Erik Kuselias remains a member of Mensa International, the society for people with high IQs
Little tip: if you're driving from the gym to Trader Joe's, do not accidentally listen to even more sports talk radio that you disparagingly blogged about earlier.
You might overhear official Mensa President and High Priest Erik Kuselias say something like the following:
The Phillies went out and got Tadahito Iguchi and Kyle Lohse. If you're a Mets fan, you've got to be wondering, where's our Kyle Lohse? You have to at least get someone so your fans can call up their friends and be like, we got this guy.
Look, I didn't discover fourteen new elements like Mensa founder Erik Kuselias did, but I'm pretty sure that making a trade so your fans have a reason to call their friends is a lousy move for a GM.
Kyle Lohse has been a serviceable, slightly below average starter (career ERA+ 95, 2007 ERA+ 101) with 80 K's in 131.2 IP this year. Hard to be that upset about Kyle Lohse doing anything. Sure, he might be a slight improvement over a Jorge Sosa or a Mike Pelfrey, but really: he's Kyle Lohse.
Why Would You Ask This Man A Question About Baseball?
Of course, no one should listen to sports talk radio. Clinical studies have definitively shown that even brief exposure to ESPN Radio causes memory loss and reduction of cognitive function in lab mice.
So I was just in my car listening to a man whose name I believe is Erik Kuselias (Wikipedia helpfully notes that this man "is a member of Mensa International, the society for people with high IQs"). I have very little to say about Erik, except to plaintively ask him, Why would you ask Stephen A. Smith questions about baseball?
I didn't transcribe any of this, but I believe in about a (loud) five-minute span, Mr. Smith said approximations of the following things: I'm not really a baseball guy
I'm a big Yankees fan
I'd like to see the Yankees get Gagne, or the Mets
(on whether the Red Sox need Jermaine Dye) David Ortiz gave me a hug
The Boston Red Sox KNOW HOW TO WIN
The Red Sox play WillieBall
The Yankees rely on home runs
The Red Sox steal bases, hit and run, and again, KNOW HOW TO WIN
He also once (loudly, confidently) referred to the Boston Red Sox as the Boston Celtics.
Just for the record:
Yankees SB: 80 Red Sox SB: 56
Yankees WillieBall Quotient: 9.36 Red Sox WillieBall Quotient: -3.42
Erik Kuselias, you are a member of Mensa International, the society for people with high IQs. Please, do not ask this man about baseball again.
Hey, You Know What The Most Important Part Of This Enormous NBA Trade Is? Arrogance.
Listen, Michael Ventre, perennial all-NBA-er and surefire Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett just got traded. What do you think his impact will be?
Arrogance is not an admirable trait, but there are certain circumstances in which it is not only acceptable but welcome.
Correct! Exactly. The correct answer is: KG will make Brian Scalabrine more arrogant, and with an arrogant Scalabrine on the squad, other teams will cower and forfeit in terror. If you’ve watched the Boston Celtics for the past 20 years, you know what I mean. Once they were the most arrogant of sports franchises — more than any of their counterparts in other leagues, including the New York Yankees — simply because Red Auerbach was the face of their organization. And there is nothing more arrogant than having Red puff a cloud of smoke in your face after he’s handed you a whipping.
What if Mark Cuban vomited in a Broadcast.com promotional frisbee, drove over to your house, and dumped the vomit into your mail slot? Would that be more arrogant? How about if Paul Allen financed a private spacecraft, piloted it to the nearest planet with sentient life, collected the waste material of said life, drove back to Earth, and poured the waste onto your plate of fries? Is that more arrogant? I'm sorry, what were we talking about? Oh, right. Aliens. I'm for them.
Alas, Red is gone. And his Celtics’ swagger had disappeared well before that.
Back to the matter at hand. The thing they always said about Kevin Garnett: he was born swaggering. He swaggered out of his mother's birth canal. He swaggers when he sleeps. His favorite preacher is Jimmy Swaggart. Sometimes, instead of going for a rebound, he'll wink at the crowd and swagger into the locker room and put on a cowboy hat and cowboy pants. Sometimes he plays basketball, but not often.
The Celtics were only obnoxious if you liked to bathe in nostalgia.
Metaphor not working for me. Anyone else?
But in one offseason, all that has changed. The Celtics have their cherished arrogance back. They’re hateable again.
Also, they're better. At sports. Better players, you know? Not that important, but still.
Ah, forget it. We know the truth: when the Celtics come visit your home team, Ray Allen is going to strut out onto the court in a leather unitard, stride into the crowd, and insult your wife's personal appearance. Because Ray Allen is an arrogant shithead and that's what makes the Celtics good.
And the Celtics basically got Garnett for a bag of peanuts and a can of cling peaches. The T-Wolves are taking Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Telfair and Theo Ratliff’s expiring contract. Jefferson and Green are nice players. Telfair is a waste of a good uniform.
This is wrong. Al Jefferson is neither peanut nor peach. Al Jefferson is a valuable commodity who averaged 19.8 PPG (on 55% shooting), 11.5 RPG, 1.7 BPG, and 1.1 SPG after the All-Star break. He was born the year Back to the Future came out.
In Ventre's defense, Jefferson could improve defensively and he's nowhere near the human mountain of arrogance Tim Duncan is. Although Boston will still have the little matter of surrounding those three with enough talent and depth to keep the stars from wearing themselves out, the extended forecast in New England is sunny for the first time in years.
More than their actual win-loss record, however, is the attitude. Arrogance is back. If Red were alive, he’d be so happy he could smoke.
More what than their actual win-loss record, Michael? More what?
Here I will offer some suggestions:
more important more consequential more significant more material more meaningful more influential
Or wait. I'll just rewrite the paragraph entirely.
More arrogant than their actual win-loss record, however, is their arrogance. Arrogance is king. If I had a racehorse or a fragrance, I would name it Arrogance.
And then, if I were you, Michael Ventre, I would conclude this article without mentioning basketball. Thank you for your time.
A gem from reader Devon: During the Mets-Nats today, Gotay singles in Reyes. LoDuca was wearing a towel on his head on the bench to keep cool.
Gary Cohen: "From now on, in RBI spots, the Mets are going to be putting towels on their heads. It'll be like the new rally cap...the towel head."
Can't wait for the Braves-Mets game where the Tomahawk Chop faces off against the Towel Head. Good luck racists! UPDATE: Reader Cary writes in, claiming that Cohen in fact said: "towel cap." Disappointing, if it's true.
It's Always the Same Problem with Mickelson: One Guy, One Cab
Only MSNBC's Michael Ventre -- rapidly becoming my favorite sportswriter in America -- dares to ask the question that is on everyone's mind: are apples like oranges?
Red Sox on Verge of Mickelson-like Collapse?
For the record, Phil Mickelson has won three majors. This year alone he has won at TPC at Sawgrass and the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He's #2 in the world, and #2 on the money list.
He is also a professional golfer, which means he has nothing to do with baseball.
The Boston Red Sox have been doing business a lot longer than Phil Mickelson has been alive.
Yet I can’t help but think of the Red Sox as the Phil Mickelson of baseball.
Excellent thesis statement. You're the Stephen Jay Gould of MSNBC free-lancers.
Lefty had once held the title of Best Golfer Never to Have Won a Major. Then in 2004, he won a major, the Masters. He added to his credentials by winning the PGA Championship in 2005, and another Masters in 2006. Life was good.
But it appears Mickelson had intended only to visit his sport’s peak, not set up camp there. Since then, he collapsed in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. This year, he faltered badly in the Scottish Open, a warm-up tournament for the British Open, then missed the cut at Carnoustie.
Just so I am clear. He won the Masters for the second time last year. He lost in the final round of the Open, missed the cut at the British, and now he is terrible?
If you stare at Mickelson long enough, you can see Mike Torrez. If you look even harder, you can see Bill Buckner.
Oooh -- I love those things. Here's a neat one -- if you stare hard enough you see a toucan!
This bizarre metonymic Mickelson-as-All-Chokers trope is flimsy, man. The guy's won three majors in three years. Also, he is a golfer, and the Red Sox are a baseball team. That should be the most obvious reason why the comparison doesn't work, given the -- shall we say -- significant differences in the two sports. But hell, I admire your can-do attitude. Let's keep rolling.
And if you study the Red Sox these days, the phenomenon is mutual. Stare intently at the wobbly American League East leaders and you’ll see Mickelson, smacking errant tee shots and bogeying three of the final five holes at Loch Lomond.
I'm going to make a good-faith effort to back you on this journalistic suicide mission.
The Red Sox have tripped a bit recently, yes. They are basically .500 since June 1. But they just took 3 of 4 from the best home team in the AL and have a 7.5 game lead in the AL East. BP puts their odds of winning the AL East at 95.9%, and 98.67% to make the playoffs.
Phil Mickelson...is a golfer...who...forget it. I give up. This is insane.
It may not be completely fair to compare the two, since
One is a baseball team and one is a golfer?
Boston’s bustling infirmary has had something to do with its recent vulnerability.
David Ortiz is just recently back from resting a strained shoulder. Curt Schilling is rehabbing in the minors because of right shoulder tendinitis. Jon Lester recently returned to the team after battling a form of lymphoma. J.D. Drew has constant hamstring issues. Matt Clement is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Brendan Donnelly is recovering from a strained forearm.
Clement was never in the 2007 gameplan. Donnelly was pitching pretty well when he went down, but in his absence the bullpen hasn't missed a beat. Lester returned from his cancer scare, and ahead of schedule, so that weakens your argument. Drew's problems have not seemingly been injury-related. Ortiz missed like four games and has a .991 OPS this year.
Mickelson had a wrist thing a little while back. I think with a little tinkering, this "injury" run could be rejiggered to support your claim. Think about it.
But the Red Sox have shown disturbing signs — for their anguished fans, at least — that they might not feel comfortable at the top. Despite their World Series breakthrough in 2004, their natural tendency to collapse appears to be surfacing.
Their "natural tendency to collapse." Because a team's inherent nature transcends ownership and personnel changes from generation to generation. Because baseball franchises are like the four Hogwarts Houses in Harry Potter books. (You're a Slytherin, Michael Ventre. ASlytherin.)
Before Thursday’s games, they held a 6.5 game lead over the second-place New York Yankees, who had been stuck in as large a mental quagmire as they have ever had to try and overcome. It marked the first time since May 11 that Boston had held a lead of fewer than seven games. The Red Sox held a 12-game lead in early July, but the Yankees have somehow asserted themselves.
Excellent analysis. They didn't "somehow assert themselves." They began performing exactly the way their ExWL numbers predicted they would. In fact, they are still underperforming by about 5-6 games, so we can expect that their good play will continue. The Red Sox, meanwhile, had been very slightly overperforming, but in general just hit a slump. Kind of like Luis Delís between the '87 World Championships and the '93 Central American and Caribbean Games.
And despite the fact that the Red Sox had won five straight before falling on Wednesday against Cleveland, the omens are present.
For the motherhumping record, there is no such thing as: curses, omens, augurs, ghouls, ghosts, True Yankees, or franchises being haunted by fat ex-ballplayers who would have no reason to haunt said franchise, since the trade of the fat player led to him becoming the most famous athlete, maybe, in history.
But please, on with the omen discussion.
For instance, on Wednesday night Boston lost to Fausto Carmona and the Indians, 1-0. Nothing to be ashamed of, yet it was unsettling that Josh Beckett threw an outstanding game but lost on one measly mistake to Franklin Gutierrez, which turned into a solo shot. And it was Beckett’s first road loss since last September.
So spooky! So omen-ish!
The night before, The Sox won 1-0 on several bloop singles that fell just out of the reach of Indians' fielders.
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble!
Also, Fausto Carmona is a very good pitcher. He defeated another team by pitching excellently.
Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble!
Not a problem. Nothing to panic over. Sometimes a black cat crosses your path, and most of the time it means nothing. Most of the time.
No, all of the time it means nothing. I know I'm losing my argument thread here, but now Ventre is crossing over from bad analogy to superstitious piffle. And I don't care if he's winking and "goofing around" and "being lighthearted." Black cats are not any different from other cats. And even in a universe where I good-naturedly agree to play along with the idea that there are "omens" in baseball, this isn't a fucking omen. Being defeated by an excellent pitcher 1-0 in game 3 of a series in which you win the other three games is not an omen of anything except that you are a good baseball team -- indeed, you have the best record in baseball -- and that you should be happy with the results of that series.
Meanwhile, the Yankees, a team some consider the luckiest men on the planet — usually the people who believe that live in, or hail from, the New England area — have managed to avert a complete oil spill of a season and are making a run.
They have gotten their share of good breaks in the last ten years or so, yes. They are also a $200m+ collection of excellent players who, recently, have been absolutely destroying the baseball in exactly the way that mathematics and reason predicts they should. They have also been pitching better. And thus: winning. To draw an analogy for you, Ventre: the Yankees are currently performing much like Carolina Klüft during her magical run at the 2003 World Championships in Paris.
The Yankees trailed by 14.5 games in late May, but they’ve won 11 of their last 13. Probably nothing to fret over. I’m sure the Red Sox will be cool. Historically, they’re known for their composure down the stretch, especially with the numeral “14” involved. They had a 14-game lead in 1978, but it disappeared down the stretch, and Bucky Dent put an exclamation mark on the disaster with a game-winning home run over the Green Monster in a playoff game.
Yes, that is factually accurate. Tell me, though -- how is the number "14" involved here, though? Because at one point, several months ago, the lead was 14.5 games? And that means that this year and 1978 are linked, portentously? Excellent. By the way, man -- I enjoyed your movie.
But it’s silly to toss and turn over what might happen in the future. After all, what are the chances that the Boston Red Sox will somehow fail to live up to their promise? They have legions of devoted fans who live and die with their exploits. Why in the world would a team disappoint their fans like that?
What are you trying to prove here? I honestly don't understand. Are you blaming the team for falling short in past seasons? And insinuating that they did it, like, intentionally?
David Ortiz has 16 home runs this season. Last year he finished with 54. I’m sure that if he bears down and goes on a tear he can match that total. I wouldn’t worry about it.
The team signed Drew to a five-year contract in the offseason worth $70 million. Lately he’s been limping a lot. So far he’s batting .247, with six home runs and 38 RBI. But he’ll catch fire soon, I’m sure.
...this season [Curt Schilling] is just 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts, and he hasn’t pitched since June 18. Yet I feel certain that the 40-year-old veteran of 21 major-league seasons will spring to life soon and power the Red Sox to victory like he did in the days when he was pitching in Arizona alongside another invincible war horse, Randy Johnson.
Michael Ventre is sarcastically pointing out that: Ortiz is having an off-year (.340 EqA, .991 OPS), JD Drew is having an off-year (true) and Curt Schilling isn't as good as he was six years ago when he was in his absolute prime. As if he should be.
The PGA Championship is scheduled to take place in two weeks at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. The best thing that could happen to the Red Sox would be for Mickelson to snap out of his funk and win another major.
(EDIT: I missed completely how dumb this last sentence was -- the phrasing, I mean. So I will here insert Junior's comment from the comments section below. Take it away, Junior.) Best thing? Best? You know, actually, if you think about it, of all of the infinite things in the world that could happen between now and the end of the season, Phil Mickelson winning a major is somewhere right around 50th percentile. Because it has no impact on the Sox whatsoever. It goes something like this:
Bestest -Sox win 60 games in a row, Yankees franchise disbands -Ortiz gets healthy, Schilling comes back strong -A-Rod starts looking human -Barack Obama is revealed to have killed Pat Tillman -Ugly Betty wins five Emmys -Phil Mickelson wins a major -A mother elephant sacrifices its life to safe its baby -I eat a duck confit sandwich with fig jam -Youkilis gets super into scuba diving and loses his love for baseball -Manny loses his hand in a meat cutter -Sox lose 60 games in a row, Yankees are awarded a Peabody and a Humanitas Worstest
(END EDIT. Back to Ventre's column.)
That would illustrate to them that negative habits can be broken.
One more time -- "negative habits" like winning the Masters twice in three years and being one of the best golfers of his era and making millions and millions of dollars by being good at golf? Those negative habits?
I tell you what would be a good omen for the Red Sox. If Nathan Deakes could regain the form that led him to Gold at the 2002 Manchester Games. Deakes and the Sox are like totally parallel in terms of what they do athletically.
The best thing that could happen to the Red Sox would be for Mickelson to snap out of his funk and win another major.
Best thing? Best? You know, actually, if you think about it, of all of the infinite things in the world that could happen between now and the end of the season, Phil Mickelson winning a major is somewhere right around 50th percentile. Because it has no impact on the Sox whatsoever. It goes something like this:
Bestest -Sox win 60 games in a row, Yankees franchise disbands -Ortiz gets healthy, Schilling comes back strong -A-Rod starts looking human -Barack Obama is revealed to have killed Pat Tillman -Ugly Betty wins five Emmys -Phil Mickelson wins a major -A mother elephant sacrifices its life to safe its baby -I eat a duck confit sandwich with fig jam -Youkilis gets super into scuba diving and loses his love for baseball -Manny loses his hand in a meat cutter -Sox lose 60 games in a row, Yankees are awarded a Peabody and a Humanitas Worstest
No preamble. Let's just do this thing. Joe Morgan: Good morning. I am looking forward to chatting with you all, and I am looking forward to going to Coopertown for the induction ceremony.
Ken Tremendous: Coopertown, eh? The fine people of Cheatham County await you. Mark (Bangor, PA): Joe, Westbrook and Lee have had very disapointing seasons. Given their track records over the last 2 - 3 years, do you think the Indians could still get on a pretty good roll soon?
Joe Morgan: The track records are very improtant because the player knows he has done it before and that can help his confidence. But it is very difficult to turn around a season because when you are on the mound you start thinking about all your struggles. But I think both those pitchers are good enough to turn it around and win three or four starts in a row.
KT: Yes, this is a rambling, dumb answer, in which Joe lays down his patented two sentence information-less vamp before just answering the motherfletching Q. And yes, what he actually says is particularly dumb, because he goes: (1) track record will help these guys turn it around, right into (2) it's hard to turn it around when you are not living up to your track record.
A-ha! Sneak attack! I bet Steve Phillips just sat down at his computer, opened Safari (he uses a Mac -- weird, right?) and FJM -- his homepage -- came up, and he saw there was a new JoeChat, and he thought, "Oh good. I'm safe. I can read this and not get slammed."
Got you, Phillips! Got you good!
Also, Joe Morgan stinks.
Kirby (NY): Hello, Joe. I have very few moments of clarity in my life, but I had one this morning: Bud Selig should be on hand for Barry's record-breaking homerun.
KT: I will summarize Joe's answer before you read it: "I agree." Now, watch how many words it takes Joe to say, "I agree."
Joe Morgan: I agree that he should make every effort to be there. But we do not know when Barry will hit it, but she should make every effort to be there. It is hard to follow someone around for two weeks when you are not sure. This is a very hard thing to predict, when he is going to hit the home run. But Selig should make the effort, and I think he will.
That's 73 words, if you care. Three of them are "but." He also refers to Bud Selig as "she." Is this a Bill Parcells/Terry Glenn situation? Or perhaps Joe thinks Selig is a post-operative transsexual -- a mistake for which I personally would forgive him.
Mark (New York, NY): Joe, do you think Mark Teixeira will be traded before the deadline, and if so where might he end up?
Texas would probably get more value for him next year since he is not having a great season.
Players mentioned in ESPN.com article: Phil Hughes (NYY's #1 prospect), Joba Chamberlain (their #2 or #3 pitching prospect), Clay Buchholz (Red Sox' #1 prospect), Jacoby Ellsbury (their #1 positional prospect), "Dodgers' three top pitching prospects."
Kevin (Hamler, OH): Do the Tigers have enough bullpen pitching without Zumaya and Rodney to make a serios run at a world championship?
Joe Morgan: That is hard to say because you never know who is going to step up.
KT: There is a rule in screenwriting that if you can switch two characters' dialog without things seeming weird and effed up, you have failed to adequately define your characters. I will once again say that if you are a professional baseball writer, and you write a sentence that could be written regardless of the question that is asked, you have failed to provide adequate analysis. Now read that last sentence back to yourself, Joe.
But if they get those guys back I think they will win it all. At the moment it is very hard to tell what is going to happen in Detroit.
What kind of thing is this to write? What kind of help is this, to anyone? At the moment, it is very hard to tell what is going to happen in Detroit. That should be Joe's motto.
They have excellent hitters, 1-9. They have excellent starting pitching. It is relatively easy to predict what is going to happen in Detroit. They are going to make the playoffs, probably. BP's PECOTA-adjusted odds report has them at 71.3% to win the division and 18.9% to win the WC. There. I just predicted it.
But at this point I think they may be the best team in baseball and that is even considering the hot streak the Yankees are on.
So, it is very hard to predict what is going to happen to a first-place team that you believe is the best team in baseball. In that case, ipso facto, you are a terrible analyst. Rob (Lime Rock, CT): If you were the White Sox GM would you trade Garland for Renteria as has been rumored this week?
Joe Morgan: I would, but I do not think the Braves should make that deal until the season is over. You don't need to make that deal now if you are the Braves. I am a big fan of Reteria, I think he is one of the most underrated players in the game for all he does. He is very consistent.
Also, I know errors are stupid, but in 2005 he made like 120 errors. He is: not very consistent. But kudos on using "consistent" and extending a record you already own -- this makes 3,409 consecutive days you have said or written the word "consistent." You have been very consistent in your use of "consistent." You are the Cal Ripken of "consistent"-using!
Paddy (St. Louis): Joe, With Tony Gwynn, going into the Hall this week, do you think he could have hit .400 in 1994? I'd like to think he would have.
Joe Morgan: Well that is very hard to answer.
KT: Hey, Joe, I have a question for your baseball chat.
Joe: Sure, but before you ask it, for security purposes, and to protect me legally, I must read the following statement: "I, Joseph Ignatius Bosephius Reginald Morgan, hereby declare that all questions posed to me are difficult to answer, and I cannot be held responsible for actually answering them. These questions may include, but are not limited to, sequences of words that challenge me to make predictions, analyze certain situations, or use my knowledge to form conclusions and/or extrapolations, all of which circumstances are unacceptable. The questioner must hereby state, for the record, that I am under no obligation, at any time, to provide information, to proffer opinions, or to "go out on a limb" in any way, seeing as all information is fluid, and also seeing as there is really no way to predict anything with any accuracy, and also seeing as trying to figure out what might happen is basically impossible -- especially given Hawking (et al.) and his work in positing parallel universes and/or dimensions, to say nothing of Schrödinger and the cat and all of that jazz about examining stuff and thus changing it inexorably -- and thus the very idea that anyone, including me, could actually "answer" a question is just about as absurd as shit gets, really, when you think about it." Just sign here--
JM: And here. And initial here. And this is just some more legal jargon absolving me of any monetary or emotional damages that might be incurred if I ever do decide to attempt to answer a question and it backfires somehow.
KT: How could it backfi--
JM: Honestly, it doesn't matter, because I am totally never going to answer a question, so just sign --
JM: And we're done. This copy is yours, this is mine, this one gets filed at the World Court, and this one goes to Coopertown, TN. Now. What was the question you had?
I think if Brett and Carew were playing around 2003 those guys could have hit .400, and Tony was always a threat to hit .400. But remember when players were hiting .400 that was a very different era, batters got to see a pitcher a lot more; now a days teams bring in fresh pitchers more often and it makes it harder.
Rod Carew hit .359 or above four times. But George Brett had one flukey year when he hit .390 in 117 games. He never hit above .335 again. He was an excellent hitter, no doubt. But really? Brett would hit .400 in 2003? Fuck the heck are you talking about, man?
You say yourself one sentence later that it's harder to hit .400 nowadays due to specialty pitchers. Whether that's true is debatable, but what is the evidence that George Brett -- not Boggs, not Williams, not Gehrig, not Hornsby or Cobb, but Brett -- would have hit .400 in 2003? What the hell is wrong with you?!
William ( MA): In your opinion, who is the best hitter in baseball? Ichiro? Pujols? A-Rod? Jeter? And defend your position.
KT: I love an aggressive MassHole. Fantastic.
Joe Morgan: Well hitting is hard to define. You have to look at what you consider a good hitter: power, average, or a combo. Manny Ramrirez has been the best for the last 8-10 years, but now he is not hitting his normal share of home runs this year.
First of all, "Ramrirez" is how Astro the Jetsons' dog would pronounce Manny's last name. (Boo-yah! Pop culture!) Second, I like that he just flatly declares that Manny has been the best hitter for the last 8-10 years. Bonds has led his league in OPS+ six times since 1997, including a 262 spot in 2001. Manny has led his league once, at 174. Manny has led in Runs Created twice in the last decade, but ARod has done it four times (including this year, so far). Manny is one of the great modern-day hitters, but it is silly to declare so plainly that he has been the best.
Last year you probably would have said Pujols. But right now you have to include A-rod because he is the most productive hitter in the game, but that does not mean he is the best hitter.
Joe, you're such a tease! Just get to who you think it is!
But that is a very hard question to answer, because first you have to define what you thinka good hitter is.
Oh. You're not going to answer.
The answer, this year, is ARod in the AL, and probably Bonds or Miggy Cabrera in the NL. (Though what a year Chipper is having! And how about Magglio proving everyone wrong by living up to that huge contract? Interesting year. Too bad Joe never watches any of it, or feels the need to discuss any of it, because the league is pretty cool right now.)
chris (chicago): Joe, you saw Matt Holliday at the All-Star game...Do you think hes a legit future superstar?
Joe Morgan: we throw the word superstar around too quickly, after one great year. I think he has the potential, but you have to wait and see if the consistency is there. But I did like what I saw during the All-Star game.
KT: The slangdictionary.com entry for "covering one's ass" should link directly to Joe's brain. "Well, it's too early to tell, and we'll have to wait a thousand years before we have technology advanced enough to tell for absolute certain, and before we can even make any educated guesses he will have to be consistent for 25+ seasons so that we know it was not a fluke, but right now, with a gun to my head, if I have to answer, I'd say: Yes, I do believe that Boof Bonser is on the Twins' 40-man roster."
Joe Morgan: Looking forward to talking to you next week. I should have some Hall of Fame stories for you next time!
When I read headlines like this, I think to myself, "Man. If only I were part of a blog that exposed terrible -- indefensibly terrible -- sports writing." Then I wake up from my horrible nightmare, and realize I am, and I start typing.
Before we even get started, some cold, hard, mathematical, indisputable facts:
EqA: .358 OPS: 1.077 WARP3: 13.4 Rank among all players in baseball in terms of goodness at baseball: 1
Hit it, Lupica!
Here is the deal on Alex Rodriguez, as the Yankees already begin to wonder what kind of deal it will take to keep him here:
The last Yankee to have better combined home run and RBI numbers at this point in the season was Lou Gehrig, in 1934...Roger Maris had more home runs than A-Rod at this point in '61, but had 97 RBI to go with them. Joe DiMaggio had 32 home runs and 110 RBI after 98 games in 1937. In 1956, Mickey Mantle, on his way to the Triple Crown, had 34 homers and 89 RBI, and in '61, he had 39 home runs at this point in the season and 91 RBI.
Seems like ARod is having a pretty good year.
Rodriguez should win a third MVP award this season whether the Yankees make the playoffs or not. And when that happens, when he is voted the most valuable in his league again, it is game on. It is game on because the Yankees will then have to decide just how valuable Alex Rodriguez is to them.
Oh -- is this the problem? You think they don't know how valuable he is to them? I can take care of this quickly. You should look at that WARP3 stat. That will tell you. Alternately, you could go here and look at his WARP1 stat, which is not projected out for the whole season like WARP3, and see that he has already been worth a pretty goddamn important 7.5 wins to the Yankees. Which means:
2007 Yankees, with ARod: 52-46 2007 Yankees, with no ARod, and some scrub playing third, like 2000 Scott Brosius: 47-51 2007 Yankees with a AAA guy playing 3rd: 44.5 - 53.5
And that is just ARod's WARP1 through July 23 versus Brosius's WARP1 for the whole year.
So, then, here is what ARod's presence is worth to the 2007 Yankees: a chance at the playoffs. Without him this year, they are right now trading veterans for prospects and looking to 2008. Joe Torre has been fired. Brian Cashman has been fired. Lindsay Lohan is running the team. Billy Crystal is in jail for war crimes. Paul Simon has burned down Jack Nicholson's house. Anarchy.
A team that reminds us constantly that winning is the only thing that matters will decide how much they are willing to pay a great star who has not won here. And might never.
If he were not here, your team would be under .500. They would be a laughing stock. Jerry Crasnick and Buster Olney would be snatching up book deals that deal with the night George Steinbrenner murdered Gene Michael in a rage after Enrique Wilson hit into a game-ending 1-2-3-2 triple play to end a 1-0 loss to the Royals.
Never won here?! You people are boneheads. You are all boneheads. And when you and your ilk have driven ARod to Anaheim next year, and you can't get Miguel Cabrera, and suddenly you are relying on a bunch of 35 year-olds and Melky Cabrera for your offense, and your team sucks, don't come crying to me.
Ruth's teams won. Gehrig's teams won. DiMaggio played in 10 World Series and the Yankees won nine of them. Mantle won all the time. Maris played in five World Series as a Yankee and won two of them.
Here are some things that existed in those days: No free agency. 8 teams in a league. One round of playoffs. Other great players on those Yankee teams. (I like the artificial division between "Ruth's teams" and "Gehrig's teams," as if they weren't largely the same. And as soon as Ruth was gone, DiMaggio showed up. To say nothing of Dickey, Lazzeri, Ruffing, Gomez, Pennick...)
Also, in re: Roger Maris -- fuck the heck are you talking about?!
Maris, in 5 WS with the Yankees, went 20-107 (.187 BA). He was terrible. Then, in 1967, with the Cardinals, he suddenly went 10-26, hitting .385/.433/.538.
But he is a better Yankee than ARod...because...his teams...won...and that means...he is awesome...and a winner...and...ARod...is...not.
This is the stupidest shit I have ever read. I apologize for the vulgarity, but this is stupid, stupid, stupid.
If the Yankees do make the playoffs, either by catching the Red Sox or winning the wild card, if they do that and A-Rod hits more than 50 homers and becomes the first Yankee since DiMaggio to get to 150 RBI, of course his value only goes up, and Scott (Bag Man) Boras becomes even happier than when he finds loose change in the dryer.
But say the Yankees don't make it.
ARod's fault. 100%. Fuck that guy. All he did was single-handedly keep the Yankees from being in last place and hit like 14 walk-off HR and probably win the MVP and average an RBI per game and have the best offensive year of any major league baseball player. Dump his sorry ass and move on. Because the way to improve a baseball team is: obtain worse players.
Say they now spend $200 million on teams that not only can't get out of the first round, they can't even get to the first round. Then how valuable is Rodriguez, who is going to want to start the conversation at $30 million a year, to the New York Yankees?
Extraordinarily valuable. 13-14 wins a year, all by himself, valuable.
Let me ask you this, dumbass. Why are you not hammering Mike Mussina, who is far closer to the cause of their woes this year than is ARod, and who is being paid $11m. Or Johnny Damon and his .267 EqA -- is that worth $13m a year through 2009? Or Giambi, and his $20m+. Why are you complaining about the only guy on the entire team who is exceeding expectations? What kind of sense does this make?
If they don't make it, here is the progression for A-Rod, such as it is, since the Yankees made the big trade for him:
2004: Lose in the ALCS to the Red Sox, blowing a 3-0 lead in the process, the most epic calamity in the history of the organization.
All ARod's fault. He was such a choking choker. He barely went 8-31 with 2 2B and 2 HR, putting up the line of .258/.378/.516. How awful. It is nowhere close to the awesome clutch True Yankee Mr. November Yankee Pride line put up by Derek Jeter:
6-30, no HR and one 2B.
That is such a better performance by Jeter. Because those stats were True Yankee stats. Those stats had Pinstripitude. Sure, ARod hit 2 HR and Jeter zero, and sure ARod was better in every single offensive category, but ARod's numbers were chokey. Jeter's were fucking calm-eyed and fist-pumped and Yankish. Jeter commanded respect with his five singles over seven days. He hit those five singles in a way that said, "Sorry, Boston, not today. Not in my house. Not when there are True Yankees walking around these hallowed grounds -- not when Bucky Dent and Scott Brosius and Jim Leyritz and Joe Girardi are still alive."
And it would have worked, too, if fucking ARod hadn't screwed it all up.
And yes, I know -- believe me, I know -- that ARod slapped that ball out of Brandon [sic] Arroyo's glove. That was dumb and messed up. But ARod did not hang a front-door change-up to David Ortiz in Game 4. He did not give up a 3-r HR to Mark Bellhorn in game 6. He did not get his ass handed to him by Damon and Ortiz in Game 7 like Vasquez and Brown. He did not blow two saves, like Mariano. And if it weren't for an outstanding diving, tumbling backhanded stab by Orlando Cabrera -- robbing ARod of a probable RBI single -- in extra innings of Game 4, ARod would have probably won the ALCS MVP trophy. And then what would you no-talent hacks be writing about?
2005: Lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Angels.
because it's not, because we know how the Yankees have pitched in October for a long time. There is always a lot of high-priced talent in the room, though the price tag is never his price tag. But it is also fair to say if he had been MVP Alex in, say, Game 6 against the Red Sox in '04, if he had been MVP Alex against the Angels or the Tigers, he might have his World Series ring already.
If Derek Jeter had had more than five singles and a double over seven days against the Red Sox, the same might be true. If if if if if. The guy had a better postseason than Jeter in 2004 -- better in the ALDS, better in the ALCS -- and no one has ever pointed that out, ever, ever, ever.
Reggie Jackson, A-Rod's biggest defender, is fond of saying that it doesn't matter how many games you win during the regular season at Yankee Stadium if you don't win 11 more in October. Only the '04 Yankees got even halfway there. He is going to hit 800 home runs and maybe when he is done there are people who will want to call him the greatest ballplayer of all. But at this point in his career, he has won exactly two playoff series:
First round with the Mariners in 2000.
First round with the Yankees in '04.
What an asshole. ARod, I mean. The guy can't even single-handedly win a postseason series.
People who write about Alex Rodriguez have a pathological inability to separate the man from the team. Jeter hasn't won shit since 2000 either. Mussina and Giambi have been paid just as much as ARod, by the Yankees, and they have won fuck-all. Damon hasn't won anything with the Yankees. Neither has Matsui. Neither has Pavano, or Cano. None of these people is ever -- ever -- held to the same impossible standard as ARod.
I hate the Yankees. And all I do is defend their players against their own media and fans. What is wrong with this picture?
He was up with the Mariners as a teenager when they took a first-round series off the Yankees, but only got to the plate one time. Even he can't count that one.
And now the sarcasm. "Even he can't count that one!" As if ARod is famous for selfishly trying to claim victories or something. Where does this hatred come from?
Since that time, he has made more money than he could ever count.
So has Giambi. And ARod never got dragged in front of a grand jury, developed a mysterious tumor in the part of your body that regulates Human Growth, apologized for...nothing, blabbed in the press, got dragged in front of a commissioner's panel on steroids, missed most of two entire seasons, and -- what's the other thing he did? Oh -- cheat.
...what kind of numbers are his numbers worth to the Yankees? They're a bigger attraction since he got here, just not as big a team.
Enjoy your team without him next year. You all deserve it.
EDIT: in the 30 minutes since I posted this, I have received a few emails -- the first from reader Mr. Faded Glory -- about how Lupica is actually a Mets fan, a fact which I had forgotten when I had my memory of NY sports writers erased "Eternal Sunshine"-style after I left the city in 2004. I am really, however, addressing the world of journalists and critics, when I say, "Enjoy [the] team without ARod. You all deserve it."
If the Yankees payroll were in any way limited, which it is not, one could make an argument that spending x% of it on one player is unwise. If the Yankee team had several other young stars who are projected to get better in the next few years -- which they do not, really, unless you count Cano and Melky, neither of whom is probably going to be in the same league as ARod or even Jeter or maybe even Matsui in his prime -- you could argue to let ARod walk. Absent these things, there is no good argument for getting rid of him. And there is absolutely no good reason to rip him, constantly, all the time, in every paper. The only article you can write about ARod is: where would the Yankees be without him?
Then you'll love ESPN's segment "Who's Now"! It's a sports segment about sports persons and it's on a sports network!
In this edition, ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, devotes several minutes of my time (yes: my time) to discussing, with Stuart Scott, Mike Greenberg, Adam Sandler, and Kevin James, which of Tom Brady and Maria Sharapova is more "now."
Scott: Lot of talent on their field, or court. And a lot of buzz, because, let's face it, everybody talks a lot about how hot these two are.
Greenberg: The one thing I was thinking going into this, if there's a toss-up, maybe you actually go to the sports. --
Off Camera Voice: (as if this is a shocking notion) Wow.
Greenberg: -- Who's actually the greater player. In my opinion, Brady is closer to being the best quarterback in football than Sharapova is to being the best tennis player in the world.
(There is a fraction of a second where everyone involved with this miserable tragedy seems to be thinking: Man. It is a little weird that this is the flagship program on the #1 sports network in the world, and this is a recurring segment with like tons of graphics and fan voting and stuff, and one of our regular anchor-types just suggested that maybe if we need a like tie-breaker issue to figure out which of these athletes wins this contest that we're having, we might actually examine their relative abilities in the sports which they play. Then, Stuart Scott says...)
Scott: If you guys were having a party, and you had to invite one of them -- it's a Hollywood party -- who do you invite? And then Adam Sandler makes jokes about hotness, Sharapova vs. Brady's girlfriends, and Sportscenter "rolls on."
I'll Watch "Dead Poets Society" on TCM; You'll Do Our Work For Us
Hooray! Gallimaufry time! What better way to start the week?
Plenty of action for the Sunday night game on ESPN. Reader Colleen starts us off:
According to Joe Morgan, Adam Kennedy has "always been a great offensive player."
He has a career OPS+ of 89.
So true. So simple. Reader Evan L. noticed the same thing, but pointed instead to AK's .261 career EQA.
Maybe Joe meant: relative to all other human beings, Adam Kennedy has always been a great offensive player? As you may know, I like to give Joe the benefit of the doubt whenever possible.
Okay! Over on TCM, Charlie Dalton just changed his name to Nuwanda. And back at the FJM inbox, a number of readers noticed Joe Morgan's total misread of an ump's call on a stolen base attempt. We'll go with David S.'s version of events because he seemslike a good dude:
rolen steals 2nd, called safe, morgan says "easily safe" when crowd boos. they go to the replay that shows rolen CLEARLY out, morgan again says "easily safe." then they freeze it with rolen being tagged while nowhere near the bag, and both announcers are dead silent until the next pitch.
A quick pause to remind our dear readers that Gallimaufry is brought to you each and every week by Bacon Salt. Bacon Salt: Tastes like bacon...and salt!
Reader Mike mustered enough strength to listen to the voice of Suzyn Waldman, and for that, we congratulate him with a post of his observation:
During last night's Yankees broadcast, Waldman and John Sterling were talking about the possibility of Luis Vizcaino notching the win in both ends of the doubleheader. Sterling quipped that he could be the modern-day Wilbur Wood. This was Waldman's reply: "For those who don't know, Wilbur Wood used to start, and win, both ends of a doubleheader. A lot."
Only twice did Wood start both ends of a doubleheader. Never did he win both ends. In fact, in his most famous double-dip appearance, he took the collar two losses on the same day against the Yankees.
I just found out that Suzyn Waldman is from Newton, Massachusetts. Weird, right?
Also, say what you will about Mr. Keating's teaching methods. This guy really inspires his students. Sometimes you just gotta say "fuck the heck," right?
On with the 'maufry! Bruce Torres writes FJM to say:
Want to find someone to sleep with living near by? 91% of our members already gotten some action with the help of our system..
Well guess what? it won't even cost you a penny,
It's all here
Okay, Bruce! Good to know.
Reader Matthew K. writes for no reason other than to add to the ever-growing list of Eckstein nicknames:
Sure. Why not. Add it to the list. I'd go with "Hustlehoff," maybe, but...oh fuck -- I think Robert Sean Leonard's character is about to kill himself.
Reader Rick N. has an interesting thought on the ongoing "Who's Now?" situation:
dude, who's now would be brilliant if it were advertised as satire.
Actually, nothing blew my mind more about the whole "Who's Now" thing than the fact that Barry Bonds lost in the first round. I know it was up to the voters, and not ESPN itself, but seriously: every Bonds at bat is televised by ESPN. He dominates the front page of ESPN.com. Pedro Gomez pops up every fifteen minutes to tell me whether or not Bonds made a doody. He's about to break the all-time HR record -- and he's less "now" than Jeff Gordon? I don't get it.
And lastly, Lt. J.J. K. points us to this take on Joe Morgan's relation to the Sheffield/Torre/RealSports nonsense.
I'm not sure exactly what to make of it, but the author certainly doesn't like Joe Morgan. And I like that!
"O Captain My Captain!" You tell 'em, Ethan Hawke's character!
Welcome to the 955th post here at Fire Joe Morgan, Inc.
You know, people always ask me, "Ken, why is it called 'Fire Joe Morgan?' Why not 'Fire Tim McCarver,' or 'Fire Bruce Jenkins,' or 'Help Us Save "Jericho!"'?" Well, it's simple. Yes, there are a lot of terrible analysts out there. But only Joe has what we really crave: a unique blend of ignorance, inexplicable anger, arrogance, and haughtiness -- all mixed together with Joe's trademarked penchant for (seemingly deliberately) not answering questions put to him during question and answer sessions.
And with that, here's post 955, which is: A JoeChat.
Bernard (Princeton, NJ): Hi Joe! At one point do the Red Sox start to worry about that team in the Bronx?
Joe Morgan: I think they have to worry about them now, because the Yankees are playing great. Roger Clemens have given them a shot in the arm, even though they're 3-6 in his starts. He's added life to a dead situation. I think they will stay in the race, but if Boston simply plays normally, the Yankees won't catch them.
Ken Tremendous: It's Clemens? Clemens is the one who is making the difference. Clemens, who had a 5.32 ERA in his first five starts, in which the Yankees went 1-4. It's him. The guy who gave up 5 earned in 5 weak to the DRays two starts ago. It's Clemens. Not ARod, who had a 1.281 OPS over those first five starts, in June. Not Wang, or Abreu heating up, or Cano heating up. It's been Clemens, who, by your own admission, hasn't pitched that great.
This is the laziest possible explanation for what has made the Yankees start winning. The real reason is: they were getting very unlucky and were underperforming, based on their runs scored/runs allowed Expected W/L formula, and it was only a matter of time until that changed. The dumb-as-nails Joe Morgan reason is: Roger Clemens! He's a good pitcher. He joined the team. The team started winning. Ergo: Clemens is the reason.
If Joe Morgan saw someone eating a Clark Bar on the street, and it started to rain, he would explain the rain by saying, "That guy ate some candy -- that was the difference right there."
Kwame (New York, NY): Joe can you pinpoint anything that would explain Beltran's struggles? He's killing the Mets in the middle of the order right now. Is it because Delgado is having a bad year? With his tools he should be hitting .290 during an "off" year.
KT: Here is what an analyst would say:
"Beltran is getting a little bit unlucky this year, as you can see here. But his numbers aren't so far off from his career norms. He's at .799 OPS this year, and his career OPS is .840 or so. his BB rate is down slightly but his K-rate is basically the same, so maybe he's just straining to get hits to help his struggling team instead of showing the same patience that gave him 95 BB last year."
Here is what Joe Morgan says:
Joe Morgan: I believe the Delgado situation is part of it. It's always easier when the guys around you are htting better, especially the guy behind you. You can't blame Delgado for what has happened to Beltran, though--he has to get his act together. I can't quite explain it, but maybe we've always expected too much of Beltran.
KT: Quick summary: Beltran's struggles are partly due to Carlos Delgado. You can't blame Carlos Delgado for Beltran's struggles. I have no idea what is causing Beltran's struggles. I blame the fans. Randy(Knoxville,TN): Hi Joe...I dont get the move by the Cubs to get Jason Kendall. He isnt hitting or playing particularly well it seems. The buzz words being bandied about are 'leadership' and 'caretaker', but Koyie Hill seems to have handled our pitchers well. What is your take on Kendall and what he means for the Cubs? Thanks for the time, Joe.
Joe Morgan: I was shocked the Cubs wanted him that badly, because they gave up a pretty good lefthanded pitcher. It surprises me too, except they may be hoping he gets back to where he was with the Pirates. I don't think that will happen. I'm shocked they made that move.
KT: I will give it up for Joe here. I literally cannot believe he didn't talk about Kendall's leadership. Maybe we're making progress.
Scotty (Warren, Mi): If Zumaya and Rodney come back healthy for the Tigers pen are they the team to beat in the American League?
Joe Morgan: Everything being equal, Detroit is the best team in the AL. Because of the addition of Gary Sheffield, their offense will be stellar.
KT: "Will be?" When? Next year? It's pretty good this year. (Also, aside: how about Sheff's interview with Real Sports. Now that Carl Everett is off fighting imaginary dinosaurs in the IL, nobody brings the MLB-crazy like The Sheff.) Last year they won mostly with pitching,
And the 8th most runs in baseball.
but they're more balanced this year. After them come the Red Sox--those are the two best teams at this stage. Things could change in the next couple of months.
Wait a second -- things could "change?" How? I guess he means that things could change by: more games being played. Good to know. Thank you for typing that so my eyes could flicker over it and I could learn something about baseball.
Joe (DC): Besides firing the owner, what are three things the Orioles need to do to become contenders again in the next 3-5 years?
Joe Morgan: I'm not as caught up on the owner being the problem there.
KT: You are alone in that regard.
He may have interfered in the past, but they're not one or two mistakes from being the team that they are--they've made more than one or two.
You mean...they seem to systemically make mistakes? Like, maybe, there's a guy who makes all the decisions and has for a long time, and he has made a lot of mistakes? What kind of person could have made all the mistakes that the organization has made without being fired? Oh. The owner.
Sean (Washington DC): Joe, great to see you getting an early start on the chats, thanks! I was wondering with the way Willis is pitching right now, what would a team really want to give up for him? Also, have you ever thought about writing a book?
KT: I am going to add some stage directions to Joe's answer. I will italicize them so you can tell what changes I have made.
Joe Morgan: (snootily) I've actually written five, although I've thought about writing another book soon. (collecting himself; defensive) I just haven't had the time. (having no idea what to say) I'm just shocked at how poorly Dontrelle has pitched. (desperately reaching into memory banks; forming wild guess) Each year he gets off to a great start, and then he slows down. He's been struggling ever since his good first month. (taking refuge in blandishments that provide no actual analysis) Right now, he looks like an average pitcher. (hedging bets; shunning opportunity to give actual insight) I don't know what people would be willing to give up for him, it would depend on how well they think their pitching coach could work with him. (Flourish. Exeunt. Curtain.)
Raymond (Wichita, KS): Hey Joe, What is your take on the Roayls sucess since the middle of May? Do you see good signs in the way they have been playing?
KT: For my next trick, I shall play: Count the Information-less Clichés.
Joe Morgan: Every team so far has had good streaks/bad streaks. (1) Every team has weaknesses. (2) It's gonna be an up-and-down (3) rollercoaster, (4) but I do see signs of them getting better, (5) and as long as Alex Gordon continues to get better, they will continue to build on that success (6).
I don't know what a man has to do to get fired from his job as a sports analyst. The question is about a specific team's improved performance over a specific period of time. The response is: every team has had good streaks/bad streaks, every team has weaknesses, it's an up and down rollercoaster, and finally the "answer that contains the question" magic of: they do show signs of getting better. This is terrible.
Adam (Dayton): Hey Joe! If you were GM of the Reds (there's a thought), would you deal Griffey Jr and/or Adam Dunn?
Joe Morgan: I would not deal Griffey. I thnk you have to have something/someone in an organization that the young players can look up to, and I think he's that guy. I would trade Dunn before Griffey, even though Dunn is younger. Trading Griffey won't solve their problems.
KT: Trading Griffey for no one wouldn't solve their problems. But what if -- and I know this seems crazy -- you consider what you might get back from the trade? What if you could trade Griffey to the Red Sox, for example, for Michael Bowden, Coco Crisp, Craig Hansen, and five million dollars? I don't know if you could -- this is literally the very first possibility I thought of -- but what if you could? That would help, long-term. And the awesome thing would be: you still have Adam Dunn, who is 27 and has a .908 OPS this year! Yayyyyyy! That would be fun!
(Leap ahead five years)
CINCINNATI, OH - July 20, 2012 In a gruesome and sad moment for sports fans everywhere, Cincinnati Reds' players Adam Dunn, Coco Crisp, Michael Bowden, and Craig Hansen committed ritualistic suicide at the Great American Ballpark today, the result of five years of depression brought on by a leadership void. "I guess they had no veteran players to look up to," said a team official. "They were rudderless ships, without a slightly aloof 38 year-old to show them the way."
Ironically, all four were having excellent years on the field.
John, Akron: Hopefully you will answer a Indians Question...What are your thoughts on Grady Sizemore as a centerfielder and also what do you expect out of Travis Hafner in the second half? Thanks for answering...
Joe Morgan: Grady Sizemore goes after the ball as well as anyone. He's not worried about fences, diving, or getting hurt. I still think Torii Hunter is the best in the AL, but Grady Sizemore will be the best very quickly.
BP has Torii at 1 FRAA. One. Granted, they have Sizemore at -7. But the fact that his WARP3 projection is still higher than Hunter's means that it is unlikely that one could call Torii Hunter the best CF in the AL right now and not be a dumb-dumb.
This is the same exact mindset that led Joe to label Roger Clemens the "energizer" of the Yankees. He's just the most famous guy on the team. It's the "safest" answer, for someone who does no research and puts no thought into what he says.
Who's the best CF in the AL? Torii Hunter! Remember that catch he made off Bonds in the ASG like three years ago? The guy is amazing!
What turned the Yankees' season around? Clemens! 350 wins! Hall of Fame! Veteran!
Who's the Best President in history? George Washington! Cherry trees! That painting in the boat!
What was the best dinosaur? T-Rex, baby!
Maureen ( Boston): Joe, I was just wondering, what's your first baseball memory? I'm also thiking of taking my daughter to her first game this summer and besides Fenway, if cost was no object where would you recommend I take her?
Joe Morgan: Just as a pure baseball fan, i think you have to see Yankee Stadium--it has the greatest history in the game. There's nothing like walking through Monument Park. I went to the ballpark at 3:00 PM the first time I played there just to walk through there. I grew up watching the Yankees on TV winning, so that's my tradition of the game. Wrigley Field of course is a must-see. Most of the new parks are very similar, but AT&T Park has a great view of the sea. But if I were starting all over, it'd be Yankee Stadium and Monument Park.
What's the best stadium? Yankee Stadium! 26 World Championships! Yankees!
Yankee Stadium, for those of you fortunate enough not to have ever been there, is a boring toilet-shaped stadium that had all the character aggressively redesigned out of it in the 1970's. Fenway, Wrigley, AT&T, Comerica, Petco, and Camden are 10x as nice. I have never been to PNC or Safeco, but I hear the same is true of them
But no, by all means, take your kid to an ugly stadium and let him see his first drunken fistfight.
john (denver): Do you think the rockies can contend, and how good do you think Matt Holliday is?
Joe Morgan: I think the Dodgers and the Padres are the teams to beat over there, mainly because of their pitching. The Rockies seem to be manipulating the balls in their stadium--one day it's 13-1, and one day it's 1-0. Arizona's also in there. Everyone has a chance there except the Giants.
KT: How can he get away with this? He is accusing the Rockies of cheating. Shouldn't Bud Selig get angry about this?
Also, I love the implication that the team is cheating because the scores vary from game to game. Because that never happens in other baseball parks, where, by MLB rule, the final score must always be 5-3.
Also, the DBacks have been outscored by 36 runs and despite their 50-47 record, have a PECOTA-adjusted 5% chance of making the playoffs. Just so you know.
Nick (Chicago): Do you make much of a team's record away from home? The Brewers lead their division with a sub-500 road record and the Tigers also lead their division with an outstanding road record.
Joe Morgan: I don't as much as some people do, and that's because it depends on how you play at the time.
KT: Your road record depends on how you play at the time. Got it.
Regardless of where you're playing, if you play poorly you'll lose, and if you play well you'll win.
This is the finest analyst ESPN has to offer you. Read that sentence again. This is analysis. This is insight. This is shit you can't get from the average Joe on the street. This is shit ESPN makes you pay money for. This is shit that can only be passed on to us, the mortals, from people who have played the game, who have immersed themselves in baseball and its inner workings for going on 50 years. This is shit that will help you understand the game better, that will let you watch the game with fresh eyes. This is: some hard-core Joe Morgan shit.
Washtionton DC: I am from St Louis Mo and a long time St Louis Cardinals fan. I was wondering what next year has in store for the Cardinals as of moving or acquiring players this year or during the off season?
Joe Morgan: I don't know,
At least he's honest.
because my understanding is that Walt Jocketty's contract may be up. If he gets a new contract, he'll start building this year and continue into next year, but I'm just not sure. They have some underperforming stars who are signed to long-term contracts, such as Edmonds and Rolen, so a lot will depend on how they play the rest of the way.
The man will simply not answer a question.
Joe Morgan: Enjoyed the chat as usual, and I'm looking forward to next week.
Seriously. Why are you looking forward to it? Do you actually enjoy it? Does it make you happy to write "I don't know" and "It all depends" and "We'll have to wait and see" and "If you play well you win, if you play badly you'll lose" over and over again?
How can that be fun for you?
(A single tear runs down Ken's cheek. He does not wipe it away. It tumbles onto his keyboard in slow motion.)
(CLOSE ON: the tear, as it splatters, and sinks into the keys.)
ESPN's new segment Who's Now, Tuesday. The match-up: Tiger Woods vs. D-Wade. The panelists: Mike Greenberg, and (naturally) Kevin James and Jessica Biel.
Jessica Biel: "D-Wade, he's down-low, he's on the -- low profile. I like that about the guy." Stuart Scott: "So that makes him more 'Now?'" Jessica Biel: "I think so." Stu Scott: "'Cause most people would say, if you're on the 'low-low,' you're not very "Now" if you're not going to parties."
Ignoring the sheer inanity of this back-and-forth, the phrase "On the D-L" or "On the down-low" is sometimes used in the African-American community to describe men who are married and live outwardly heterosexual lives, but also secretly go to gay clubs and have affairs with men. I'm sure this is not what Biel or Scott intended to imply, but still, I can imagine D-Wade watching this and saying, "Fuck the heck?!"
Also, I have a new idea for a segment. It is called "Which is When?" People get together and debate which athletes played at which times in history. Then someone looks up the answers on the internet and the segment ends.
Reader Lazarus sends us to SI.com's Power Rankings, where we find this gem:
Joe Torre met with George Steinbrenner for a nice lunch in Tampa the other day, and I'm sure at some point the subject probably turned to the Yankees. And George, I'd bet, at some point looked at his manager and said, "#$!&@* the heck?"
I assume they meant to write: "What the #$!&@*?" But they didn't. They wrote "#$!&@* the heck?"
Or, presumably: "Fuck the heck?"
Steinbrenner really is in poor health, if he is saying "Fuck the heck." That is not a phrase.
The dudes over at MSNBC.com have been letting me down recently. And by "letting me down," I mean: not writing like boneheads. Fortunately, Michael Ventre comes through today, in an analogy-laden piece about how the Yankees shouldn't re-sign Alex Rodriguez for lots of money.
Imagine for a moment that you’re a multi-billionaire, and you have a craving for a candy bar. And let’s just say for purposes of argument that your butler, chauffeur and personal assistant all have the day off.
I love imagination games! I am with you so far.
You pull up to a 7/11 in your Bentley, get out, walk in, grab a candy bar and bring it up to the register. The kid behind the register recognizes you as one of the wealthiest men in the world and says, “That’ll be 100 bucks.”
Ooh -- I know this one. I say, "No -- the pricetag says "55 cents." And I win the game!
Of course, you could easily whip out your wallet, peel off a C note and pay the guy. But you know he’s gouging you because you’re filthy rich. So you tell him what he can do with his $100 candy bar and you split.
Or, I could offer him 55 cents, and if he refuses, tell him I will report him to the Better Business Bureau. Am I playing this game right?
Now replace the kid behind the counter with Scott Boras, and the anonymous multi-billionaire with George Steinbrenner, and that approximates the situation that erupted recently involving Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.
Oh. Wait a second. You failed to inform me that this candy bar is the very very best candy bar in the entire realm of candy bars. You didn't mention that it was in its prime, like, shelf life, in terms of freshness. And you also didn't tell me that I already own this candy bar, and that another 7/11 in Texas is subsidizing this candy bar -- paying me, in this analogy, like $25 or something to defray the cost of it. (This happened because the store owner in Texas is big, dumb, and fat, and loved the candy bar so much that seven years ago he agreed to pay $252 million for it when no one else was even offering more than like $160m. But that is neither here nor there.)
You also failed to mention that this candy bar isn't just something I will eat. It is a magical candy bar that will also make me a lot of money, because it is so awesome that people will come from miles around to pay money just to sniff it. Or whatever. The analogy is running out of steam.
Boras told a New York newspaper that he expects A-Rod to attract a contract worth in the neighborhood of $35 million per season if he opts out of his current deal, which he is expected to do. For that kind of money, it had better be one darned good candy bar.
It is. It is a super super good candy bar. You can tell how good it is based on its performance versus other candy bars:
New York Fun-Tastical Chocolate Factory Product Performance:
No other New York candy bar has more than 7 nougats, or an MNR higher than .751. This chocolate bar is extremely important to this chocolate factory.
The situation is complicated,
And packed with peanuts!
depending on which Boras blast and which tabloid report you believe. Boras also said, under A-Rod’s current deal, there are stipulations that would pay the superstar about $32 million per season in 2009 and 2010 anyway.
Oh. So, wait a second. You're telling me -- to revisit the analogy at the beginning -- that I might be on the hook for this candy bar to the tune of like $94 anyway? That, plus the subsidy, and the yummy, Most Valuable Sweet Treat-winning composition of the candy bar, makes the original situation you posed, um, misleading? Wrong? Bad? What's the right word?
What Boras is saying, roughly translated: C’mon, guys. He’s already getting $32 million. What’s another $3 million per? It’s chicken feed, really. You can pay it out of petty cash.
Well, again, it's not that much, if they can extend him. The Texas 7/11 is paying you a decent chunk of that.
So while everybody is arguing about $32 million versus $35 million, Boras has made them all forget that nobody else in baseball makes more than A-Rod’s 2007 salary that is estimated at between $22 million and $27 million (depending on the source and how it’s calculated). Boras is taking a number that is completely out of whack and slowly getting everybody used to it.
Is it out of whack? Ichiro just got 5/90+. ARod is definitely better than Ichiro. And remember -- the original contract, that Tom Hicks signed in 2000, gave him this escalator to $32m or $1m more than the highest paid guy, or whatever it is. Don't blame Boras. Blame Hicks, if you blame anyone.
Supposedly, the Cubs and Red Sox will be willing to meet A-Rod’s price. Yet where is that information coming from? It smells like a Boras plant. I’m surprised we haven’t heard that the L.A. Galaxy wants to sign A-Rod to play next to David Beckham, or that MGM wants him to be the new James Bond. When Boras is finished, the hot rumor will be that A-Rod is about to merge with Google.
What does any of this have to do with candy?
Also, I am guessing that with the money the Sox, Giants, and Angels have coming off the books in the next couple years, there would be at least a few teams willing to do 6/190 or something. Especially if they thought ARod could go back to SS.
It’s true, [ARod is] a stud in the lineup. This year he’s hitting .312, with 31 home runs and 87 RBIs. But he’s doing it during a relatively meaningless season in which it became obvious early on that the Yankees just weren’t going to be in the playoff picture;
First off, the Yankees are still in the playoff picture. They play their next like 30 games against the DRays, the Royals, the Fordham JV Team, and the Washington Generals. Second, and more importantly, how can you write this sentence and believe it is good? That's the real question. If it weren't for ARod, the Yankees would, to paraphrase Johnny Damon a while ago, be about 25 games back. They'd be nowheresville. They would stink to high heaven. He is -- and now I will actually quote Joe Morgan, just for kicks -- carrying this team.
in that regard, his current tear isn’t much different than the sparking stats he put up while a member of the bottom-dwelling Texas Rangers.
Explain to me what he is supposed to do differently than what he has done. How can he make his team any better than he is making it? Seriously, man. Explain this. I defy you to explain this. Should he have pitched for Chan Ho Park? Should be be the Yankees' 8th-inning bridge guy to Rivera? What do you want him to do?
When he has been on good teams, like the 2000 Mariners and the Yankees the past two years, he has put up fantastic numbers. When he has been on crappy teams, like this year's Yankees, he has put up fantastic numbers. What do you want him to do?
Don’t forget 2006. There was no salary drive. And there were indeed playoff hopes. A-Rod responded with still-admirable numbers for most players — .290 average, 35 homers, 121 RBI — but hardly $35 million-per-year mega-superstar numbers.
You are calling ARod out for having that season. Really. Really. His WARP3 that year was 7.3, and if he had been playing SS, instead of adjusting to third because Captain Selfless refused to move, it might have been in the 10's. And there was no salary drive in 2005, either, by the way, or 2004, 2003, or 2002, or 2001, and in those five years he was worth 63 wins to his teams.
He was much shakier in last year’s playoffs, with just one hit in 14 at-bats. In the 2005 postseason, he was only slightly better: two hits in 15 at-bats.
So. Just so I understand you.
7100 career AB with a .963 OPS and 495 HR -- which played a huge role in getting his teams get to the playoffs six times -- are less important than 29 AB over two years.
Go here. Scroll down to the Postseason Hitting area. Look at his overall numbers. Look at the fact that in 3 LCS he has a 1.025 OPS. Then -- and I want you, and all of your ilk to listen to me very closely -- never ever write drivel like that again.
At the moment, it appears his mental approach to the game is sound. But A-Rod is one of the sports world’s leading neurotics. Remember those patches of inferior play last season, followed by public discussions of his own fragile mental state?
Yes. And that definitely affected his play this year. He's at .284/.314/.339, with zero home runs. Oh no wait -- that's Juan Pierre. ARod is murdering the baseball every single day and has more than twice as many home runs as anyone else on his team.
It’s courageous for anybody to seek counseling while going through depression or difficult times. Yet he seems to be a completely different person this year. Unless he had a remarkable breakthrough after a visit to Jiffy Shrink, what that tells me is that the promise of money and stature keeps him focused, whereas the traditionally foremost reason to motivate an athlete — winning a championship — is a distant second or third.
I realize it takes an entire team, not one man, to win a title.
Do you? Honestly -- do you?
Pitching is more important than hitting. But after this, his 14th major league season, he never will have played in a World Series, let alone won one.
In the 2000 ALCS against the Yankees he went 9-22 with 2 HR. What a choking asshole. (I cannot believe how many times I have had to write a version of this sentence on this blog.)
Maybe it is because he just hasn’t been on a team that had enough talent.
Huh. There's a thought.
Or maybe it’s because he has been, but he didn’t infuse his team with the kind of leadership qualities that picks everybody up and keeps them moving forward determinedly through good times and bad.
Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God Oh my God oh my God
Any team that signs A-Rod should also have extra room in the cargo hold for his baggage. If it isn’t a “Stray-Rod” front page with a stripper, it might be a gentle feud with a teammate (in the past two years it was Derek Jeter; at A-Rod’s next stop, who knows?), or another obscene message on his wife’s shirt, or fending off criticism when he does stuff perceived as Little Leaguesque like trying to knock the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in 2004, or yelling to distract an opponent like he did this season against Toronto.
He's done some stupid stuff. He's also hit 495 HR and he's 31.
He isn’t a bum. He’s arguably the best player in baseball. He’s worth the money he’s making. But is he worth a lot more than that? Is he worth $35 million per season, or more?
He'll be making $32m regardless, in a couple years. So, by definition, he is.