FIRE JOE MORGAN: 02.07

FIRE JOE MORGAN

Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

 

Rick Telander: Moral Arbiter of Our Nation


In a time of moral ambiguity, to whom should we turn for guidance? For a moral code? For a ruling on correct and incorrect behavior?

The Dalai Lama? The Pope, perhaps? Our local religious or spiritual leaders? Oh wait -- I know. How about Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times?

Tom (not so) Terrific clearly out of bounds

Tom Brady, Mr. All-American, says he's ''excited.''

You bet.

Informed that actress and ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan is three months pregnant and he is the impregnator, the three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and purest man in the world -- or rather, his agent, Tom Yee -- said, ''Tom and his family are excited about the pregnancy.''

Wow.

Someone explain the sarcasm. Seriously. What should he have said? "I am not excited about the pregnancy?" "I hate babies?" "I am going to retroactively marry her to make this pregnancy 'legitimate' in Rick Telander's eyes?"

And let's get this out of the way right off the bat, here: none of us, especially not Rick Telander, knows any goddamn thing about the relationship between Tom Brady and Bridget Moynahan. Not one thing. And thus, as a general rule, I'd say it is not really anyone's business to comment on what is "right" and what is "wrong" here. We all agree?

They're not excited about the mother or a possible marriage or any kind of meaningful union between copulators.

They're excited about the fact their son/brother/relative has active sperm.

Rick Telander is preaching the Word! What Tom Brady and Bridget have/had, according to..I guess, things Telander read in gossip pages, is not "meaningful." A relationship is not "meaningful" unless the two people are married. Even if they hate each other. Britney Spears and K-Fed had a more meaningful union than Tom Brady and Bridget Moynahan. So did Drew Barrymore and Tom Green, and Tiny Tim and that woman he married on The Tonight Show, and Liza Minelli and David Gest. All more meaningful than Brady/Moynahan.

Just for kicks, here is an article Rick wrote about Tony Dungy and, ironically, considering the Brady article, the evils of proselytizing Some excerpts:

Where does the sports teaching end and the proselytizing begin?

Where do the religious beliefs of those in authority become standards for those underneath, and when and how does ostracism for those in disagreement kick in?

Would someone like Dungy, for example, be less or more inclined to keep a devout Christian player over, say, a devout Hindu?

We are an overwhelmingly Christian nation.

But that is not by design, law or decree, and it seems we sometimes forget this.

Great. So, don't impose your value system on other people, then, is the message? Excellent. Continue.

Maybe the Brady family also is excited about the late-night talk-show jokes that are brewing as I type this.

I doubt it.

Maybe they're excited about Brady's current squeeze, pouty-lipped Brazilian lingerie model Gisele Bundchen, who could become the nanny for the baby, if not the actual stepmother.

Brady is at fault because he is dating an attractive woman. As opposed to his ex-girlfriend Moynahan, who was ugly as sin but had a heart of gold. He should have stayed with the sweet ugly girl! What a dick.

Also, the insertion of Gisele's nationality in conjunction with the idea of her nannying for the baby strikes me as latent racism. Who's with me?

Not that Moynahan is giving this child up.

She made no secret of the fact she wanted a baby when she and Brady were hooking up, excuse me, dating.

Now Moynahan is a valueless immoral person because she declined to...what? Skip the dating period and go right to marriage? Perhaps Telander has never in his life "hooked up" with anyone, thus giving him the right to say this so asshole-ishly. Or, wait -- actually, that would not give him the right to do that. He'd still be a preachy asshole.

''I've been on this career thing for so long, and you look at all your friends who are finally getting married and having kids,'' she told Boston Common magazine last fall. ''I believe in balance in life, so I think I can do it all.''

Never mind the oxymoronic essence of that last statement, the part Moynahan is missing is that pesky part about family.

Having a baby is one thing. Having a baby without a legitimate father is another, entirely.

I think it is probably, in many/most cases, preferable to have a stable two-parent family unit for the sake of a child. That does not exclude the possibility of happiness for all involved sans marriage, especially when the father has expressed happiness at the news of the pregnancy, and both parents are quite financially capable of supporting the child. And I wholesale reject the notion that any unmarried couple is "illegitimate." That is shortsighted and preachy and pedantic to the point of absurdity.

Brady, 29, named one of People magazine's ''50 Most Beautiful People'' in 2002, is not the marrying kind. At least not now.

Hope that doesn't shock you, Bridget and Gisele.

But the shocking part to the world is that here is Tom Brady of the New England Patriots with those twinkling blue eyes and Cleaver-family upbringing -- Charles Pierce's recent biography, Moving the Chains: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything, all but anoints the young man -- and he's just out there sowing seed like every other irresponsible rascal.

Really. Okay. Well. Huh. Gee. Gosh. That's retarded.

Let me reiterate: I do not know anything about Brady's relationship with Moynahan that you don't. What I do know: they dated for a long time. Several years. She is hardly a stripper whom Brady met on a drunken binge. This is hardly a Shawn Kemp situation. This is two people who were seriously involved for a fair amount of time -- longer than many, many marriages, BTW -- dealing with a pregnancy that occurred at the very end of their relationship. Is it the best possible situation? No. It is not. But there is a difference between: long relationship/dad happy about the news and a 20-minute relationship/dad denies fatherhood/mother sues everyone kind of situation.

The troubling part is not the gossip and all the rest of the giggle-inducing tawdriness of this little scene.

It is that babies in our modern American world have become items and baubles, things to have or not have, depending on the whim, mood, naivete, intoxication level, desperation and silliness of the two people involved.

Yes, that certainly describes this occurrence. Whimsical (three-year relationship), naive (29- and 35 year-olds, neither of whom known for lack of worldliness), intoxicated (N/A), desperation (stable careers on both ends) and silly (?).

That Britney Spears is the mother of two children, with her shaved head and utter instability, is about all we need to know of the children-as-accessories mental state.

Britney, meet Tom Brady. Tom, Britney. Britney, Bridget Moynahan, Bridget this is Britney. You'll like these two, Brit -- you have absolutely nothing in common with them.

And by the way -- Brit was married when she got pregnant twice, moron.

Moynahan said, via her publicist Christine Papadopoulous (this is how rich celebs communicate, you know), that she is ''healthy and excited.''

Slut.

Of course, no mention was made as to whether the fetus was equally as thrilled.

If I were a foetus, given all of the possible options for my future, I would be mothereffing psyched to be inside Bridget Moynahan with Tom Brady as my father, knowing that both people were excited and happy about me coming into the world. I am going to be like 6'3", incredibly athletic, good-looking, and my childhood will be filled with the best schooling and care that money can buy. And even if the Foetus Times-Picayune, to which I subscribe, only showed me the few quotes listed in this article, a few from each of my parents, I would have no reason to believe that either of my parents would be absent or unloving. Which is really all I could ever ask for, being a foetus.

(I can't figure out how to make that cool "oe" dipthong symbol. But I prefer the spelling this way.)

It was back on Dec. 14 that Brady and Moynahan announced, through a (what else?) statement, that they had parted ways ''several weeks'' earlier.

Doing a little language and math work, I see that several means more than two but not many, so the pair must have broken up sometime around, say, mid to late November.

This being late February means Tom Terrific gave three-months-pregnant Bridget a last-fling going-away present.

I like that this is clearly Brady's fault, to Telander. It takes two to tango. Also, and I don't know how better to express this: you have absolutely no idea what happened here. So...shut up? I guess?

You know what this reminds me of? I seem to recall a very special episode of Doogie Howser, M.D., in like the fifth season, where he lost his virginity. If I remember correctly, he was like 18 on the show. He had been dating his girlfriend for several years. They were in love. They discussed the use of contraception. And, need I remind everyone, he was a super-genius who was also a medical doctor. And certain people in this world lost their shit and said the whole thing was a bad lesson for kids and immoral and stuff.

And I remember thinking: this is a freaking great lesson for kids. The lesson was: wait until you are old enough to go to college and a medical doctor and a super genius and you have been dating someone for years and years and openly discuss contraception before you have sex. If we could get every kid in the world to think like that, wouldn't the world probably have fewer unwanted pregnancies and be a healthier overall place?

Not the same exact situation, but the fact remains: look at the specifics of the situation before you pass judgment.

I promise I will write something about VORP or EqA or something very soon. But this really bugged me.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:04 AM
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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

 

Gentlemen.

There is much work left to be done.

posted by dak  # 7:35 PM
Comments:
We have lady readers too, you sexist.
 
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This Is Why This Site Exists

I would guess that something like ninety percent of people still consume all of their sportswriting in the form of newspapers. (I mean, factor in old people and casual fans, right?) They wake up in the morning, pour themselves some orange juice, sit down and read drivel like this willfully uninformed screed from cantakerous, crotchety Murray Chass.

As Season Approaches, Some Topics Should Be Off Limits

Things I don’t want to read or hear about anymore:


Let's cut to the juicy part.

Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

"New age" is touchy-feely. New age is spiritual. New age is intangible. VORP, Mr. Chass, is not new age. It may be relatively new, but it is not new age. It is the opposite of new age. It is an attempt to quantify, to measure, to analyze. You know, a more scientific approach to knowledge. Science -- that thing that humans do to find out more about the world around them. Not new age -- a fake thing that involves pan flutes and rubbing crystals on your body.

I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

You can feel the sneer curling on his face as he writes "electronic publication" with a quill pen in Olde English, then rolls up the parchment and sends it on its three-day horseback journey to his publisher, Lord Sulzberger, Jr.

He's kidding about the e-mail of course. He doesn't have an "e-mail address." E-mail is for new age wack jobs.

To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense.

Sir. Sir. You're still using "new age" incorrectly. Excuse me, sir?

(Murray Chass ignores me and continues brushing his teeth with a small rubber fish.)

For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out.

That's cool. You're just a baseball writer for the fucking New York fucking Times. Thanks for caring about your fucking job so much you won't type "define:vorp" into Google, hit return, and then read the literally two sentences that result. I just did it ten times in the last three seconds. You're right, though: I guess those are "great lengths" for a 479-year-old member of the tribe of living undead.

I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.

Those colleagues:

Tim McCarver
Branch Rickey
Abner Doubleday
Alexander Joy Cartwright
Scoop Jackson
Herodotus
John Kruk

Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.

If you read this paragraph again, you'll find that it doesn't really contain an argument in any sense of the word. Since when are baseball statistics supposed to be "thrilling"? How thrilling is ERA, a thing you presmuably think is fine? And you still don't know what VORP means, even after writing about it in a professional column in a professional newspaper, professionally?

I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative.

In their parents' basements, not getting a date for prom, wearing nerd glasses and playing the violin. Even at age 9,354, Murray gets a thrill out of nailing these dorks. Good luck getting laid, dorks! Gotcha!

But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

Murray Chass: New age new age new age new age the end. My column's done!

Nurse: Very good, Murray! We're going out into the garden now for some fresh air. The garden. Won't that be fun?

Saying that VORP undermines "enjoyment" and the "human factor" is like creationists saying that evolution takes away the "wonder" and "mystery" of the universe. It doesn't. It makes it awesomer.

People play baseball. Numbers don’t.

I actually believe that goofy, anthropomorphic numbers with arms and legs and silly oversize white gloves play all of the games we know of in what we call professional baseball. Call me crazy, but that is what I believe.

Murray Chass: proof that there is still a reason we behave like true dickheads on this site.

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posted by Junior  # 2:42 PM
Comments:
For those interested, BP has responded as well here.
 
But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

...How? What? How?

Most fans' enjoyment is threatened by statistics? Most?

Can't people who don't like statistics just ignore statistics? It only helps us -- more dummies to write about.

But seriously: MOST of them are being threatened? By VORP?
 
Interesting response here as well.

Excellent question: why do the Editors of the NYT allow this nonsense?
 
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Yes, It is Saying...Something

Not sports-related, except that it's in Peter King's latest 10 Things I Think I Think:

h. There is no one -- not Letterman, not Leno, not Caliendo -- funnier than Bill Bryson. That's saying something.
He is funnier than...one funny person, one other late-night host, and the guy who does John Madden on Fox's pre-game shows. Congratulations, Bill Bryson.

Forget for a moment that he thinks Bill Bryson is the funniest person in the world. Are those really the next three on the list? Here's what I imagine is Peter King's 10 Funniest People List:

1. Bill Bryson
2. Frank Caliendo
3. Jay Leno
4. David Letterman
5. Scott Bakula
6. Donald Sutherland
7. Ang Lee
8. DJ Qualls
9. The Dog from Frasier
10. Wim Wenders

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:51 AM
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Monday, February 26, 2007

 

Oh, I Get It: Bloggers Are Homeless People

Sportswriters, stop being so angry about bloggers. They exist. They're not going to stop existing anytime soon. Some are good, some are bad -- just like you, sportswriters. Happily, the good (or at least semi-coherent and semi-entertaining) ones will probably get read more than the bad ones because people on the Internet can pick and choose what they want to read. Unhappily, thousands of people can hate a local sportswriter and he'll still probably keep his job for decades on end.

Patrick Reusse, some guy, is shaking his fist and saying that too many damn people have blogs. How is saying it? Through a poorly conceived and shoddily executed dialogue piece between a fictionalized sportswriter and blogger. And the blogger is (prepare your stomach for a hearty belly laugh) a homeless man. Watch your back, Jonathan Swift!

Patrick Reusse: The next blog could be right around the corner

Journalism is getting very crowded in this new age of the blogosphere, with the Internet giving anyone with an opinion and a computer a venue to vent.


Timely!

Portly Old Scribe (POS) was waddling down Fifth Street. There was a gentleman coming in the opposite direction. He was pushing a shopping cart filled with various items, including what seemed to be his next day's wardrobe options.

He turned the cart at an angle in front of POS. The scribe started to reach for his wallet, figuring a couple of bucks might cause him to remove the sidewalk blockade.

"No, big man, I ain't looking for a handout," he said. "I recognize your moon face from the newspapers I use as a mattress. I just wanted to introduce myself, and let you know we're going to be colleagues."

Colleagues?


Sums it up: guys who write for newspapers are terrified and insulted that Joe Plebeian might dare offer his own opinions on the local sporting club. This is unacceptable. Leave it to the professionals, "bloggers"! You're probably homeless!

"Yeah, I'm starting a Twins blog this week for your website," he said. "Homeless Hans' Homerisms, but go ahead ... just call it HHH."

I don't really get this. Half-joke? Why is his name Hans? Is that a "funny" name?

** EDIT **
Dak posits that this is some kind of Hubert H. Humphrey allusion. I'm unmoved.

The scribe was aware that Twins blogs were multiplying on startribune.com like the stallion A.P. Indy, but this revelation led to a request for details.


Here's the thing: as far as I can tell, there are three blogs on startribune.com. One is by the Trib's national baseball reporter. Another is by their current Twins beat writer. And the last is by their former beat writer.

What a bunch of crazy homeless bums! They'll let anyone write about sports in this new Internetland!

HHH: "I just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time. I was taking a rest in that little park across from 425 Portland, a guy came out the front door, jaywalked across the street and sat on the park bench.

"We started talking, he asked if I knew anything about the Twins, I said, 'Always read about 'em when I find an old newspaper,' and he signed me up for the blog right there.

"Homeless Hans' Homerisms. Beautiful!"


This guy Patrick Reusse apparently thinks the way you get a blog is to go to the offices of your local newspaper and be offered one by a newspaper reporter. That is not how you start a blog. It's actually much easier than that. You can do it on your own in your own home by going to blogger.com. If you're homeless, you could go to a local library and then go to blogger.com. Should I tell Patrick this or would this just make him write a new, more hilarious piece about a dog becoming a blogger?

Plus, I reject the premise that it's a bad thing for a blogger to be homeless. I would totally read a blog written by a homeless guy. That would be awesome. I'm going to check some homeless blogs out right now.

(Time passes.)

Okay, I found a couple that might be interesting. Here's one about a guy in Nashville. Here's another.

I didn't examine either of them that closely, but I'm going to go ahead and say that the quality of writing on both meets or exceeds the level of writing done by Patrick Reusse. Even though they're homeless.

POS: "I have a confession to make, Hans. I'm not really into this blog stuff."

HHH: "The problem, oldtimer, is you're stuck in the time warp that thinks New Journalism is synonymous with Tom Wolfe. What we have now is New-Newer-Newest Journalism -- an America with 300 million columnists."

POS: "But that word, blog, what is it?

HHH: "How dumb are you? Everyone knows blog is an acronym for boot licking, obfuscation and grandiosity."


That is so unfunny I bet the guy who wrote it is homeless or something. He doesn't deserve a home if he has one. I bet he eats out of the garbage, stupid homeless guy.

POS: "I'm still confused. Exactly what is it that you, Homeless Hans, plans to give fans that they can't get on the several thousand other blogs offering Twins insights?"

HHH: "Glad you asked. Often during the past 20 years, I've seen pedestrians steer clear when they see and hear me on the street corner, muttering.

"What they don't know is what I'm doing is mentally and verbally running the numbers that I use to quantify a hitter's contribution to a ballclub."

POS: "Runs scored, runs batted in, batting average?"

HHH: "I knew those stats were passé before Bill James' first book was a gleam in his publisher's eye. What you get from Hans is an exclusive look at the OBPSPCAL/ CGEHFTxTB/GDP statistic. You'll be able to find the key number for every player on my blog."


As a bonus, Reusse throws in a jab at sabermetrics. Makes perfect sense.

Get your stereotypes straight, dude. People who look at numbers are nerds. People who are bad at writing are homeless.

POS: "Any chance you could enlighten me on how you arrive at the one number that tells us all we need to know about a big-league hitter?"

HHH: "Simple, really. On-base percentage, plus slugging percentage, plus close-and-late average, divided by times you couldn't get 'em home from third, multiplied by total bases, divided by grounded into double plays.

"And get this? OBPSPCAL/CGEHFTxTB/GDP proves Matt LeCroy should be the Twins' starting catcher and not Joe Mauer."


Boring.

Hey, did you know that by looking at numbers, you can figure out that Matt LeCroy is a crazy lefty masher? It's true. In 2005, he OPS-ed 1.025 against lefties (in 124 AB). In 2004, it was .901 in 90 AB.

The rest of the article is one long, dumb digression about a stadium or something. Here's a message to Patrick Reusse and people like him: you have nothing to worry about if you're good at writing. People enjoy reading stuff that is good, whether it's in a newspaper, on a computer, or on the underside of a Nantucket Nectars cap. You sound sad and out of touch when you complain about people writing in a slightly different format from your own.

In 1455, Patrick Reusse was a monk who copied Bibles longhand complaining about goddamn Gutenberg and his goddamn printing press.

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posted by Junior  # 6:56 PM
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

 

Our Readers: Even Bigger Assholes Than We Are

So of course I felt a little bad about mildly criticizing what basically amounted to a heartfelt obituary that Bill Simmons wrote for Dennis Johnson. Not you guys, though. A bunch of you wrote in with additional embellishments, overstatements, and just plain mistakes that Simmons made. Thanks, you heartless bastards.

Nearly all of the complaints I got centered around Simmons' hyperbole about DJ's signature play -- the post-Larry-Bird-steal layup in Game 5 of the '87 Finals. Here's what Simmons had to say (caution, extremely long):

Like everything else about his career, few remember his defining moment: The waning seconds of Game 5 in the '87 Eastern finals, when Bird famously picked off Isiah's pass and dished to DJ for the winning layup. Everyone remembers the steal and Johnny Most's call; nobody remembers DJ standing near midcourt, seeing Bird moving for the pass. Even as Bird snatched the ball out of Laimbeer's hands, DJ was already moving toward the basket with his hands up, ready to make the winning shot. From the mid-'70s to right now, I can only pinpoint a handful of players who would have instinctively known to cut toward the basket even as that steal was in the process of happening -- MJ, Magic, Frazier, Stockton, Reggie, Mullin, Rick Barry, Isiah (ironically, the one who threw the pass), Robert Horry, Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd, Iverson, Nash, Kobe, and that's about it. Nobody else starts moving until after the steal happens. And by the way, if DJ never made that cut, Bird would have been forced to launch a fall-away 10-footer over the backboard to win the game -- which he probably would have made, but that's beside the point.

One more thought on that layup: the replay never does it justice. DJ was going full speed, hauled the pass from the left, then had Dumars coming at him from his direct right, so he had to shield the ball from Dumars, turn his body to the left and make a reverse layup that was much harder than it looked. My father and I were sitting on the opposite side of the main CBS camera, right in the tunnel where the players entered and exited (you can even see us at the end of this particular game), so you have to believe me on this one: that layup almost missed. Dumars changed the angle at the last second; DJ's layup struck the right side of the rim and somehow dropped home. Believe me, the layup was just as tough as the steal.

Whew. Now here's the play, which Simmons linked to in his article:



Notice anything? Many of you assholes did. Notably:

1. nobody remembers DJ standing near midcourt, seeing Bird moving for the pass.

When Bird steals the ball, at around 0:32 in the video, Johnson is pretty clearly standing just outside the three-point line, not "near midcourt".

2. Even as Bird snatched the ball out of Laimbeer's hands, DJ was already moving toward the basket with his hands up, ready to make the winning shot.

If you watch the video, this seems like a fairly large exaggeration. He sees the steal, then cuts. Heads-up play. He wasn't clairvoyant, though.

3. From the mid-'70s to right now, I can only pinpoint a handful of players who would have instinctively known to cut toward the basket even as that steal was in the process of happening -- MJ, Magic, Frazier, Stockton, Reggie, Mullin, Rick Barry, Isiah (ironically, the one who threw the pass), Robert Horry, Dwyane Wade, Jason Kidd, Iverson, Nash, Kobe, and that's about it. Nobody else starts moving until after the steal happens.

This is where a false premise devolves into borderline lunacy. Only those fourteen players would have cut during the steal (a thing DJ didn't really do)? As reader P.J. points out, how could he have left out Eckstein?

Also, Robert Horry? Robert Horry? You're telling me Robert Horry would have stormed the lane but say, Kevin Garnett wouldn't have. Or Scottie Pippen? James Worthy. How about, I don't know, Ginobili? The point isn't that the list isn't complete. The point is that the idea of even making such a list in the first place is sort of crazy.

4. DJ was going full speed, hauled the pass from the left, then had Dumars coming at him from his direct right, so he had to shield the ball from Dumars, turn his body to the left and make a reverse layup that was much harder than it looked.

I think the word you're looking for is "layup," not "reverse layup." Because what Dennis Johnson attempted and made on that play was a layup. A right-handed layup on the left side of the basket is not necessarily a reverse layup. A reverse layup is "A layup that's made after the shooter crosses under the basket to lay the ball in from the other side, usually because the shot might have been blocked on the original side of attack."

Again, we're still critizing an obituary here. Are people happy now? Jesus.

5. Believe me, the layup was just as tough as the steal.

Some of you passionately disagreed with this. Great.

Looking back, the main reason I wrote this post was to be the first guy on FJM to embed a YouTube video. Don't worry, everybody, baseball's in the air!

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posted by Junior  # 4:52 PM
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Friday, February 23, 2007

 

Condolences To Dennis Johnson's Family

In DJ's honor, I'm going to needlessly nitpick an article written in his honor. I'm sorry. I'm a bad person. Yesterday, Bill Simmons wrote:

He should have made the trip to Springfield when he was still alive. Instead, he'll be making it in spirit some day. Didn't have to be that way. If you're reading this, and you have a Hall of Fame vote and you didn't vote for Dennis Johnson the last few years, hang your head in shame.


Last fall, in an article he himself links to in the body of yesterday's column, Bill Simmons wrote:

So why was Dumars elected? For the same reasons most borderline candidates are: 1) He's a good guy, and 2) the voters don't know any better. But Joe D symbolizes an even larger problem. Fact is, neither Moncrief, DJ nor Dumars is a legitimate Hall of Fame choice.

The DJ stands for Dennis Johnson. I think Simmons' point was that the Hall of Fame has too many marginal guys, and he'd like to kick all the borderline members out. But paradoxically, that same lax standard is the only one by which you can argue today that Dennis Johnson truly belongs -- and Simmons not only makes that argument, he thinks anyone who voted otherwise ought to hang his head in shame.

So in the span of a few months, Simmons slams people who voted for Dumars, says neither Dumars nor DJ should make the hall, then abruptly does a 180 and slams everyone who voted against DJ.

I guess it's forgivable because a man died? Let's put it this way, on a scale of Dumars to DJ, my level of anger about this is Sedale Threatt.

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posted by Junior  # 1:54 PM
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Hire Manny Acta

I was floored by how reasonable new Nats manager Manny Acta comes off in this Washington Times article. Honestly. Floored.

Take a look:

Defense: "A big part of defense is positioning. We are not going to be letting these guys do most of these things on their own. We are going to be controlling some part of the game from the bench. We will have enough charts and stuff to be able to see if he is in the right spot and, if not, control it. We would rather take that out of their hands, and between me and Pat Corrales, we will take care of that."

"Charts and stuff." That means evidence, or at least an attempt at evidence. Fine. I like it. A decent start.

Stealing: "We will run selectively. I think one of the things that doomed this club last year is that they were first in caught stealing. I am not going to be running all over the place just because 25,000 people in the stands are saying I am aggressive while people are getting thrown out on the bases. Not everybody will have a green light here. The guys who are going to run are the guys who are going to prove to me that they will be successful most of the time trying to steal a base."

Yes! Manny Acta, I love you. This guy just gets it. He even gets his own dig in at people think making extra outs on the basepaths is "aggressive." Preach on, Manny.

Bunting: "It's been proven to me that a guy at first base with no outs has a better chance to score than a guy at second base with one out. That has been proven to me with millions of at-bats. I don't like moving guys over from first to second unless the pitcher is up or it is real late in the game.

Manny Acta: capable of learning. Open to new ideas. Looks at studies involving millions of at-bats and believes the results over what he's been told over and over again. Opposite of Ozzie Guillen.

Lineup: Acta said his preference for the second spot in the lineup ideally would be determined by on-base percentage -- even though his plan is to bat Guzman, a low-percentage on-base guy, second.

"You can't steal first base," he said. "That is the main thing for me. You have to get on in order to score. I know Guzman is not a big high-percentage guy, but we don't have all the choices that we want to have here right now. With Lopez on base, Guzman may be the ideal guy to get him over with a hit-and-run or a drag bunt to get the guy in the scoring position for the [Ryan] Zimmermans and [Austin] Kearnses of the world.

He said if everyone were healthy, Ryan Church would bat second.


I'm going to come out and say it right now: I think Manny Acta reads FJM every day. He probably has it in his Bloglines.

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posted by Junior  # 1:42 PM
Comments:
Totally Unfun Manny Acta Fact (Manny Facta?): Acta lives in the apartment complex that was hit by the private plane being piloted by New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle on October 11, 2006.

Totally Unfun Manny Facta #2: A reader has already written in and said what Manny said made him "get wood."
 
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

 

Gay People = Asparagus

Ladies and gentlemen, Gene Wojciechowski:

Tim Hardaway hates gay people. I hate asparagus. You hate Lindsay Lohan ring tones. This is important why?

I think the difference is that no one ever robbed asparagus, severely beat asparagus, tied asparagus to a fence post and left asparagus to die.

This is no longer about alternative lifestyles, or whatever the hell euphemism nervous people use to describe gays.

I think the word is "gay."

I'm not naïve enough to believe homosexuality in sports isn't an issue, but it no longer is the issue. Those days are gone. That's why Amaechi is no pioneer and Hardaway is barely a footnote.

That's why there are so many openly gay male athletes currently playing in the three major sports. Because it's totally cool now. Tim Hardaway, you silly anachronism!

I don't need any more heartfelt disclosures from the Amaechis of the world. Been there, read that. That's because we live in different, more enlightened times now. Perfect? No. Better? Yes.

It's not my fault Hardaway didn't get the memo.


In closing, I would just like to say that I hate it when people say "didn't get the memo." 499,000 hits on Google. Stop it.

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posted by Junior  # 4:57 PM
Comments:
I am going to say kudos to Wojo for the correct use of the umlaut in "naïve."
 
...but reader Bob is going to say: "Opposite of Kudos" to me for not knowing my shizz:

If we're going to be picky about punctuation, I should point out that the diacritical mark in naïve is not an umlaut--it is a dieresis. The two marks look the same but an umlaut is used to change a vowel to give it a "front" pronunciation, as in Führer. A dieresis indicates that a vowel which one might assume is silent should be pronounced distinctly in its own syllable, as is the case in naïve. The mark doesn't change the pronunciation of the "i"; it simply indicates that it should be separated from the "a".

Now I know. And knowing is half the battle!
 
You know...baseball.
 
You mean: "bäsébøll."
 
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f(f(f(x)))

Today, I'm going to talk about HatGuy talking about people thinking about whether A-Rod's sleepovers with Jeter are important. So many operators! (Math guys, you know what I'm talking about. (I am not a math guy, no emails about math please.))

A-Rod must learn it’s not about getting along

I don't fundamentally disagree with him there. "Must" is a bit strong.

Alex Rodriguez thinks it’s important that he and Derek Jeter don’t get along.

And you think it's so unimportant you're going to write an article about why his thinking that it's not important is important enough that he "must" change for the good of the team? More "important"s in the next sentence? No problem -- this is so unimportant I can't believe I'm bothering to critique how important he thinks it important is important important.

As he said in his first interview in Yankee camp, relations are so strained that the two superstars, who were once fast friends, don’t even do sleepovers any more.

Sleepovers? The word conjures up visions of little A-Rod’s mom calling little Derek’s mom to arrange a play date.


Here HatGuy is extremely charitable about what visions of A-Rod sleeping over at Jeter's place actually conjures up. Kudos on the restraint. Joke grade, though: C.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, the two greatest players on the first Yankee dynasty, didn’t speak to each other, and the Yankees just kept on winning titles. In the 1960s, most of the Dodgers had no use for Don Drysdale, but none of them called press conferences to whimper about it.

Yes. Slap a fedora on me -- HatGuy is making an argument against chemistry!

Every athlete who’s ever played a game realizes that there are going to be teammates who aren’t going to like each other. Everyone would love for every team to be one, big happy family, but it’s not as important as winning.

This paragraph is like the cherry on top of the whipped cream on a hot fudge sundae that I'm eating out of my hat!

A-Rod’s stature is born of the same reality. If his teammates tend to be annoyed with him, it’s not because of how much he makes — they all make plenty — but because he doesn’t come through nearly often enough in the clutch.

Oosh. You had me at "no such thing as chemistry" and then you had to go run your mouth about clutchyclutchness. I think the Yankees probably don't like A-Rod because he's a weird, aloof dick. (And also the clutch thing. They all believe in that stuff, so it's definitely possible.) People hate Barry Bonds because he's a weird, aloof dick -- a much bigger one than A-Rod. Has nothing to do with clutch or not clutch with Barry (not anymore at least).

You could imagine them rolling their eyes at this latest confession by their third baseman and wishing he’d just forget about his image and go out and pound the baseball. That’s all anyone’s ever wanted from A-Rod — performance.

Deep, deep sigh. How many times do we have to go through this? Statistics are a record of what happens on a baseball field -- a measure of "performance," if you will. Certainly, they're an imperfect measure, but a measure nonetheless.

As a New York Yankee, Alex Rodriguez has posted EqAs of .311, .354, and .318. He's hit 119 home runs. He may have been the best player in baseball for one of those seasons. These are great performances. Not historically great, perhaps, but great.

What’s funny is that A-Rod has the reputation for being slick, but it is Jeter who is slicker than snot on a doorknob.


Snot on a doorknob? Snot on a doorknob? That's it. I'm done. Not worth it. I'm out of here. See you later.

[door slam]

[car driving away]

[weekend on private island in Dubai shaped like part of a palm tree]

Okay, I'm back.

Fine, one more section.

What they want is for A-Rod to hit the ball when it counts. They don’t care what he does or doesn’t say, as long as he does his job, which is to get big hits in big games, to carry the team when it’s down, to forget about his image and use his enormous talents to take the game by the throat and not let go.

They don’t care about stats or all-star appearances or endorsement deals. And they absolutely don’t care about his feelings.

They care about what the fans care about — performance.


They don't care about stats, they care about performance? Stats are a measure of performance.

STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.
STATS ARE A MEASURE OF PERFORMANCE.

They're not made up numbers that have nothing to do with baseball. They're a pretty good measure of how valuable you've been on a baseball field. Consider this: if you watched all 162 Yankee games last season, could you rank the Yankee players in order of most to least valuable? I bet you'd be pretty wrong in several cases. But stats -- numbers -- can give you a better, more accurate picture. Because you can't catalog, quantify, and remember everything you've seen. You have no idea if A-Rod went 166-572 or 148-593. That's why we write things down. It helps our brains out, it doesn't hurt them. Sure, you can add in things that you observed that are difficult to quantify to your overall evaluation of a player. But I can't stand when people say "stats" are that grossly different from "performance." They're a reasonably close approximation. They just are.

Of course, he pretty much sucked in the last two playoff seriees he played.

P.S. He wasn't that bad in the playoffs before those series.

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posted by Junior  # 2:57 PM
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Vote Jeter!!!

The Gold Glove is probably the most meaningless award given out in sports. Ergo, the All-Time Gold Glove Award is the All-Time Most Meaningless Award in Sports.

Exhibit A: Derek Jeter, a mediocre-to-bad fielder, is a candidate for all-time greatest fielding SS.

I urge you all to vote for him -- seriously -- as a kind of nihilistic, Duchampian-urinal-type artistic expression of the meaninglessness of life.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:11 PM
Comments:
Write-in candidate: Marcel Duchamp, greatest SS of all time. Would make as much sense.
 
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

 

We're Back And It Feels So Good

It's been awhile, but nothing gets the blood going like some Ozzie Guillen and some Darin Erstad -- now in one convenient South Side package!

First up, Ozziesmartball Smallballguillen, the professor of wrong, has commenced 2007 by continuing to be totally misguided about baseball things and is already being praised for it.

Ozzie: The appetite's back

Four words in, and you know the article's going to be a gem.

Sox skipper 'hungry' to make up for '06, starting with bunts

So problematic it's almost a parody of itself. The White Sox manager, a man who will play zero minutes of baseball this year, will singlehandedly "make up" for the last season (which he also managed) solely because he is "hungry" and he will do this by bunting, generally a poor strategy.

Guys, this is so crazy it just might work. I think we can blow this asteroid up with a crackerjack team of the world's best drillers.

Come Saturday, Ozzie Guillen returns to his comfort zone.

That means White Sox pitchers and catchers report to ''Camp Ozzie 2007'' prepared to hear four-letter expletives and one-liners from their fiery manager. But jokes won't be the only thing Guillen is cracking this spring.

Throw in a whip this time around.


Throw in an iron maiden. Throw in a medieval torture rack. Draw and quarter Joe Crede in center field. It won't matter. 2006 wasn't about guys not being hungry. It was about pitching.

Your pitching wasn't as flukily good as it was in 2005. Got it?

Fact is, Guillen's offseason, which began as disappointment when the regular season ended and the Sox failed to defend their 2005 World Series title, turned to embarrassment by the holidays.

Because of the pitching. This is not hard to understand.

2005 White Sox ERA: 3.61 (3rd in baseball)
2006 White Sox ERA: 4.61 (21st in baseball)

In 2005 tons of guys had career years and the staff was extraordinarily healthy. You weren't so lucky in 2006. The end.

Now, Guillen says, it's hunger.

Good luck parlaying your metaphorical hunger into another set of Neal Cotts and Cliff Polittes. By the way, how much of Ozzie Guillen's managing genius can be attributed to these two randomly fluctuating middle relievers?

Neal Cotts 2005: ERA 1.94, WHIP 1.11
Neal Cotts 2006: ERA 5.17, WHIP 1.63

Cliff Politte 2005: ERA 2.00, WHIP 0.94
Cliff Politte 2006: ERA 8.70, WHIP 2.07

SO UNHUNGRY IN 2006.

'They got a little taste of the success and winning the World Series, and you want to get it back,'' he said recently of his players. ''They are mad because we didn't win it last year. They are hungry to do it again.''

Good. Great. Neal, Cliff, give me your hungry 2005 stats again. Oh wait. You're not even on the team anymore.

That's also when the phone calls to bench coach and good friend Joey Cora became more frequent. Cora has been Guillen's right-hand man the last three seasons and is in charge of putting together the Sox' spring-training program.

The continued message to Cora was, ''Let's get back to small ball.'' Far too often in 2006, Sox hitters failed to move the runner or get the bunt down in key situations.


Yee-ha! Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. I cannot believe that anyone believes that the problem with the 2006 White Sox was a lack of smallball -- and yet the only person whose opinion matters believes just that. Bunting? The team ERA went up an entire run and we're talking about bunting?

Plus, Jesus, just take one second and look at this:

2005 White Sox Runs Scored: 741 (13th in baseball)
2006 White Sox Runs Scored: 868 (3rd in baseball)

I guess what I'm saying is your offense made a quantum leap forward in 2006. Your offense was the only reason you weren't 15 games out of the playoff race.

At the Tucson, Ariz., training facility, Cora has designated a special field that will be used for ''Bunting 101,'' and only a few Sox players have a pass.


The good ones.

"Everyone has to go through it besides [Jermaine] Dye, [Paul] Konerko and [Jim] Thome."


Exactly.

''We have a different way. We're going to play games -- give bunt situations, give pointers, the way they used to teach. We're going to make it fun, but they're not going to [expletive] around. I'll be in charge on that field because we have to do stuff better.''

Not saying this stuff is going to hurt the team -- okay, it might -- but seriously, this seems like a misuse of time and resources. The team was third in runs scored last year. Thome and Dye should be worse than last year, so there's that, but the answer to a problem that doesn't exist is not bunting. It's not.

I would also say that in a certain way, practicing bunting over and over again sort of is [expletive] around.

Guillen also will play mad scientist this spring, moving the top and bottom of the lineup around regularly in hopes of finding a solid formula.


Guillen will play mad scientist with a lineup that scored the third most runs in baseball to the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. My guess? Erstad hits 2nd, 6th, and 8th and OPSes a hungry .590 in 1800 at bats.

While Guillen has a hands-off mentality regarding the pitching staff, he and pitching coach Don Cooper do have a message for the entire staff, as well as the minor-leaguers.

That message is: magically rekindle the improbable run of health and quality you experienced in 2005 that made people think Ozzie Guillen knew what the hell he was doing.

---

And now, Part 2, wherein we once again encounter the notion that the White Sox' offense and its lack of smallness was the reason for their non-championship-winning ways. Plus, Erstad.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Darin Erstad and the White Sox. Now there’s a match made in OzzieBall heaven.

Now there's a giant turd of a lede.

He’d run over your mother to catch a flyball, and he just might run over his own mother if she tried to block home plate.

He just might punt your mother in the tits because when this guy punts he punts to win and he sometimes thinks breasts are footballs.

His body is beaten up, not from his days as a college football player

(punter)

at Nebraska or a high school hockey star in North Dakota

Holy. Shitfuck. Add that to the Darin Erstad resume, quick. Opens up a whole new world of toughness metaphors and similies. "Darin Erstad plays baseball like he plays football. And he plays football like he plays hockey. With a stick that he uses to hit people with."

From now on, The Punter shall be referred to as The Highschoolhockeystar.

When healthy, Erstad is similar to Aaron Rowand, the popular, fence-crashing center fielder who was the classic “grinder” for the ’05 Sox. Except Erstad is faster and stronger.

And he parlays that speed and strength into hitting really, really atrociously. Like scary bad. Pokey Reese shit. I'm exaggerating. But here are Erstad's post-2000 EqA seasons: .252, .256, .241, .274, .259, .219.

“The fans of Chicago,” Guillen said, “will appreciate the way this kid plays.”

I bet they will. Dirty-hat type guy. Still: .252, .256, .241, .274, .259, .219.

Yes, the White Sox lost their way and relied too much on home runs last season, but they hit a lot of homers in 2005, too.

Here we go again. They lost their way to the tune of 127 additional runs. Adding a crazy-good Jim Thome will do that.

The difference? In ’05, they were aggressive on the bases. They bunted. They hit behind runners. They broke up double plays. They risked bodily harm to make sensational catches. They constantly put pressure on opponents.

They scored 127 fewer runs. They rode a scintillating pitching staff to unwarranted acclaim. They subjected us to way too much Ozzie Guillen.

They were 13th in runs scored. They scored fewer runs than the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They on-based worse than the Cubs and the Orioles and the same as the Nationals and the Astros and the Pirates.

Offensively, they weren't that good. And now we have to hear about how Ozzie Guillen is revamping his far better 2006 offense to be more like the shittier, less effective, decidedly mediocre 2005 version.

Baseball's back!

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posted by Junior  # 4:31 PM
Comments:
How hard is it to look up team run totals? What does it take? 10 seconds? And yet no one ever seems to do it but us, when discussing the White Sox. Unbelievable.
 
What those totals don't tell us is that 700 of those runs were scored in one meaningless blowout.

I think it was against the D-Rays. 700-4.
 
Yeah, but they were STARVING that day.
 
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Justice?

“You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law.”

A nice epitaph for this article by Houston Chronicle scribe and sometime PTI-goer-oner Richard Justice, who apparently is angry at everyone.

I shouldn't mention the conversation I had with Brad Ausmus Monday morning because it will only prompt more of you knuckleheads to write in. You seem to have forgotten that the idea of this particular blog is less responses, not more. I actually don't care what most of you think.

First of all, you mean fewer responses. Second: quick backstory: Justice has recently written several blog entries about Ausmus and Everett and their value to the 'Stros as defensive wizards and all-around good people. (Go here and look specifically at Jan. 26 and 27.) Apparently, several like-minded (to me, not to him) individuals wrote in and yelled at him, blog-comment-style. I'm guessing more than one cited Ausmus's .216 EqA. Or perhaps Everett's .225. Or maybe they just yelled about batting average. In any case, it all has Justice's panties in a bunch.

Here's a litmus test: if you get the majority of your information from Fox News or if you have a picture of a college football player or coach framed and hanging in your house, you're too dumb to get this blog.

Well, Richie, that's a solid negatory from ol' KT on each of those points. So why so upset at me?

(This is no anti-Republican rant. The Democrats haven't had a good idea since LBJ left office.)

I thought Bill Clinton's idea to use the 90's boom's budget surplus to save social security was a very good idea, indeed. Neither here nor there.

In other words, you're not my type. Me being slow to learn, I'm going to push ahead. I'll hate myself in the morning.

Anyway, Ausmus was mentioning that he'd looked at my blog at time or two over the winter and was surprised by the level of vitriol aimed at himself and Adam Everett. I had to explain to him that the vast majority of the people who read this blog are smart. They get it. They understand how having two premier defensive players is actually a good thing for a baseball team.

Always a good thing. Of course, it's better if those two premiere defensive players do not have EqA's in the Mendoza neighborhood.

If you've ever watched Adam Everett play SS, you know how truly gifted a fielder he is. His range is fantastic, he has great hands, and his throws are strong and true. BP agrees -- they have him at 23 FRAA last year, which accounts for a good chunk of his 5.5 WARP3 (and makes up for his -21 BRAA. Yikes.) But the thing is, when you can hit, like, for example, this guy and his .317 EqA, you get an 8.2 WARP3, which helps your team even more. Pretty simple, really. Adam Everett and Brad Ausmus are very good fielders, which helps their team. They are also among the very worst hitters in all of baseball, which hurts their team.

Now, some of your readers may love Sean Hannity and they may tap the visor on their framed poster of Steve Spurrier for good luck every time they leave their homes, but if they understand this very simple point, they aren't dumb.


As for those who write in, many of them clearly have never seen a baseball game.


I really don't think that's the problem. And I thoroughly object to this shitty, dismissive, and arrogant assumption. Isn't that right, framed poster of Lloyd Carr? Yeah. He knows.

These people fall into two categories. Either they're numbers geeks who love the math but stopped watching games about five years ago. Or they're know-it-alls who watch about two games a year and think batting average is the only statistic that counts.

The second category, I will agree, is hopeless. But as for us numbers geeks, anytime you want to compare who watches more baseball, give me a call. I have a very time consuming job adjusting insurance claims out here in Partridge, KS, and if my bosses at Fremulon Re knew how much of my time I spend watching and analyzing baseball, ol' Kenny would be on unemployment faster than you can say "Commissioned Marble Statue of Les Miles."

I told him the same thing I've told many of you. One opinion counts on this blog. That would be mine. No one else matters.

Okay. We at FJM prefer to let our readers disagree with us via e-mail, thus contributing to the healthy and open discussion of varying opinions. But you can write in a vacuum. That's a very open-minded and communal attitude.

By the way: First person to identify the author and work whence is taken the justice quote above gets an e-mail from me that says "Congratulations!" No googling. And thanks to readers Keith and Gilbert for the tip.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:25 AM
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Monday, February 19, 2007

 

Pitchers and Catchers Report

Always a good thing.

However, there has been a weird lack of terrible sportswriting recently...at least that I have seen. I thrilled a little to find that ARod and Jeter used to have sleepovers five days a week back in the day. That's embarrassing, for everyone, I think. But as far as articles go, I haven't found many HatGuy-level insanities in the first days of Spring Training. So keep those tips coming, if you got 'em.

For now, to help pass the time, here's a snippet of wisdom from Maury Wills, in re: Juan Pierre. When you read the quote, remember two things: first, remember that Juan Pierre is one of the most prodigious out-makers in all of baseball. He makes tons of outs. Last year he made 526 outs! In fact, mostly what he does when he plays baseball is: make outs. And second, remember that the job of a leadoff hitter is to not make outs. Got it? Remembering those two things? Now read the quote!

As for the question of whether Pierre should bat leadoff or behind Rafael Furcal in the No. 2 spot, Wills has an opinion.

"I'd be willing to bet [Pierre] bats leadoff," he said. "He's a natural leadoff hitter."

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 9:53 PM
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Saturday, February 17, 2007

 

I Heard It On TNT!

This is the best I've got these days...


During NBA All-Star Satuday Night:

Kevin Harlan: "How great does George 'The Iceman' Gervin look?"
Reggie Miller: "Oh, terrific. Everyone had his poster growing up, or at least I did."
Steve Kerr: "On the big ice cubes? With his legs crossed?! One of the great posters of all time."
Kevin Harlan: "With a hand on each ball!"

[silence]

Kevin Harlan: "So right now they're going back over replay..."

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posted by dak  # 9:39 PM
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Saturday, February 10, 2007

 

Classy Toes

Buster Olney seems like a nice guy. He's got a very pleasant on-screen persona. I would like to have a beer with him. But my goodness, does he love them Yankees too much.

For now, it appears that Bernie Williams' time with the Yankees is over, with the center fielder leaning against taking a minor league invitation to spring training, and this morning I was trying to think of some defining moments from his career. He hit a big home run off the Orioles' Randy Myers in 1996, and Bernie caught the final out of the 2000 World Series, gloving Mike Piazza's long fly ball and then dropping down to a knee in prayer.

From a Red Sox fan's point of view, allow me to say that I am thrilled that the guy is retiring. He was never the guy you most feared in the Yankee line-up, and yet he did seem to have a knack for getting key hits in key situations. (I am not saying he was "clutch," so erase the e-mails you ahve already started writing. I am merely saying that he was a solid hitter who hit solidly all the time, and he walked a ton, and I hated it when he came up in big moments. That's all.)

Let's see what Buster thinks of him.

But what I'll always remember about Bernie, as a player, is his reaction to his failure in his at-bats. There would be runners on base and Bernie would sometimes pop up, or hit a lazy fly ball to left field, and for an instant, his chin would tilt downward in disappointment: Oh, damn.

Yes, the trademark Bernie Williams "disappointment in popping up." Unlike most other players, who celebrated making outs with runners on base, Bernie would always show: frustration. That is what separated him from the pack.

Then the base integrity to how he played would kick in. He would drop the bat and begin running to first base, moving with the grace of a sprinter, only his toes and the front part of his feet nicking the ground.

"Base" integrity is a very funny phrase, if you speak the English language correctly and know how to use adjectives. (I assume Buster means "fundamental" or "basic; innate" or something.) Beyond that, however, why does everyone insist on talking about how "graceful" and "elegant" Bernie Williams is/was? To me he looked really awkward when he ran -- his pants were too high and his hands were weirdly in that completely flat planar pose, and his arms pumped up and down like he was a robot.

Also, what is the difference between one's toes and the "front part of" one's feet?

Every time. Not just when the weather was nice, not just when the game was nationally televised, not only when he felt like it. Every time.

And he would take a wide turn at first base, doing it exactly the way Babe Ruth League coaches tell you to do it, and then hit the bag, conducting himself as if he had every expectation that the ball would drop and he would be in position to take second base.

So, you're saying...when he made contact, and hit the ball into fair territory, he...ran to first base. Like baseball players often do.

I covered the team for four years and never saw Bernie or Derek Jeter fail to run out a ground ball, each racing through the bag on easy groundouts, and I'll always believe that their consistent effort and respect for the game -- along with the effort of players like Joe Girardi -- was the backbone of the Yankees' dynasty of 1996-2001.

Really. Well. I didn't cover them for four years, but I did watch a lot of their games when I lived in New York, and contrary to this revisionist history, I saw Bernie jog to first on pop-ups, I'd say, exactly as many times as I saw other guys jog to first on pop-ups. I know this because around 1996 people started talking all the time about how Bernie Williams never jogged to first on pop-ups, and I would always note when he did, just for my own satisfaction.

Also, I specifically remember one game where he hit a little nubber down the first base line that was spinning like crazy just over the line in foul territory, and he didn't run at all, and it spun back fair and the first baseman picked it up and tagged him out about four feet in front of the on-deck circle. The reaction shot of Joe Torre was fantastic.

I am not saying Bernie was lazy. He did play the game "the right way," I think, in that he put together great at-bats, and he compensated for below-average skills in some facets of the game by playing smart, heads-up, alert baseball. Admirable. But please spare me the "He never ever ever ever never once ever for one second jogged to first base" crap. It's simply not true.

A talented team with hot pitchers can win one World Series, but for a team to win four championships in five years, it must be comprised of players who compete relentlessly. A dynasty must be built around players who understand that no matter how many Gold Gloves or batting titles or championship rings they have won, they still have the responsibility to run out an easy fly ball, even when they're frustrated and having a bad day and they've stranded runners.

I guess you're not going to spare me that crap about never jogging to first base.

Also, for the record: Bernie won a batting title. He was a very good hitter. Lots of years of OBP above .400. Lots of long at-bats. But his fielding was always overrated. In the four years he was awarded the Most Meaningless Award Anyone Cares About, the Gold Glove, he was a combined -11 FRAA. For his career he's -50.

Because Bernie and Jeter run hard every time, everybody else on the team wouldn't think of doing anything other than running hard every time. That basic integrity with which Bernie played was reflected, mostly, in the way the Yankees have played during his tenure.

Let the hagiography begin. My word.

Bernie Williams lasted 16 seasons with the Yankees, slugged 287 homers, collected 2,336 hits, 1,366 runs and 1,257 RBIs. In short, he doesn't have the kind of credentials you need for induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Correct.

But the man has played hard every single game, has never taken the game for granted, for those 16 seasons. The group of players who can say that is as elite and as distinguished, in its own way, as the greats who are enshrined in Cooperstown.

You realize, don't you all, that this is the same argument that will be used, five years after David Eckstein retires, to support his candidacy. Prepare yourselves.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 6:41 PM
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Hat tip to reader Jonathan for the Olney ref.
 
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BP Radio

Here's a direct link to Will Carroll's interview of Ken Tremendous on Baseball Prospectus Radio, for those interested.

Thanks to Will and BP for giving us a call.

posted by dak  # 3:30 AM
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Monday, February 05, 2007

 

In-Depth, Substantive Super Bowl Analysis Right Here!

Title is totally inaccurate.

Let's instead look at Bill Simmons' Super Bowl pick from last week, with the obvious caveat that picks are meaningless and no one that I know of guesses the future with any sort of impressive accuracy.

Bill?

As for the big game, I'm picking the Bears and taking the seven points. Here's why:

1. As I mentioned Thursday, everyone in Miami seems to be handing the trophy to the Colts already. ... Um, didn't we learn this lesson already from the Saints-Bears game? You never want to be on the same side as the gambling majority. Ever.


Not a football reason.

2. The Bears are staying near the airport (not near anything), while the Colts are staying closer to the beach (and closer to all the trouble). That makes it about 20 times as likely that an Indianapolis Colt will be this year's winner of the Stanley Wilson/Eugene Robinson Award and distract his team in the process. I can't take the chance.

Not football-related.

3. It's been said a kajillion times, but how can anyone be sold on this Colts defense? Against the Chiefs, the Colts stacked the line against LJ and just made Herm Edwards and Trent Green try to beat them. Against the Ravens, they didn't even have to stack the line because Jamal Lewis is so freaking slow, so they concentrated on forcing Steve McNair to make mistakes (and he obliged). Against the Patriots, they gave up 34 points and it would have been more if Troy Brown didn't get flagged for that illegal pick and the fourth-quarter interference against Reche Caldwell had been called. Now you have a Bears team that can pound the ball with two running backs AND has the receivers to throw deep. I know the Colts will stack the line and force Grossman to beat them, but teams have been doing that against the Bears all season -- they always seem to make two or three big plays.

Kudos. Football. Ended up being wrong, but still: football.

4. Peyton Manning's record in big games: Not so good. A little better recently, but still ... not so good. I'd like to see him win one title at the college or pro level before I'm laying seven points with him in a Super Bowl game.


Not really football.

5. Remember when the 2003 Yankees outlasted the Red Sox in that seven-game bloodbath and had nothing left for the Marlins series because it was like they had already played their World Series? I'm not saying the same thing will definitely happen here, but it's worth mentioning the Letdown Potential here. The Colts and their fans just spent the past two weeks breaking out the popsicles and doing the "we finally made it" routine. Meanwhile ...

Baseball. Bullshit Capitalized Theory Reference (Letdown Potential).

6. The Bears just went 15-3, made the Super Bowl and then had to spend the next two weeks hearing everyone take shots at their QB and give them little to no chance of winning the game. They have all the makings of being one of those teams that pulls off a mild upset in a championship game and spends the next few days telling everyone stuff like "Nobody believed in us!" and "The only people who believed we could do it were the people in this locker room," followed by everyone getting annoyed that they won't shut up that nobody believed in them. But it's kind of true. Nobody believes in the Bears. That's the best motivating force in sports. It really is.

Psychology. Come to think of it, 5 was also psychology.

Well, I believe in the Bears from Chicago. I see this being one of those Super Bowls that's crappy and disjointed for most of the first half, followed by a point explosion right near halftime and one of those second halves when the teams just trade scores (like the Pats-Panthers Super Bowl). And in those games, either team can win, right? So here are my predictions.

A. Chicago 33, Indianapolis 30.

B. Thomas Jones for MVP.

C. The greatest Manning Face of all-time.

D. A new record for "nobody believed in us" quotes.

E. A dead heat with the Sports Gal (she's one game ahead of me and picking the Colts) that can only be decided with the one sporting event that best determines whether you have a gambling problem: The 2007 Pro Bowl. I'm already giddy.


Of course A. was going to be wrong. No one gets those right. They're a semi-fun (ok, not really fun) waste of time. B. through E. also wrong. Congrats, Sports Guy!

** MEALY-MOUTHED ADDITION **

Just wanted to add that we all understand that hey, Bill Simmons isn't really even a sports analyst, per se. It's almost gotten to the point where criticizing him for his sports-related opinions is like criticizing Andy Rooney's political stances. It's beside the point. He's going for "light," "fun," "entertaining," "pop-culture-y," "fizzy" -- understood. That's why we don't write about him that much.

My question is: how long until he turns into Rick Reilly?

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posted by Junior  # 4:04 PM
Comments:
From reader Zachary:

What's even stupider about point #5 in that column is that the natural comparison for that rivalry would be 2004, when the Red Sox staged a comeback to finally knock off their hated rival (who had owned them until that point) and then went on to utterly destroy their championship competitor who came from a clearly inferior league/conference. What do you know, just like 2004, the team from the better league/conference won? Of course, Simmons would never compare the Colts to the Red Sox...

Good point, Zachary.
 
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Sunday, February 04, 2007

 

It's Gone Already, But


For a short while, this was on the front page at cnn.com. I just like that there's a sentence that reads "Colts." for no reason.

posted by dak  # 7:48 PM
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How Dare They

From Kevin Kennedy's blog:

Ryan Zimmerman, the Rookie of the Year third baseman for the Washington Nationals, is experiencing his first preseason caravan and enjoying it. Zimmerman hit .287 in 2006 with 20 homers and 110 runs batted in. That's what impressed me. It showed that he not only maximized his homers, but had other big hits as well. I've seen players hit 25 or 28 homers with only 72 or 76 RBIs to show for it.


The nerve of them -- waiting until there are no runners on base to hit their HR so they get all the glory to themselves.

Not like good old Ryan, who "maximized" his homers -- like, I guess, he was allotted 20 homers at the beginning of the year and spent them wisely -- and "had other big hits." Not like those selfish other players who hit 28 homers and only have 76 RsBi. Those types are assholes. That's why they never get any RsBi -- they're dicks, and their teammates hate them, so their teammates deliberately fail to get on base for them, so they never get any RsBI chances.

It's a vicious cycle. Or maybe Kevin Kennedy's just a dummy.

Edit: He most certainly is, in fact, a dummy, as several people have already pointed out: Zimmerman lost the ROY voting to Hanley Ramirez.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 2:09 PM
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Saturday, February 03, 2007

 

Nice Work, People.

We have now completely skewed the results of the poll.

Look specifically at the question in re: sabermetric vs. traditional stats.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 5:12 PM
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We're at 60,000 votes. When I first linked to it, the poll had about 2,000.
 
This is now officially hilarious.

There are like 160,000 votes, and like 99.1% of people call themselves "experts" in sabermetrics.

How is this happening? Without giving away too much, we don't have 160,000 regular reader on this site. Or even 80,000 with two computers a piece.

It's really making me laugh to imagine that 97.8% of all those polled use FRAA as their main fielding evaluation tool.
 
I smell a 'bot of some kind.
 
Yeah. Now it has to be. If you guys are reading this, ease off. We don't need any heat from the ESPN cops.
 
This is why people hate us.
 
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Friday, February 02, 2007

 

This Is Not What I Meant When I Said "Work To Be Done"

Nerds, you did it. Observer effect. I only realized this after I posted, but by linking to that ESPN baseball statistics poll, I totally wrecked the results I was making fun of.

It's true.

Here were the results of question 3 as of this morning:

3) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating hitters?

43.6% Batting average (AVG)
25.7% On-base plus slugging (OPS)
18.2% On-base percentage (OBP)
10.2% Runs batted in (RBI)
2.4% Slugging percentage (SLG)


And here they are now:

3) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating hitters?

36.2% On-base plus slugging (OPS)
35.0% Batting average (AVG)
18.6% On-base percentage (OBP)
7.9% Runs batted in (RBI)
2.2% Slugging percentage (SLG)


That's right. FJM's asshole readers (readers who are assholes, not readers who read assholes) have propelled OPS into the lead over that mustache-twirling villain, batting average. You guys are doing some work on the fielding question, too.

Before:

5) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating fielders?

69.4% Errors (E)
13.1% Range Factor (RF)
12.5% Fielding runs above average (FRAA)
5.1% Assists (A)


After:

5) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating fielders?

59.8% Errors (E)
20.3% Fielding runs above average (FRAA)
15.7% Range Factor (RF)
4.2% Assists (A)


Begone, errors and range factor!

Um, well done, I guess? Not really the point of me posting that link, but I enjoyed it anyway. Now we'll never know the scientific fact of what percentage of Americans prefer range factor to assists according to a stupid online poll!

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posted by Junior  # 7:40 PM
Comments:
I think we should go back through all the old posts and label them all "statistics."
 
I'm going to label them all "sports." And "writing."
 
Are we sure that FJM is the cause of this and not other sites, or something else entirely (like people getting more common sense as the day goes on)?
 
No, it's because of us.
 
Let's do a poll asking people if they think it's because of us.
 
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There's A Lot Of Work To Be Done

ESPN.com is having a baseball vote called Which stats do you use?

The early results are troubling:

2) What do you trust more when evaluating a player?

73.6% Old-school statistics (AVG, RBIs, wins)
26.4% Sabermetric statistics (OBP, VORP, WHIP)


Note the inclusion of OBP and WHIP, pretty damn straightforward stats, into the wonky category of "Sabermetric statistics." VORP is going to remain a mystery to most people for awhile, I would think.

Congratulations, America. 73.6% of you think that in 2006, Freddy Sanchez was better than Albert Pujols (higher AVG), Raul Ibanez was better than Travis Hafner (more RBIs), and Jon Garland was better than Brandon Webb, Chris Carpenter, and Roys Halladay and Oswalt (more wins).

I'm cherry-picking, but come on. You're better than that, America.

3) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating hitters?

43.6% Batting average (AVG)
25.7% On-base plus slugging (OPS)
18.2% On-base percentage (OBP)
10.2% Runs batted in (RBI)
2.4% Slugging percentage (SLG)


Whoops! No, you're not better than that. You're really stupid. No wonder you hate Pat Burrell. He batted .258! Send that guy to the minors!!!

(Pat Burrell's OBP was .388. That's better than Vladimir Guerrero's, Miguel Tejada's, Ichiro's, and AL MVP Justin Morneau's. Was he more productive than those players? No. But you have to give it to the guy: he got on base like a motherfucker.)

5) Which stat do you use the most when evaluating fielders?

69.4% Errors (E)
13.1% Range Factor (RF)
12.5% Fielding runs above average (FRAA)
5.1% Assists (A)


I'll say that on this one, there's still not a really good option. Well, no, there is: the best option is to not rely on errors. Judging a player's defense solely on errors is like saying I'm the best firefighter in the world because I've never left a baby inside a burning building when making a daring rescue. (Because my daring rescue count is zero. Okay, one. And I got all twelve babies.)

Now, these poll numbers are already pretty bleak. But consider this: they're even worse when you take into account that the pool of people who would even think about taking an online poll on their computers about statistics in baseball is pretty fucking nerdy. My guess is that the real numbers -- ones that would represent all baseball fans -- are much, much worse.

There's a ray of hope, though.

6) What do you think about the focus on statistics in baseball?

70.5% It enhances my enjoyment of the game
26.9% It doesn't affect the way I watch the game
2.6% It detracts from my enjoyment of the game


People love nerding their shit up!

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posted by Junior  # 1:32 PM
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Don't Just Block That Metaphor...

...napalm the sumbitch.

As everyone is well aware, the Bears are getting less respect than a Park Avenue interior decorator who shows up in the infield at Daytona in a Volkswagen Beetle with a fresh flower in the dashboard vase.

Everyone is well aware of that, specifically?

Nice work, Celizic.

As dak just pointed out to me, the man who wrote this gets to vote on who goes into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:09 PM
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Thursday, February 01, 2007

 

Ian McShane's Super Bowl Pick

I understand. The Super Bowl is America's biggest sporting event. You're ESPN.com. You're going to run a celebrity picks article.

At what point when compiling this thing, though, do you stop and ask yourself the question "how much is too much"?

Is it after Tobin Bell (Actor, "Saw")?

Al Oerter (Four-time Olympic gold medalist in discus)?

Maybe after you get the pick from Sheila Kelley (Actress/entrepreneur), you're all set. No?

Better go after two guys from Deadwood (William Sanderson and McShane).

Okay, Mike Leavitt (Secretary of Health and Human Services).

Bobby Thompson (Former N.Y. Giants baseball player who in 1951 hit "Shot Heard 'Round the World") and Ralph Branca (Former Dodger who threw the famous pitch to Thomson).

No, no, wait. John Amos (Actor, "Men in Trees").

Fine, ESPN has nothing to do with this article. Says here it's something called "the Scripps Howard Celebrity Super Bowl Poll" and they ask 100 celebrities. John Amos was one of those celebrities.

Since Scripps Howard started the Celebrity Super Bowl Poll in 1990, only one celebrity has ever picked the winner and the score exactly right. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova aced it in 1998 when she predicted Denver would beat Green Bay, 31-24, in Super Bowl XXXII.

I think the problem is they're too strict with their definition of "celebrity."

Do you think Cyd Charisse (Actress) has heard of Alfred Rascon (Retired Army Major, Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipient)?

I just looked it up. Cyd Charisse is 85 years old. And she's picking the Bears. ("Bears, 28-21. Chicago is my kind of town!")

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posted by Junior  # 7:39 PM
Comments:
Vikings over Eagles, 11-10.

--Danny Pintauro
 
KT-

It has taken you THIS long to make a Danny Pintauro reference on this site?!?!?!!!??
 
It was all for you, Murbles. All for you.
 
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