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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Friday, March 31, 2006


A Call to Arms

A challenge to you, the FJM reader:

Do you like numbers? Are you a nerd who's ever used a computer? Have you ever checked a baseball player's so-called "statistics"? Then you have a chance to meet the King of Nerds himself, Mr. Joe Morgan. How, you ask? By winning's fantasy baseball league. Yes, that's right, the winner of this competition for pimple-faced shut-in nerds who went to MIT will get to meet history's greatest second baseman. You'll also take home a plasma TV and a crappy phone. Presumably, when Sir Morgan meets you, he will call you a sissy who lives in his parents' basement and accuse you of programming the computer that wrote Moneyball. Dreams can come true!

So: I urge you, the FJM loyalist, to enter this competition and win it outright. Keep in mind, as the frontpage reminds you, "Minor League Players Need Not Apply." I'm quite confident that if just a few thousand FJM readers play, there will be a small but statistically significant chance that someone who hates Joe Morgan will win the prize. Plus, you guys are nerds, right? You're awesome at fantasy baseball.

Also, there's this: "A grand prize will be awarded to the top overall team in rotisserie leagues as well as to the top overall team in head-to-head leagues, regardless of whether the teams participate in an 8-, 10-, or 12-team leagues." It seems to me that you could really rig this by getting eight of your friends together and have seven of them agree to sabotage their own teams. The eighth guy's team, consisting of Victor Martinez, Albert Pujols, Chase Utley, Michael Young, Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Carl Crawford, and David Ortiz on offense, and Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Chris Carpenter, Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt, Mariano Rivera, Brad Lidge, and Francisco Rodriguez on his pitching staff, among others, would probably do pretty well.

This gigantic cheater would seem to have a pretty good chance at meeting Joe Morgan. Bonus points for wearing a soon to be available (?) FJM T-shirt when you shake his hand.

It occurs to me now that custom leagues made by groups of people who know each other likely aren't eligible for prizes to prevent this very scenario from happening, but I'm not going to bother to check the rules.

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posted by Junior  # 2:30 PM
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Thursday, March 30, 2006



More like Smell-Ball! Yeah, I said it. I think Small-Ball should be called Smell-Ball. Because it smells smelly, like a bad smell does. And while that's perhaps the stupidest thing a human being has thought, uttered, or written in quite some time, it's no less valid an argument than much of the drivel in Thomas Boswell's Washington Post article For Many Teams, Small-Ball Efforts Are Being Richly Rewarded.


Welcome to the era of baseball on a budget. It's time for brains and judgment to have their day, not just juice and financial muscle.

Cool! So you're going to talk about brains like Billy Beane's and Terry Ryan's? Guys who use their judgment to build good baseball teams on a budget? Tell me you're going to do that, Bozzy old friend.

This period in the game's history is just beginning and none too soon. But you can see it everywhere, from the mid-market teams in last year's World Series to the fundamentally sound, unselfish teams that dominated the World Baseball Classic.

Oh, Boz. Why? You're going to talk about the White Sox, aren't you? And chemistry? We're going to be lectured on chemistry and oh, maybe sparkplugs and table-setters and nobly giving yourself up for the good of The Game.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Angels and a few other mega-market teams won't be joining the rest of the sport in the frugal fun. They know that big money will still have years when it can buy the pot, as it always has. Big is still better. But not nearly as much better as it has been in recent times. For many other franchises, especially the 15 or so teams that are not among the very richest or the very poorest, these are days when dollars well spent can put you in the postseason. Or, as the White Sox and Astros proved last October, get you a date in the World Series.

White Sox. Check. And wait: your premise is that mid- and small-market teams will experience a Renaissance for some reason? I'm sure you have a well thought out explanation for all this bluster.

As if to underline the point, the WBC illustrated every theme from last year's postseason. The small-ball and off-speed pitching masters from Japan and South Korea, as well as the divinely precise, unselfish Cubans prospered while the U.S. team went home early, beaten by Canada, South Korea and Mexico as the rich Americans waited for home runs that didn't arrive often enough.

No! No no no no no. The WBC showed that in a single-elimination baseball tournament, weird, dumb stuff can happen. It was fun, sure, seeing a team of shaggy-haired Korean dudes beat down A-Rod and Jeter, but does anyone think that South Korea actually fielded a better baseball team than the United States? Not even you, Thomas Boswell, an 89-year-old man with Nostalgia Glasses on, could believe such a thing. And let's address once again the argument that Japan won the tournament with small-ball, guts, and math-related sneak attacks. Japan hit 10 home runs in 8 games. The U.S., 9 in 6 games. The U.S. finished second in SLG, Japan third. Japan finished second in OPS to Canada (!). And those scrappy, crafty Japanese contact hitters averaged more strikeouts per plate appearance than the selfish, steroided-up U.S. sluggers (0.144 to 0.132). Probably waiting for those home runs to show up. (An argument that I've never understood. Who waits for anything in baseball? You're telling me Vernon Wells goes up there thinking, "F this, I'm just gonna strike out and then wait for Griffey to hit a home run. I'm a lazy dum-dum.") As for Japanese pitching: yeah, I bet there aren't as many Japanese pitchers who can bring the nasty like American WBCers Roger Clemens and Gary Majewski, but who was the MVP of the whole tournament? Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who throws 96 mph cheese on a good day. And wait a minute, just how "divinely precise" were the Cubans? Last I saw them, Yuliesky Gourriel was chucking a ball into the dugout and they were leading the tournament in errors.

In the first inning of the WBC title game, Japan paved the way to its championship with four runs without a single hard-hit ball. You'd have thought that Scott Podsednik, Tadahito Iguchi, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski -- the modest top five hitters in the White Sox' order last October -- were playing for Sadaharu Oh's club. Draw a walk, lay down a bunt, steal a base, hit behind the runner, beat out an infield hit, then murder 'em with a five-hop ground ball into center field.

Yeah, about those modest top five hitters ... I don't know if you follow baseball (you seem like more of an architecture guy), but Paul Konerko hit 40 home runs last year. 41 the year before. In fact, he hit a home run every 14.4 at bats, good for 6th in the AL. But you're right, Scott Podsednik is modest.

Why, the style reminded you exactly of the best feel-good story of the first five months of the '05 season -- the spunky, one-run wonder, low-payroll Nationals fighting for a playoff spot before they got tired, got hurt and got on each other's nerves.

Is that what happened? They got on each other's nerves? Are you sure it wasn't the fact that they were beating their Pythagorean by a significant amount (probably through blind luck) mid-way through the season, and then that the cruel reality that they were allowing more runs than they scored finally set in, no matter what they currently measured on the Thomas Boswell Spunk Meter?

No, you're right. Nerves.

In this post-steroid era (with the number of positive drug tests finally under 1 percent), it has become clear that pitching and defense, as well as more versatile, diverse offenses, once again have a place at the top of the sport. Especially in tense, lower-scoring venues like the late-season playoff races, the chilly postseason and the WBC.

This is clear because a) the White Sox won the World Series one year and b) Japan won the WBC, a tournament in which they went 5 and 3. (Korea was 6-1; the Dominican Republic, a team of monstrous home-run-hitting sluggers if there ever was one, was 5-2.) Game, set, match, Boswell.

In other words, if you can't afford a $100 million payroll, it's a viable time to be an affluent but not obscenely rich team. For example, clubs like both the Nats and Orioles should, in the future, be able to pay enough to compete on this more level field.

You haven't remotely proven that things are any different now than they were, say, three years ago.

It's no accident that the rise of mid-market teams has coincided with the decrease in performance-enhancing drugs. The artificially inflated sluggers and strikeout pitchers of recent years commanded the most astronomical salaries. Plenty of the richest didn't cheat. But too many did. To reach the top of the heap, some teams had to hold their noses and pay inflated salaries for superstars with muscles-from-a-bottle. Now, that's changing.

A hand-waving argument. Actually, most hand-waving arguments would be ashamed to be in the same room as this argument. According to Game of Shadows, Barry Bonds didn't start juicing until after the 1998 season. We can assume that some guys were doing it before then (McGwire, Sosa, I'm looking at you). But were those guys' teams winning championships? Were the Yankees' dynasty teams loaded up with "artificially inflated sluggers and strikeout pitchers"? It doesn't seem like they were helped all that much more than other teams were by steroids. It seems like San Francisco, St. Louis, and Chicago were the main beneficiaries. Plus, look at who's won championships since 2000: the D-Backs, the Angels, the Marlins, the Red Sox, and the White Sox. Besides the Sox and their offensive juggernaut, where are the 'roided-up mega-rich franchises that you say ruled the world until last year?

Because of this transition from power ball to a more balanced blend of brawn and moxie,

You still haven't proven that. And moxie? Who are you, a guy in a film noir movie?

we're entering a period of semi-frugal baseball. No, the rich teams still aren't like the rest of us. But they're closer. The sport doesn't have parity. (Who wants it? Too boring.) But the Marlins did win the '03 title with an Opening Day payroll of only $48,750,000, less than a third of the Yankees whom they beat in the Series. And the Twins and Athletics, among others, have contended often with modest payrolls.

Right. So you're saying the new "semi-frugal" period started in or before 2003? What?

The teams that spot the next trend most quickly and adapt their rosters to capitalize on it will get the most value for their dollars in coming years. So far, the Nationals and Orioles certainly seem to be early adapters.

And the next trend is fielding a team of Pod-eck-ggins-es, if I'm not mistaken. And signing a guy to play a position he doesn't want to play. A guy who can't get on base to save his life. With a .265 OBP away from Ameriquest Field last year. And who made $7.5 million last year. That's value.

Baltimore has decided to build around its five-man pitching rotation of Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard, Rodrigo Lopez, Kris Benson and Bruce Chen, coached by ex-Braves pitching maestro Leo Mazzone. Adding Benson to replace disappointing Sidney Ponson was the team's top offseason priority, rather than getting more power hitters to replace Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. Look what rotation depth did for the White Sox, whose five starters completely shut down foes last October.

Rotation depth did nothing for the White Sox. Their top five starters combined for 152 starts, so they didn't really need any depth. That's right. 152. Brandon McCarthy started the other 10. Oh, you're talking about having five good starters, not guys who can start outside the top five? Five starters who "completely shut down foes last October"? Well, I know for a fact that the White Sox only used four starters in the playoffs because I looked it up using a computer that talks to other computers through a cable in the wall.

In Washington, the Nationals are totally committed to the thesis that times have changed. Will the Nats move in the fences at cavernous RFK Stadium? "No way," said General Manager Jim Bowden who has spent the last year retooling his personnel to suit his park. "We want line-drive gap hitters with extra-base power who can have a high average, not fly ball [home run] hitters," said Bowden. "There are a lot of hits out there in our [big] outfield. The long fly balls get run down. The line drives don't."

I would have liked it better if the paragraph ended "No way," said General Manager Jim Bowden, who has spent the last year making horrendous, arbitrary trades, optioning promising hitters like Ryan Church, jettisoning OBP machines like Brad Wilkerson, acquiring OBP/clubhouse poison like Alfonso Soriano, and generally making a mess of things and ruining the future of baseball in our nation's capital. "There are a lot of hits out there in our [big] outfield," said Bowden.

It's no accident that Vinny Castilla, Preston Wilson and Wilkerson -- who all fit the mold of big-fly all-or-nothing sluggers who will never hit close to .300 in a big ballpark -- have left the organization. The Nats don't think they suit the dimensions of RFK or the new Nationals Park, which has been designed at the team's request to be "a pitcher's park."

Brad Wilkerson has a career high of 32 home runs, and in the three years before he went to Washington, he OBPed .370, .380, and .374. That guy is a total cancer, an all-or-nothing jerkwad who can't stop swinging for the fences like some preening juiced-up monster who hates team unity and grit and sweat and hustle-heart. He once promised a sick kid in the hospital he would sacrifice bunt a guy over but then swung for the fences and hit a home run like some kind of asshole.

If the Nats play with the team unity and fundamental soundness of the first half of '05, then all these theories may have some meaning.

They'll be about .500 if they do that.

However, if their defense remains as unfocused as it has been in Florida and if their lineup lacks internal chemistry, as it did in '05, then all the Nats' smart talk won't count for much.

Internal chemistry? Internal chemistry??? I think that's the name of the new Bush album. You guys listen to Bush, right? Hello? 1996, are you there?

Why some lineups are combustible and others are inert is still one of the game's mysteries. Who'd have thought obscure Podsednik and Iguchi were the proper table setters for a world champion?

I like that after all that, he chalks up the potency of a baseball team's offense to "hey, guys, it's just one of those mysteries!"

Don't count out the power of a buck in any sport, certainly not baseball. But, as Opening Day arrives, at least 20 teams are firmly convinced that their budgets will not prevent them from making the playoffs. Once you reach October, as teams like the '02 Angels, '03 Marlins and '05 White Sox showed, nobody weighs your wallet before handing you the World Series trophy.

And nobody weighs your brain before you write an article about baseball.

Hold on, I just got an email with the subject "Re: Tom Boswell's brain weight." It's 1375 grams. Huh. That's about average. How about that.

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posted by Junior  # 3:35 PM
My good friend Mr. M. Stone, Esq., B.A. (Harvard U.), M.A. (Columbia B.S., Class of '08), whose reticence in re: posting for this blog is one of the great mysteries of my life, made an excellent point today, namely: no one has talked about the fact that Japan might have won the WBC in part because their pitchers have kind of crazy deliveries, some of them, and when you have to face pitchers with crazy deliveries for the first time it is often hard to hit them. (C.f. Nomo, Hideo, and Willis, Dontrelle, and Duque Hernandez, El.) Also, they hit more HR than any team in the tournament. But what do we know?
South Korea, too. Let's not forget Kim, Byung-Hyun (a.k.a. Kim, B.H. and for some reason a.k.a. Kim, B.K.). It seemed like every South Korean and Japanese pitcher had an unorthodox delivery or at the very least, a weird hitch in their windup.
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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Gentlemen, Start Your Idiocy Machines

It's March 29. Opening Day is hours away. And that means it's time for unthinking, pointless drivel to come pouring out of the laptops of the BBWAA. Even from normally semi-reliable people like Ken Rosenthal, who wrote this little number, entitled: Small Ball is Yielding Big Results.

Excited just by the title? Me too!

I suggest reading the article on the FoxSports site -- it has lots of cute photos of people bunting!

Time to play ball. Real ball, not the mutant, pharmaceutically enhanced monstrosity that supposedly saved the sport.

Some call it small ball. Others call it a return to fundamentals. Still others call it a pitching-and-defense revival.

Whatever the catchphrase, it translates to winning baseball.

Oh, the rhetoric! I imagine Ken Rosenthal standing at a podium, lips tightly pursed politician-style, imagining himself a Leader of Men, addressing thousands of hearty non-computer-owning salt-of-the-earth American baseball fans, clutching American Flags that display not 50 stars, but rather small pictures of Scott Podsednik bunting. And he's staring down his constituency, and telling them in no uncertain terms that by God these home run-happy stat nerds will take away his love of sac bunts and stolen bases and Darin Erstad's football-playing mentality only by prying them out of his cold, dead hands.

Shortstop Derek Jeter talks wistfully about the Yankees' four championship teams under manager Joe Torre, recalling that they did all of the little things right. The World Baseball Classic drove the point home once more, with the Asian teams, in particular, demonstrating the value of execution over physical talent, of brains over brawn.

Chalk up another vaguely racist "compliment" for those brainy Asians. Who, by the way, had the most HR of any team in the WBC, the 3rd most walks, and the second highest OPS. Brawn, anyone?

Play ball. Play it right. The fans won't go away.

Write stuff. Write it in overblown self-important rhetoric. I will make fun of you.

Chicks dig the long ball, always will, and so does everyone else. But the notion that fans are power junkies, too simple to grasp the game's subtleties — it's an insult. Major League Baseball isn't alone in dumbing down its product; virtually every sports, entertainment and media company does. But what baseball fans want most is to see their favorite team win.

Right. Which is why smart teams don't try to steal bases and play "small ball." You're conflating good pitching, "doing the little things," "fundamentals," and "execution," and calling it all "small ball." Good pitching is not "small ball." Good pitching is good pitching, and every team needs it. "Fundamentals" are important, too. But most of that other stuff -- bunting, stealing bases if you're not really good at it, etc. -- hurts your team. It causes your team to score fewer runs. Smart teams do not eschew such self-mutilating strategies because they believe their fans are too dumb to appreciate it. They do it because embracing them makes it harder to win.

I like that it was not enough for people to misinterpret "Moneyball" as "strike out a lot and try always to hit home runs." Now, it seems, being a "power junky" (read: "Moneyball") team, and thus not doing things like bunt runners over, also means you don't care about "fundamentals." As if part of the Moneyball philosophy (not explicitly cited here, but come on -- that's what he's talking about) is specifically not caring about hitting cutoff men or something.

Teams like the Braves, Cardinals and Angels are successful year after year not because they score the most runs, though their offenses usually are strong. No, they succeed because they play the game properly, rarely beating themselves. In an age of increased parity, the little things become even more important. As any statistical analyst will tell you, the big things matter most. But a game, even a pennant race, can turn on a well-timed bunt or well-executed relay.

Any game can turn on anything. A lot of games turn on HR, for example. I'm thinking in particular of an Astros-Cardinals playoff game -- a few playoff games, actually -- last year. Baseball games are crazy explosions of random chances and impossible-to-predict scenarios. The surest way to maximize your winning percentage is by stressing OBP and SLG offensively, and fundamentals defensively, which, despite the message of this article, are not mutually exclusive. One way to minimize your chance to win, offensively, is by bunting a lot.

Also, I like referring to the Cardinals' recent NL offensive juggernauts as "pretty strong."

Jim Tracy, the new Pirates' manager, has spent much of the spring talking to his hitters about taking smarter approaches, adjusting to situations. The Cubs, by acquiring players like center fielder Juan Pierre and right fielder Jacque Jones, mimicked the White Sox, improving their athleticism and speed. A's general manager Billy Beane, a leading proponent of offensive efficiency, has built a contender, once again, around starting pitching.

1. Shouldn't every manager always spend Spring Training "talking to his hitters about taking smarter approaches, adjusting to situations?" You can't tell people to hit more home runs. You can tell people to "take smart approaches," like taking pitches at the right times and so forth. 2. Juan Pierre and Jacque Jones had OBPs of .326 and .319 last year, respectively, so, yes, the Cubbies are mimicking the White Sox, but not by improving anything. 3. I don't know what you mean to imply by the last comment about Billy Beane. He has always been a leading proponent of offensive efficiency, yes, and he has always built his team around starting pitching, so you have told me nothing.

The season begins with yet another steroid uproar, but the game — by every quantifiable measure — has never been healthier. It is widely accepted that the home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 fueled the sport's comeback from the strike of '94 and '95. That notion, too, gives fans too little credit. People love this sport, can't get enough of it. In time, the fans would have come back, anyway.

And so a new season begins, a season of baseball, not powerball. MLB is returning to its roots not because of more stringent drug testing — some players still will use performance enhancers — but because teams are going back to the time-honored methods of success.

Can you hear it? "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is fading in behind Rosenthal...the Podsednik flags wave in the breeze...a trained hawk circles above and starts to dive...the crowd buzzes in anticipation of the big finish...

To small ball. To smart ball. To playing the game right.


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posted by Unknown  # 10:16 PM
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Saturday, March 25, 2006


We All Knew Someone Would Write It...

...and somebody did.

Thanks to reader Jeff E. for sending us this gem. So, Dan Connolly, whatcha got for us?

"The inaugural World Baseball Classic is over, and one can presume that the flag-waving, sign-holding Japanese fan base has finally strolled giddily away from San Diego's Petco Park wearing smiles and plenty of official Classic merchandise."

I guess one can presume that. I don't know that the Japanese fans bought any more merch than the other countries' fans. But, sure, okay, I'm with you. Three short paragraphs later:

"Meanwhile, the Japanese fans at the semifinals and final in San Diego couldn't have had more fun soaking up the experience and the souvenirs."

A good point. Even if the Japanese didn't buy more than others, they certainly did soak up more. (The hell?) But on to the good stuff:

"The most important lesson learned, though, came from the field. The disciplined teams without much MLB influence schooled the star-laden countries - and not because they had more talent or because the timing hampered MLB-heavy squads."

How this guy can conclusively disprove that the timing of the event didn't hurt teams like the USA, I have no idea. It seems to me that there's at least a good chance that teams like Cuba benefitted from being well in the swing of their baseball schedules.

"Simply put, Japan and Cuba didn't play ego ball. They didn't throw 100 mph or crush countless homers. They won by advancing runners and turning double plays. They scored with hard sprints and sweeping hand tags across the plate. They won by playing anti-modern-American, anti-MLB baseball."


Okay. Now, Dan Connolly, honestly: would you really prefer that your favorite team not hit countless homers? Let's put it this way: you're a fan of team USA. A-Rod's at the plate. Would you rather he advance the runner or hit one of his team's limitless taters?

Fact: No team hit more home runs than the representatives from that most famous of souvenir-buying nations, Japan.
Fact: Cuban pitchers were, as a generalization, some of the hardest throwers in the tournament. One Cuban pitcher was clocked at 97 mph while striking out Carlos Guillen.
Bonus Fact! As for fundamental defense, Cuba committed three more errors than any other team.

"It's just that our pro athletes are rarely asked to play as a team. They don't have to. It's not what they get paid to do and not what our fans want."

I'm sorry. The teams that these guys are normally paid to play for are somehow fundamentally different than the team they were asked to play for in the WBC? Aren't they paid to play as a team 162 times a year? If 24 of the Oakland A's decide to take the field against the Tigers at 4:00 pm, and then Mark Kotsay decides to take the field all by himself 4 hours later, does he get paid?

"A baseball purist can talk about fundamentals until he is Dodger Blue in the face, but ultimately, who would Joe Baseball Fan rather see with a bat in his hands, David Ortiz or Willy Tavares? Albert Pujols or David Eckstein?"

Is this a trick question? Is this a fake trick question? Please, please Dan Connolly. Tell me you're not suggesting that David Eckstein is a better player -- or even a better team player -- than Albert Pujols. Please tell me you don't think David Eckstein belonged on the WBC roster.

"Leaving the perpetually hustling, unselfish Eckstein off the U.S. roster wasn't a critical mistake, as some have suggested."

Whew. Thank God. Dan Connolly, I can certify you a sentient human being. Okay, now that --

"The Americans didn't need one Eckstein."

No, Dan! DAN! I'm trying to --

"They needed a roster full of them, or at least a roster full of guys who would morph into Eckstein when the situation arose."

Oh, Danny. Danny boy.

posted by dak  # 10:24 PM
Holy Frijole. Can you imagine how bad a team of nine David Ecksteins would be? Wait -- you don't have to. I'll tell you. It would score an average of just over 4 runs a game, hit 6 HR a year, and have an OPS 11% lower than league average. But it would totally school Cuba in the WBC...due to hustle and and unselfishness.
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Thursday, March 23, 2006


Sticking Up For Fellow Bloggers

You may have read about this elsewhere, e.g. Deadspin, but this is such high school level bullshit that I feel like it's worth mentioning.

It seems as though ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd has straight-up plagiarized a comedy bit from The M Zone.

I happened to be listening to Cowherd's show at the time, and remember thinking to myself: "Okay, this isn't the funniest stuff in the world, but these are jokes, and for sports jokes, they're pretty good. I wonder who wrote this. Do they have writers at that radio show? Did Cowherd himself write this? That can't be."

This is, to say the least, unacceptable.

posted by dak  # 5:25 PM
You were listening to Colin Cowherd?

I like that Cowherd thinks that if something is sent to him via a computer, it suddenly becomes public domain. These jokes just appeared on my screen! Happy day!
I was driving to work, and I'm not proud of it.
The worst part is the email CC wrote to those dudes which said, in effect, "I was gonna credit you, but now you're whining about it so I'm not." What a baby.
I like that he says, "We found a Wonderlic test on the internet." Which is true, technically. It's like he thinks it isn't plagiarism if he mentions where he found it.
In today's radio show, I was happy to find a segment called "Apology...Sort Of."

Of course, it turned out to have nothing to do with Colin Cowherd stealing material from another writer. Oh well.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2006


A Fake Interview with Joe Morgan

Sometimes you say things about people from a certain country or another, and it's not even that they're not true, or that they're actually prejudiced, but they just don't come out right. Tonight, during the World Baseball Classic Championship Game, was one of those times for Joe Morgan. Unfortunately, he was calling the game and millions (okay, maybe several hundred thousands) could hear him.

Following is a fake, manipulated interview with Joe. Please note that his quotes, though, are all completely unedited, and occurred in the sequence in which they appear in the interview. That is, Joe Morgan said all of these things tonight, and in a span of about thirty seconds.

FJM: What's the one thing we as fans should notice tonight, Joe?

JM: I think the one thing that fans should notice is a contrast between these two ballclubs.

FJM: How do you mean?

JM: I mean, the Cubans are real emotional.

FJM: So you're saying the Cubans, a team of Latin American individuals, are extremely emotional?

JM: They play with a lot of fire. There's a lot going on.

FJM: A lot going on ... hmm, I don't really understand what that means in this context. Anyway, what about Japan?

JM: When you watch, you know, Japan play -- they're calculating.

FJM: Like, good at math?

JM: They're more scientific.

FJM: Oh, okay. Science. Right. Team Japan, a team full of Asian people, is more science-oriented. As opposed to the fiery-tempered Latins.

JM: Everything is calculated to make it work.

FJM: You mean like in Moneyball???

JM: I mean, that's why you so see so many players trying to bunt, you know, and taking pitches and doing so many of the little things.

FJM: Oh. You mean like how bunting equals science. How is that again?

JM: They do all the little things, you know, it's kind of a science like [sic] to them.

FJM: All right. Glad you cleared that up. But remind us again, how are the Cubans?

JM: I think the Cuban players show a little more fire, play with a little more emotion.

FJM: Thank you for that. I was afraid I'd forgotten, since twelve seconds had elapsed since the last time you said the Cubans were emotional and fiery.


posted by Junior  # 1:49 AM
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Monday, March 20, 2006


Who Is In Charge Of Captions At CNNSI?

Check out the caption below the picture of Farnsworth.

Last time the guy started a major league baseball game: 6 years ago.

posted by dak  # 6:56 PM
They caught it. Nevermind.
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Sunday, March 19, 2006


David Sabino Might Be the World's Worst Fantasy Writer

You would think that a guy who writes about fantasy sports for a living would have some grasp of basic sabermetric principles. You would think his brain wouldn't be intangible-addled or Jeterian-biased. In the case of David Sabino, you would be dead wrong. This article is one of the worst things I've read in years. Keep in mind, I write for a site that encourages people to send in links to bad sportswriting.

This masterpiece is called "Real vs. fantasy." It begins:

There are some players who are just much better on the field than they are in the box score. Here is an All-Star team of players who aren't the best choices for your fantasy squads.

I've skimmed a little bit ahead, and let me just say, if these guys were all on your team, "All-Star" is not one of the words you would be using to describe them. Also, the premise for this article is borderline retarded.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals. The best defensive catcher in the NL, Molina is as indispensable to the Cardinals as any player is to any team. However, with a .256 career average, little power and no speed, he's not worth more than a last-round pick (if that) for your team.

Really. Yadier Molina. As indispensable as any player is to any team. Why, David Sabino, are you resorting to such hyperbole right off the bat? You should learn from other terrible sportswriters -- the Baylesses and Celizics of the world. You have to build slowly and gradually to a ridiculous conclusion. Don't blow your shitty-writing load right away. Draw the reader in with a reasonable thought or two. Then bam! Yadier Molina, MVP.

First base: J.T. Snow, Red Sox. A four-time Gold Glove winner who laces line drives all over the field, Snow doesn't consistently hit with the power that one needs out of a fantasy first-sacker.

If he really laced that many line drives all over the field, his career SLG would be more than .003 points above league average. You can't say a guy does a thing all the time, then admit he doesn't actually do it "consistently."

Second base: Mark Grudzielanek, Royals. Was highly sought-after by big league clubs this offseason, but all he'll add to your team is a good average and some runs scored, because his power and speed have all but deserted him.

It sounds like Sabino is trying to give advice for fantasy league drafting, but seriously, who out there is thinking about drafting Yadier Molina?

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees. The Yankees' best player is no better than the fifth- or sixth-best fantasy option on the team. He's willing to sacrifice himself to move a runner along, and he doesn't run as much as he can because he lets those behind him hit with runners on base.

There we go. Sabino neatly destroys the whole premise of his article just to give the underappreciated Derek Jeter some richly deserved recognition. Remember this sentence, from like three paragraphs ago? Here is an All-Star team of players who aren't the best choices for your fantasy squads. Since when is Derek Jeter not a good choice for your fantasy squad? Besides Miguel Tejada and Michael Young, you're not going to be doing a lot better than Jeter. Also, the Yankees' best player? Are you kidding me with this bullshit? A-Rod is the best player in baseball, and he could play a better shortstop than Jeter, too, who's so self-sacrificing he'll lay down a bunt or two, but won't change positions to help his team.

Third base: Bill Mueller, Dodgers. Blew up in 2003 when he led the AL in batting (.326) and smacked 19 home runs, but for most of his career he's been more of a singles and doubles hitter, and a last resort among fantasy cornermen.

Bill Mueller is a sort of above average major league player. What's your point, Sabino? He's not really better than the guys who are better fantasy options, is he?

Outfielder: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners. For as good as he is in fantasy baseball (high average, good stolen bases, some pop), he's twice the player on the field, taking extra bases, throwing out runners with his cannon of an arm and hitting appropriately in every possible situation. A consummate professional and one of the 10 best players in the game (although not in the stats).

Again, let me remind you of this sentence: Here is an All-Star team of players who aren't the best choices for your fantasy squads. Ichiro is a great fantasy player. One might say one of the best choices out there.

Starting pitcher: Odalis Perez, Dodgers. A pitcher whose stuff is much better than his record, the southpaw has never won more than 15 games in a season and has racked up only 52 wins in seven NL seasons.

Hmm. Odalis Perez has won 52 games in his career. How many losses does he have? 51. Making him almost exactly average. But his "stuff" is so great! What do you suppose his career ERA+ is? Ugh. It's 100. Exactly average.

Reliever: Instead of a specific pitcher, this belongs to a whole category -- middle relievers. Unsung heroes like Ray King, Aaron Fultz, Mike Myers and Justin Speier get neither many wins nor many saves yet bridge the game from starters to the eighth- and ninth-inning short men. Most often they're closers-in-waiting or failed starters, and while your fantasy team can surely survive without them, no major league team would stand a chance.

No major league team would stand a chance without middle relievers? That is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. That's like saying "no major league team would stand a chance without catchers." Or middle infielders. Or bats. Or uniforms. Or arms, hands, and fingers. Or gravity. Of course teams have middle relievers. That's part of the modern sport of baseball. What David Sabino neglects to mention is that middle relievers are generally the worst pitchers in the game. If you're really good, you start. If you're good but perhaps a bit one-dimensional, you close. If you're not good enough to start or close, you're Justin Speier.

David Sabino, thank you for an utterly pointless article that's completely useless for fantasy players and wholly uninteresting for non-fantasy-playing general baseball fans. You are unfit to carry Eric Karabell's jockstrap.

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posted by Junior  # 12:29 AM
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Joe Morgan Doesn't Understand Independent Trials

While working the Japan-Korea WBC semifinal:

They've (Korea) been able to win six consecutive ballgames. And I think, in effect, Jon, I think that works against them a little bit here. We haven't seen other teams be able to beat the former other teams two times or three times in a row. Now, we saw Dominican beat Cuba last week. This week they couldn't beat 'em again. Now, we seen (sic) Korea beat Japan twice. Are they going to be able to do it a third time? Percentages say no.

Percentages? What percentages? The same percentages that say if you get heads twice, you'll probably get tails next?

No, Joe, if anything, the fact that Korea beat Japan twice would increase the chance they'll win again. It gives some indication -- not a very strong one, mind you (it's only two games) -- that Korea might be a little better than Japan, despite what everyone thought going into the tournament.

Only Joe Morgan could hypothesize that winning six consecutive games "works against" a team. God bless you, Joe.

Also, sir, you said that "we haven't seen other teams be able to beat the former other teams (don't know what "former other teams' means, but let's move on) two times or three times in a row." But, as you immediately point out next, contradicting yourself, "Korea already beat Japan twice." That's two times in a row. That's what twice means.

I'm so happy baseball is back.

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posted by Junior  # 12:16 AM
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Thursday, March 16, 2006


More Krukie!

During Wednesday's Yankees-Astros game, on Robinson Cano:

"He might end up being one of the greatest players to wear the pin-stripes." (Hat tip: reader Jonathan)

I mean, he might, but what are the odds on that? 100 to 1? 500 to 1? We're talking about a franchise with a lot of pretty good players in its history. Cano is young, but he's like the 8th best position player on his own team.

He also said Cano "will win multiple batting title before he's done." (Hat tip: reader Peter)

Come on. He's had 522 AB with a .297 BA. Why would you even say that?

Put these two more crazy things up on the John Kruk Prediction Board!

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posted by Junior  # 4:15 PM
I'd say the odds of Robbie Cano becoming "one of the greatest players to wear the pinstripes" is more like 10,000 to 1. I mean, it's subjective, obviously, but will he be better than Ruth, Gehrig, Joe D, Mantle, Berra, or ARod? No. he will not. WIll he be better than Mattingly? Probably not. Will he be the best darn Robbie Cano he can be, which is all his mother and I ever wanted? Yes, dammit, yes he will.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006


John Kruk Prediction Corner, 2006 Edition!

Reader grenz123 informs us that during the Tuesday Yankees/Cards spring training game, John Kruk

1. Predicted the Yankees would win 130 games.
2. Said that So Taguchi was playing so well, he might be looking at a 14- or 15-year career in the major leagues. So Taguchi is 36 years old (37 in July). And he's played two full and two partial seasons in the bigs so far.

You can count on us to track John's predictions throughout the season (and in the case of Taguchi, for the next 12 to 13 years)! Good luck, John!

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posted by Junior  # 5:02 PM
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006


FJM's Mathematically-Minded Baseball Person of the Month

is Dutch Daulton, former Phillie Catcher and Professional Weirdo.

Dutch, it turns out, is totally into the so-called "new wave" of statistical analysis. To wit:

"Reality is created and guarded by numeric patterns that overlap and awaken human consciousness, like a giant matrix or hologram," writes the .245 lifetime hitter. "They are created by sacred geometry -- numbers, the language of the universe, codes of awakening -- such as 11:11, which represent twin strands of DNA about to return to balance. Eleven equals BALANCE."

Now that, my friends, is what I call solid reasoning. If only some of these hard-nosed ol' timers would think more like Dutch.

Read more of Daulton's metamathematical musings in this article, which is destined to be the wellspring whence will emerge a "Moneyball"-like project for crazy people.

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posted by Unknown  # 12:26 AM
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Monday, March 06, 2006


First Joe Update of the Year!

It's quick, but according to reader Hunter, Joe appeared on SportsCenter earlier today. While answering his second question, he claimed that Mariano Rivera will be effective as a closer because "he knows how to win." As Hunter points out, it took Joe all of three sentences to fall back on a hoary cliche.

2006 is finally here!


posted by Junior  # 9:14 PM
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Keep An Eye On This One

Baseball Tonight. This weekend, forget when.

"Bold Predictions" for the year 2006. Steve Phillips predicts a SF Giants sweep of the major awards: Barry Bonds for MVP; Jason Schmidt for CY; and Matt Cain for ROY.

I guess they're supposed to be "bold." But that prediction is bold, italicized, and in 48 point font.

posted by dak  # 4:29 PM
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