleenex bra. They were shut out in seven of his starts, five of which ended in 1-0 scores, and handed him just 18 runs total in his first 11 starts.

If Clemens were still pitching for the New York Yankees, he would have won 20, but if a squirrel had longer ears and hind legs and a little powder-puff tail, it would be a rabbit. The game isn’t about ifs, it’s about numbers.


Please read that last sentence again.

So, Roger Clemens pitched well enough to win 20 games with a team that had a better offense. But the game isn't about ifs, it's about numbers. So, to put it another way: this game is about numbers, and if one thing -- that has nothing to do with numbers -- were different, Roger Clemens would have won the Cy Young.

Roger Clemens should not win the Cy Young award for individual achievement in pitching because of the failures of the other 24 guys on his team. Explain that. Imagine I run a world record-setting opening leg of a 4x100 relay. I blow everyone else away. Then the next guy stumbles and accidentally swallows the baton and poops in his pants and we lose. Am I a bad runner?

Although I think Carpenter was the man on the basis of start-to-finish consistency, I wouldn’t think it a horrible injustice if Willis were to win. Dontrelle did have one more win, 22 to 21 for Carpenter, and an ERA of 2.63, which was two-tenths of a run lower than Carpenter’s 2.83.

Dontrelle's bullpen was slightly better in his starts than Carpenter's bullpen was in his. So Dontrelle deserves...what? Points for being a good cheerleader? And Dontrelle's ERA was two-tenths of a run lower, which means that Carpenter gave up one extra earned run roughly every four or five starts.

Carpenter...was steady from start to finish — although he struggled somewhat in September —

Carpenter was always good. Except for a period of time when he was bad.

--and he anchored a staff for the National League’s winningest team. He’s a guy who spent six years in Toronto, never winning more than 12 games and putting up a winning record just twice.

Irrelevant.

Last year, he started to find his way with the Cardinals, going 15-5.

Irrelevant.

This year, he added six wins without adding any losses. He, and not Roger Clemens, deserved to be the NL Cy Young winner on Thursday.

Debatable. But not for any of the reasons you mentioned. Certainly not because he had more wins.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 6:12 PM
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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

 

We Will Soon Return You to Your Regularly-Scheduled Knee-Jerk Negativity

But kudos to Jayson Stark for sticking up for Johan Santana.

This is a large chunk of the good stuff:

"But what this voting really proves is that Cy Young voters are still mushy traditionalists who value the almighty 'win' above all other indicators of who pitched best over six grueling months.

Not that there isn't something to be said for pitchers who find a way to win. That is, after all, the object. But Colon sure was helped out by his bullpen (which blew zero saves for him) and his run support (6.02 runs per game).

And if you zap wins out of the who-pitched-best equation and compare him with the guy who finished third in this voting -- Johan Santana -- it wasn't even close.

Santana piled up 81 more strikeouts, beat Colon in ERA by 61 points, allowed almost two fewer baserunners for every nine innings, and had more innings pitched, complete games and shutouts.

Hitters who faced Colon had a batting average of .254 against him. The on-base percentage against Santana was .250. Any more objections, your honor?

True, Colon had five more wins than Santana (21 vs. 16). But since Santana actually pitched more innings, how was that win gap his fault? The win differential is a stat we can attribute almost completely to their offenses. It's that basic.

Colon got a ridiculous 1.32 more runs per game than Santana did. And Santana's totals in his last three no-decisions tell it all: 23 innings, 9 hits, 3 runs, 0 wins."

Congratulations on being a reasonable human being, Jason Stark!

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posted by Junior  # 5:27 PM
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Looks like Jason Stark is a Ken Tremendous fan. And who can blame him? Ken is a smart, awesome guy who is always right about stuff.
 
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Somebody Please Explain To Me

how Bartolo Colon had a better year than Johan Santana.

Colon: 222.2 IP, 215 H, 26 HR, 157 Ks, .254 BAA, 1.16 WHIP, 3.48 ERA.

Santana: 231.2 IP, 180 H, 22 HR, 238 Ks, .210 BAA, 0.97 WHIP, 2.87 ERA.

It's not even close. Santana was better in every single meaningful category.

Colon's bullpen and run support was better, so he had more wins.

Mariano Rivera was a better choice than Colon. Cliff Lee had roughly the same year as Colon. Colon won in a landslide.

The tyrrany of W's -- a statistic of middling individual performance for pitchers -- continues to lead to absolutely horrible awards decisions.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 2:21 PM
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Sunday, November 06, 2005

 

Let's Talk Hardware!

Come on, people. It's November 6. The hot stove is but a flickering pilot light. Pitchers and catchers don't report for three and a half months. But that doesn't mean we can't snarkily attack various baseball-inclined sportswriters! We can do this! Let's go!

For example. Who was the best rookie in the A.L. last year? Let's ask Scott Miller of CBS SportsLine. I bet he has a good answer.

Huston Street, Oakland. His numbers were nearly impeccable -- 23 saves in 27 opportunities, a 1.72 ERA and a .194 opponents' batting average -- and there was enough buzz about him that I think he will win.

I agree. He was great.

In my postseason awards column, I gave the nod to Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, based on the fact that he played every day, did a very good job and was one of the key reasons why the Yankees ended up winning another AL East crown. Keep an eye on Tampa Bay's Jonny Gomes, too.

Oh boy.

In 522 AB, Cano walked 16 times. He had a .320 OBP, hitting for a lot of that time in the 2-hole. Yes, he scored 78 runs, with -- wait for it -- ARod, Sheffield, Matsui, Giambi, and Posada hitting behind him. His 34 doubles and 14 HR are nice, but it is a massive stretch to say that he was "one of the key reasons" the Yankees won the A.L. East. This is only true in as much as his very presence allowed Joe Torre finally to sit Tony Womack. (Of course, Torre did no such thing, moving Womack to CF and LF for way too many AB. Manager of the Year! Best Job He's Every Done!)

Now, let's take Scott Miller's advice and keep an eye on Jonny Gomes. Jonny Gomes struck out an absurd 113 times in 348 AB. Wow. What a terrible player...who also walked 39 times and hit 21 HR. 50% more HR than Cano in 174 fewer AB. His OBP was .372. His SLG was .534. He had straight-up better numbers than Robby Cano in 60% of the playing time.

Jonny Gomes's RC27: 6.93.

Robby Cano's RC27: 4.80.

Street is a great choice. Gomes is a great choice. Cano is not a good choice. (Not an indefensible choice, but not a good choice.)

See? We can still do this stuff in November! March on!

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:36 PM
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There Have Been a Lot of Stupid Things

written about the Theo Epstein departure. Here's one -- not by any means the worst one, but one -- from ESPN.com's Page 2 scribe Jim Caple:

The saddest part of St. Theo leaving the Red Sox? Had he only made his decision just a few hours earlier, he would have been available for a Supreme Court nomination.

Okay, so, his sarcastic point is that the Theo hagiography got a little out of control.

Or, had Theo made the decision just a week earlier, he could have been named Alan Greenspan's replacement at the Federal Reserve.

Right. We get it.

Or better, had he made the decision during spring training, the College of Cardinals could have elected him Pope.

How long is this going to go on?

Or, based on the breathless tributes, he could have taken any other similarly high post befitting someone who has been a baseball general manager for almost three whole years.

The last snarky example you gave is generic? Really?

It's hard to know for sure, because of the way the mainstream media, talk radio and blogosphere have buried this story, but Epstein apparently left the Red Sox because he didn't always see eye-to-eye with team president Larry Lucchino. This is a startling development, of course, because it makes him the first person in history who did not get along with his boss.

And who can blame him? After all, Lucchino only hired Epstein a decade ago, then made him the game's youngest general manager, then gave him the second-largest budget in baseball to work with, and then offered him a $4.5 million contract to stay. The gall! Imagine working for such an ogre. That is so much worse than what Brian Cashman or Terry Ryan ever have to deal with.


Well, okay, you could make the argument that Brian Cashman, despite all the insanity, doesn't have to suffer the slings and arrows of the most oppressive sports media in the world. (Yes, Boston is worse than New York -- I've lived in both places.) Nor does Cashman have to pretend to talk on his cell phone when he goes out to Starbucks to keep people from running up to him and launching into trade ideas and autograph requests -- as Epstein does. Nor did Cashman have to deal with an 80+ year-old championship drought, and the pre-scientific-era perception that his franchise was "cursed" by the ghost of a fat man who died many years ago -- a theory that was actually espoused by many members of the local media, one of whom fucking invented the theory in order to sell books.

But: point taken. Epstein, on paper, had it pretty good. However. Just because someone's mentor brought him along and offered him a lot of money doesn't mean they can't have a bad relationship. People are all over Theo for "walking away from $4.5 million," but what if the guy just wanted to do something else? What if the relationship was fractured beyond repair? What if he wanted some privacy? The guy had his reasons. I'm sure they were good. And the fact that he was offered a lot of money is irrelevant if he didn't want the job anymore. Shouldn't we be praising a guy who cares about more than money?

Yes, his departure is sad but at least we're finally learning the true story behind the Red Sox's success. For a long time, I was under the impression it was David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez who hit all those home runs, and Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez who pitched all the games, and Jason Varitek who caught all those pitches. But now I understand that it was all Theo. And he's leaving! No wonder Red Sox Nation is grieving!

If you're going to make this sarcastic point, do yourself a favor and only cite players who predated Theo's reign. Picking Ortiz off the scrapheap three years ago was one of the greatest GM moves in history. Did Epstein know Ortiz would be this good? No way. But he got him for $1 million because he saw value in his stroke and batting eye. Then, even better, Epstein locked him up for roughly $6 million/year for three years. Do you understand how amazing that is, Caple? He makes less than 25% of what ARod makes, and their offensive numbers are nearly identical.

Schilling would not be wearing a 2004 Sox ring (and neither would anyone else on the team) had Epstein not flown out to Arizona two years ago, had Thanksgiving dinner with the fam, and used his unique blend of statistical analysis and interpersonal skill to convince Schilling that Fenway was a place he could be effective (he won 21 games) and that the city and team needed him to put them over the top. And do you remember whom Epstein traded for Schilling? No, you don't, because it was all junk. (Casey Fossum, anyone?) One of the great trades of the past few years.

Varitek, maybe the most important single guy on the team, might be gone if Epstein didn't make him the team's #1 2004 off-season priority. Manny and Pedro are Duquette guys, but so many pieces of the championship team are Epstein's (Schilling, Foulke, Millar, Mueller, Timlin, Ortiz, etc), trying to minimize his importance is just dumb.

Yes, Theo is an intelligent guy who did an excellent job as the general manager and he can probably do many other things very well in life. But he still was a baseball general manager for crying out loud, not the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, the director of Habitat for Humanity or the guy who developed Google.

There are few things I hate more than a sports columnist telling people who discuss sports to "calm down." We are all aware that sports is not as important as politics or international relations or whatever. It is so disingenuous suddenly to chastise people who talk sports for being too intense or for over-magnifying the importance of sports in the world. Drives me nuts.

Also, it's "Joint Chiefs of Staff," not "Joint Chief of Staffs."

I mean, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams just accomplished the exact same thing as Theo and with a much smaller payroll. And I don't see anyone anointing Williams as an irreplaceable genius.

That's only because people are too focused on anointing Ozzie Guillen as an irreplaceable genius. Also, Williams does things like trading Carlos Lee and picking up Scott Podsednik. And yes, I still think those are terrible moves.

Personally, I agree with a friend who thinks Epstein was simply smart enough to get out while he was still revered. With a questionable pitching staff, yet another Manny trade demand ("And this time I really mean it!") and a probable team makeover that does not involve Carson Kressley, the likeliest short-term direction for the Red Sox is down. Perhaps Theo shrewdly decided to leave now as a saint rather than wait until talk radio started complaining that he was a moron.

First of all, nice "Queer Eye" joke. Very good work on that. Fresh. Second of all, this rationale is so dumb it's almost blinding. Epstein has drafted a slew of guys who are right on the brink of coming up and making huge contributions to the team. Craig Hansen, Jon Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Annibel Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, Edgar Martinez...why in the world would Epstein walk away from the team just when his guys are ready to break through? Because he's worried that the team might be worse next year? This is the brightest future this franchise has had in years.

We may never know exactly what cocktail of unhappiness and contention led to his walking away. But I think it's likely that this was about his relationship with Lucchino, his desire for privacy, and his desire to pursue other things. I do not think it was about money or concern that the team is going to be bad. Or about talk radio. Or "Queer Eye."

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:36 PM
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A million people have pointed out that Theo did not in fact draft Anibal Sanchez, Jon Lester, Hanley Ramirez or Edgar Martinez.

So stop emailing us.

And JESUS, GET IT RIGHT, KT.
 
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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

 

Here's Something About Baseball!

Weirdly, it was written by legendary composer Franz Liszt. I'm sorry -- CNNSI columnist Franz Lidz. (Take that, critics of our sense of humor!!!!!!!)

It's called "My Sportsman Choice: Jason Giambi." I got tingly and excited just reading that much.

In 2005, no sports figure was more vilified than Jason Giambi.

Yeah. That's because he cheated and lied and we only found out he had cheated and lied because someone leaked some testimony that he gave when he was being honest and then he apologized for something but wouldn't say what he was apologizing for and he generally kind of besmirched the game of baseball. Please continue.

Because Giambi failed to meet his exacting standard of moral rectitude, a wag at the New York Post barked: "He has disgraced the Yankee pinstripes and made a mockery of everything that is wonderful and good and pure about the game of baseball." To restore the Pride of the Yankees, a Post columnist even suggested that the Yanks embroider a scarlet "S" for steroids on the back of his jersey.

Okay, that's a little much. But quoting the Post and then complaining about it? What's the point? It's the Post.

To his credit, Giambi never engaged his critics. He neither pointed fingers (Rafael Palmiero, anyone?) nor attempted to downplay the enormity of his actions. At a preseason press conference, he apologized to the public and said he had told the truth to the grand jury. Of all the players called to testify, he may have been the only one who was entirely honest and forthcoming.

I have a problem with this. First of all, he never "engaged his critics" in part because had he admitted publicly that he used steroids, the Yankees could theoretically have voided the rest of the like $300 million they owed him. So he didn't. He had a lawyer advise him, and then he just said "I'm sorry." Now, it was good that he did that, but let's not get carried away. He did not exactly "come clean." He did not apologize and eat crow the way everyone seems to think he did. He never said, in public, once, ever, "I'm sorry I used steroids." He had his cake and ate it too. Had he risked having his contract voided -- had he just said, screw it, I made a mistake and I'm coming clean and damn the torpedoes -- we could celebrate him as a genuinely honest and forthcoming guy. But that is simply not what he did.

The most remarkable thing about Giambi was the way he excelled under withering pressure. In 2004, under treatment for a pituitary tumor--

-- and after not taking steroids anymore, presumably --

-- he had the worst season of his career. After an horrendous start in '05, he reinvented himself in July by hitting a major league-best 14 home runs. Giambi wound up with 32 homers and 87 RBIs, and led the American League with a .440 on-base percentage. Then he hit .421 in the ALCS.

His comeback did not silence his detractors in the sporting press, for whom forgiveness has no place. They're more interested in drawing blood than allowing a fallen athlete the possibility of a second chance. But aren't second chances what make sports so inspiring in the first place?


Sure. By all means, give the guy a second chance. But Sportsman of the Year??????????????

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:59 PM
Comments:
As a protest, let us boycott Lidz' autobiographical work Unstrung Heroes as well as the John Turturro/Michael Richards filmic version of said work.
 
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