A lot of you got all up in it after I said Derek Jeter is a terrible choice for MVP. I was hoisted on my own petard, as e-mail after e-mail slammed me with VORPs and WARPs and even a few Win Percentage Added arguments, which is getting really hard-core nerdy, and God bless you all for it.
I stand by my assertion that to give Derek Jeter the MVP this year -- even for the first half -- is dumb. However.
On Mike 'n Mike in the Morning today, Eric Kuselias and Buster Olney played "Are the Fans Right?" with all-star predictions. Kuselias, who is, by ESPN Radio standards, a friggin' genius, said that Michael Young should be the starting SS for the AL. Why? More 2B than Jeter, more RBI than Jeter, and, in part because, and I quote: "He won the batting title last year."
He won the batting title.
Derek Jeter 2006 OPS: .882 Michael Young 2006 OPS: .817
Derek Jeter 2006 SecA: .317 Michael Young 2006 SecA: .211
Derek Jeter 2006 RC27: 7.53 Michael Young 2006 RC27: 5.53
Now, Baseball Prospectus actually has Young above Jeter in WARP1, 4.3 to 3.6, largely because they list him at 12 FRAA and Jeter at -2 FRAA (take that, people who yelled at me). But come on. Jeter is the choice.
Now stop e-mailing me and telling me I am biased against Derek Jeter, that overrated, overpaid, iron-gloved, pretty-boy turd muncher.
Orel Hershiser is doing the Mets-Sox game tonight, and has generally been pretty good. He actually called a specific pitch from Schilling in the 5th -- Milledge was up, there were guys on first and second, and Orel said that because Milledge is young and has made some errors in the past few days, he'll probably be really aggressive, so Schill will most likely throw him a splitter or change on the outside corner to get him to chase. And then Schill did exactly that. It was impressive.
But then, later, he said:
Sometimes home runs are rally killers, because they clear the bases.
Yes. The runners on the bases get to jog home and touch the plate, netting "runs" for their team. Thus: the rally has been "killed" to the tune of the best possible result for that moment in the game.
I know what he means -- he means that the "rally" isn't as "rallyish" because the pitcher is not in the stretch, and there are no guys on base, and whatever, but the point of rallies is to score runs, and home runs do that, quite efficiently.
I have an even better rally killing home run story. From Cincinnati color man Chris Welsh regarding Eric Milton’s propensity to allow home runs, “the key is to make them solo shots, because often times the solo home run is a rally killer.” Can a rally be occurring with no one on base?
For anyone who considers him/herself a Red Sox fan, the scene at Fenway last night was heartwarming and beautiful. Pedro Martinez, in full Mets regalia, was given a spontaneous and lengthy standing ovation by the faithful, after a video highlight package ran on the jumbotron between innings.
This was the only possible way to welcome the guy back. All he did for seven years was dominate the 'roided-up, DH-laden AL during its absolute most 'roided up and offensively-minded years, at a level that perhaps no one in history has ever dominated his league. He got the 1999 Sox team to the ALCS when Troy O'Leary was the 5-hole hitter. In Game 5 of the ALDS, unable to raise his arm above parallel-to-the-ground due to shoulder trouble, he came out of the bullpen and threw six no-hit innings against the most potent offense in years, in their home park. He threw 100 pitches, all basically side-arm. Something like 80 of those pitches were change-ups. Lofton, Vizquel, Alomar, Manny, Thome, Baines, Cordero, Fryman, Alomar...not one hit.
Earlier that year, he went to the Stadium for a crucial game against the Yankees. Chili Davis hit a solo bomb in the 2nd. Then Pedro struck out 17 Yankees and threw a one-hitter. By my recollection, he did not allow a ball to be put into play in fair territory after the fourth inning. His K/BB ratio in 2000 was 284/32. His ERA+ was 285. He was ridonkulous. He might be the best pitcher ever.
For seven years, most of them brilliant, Pedro Martinez gave the Boston Red Sox everything he had and everything they could have wanted. He copped two Cy Young Awards, won 117 games against just 37 losses — a .760 winning percentage — and he won a game in the 2004 World Series in which the Red Sox broke their 85-year run of futility.
Considering all he’s done for Boston, there’s just one thing the Fenway faithful can possibly do when he scales the Fenway Park mound Wednesday night for the first time since chasing the free-agent bonanza to the New York Mets after the 2004 season.
They’ve got to boo him like no one not named Roger Clemens has ever been booed in Boston’s little jewel of a ballpark.
Here's a tip for HatGuy. When you are using that literary/rhetorical device where you have this long build-up in one direction, and then suddenly stop and do a 180 and instruct your audience that actually the solution is the opposite of what those facts suggest, the 180 has to be brief. For example:
Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant is an honorable man. He is a church-going man, with a beautiful wife and three lovely children. He is respected in the community, loved by his peers, and for the last twenty years has done an extraordinary job teaching our city's children how to read and write. But he also snuck into a wildlife reserve and raped a hippo.
So he should go to jail.
I say all this because after the endless build-up of pro-Pedro stats from HatGuy, the sentence "They’ve got to boo him like no one not named Roger Clemens has ever been booed in Boston’s little jewel of a ballpark" lacks a certain...anything. "They've got to boo him." That's the way to write that. Its own paragraph -- just one line. "They've got to boo him." Not, "They've got to boo him like no one has ever not un-booed a guy who was also once booed by them never didn't get booed louder than, and also Fenway is beautiful!"
But I am not here to teach HatGuy how to do his job. Oh wait -- yes I am.
They’ve got to hiss and scream and bellow until the air is congested with spittle.
They’ve got to boo his backside back to that mango tree in the Dominican Republic he once talked about sitting under.
Again, that last sentence...yikes. But enough syntax. Let's talk about your central point, HatGuy. I am eager to hear your defense of booing the greatest pitcher who ever pitched for this team. I believe in the theory that fans have a right to boo players toward whom they have ill feelings. I also happen to believe that it's kind of lame to boo people, especially when they brought you a tremendous amount of joy. But let's see what you think.
I’m just as confident that Red Sox Nation will come through on this one as I am that the coming fall lineup of network television shows will plumb new depths in personal abasement.
Yorps, is that a bad joke. HatGuy has exactly one move, comedy-wise: the ol' pop culture comparison. "Dusty Baker is about as popular in Chicago as Nick Lachey at a birthday party for Jessica Simpson." "Phil Garner was as mad as a mother who saw Britney Spears almost drop her baby." And so forth. This is bad joke telling. And bad writing. And HatGuy commits another sin within this sin, which is: his lame similes are also wordy and faux-intellectual. "...plumb new depths in personal abasement." I think he likes to imagine himself in a Victorian smoking jacket, smoking a long cigarette, trading barbs with Oscar Wilde and chortling world-wearily at the fools he must suffer. And he's still wearing the hat.
I’m equally confident that a majority of commentators will spend the next day talking about what a shame it is that Boston’s fans didn’t give Pedro the love and respect he is due for all the great things he did for the franchise.
How dare they theoretically do that!
If anything else happens — the fans cheering wildly or the commentators congratulating them for booing boisterously or no one taking notice of the occasion at all — I’d be as shocked as I would be if the president let slip that his favorite newspaper is The New York Times and his favorite news channel is MSNBC.
What did I just say about wordiness? Look at that "joke." HayGuy typed that into the 14 year-old IBM word processor he still uses, and he stared at the little four-line LED screen, and the joke took up all four lines, and he looked at it and he read it again and again and he said, "Yep -- that is some good cookin'." Here's one more tip, man: punchlines usually have one punchline. As in:
Mugger: Your money or your life! Jack Benny: (after long pause) I'm thinking it over!
Mugger: Your money or your life! Jack Benny: (after long pause) I'm thinking it over and also I am considering it!
I’d also be as disappointed as I’d be if I set out to construct a hot fudge sundae and discovered I was out of whipped cream.
I don't even know what to make of this. Why leave this in? You already made this point with the brilliant and incisive double-punchlined political commentary of the last sentence. Now we get...what? Round three in your personal battle against humor and brevity. This is like something a third-grader would come up with to amuse his parents. But not as charming.
For the fans, Pedro’s return to Fenway shouldn’t be about doing what’s right by their former hero. If sports started working that way, the entire player-fan dynamic would be turned on its head.
I would like to show HatGuy what happened when Orlando Cabrera came back to Fenway as an Angel soon after the 2004 World Series win. He was given a standing ovation every time he came up to the plate. The guy was on the team for three months.
He used to play there, and then he went to not just another town, but to the hated Big Apple. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t sign with the New York Yankees, because the Mets haven’t occupied a terribly choice piece of real estate in Boston hearts since 1986 and that episode with Bill Buckner.
I will speak for Red Sox fans, knowing that some may disagree.
Yes, Sox fans hated the Mets, because they beat us in the World Series. But then, 18 years later, we won the World Series, and a large part of the ensuing catharsis was being able to look at anything colored blue and orange without dry-heaving. The Mets are just another team now. We don't like them, but we don't stay up nights hating them, either. We "who cares?" them, like we do every other team, except the Yankees. So, yes, it does matter that he didn't sign with the Yankees.
It also doesn’t matter that he left Boston because the Mets offered him more money for more years than the Red Sox were willing to pay. Nor does it matter that a substantial number of Boston fans felt the team was making a good move by letting him go.
Oh but wait just a cotton pickin' minute here, HatGuy, it absolutely does matter. Why? Well, I'll let you answer.
He did, after all, have a talent for saying annoying things, and, as everyone knew, his shoulder was damaged goods, and his arm was probably going to fall off within the next month or two anyway. The really, really smart baseball people said that the Mets were fools to give a guy like that four years, when the odds were high he wouldn’t last that long.
I take it from your tone that you are about to blast the Boston front office for this, but the fact remains that he was 33, had worn out his welcome, and required a massive investment (on an aging team) to stick around. Let the record show as well that everything Pedro said and did indicated that he wanted out of the brutal AL East, where he had to face the Yankees, Jays, DRays (a great hitting team in 2004), and even O's for like half his starts, and into a division where he could get paid more and face a pitcher once every 2-3 innings. This move was a win-win. The Sox freed up payroll, Pedro left town a hero and got pizz-aid, and although the Sox lost a once-in-a-lifetime pitcher, they also lost a guy whom they would have had to pay $15 million at age 37, and that might not have been such a smart idea. But you know that:
The jury’s still out on whether four years was a wise investment. All that matters now is that the Red Sox thought he was on the downside of his brilliant career and it was better to let somebody else take the risk. That happens to be similar to the thinking when Roger Clemens was allowed to leave after 13 seasons in Boston — he was almost through and there wasn’t any sense keeping him around. That brilliant bit of thinking was professed 10 years ago.
Yes, that was a mistake. Made by Dan Duquette, who made a lot of mistakes. Different FO, different situation. Just because Roger Clemens, who is like 6'3" with legs like sequoias, has managed to stay fit and strong and good, doesn't mean 5'nothing" Pedro will, too, forever.
The point is that he left for another team, and no matter how justified he was in doing so, as long as he continues to perform at the highest level, the fans will see that as abandonment.
No, we won't. It's sad, but it's okay. We have 22 year-old Jon Lester and 25 year-old Jon Papelbon and 22 year-old Craig Hansen, all of whom are cheaply under our control for the next six years. So, we're good. Thanks.
Plus, cheering for a team is really cheering for laundry, as someone wiser than I once said. In San Francisco, they still love Barry Bonds, not because he’s a swell fellow, but because he wears the uniform and still hits the ball out of the park now and then. And the greater the body inside the familiar upholstery, the more he’ll be hated when he leaves.
The "familiar upholstery?" Is Barry Bonds a couch? Seriously, man, just because a word is longer doesn't mean it is better. Or correct.
It has nothing to do with decency or logic. It’s an emotional thing that operates in the deepest levels of our cluttered brains. Pedro was great, and now he’s being great for those cursed Mets. Therefore, he has to be booed.
Yes, it is an emotional thing. But that emotional thing, for many of us, is: the guy was amazing. Best ever in our lifetimes. Carried us through some dark years. Ended his career in Boston by winning Game 3 of the World Series, shutting down one of the best offenses in baseball. Gave us hundreds of wonderful memories. Won a ring. Moved on. God bless him.
Reviling old heroes is what makes the game fun, and few are bigger than Pedro. Red Sox fans have already shown what they’re capable of when they booed Johnny Damon on his return. Now it’s Pedro’s turn.
Johnny Damon went to the Yankees. Everyone on the Yankees gets booed. Also, a lot of people cheered. Also, what is the point of this article?
They’ve got to give him everything they got. To do otherwise would be an insult to what he meant to Boston and a travesty of what it means to be a fan.
This is just nuts. You're nuts, HatGuy. I can't be any more specific or insightful than that. You're bonkers.
They can cheer him whenever his career is finally winding down and he’s making his last stop. Until then, it’s full hiss ahead.
Or, they can cheer him loudly and show that they respect and love what he did when he was here. Which they did. And which they will probably mostly do again tonight. And which I would do, if I were there, regardless of what upholstery he's wearing.
Tim Kurkjian, you'd been so harmless and so meek for so long, I'd almost forgotten about you. But then you had to go and do this. What's your excuse, Kurkjian? You're not a me-first former player. You're not 100 years old, as far as I can tell. You're not Jim Rome. Why did you --
Baseball is a game of intangibles.
Oh boy. Let's get started.
It is a game that requires doing "the little things," which can mean something as big as barreling over a catcher or as subtle as a whisper in the ear of a teammate after a good or bad at-bat.
Apparently, doing the little things is extremely sexual. Who can forget when Babe Ruth won the 1923 World Series by walking up to teammate Wally Pipp after a strikeout and sultrily whispering "That was a shit at-bat" into his left ear? I never will, that's for sure. The Giants were shocked when the commissioner awarded the Yankees the Series after that dramatic whisper. (By the way, in the 1922 World Series, the Babe went 2-17 with 1 R and 1 RBI, probably because he was a gigantic choker with no Clutch Ability.)
There are players all over the game with these qualities, such as Derek Jeter --
You don't say. Tell me more about this person, who has certainly accomplished many daring exploits on the baseball diamond of which I've never heard tell. -- who is that guy in the pickup basketball game who you look at and say, "We're going to win, he's on our team."
Until you realize he doesn't play defense. Intangible players come in all shapes, sizes and job descriptions. Here are five of many in the major leagues.
But mostly they're Erstad-shaped, Erstad-sized and used to be college football players, like that hard-nosed, no-nonsense roughneck Erstad. Here are five guys who wish they were Erstad. Sandy Alomar Jr., Dodgers
He just turned 40, but you would never know it by the position he plays (catcher), the shape he's in (he lost 20 pounds in the offseason) and the way he can still play.
He's done pretty well in the 54 at bats he's had this year, but I sure could tell he was 39 last year when he OPSed .634 (with half his games in Texas, no less). Sure, he's a backup catcher, and they're not supposed to hit, but that's exactly the point: this dude hasn't played anything close to a full season since 1998 (and even then it was only 117 games). But I guess I'm being an idiot: he's on this list for his whispering.
"He comes to the ballpark like a 20-year-old every day ready to play knowing he's probably not going to play," said Dodgers third base coach Rich Donnelly.
Because he's not good enough. He's bad. He's a 40-year-old who is bad at baseball.
"And with less than two outs and a runner at third, I wouldn't mind having him up there. But mostly, he's a great teacher."
The award for Backhanded Compliment of the Year goes to Dodgers third base coach Rich Donnelly.
Darin Erstad, Angels
His skills have eroded somewhat,
(OBPing .273, BA of .220)
his body has lost some of its life at age 32,
(SLGing .319 (!), OPS of .591) but he remains the fiber that keeps the Angels together.
Fiber that, as of today, has the 2nd worst OPS of any position player in baseball -- or would have, if he qualified, but this tough sonofabitch has missed a bunch of games with an ankle injury (he's missed significant time in three of the past four years). That's right: he has a worse OPS than Juan Pierre. That is clear in all he does, from dutifully switching positions -- center field to first base to center field; not an easy transition -- to steamrolling Braves catcher Johnny Estrada at home plate two years ago ... all in the name of the only thing that matters to him: winning.
Darin Erstad OPSes, last six years:
.691 .702 .642 .746 .696 .591
Seems like if winning mattered that much to him, he's spend a little more time in the batting cage. It's funny. Erstad's last good season was 2000. He signed a huge contract extension in 2002: four years, $32 million. Basically, since then all he's done is hit like Neifi Perez and miss a bunch of games due to injury (two things that could be related). If he's a different guy in a different city, perhaps a different skin color, how reviled does Darin Erstad become? Doesn't he essentially become a bum who got a fat contract and starts phoning it in? Instead, we get another article praising his intangibles to the high heavens. Memo to aspiring young baseball players: learn to punt a football. You'll be bulletproof to the media for the rest of your life.
That toughness comes in part from growing up in the cold and desolation of North Dakota, and in part from his football days in high school and at the University of Nebraska.
Yes, he did play football. Very good, Tim.
It also comes from his selfless approach. When once compared to Kirk Gibson in style and background, Erstad would hear nothing of it, saying that Gibson was an All-America wide receiver and "I was a punter."
Maybe. But the Angels never punt with Erstad in charge.
Good Christ, man. This worship must stop. I can't emphasize this enough: we're talking about one of, if not the worst player in baseball.
Julio Franco, Mets
He will be going back to the playoffs again this year, and that is no coincidence. Franco has become a team leader in so many ways, none more important than the way he takes care of himself, be it bringing his own healthy food to the ballpark or waking up at 3 a.m. to drink a protein shake or getting his sleep -- even if it's a nap on the couch in the clubhouse before the game.
That is hilarious. Kurkjian is basically saying that Julio Franco is so old, he has to take naps in the clubhouse because he can't stay awake for a whole day. INTANGIBLE.
Mike Matheny, Giants
To understand who Matheny is, all you have to do is watch him in the bullpen before the start of a game: He is on his knees --
Um, Tim? Again, sort of sexual.
-- all alone, practicing blocking imaginary pitches in the dirt. Most catchers never practice that; Matheny still does it at age 35.
Might I suggest that like Mr. Erstad, Mr. Matheny might benefit from some extra time in a batting facility? (His OPS is .613. This is a recording.)
No one blocks a ball better than he does, no one calls a better game than he does and no one goes to the mound and calms down -- or jacks up -- a pitcher better than Matheny.
No one? How about, um, Jason Varitek? Or Yadier Molina? Or Pudge? Or how about that guy who's a farmer in Kansas but really, really good at calming pitchers down? Oh, right. He can't hit. Just like Mike Matheny. Mark DeRosa, Rangers
Texas manager Buck Showalter calls DeRosa "an irregular regular," meaning a guy who plays every day but rarely at the same position.
Because he's not good enough.
One day it's second base, the next day right field, the next day third base, and never with a complaint.
Scene: Mark DeRosa's brain. The year is 2005.
Part of Mark DeRosa's brain: Come on, another position change? One day it's second base, the next day right field, now it's third? Why, I oughta go into Buck's office and throw his talking fish on the floor!
Other part of Mark DeRosa's brain: Hold on, other part of the brain. We're making $500,000 this year. Last year we made $725,000. All for playing a damn kids' game. This is, as they say in Brainland, a no-"us"-er. We're not going to complain.
Part of Mark DeRosa's brain: You're right, dude. Let's go back to looking at this crazy porn Teixeira gave us!
And end scene.
Showalter loves DeRosa because he's so smart -- he went to the University of Pennsylvania -- and because of his competitive nature, including his football background. DeRosa played quarterback at Penn after an amazingly successful high school football career in New Jersey.
Just like Erstad!!!
That's what we call "a winner," and you can never have enough winners on a major league team.
In Tim Kurkjian Bizarro World, winners lose to you!
Buzzmaster: Joe's finishing up another interview. He'll be with us in a couple of minutes!
Ken Tremendous: Somebody else wants to interview Joe?
Nora (St. Louis): What do you think of sign stealing? Do you consider it a perfectly ok way to gain a competive edge, or do you compare it to other forms of cheating (steroids; doctoring baseballs)?
Joe Morgan: Unfortunately baseball has its own set of rules to determine what's cheating and what's not. I think it's cheating. Guys corking bats, guys scuffing balls, etc. I think it's all cheating. It's all cheating. It changes the game from being a fair game to giving an advantage.
KT: I am, by nature, a lazy person, so I am not going to dig back through our archives to find the number of times Joe has defended Barry Bonds and said “well, we don’t know what happened” or “there’s no proof” or something. But suffice it to say, Joe has said such things, many times. Now it’s time for my nap.
Matt (DC): Joe, as one of the most knowledgeable baseball minds out there today –
KT: (does Diet Coke spit take)
-- where would you rate David Ortiz among the all-time great clutch hitters in the game?
Joe Morgan: Thank you for your kind words. I can't rate players among all-timers, but I've said David Ortiz is the best big-time hitter in the game today. The game was different in the past, the pitchers were different, the hitters were different. But you can say he's the best big-game hitter today. And that's by a big margin. some guys seem to focus better when the game's on the line.
KT: This kills me to write, but…there is no such thing as clutch hitting. The reason it kills me is because I have watched David Ortiz win thirteen games with walk-off hits in the last three years, including three in the playoffs, and two in the last two days. David Ortiz/clutch hitting is like one of those magic eyes holograms – you know there is no 3-D space shuttle in the book you are holding, but holy Christ does it look like there is a 3-D space shuttle.
Shawn(Kewanee, IL): Hello Mr. Morgan. With the horrendously sloppy game on Sunday and another shut out loss last night, do you think it is time for the Chicago Cubs to part ways with Dusty Baker and begin a mini firesale with some of their veteran players?
Joe Morgan: As you may or may not know, Dusty is a friend of mine and I'm a big fan.
Everyone Who Has Ever Heard Joe Morgan Speak: (in unison) We know.
But that doesn't keep me from being objective.
Everyone Who Has Ever Heard Joe Morgan Speak: (in unison) (does Diet Coke spit take)
It's not all Dusty's fault, but if you continue the way they are, you have to have a change. They've built their club on Prior and Wood and they've been hurt. If you fire Dusty, then you're back to the pre-Dusty era and that's the way they're playing right now. The Cubs can't continue along these lines. I think Dusty one of the best managers out there. I don't think you can fire him until the season's over anyway.
KT: (wiping Diet Coke off self) Let me try to boil down that answer to its essence, sentence by sentence: It’s not Dusty’s fault, but they might have to fire him. The players have been hurt (read: it’s not his fault). If you fire Dusty, it’ll be bad, but they’re bad now. The Cubs need to make a change. But Dusty is awesome. But you can’t fire him.
Dustin (hampton,tn): will the yankees pick up another outfielder or pitcher, or do they need one to make it to the post season?
Joe Morgan: The Yankees, like everyone, has weaknesses. (…)
KT: I’m sorry, I cannot let that stand. The Yankees has weaknesses? Joe, I are upset with you (plural).
Andy (New York): Joe, I think it's a shame that Alex Rios isn't even on the All-Star ballot. The average fan isn't going to write him in. Thoughts on this and the All-Star voting process?
Joe Morgan: The All-Star process has always been flawed, even when the players voted themselves, the players voted the veterans in. There is no perfect way to do this. I look up and see the Yankees have more votes than anyone else…There are so many flaws that I don't think you'll have a perfect system. I prefer for the players to have more of a say in it. But it's for the fans. It's a tough situation.
KT: This is a little convoluted, but in general, I agree. It’s a tough situation – is it an exhibition, voted on by fans? Or, since it “counts,” should there be some kind of official oversight? Couldn’t the internet be a way to correct the flaws of the paper ballots? Anyway, nice work, Joe. Oh wait – I’m sorry. You weren’t finished.
Joe Morgan: The reason I say that, I was elected both ways and I was elected by the players and the fans. I got the most votes by the fans a couple of times. It's hard to say which way was better. I was happy in both cases. There is no perfect system.
KT: (pursing lips; drumming fingers on table) You posted again just to mention that you were the leading vote getter, didn’t you, you saucy little minx?
Tom (East Lansing): Mussina, HOF bound or not?
Joe Morgan: I don't think his career is over yet. To my knowledge, he hasn't won 20 games, which means he wasn't a dominant pitcher in his era, but then we have to see how many total wins he finishes up with. There are a lot of guys that have a lot more wins that aren't in. It's a number crunch from here on out.
KT: We finally got Joe to talk numbers, and he chooses the absolute worst one you can choose. Mussina has won 18 or 19 games in a year five times. His 19 wins in 1995 led the league. Why in holy hell does it mean he was not a dominant pitcher because he never won 20 games, because his closers didn’t save one more game, or because his offense didn’t score a couple more runs one day? That is so arbitrary it’s blinding. Mike Mussina lost a perfect game at Fenway a few years ago, because Crazy Carl Everett muscled an 0-2 pitch into left center for a single. Does that mean it was not a dominant pitching performance?
I just…I can’t scream about this anymore. It’s exhausting. I hate Mike Mussina, because I think he’s whiny and because he plays for the Yankees. But he’s a really good pitcher. He’s a borderline HOFer – in fact, given his career numbers, like ERA+ (125) and K/BB ratio and stuff like that, to my eyes he is maybe the very definition of a borderline HOFer. But not because he doesn’t have enough wins, which is the coarsest of all coarse ways of evaluating a pitcher.
Prince (Pittsburgh): What would you say is the main reason the Pirates can't win? Individually the players are talented, although a bit young, why can't this team at least be competitive?
KT: I honestly have not looked at the answer yet, but I’m going to guess that we are about to get our first “I haven’t seen them play” here.
Joe Morgan: I think that's a very good question and I don't get to see the Pirates very much.
KT: Cue the marching band!
I haven't seen them to judge myself to see how good they are individually. In this era, we seem to overrate how good players are. These last four or five years, people have overrated talent on certain teams. I see a lot of inconsistency there with overrated talent. I can't give you a real good answer, because I haven't seen them play as much. But make no mistake, a lot of times guys are overrated in their ability.
KT: Three separate “I haven’t seen them”s. Awesome. Also, Joe, we get it – the guys aren’t as good as they were in your day. Everyone’s overrated. Tony Perez was better than Pujols.
Larry WEST ISLIP,NY: It certainly looks like some semblance of parity is returning to baseball. The Braves are finished and the Yankees are not far behind. What do you think?
Joe Morgan: I don't like the word parity, I say mediocrity. There are a lot of mediocre teams out there. The talent pool is thinner now than it's been. You can go from first to last and last to first. I don't know if it's parity as much as mediocrity.
KT: You are a true ambassador of the game, Joe. Everyone is overrated. All the teams are mediocre. The talent stinks. I Live For This!
Sam (St. Louis): The Cards have lost seven straight games. Seven. Seven straight. That stings. It actually stings. Please, give me something to hope for. The Cards will pull out of this.. wont they?
Joe Morgan: I think they'll pull out of it, because they're making me look bad.
KT: That’s why?
I picked them to win their division and play the Mets for the championship. The big problem, the starting pitching hasn't done as well as anticipated. I think it starts with their starters. They need some consistency.
KT: Have you ever noticed that Joe uses the word “consistency” a lot? It substitutes for just about every other abstract noun in the book – talent, health, success, teamwork…it is also handy when you don’t have any specifics at your disposal, like the fact that Mulder recently had an MRI and has serious shoulder problems.
Mike (St. Louis): Joe, have you noticed catchers giving multiple signs with no runners on base? I don't remember that happening in the past. Why is that?
Joe Morgan: I think you're very observant, because I've noticed it as well.
KT: This is getting balder and balder. “I think you are a genius because you had the same thought as me. And I am a genius. So by the transitive property of geniusness…”
Jarron (Cleveland, OH): Hello, Mr. Morgan. Between all the interviews, chats, research, and watching and calling games, how much time in season do you think you spend per week?
Joe Morgan: That's difficult to say, because I'm a fan first - I read the newspaper and watch the highlights as fans do. But I don't have an hour time, or whatever. I spend quite a bit of time on baseball, but it's just part of what I do, because I enjoy the game.
KT: By my estimation, you, by your own estimation, claim to have not seen about 20 of the 30 MLB teams enough to evaluate them.
Ryan (Buckhead): Joe, do you think Vernon Wells is the best all around CF in the game?
Joe Morgan: Well, I would have to say he's in the top 2 or 3. He's had the potential. The problem in the past has been his consistency. (…)
KT: At least Joe himself is consistent, with his vocabulary.
Ben (Boston): Has American league pitching gotten better, or has the hitting just become worse. And if it is better pitching then why haven't there been any NO-NO's in the past couple of years.
Joe Morgan: I don't really think the pitching has gotten better. I watch games and maybe in the some cases the pitching is better, but I don't think it's gotten better. I just think there are a lot of things that say the hitting is down a little bit overall. We might as well be blunt and say that the testing for steroids and other drugs is part of the reason. Amphetamines may be as big a problem as the steroids.
KT: OMG! OMG! Joe attributed something to steroids! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
We love our readers. I hope you guys know that by now. And I'm personally sorry that I haven't posted at least once a day for the last month. Believe me, I'd like nothing more than to be blogging 18 hours a day.
But back to you, the readers. You've been doing your part, and for those of you who don't write in or don't realize how many people do, here's just a quick rundown of the type of stuff we get in just a one-day span. It's Gallimaufry time.
I don't know if you guys heard this, but last night around 12:30 on ESPN Radio's Gamenight, these two clowns were debating whether or not Manny Ramirez was a Hall of Famer.
And by "debating" I mean they sort of threw it out there and then both agreed that he wasn't. One of them said he thought about it a long time, and then was persuaded by the second guy's opinion. Did they discuss, his career OBP of .410, or the fact that he has has never had even a mediocre full season in the Majors, or that by the time he's done he'll have at least 550 dingers? No.
The discussion basically went like "well, 455 HR's is a good number, but hey Dave Kingman had 500 HR's and he's not in the HOF." (Of course Kingman had 442, and he also had a career line of .236-.302.-478 compared to Manny's .313-.410.-600) And then they discussed how Manny sometimes looks like he's not trying. Then they strangely moved on to how Papi Ortiz has a better chance of making the HoF if he keeps going because he's so clutch; they never menitoned Manny's World Series MVP.
My favorite part is that their counterexample is Dave Kingman because he had 500 homers, when in fact he didn't even do that. Manny is so far ahead of Ortiz in the Hall of Fame race it's ridiculous.
From Evan (and many, many others):
Not sure if you saw this. Verducci from SI tries to argue that OBP may not be the best barometer of lead-off hitters. Part of it made my brain hurt.
A lot of people pointed us to this article, probably because we've been so hard on Jose Reyes in the past. After reading it, though, I'm not as angry as a lot of you. Here's why: up to this point in the season, Jose Reyes has been a fantastic hitter for a shortstop. Fantastic. Look at these numbers: a .361 OBP, a .495 SLG, an .856 OPS. He's stolen 34 bases and only been caught 8 times. When Verducci wrote the article, he was only OBPing .338, but it's hard to go back and criticize a guy for what now looks like prescience rather than an attempt to justify the hype. Reyes' play over the course of 73 games has justified the hype. Get back to me at the end of the year if he's back down to the .330s, though.
McCarver did a long riff on how brilliant and throrough in their research the Red Sox were before deciding to go out and trade for Mike Lowell in the off season. Never once mentioning that he was a grudgingly accepted contract dump - the price of doing business in the Beckett deal. Not sure if you can find the transcript anywhere (2nd inning, Saturday's game) , but he went on and on and no one stopped him.
Lowell is certainly exceeding the rosiest projections of any Red Sox analyst. It's pretty crazy to argue he was anything other than a means for the Sox to get Beckett.
Oh man, come on.
The play by play guy just said.."They have the most foul territory here in Detroit, more than anywhere, and that's why they have such a low team ERA." Then, as if to cover him self, he said, and the pitchers probably are maturing as well.
Would like to know which play by play guy said this, but thanks for that, Tony.
From Joey: Thought I'd give you all a heads up on more Tim McCarver fun from Saturday's FOX Game of the Week:
"Tim McCarver: In Scrabble, W's are worth 4 points. S's are only worth 1 point. But as far as Papelbon is concerned, S's are worth a lot more than W's.
Joe Buck: Folks, feel free to turn off your TVs right now. Go do something else. Good Lord..."
FJM: As far as FJM is concerned, neither W's or S's are worth anything as statistics.
im watching tonights game...first thought, does ozzie (osbourne) guillen ever drink his water or does he always spit it out.
I'm pretty sure this was actually from Chris Berman.
Don't know if you guys caught the brilliant exchange between Joe and Johnny in the bottom of the 11th tonight. As Podsednik came to bat with the winning run on 3rd and 2 down, both Joe and Johnny (but particularly Joe) expressed their supreme conviction that the Astros would be wise to pitch around Podsenik to pitch to Iguchi, as this would be "playing the percentages." Presumably they were talking about the lefty-righty thing, as Qualls was pitching. Notwithstanding the fact that Iguchi had, oh, 2 homers and 7 RBIs in the game to that point, had they examined the percentages they would have discovered that (1) Iguchi is, overall, a much better hitter than Podsednik, and (2) Iguchi, the righty, is actually much better than Podsednik against righties...
I'm sure you guys can make the numbers look much better than I could, so I'll leave that part to you.
I'll just organize them a bit better:
Scott Podsednik 2006 OPS vs. LHP: .552 vs. RHP: .810
Tadahito Iguchi 2006 OPS vs. LHP: .671 vs. RHP: .839
The lesson is: never, ever pitch around Scott Podsednik.
Don't know if you saw Sportscenter the last day or so.
They had Schlereth, Salisbury, and Golic ranking the QB situation of every team in the NFL.
While they did name the Patriots as number one, one of the "geniuses" made a comment that Tom Brady will never lead the league in stats.
UMM, last year, Brady led the league in passing yards. People still don't think Brady can throw the ball. Amazing.
People are still trying with the football stuff, and I condone this. Hey, if you've got Marcelo Balboa or Dave O'Brien complaints, go ahead, send them in.
And one last one, from Charlie:
Don't know if you guys caught this last night but in one of the extra innings in the Stros-White Sox game, Bobby Jenks through a pitch that Joe Morgan identified as a slider, but the speed flashed 97mph. Joe then went on and on about how nobody can throw a slider 97mph so the radar gun must have gotten it wrong.
A radar gun, with its digital readout, qualifies as a computer in Joe's world. They are not to be trusted. In the coming Artifical Intelligence Wars, whose side will you be on? Whose side will the radar guns be on? Don't go crying to Joe when a radar gun kidnaps your sister.
That's just a selection of emails from a 24-hour period. Bottom line: you're our eyes and ears. Wherever the sports media are embarrassing themselves with their ignorance, you're there. Thank you.
I am very late to this party, and I did not see the game, but in re: Joe's last quote: I am willing to bet eleventy trillion dollars he actually called it a "slide piece," a term which makes my skin crawl.
Monday Night Baseball, Yankees-Braves. Scott Proctor comes in to pitch the 8th.
Gary Thorne: He is the workhorse of the Yankee bullpen. Sutcliffe: Well, you're going to have workhorses when you win as many games as they do.
Now, I'm no embarrassing, in-my-cups, public shame mongering former ballplayer, but to me, the number of games a team wins doesn't affect the number of innings a medium-good bullpen guy like Proctor is likely to throw. Because: either the team is behind a lot, so someone needs to come in and relieve the troubled starter, or else his team has a lead, and they need someone to hold the line. For example, just at random, last year in the NL, the top seven leaders in games pitched were Eyre, Majewski, Sanchez, Fuentes, Madson, Mercker, Torres. Their teams, SFG, Nats, Dodgers, Rox, Phils, Reds, and Bucs, all missed the playoffs.
Why am I harping on this middlingly stupid thing uttered by ol' Martini Jones? Because a few minutes later he said that if he had to vote for MVP right now, he would vote for Derek Jeter. And that made me really angry.
Now, Jeter is in the midst of one of his best years. His OPB is among the best in the league, and he's hitting the ball really well. But he has five HR. He is 15th in the league in RC27 at 7.71 -- a very nice number, but only good for third on his own team. Posada's at 7.73, and Giambi's posting a robust and unquestionably HGH-fueled 9.44.
I kid. I'm sure he's found something better than HGH by now.
Anyway, oh my God, Derek Jeter is a terrible idea for an MVP. Jim Thome? Manny/Papi? Travis Hafner? Vernon Wells? Alex Rios? Jermaine Dye? Joe Mauer? For that matter, if you're voting for Jeter, why not vote for Kevin Youkilis? They have almost identical OBP, But Youk has four more HR and a better OPS.
Hundreds of good guesses as to Joe's mysterious phone call (see post below if you are getting here late). Many suggested the caller was some combination of Billy Beane, Michael Lewis, or "the computer that wrote 'Moneyball.'" Other guesses ranged from Phil Mickelson to Osama Bin Laden. Here are a few of my favorites.
Joe was on the phone with his financial adviser. He didn't care about the amount of money in his account, he just wanted to know if his money was "hustling" or "gritty" and if it could hit to the right side with a man on second.
Joe Morgan was making a trade in his intangibles fantasy league. He was getting rid of Alex Rodriguez for Bernie Williams. What a steal for Joe, since Bernie has won four championships.
[Thoughtjunkie had a similar idea: Joe got wrapped up in making a trade for his Intangible Fantasy Baseball League...He came THIS close to unloading A-Rod (Hustle:5, Grit: 1, PlaysGameRightWay: 2) and Garciapara (4,3,3) for David Eckstein (9,8,11)]
Here's a nice thought from Ryan:
I think Joe was just "phoning in" his next Sunday night broadcast.
And Brian had a particularly harsh rebuke...of Mike Celizic:
HatGuy called and Joe abruptly hung up. Even Joe hates his crap.
Joe’s not really sure who the phone call came from. It could have been his mother. It could have been his wife. It could have been his dog calling for more treats. The bottom line is that it’s all about execution. Joe answered the phone call promptly and courteously. And that’s what’s important. Tony Perez – who you might not know but was a teammate of Joe’s in Cincinnati - always used to answer phone calls efficiently. It didn’t show up in the boxscores, but there was no one better at answering phone calls than Tony Perez.
It was Dave Concepcion on the phone. they were having an argument on who was the best double play combo to play the game. They ranked Morgan and Concepcion number one, followed by Concepcion and Morgan.
I don’t think it was a phone call. Someone turned on an actual live baseball game on one or more of the TV screens in the room. Joe, rather than watch more than one game a week, had to be removed from the room and put on oxygen.
Joe found his daughter, with only a flashlight and a copy of Moneyball, under the kitchen sink. And she was supposed to be practicing gymnastics.
(That's my favorite of the "Moneyball"-related answers. It has a wonderful sense of optimism. It believes the children are our future.)
Here's a slightly less heartwarming notion, from Joseph:
Jeter called and told Joe he had 3 hours to get to New York and blow him.
And finally, my personal favorite, from Matt:
I don't know who it was, I just wish he'd call during Sunday Night Baseball.
...for your guesses as to whom Joe spoke with on the phone during his ESPN chat. There was a record-breaking number of responses. Since this is the first write-in contest of its kind, any number would be record-breaking, but still, there were a ton -- so many that it might take me a day to sift through them and pick my favorites. I will try to post the winners tomorrow, Friday, but please be patient.
And thank you all for writing in. They were a joy to read.
We have gotten hundreds of responses guessing at Joe's mystery phone call. Really nice work from a lot of you. I'm going to set the deadline at midnight tonight, Thursday, to submit your guesses to the Ken Tremendous address above. Sometime tomorrow I will post our favorites.
Sorry we haven't updated in a while...the last two JoeChats on ESPN Insider have been incredibly dull. Not even a string of "I haven't seen them enough to comment"s. Nothing. Boring answers to boring questions. But something very weird did happen at the end of today's session, so instead of critiquing Joe's answers, I am going to reprint the last chunk of the chat, and invite you all to write in with your best guesses as to what really went down. Take a gander.
Buzzmaster: Joe had to take an important phone call just now .. he'll be back momentarily .. he apologizes for the interruption ..
Buzzmaster: How's everyone doing? Sorry for the delay. But we'll get going again here in a minute. Be sure to stick around for the Mike Greenberg chat at 1pm. That's always fun.
joey: how yaaaa doin' Buzz?
Buzzmaster: Not bad! Hungry! But not bad!
Matt (DC): I had this great question for you Buzz, but then I realized you weren't on the schedule today and I forgot it...
And then, after a bunch of questions for Buzz...
Chris (STL): Joe's not comin back is he?
Buzzmaster: This reminds me of junior high. waiting by the phone for a call that never comes. ; (
Dan (Boston): Are we going to get validated for parking since Joe hasnt come back? I feel cheated!!
Buzzmaster: Sorry folks. If we get Joe back, we'll continue to ask him more of your questions. So check the wrap later in the day. We'll keep it non-Insider until end of day.
So, the question is: what was the important phone call that Joe took? Who was it, and what was it about? Send your best guesses to the Ken Tremendous e-mail address at the top of the page, and I'll print my favorites.
Chipper Jones, with the bases loaded, hits a sacrifice fly to right, scoring the barely moving Todd Pratt. The score is now 4-1, Sox. Here's Ron Gant:
Chipper does his job here. Yes, you would like to get a hit in this situation, or hit the ball out of the ballpark, but when you step up to the plate with the bases loaded or runners in scoring position, your job is to get that run at third base into home plate and that's what he did there. You know, like I said, you want to get a base hit, you want to be greedy as a hitter, but you get that run in, and, you know, that's a start. You need runs, and, you know, one right now is just as valuable as putting two or three on the board.
Long-winded, circuitous, hidebound, and he wraps up with an inane conclusion that's just completely untrue. Ron, do you really want to go on record as saying that one run is just as valuable as two or three? I think the only time that's true is when it's a tie game and the other guys aren't going to bat again. I do like that it's "greedy" for a major league hitter to shoot for getting a hit when he comes up to bat.
Meanwhile, did Harold Reynolds just say it's okay for college pitchers to throw 130+ pitches per start over on ESPN2? I need confirmation on this.
How this has slipped by us for so long, I have no idea. And I apologize.
Some things I find hilarious about this blog, not counting anything in any of the posts:
1) Former MLB player and Best Damn Sports Show contributor Rob Dibble once had a honest-to-goodness column on foxsports.com. Now, he has a "blog," which doesn't seem to be advertised any more or less prominently than any of the other thousand or so reader-created blogs on foxsports. This leads me to believe that when they took his column away, he was like, "Fine. Well then, I'm just going to start my own blog on YOUR site. See if you can stop me!" (BTW: The only personal description I can think of that is more loathsome than "Best Damn Sports Show contributor" is "Convicted Sex Offender.")
2) His avatar is the Fox Sports logo, which is either the default avatar or one he actually chose, apparently to remind people that he still works for the network.
3) This is his "about me" section:
During his seven-year Major League career, Rob Dibble was known as much for his personality and outrageous antics as he was for his on-field performance. The Reds first round pick in the 1983 draft, Dibble and fellow relievers Norm Charlton and Randy Myers were tagged "Nasty Boys." The trio served as the backbone of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen and anchored the 1990 World Championship team.
There are three possibilities here: A) He wrote that himself. B) He had someone write it for him C) He lifted it from somewhere else. My first instinct was C, but Google searches have proven inconclusive. But we know it's not A.
Point is, we have a lot of Rob Dibble catch up to do, so get ready for that.
Perhaps The Dumbest Thing Ever Said About David Eckstein
Congratulations, Orestes Destrade. On tonight's Baseball Tonight, you did it.
"Eckstein had gotten a clutch hit when it was 6 to 2. That kid, for a little guy, he's a very clutch hitter."
I think my head just exploded.
Aside from the fact that Destrade called Eckstein's hit "clutch," as if he knew that Scott Spezio was going to hit a 3 run double later in the inning, we also get the added bonus of a weird implication that one needs to be of notable physical size to be "clutch."
JoeChat. It's mostly boring, so let's do an abbreviated fisking today.
Buddy Cianci (Providence): Joe, Do you have to physically see a player in order to evaluate him? Can't you look at stats?
Oh, Buddy. You're not real, are you, Buddy? (No, you're not. As I've been informed, you're the imprisoned former mayor of Providence.) What you just did is like throwing meat in front of a hungry bear. A bear who hates statistics. And it's meat with numbers in it.
Joe Morgan: Stats don't tell you about heart, determination and mental attitude.
Or grit, hustle and calm eyes. No, unfortunately, statistics just tell you how good a player is at avoiding making outs while playing baseball. Information that is essentially useless in talent evaluation. When I'm building a team, I want a bunch of inspirational stories. A team of Rudys, or Air Buds. Yeah. I'll call them the Los Angeles Air Buds.
I have heard there are teams that think they can look at a stat sheet and tell you if a guy can play. I don't agree.
The operative words here are "can play." Can a guy play if he OPSes 1.200 for a whole season for the Portland (Maine) Sea Dogs, or WHIPs 0.79 for the Portland (Oregon) Beavers? I would be inclined to say yes, the likelihood is very high that these guys can play. In fact, I would feel much more confident about these fellows than, say, a guy I saw for three days go 8-12 with a couple of home runs and a real sweet swing. Joe Morgan: I never would have gotten a chance to play if someone had just looked at me on paper. I got a chance and it paid off.
For the last time, Joe: you had great statistics. Because you were great at playing baseball. In spite of your underwhelming physical appearance. I don't know how to be more emphatic about this. I'm already writing in choppy sentence. Fragments.
Ricky C/Sacramento: Joe Did you think we'd see the tremendous dropoff in Barry Bonds' production so quickly? Postively startling, even when factoring the injury to his knee.
Joe Morgan: It is not STEROIDS startling to me. STEROIDS Injuries to your STEROIDS legs or hands are devastating for a STEROIDS batter. It is STEROIDS hard to play when you are 100 percent STEROIDS healthy and every percentage you take off makes it that much more difficult. If he can stay STEROIDS healthy the rest of the way he will put up better STEROIDS numbers.
I put in a few extra words that I think Joe often forgets about when he talks about Bonds.
Mike (Edmonton): What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in your career?
Joe Morgan: Probably my size. I was 5'5'' and 140 lbs.! They were looking for big guys in those days.
Looking -- meaning physically seeing, as Buddy pointed out earlier. If they had just looked at your stats, they would've really loved you. Right, Joe? Joe? And isn't it ironic that you would be so against the Moneyball philosophy when in fact ... zzzz ... zzzz Jon (Clemson, SC): How many wins does a good manager give his team over a bad manager? Who do you think is the best current manager and the worst current manager? Why?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: Very good question. It depends on the team itself. A good manager with a good team over 162 games, and this is not an exact science, can make the difference in 10-15 games. A bad manager can make the difference in 20-30 games. It is much easier to lose a game than win one.
This is abject nonsense, even by Joe's standards. If we take his high-end estimates, we find that a good manager "makes the difference" -- presmuably meaning the difference between losing and winning the game -- nearly once every 10 games. One out of every ten games? Really? Joe's guess makes a good manager worth 45 Win Shares. You know how many players were worth 45 Win Shares last year? Zero. Albert Pujols was worth 38. But I guess Bobby Cox is more valuable than Albert. If baseball GMs were smart, they'd start paying managers what they're worth. According to David Pinto, a win in 2005 cost about $880,000. That would make Bobby worth a cool $13,200,000.
Sorry that was all numbers and no jokes. Let's not even get into the fact that Joe thinks a bad manager can lose you 30 games a year. Hey, it's not an exact science.
cliff (CA): I agree stats can't tell you the whole picture. Which of the five tools (speed, arm, average, power, defense) is your favorite?
SportsNation Joe Morgan: Honestly, I never thought in terms of one being a favorite.
It's hitting. I know that's vague, but it's hitting. That's by far the most important "tool."
My dad always told me which players were good hitters, good on defense, etc. He wanted me to be a complete player. That is how I evaluate. How many tools does he have?
That's how you evaluate? How many tools a guy has? Not a complicated mathematical algorithm that yields approximately how many wins a player is worth? It's like I don't even know you anymore, Joe. They are all equal.
Oh Jesus. Just so I'm clear here, according to Joe Morgan:
SPEED = THROWING ARM = HITTING FOR AVERAGE = HITTING FOR POWER = DEFENSE
They are all equal. Alert Baseball Prospectus.
If a guy has limitations, that is a red flag.
Right. A red flag that would absolutely keep you from signing, say, David Ortiz.
Joe Morgan: Although, if you can only do one thing, I guess hitting is what you want.
Sure, hitting is what you want if you're into picking one thing arbitrarily out of a group of things that are exactly equal, which all five tools are.
Feel free to skip this, because it's going to have absolutely nothing to do with baseball.
Remember Tommy Lasorda's blog? Right. Well, he has a new entry, and in delightful stereotype-reinforcing fashion, this fat, Italian rich guy decided to write all about his favorite restaurants. Now that's a spicy-a meatball!
He lists his picks city by city, as if to say, "if you're ever in Chicago, you have to try ___." And yet, his list is almost half chain restaurants like Bucco di Beppo (he's picking the one in Universal City no less?!). His two picks for Washington, DC: ESPN Zone and The White House.
Finally, presumably because he wanted me to have terrible nightmares tonight, Lasorda also includes the following: "If you combined all the pasta I have eaten at Carmine’s over the years you could fill an entire train."
First of all, I'd challenge your spelling of the classic Italian cliche: "Now that's a spicy-a meatball!" as: "Now that's a spicy meat-a-ball!" Just rolls off the tongue better. Say them both out loud.
Second, here are my favorite restaurant entries in Tommy's blog:
[in Philadelphia] Pat's – One word: PhillyCheeseSteaks!
I guess technically any number of words can become one word, if you just jam everything together.
[in New York] Rao's – Trust me when I tell you that this Italian restaurant has the Best [sic] meatballs ever! The sauce is so good you want to eat it with a spoon.
As opposed to...?
He also names three (!) different ESPN Zones, and a Cracker Barrel. Yikes.
Baseball Tonight's John Kruk, on tonight's Yankees-Red Sox massacre:
It just looked like tonight it was a completely different Yankee team. They weren't the station to station, let's wait 'til A-Rod, Sheffield or Matsui hits a big home run. They were runnin', they were first-to-thirdin' Josh Beckett in the first and second innings. The only guy that didn't go first to third was Posada, for obvious reasons. He can't. But everyone else was first to third, and they put together a big inning with a lot of singles, and you know, then he made the mistake to Andy Phillips, he hits the homer, a couple guys get on, Giambi takes him deep.
In case you didn't see the game, in the big inning Kruk is talking about, the Yankees scored seven runs. Of these seven, six were scored via the home run. Six out of seven. Two huge home runs. Boy, can these guys run!
I mean, but it was a great offensive gameplan by the Yankees.
Joe Torre, 6:55 pm EST: Guys, here's the gameplan. When Josh Beckett throws you batting practice fastballs, hit them out of the ballpark. I can't stress this enough. When balls leave the park, they cannot be fielded, and you're allowed to jog -- jog! -- around the basepaths at your own pace before touching home plate, thereby scoring a run for our baseball team. This is called a home run. The more of these so-called "home runs" you hit, the more John Kruk will mention "first-to-thirding" and also, my gameplan. Station to station -- er, ...
At this point, Kruk gets get so confused he actually says "station-to-station" like it's a good thing. Whoops! ... take the extra base, go first to third, create runs without the home run, and then when he did make mistakes take him deep.
Again, just to recap, John Kruk is claiming that this Yankee team "create[s] runs without the home run" because in the 2nd inning of tonight's game, they hit two three-run home runs.
Writing a critique of an article written by a dude named "JT the Brick" seems a little to me like beating a retarded kid at Trivial Pursuit. There's very little sense of accomplishment. Nevertheless, much like how I would show no mercy to that retard, I must address Mr. the Brick's recent article on msnbc.com.
The city of Houston can officially refer to May 31 as Roger Clemens Day and eventually hope it becomes the next state holiday. Roger would probably enjoy this distinction, because he has the biggest ego in all of professional sports.
FJM Exclusive Scoop! Check out this recently uncovered email.
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Terrell Owens Date: May 31, 2006 6:54 PM Subject: To: JT the Brick
Dear JT the Brick,
How dare you.
Best, Terrell Owens
----------------- "Break on through to the other side" -- Jim Morrison "63% of all statistics are made up...including this one." -- Dogbert
Never has an athlete been so selfish to his teammates and current employer than Clemens.
As Clemens sat back and enjoyed the national attention, while working on his golf game, the Astros compiled a 9-18 road record and are in third place in their division. I mention the dismal road record because Clemens also wanted to make sure, that if he re-signed with Houston, he wouldn't have to attend every road game so he could spend more time at home with his family.
Do you really think Roger Clemens, a 43 year old freak of nature known for his ludicrous offseason workout regimen was really spending this time "working on his golf game?" As for the not traveling to road games thing, well, those were the terms and the Astros agreed to them. It's not like he was holding them hostage or anything.
I don't recall Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice insisting on this type of special treatment when they signed their last contract while looking towards retirement.
First of all, Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice were nowhere near the caliber of player they had been when they retired. In 2005, at the age of 42, Roger Clemens posted his second best career ERA+ and his second best WHIP (#1 being his 1986 MVP season). Also, wasn't there a book written called "The Jordan Rules" about all the insane preferential treatment Jordan got? Do you think he gave any of that up in Washington? Especially considering he was still the de facto GM at the time?
Clemens could have given Red Sox Nation one more chance to forgive him for how he ended his 13-year relationship with the franchise.
Roger Clemens was run out of Boston by Dan Duquette who famously claimed Clemens was "in the twilight of his career." Do you even watch sports?
A farewell tour in a Rex Sox uniform would have made the transition much easier for him when he eventually entered the Hall of Fame.
You're right. Gosh, I hope he gets in!
If he had signed with the Yankees, Clemens would have been all but guaranteed an opportunity to go out a winner and be considered on [sic] of the greatest Yankees ever.
One of the greatest players to have played for the Yankees, for sure, but that's not quite the same as "on [sic] of the greatest Yankees ever." I mean, come on, this would make a total of 5 and a half seasons with the team, not to mention the fact that pretty much everyone in the organization regarded him as a hired gun. Do you actually think he has any Yankee pride? Remember that fake retirement switcheroo he pulled on them? Do you think he feels bad about that?
This was simply a business decision for Clemens, who has the right to secure the financial future of his family after paying his dues and deciding to put his body on the line as he is about to turn 44.
Unless Roger Clemens is some kind of opposite-of-savant-level financial idiot, I'm pretty sure his finances are in order. Not counting this season, according to baseball reference, the dude has made 121 million fucking dollars.
Clemens deserves to be one of the highest paid athletes in professional sports, and his agents always get the best deal available for their most high-profile superstar.
Oh, okay. But what about that thing you said about...aw never mind.
The Roger Clemens Foundation is one of the premiere charitable foundations in all of sports and his ability to continue to pitch will only help his foundation raise more money to help kids.
You have a very weird way of attacking a guy for being selfish, JT the Brick.
Somewhere in northwest Indiana, a man just blamed the players for a team's execrable performance, not the manager. That's good. It's a basic FJM principle that the impact of baseball managers is largely overstated in the media.
On the other hand, the manager that this northwestern Indiana man is defending is none other than Dusty Baker. That's bad. Because, well, Dusty Baker is.
So you can see why I'm conflicted. Fortunately, this man -- his name is Justin Breen -- makes it pretty clear whether he's on the side of good or evil. Let's take a look. Many of the Cubs' fans say it's time for good ol' Dusty Baker to go, and I will say it is not.
Chicago's North Side manager should stay because he knows what he's doing.
I'd like to see your rationale for such a statement, Justin Breen.
Do not blame Baker for the injuries to Derrek Lee, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
Don't fire the guy for the inadequacies of soon-to-be-starting-catcher Henry Blanco, whose .051 batting average is almost one-sixth as good as pitcher Glendon Rusch's .286, whose ERA, by the way, is 7.31.
For goodness sake, don't let this guy depart, even when Lee's replacement, John Mabry, is batting a whopping .186.
Yes, the Cubs have had injuries. Pretty devastating ones, actually. Although by this point, they really should start making plans to play most of their games without Mark Prior and Kerry Wood.
This mess is not Baker's fault, and I can't say that strongly enough.
What I know about Baker is the following:
1. He's a winner.
Uh oh. This is the kind of boilerplate non-analysis that'll get you written about on a site that makes fun of poor sportswriting.
2. With good players, he'll continue to be a winner.
I actually agree. If a team has good players, they'll be a good team, almost completely regardless of what the manager does, short of putting all the guys' names in a hat and making them play random positions. No credit for this, though, since it was preceded by the "He's a winner" nonsense.
3. With this current group of Cubs, he has no chance to win.
Again, sort of true. These guys are terrible. Did you know that as of right now, the Cubs ranks last in the NL in OBP and SLG, as well as second to last in ERA?
The Cubs are one of the worst teams in baseball -- maybe the worst -- playing for one of the game's best managers.
Please don't forget that when Baker came to Wrigleyville, he took the Cubs to within five outs of the World Series. But I guess some Cub fans would hold him responsible for Steve Bartman's bonehead play, Alex Gonzalez's key error and the rest of the collapse, too.
And can we just remember that Baker guided the Cubs to consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1971-72? Or that, in 2004, Baker became the 50th manager to win 1,000 games? Or that he's a two-time winner of The Sporting News Manager of the Year award?
Wow, he's the 50th guy to accomplish a feat that's mostly about longevity? Wow, he won an award that, by my count, has also been won by nine other current managers -- as well as, get this, the third base and first base coaches of the Yankees? One of the best in the game, indeed. (Bobby Cox has won the Manager of the Year award eight times.) Because this guy -- a player who was in the on-deck circle when Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record, and a manager who very easily could have won the World Series with the Giants in 2002 -- deserves better.
And now Dusty gets credit for being in the on-deck circle when someone else did something totally unrelated to managing a baseball game? Did you know that Bruce Bochy was watching on a TV in a Houlihan's in Wichita Falls when the U.S. pulled off the Miracle on Ice? And he was drunk off his ass. That's what I call managing.
Any club searching for the right guy would simply have to look at Baker, who's not Jim Leyland, but he's pretty darn close.
Jim Leyland? Jim Leyland is the new gold standard for managerial excellence? Jim Leyland, who before this season had a career record of 1069-1131, for a magical winning percentage of .486? This is the guy Baker is "pretty darn close" to? Regardless of what you write in the first fifty paragraphs of your article, if you close with this, you're pretty much saying, "Ignore anything that comes out of my pen, because I deserve to be institutionalized and it's possible that my only experience with baseball comes from playing one game of RBI Baseball for the 8-bit Nintendo in 1989 (although I don't believe that game included a role for managers at all, but the point still holds)."
Anyway, the moral is: just when you think you can quietly write an ill-informed sports article for the Northwest Indiana Times and get away with it, some asshole picks it apart sentence by sentence on the internet.