Phil Rogers thinks that Andre Dawson should be in the Hall of Fame.
He is wrong. Let's examine why.
If Kirby Puckett is in the Hall, if Tony Perez is in the Hall, if Gary Carter, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith are in the Hall, Dawson needs to be there, too. He's every bit the player any of the other five are -- although, yes, we're comparing apples to oranges in some cases -- but is undervalued because he hit the Hall of Fame ballot in 2002, the year after Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs and Bret Boone drove in 141 runs.
Tony Perez shouldn't be in the Hall. Gary Carter is arguable, but he's a catcher. Ryno...eh. Ozzie Smith is in for defense and one memorable home run in the postseason. So, yes, you are indeed comparing apples to oranges. The closest actual comparison is Puckett, but Puckett's injury was non-baseball-related, which makes it a special circumstance.
Also, I do not in any way think that Hawk was "undervalued" because of the timing of his Hall of Fame eligibility. Plenty of other guys hit the Hall ballots in the years right after guys on steroids did crazy things. Tony Perez in 2000. The selfsame Gary Carter in 2003. Tons of roided-out people put up crazy numbers in those years, too.
Only his teammates and peers understood the daily battle he went through to get onto the field with knees that only an orthopedic surgeon could love...he destroyed them playing with reckless abandon on the concrete-like artificial turf at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. Maybe this wasn't as tragic as the irreversible glaucoma that ended Puckett's career in 1995, after 12 seasons. But there's reason to give Dawson the benefit of the doubt in terms of his Hall of Fame candidacy.
No there isn't. It's sad that he ruined his knees. But I doubt anyone will give Nomar Garciaparra "the benefit of the doubt" because he was hit on the wrist by Al Reyes in 1999 and was never the same player. Dawson had knee problems, and it hurt him, but you simply can't take potential or "what-ifs" into account.
No eligible player has ever collected as many hits (2,774) or RBI (1,591) without becoming a Hall of Famer -- a claim that Dawson will almost certainly pass to Harold Baines (2,866 hits, 1,628 RBI) when he goes onto the ballot a year from now.
It's not good for your cause to point out that another borderline HOFer has more hits and RBI than the guy you say should be in. But whatever. Here are some career stats for Hawk:
HR: 438 SB: 314 SB.
Not bad. But there's a lot of guys who had more.
OBP: a paltry .323. SLG: .482. OPS+: 119 RC27: 5.44
He is the very definition of a really good, but not great, ballplayer. By all accounts (I saw him play but don't remember) he was an excellent fielder -- very toolsy and all that. Great arm, fast, big, strong, whatever. But the numbers -- even in the clean era -- don't lie. There are lots of guys with much higher OPS+, for example, who are not close to the Hall. His career SLG doesn't get him within whiffing distance of the top 100 of all time. The 438 HR are good for 32nd all-time, which is obviously really good. But Dave Kingman had 442.
Look -- he was awesome. But he was not HOF calibre. If he hadn't been so injured, I have no doubt he'd be in. But he was injured a lot. So he's out. And for the record, it's not like he had to retire at 34. He played in 21 different seasons.
Dawson, who was such a good athlete that Davey Johnson started him in center field and Eric Davis in left in the 1987 All-Star Game, was the first player to ever put together 12 consecutive seasons in which he finished with double-figure home run and stolen base totals. He piled up 45 extra-base hits in 15 consecutive seasons, becoming the sixth name on a list that included only Henry Aaron, Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Mel Ott and Honus Wagner.
This is why people hate stat geeks. If you invent arbitrary categories -- even more arbitrary than the ones we use in standard discussions -- you can make an argument for anybody. I especially hate the "consecutive seasons" thing, because it punishes all-time greats who like missed part of a year due to WWII and stuff. Or guys who just had one year where they missed like 40 games due to a freak injury in an otherwise durable career. Or whatever. Also, in this specific case, 45 XBH...who cares? 45? That's 18 HR and 27 2B? You want to hang your HOF hat on that?
On the picture-perfect day he was enshrined into the Hall last summer, Sandberg took time to campaign for Dawson...
"No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more or did it better than Andre Dawson," Sandberg said. "He's the best I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place team, and it was the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball. He did it the right way, the natural way, and he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way, and I hope he will stand up here some day."
I include this only because I love how bad Ryno is at talking. Look at that last sentence. It's like retarded Dr. Seuss.
Sandberg's comment about "the natural way,'' was, of course, a shot at the Jose Canseco generation of illegally-enhanced, often one-dimensional sluggers. The numbers Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Bonds and others put up from 1997 through 2003 diminished -- at least in reflection during that time -- the career statistics of hitters from the 1980s and early '90s, including Dawson and Jim Rice.
I don't buy this argument either. Rice was a borderline case before the steroids thing exploded. Dawson would have been just as borderline if he had retired in 1994.
Just for kicks: Jim Ed , in 1700 fewer AB, has only 50 fewer HR, and a higher career OBP, SLG, OPS+, RC27, etc. He won an MVP, like Hawk. And I'd still say Rice is at best borderline.
I've been re-reading a lot of David Foster Wallace essays, so I'm on a little bit of a grammar/syntax kick. Sorry. Maybe it's boring. But this line from Len Pasquarelli's latest ESPN column really made me snortle derisively:
"The five-year contract extension to which Southern California coach Pete Carroll agreed on Wednesday might make it a little more difficult for NFL teams to woe him away from the Trojans."
Texans Owner Bob McNair: Woe is us! The franchise is in shambles! I beg of you Pete Carroll, find it in your heart to join us in our quest for respectability!
Negative write-ups on Scoop's piece in both Deadspin and True Hoop. The former includes some of the same grievances we aired here -- my complaint about Quite Frankly and KT's about Notre Dame.
True Hoop points out yet another flaw in the article -- Scoop accuses David Stern of insidiously slipping the NBA dress code into the collective bargaining agreement. The only problem is, the dress code was never part of the CBA at all.
When arrogance precedes racism, this is the end result. They act as if they never heard the comments. They act as if whatever was being said or written about the way they handled Ty Willingham's situation didn't apply to them. This is our world, you all should be happy to be living in it. That's their new Knute/NBC motto.
So when the University of Notre Dame extended Charlie Weis' contract to secure his services for 10 years just months after firing a coach who only three years ago was in the same situation with a better record (8-0 after the first eight games for Willingham, 5-2 for Weis at the time of his extension) during his first year, the validation of racism that so many people tossed at the university's feet in the wake of excusing Willingham last December was totally eclipsed by an arrogance unseen in the NCAA since Adolph Rupp and Bear Bryant thought "negroes" couldn't ball.
Yikes. Look, I'm not a huge Notre Dame fan (despite the fact that Mrs. Tremendous went there), and I'd be willing to bet that an all-Catholic university in Indiana has probably had its share of racism problems. As has virtually every institution of learning -- every institution period? -- in the country. (I would here also add that the founding of the University was partly due to the Catholic community seeking to establish a place where they could get a fine education without being discriminated against, hence the whole "Fighting Irish" deal. Neither here nor there.) But I think it's a bit much to just flat-out state that Ty Willingham's firing and Charlie Weis's extension were the products of racism.
Ty Willingham did get off to a very strong start in his first year -- 8-0. But his overall record in three years at ND was 21-15. Bob Davie, who is universally ridiculed and hailed as a massive failure in his three years at Notre Dame, was 21-16. Willingham was a pretty good coach at Stanford, but he was only 44-36-1 in his time there. And his Pac-10 titles came at a time when USC, UCLA, and other traditional powerhouses were pretty weak.
Also, and this is really key, Weis, who came one illegal Bush-push away from beating USC, and who turned Brady Quinn from an average passer to a future #1 overall draft pick, was rumored to be the frontrunner for like fifteen NFL coaching jobs at the end of the year. ND knew they had to do something to ensure that he didn't leave. So they extended him.
But this is a university, not an individual. And although ND athletic director Kevin White is the man in charge, it's not about his making the decisions as much as it is about the institution putting on display a serious complex of superiority. Oh, don't get me wrong, their actions are racist to the core. But their arrogance spoke much louder in this case. Notre Dame could care less about how careless they were. They didn't care how this would make them look in the eyes of African-Americans, or any white liberals who fight for civil rights against actions such as this every day. To ND, anyone not down with their program -- and how they run it -- is meaningless.
"Racist to the core." I don't know, man. That seems insanely strident -- and this is coming from a dude who loves a good strident piece of sports writing. Look -- is anyone in the ND athletic dept. a racist? Maybe. Who knows? But it's not good journalism to just look at two facts -- Willingham let go, Weis extended -- and conclude without any room for debate that it's hard-core racism. And my guess is, when you look at what Weis has done after three years (and yes, I know Willingham recruited the players, etc. etc.), you'll conclude that ND made the right choice.
That article (see link in post sub) is amazing in a number of ways. One of those ways is that Scoop seems to make points and then immediately contradict them; or else, he presents his arguments so badly that it is hard to see what side of the argument he is on. To wit, re-read this section from Junior's post:
For a target audience of several million that are forced to watch "Being Bobby Brown," in a Neilsen (sic) era when UPN stands for United Plantation of Negroes because it is one of the few networks where you find "quality" African-American programming, the "officialness" of Stephen A.'s hosting a daily sports talk show was bigger than anything Ron Artest or Terrell Owens did to push us a few steps back.
No one is "forced" to watch "Being Bobby Brown." If Scoop wants to comment on the sad state of African-American programming (both that intended for and that created by African-Americans), it might be better to get upset at the actual show than to assert that people are "forced" to watch it. As for the UPN thing...I don't even know what to make of that. And as for the third and final few clauses: it's just a big jumble. I assume what he is trying to say is that in a year when TO and Artest did things that perhaps cast a negative light on the African-American community, S.A. Smith getting a talk show was something that cast a positive light on said community. But to say that it was "bigger" than what they did "to push us a few steps back" is just a poorly-presented mixed metaphor.
Now read this, from the same article:
White Sox not getting the cover of Sports Illustrated
They said it wasn't on purpose. They said it was because of the way the World Series ended (on a Wednesday night) that it was impossible to put them on the cover of the issue. Whatever. Couldn't they have at least put them on the cover the following week?
Fair enough. But he continues.
Didn't the White Sox deserve the cover after their unexpected World Series win? But the slight was indicative of the way the media (and the North Side of Chicago) treated the Sox all along their improbable, impossible ride. From my own doubtful, bandwagon-sensitive column written right after the All-Star Game to Joe Buck's unforgettable omission of African-Americans when he mentioned the variety of cultures, races and nationalities that filled the South Side minutes after the Game 4 victory, the treatment of the White Sox shocking the world was similar to Toccara's treatment on "America's Next Top Model." Foul.
Two quick things:
1. Joe Buck's "unforgettable" omission? Does anyone really think Joe Buck intentionally or unintentionally meant to slight African-Americans? The story of the ChiSox, ethno-culturo-nationally speaking, was that they had guys from like fifteen countries. I'm sure that's what Joe was trying to highlight.
2. I don't know who Toccara is, but if you hate UPN so much, and think that it is indicative of some kind of problem in the African-American community, you probably shouldn't, immediately after stating that you have this problem, make an obscure and cozy reference to a UPN show, which reference clearly indicates that you are a huge fan.
Because after giving the Braves (1995), the Yankees (1996, 1998-2000), the Marlins (1997, 2003), the Angels (2002), the Diamondbacks (2001), and the Red Sox (2004, and they got the cover of Time too) the cover of the bible of sports magazines, they decided a non-playoff Monday night football game featuring Peyton Manning and Tom Brady was a bigger story. A more important story.
Okay. I get your point. I think it was a mistake too. In no way, shape, or form was it one of the "most important sports stories of the year," as Scoop claims, but I think it was a mistake. We're agreed. What's that? One more thing?
The sad part is (outside of Chicago), as wrong as SI was, it may have been right.
Someone Has Stolen Scoop Jackon's Brain and Replaced It With a Tiny Jar of Apple Butter
I say 2005, and what do think of? If you're Scoop-Jackson-with-his-brain-replaced-by-a-tiny-jar-of-apple-butter, your reply is five words and one fairly obnoxious extraneous initial: Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith. That's right. Scoop Jackson has chosen Quite Frankly as one of the topics of his year-end wrap-up, the inaccurately titled "What mattered most in 2005."
Stephen A. Smith's show No one really got the magnitude of this. Not even at ESPN. When the deal went down and "Quite Frankly" was born, the first thing I wanted to do was write a column about it. Not happening. "Too self-promoting" was what I was told. But "QF" was bigger than that. It was bigger than ESPN.
That's so ridiculous it's hard to make fun of. How about some facts, then? The number of people watching Quite Franklyranges from 0.1% to 0.3% of the people watching TV. If you're wondering, those numbers are very bad. Cold Pizza bad. Previously-recorded British darts tournament bad. According to Scoop Jackson, the show is bigger than ESPN.
When "Quite Frankly" aired on Aug. 1, 2005, it broke down a barrier that had been up for over a decade. And the following sentence is no disrespect to Bryant Gumbel, Michael Wilbon, John Saunders, Montell Williams, Orlando Jones or DL Hugley (sic), but … not since they pulled Arsenio Hall off the air in 1994 has a black man had his own talk show -- or been slated to host one with his name in the title. The fact that Stephen A. was given the format to do him -- to be himself, unscripted, unapologetic, unleashed -- was historical in the landscape of broadcast television.
Hold on a second. Didn't Montell Williams, Orlando Jones and D.L. Hughley all get and/or have talk shows? With their names in the titles? What is he talking about?
Oh. Maybe they weren't unleashed enough.
For a target audience of several million that are forced to watch "Being Bobby Brown," in a Neilsen (sic) era when UPN stands for United Plantation of Negroes because it is one of the few networks where you find "quality" African-American programming, the "officialness" of Stephen A.'s hosting a daily sports talk show was bigger than anything Ron Artest or Terrell Owens did to push us a few steps back. Not only did Sports Illustrated recognize it, but so did David Letterman.
Is anyone even reading these articles before they get posted on ESPN.com? I defy anyone to make sense of the first sentence of this paragraph, and the second sentence doesn't impress me. This tiny, meaningless blog was in Sports Illustrated. David Letterman has to book guests every night. They're not all winners. Kornheiser and Wilbon were on as guests, and their show is good and popular. But I guess it didn't come out in 2005, and it wasn't historical in the landscape of broadcast television.
** BONUS SCOOP JACKSON CRAZINESS **
Scoop also mentions a great thing Kevin Garnett did:
His pledge: To build one house per month for the next two years [for people who lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina]. That's 24 homes! Two seasons of "Extreme Makeover." Financially funded by one person … with no commercial return on his donation. A gesture that should have landed him on the cover of Time alongside Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono as Persons of The Year. A gesture that made Oprah -- read it again, Oprah -- break down.
I have an irrational love for KG, but let's do some quick math here. Let's assume building a home in the vicinity of New Orleans costs $250,000.
24 X $250,000 = $6,000,000
Six million dollars is a fantastic, generous contribution from Mr. Garnett. Now, let me put in black and white what the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated to various causes in 2004 (I assume the 2005 numbers are similar. Also, screw Bono, I could care less where he fits into this):
That's 1.2 billion dollars. Billion. If you woke up tomorrow with six million dollars, you could buy a nice house in the Palisades. If you woke up tomorrow with 1.2 billion dollars, you could buy Eritrea.
Here, I'll put the two numbers next to each other:
After the 3rd quarter of the Champs Sports Bowl today, a guy named Andrew Rizzo had the chance to toss a football through a tiny hole from 30 yards out for a million bucks. He came up about six yards short. Then the on-field MC presented him a check for $1000 and said, very loudly:
"Let's here it for Andrew Rizzo -- a winner in every sense of the word!"
Except, I guess, for the sense of the word "winner" that means "someone who [just] won a contest."
On a side note, I'd like to mention that amazingly, against all odds, even though I've seen a thousand of them, I am always -- ALWAYS -- excited to watch a dude try to toss/shoot/kick something through a hole in a piece of wood for money.
Look for FJM in the December 19th issue of Sports Illustrated (Shaun Alexander cover). We're listed in the Best Sports Blogs of 2005 section on page 45. Words used to describe FJM include "vicious" and "off-color" (and perhaps less accurately, "hilarious").
Also, we've been nominated for Best Humor Blog of 2005 by Red Reporter. You can vote here.
9. Self-Righteous to the Point of Parody 10. Self-Congratulatory 11. Annoyingly Self-Aware 12. Very Occasionally Humorous 13. Needlessly Mean-Spirited 14. Condescending 15. Baseball-Related 16. Full of Words 17. Petty 18. Juvenile 19. In English 20. Tony Award-Winning
Have you ever heard of this character Two-Face? He's from the Batman comic books, and he has two sides to his personality. Originally, he was good-hearted District Attorney Harvey Dent, a close friend of Bruce Wayne, but then someone threw acid on him and disfigured half of his face, causing him to become an insane supervillain named Two-Face. Frank Miller rewrote his origin to make him a victim of bipolar disorder in the 1980's. And in the movie Batman Forever, he was portrayed rather poorly by Tommy Lee Jones.
If Jim Armstrong, some guy who writes for the Denver Post, were Two-Face, his two faces would both be awful sports writers. One face would be the kind of awful sports writer who makes awful, awful hacky jokes that embarrass the reader to read. The other face would be the kind of awful sports writer who is wrong about everything, and hysterical (not the funny kind of hysterical) to boot.
Johnny Damon leaving the Sox for the Yankees? That's like Al Franken marrying Rush Limbaugh's sister.
This joke isn't particularly egregious, but it does set the tone for the piece. That tone being: I am the kind of person who thinks references to pop culture are in and of themselves jokes.
Johnny Damon in Yankee pinstripes. What's next? Jen laying a Madonna French kiss on Angelina?
Case in point. This material is too unoriginal for a Leno-logue, something heretofore thought impossible. Also, what is a Madonna French kiss? Is he referring to the Madonna-Britney Spears kiss from two years ago?
The Boston front office, needless to say, has spent the past few days in full-scale damage control. The spin is that Damon's defection is a bump in the road, a bad day at the office, a temporary setback. Uh-huh. And George Wendt is two stalks of celery away from being George Clooney.
Does anyone notice a pattern in Jim Armstrong's joke construction? Yes, I see it too: [CELEBRITY NAME] BLANK [CELEBRITY NAME]. Congratulations, Jim Armstrong. You've solved comedy forever.
Luchino might as well move to Baghdad after the holidays. Because, trust me, he'll never live this down in Boston, where they take their baseball as seriously as Chicago politicians take bribes. His only solace is that he has a couple of newly hired co-GMs to absorb some of the heat. I forget their names, but, at the moment, Beavis and Butthead will do.
This time the two celebrities are characters who no one has thought about in nearly a decade!
Johnny Damon in Yankee pinstripes. That's worse than those holiday fruitcakes your mother made you eat as a kid.
Oh, thank God. No celebrities. But wait -- fruitcake humor? I believe Jim Armstrong may be the oldest man on Earth. I think he's that Japanese guy who is 118 or whatever.
Now that it's too little, too late, the Sox plan on spending some money. Good thing. They've got more holes than Augusta National. Their lineup sounds like an Abbott-and-Costello comedy bit.
Somewhere, a comedy club in the Catskills is missing Jim Armstrong and they're extremely worried.
II. Bad Sports
The Sox didn't just lose their center fielder and the best leadoff hitter in baseball.
Johnny Damon isn't the best leadoff hitter on his own team. His career OBP is .353, or .011 higher than the league average OBP for the years he's played. Derek Jeter's career OBP? .386.
They didn't just shed a few pounds of whiskers and a few feet of hair. They lost their heart and soul. They lost their swagger, their panache, that certain something they had with Damon atop their batting order.
They lost an .805 OPS. Kevin Youkilis' OPS (in 79 AB) last year was .805. He earned $323,125. And check this out:
Player A Heart and Soul: .480 Swagger: 9 Panache: 3.92 That Certain Something: 0.03 (!!!)
Player B Heart and Soul: .517 Swagger: 18 Panache: 2.03 That Certain Something: 0.01
Do you know who Player A and Player B are? That's right: they're both meaningless sets of numbers that I made up for meaningless categories that Jim Armstrong made up.
Doesn't matter who they sign to replace him. The Red Sox are just another team now.
You're saying Johnny Damon made the Red Sox something other than "just another team"? They still have David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Jason Varitek, and Keith Foulke. Some of those guys will probably be pretty good next year. Plus they added Jermaine Van Buren and John Flaherty, who probably won't be good at all.
The Yankees, meanwhile, are a world championship waiting to happen.
I don't even disagree with this that much. The Yankees improved a lot by adding Damon. He's a huge upgrade over Bubba Crosby. There's no debate over that. For 2006, signing Damon helps the Yankees immensely. They're still not guaranteed the championship, of course. Tomorrow A-Rod could decide to recreate the Benjamin Franklin kite-flying experiment and electrocute himself into a sad but still slightly humorous state of paralysis.
Who gets the blame? Red Sox president Larry Luchino (sic) for starters. He was the one asleep at the controls during the team's negotiations with Boras. He was the one who found out after the fact that Damon had bolted, and for a four-year, $52-million contract - chump change for a player of Damon's caliber.
Four years and $52 million is not an outstanding deal for a player with Johnny Damon's record in the major leagues. Far from it. It might make sense for the Yankees, given that they simply don't care about overpaying Damon in 2009, but for the vast majority of teams, it's actually a bad deal. David Ortiz' contract is an example of chump change for an extremely valuable player.
For Sox fans, the toughest part of all is knowing that it didn't have to happen. It would have been one thing if the Yankees had blown him away with a ridiculous six- or seven-year deal. But four? For the same money the immortal Rafael Furcal got from the Dodgers? That's highway robbery.
Johnny Damon 2005 WARP3: 6.9 Rafael Furcal 2005 WARP3: 9.1
Johnny Damon is more famous, and I suppose more "immortal."
Who's at shortstop? Beats me. The Sox traded away Edgar Renteria, leaving them in a desperate hunt for a glove in the middle of the infield. There's been speculation that they'll try to land Julio Lugo. Great. The once-proud Red Sox are looking to the dog-butt Devil Rays for players.
Dog-butt? Dog-butt? I thought I could count on AOL Exclusive articles to provide me with classy, insightful, original sports commentary. I trust AOL to be on the cutting edge of original content in all fields. They truly are a company with a bright, bright future.
Edgar Renteria 2005 WARP3: 3.4 Julio Lugo 2005 WARP3: 8.7
Who's in center field? Speculation mostly. Every able-bodied center fielder in the business is rumored to be headed for Fenway Park. Trouble is, not a one could give the Sox anything close to what they had in Damon.
Johnny Damon 2005 WARP3: 6.9 Coco Crisp 2005 WARP3: 6.9
The Red Sox are exceedingly unlikely to get Crisp from the Indians (especially in light of the Jason Johnson signing), but Damon is far from impossible to replace.
It took the Red Sox 86 years to win their last World Series. At the rate they're going, it will take them longer to win their next one.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Jim Armstrong. One man, two ways to insult your intelligence.
Just off the top of my head, I'll say no. But Brian Cashman disagrees.
The Yankees announced Thursday that they had agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with popular outfielder Bernie Williams, who has been in pinstripes since 1991 and compiled statistics that put his name alongside the team's greatest players.
"He ranks right there with the Gehrigs and the Berras and the Ruths and the Mantles," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
Now, Cash is probably in a good mood these days. He was able to use his daddy's checkbook to offer $52 million to a guy who is going to hit .265 with 4 HR in 2009, just to stick it to a team he hates. However, even the most extreme homer could not possibly justify this claim.
There are about a thousand things I could cite to prove my point. Here are just a few.
Bernie's career WARP3 is just over 100. Babe Ruth's is like 224. I guess you can look at these numbers and say that Bernie is roughly as valuable as Yogi Berra -- Bernie did walk a lot; hence his RC27 advantage over Yogi.
But as for the rest of them...
A CF who hit a total of 275 HR is no Mickey Mantle.
Okay, beating a dead horse, but think of it this way: In adjusted OPS+, arguably the most basic, cleanest stat we can use to measure how these guys stack up against each other, Babe Ruth is #1 all-time. Gehrig is #4 all-time. Mantle is #6 all-time.
Williams is not close to being in the top 100.
Among players with better lifetime OPS+'s than Bernie are: Will Clark, Bobby Abreu, Jim Edmonds, Darryl Strawberry (!), Jack Clark, Pedro Guerrero, Al Rosen, Larry Doby, Larry Walker, Chipper Jones, and two guys who play on Bernie's team -- Sheff and ARod.
Maybe Cashman was speaking poetically, like, "in terms of what he means to the Yankees" or something. But I don't think so. I think he meant it statistically. And I think he was crazy.
Gentle reader, allow me to begin with an homage to the estimable Mr. Jeff Foxworthy
If the hyphenate "Lunch-Pail" occurs in the title of your sports article ...
... you just might be the subject of an FJM post.
Thank you. Thank you.
And thank you, Mr. Benjamin Shpigel of the Times of New York, for the inspiration. For it seems that you much admire the, shall we say, intangible qualities demonstrated by one Mr. Paul Lo Duca during the course of his playing of the game of baseball, and that additionally, you are very much looking forward to his performances with the Metropolitans of Queens this season. Fair enough. He may very well be an "underdog," a "dynamic clubhouse presence" (your words, not mine), and "everything you like to see in a winner" (Jim Tracy's words, not yours or mine).
But -- and forgive me, as finding fault in the work of others is my gift and my curse -- might I also point out that in your very article exalting the man's character, there is an example of conduct perhaps unbecoming of Mr. Lunch-Pail America? To wit: in 2000, Mr. Lo Duca, while in the employ of the Los Angeles Dodgers, believed himself to be ready to start in the major leagues, but General Manager Kevin Malone did not share this opinion. After Mr. Malone informed Mr. Lo Duca of his decision, what did Mr. Lo Duca do?
"I went berserk, tore up the locker room and everything," Lo Duca said.
Grit, you might say. Passion for the game.Heart. Fire. World Series-caliber leadership. Jeterian. But imagine if a certain ex-Dodger / board game proprietor had done the same thing? Would we be saluting the method by which he transports and protects his midday meal? After all, this wasn't even a team loss -- it was an individual slight.
Let us not forget Mr. Shpigel's closing argument:
Lo Duca thrived, hitting .320 with 25 homers, and his presence was soon felt behind the plate. In 2002, the Dodgers had the fifth-best earned run average. In 2003, when they scored the fewest runs in the major leagues (574) but still finished 85-77, they had a 3.16 E.R.A., the best in the majors by nearly half a run. Then last season, Lo Duca's only full season in Florida, Dontrelle Willis recovered from a subpar 2004 and Todd Jones rebounded to post 40 saves.
Lo Duca indeed had a remarkable 2001 season at the plate, with an eye-popping OPS+ of 144, a full 44 points higher than any other season in his career. Since then, he's been a merely adequate hitter, even for a catcher. To credit him for the outstanding performance of the 2003 Dodger pitching staff is, to put it mildly, lunacy. What percentage of Kevin Brown's 211 innings of 2.39 ERA ball can be attributed to Lo Duca? Eric Gagne's 82.3 innings at 1.20?
No, pitching is primarily that: pitching. And it's done by pitchers, the men who throw balls over the plate, or don't. Certainly catchers can have an effect on ERA, but to sneakily imply that Lo Duca is responsible for Dontrelle Willis' 2005 or Todd Jones' rebirth is like blaming all of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 on Piper Perabo.
If Paul Lo Duca compels Victor Zambrano to a sub-1.20 WHIP, I will manger my chapeau.
Want to Copy Someone? Do the Opposite of What They Do!
I have a question for Michael Ventre, who, one would think, has actually watched sports in order to prepare for his job as a sportswriter.
His article is called "Dodgers Hope ‘Red Sox West’ Brings Success" and has the subtitle: "Nomar signing cements move to try and [sic] copy Boston’s winning formula."
You can probably figure out what the article is about: the Dodgers have named Grady Little their manager, and now signed Nomar, and Billy Mueller, and also have Derek Lowe. So, Ventre writes, they are trying to copy the Red Sox' blueprint for success.
Here's my question for Michael Ventre: you are wrong.
Fine. Not really a question. Who cares.
Grady Little was fired because he (a) made one of the worst and most memorable blunders in the history of managing, and (b) did not in any way fit into the Red Sox' modified-Moneyball blueprint for success (RSM-MBFS). So, hiring him is the opposite of copying the RSM-MBFS.
Nomar is a 32 year-old SS with no plate discipline who was traded because his diminishing bat speed and history of injuries made him a bad fit in the RSM-MBFS. Therefore, (see above).
Billy Mueller was a very important part of the RSM-MBFS. But he is 34 and his skills are declining, so the Sox let him go. Don't you think that if he were a viable candidate to continue contributing to the RSM-MBFS he would still be a part of the RSM-MBFS?
Derek Lowe is a head-case who doesn't strike anyone out and the Dodgers gave him a 14-year $214 million contract.
Read the article. It's really dumb and talks about Ned Colletti a lot -- a guy who is so completely the opposite of the kind of dude who would be the architect for the RSM-MBFS it's not even funny.
It sure was weird a couple of months ago when "Remembering the heroes of September 11" was beaten by a nice barehanded grab Royce Clayton made against the Brewers. You could hear the crew in the studio gasp when Boomer said "Number 2 ... a tragic day in American history."
Fire "Cup o'" Joe Morgan Fire Joe "Less is" Morgan Fire "-wire" Joe Morgan Fire "-y Furnaces" Joe Morgan Fire Joe "Atlanta Braves Assistant GM Dayton" Morgan Fire Joe "Renaissance author and Catholic martyr Sir Thomas" Morgan
Presenting Chris Berman's Top 10 Plays of the 20th Century:
10. Ozzie Smith's Barehanded Grab Off That Bouncer Up the Middle. 9. The Yalta Conference 8. Emmitt Smith Breaks Walter Payton's All-Time Rushing Record 7. Willie Mays in the '54 Series 6. Cuban Missile Crisis 5. Bobby Orr's Number Retired at the Garden 4. Berlin Wall Falls 3. Bobby Thompson, 1951 2. Remembering the Victims of 9/11 1. Mike Alstott (Bffft! Bffft!) Ploughs in from the Six for his Second TD of the Game Against the Panthers, December, 2003
There is an article in today's New York Times, the newspaper of record in the U. States of A., essentially about WARP. This is good news for fans of logic and reason everywhere. It's very basic stuff and goes into no detail about formulae or anything, but there is a pretty hilarious statement from Ron Gardenhire about Luis Castillo:
"He's worth 15 wins, potentially," Gardenhire said of Castillo, a .293 lifetime hitter acquired from the Florida Marlins. "We lost 30 one-run games last year. With Luis's ability to get on base, steal bases, score runs and play defense, a guy like that can make a difference in at least half those one-run games going the other way."
Now, Castillo is a good player. He had a .391 OBP last year. But he also put up a team-hurting 10-for-17 in SB. His WARP1 was 6.0 and WARP3 6.2. So, Gardenhire, a true Good Baseball Man, is off by 150%. Also, Nick Punto had almost 400 AB last year at 2B with a WARP3 of 2.3. So, Castillo's impact is something closer to maybe four extra wins.
Castillo is certainly an upgrade. A good move for the Twinkies. But is he worth 15 wins? No, Ron Gardenhire, he is not.
Just to give you some idea, 15 was exactly Barry Bonds' WARP1 in 2004, when he walked 232 times.
A Salute to Men Without Whom Many People Would Be Dead or Perhaps Never Born
When you hear the name Tommy Lasorda, you probably think of the longtime manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a man who was the face of baseball in L.A. for decades. Or perhaps, and this is far less likely, you remember him as a AAAA-caliber lefty pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Kansas City Athletics in the 1950's. Or, and this is even less likely, if you're like me, you remember him for his brief ad campaign for Ultra Slim-Fast (the chocolate-flavored meal replacement shake) in 1989.
If you think of Tommy as any of the above, you're officially old. Because I'm telling you right now, if you walk up to any kid on the street today and ask him who Tommy Lasorda is, that little rascal will look up at you and say, "Duh, Mister. He's a blogger. A terrible blogger."
Baseball scouts are the unsung heroes of our game. Without them, there would not be any players to watch, to cheer for, and to emulate.
Now hold on one second, Tommy. Without scouts, there would be no players? None? Mr. and Mrs. Pujols just wouldn't have gotten it on that night? The Molina brothers would be transported into some parallel dimension where they're only allowed to play badminton with anthropomorphic wolves? David Eckstein would be dead?
Scouts are a hard working group of people. They drive from town to town, watching game after game from the bleachers of high school stadiums across the country looking for future major leaguers.
Okay, but that's their job. That really doesn't sound that bad. Travelling around, watching sort of crappy baseball games. I mean, presumably, these are guys who love baseball, right? Maybe Tommy should have written a post called "A Salute to Meatpacking Factory Workers." Those people are doing us all a useful service, and their job is miserable and dangerous.
In my opinion, scouts should have their own hall of fame, just like baseball writers and broadcasters do. That recognition would be the validation they so richly deserve. Their contributions to the game are endless, their love for the game is unconditional and their commitment is inspiring.
I challenge you, Tommy Lasorda, to open this Baseball Scout Hall of Fame and attempt to run it as a viable business. What will you charge for admission? Two cents? One cent? Times will be tough for you, Tommy.
Further entertainment can be found in the comments section for the post. One guy calls a previous poster a "sycophant," angering another guy so much he threatens to "break both of his [the first guy's] legs." Here's the thing: the violent guy a) doesn't know what "sycophant" means, b) thinks a guy named "sycophant" wrote a post maligning Tommy Lasorda that for some reason he can't read, and c) still wants to ruin his ability to walk.
One more Tommy Lasorda-related item. Please visit Tommy's Wikipedia page and scroll down until you see Tommy's quote about Dave Kingman from 1976. Now read the quote. Happy time!
Did any sentient entity on any planet in the universe expect any sportswriter to describe the hiring of Grady Little as the manager of a major league baseball team as a "coup"?
The answer to the question is yes: me, on planet Earth, because that sportswriter's name is Bill Plaschke. Plaschke's going with the headline "Team Pulls a Real Coup With Its Latest Hire" -- the team being the Dodgers and the hire being Grady Little. Now, just so we're straight here, Merriam-Webster defines a coup as a brilliant, sudden, and usually highly successful stroke or act. The area where I agree with Plaschke is that yes, hiring Grady Little could indeed be classified as an act. Or a thing. I guess it was sudden, also.
Judging managers is exceedingly difficult to do with any sort of precision. Short of a guy being a total jerk or putting on a fake mustache and glasses in order to re-enter a game he's been ejected from, it's tough to say with certainty exactly how bad (or good) a manager is. Actually, now that I think about it, even if a guy were to put on a fake mustache and glasses in order to re-enter a game he's been ejected from (although I can't see how that would ever happen in real life), he still might be an okay manager. Besides, the ability of the baseball players on a baseball team is far, far, far more important than the savvy of the manager. I would say something crazy, like 100 times more important. At least.
Regardless, when it comes to good old baseball man Grady Little, Bill Plaschke is willing to credit all of his team's success to Grady and simultaneously absolve him of all failure. Let's begin the hyperbole:
Let me see if I have this straight.
There was an unemployed manager out there whose last night of work was Game 7 of the American League championship series.
Yes. In that game, the unemployed manager you speak of made arguably the most colossal blunder in baseball history. Arguably.
There was a former manager out there whose last season contained 95 wins.
Yes. His team in that last season, the 2003 Boston Red Sox, featured a historically great offense including six regulars with OPS+'s over 120, among them Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek. The pitching staff was headed by all-time great Pedro Martinez, who threw 186.2 innings of 212 ERA+ (2.22 ERA) ball.
There was an ex-manager out there who was fired because he trusted instinct over statistic, people over paradigms, baseball over everything.
Also there was the colossal blunder thing, and the multitude of questionable in-game decisions throughout his tenure.
And this same guy, the Dodgers just hired him?
Ned Colletti can pump his right fist any time now.
I'm beginning to think that someone really, really likes Grady Little. Likes him a lot.
In resurrecting Grady Little as the new Dodger manager, he hit a late-inning, backdoor slider out of the park.
What's that? Oh, you're not done.
The baseball folks in Boston may be wincing, but baseball folks everywhere else are smiling, waxing in the rebirth of a good man wronged.
Are they, Bill Plaschke? Or did they also watch Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS? And is it just me, or is Bill Plaschke using an unconventional definition of the verb "wax," which I believe means (here comes Merriam-Webster again) one of three things: 1 a: to increase in size, numbers, strength, prosperity, or intensity b: to grow in volume or duration c: to grow toward full development 2: to increase in phase or intensity -- used chiefly of the moon, other satellites, and inferior planets 3: to assume a (specified) characteristic, quality, or state
These baseball folks are increasing in intensity because Grady Little got hired?
"I love baseball, this is my life, this is what I do," said Little, a former cotton farmer with a voice like syrup and the expressiveness of grits. "To be able to get another chance like this, I'm very, very fortunate."
"The expressiveness of grits"?
Little's only other major league managerial experience consisted of two years with the Boston Red Sox, who fired him because of one bad decision he made when the still-cursed franchise was six outs from going to the 2003 World Series.
So it was the curse that made them lose, not Grady Little.
Going with his gut, his gut failed him, as he left a tiring Pedro Martinez on the mound to face the New York Yankees in the eighth inning with a 5-2 lead. Martinez gave up three runs before the Yankees won it on Aaron Boone's home run in the 11th.
Little was gone shortly after the ball, canned by weak-kneed Boston officials who bowed to a region of whiny, self-absorbed fans.
So it was the fans that got him fired, not Grady Little's performance.
Before breaking the 86-year-old "Curse of the Bambino" — which was really the curse of being the last integrated team in baseball — the Red Sox did all sorts of silly things to their managers in the name of voodoo.
What? Integration is coming up in an article about Grady Little?
"It's New England, it's Boston, all they want to do is win," said Little with a huge sigh and great restraint.
Funny, but that's all Little, 55, did there. He won.
Well, to be fair, there was the colossal blunder thing.
This was a guy who had been director Ron Shelton's inspiration as the real manager of the Durham Bulls.
Who cares? Seriously, who the hell cares?
Players understood and loved that he was all about the grass-roots part of the game. That he would judge them not for only how they looked, but who they were.
I want my team's manager to judge players for how good they are at playing baseball.
"It's like [former player] Dante Bichette once said," Little explained Tuesday. "When you see a pretty girl wearing a bikini on the beach, she shows you a whole lot. But she doesn't show you everything."
He added, "My philosophy is like that. Statistics can't show you everything. I'm a human kind of guy."
Here's a better analogy: when you see a checkbook and the numbers in it showing the debits and credits to your checking account, it shows you a lot of what you need to know about your checking account. Those numbers represent money, and ultimately, what you want to know is how the money is doing.
Baseball statistics are nowhere near as accurate as the numbers in your checkbook, but I still think this is a better comparison than saying that statistics are to a player's effectiveness as the attractiveness of a girl's figure is to her suitability as a life partner.
But that's me, a guy who undestands analogies.
This humanness pulled together a clubhouse with players as diverse as Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra.
Actually, Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra had been performing at superstar levels for years before Grady Little managed them. Derek Lowe had one amazing year, and that year occurred while Grady Little was his manager. If you want to attribute his success to Grady Little, as you clearly do, you are welcome to do so. Please understand if I am skeptical about this attribution, however.
Ramirez averaged 34 homers and 106 runs batted in in two seasons with Little despite being benched for missing games. Lowe was 38-15 under Little and channeled his nervous energy into a force.
Okay, but didn't Grady Little just say "Statistics can't show you everything"? Anyway, Manny Ramirez' career 162-game averages are 42 home runs and 136 RBI. So he was worse under Little. Again, if you think that Little somehow helped Lowe with his energy-channeling-force-creation, be my guest.
Then there was Garciaparra, who had his last good season under Little, 28 homers and 105 RBIs.
Yes, but before that he was even better. He declined afterwards due to injury and various other reasons. Your point?
Little took a diverse group and turned them into winners who, months after he was fired, became nationally known as "the Idiots." Then, of course, they finally won the World Series.
After he was fired and another manager was hired. Now you're crediting him for helping them win it all the following year? Good Christ, Plaschke. Those hollow, flexible cylinders with red stripes you're grasping are known as straws.
Yet, when he was fired, he accepted it with humility and grace, never really ripping, instead disappearing into the Chicago Cubs' system as their roving catching instructor, an important yet anonymous and thankless job.
A good reason for that disappearance was that no one wanted to hire the guy who made that colossal blunder we've already talked about.
Wow. Just...wow. The realy lame thing is, if the Dodgers improve by like 15 games next year as I believe they will -- because everyone on their team won't be injured -- and everyone is going to attribute it to Grady Little and ned Colletti instead of DePo who has put the team together. And if they don't, everyone will blame DePo for having put the team together.
...whether it's the New York Post, or the Yankees, or what. But check this "rumor" out:
A delicious rumor involving the Marlins and Yankees swapping Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano and Phillip Hughes for the Marlins outfielder Miguel Cabrera and lefty starter Dontrelle Willis didn't last long when it was shot down.
You're kidding. It was shot down?
Even with the firesale on, this is insane, even by hot stove standards.
"I will give you two okay things and one question mark for two of the best things in the world. Oh -- and the two awesome things are also really young. And one of them is the single biggest marketing tool in the league. Oh -- and both of the two awesome things are relatively inexpensive."
named Jason Smith who does ESPN Radio's all-night show sometimes. Last night I was driving home at 2:00 AM PST and I heard him talking about how bad the AJ Burnett deal (5/55) is for the Jays. He talked about how AJ's record lifetime is like 49-48 or whatever. I was like: okay. Fair enough. Then he said that the guy had had attitude problems with the Marlins. I was like: sure, I guess. Then he said that maybe if Burnett hadn't mouthed off last year and been benched for the last week of the season, who knows, maybe 5 years $55 million could have been 5 years $75 million. Then, without backing that up, he then proceeded to chastise AJ Burnett for what he labeled a "$20 million dollar mistake."
You can't just make something up out of nowhere and then use the made-up thing to criticize someone for something that actually happened.
Maybe if Paul Konerko had not only hit 40 HR last year but has also invented a cold fusion machine, instead of $60 million from the ChiSox he might have gotten $50 billion from the government. That's a $49.994 billion mistake.
Also, it should be noted that Smith was criticizing the Blue Jays for getting Burnett. Thus, by saying that Burnett might in actuality be worth more than he signed for, he was accidentally praising the Blue Jays. This did not seem to occur to Smith.
Also, Smith's favorite team? The Mets. Anyone want to talk about the contracts and deals they've been making recently?
Juan Uribe is absolutely terrible at not getting out. Terrible. He posted a .301 OBP last year, marginally more awful than his career OBP of .305. He's never even been within spitting distance of league average OBP.
Very enjoyable is the dry statistical rebuttal the Sun-Times writer inserts after Ozzie's crazy, unsubstantiated, nonsense argument:
''When we hit [Uribe] second in the past, he did a tremendous job,'' Guillen said. ''I just want to give Iguchi a real shot to be [the run producer] he is. That is my thought right now. It all depends on how Uribe handles it in spring training, but I really want Uribe to hit in that spot.''
Uribe got most of his at-bats (268) in the ninth spot and hit .250 there. He got 23 at-bats in the No. 2 spot and hit .174 with four hits and five strikeouts.
Bravo, Sun-Times Staff Reporter Chris De Luca.
I'm taking just a cursory glance at the Yahoo! White Sox stats page, and it appears that literally every White Sox regular has a higher OBP than Juan Uribe.
Now on to more complicated stuff like "The art of booing".
I'm going to be really honest, I boo, and I'm not going to lie about it. If another team scores and I'm not happy about it, you bet I'm going to start booing! If a penalty is called that I don't think is fair or if someone hits one of our guys, and it was dirty, again, I'm going to boo.
Man. That shit is complicated. Thank you, Elisha Cuthbert! And as always, thank you for your honesty.
On his list of the top 50 free agents, he puts Paul Byrd (last three years, ERA+'s of 112, 110 and 132), a very reasonable middle-0f-the-rotation starter, at #49, three spots below #46, the corpse of Bernie Williams (OPS+ of 81 last year), a man who not only can no longer hit major league pitching, but was also so bad at playing center field his manager was forced to put Tony Womack out there.
Phillips on Williams:
He has been a big part of the great Yankee run over the last decade or so. Moving on, he would be a good fit on a younger team that is learning how to win where he can serve as a mentor and semi-regular player.
So a "mentor and semi-regular player" (read: bench guy) is more valuable than someone who can eat 200 innings with better-than-average results?
Phillips also believes Sammy Sosa (82 OPS+) and 4,823-year-old Jamie Moyer are better bets than Byrd. Byrd, apparently, is responsible for getting Alias cancelled, and that's, like, Steve Phillips' favorite show.