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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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I Don't Like the NBA

...but I love when NBA announcers say crazy things. Chalk it up to a slip of the tongue, I don't care. Still insane.

~4:00 left in the 2nd quarter of tonight's Pistons / Heat game. Shaq is called for an offensive foul. Hubie Brown, who Junior informs me is 99 years old, adds the following as we see a replay of Shaq throwing some Piston to the ground: "And you say, whoa, well, that's like World War Wrestling."

posted by dak  # 11:18 PM
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Skip Bayless Has Officially Lost It

Exhibit A.

posted by Murbles  # 1:12 AM
Unreal. Taylor Hicks is a great singer.

That's what you meant -- right, Murbles?
No, I was mainly taking issue with his "American Idle" pun. I mean, come on, at least find a way to make, like, an "American Idyll" pun.
Several readers have pointed out a few hilarious errors in Bayless's piece. I will admit that I didn't catch them because once I realized that this article was entirely about American Idol, I stopped reading.

Anyway, here's what he wrote.

"I first experienced the "Idol" phenomenon at the 2002
World Series. I mentioned -- merely mentioned -- in a
column that it was too bad Fox insisted that "Idol"
winner Clay Aiken sing the national anthem. After all,
this was Game 1 at Yankee Stadium."

Our intrepid readers have noted that Clay Aiken did not in fact win American Idol, finishing runner-up in 2003, not 2002. What's more, the Yankees weren't even in the World Series in 2002, so what exactly Bayless is talking about, we'll have to speculate.

Although, I do love the image of a then-unfamous Clay Aiken singing the national anthem in an empty Yankee Stadium while game one of the 2002 World Series was being played 3000 miles away in Anaheim.
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Monday, May 29, 2006


Don't Forget, Experts Know Better Than You

Experts love writing about baseball like it's an art -- something subjective to be pored over by qualified Baseball Men with the genius and experience to ponder and catalog its beautiful vicissitudes. And certainly, the game can be appreciated like poetry, music, literature, or theater. The difference is, baseball has winners and losers. Everyone marvels when Omar Vizquel makes a spectactular diving catch. But when it comes to actual value, I think the general public may have a better grasp of who's contributing to wins than the people paid to inform the general public about the game. Case in point: Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan, who's written an article extolling Omar Vizquel's virtues unblushingly titled "Vizquel an artist at work."

In a perfect world, the Steroid Era would have begat the Fundamental Era.

I can already see that Jeff Passan's perfect world is a lot different from mine.

More applause for a rangy fielder than a one-dimensional home run hitter, and more credit to someone who can advance a runner with a bunt than to a pull-hitting beast who doesn't know the definition of sacrifice.

See what I mean about the presumably ignorant fans knowing more than the experts? A "one-dimensional home run hitter" is very likely vastly more valuable than a "rangy fielder." Why chide the public for applauding home runs, the single most valuable play in the game? Because it takes a more refined palate to appreciate a defensive play?

Instead, there is shortstop Omar Vizquel, the embodiment of everything modern-day baseball isn't, sitting by himself in the San Francisco Giants clubhouse while a glut of people, yours truly included, watch Barry Bonds to see if he – gasp! – wiggles his big toe.

We've talked a lot about Barry Bonds in this space. Everyone's talked a lot about Barry Bonds in every space. You know why? Because he's probably the most important player of this era. And even though he took steroids, and he's not a nice guy, and his TV show is unfailingly boring, and sometimes he threatens to kill people, he's probably the best player of this era. Omar Vizquel is a very good fielding shortstop. He's never been the best player at his position in any single year.

"They always have Bonds here, Bonds doing this, Bonds doing that, Bonds with the home runs," Vizquel said recently. "The biggest show in baseball now is the home run. It doesn't matter what you do on the defensive side or how many records or how many Gold Gloves you have. People like talking about the longball."

And again, are people so wrong? Come on, Omar. If people didn't like home runs so much, baseball might not have such a huge TV contract and you might have become a dental technician in Caracas instead of a man who's made 44,555,500 American dollars in his career (not including this year).

So, for one day at least, allow us to indulge his wishes, to celebrate artistry in the field and, amid the present-day smashball, to make the case that Omar Vizquel, Punch-and-Judy hitter, belongs in the Hall of Fame.

First, an anecdote.

I love -- love love love -- that Omar Vizquel's Hall of Fame case begins with an anecdote. Truly perfect.

The sun at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, where Vizquel spent 11 seasons, casts a glare at the shortstop even the best Oakleys can't deflect. On pop-ups, this poses a problem. So Vizquel came up with a solution: He turned his back to the infield to shield his face from the sun and caught fly balls backward.

Hall of Fame. Put 'im in.

Every Hall of Famer did something unique.

Yep, every Hall of Famer did something unique. Mike Schmidt played with his hat sideways. Roberto Clemente chewed other people's fingernails. Tris Speaker was Japanese. Lou Boudreau rode a dolphin into the batter's box. Nap Lajoie would only use John Wilkes Booth's dismembered leg as a bat. And he corked it. Johnny Mize was from the future.

Babe Ruth hit home runs.

Now hold on a second, Jeff! I can think of at least two other players who hit home runs. Three. Four. Man, there are a lot of players who have hit more than one "home run," or as you put it, "home runs."

Ozzie Smith backflipped.

Catfish Hunter breathed nitrogen. Don Drysdale invented the mandolin. Stan Coveleski ... zzz ...

Vizquel will be the one who caught balls backward and nipped runners by half a step.

Or he won't make it. Either way.

Hall of Famers, by and large, can hit, and they tend to do it well.

Now why would you bring this up in an article making the Hall of Fame case for Omar Vizquel? I would be busily trying to Swiffer this under the nearest rug you could find, even a rug from IKEA that is more a blanket than a rug, but you put it on the floor anyway, and it just kind of slides around and doesn't do much for anyone, and then you just throw it out because it's dirty, and who wants to clean this poor excuse for a rug? Not me.

Even though Vizquel has fewer homers in his 18-year career (72) than Bonds had in 2001 (73*),

Good point. Great asterisk. Very clever.

he has acquitted himself well enough to merit consideration.

I actually give you kudos, Jeff Passan, for the restraint shown in this clause. Look at all the excuse-me phrases and words in here: "acquitted himself," "well enough," "consideration." It's almost like you just checked the numbers for the first time and realized maybe this article wasn't such a great idea after all, but hey, what the hell, he still merits "consideration."

Vizquel's .275 career batting average is 13 points better than Smith's,

But his career EQA is 8 points worse, his career OPS+ is 2 points lower, and he still has many more post-38-years-old at bats to come.

and his 209 sacrifice bunts are only five shy of Smith, who ranks first in that category among the last two generations of players.

I'm not even going to touch that.

Baseball is a numbers game, and though sabermetricians' work with defensive numbers have broken ground, there's still no easily digestible fielding statistic equivalent to the home run or the batting average.

Yes, yes, yes, and what? Home runs and batting average, taken individually, should not be used to measure hitters. Period. They can help supplement other statistics, sure, but they're terrible on their own. I don't care if they're easily digestible or if they digest like a Crunchwrap Supreme. And since you didn't bother to look up any of the non-easily digestible fielding statistics, I did.

Ozzie Smith's career FRAR (fielding runs above replacement): 838
Omar Vizquel's FRAR: 601

Ozzie Smith's career WARP3 (includes a fielding component): 135.5
Omar Vizquel's career WARP3: 98.2

If Gold Gloves are a barometer, only seven players in history – including Smith, a first-ballot Hall of Famer – won more than Vizquel's 10.

They're not.

Teams made conscious decisions to sacrifice fielding for hitting, and it spawned Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Alex Rodriguez and Nomar Garciaparra, all peers of Vizquel's and the only reason he hasn't made more than three All-Star teams.

Four players who play Omar Vizquel's position and who, when healthy, have been his superiors. In the same era. Thank you, Jeff Passan, the man arguing the case for Omar Vizquel.

Post-script: if you're interested in a good Ozzie or Omar Hall of Fame breakdown, check this out.

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posted by Junior  # 6:49 PM
I like that being Japanese somehow makes you unique.
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Peter King Knows a Lot About Football

And not a lot about baseball.

I think I said something to my bride the other night that I never thought I'd say about a New York Yankee. As many of you may have divined from this column over the years, that's not my favorite franchise on earth. Anyway, I said to her: I'm not sure about this, but I think when Derek Jeter retires, I will say he's the best baseball player I ever saw.

I know this is subjective, but: Peter King graduated from college in 1979, so I estimate he is 49ish. If we can assume he has been watching baseball since the age of, say, eight, in 1965 or so, that means he has been able personally to see these people play baseball: Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, Albert Pujols, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell, Ken Griffey, Jr., Harmon Killebrew, and Reggie Jackson. He has also seen: Tim Salmon, John Olerud, Ryan Klesko, J.D. Drew, Chipper Jones, Bobby Abreu, Larry Walker, Jim Edmonds, and Scott Rolen, all of whom have a higher OPS+ than Derek Jeter.

Living in Jersey, I see the man come to bat maybe 300 times a season, and I watch him in the field maybe 40 percent of his innings. But Jeter personifies effort every time he puts on the uniform; there is never anything but 100 percent effort.

A lot of baseball players exhibit this quality.

Every at-bat is quality.

Fair enough. He does put together nice at bats.

Every ball hit to him, and some only close to him, are gobbled up with certainty.

Although defensive metrics are problematic and often rudimentary, every single one of them lists Jeter as one of the worst defensive SS in the last ten years. The Baseball Prospectus book "Baseball Between the Numbers" calculates that he moved up to the middle of the pack in his first gold glove year, but overall, he is quite weak.

And the way he carries himself ... He is baseball's Tiger Woods. He is this Yankee generation's DiMaggio. And I think he'll go down as better than Mantle, because though Mantle was truly great, he also squandered much of his ability through wild living.

Oh boy.

He is not baseball's Tiger Woods. Given that baseball is a team sport and golf one of individuals, I'm not even really sure what that means, but assuming it means he is a great champion and clutch player and something like "he's at his best in big moments," or something, I'll dispel this wild assertion simply by saying that in the exact same number of AB in the postseason, Jeter's own teammate Bernie Williams has more HR, way more RBI, a higher SLG, and, obviously, the same number of rings.

"This Yankee generation's DiMaggio" is actually an apt description of Jeter, since DiMaggio, for most of his life, got far more praise than he actually deserved. Not that he didn't deserve praise -- he is obviously a HOFer and a wonderful hitter, but tell me exactly how it is that people agreed to call him "The Greatest Living Ballplayer" when Mays, Williams, Aaron, Bonds, Robinson, and about fifteen other guys were still walking the earth? DiMaggio and Jeter are both very very good baseball players -- DiMaggio was far better -- who get too much praise relative to their peers because they play in New York.

And as for the idea that Jeter will go down in history as a better baseball player than Mickey Mantle...there are maybe a thousand statistics I could lay down to prove him wrong, but I'll just give you one.

Derek Jeter Career RC/27: 6.45
Mickey Mantle Career RC/27: 8.78

A team of 9 Mickey Mantles would beat a team of 9 Derek Jeters by more than two runs per game. The end.

Thanks to reader Dave for the tip.

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posted by Unknown  # 4:27 PM
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Saturday, May 27, 2006


Another Steroid Scandal

Will the madness ever stop?

In this article, legendary bigot Pat Robertson asserts that as recently as 2003, he legpressed 2000 pounds. Never mind that the Florida State University football team record is only 1335 pounds -- Robertson's people insist the septuagenarian has done it. What's his secret? He's juicing.

The CBN Web site attributes Robertson's energy in part to "his age-defying protein shake." The site offers a recipe for the shake, which contains ingredients such as soy protein isolate, whey protein isolate, flaxseed oil and apple cider vinegar.

Emphasis mine.

Next we're going to hear that Robertson has not been drinking his age-defying protein shake, but rather administering three drops of it under his tongue every other day with an eye dropper.

What a sad day for sports, and for Jesus.

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posted by Unknown  # 11:35 PM
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Sir Joseph Q. Chatsworth, O.B.E.

Or, to his friends: JoeChat.

Rich (Arlington, VA): How about the NL West and AL West? These divisions are so close that its hard to tell if they are all bad teams or good teams. Who do you think will win these two divisions?

Joe Morgan: The NL West for the last couple of years has been in shambles from where it was before. It was the best division a few years ago. Now, you're not sure from week to week who CAN win. I actually think that if Barry can play 140 games, they may end up being the top team - not necessarily the best team - in that division.

KT: Good start from Joe, here (although, to be fair, this was the second question). Doesn't address the AL West at all. Does not mention the Giants before talking about them as though he has. And finally: please explain to me how a team can be the top team, but not the best team, in the division. It reminds me of a Simpsons episode where Montgomery Burns, returning from the Harvard-Yale football game and waving a Yale pennant, says, “Honestly, Smithers, I don't know why Harvard even bothers to show up. They barely even won.”

Fred (Aurora, IL): I have always wondered what the difference between "bat speed" and "power" were. I always heard that Sheffield had the most bat speed but he didn't hit for as much power as say Dunn, Pujols or Bonds... Is it possible to swing a slow but powerful bat? or to have great bat speed but little power?

Joe Morgan: I don't think you can have great bat speed, but little power.

KT: Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, Tony Gwynn, and Ichiro on lines 1-4 for you, Joe.

But Frank Thomas doesn't have a quick bat, but a lot of power. Sheffield generates a lot of power with a quick bat. Having high bat speed and being strong are the two ways to generate power.

KT: Where is this going? I’m lost.

I wasn't very strong, but I had a quick bat. Tony Perez didn't have a quick bat, but was very strong.

KT: Ah, that’s where it was going. Fantastic.

Joe Morgan: That was an excellent question.

KT: Read: “I got to praise myself and my old teammate.”

Let’s look at that whole answer again, and count how many times Joe uses certain words:

I don't think you can have great bat speed, but little power. But Frank Thomas doesn't have a quick bat, but a lot of power. Sheffield generates a lot of power with a quick bat. Having high bat speed and being strong are the two ways to generate power. I wasn't very strong, but I had a quick bat. Tony Perez didn't have a quick bat, but was very strong.

Bat: 6
But: 5
Speed/Quick: 6
Power/Strong: 7

Reading that paragraph is like being dropped into a topiary maze.

Dave (Pittsburgh): Joe, I know you are generally a supporter of Dusty Baker. But, with his team getting blown out so regularly, do you think the Cubs may feel forced to let him go, just to give the team a spark?

Joe Morgan: That was the reason they brought Dusty there was to give the team a spark. The history of the Cubs didn't start with this downturn with Dusty. They've had a lot of injuries, especially this year, losing Lee in addition to Prior and Wood. If you took Bonds or Pujols out of their team's lineup, their teams wouldn't be very good either. These things are not in Dusty's control and I think he's a good manager for any team.

KT: We’re talking about the same Dusty Baker, right? The guy who has Kerry Wood throw like 140 pitches on his first start after surgery and generally wears his pitchers down to a nub? The guy who, despite having one of the best pitching staffs in years, got his strategic ass handed to him in 2003 by a 109 year-old cigar smoking dope who didn’t even know his own players’ names? The guy who was interviewed thusly in the Daily Herald:

“I think walks are overrated unless you can run," Baker said. "If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they're clogging up the bases for somebody who can run."

That kind of talk is nothing short of heresy for those in the OBP-is-king camp. Baker, an old-school sort, doesn't seem to mind.

"Who's been the champions the last seven, eight years?" he asked "Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks? Walks help. But you ain't going to walk across the plate. You're going to hit across the plate. That's the school I come from.

"It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking? You see top 10 batting average. A lot of those top 10 do walk. But the name of the game is to hit."

That Dusty Baker, right? He’s a good manager for any team? Okay. Cool.

Tim (Pittsburgh): What can manager Jim Tracy do to help the Pirates play sound fundamental baseball again? Bullpen giving up leads, veteran right fielders causing errors, and players not being able to score a run with bases loaded in the ninth with no outs. What is their deal???

Joe Morgan: It starts with fundamentals and concentration. What you have to do as a manager is force the players to concentration throughout the game on every facet. You have to do everything. The real reason teams like KC and Pittsburgh is because of their lack of concentration in easy situations, making errors on routine plays and such. It's about focusing at all times and concentrating.

KT: Another thing he can do is get better players. I mean, I don’t think Joe says anything wrong here, but the “real reason” the Bucs and Royals can’t win is that their rosters are just miserable.

Jason (Atlanta, GA): Joe, you said that injuries to Prior and Wood are beyond Dusty's control, but isn't it possible that the heavy workload to which he's subjected them has contributed to their injuries? Should he share some of the blame?

Joe Morgan: I don't think you can say that, because they've never thrown 250-300+ innings to be overused. The workload is to pitch every fifth day and 250 innings is the standard for top pitchers and I don't think either has done that. Their mechanics have been called into question, but not their workload.

KT: Wrong wrong wrong wrong and also wrong. Has it ever occurred to you that they haven’t thrown 250-300 innings because they are always injured? I mean, my goodness, Joe. Also, nobody throws 300 innings anymore. Also, only one pitcher in the NL has thrown 250 innings in a season in the last three years – Livan Hernandez (255) in 2004. So, how is that the “standard?”

Except for allowing his like 11 month-old son to run around a live baseball game and almost get stampeded by JT Snow, and making weirdly racial comments about African-Americans being more suited to play in the sun, Dusty Baker is most famous for overworking his pitchers.

Gary ,Bloomington Il.: Joe, how long of a suspension should Barrett receive?

Joe Morgan: I think a minimum of 4 games. That's what they give pitchers for throwing at hitters and I think you have to come to some type of consistency, if they think it was unprovoking. I only saw the highlights, so I don't know if Barrett was provoked or not. I think Kendall got 4 games for charging Lackey and I'd say that was a similar situation.

KT: I think you meant “unprovoked.” But more importantly, how is charging a pitcher on the mound the same as cold cocking a guy after a clean play at the plate? That doesn’t seem similar to me. It seems…hang on, what’s the word…oh: “totally different.”

Adam (Westwood): Joe, what do you think about Bonds tying and soon passing Ruth?

Joe Morgan: From a fan's standpoint, and that's what I am, I think it's a great accomplishment. It's unfortunate that we can't celebrate it like we should because of the controversy. But it shouldn't just be about Bonds, but also the others in this steroid era. I never hear Giambi or anyone else mentioned now. I only hear about Bonds and that's not the way it should be. There were other people involved in that BALCO investigation as well.

KT: It is a huge step forward for you even to mention BALCO in one of these chats. However. The reason you never hear Giambi mentioned anymore is because (1) he sort of kind of admitted he used steroids, while Bonds, in the face of overwhelming evidence, still acts like he’s being persecuted, and (2), more importantly, and there’s no way you could know this, probably, Joe, so I don’t blame you, Giambi is not trying to break the all-time home run record.

The rest of the Q/A are boring, so instead, here’s a quick compendium of what I call Joe’s “Ignorance Pleas.” These are from this chat only:

I can't say that the Astros CAN'T win.

But they didn't ask me, so I can't speak to why they didn't do it that way.

Unfortunately, I don't much about the players' personality on the team.

I haven't talked to Roger lately

I'm not sure about their financial situation,

I only saw the highlights

It's funny that they came up in the booth and did that, but I never saw it.

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posted by Unknown  # 3:35 PM
A couple FJM acolytes pointed out this contradiction in the bat speed/power paragraph:

I don't think you can have great bat speed, but little power...I wasn't very strong, but I had a quick bat.

I was lost in the topiary maze, and did not pick up on that immediately. A tip of the hat to FJM's readers.
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Thursday, May 25, 2006


A HatGuy Two-Fer!

First of all, thank you all for your concerned e-mails as to our whereabouts. No, we were not assassinated by a Joe Morgan-led attack squad, nor were we beaten to death by a 1980 New York Yankee Bat Day Commemorative Bobby Murcer Model Bat wielded by HatGuy Celizic. Dak is in San Francisco, and Junior, Murbles and I were simply working at our real jobs, which, though they dramatically cut down on the time we spend trawling for idiocy on the World Wide InterWeb of Data, are what allow us to feed and shelter ourselves while we trawl for idiocy on the World Wide InterWeb of Data. But thanks for the concern.

More importantly, good news! Our beloved self-same HatGuy, the President and CEO of Let's Yankee It Up! Inc., L.L.C., has, and this is going to come as a shock to many of you, I think, written an article about the Yankees.

But here's the kicker: it's not just an article. It's a stupid article! Double bonus! In fact, it is so stupid, it is called "A-Rod is great — but not in the clutch." Excited? Me too!

Disappointingly, Celizic makes some good points. Undisappointingly, he also lays down some huge boners.

[After the recent Red Sox series] A-Rod went home with his reputation intact as a hitter who doesn’t produce in the clutch and doesn’t win games. We’re hearing more about that reputation in New York these days as the depleted Yankees struggle to score runs.

The Yankees have scored 259 runs this year. That is third in all of MLB.

After a while, you start to wonder what people thought he was when the Yankees traded for him before the 2004 season. He had that huge salary, true, but you can’t judge a player by his paycheck — at least you shouldn’t. You go by what he does on the field. A-Rod was sold as the premier player in the game, and he’s been that, winning a second MVP trophy last season. He hits for power and for average. Once the game’s best shortstop, he moved to third to accommodate Yankees captain and hero for life Derek Jeter and became one of the game’s best third basemen.

The Yankees got what they paid for and what everyone should have expected. What they didn’t get was what A-Rod never was — a great clutch hitter. You heard it when he was with the Mariners and then the Rangers. Both teams failed to win when he was there and got better when he left. Therefore, he’s not a good player.

Now, at this point, if you're like me, and I think you are, you are thinking: "I hate Mike Celizic." Because: "clutch" hitting either doesn't exist or exists in some intangible way that is nearly impossible to measure, and also (as plenty of previous posts on this blog and plenty of Baseball Prospectus articles and the like have shown scientifically) ARod is really really really good at baseball, in every inning, and has plenty of "clutch" postseason hits and HR and everything else. Thus: the previous boldfaced paragraph is one of the dumbest things ever written.

But here's the kicker: HatGuy, out of nowhere, suddenly reveals that he was writing it ironically. Which is an even bigger "what the hell?" moment. Check it out:

That’s nonsense, too. You don’t average 40 home runs, 120 RBIs and 120 runs a season without helping to win games. And three-run home runs that get your team off to what becomes a 12-4 victory aren’t meaningless. If the Mariners and Rangers got better when he left, it was because they got better pitching and more balanced lineups.

So now HatGuy has journalistically like reversed course without warning. I frankly don't think it's very artful, either. I think he just doesn't know whether he believes that ARod is clutch or not-clutch, and is trying to cover all of his bases. Because he flip-flops back again:

Anyway, Seattle is bad again, and whose fault is that? Probably still A-Rod’s. He is, as a recent Star-Ledger piece by Dan Graziano was headlined, “A Lightning Rod.” The $25 million salary draws the attention. And his numbers in clutch situations galvanizes opinion.

Now I'm really confused. Is ARod clutch? Not clutch? Overpaid? Are his teams better when he leaves? What does this guy believe?

There is evidence to back up the claims that he’s not the greatest clutch player in the game. A-Rod has relatively modest numbers batting with runners in scoring position late in close games, numbers that look humble next to those of the Red Sox’ David Ortiz. People remember his failure to produce last year in the playoffs against the Angels and in the final four games of the seven-game loss to the Red Sox the year before in the ALCS. When he hit into an inning-ending double play late in a recent game against the Mets, it was mentioned high in every game story.

I can't believe I have to do this again.

ARod, postseason:

118 AB, .305/.393/.534. 6HR, 9 2B, 19 R.

That's pretty good.

And yes, he has had some high-profile postseason failures, but anyone who saw the Mariners-Yankees series in 2000 when he hit .409/.480/.737 in 22 AB and hit a HR off the top of the left-field foul pole at the Stadium and was basically the only Mariner hitter who showed up...any of those people laugh at junk like this.

On a side-note, has anyone ever looked at Emmy Award-Winning Sportscaster Joe Morgan's lifetime postseason numbers?

181 AB. .182/.323/.348. Now that's bad. But back to HatGuy:

"It'll never stop until I win five or six world championships, and hit a Joe Carter home run to win one of them," Rodriguez said, the New York Daily News reported. "I don't take anything personally. I think it's comical. Anyone who drives in 130 runs has to hit in the clutch. I've done a lot of special things in this game. For none of that to be considered clutch is an injustice."

Any psychoanalysts in the house? I'm guessing this is some hard-core inadequacy coming out in the form of overblown self-confidence. But what do I know?

When he was in Seattle, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. were the guys who carried the team. A-Rod was the complimentary weapon who made Martinez and Griffey that much more fearsome.

.316/.420/.606. 41 HR, 134 R, 132 RBI, 100 BB. Those are Alex Rodriguez's 2000 numbers.
.324/.423/.579. 37 HR, 100 R, 145 RBI, 96 BB. Those are Edgar Martinez's 2000 numbers.
.285/.384/.576. 48 HR, 123 R, 134 RBI, 91 BB. Those are Griffey's 1999 numbers (his last season in Seattle).

Someone tell me how ARod, playing SS, was less a guy who "carried the team" than he was a "complimentary weapon" who "made Martinez and Griffey more fearsome." What kind of retarded claim is that? Don't make me do a WARP analysis to prove that those numbers from a SS are more valuable than those from a DH. Please.

But he never has been a guy to put a team on his back and drag it out of a slump or through the late months of a season. He wasn’t with Seattle, wasn’t with Texas. There was never any reason to expect he would be in New York.

So, we are back to arguing that ARod is not a clutch hitter?

And also, what exactly could this guy have done in Seattle or Texas that he did not do? He played every day and put up MVP numbers every year. You can't just say "he never put a team on his back" without explaining what you mean. What do you mean? You are a bad journalist. Speaking of which, it's been five seconds, so you should stop saying that ARod isn't clutch and go back to saying that the claims that ARod isn't clutch are short-sighted.

Yet, he’s the person everyone points at when things go wrong. In that game against the Mets, the Yankees left 17 runners stranded, but A-Rod got the blame for his late-game double play. In the Monday loss to Boston, A-Rod did more than any of his teammates, but the home run he hit gets devalued because of the game situation.

Nicely done. Now, quickly go back to saying that ARod isn't clutch.

It could be that his deep desire to prove himself worthy is what holds him back in those clutch situations. Derek Jeter can walk to the plate with the pressure ratcheted up to crushing levels, say to himself he has to get on base, and do it. A-Rod can walk up in the same situation, say the same thing, and end the inning, 6-4-3.

Great. Thank you. Now quote a meaningless statistic to prove...nothing, and then explain it with unscientific babble:

And it could also be that his tendency to try too hard may prove to be his undoing in New York. This year, under pressure from the owner and the fans and the media, his average is mired in the .270s, nearly 30 points below his lifetime average. If he were somewhere that didn’t demand as much, he might be giving more.

Batting average? Even for you, HatGuy, that's stupid. So far this year ARod is 47-172. If just six -- six -- bleeders through the infield, or line shots at infielders, or flairs behind second, had fallen in, he'd be at .308, above his lifetime average. So...shut up about BA. And shut up about how NY is such a pressure cooker. ARod played there last year, I think, and won the goddamn league MVP. And by the way, shouldn't you be flip-flopping on whether ARod is clutch by now?

But none of that should say he’s been a failure or even a disappointment. The numbers are there. The MVP plaque is on the wall. The team continues to win the AL East and get into the playoffs, and, if it hasn’t gone to the World Series, it’s hardly his fault alone. Before he got to New York, the Yankees had already gone three years without a World Series win. Since then, all they’ve done is go two more years without a title. But it’s been a total team effort.

What point are you making about ARod right now? Do you even know?

The Yankees could win without him, but that doesn’t mean they should move him.

Who said anything about moving him? He's one of the three best players in baseball, even playing out of position to satisfy Jeter's ego. He makes $25m a year. Who would take him? Why would they trade him? What are you talking about?

He’s still a great player, one who will help a team win a lot of games over the course of the season.

Uh huh...steady now...that's good, Mike...keep it together...

He never was the player who will carry a team to a championship, and probably never will be. But that’s what he’s always been and what the Yankees accepted when they traded for him. If they want a great clutch hitter, it’s not fair to carp about A-Rod. They’ve got the money. Let them buy one.

All together now:


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posted by Unknown  # 1:04 PM
FJM Mailbag!

Reader Anthony writes:

"When Mike Celizic says Rodriguez never carried a team late in a season, he has a very short memory. September 9, 2005: the Yankees trailed Boston by four games and were just starting a series at the Stadium against those same Sox. Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, 2 runs and 2 RBI to lead the Yankees to victory. Over the final 23 games, the Yankees would go 17-6 to steal the division from the Red Sox. In that stretch, Rodriguez hit .322/.417/.667 with 8 HR, 22 RBI & 21 runs. Oh, and he was a perfect 8-for-8 on the basepaths."
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


HatGuy Has Written Something About a Team Other than the Yankees!

Or has he?

Mike Celizic, the Right Honorable Supreme Royal Commandant in Charge of Mentioning the Yankees As Much As Possible Without Getting Fired, has ostensibly written an article about Jim Leyland and the Tigers. But don't worry. In like the third paragraph, we find this little nugget (emphasis mine):

When they’re fired, as all coaches and managers ultimately are, even the blame is tepid, the critics admitting that a manager can’t win with a lousy team even as they flog him out the door for managing a lousy team. Then, when he shows up elsewhere and starts to win — as Joe Torre did in New York after lackluster stints with the Mets, Cards and Braves — he’s suddenly a hero and remains so just as long as his players remain better than everybody else’s.

And then a bit later we get...

And yet for all that, it is recognized that some managers are better than others. There aren’t many of them, but they’re the guys who always seem to make teams better. Billy Martin used to be able to do that before the asylum that was the Bronx Zoo and the mad shipbuilder Yankee owner drove him so far into the bottle he never climbed out.

And then, amazingly, we get this...

They’re not winning by playing things safe. The New York Yankees, known for their patience at the plate, had 166 walks and 198 strikeouts as of the close of business Sunday; the Tigers just 92 walks and a whopping 257 Ks, bit they also had 56 home runs — eight more than the powerful Yankees.

Dude, you're not fooling anyone. Just write about the Yankees. Get a tall glass of scotch, don the fedora, sit down at your old-timey 1950's typewriter, and whip off 50,000 words about Robby Cano.

You know you want to.

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posted by Unknown  # 1:41 PM
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Sunday, May 14, 2006


HatGuy Will Not Stop

The article isn't very controversial, but Mike Celizic, the Chancellor and High Commander (American/Western Media Division) for the United Front to Prevent Anything Ever Being Written That Is Not About the Yankees, has written another article about the Yankees.

Here are some of the articles this Nationally-Read Sportswriter has written about baseball in the last few weeks:

"Unit Putting Yankees in Trouble" (5/14)
"Yankees-Red Sox Opener a Classic" (5/2)
"Torre Living in the Past With Rivera" (4/26)
"Mets Could Be Apple of N.Y.'s Eye" (4/12) (about how the Mets are stealing the Yankees' fan base)
"Yanks Will Rally From Weak Start" (4/11)

On a side note, you might also notice a contradiction in the articles:

"Don't Insult Game, Barry -- Quit Baseball" (3/29)
"Culture of Cheating Damages Baseball" (3/30)


"Giant Among Men: A look back at some key moments in the amazing career of Barry Bonds" (5/12)

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posted by Unknown  # 8:34 PM
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Saturday, May 13, 2006



Mike Celizic, the Chairman and Executive Vice President of the Committee to Write About Only the Yankees and Red Sox No Matter What is Going On Anywhere Else in the League, has written a column about the Yankees.

When the tabloids start pushing Alfonso Soriano as the man who can save the Yankees, you know there’s trouble in the Bronx.

I do?

What makes [losing Hideki Matsui to a broken wrist] a disaster of epic proportions is that the Yankees are not built to win low-scoring games. Their game plan is to roll out slugger after slugger after slugger, throw up six runs or more a game, and hope their pitching can make it stand up. Without two major sluggers, that plan isn’t going to work.

He's totally right. What are the Yankees going to do without Matsui and Sheffield (for like 10 more days)? I mean, yes, they've still got Jason Giambi and his 1.209 OPS. Fine. But they need more. Okay, I mean, yes, they have Alex Rodriguez, the best or second-best player in baseball, but, I mean, come on. That guy barely hit 48 HR last year. He didn't even unanimously win the MVP award. And, okay, Derek Jeter is still there, but the guy doesn't even have a 1.000 OPS (it's .956, although he just homered, so it's a little closer.) I mean, where is this offense going to come from? Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada? Gary Sheffield when he comes back in like a week?

I am with Mike on this. Hideki Matsui had an .807 OPS through 119 AB this year. Eight Oh Seven! That is almost forty points higher than second baseman Robby Cano. There are only 37 other OF in MLB (barely even one per team!!!) that have a higher OPS this year. This kind of production is absolutely, positively irreplaceable! (Unless you can trade for someone like Curtis Granderson, who has an .809 OPS so far.)

Other teams call up whatever they have on the farm and hope for the best. The Yankees have done the farm thing — Melky Cabrera and Kevin Reese have taken the shuttle from Columbus. But they’re not into the hope thing. Instead of throwing wishes at the schedule, the Yankees go shopping.

"Instead of throwing wishes at the schedule?" You know you can edit these things before you send them in, right Mike?

[Soriano is] the reluctant left fielder for the Nationals, who are already waving the white flag of surrender and talking about next season. He’s a free-agent-to-be and he’s got a fat contract. The Nats don’t want his salary or his whining, and are willing to move him right now. Unlike a lot of other teams with outfielders to trade, they don’t need anyone who can help right now.

So the Yankees could conceivably dip down into their system for some prospects in Double-A, toss in Cabrera, Reese, Bubba Crosby or any combination thereof, and get themselves a deal.

"Hi, it's Brian Cashman calling. I'm great, how are you? Great. Hey...I'm interested in Soriano. Uh huh. Well, I understand, but how about this: first off, you can choose any of our excellent AA prospects. And believe me, there are a lot of great players down there. Wait -- you didn't let me finish. Plus, we will throw in Melky Cabrera. Melky -- with an "M." Oh, right -- from "Perfect Strangers." I think that's "Balky." Uh huh. Yes, I did see him drop that pop-up against the Sox the other day, but he's really...uh huh. Okay, forget him. How about Kevin Reese. No, Kevin. Kevin Reese. We just called him up. He's great -- he has a .712 OPS at AAA this year. And here's the best thing -- he's only 28 years old! Uh huh. Okay. No, of course I am not trying to insult your intelligence, I, wait. Before you hang up, let me tell you about a little guy we like to call Bubba Crosby, and his lifetime .311 SLG. This 29 year-old phenom has really established himself -- hello? Hello?"

Soriano doesn’t enjoy left field, but he’ll play it willingly if it gets him back to the Yankees. He can hit (currently batting .271 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs), although he has as much discipline at the plate as a glutton has at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Again, you are allowed to change the very first thing you write down if it's not good.

Soriano also can steal bases and play second.

That will come in handy when trying to replace their LFer.

Soriano already has worn the pinstripes, which helps. Plus, the fans sort of like him, but, then again, Yankees fans, like fans everywhere, like anyone who hits the ball out of the park 30 or 40 times a season and drive in a bunch of runs.

Why get this guy? Because he has already played for you, which means you thought little enough of him to trade him, and your fans sort of like him. Also, "drive" should read "drives," if you want to use verbs correctly.

I doubt there’s anyone in New York who thought there was any way Soriano ever would return to the Bronx. As much as the team enjoyed his hitting, his inability to take a pitch and his erratic defense didn’t fit in with the Yankees’ way of doing business. He’s been a bit of a whiner and sometimes a malcontent since then in Texas and Washington.

So get him back already! It sounds like a perfect fit!

But Soriano might be the best player the Yankees can get. If he is, you can bet George Steinbrenner will order GM Brian Cashman to get it done. And if it’s not Soriano, it will be somebody, even if it’s just Jeromy Burnitz.

Burnitz this year: .188/.235/.352. Salary: $6m.

The Yankees are suddenly without two thirds of their outfield. The offense is hobbled. Something’s got to be done.

And Mike Celizic has the answer: trade players nobody wants for Soriano, and failing that, get Burnitz.

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posted by Unknown  # 2:24 PM
A couple of people have e-mailed and asked me to speculate on what Jim Bowden's side of the Brian Cashman phone conversation was. I have checked the transcripts, and will transcribe the complete recording here:

"Hi, it's Brian Cashman calling."
"Hey, Brian. How are you?"
"I'm great, how are you?"
"Been better, actually. I had that DUI thing, and the team is barely--"
"Great. Hey...I'm interested in Soriano."
"Oh. Well, he's kind of our best player right now, except for Nick Johnson, so I doubt we'd be interested in trading him. (mumbled) Although, what the hell do I care?"
"Uh huh. Well, I understand, but how about this: first off, you can choose any of our excellent AA prospects. And believe me, there are a lot of great players down there."
"Heh heh heh. Nice one, man. (pause) Oh, sorry. You were serious. Um, no, thanks."
"Wait -- you didn't let me finish. Plus, we will throw in Melky Cabrera."
"Belky Cabrera?"
"Melky -- with an 'M.'"
"Oh. I though you said 'Belky.' Like that Bronson Pinchot guy."
"Oh, right -- from 'Perfect Strangers.' I think that's 'Balky.'"
"Whatever. (sound of ice cubes rattling around martini glass heard in background) Have you been watching your own team, BriGuy? Did you see Belky blow that game at the Stadium the other day?"
"Uh huh. Yes, I did see him drop that pop-up against the Sox the other day, but he's really..."
"We don't need Belky, man. We need like...everything else. But Belky...he's not going to do it for us."
"Uh huh. Okay, forget him. How about Kevin Reese."
"Who? Devlin Cheese?"
"No, Kevin. Kevin Reese. We just called him up. He's great -- he has a .712 OPS at AAA this year.”
(Long slurping noises can be heard. Pause. ) “You know, I used to think it was impossible to make a good martini with French vodka.”
“Uh huh. Okay.”
(More slurping noises) “But Grey Goose – I gotsta give it up.”
“And here's the best thing -- he's only 28 years old!"
“He’s 28, huh? Listen, Brian – I’m not very good at my job, so I rarely get to say this, and I’m going to take the opportunity. Ahem. Are you trying to insult my intelligence? Man, it feels good to say that, just once.”
“No, of course I am not trying to insult your intelligence, I just...”
“I gotta go, man. I have a meeting with the new owners, and I only have twenty minutes to get drunk enough to dull the pain of my imminent firing.”
“No, wait. Before you hang up, let me tell you about a little guy we like to call Bubba Crosby, and his lifetime .311 SLG.”
“What’s Slugging Percentage?”
“This 29 year-old phenom has really established himself -- "
(Dial tone)
"Hello? Hello?
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Friday, May 12, 2006


Sutcliffe Follow-Up

Sort of sad, really.

Thanks to reader Eric for the link.


posted by Junior  # 2:46 PM
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A Music Analogy

The story goes that when the Beatles were recording songs for "Sgt. Pepper's," Paul came in one day with "Getting Better," and, to his bandmates, sang the chorus:

Got to admit, it's getting better,
It's getting better, all the time.

To which John added:

...It can't get no worse.

Now, let's put this anecdote in our collective pocket and visit the Kansas City Star :

The Royals denied a broadcast report Wednesday night that general manager Allard Baird had been fired with the intent to hire former Mets GM Steve Phillips as his replacement.

(Thanks to reader Mark for the tip.)

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posted by Unknown  # 3:33 AM
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Thursday, May 11, 2006


One of the Better Headlines of the Year

Take it away, Associated Press:

Sutcliffe gives rambling, slurred interview on Padres broadcast

One of the many gems in here:

The conversation turned to Sutcliffe's daughter, who, the pitcher said, has been accepted to Harvard Medical School.

That's when Sutcliffe began to meander.

"She's on her way to Africa tomorrow," Sutcliffe said. "How about that? Over there on one of those missions, man. George Clooney -- you been reading about all that, you been seeing that?"

To which Vasgersian responded with surprise: "George Clooney?"

I'm sorry, Rick Sutcliffe's daughter is going to Harvard Medical School?


posted by Junior  # 11:39 PM
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Tuesday, May 09, 2006


The JoeChat is Boring This Week

It's truncated and not very interesting. However, I would like to print one Q and its corresponding A that really make me proud to be an FJM poster. Save your applause for the end.

Kevin (Reno, NV): Joe, huge fan...saw your home run to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs years ago at the Stick. Thanks for the great memories. I was just curious how much prep you and Jon Miller do before each game in terms of players, match-ups, etc.?

Joe Morgan: A lot of guys read numbers and stats but that's not me. I watch games every day and I'm watching SportsCenter right now, but I do so as a fan. I only put my announcing shoes on in the booth. I follow the game I'm watching and it will take you where you're supposed to go. I dont' go in with a lot of numbers trying to creat a script. I just try to get a feel for teams and go into a game and let it take me somewhere. I have some notes but not much else.

Q. Hey Joe. Big fan. Tell me, are you good at your job?

A. Nope. Don't try that hard. Not interested in preparing anything. Other people who have my same job do a lot of stuff to make them better, but I do not [do those things]. Don't care about analysis. Won't be bothered by "information" or "statistics" or "numbers." Pretty much wing it. And I'm psyched about that. And proud -- definitely proud of it, in case that wasn't coming through. So, to sum up: no prep, no information, no research, wing it, very proud of that. See you next week!

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posted by Unknown  # 11:37 PM
Four interesting things about this chat:

1) "People don't know what a difficult feat that is to get on base every day. Williams was special and had an advantage because he was a feared slugger and also a good hitter who could draw walks and was feared by pitchers."

Be careful, Joe. I know a computer that might have written a book that might agree with that statement.

2) "Joe, in a recent broadcast you mentioned there were 9 ways to score from 3rd base."

Maybe I'M wrong, but I count at least 10.
1) Hit
2) FC
3) Walk (bases loaded)
4) HBP (bases loaded)
5) Steal
6) Sac Fly
7) Error
8) Balk
9) Wild Pitch
10) Being awarded home via a two base error/ground rule double/interference

Maybe each item in that last one falls under the category of one of the others, but I'm not sure.

3) "I personally don't want to challenge Ruth's numbers, but when he played no one reported anything."


4) In response to a question asking if pitchers had "figured out" Ichiro, Joe responds:
"I don't know if they've figured him out, but people just don't realize how hard it is to get hits. Balls aren't squeezing thruogh or dropping, and that can hurt average. Here's guessing teams have figured out how to defend him rather than pitchers figuring him out."

This is as close to an actual JM hypothesis as I think I've ever seen. How many previous chats would he have responded "Well, I haven't seen Ichiro play much this year, so I can't say for certain." Good work, Joe. A human asked your opinion about something and you actually gave an opinion. Kudos.
Also, a passed ball, which I mistakenly thought counted as an E-2.
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Sutcliffe on Beckett

Rick Sutcliffe used to play baseball. Dude must be qualified to talk and write about baseball. His experience, I'm told by countless player-turned-broadcaster defenders, is what makes his presence valuable, and his opinion worthwhile.

Enter "Short Hops."

Getting Beckett was a huge move by the Red Sox, because they now have two pitchers on their staff who are throwing the ball really well.

So the reason that getting Beckett was a huge move for the Sox had nothing to do with how much they gave up for what they got; it had nothing to do with Beckett potentially being undervalued because of injury scares; or why Beckett might be tailored to pitch in Fenway Park (not saying he is). The reason the Beckett trade was a "huge move" is because now, in May of the following year, they have two pitchers who are throwing the ball really well.

Not only is this crazy, it is also wrong. Say what you want about how totally uninspiring Papelbon sounds every time he talks -- he's "throwing the ball" as well as anyone right now. So that's three. (Sutcliffe was talking about Beckett and Schilling.) Curt Schilling, it should be noted, was not throwing the ball really well at all when the trade was made.

The one thing that will be different for Beckett when he starts for the Red Sox on Tuesday against Randy Johnson and the Yankees is that he'll be facing the best lineup -- on paper -- I have ever seen.

Better even than the lineup the exact same team had 10 days ago when Gary Sheffield was hitting instead of Melky Cabrera?

I got to the big leagues in 1976 and faced the Big Red Machine, and I've faced the Yankees in the past. I've faced great lineups, but on paper, there has never been one like what New York has right now.

Except for the one they had 10 days ago, which was better.

You know what? I'm sorry -- I forgot that Rick Sutcliffe has experience playing baseball. So there's no way he overlooked the Sheffield injury. He must know something about Melky Cabrera. I keep forgetting: this guy got to the big leagues in 1976!

Here's where shit really takes off:

I truly laugh when people talk about what a bad year [Randy Johnson] had in 2005 when he was 17-8 and 5-0 against the Red Sox. How is that an off year?

Again -- the guy played baseball. So I guess I have to forget that the Yankees offense last year was a ridiculous juggernaut, and that pitching wins are heavily dependant on run support. I should throw out the window the fact that Johnson's ERA+ was 117, his second lowest in his last thirteen years. Forget that he allowed the most number of hits and earned runs in his entire career.

Rick, take us out with some pure nonsense:

Tuesday's game is important, because one game can mean a lot, just like it did last year.

Guys. Listen to the former baseball player.

This game is important because one game can mean a lot. Meaning every game can mean a lot.

Meaning every game is important, meaning this one is important, but not necessarily more important than the other ones, since each has been deemed by Sutcliffe to own what we must assume is the same amount of "meaningness potential."

Just like it did last year, guys. Think about that.

posted by dak  # 4:51 PM
I posted at the exact same time as you about the exact same article. I took it down, but here's what I wrote:

Getting Beckett was a huge move by the Red Sox, because they now have two pitchers on their staff who are throwing the ball really well.

Beckett on the year: 4.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Beckett, last three starts: 16 IP, 17 ER, 11 K, 10 BB

So yeah: the two pitchers who are throwing really well are Schilling and Papelbon.
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Sunday, May 07, 2006


In Basketball, "Intangible" Means "Good at Basketball"

Real quick:

ESPN GameNight, tonight, a little after 7:00. Freddy Coleman and some other guy, maybe Steve Czaban (though I thought he went to Fox) are saying that the thing that makes the Pistons so good is that they are maybe not the best individual players, but they work well together as a team. They have a lot of "intangibles," like not being ball hogs and stuff. So, okay. Then they say that they tried to put together a starting five from among all the players in the league, who would be the perfect "Team," the ultimate five-man Team, comprised of unselfish, smart players who would just work well together -- maybe not the best players, they keep saying, but the best TEAM. Loaded with intangibles.

Each host drew one up. Here's the first one:

G Steve Nash
G LeBron James
C Tim Duncan
F Ben Wallace
F Vince Carter

So, the Ultimate Team-with-a-Capital-T of Maybe Not the Best Guys But the Best Teammates contains: the reigning two-time league MVP, the widely-thought-of Next Jordan who finished second in the MVP voting this year, one of the best centers ever and a guy who not only seemingly always wins championships but also Finals MVPs, the like thirty-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award winner and rebounding champion, and a fifth guy who is awesome at basketball.

I did not hear the second starting five of Intangibly Good Teammates, but I assume it was Magic, Cousy, Shaq, Bird, and Jordan, with Dr. J, Kareem, Wilt, Teen Wolf, and Jesus Christ coming off the bench.

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posted by Unknown  # 10:31 PM
Several people who know far more about NBA basketball than I do have written in to make further points about Vince Carter's inclusion on the All-Intangibles Team. I am going to summarize their comments Zagat-style.

Are these people "crazy?" Vince Carter is a "whiny baby," who "literally quit on his team" and forced a trade to the Nets. What's his intangible -- "being a puss?" Or is it "not playing hurt" or "not driving the lane" or "not stepping up and being a leader?" The fact that he is on this list is a "travesty of justice" that makes the "O.J. trial look like '12 Angry Men.'" The ESPN announcers "should be ashamed of themselves."
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Friday, May 05, 2006


Aside: Why Does Anyone Ever Hit-and-Run for Any Reason?

Red Sox-Orioles, May 5. Fifth inning. The O's first three hitters go single-triple-single, they score twice, they take the lead. They have all the momentum in the world, and their 2-3-4 hitters coming up with no body out. Sam Perlozzo calls HAR with Melvin Mora up (who had singled sharply in his last AB). He swings through an eye-high strike and Brandon Fahey is easily thrown out at second.

Why? Why in the world? It's such a stupid, stupid play, especially when you're knocking the opposing pitcher around, and freaking Miguel Tejada is coming up in a second.

I'm just saying. It's a stupid thing to do, and the only reason anybody does it is that they've been doing it for like 100 years. It's like a "thing" that exists, that managers can do, to "keep the pressure on" and "be aggressive" and all of those meaningless cliches. And when it works perfectly, like one out of every twenty times (anecdotally), it looks really pretty and the crowd goes crazy and everyone praises the manager.

They should stop doing it. The end.


posted by Unknown  # 8:36 PM
Today in the fourth inning, with a 6-1 lead, no outs, Robby Cano on first and a 2-0 count on Bernie Williams, Joe Torre (Larry Bowa?) called a hit-and-run. Williams swung at what would have probably been ball three, and hit a thirty-hopper to the exact spot where second baseman Mark DeRosa had been standing before covering second on the steal attempt. Cano went to third.

For the Yankee announcers, this was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.

The inning, to that point, had gone walk-single-HR-single. Robinson Tejada was dead in the water. Even though Bernie is struggling, he still has a great eye. Hit-and-run is a terrible call.

The fact that it worked does not in any way invalidate my assertion.

The end.
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Wednesday, May 03, 2006


He Keeps Doing This!

More Yankees-Red Sox centrism from the head of the Committee to Contract Baseball Into One Division, Two Teams (CCBIODTT), Mike Celizic. He begins:

Last year, the Yankees and Red Sox opened the season against one another, and, though it was exciting in Yankee Stadium, it was too early for so much emotion.

Remember this statement for later, but for now, let's move on.

This time, the schedule makers got it just right.

This time! Not like that time when they made you and tens of other old jerks stay up past 8pm on opening day! Remember that? I get the DTs just thinking about it!

On the first day of May, with all players — resident aliens and native-born citizens alike — ready to work, the two biggest rivals in the game took the field in Fenway Park in a virtual tie for first place. I reading too much into this or did Mike Celizic just take a shot at the immigrants who went and protested on Tuesday? Or was this a tyipical MC style "joke" in which the only "humor" is a passing reference to some more or less current event? I guess I take minor offense to the phrase "ready to work," like he's implying that all those silly brown people didn't show up for work because they just wanted a day off or something. Again. Maybe reading too much into this, but still.

I know the games have been going on for nearly a month, but just as the golf season doesn’t really begin until the Masters, the baseball season doesn’t really begin until the Yankees and Red Sox get together.

Okay, now go up there and read his introductory sentence. So, if the season doesn't really begin until the Yankees and Red Sox meet, how did the schedule makers get it wrong last year by having those teams meet on opening day? Wouldn't you want the season to begin as soon as possible? Also, I would once again like to remind you that there are other teams in the league. Heck, there's even another league altogether, where a guy named Albert Pujols is doing some pretty interesting things in a strange place called "St. Louis" or something. By the way, since this is the first technical "real game" of the season, do the teams' records up to this point count? Or do we go back to 0-0? How does this work?

Yankees-Sox is now a national event, like Colts-Patriots in football, Tiger-Phil in golf, Kobe-LeBron in the NBA.

Kobe-LeBron? Really? That intense rivalry that has taken place about 6 times ever between players in different conferences who will almost certainly not meet in the finals for several years to come?

[Ortiz's home run] landed in the bullpen in right, ignited an eruption of joy in the stands and made the first statement in the first real game of the rest of the season.

It took a month of baseball to get to that moment. It was worth the wait.

Unlike last season, when the evil schedule makers stupidly made you wait zero games for the "first real game of the rest of the season."

posted by Murbles  # 6:52 PM
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Tuesday, May 02, 2006


JoeChat, Sports Emmy Edition

Joe Morgan: Sorry for the delay, I'm traveling back form the Sports Emmy Awards and I've got about about 15 minutes so let's roll!

Ken Tremendous: I sure hope you didn’t win another Sports Emmy, Joe. Because that would be ridiculous. I am going to go ahead and assume you did not win another Sports Emmy. I am going to put my faith in the logic and reason of the Sports Emmy voters, and pray that you did not win another Sports Emmy. What’s that? You totally won another Sports Emmy? Fantastic. Great work, everyone.

Scott: (Boston, MA): How long will the Red Sox let Clement and DiNardo lose games until they consider putting Papelbon in a starting role, or would they bring up someone from AAA to start before moving Papelbon?

Joe Morgan: I always said that a good starter is better than a good closer. He'll give you more innings and production and you need to get the the closer with the lead, anyway. I would get him in the rotation.

KT: A good player who plays 225 innings is better than a good player who plays 75 innings. Congratulations on your Sports Emmy. Also, Papelbon has like a .5 WHIP and zero runs in 15 IP, and is 10-10 in saves…and since the Sox’ starting pitching has been pretty good, the Sox would be crazy to start Papelbon right now, I think. Next year, maybe, but right now? If it ain’t broke…

Hogcard (St. Louis, Mo.): Joe: Being that Albert Pujols is now entering into his prime, how do you think he compares with some of the other greats (Mays, Musial, Gwynn...) at the same stage of their careers?

Joe Morgan: It's hard to compare eras because of differences in pitching, parks and balls.

KT: Ah, but that’s where you are wrong, Multiple-Sports-Emmy-Winning-Analyst Joe Morgan!!! There are machine-generated statistics that do just that!!! Aren’t machines amazing?

But I see the best hitter in the game when I look at Pujols in terms of average –

He’s second to Helton. A computer told me that!

--power –-

Just for fun, I’m going to assume you mean Adjusted OPS+, even though you don’t. He’s second, behind Bonds.

-- run production.

RsBI? A stupid stat. I refuse to give you the active leaders.

But numbers are easier to come by today.

Yes, but OPS+ is adjusted for that, dummy.

I won my second MVP with 110 RBI and that wouldn't be top-10 today.

Oh, did you win two MVPs? I have never ever ever heard you mention that ever in history ever.

Steve Dallas, TX: Joe, with the Rangers 6-run 7th inning on Sunday in front of you and Jon, will they be able to be around for September and possibly October?

Joe Morgan: I can only go by what Showalter told me, and that is that if they get everyone healthy they will have a good team. He thinks they can hang in and that some -- including myself -- overrated the A's in the West. It seems Oakland might not be the best and Texas should hang in if they stay healthy.

KT: Why in holy hell would you base a prediction for a team on what the manager says, instead of what you see with your own eyes (plus what a computer might tell you)? The guy even points out that you called the freaking game the other night, Joe. This is a low point even for you. Seriously. “I can only go by what Showalter told me?”

1999 Ken Tremendous: Hey Joe, should I buy Qwest stock?

1999 Joe Morgan: Well, I can only go by what Joe Nacchio tells me, and he says everything is awesome.

1999 Ken Tremendous: But the stock is plummeting, and these charts show some serious accounting issues.

1999 Joe Morgan: Well, Joe Nacchio has run the company for a long time, and he seems to think we may have overrated GE.

1999 Ken Tremendous: You’re fired as my financial advisor.

1999 Joe Morgan: Fair enough.

Brian (Indy): HEY JOE! Are you suprised with the REDS start, and do you think they can keep it up?

Joe Morgan: I am surprised because of the Griffey injuries. If he had been in there it would be different.

KT: What does that mean? When? Now? What?

Arroyo is 5-0 but won't go 20-0, but if they get Griffey back and stay healthy they'll stay in the race, but I still think St. Louis is the class of the division.

KT: That’s like five "buts" in one sentence. Also, why do you think Griffey is the key to this team? This team has so many people who are more important than Ken Griffey. You are living in 1995, and it’s not charming.

David (Grand Rapids, MI): Can the Tigers keep up the hot streak all season long and make a run either at the wild card or central divison title.

Joe Morgan: I've only seen highlights so far.

KT: That makes sense. The Tigers are the biggest story in baseball right now, along with the Reds, so it makes sense that an Emmy-Award-Winning-ESPN-Flagship-A-Team Analyst would not have watched even one of their games.

They have some good players but I'm still surprised because I thought it would take Jim Leyland a little longer to settle in and start to turn things around. But they are defnitely better than I thought they would be.

KT: Yes. Their success is definitely due to Jim Leyland settling in. Not their four great young pitchers or HR onslaught. It’s Jim Leyland “settling in.”

Ryan (Fargo): Joe, what's going on with the Twins pitching staff? I keep waiting for them to turn it around, but that last series in Detroit was embarrassing. Not that I'm asking for it, but can you see a shakeup in the dugout (manager or otherwise) anytime soon? Thanks!

Joe Morgan: If they keep playing like they did in Detroit there will have to be some shakeups. They've played well at times and are not a bad club so there must be something wrong there. I just haven't seen them enough to put my finger on it yet.

KT: Twice in two questions, Emmy Award Winning Sports Analyst begs off a question about baseball because he has not watched enough baseball.

Joe Morgan: I'm sorry to have to cut things short, but travel difficulties have moved my schedule around. Thanks for the questions and I look forward to spending a lot more time with you all next week!

KT: Thanks, Joe. Congrats on your Emmy! I love that no one took his heavily-dropped hint from his intro and asked him whether he won a Sports Emmy.

(By the way, he won another Sports Emmy.)

Labels: ,

posted by Unknown  # 6:44 PM
I edited the post to change Papelbon's save total from 11-11 to the correct 10-10, after some monsters FJM has created e-mailed me within seconds of posting the incorrect total to rub my nose in the error w/r/t the title of my last post about Rick Sutcliffe. God bless you all.
I have now further edited the post to change the word "contradictions" to the word "buts," after one particularly feisty reader laid into me about that (admittedly sloppy writing on my part) and my statement that Ken Griffey Jr. was not the key to the 2006 Reds. Which I stand by. Reasonable people can disagree, especially when said feisty reader busts out Griffey's 2005 team-leading VORP and his 2006 BP projections as examples of his value. (A worthy adversary, this one. But I stand by the comments.)
In the interest of illustrating that not all FJM editors agree on everything, I just want to say that I'm actually siding with JM on the Papelbon issue. I think he should start and Foulke should be closing.

"If it ain't broke"? Really Ken? I hate to say it, but that sounds more Morgan than Tremendous.

I also think that of all Morgan's foibles, the fact that he lives in 1995 is his most charming.

So, agree to disagree, I guess.
Again, I do think reasonable people can disagree on that. Obviously, Joe has a point when he says that a good pitcher should pitch as many innings as possible. And long-term, I am definitely in favor of Papelbon starting, especially in light of other closer options in the minors (Hansen esp., though there is talk of him starting as well). However. Given what this team went through with Foulke last year, and given that Clement's early-season stats are marred by one bad inning and one other bad start, and given that healthy Schilling/Beckett/Wake/Clement is way better than anything they had last year when they won 95 games, and given that Papelbon is throwing so well in the relief ace role...right now I think he may be best served as the closer. It's really a win-win for them, since he did well as a starter in limited IP last year.

Anyway. I think sometimes, and I know I'll get slammed for this, there can be value in the "ain't broke" philosophy. Assuming what ain't broke is something that is adding tangible value to the team's performance, like Papelbon being lights-out, and not something that simply gives the illusion of helping a team but actually hurts it, like having Podsednik lead off for the ChiSox.

(Because in that scenario, your team will be screwed to the tune of a World Series championship. But you know what I mean.)
Damn it all to hell, I had to edit this post again. I wrote that Pujols was second to Ichiro in BA among actives, even though I linked the damn page and he's actually second to Helton.

Say...What if I told you all that these errors on my part were actually intentional, and were meant as a...fact-checking exercise for our readership? And that you all did very well in pointing them out to me? So...congratulations!
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Am I The Only One Laughing At This?

Derek Jeter's Mini Balls.

posted by dak  # 1:24 PM
Ha ha ha ha! Sopranos Coke Bust! Bwaaaa ha ha ha ha ha!
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Monday, May 01, 2006


You Can't Just Say Whatever You Want to Say and Just Like Hope That You're Right, Without Doing Any Research At All. That's Not How Analysis Works.

Here's a thing that Rick Sutcliffe said tonight about Manny Ramirez:

"Manny not off to a great start, but he's never really been an April hitter."

Here's a true set of facts about Manny Ramirez in the last three Aprils:

267 AB
90 H
20 2B
16 HR
60 RBI
37 BB



posted by Unknown  # 9:08 PM
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Why Don't You Just Say "Every Team Did Okay"?

Sorry folks, non-baseball stuff.

Mel Kiper Jr's draft grades are in, for every team in the NFL.

For those who don't have ESPN Insider, every single grade is between a C and a B+. It's the old "on a scale of 4 to 7" spectrum. Thanks Mel! See you in 363!

posted by dak  # 2:23 PM
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We Didn't Catch It, But Still

According to like six people who e-mailed us, someone gave an incredibly stupid answer to a very simple question on Baseball Tonight last night.

I know! File under: believe it or not.

Karl Ravech (who I'm guessing goes home and just punches a speedbag for an hour and a half) asked the BBTN panelists who they would pick for their MLB teams if they were GMs and had just one pick. John Kruk and Steve Phillips chose Pujols.

Jeff Brantley chose -- wait for it -- Jonathan Papelbon.

Now, FJM has plenty of love for Paps. We spent an awful lot of time thinking about what his perfect entrance music would be. But Brantley: in the name of Joseph Leonard Morgan, what the f is going on in your b?

posted by dak  # 5:08 AM
Dude, the guy has a 0.00 ERA! That means he's the best pitcher in baseball history. You go, Brantley.

For the record, after Papelbon's first outing, occasional FJM poster Spinoza called me and told me in no uncertain terms that Papelbon was better than Cy Young.
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