Single-Subject Mini-Gallimaufry: Don Mattingly Edition
Hi, everyone. How are you. Good? Awesome. I'm good too. But enough small talk. I'd like to meta-discuss an email I got in some form or another from several persons who shall remain gallimaufry-nameless, after I posted this (in re: should Don Mattingly be inducted into the Hall of Fame of Baseball Players): Don Mattingly gets into the Hall of Fame, I quit. Everything. I quit everything. He is nowhere close to being in the ballpark of being in the discussion of people who might possibly begin to be considered as potential people who might someday be on a long list of people who should be considered as people who might someday be considered to one day be part of the discussion of who are the players who maybe should be thought about as potential people who might one day be considered by the Committee to Discuss People Who Should Maybe Be Thought Of As Potential Hall of Famers Someday.
I will distill the emails I got into one general email, which went something like this:
You are a douche. Mattingly is awesome. Look at this [statistical evidence that shows that Don Mattingly was awesome.] Don Mattingly is at least as good as [man who is in the Hall of Fame]. Don't you think you should apologize to Don Mattingly, his parents, me, my friends, and everyone who has ever read your blog? I do. I think your post was a poorly-baked soufflé.
And for the record I don't even care that much about Don Mattingly qua Don Mattingly -- I just wanted to point out that you are wrong.
Let me say a couple things. First of all, .tv? Get a real email address, am I right? Second, nice use of "qua," hypothetical distilled amalgam man. Third, thanks for the soufflé mention -- food metaphor tag! And fourth, here's the thing:
Don Mattingly had some excellent baseballing years. But to me, a few excellent baseballing years does not get you into the Hall of Fame. It just doesn't. You have to be one of the very very best players in the game for a very long time. You have to be extraordinary. You have to get lucky and avoid injuries, yes, but once you avoid them, you have to excel, and you have to excel for a very long time. Mattingly just didn't play well enough, long enough. He just didn't. Neither, I think, did Jim Rice. Or Albert Belle. Jesus -- go look at Albert Belle's numbers from 1992 to 1998. The guy had a 193 OPS+ one year. He had 100 XBH in a season. He was a monster. He was to Mattingly what Mattingly was to Luis Polonia. But here's the thing: he was out of baseball at 33 because of injuries. So...he doesn't quite make it.
And yes, there's Kirby Puckett. (Shows you what some high-profile postseason moments do for you.) And yes, there's also like Phil Rizzuto and people like that whose numbers stink. But in my mind, you don't judge someone's candidacy based on "Who is the worst player currently in the HOF, and is Player X better than he?" If you judge any candidate for anything based on the lowest standards necessary for inclusion, you can keep finding reasons to include more and more people who might have one or two statistical categories that get their heads above those categorical waterlines, even if their overall package does not, and then you just keep re-centering the mean criteria lower and lower, and soon you have what Colin Cowherd would probably call a "Hall of Very Good." (And nobody wants Colin Cowherd to be right.)
In my opinion, you just base it on: do Player X's numbers show that he was one of the very best players in the game for a long time? Because there are a lot of guys who excel for 1-3 years and then kind of fade away. And the Hall should be reserved for the ones who don't fade away. Or, alternately, the guys whose careers were cut short for some tragic reason, but who were so insanely amazing at baseball -- so utterly and completely dominant -- that you cannot deny their outrageous shining brilliance. This is not Don Mattingly.
I would also point out that the criteria for inclusion should focus on the player's position, as well. It is a far tougher thing to be a dominant starting pitcher or great SS for ten years than it is to be a great first baseman. (If Pedro Martinez never threw another pitch after the 2002 season, it would have been hard to deny him entry.)
Anyway, this is almost certainly going to result in more emails from people who take umbrage at my nebulous reasoning. But I haven't found any dumb articles recently, and I had to do something to get rid of the increasingly shameless plugs for that poll thingy.
3. Andre Dawson. On ravaged knees, he made eight All-Star teams, hit 438 home runs, drove home 1,591 runs, won eight Gold Gloves and finished in the top two in MVP voting three times, winning for the last-place Cubs in 1987.
I don't understand why Dawson supporters always cite his "ravaged knees" as a like thing that makes his numbers be better than they are. "He had bad knees! He gets bonus points!" You wouldn't say about Tony Gwynn: "The guy hit .320 every year -- and he was fat!" The Hawk had bad knees. That happens to athletes sometimes. Lou Gehrig had fucking ALS and he was still better than basically everyone else.
Despite the fact that The Hawk had bad knees -- which is immaterial -- he was a very very good baseball player. A baseball player who made crazy amounts of outs (evidenced by his career .323 OBP). The Gold Gloves are essentially pointless, the MVP voting is suspect at best, and his career numbers just don't stack up. Sorry. I loved the guy. I watched a lot of Cubs games on WGN and he was super fun to watch hit. But look at his career, man. I crunched all these #s for this post, and I'm too bored to do it again.
4. Rice. An absolutely dominant hitter for a decade in Boston. Like Morris, I think, Rice loses points on personality. And that's not right.
You know nobody loves Jim Ed more than I. But again...he just wasn't as dominant as everyone says he was. Look for yourself. It's true. He was awesome for like 3-4 years, but then his eyesight went south -- which maybe Heyman thinks should work in his favor -- and he had injuries and stuff. Then he had a resurgence later as a DH, but it was too late, and he was done at like 33.
People always say that Rice was "the most feared" and the "scariest guy to see at the plate" and stuff...but for many of the years he played, he wasn't actually the best hitter, or player, on his own team. Look at Rice, and now look at Dewey. And remember that Rice was not the greatest OF, and that he DHed a lot, and that Dewey was an excellent RF. Why Dewey doesn't get more love for the Hall I'll never know. I don't think he should be in, but he never even sniffs a "Consider This Guy" article, and Jim Ed gets them all the time.
Anyway, the point is, Jim Ed = no, not quite, sorry. Love you. First Sox jersey was 14. Saw you hit a mammoth HR at Fenway in 1984 that might still be airborne. Just didn't play long enough, or well enough.
5. Dave Concepcion. This is his 15th and last year on the ballot, and he's probably going to get his usual 10 percent of the vote again. The reason I am in that 10 percent is that I think he was perhaps the best all-around shortstop of his generation and an underrated piece of the Big Red Machine. Great defender (five Gold Gloves) and superb stealer (321 stolen bases), his career looks a lot like Hall-of-Famer Phil Rizzuto's to me -- without the announcing, of course.
Great fielder. Couldn't hit a lick. (And yet, still had the same OBP as Dawson, which should be the thing that closes the book on Dawson. If you're a big feared power hitter and you don't walk enough to have a higher OBP than Dave Concepcion...).
The only thing he has going for him is that he was an excellent fielder. He was not a "superb" stealer -- he stole 321 bases, which is good for 130th all time. Just ahead of Gwynn, who was fat, and just behind Gary Redus. He was also caught 109 times. That's about a 75% success rate. Eh. Pretty good. But the only thing he was "great" at was fielding. If he had 580 SB, like Ozzie Smith did, then maybe you have an argument. But he did not.
6. Dave Parker. He was an MVP,
an All-Star Game MVP,
That's almost completely pointless. Jesus Christ. He was 1-3 with a walk and an RBI. This is a credential for the Hall of Fame?! On the same level as like, "He had 3000 hits!" or whatever? Lunacy. (He did have 2 assists, though, which is pretty awesome, to have 2 assists in an ASG. Maybe he should be in.)
(Ironically, BTW, one of them was Jim Rice, at 3rd.)
a two-time batting champion,
a seven-time All-Star
I am asleep. You just put me to sleep.
and a three-time Gold Glove winner.
He has that in common with Minnie Minoso, Joe Rudi, and Eric Davis. Ugh. Now I'm in a coma. Look what you've done.
Here are some people Heyman says are "close, but not quite Cooperstown." 7. Mattingly. Every year, I am more and more tempted to vote for him.
Yes...like a siren song, the pleas of thousands of impossibly under-informed dummies from the Hudson River Valley waft through the air and strike the cochleae of willing BBWAA numbskulls..."He was gooooood...he won a baaaaaaaating title...his nickname has the word "baseball" in it...that has to mean something...".
Don Mattingly gets into the Hall of Fame, I quit. Everything. I quit everything. He is nowhere close to being in the ballpark of being in the discussion of people who might possibly begin to be considered as potential people who might someday be on a long list of people who should be considered as people who might someday be considered to one day be part of the discussion of who are the players who maybe should be thought about as potential people who might one day be considered by the Committee to Discuss People Who Should Maybe Be Thought Of As Potential Hall of Famers Someday. But this makes it eight years I've resisted so far. One of the game's best players from 1984-89, a back injury sapped his strength and greatness.
Do you get more HOF points for a back injury or bad knees? Can someone look that up?
Won an MVP, a batting title, nine Gold Gloves and the hearts of New Yorkers.
He had some very good years. The Gold Gloves are essentially pointless. And winning the Hearts of New Yorkers is not, the last time I checked, a fucking qualification for anything, least of all the Baseball Hall of Fame. You know who else has won the hearts of New Yorkers? Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra, Turk Wendell, and Luis Sojo.
8. Raines. He made the All-Star team his first seven seasons, then didn't make it the next 16. Certainly appeared to be on his way to Cooperstown early, and he lasted long enough to compile some impressive numbers, including 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases. But for two-thirds of his career, he was merely a very good player, not an All-Star player. Good enough for review in future years, though.
I feel bad about how over-the-top I was in re: Mattingly. But as you all know, my computer's delete key is broken. So instead of going back and revising what I wrote about Mattingly, I will simply exercise admirable (yes, I said it) restraint when I argue for Raines.
Rock, who actually had 811 SB according to BP (but 808 according to Baseball-Reference), is lumped into the "maybe someday we'll think it over category." Excellent. Raines stole a crazy number of bases, at like an 85% success rate. His career OBP stands at .386, which is very very very good for a man with 9000 AB. The man had a .307 career EqA. He is borderline, I think, but a much better candidate than many other people on this list.
Jack and Bert and a Hallway Where Famous People Go
It's the most wonderful time of the year -- the time when sportswriters spell out their mostly embarrassing Hall of Fame selections in their columns and pre-emptively get defensive about them, as if they know deep down inside that they're wrong, but they just can't help themselves. With the way some serial FJM offenders have started peppering their work with more nerd-baiting barbs than ever before, I'm beginning to think that they want to be caught -- maybe the traffic they get from our site is, perversely, helping them keep their jobs. Take Jon Heyman.
Enshrinement in Cooperstown shouldn't be about numbers.
It should be about guessing. Waving your hands in the air and shouting baseball players' names. Loud. Getting piss-drunk on Schlitzes, beating up some Finnish guy for looking gay, putting more Schlitzes in your gut and then using that gut to remember who was great. Because who remembers better, guts or numbers? Guts. Guts remember.
If anyone thinks so, let's trash tradition and have a computer select the honorees.
You know who a computer would probably pick? All of his computer friends. Hope you like a Hall of Fame full of Commodore 64's, ENIACs and vacuum tubes, you number-loving asshole.
The Hall of Fame should be about who starred and who dominated. And about who made an impact.
It should be about greatness.
And how do we determine these things? Simple. Jon Heyman's brain matter. It's a little-known fact, but Jon Heyman's brain matter has been scientifically determined to be the most infallible substance on the planet Earth. Jon Heyman's brain matter has retained every scrap of information it has ever received through Jon Heyman's sensory organs. Jon Heyman's brain matter can tell you the number of hairs on the skin of a Lhasa Apso Jon Heyman's eyes saw in 1974, though of course it would prefer not to, because that would be a number, and numbers are insignificant to Jon Heyman's brain matter. Jon Heyman's brain matter specializes in the recognition of domination, star power, impact and greatness. It does not need numbers to aid it. It simply knows. We must trust it.
I know my annual ballot would be rejected by stat aficionados, number crunchers and many Moneyball disciples. I have one player with a .323 on-base percentage on my ballot, and another even lower, at .322. But numbers don't tell everyone's story.
I believe guys should be given some extra credit for miraculous games, postseason heroics, historical performances that become part of baseball lore. They better be pretty damn miraculous to outweigh a .322 OBP, though.
Nobody's ballot is perfect. Like Roger Clemens' overzealous lawyer, I am conducting my own investigation.
This investigation, at least according to the first sentence of your column, "shouldn't be about numbers." So what would it entail? My guess: Jon Heyman, magic mushrooms, a MIDI keyboard and GarageBand.
Also, sure, you say that nobody's ballot is perfect. But what better way to absolutely assure imperfection than to ignore swaths of readily available information? This is like Clarence Thomas blithely throwing reams of legal documents into an In-Sink-Erator while happily chattering "No one's judicial opinions are perfect! La la la la dorp!" I believe this happened in 1998.
It's an inexact science, to be sure, and part of the imprecision involves the few idiots who get to vote.
Again, it's a science made especially inexact when you throw out all of the data before you even begin. I love, of course, the irony of Heyman calling some other voters idiots -- I think this irony isn't even lost on him.
Some may call me an idiot, as well.
You saying that doesn't mean you aren't one.
But one thing I have going for me is that I am old enough to have seen and followed the entire careers of 24 of 25 players on this year's ballot (I was two when Tommy John broke in so I missed some of the pre-surgery John).
I think this is relevant. Watching all these guys can only help augment your careful research of their playing records --
That in mind, I don't feel the need to study the stat sheets too hard. I look, but I don't obsess.
I think I know who was great, who was close to great and who doesn't even belong on the ballot.
Oh. So you're saying you can remember off the top of your head exactly how great 24 of the 25 guys are. How dominant. How starry. How impactful. No obsessing for you! Just sleeping in a hammock, playing the harmonica. Hall of Fame, here we come! No need to study. You just know! Whee!
Bert Blyleven is one Cooperstown candidate who stirs a lot of emotion, sometimes from folks who barely saw him pitch and instead spent the past 10 years with their heads buried in a stat book.
Barely saw him pitch. Wasn't born yet. Then was too busy drawing dinosaurs in crayon. Have spent the past 10 years living and sleeping inside a giant copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, not a stat book.
Blyleven did some great things in his career, and he pitched a lot of dominating games. Yet he never had a truly dominating season.
158 ERA+, 2.52 ERA, 1.117 WHIP, 258 Ks, 325 IP. Even 20 (bleah) wins. He was 22 years old.
142 ERA+, 2.66 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, 249 Ks. The very next year.
I'll stop boring you, since all numbers should be thrown out. But Bert went on to have four more years of ERA+s over 133. Jack Morris, a man of whom Heyman says "it's an abomination he may never get in," had exactly zero seasons that good. And if ERA+ is breaking your brain with its unbelievable complexity, Morris also never had an ERA under 3. Blyleven did. Nine times.
He threw 60 shutouts --
Wow, that's good!
-- but won 20 games only once in an era when 20-game winners weren't nearly so rare as they are today.
Let me use your own words against you, Jon. "Enshrinement in Cooperstown shouldn't be about numbers -- especially not numbers that are exceedingly arbitrary and almost completely divorced with actual quality (e.g. winning 20 games in a season)."
Your hero, Nobel Prize and Peabody Award winner Jack Morris won 21 games in 1992. His ERA+ was 102 and his plain ol' ERA was 4.04.
I do admire Blyleven's talent, and his longevity as well. But I still think Blyleven falls into that group of great compilers who weren't quite great enough players to make Cooperstown. Lee Smith, Harold Baines and John also fit that category -- though Blyleven's the closest of that group to making my ballot.
Add "compilers" to the list of "words people use when they don't have a substantive argument when talking about the Hall of Fame." I think there is probably some useful way to use the word -- a guy might be a compiler if he is good over a very long career and doesn't have a peak period of sustained greatness. But Blyleven was better than Morris in so many ways for so much longer...it just doesn't make sense here. Bert Blyleven was so much better than Harold Baines, the comparison is almost absurd.
Heyman will go on to spit out the word "compiler" several more times in the article with contempt, as if these guys selfishly chalked up statistics without even playing the games. This also doesn't make sense. Playing is playing. If Bert could've played on better teams, I'm sure he would've. As it was, he did win two World Series and recorded a 2.57 postseason ERA, compared to vaunted playoff performer Morris' 3.80.
Skipping ahead now:
2. Jack Morris. The ace of three World Series teams, it's an abomination he may never get in. Morris made 14 Opening Day starts, tied with Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson, Walter Johnson and Cy Young, behind only Tom Seaver's 16 (the others already are or will be in Cooperstown).
Saying that you hate numbers and then using the number of Opening Day starts made as a criterion is like eschewing movie reviews...except for this one IMDb commenter, SandlerFan1993 -- he has such insightful opinions! Jack Morris made the Opening Day start for the Blue Jays in 1993. He went on to post a 6.19 ERA and a WHIP of 1.664. Inexplicably, he again was named the Opening Day starter the following year, this time for the Indians. At the end of the season, he could look back on a sweet 5.60 ERA and 1.627 WHIP. And we're giving him Hall of Fame credit for these meaningless Opening Day nods?
The only two reasons I can think of for him not making it are: 1) he got hit hard his final couple years and finished with a 3.90 ERA, and 2) he was no charmer. Neither is a good enough reason to omit him. His impact was great.
Well, look, you sort of glossed over the main reason, and that's his ERA, which is a halfway-decent measure of how many runs a guy tends to give up. Shouldn't that sort of be important when you're determining how great, impactful, dominant, or starry a pitcher was? Idly, I'd like to casually suggest some more reasons why Jack Morris might not be the best Hall of Fame candidate (don't take these too seriously -- like you, I don't obsess over these things!):
1. 3.90 career ERA (okay, the first one's yours) 2. 105 career ERA+ (100 is average! Not average Hall of Famer. Average! Jamie Moyer's career ERA+ is 105.) 3. Never finished in the top 4 in ERA in his league. (So undominant!) 4. Never ever ever had an ERA under 3. 5. Zero seasons with a WHIP below 1.16 (an arbitrary cutoff point; Blyleven had nine such seasons) 6. 3.80 postseason ERA (not exciting anyone) 7. 4.87 LCS ERA (6 games, who cares, but if you're going to give him credit for his World Series performance...)
You get the picture.
10. Blyleven. Stat gurus love this guy, and it's understandable. One of the great compilers of his generation, he's fifth all-time in strikeouts, ninth in shutouts and 25th in wins. There's no doubt he was a superb talent who played a long time. But he was rarely among the ultra-elite in his 22-year career.
That's right. Jon Heyman thinks Bert Blyleven is 10th most worthy of the guys on the Hall of Fame ballot this year. And there's "compiler" again. This guy didn't play baseball! All he did was compile! What a jerkbutt. Not voting for this ass-toucan.
Really, though, fifth all-time in strikeouts. Wow. Out of the top 17 guys, I bet all of them except Bert and maybe Curt Schillseph make the Hall. And Bert outpitched the strikeout leader, one Mr. Nolan R., to the tune of seven points of ERA+.
There's more in this article -- Dawson, Rice, Parker, Concepcion (!). Maybe KT will read it and go berzerk later.
Critics of sabermetrics often cite its impenetrability, or its "arbitrariness," or its newfangledness, or just its like math-ness. Too much math, they say. Too many nerdy numbers. Who needs numbers? What can they ever tell us? Facts? Phooey. I will rely on my eyes, my gut, and a different set of equally arbitrary mathematical cutoffs which aren't nerdy because I am familiar with them.
To those people I say: relax. Because Jon Weisman over at SI.com has invented a new kind of mathematical system for player evaluation. It's a veritable Principia Mathematica for the baseball fan. Here's how it works.
To get a sense of which teams had the strongest rotations, I awarded each pitcher points based on the following categories (looking at three-year trends, with the most weight on the 2007 season):
• 0 points: below-average pitcher • 1 point: mystery pitcher -- wildly inconsistent pitcher or above-average recent track record but with dubious health • 1 point: young, up-and-coming minor-league pitcher with above-average potential in 2008 • 2 points: average to above-average pitcher • 3 points: above-average pitcher • 4 points: super above-average pitcher
Simple! Now you just assign the points to their cut-and-dry, indisputable, category-based participants, and you get to see who has the best staff. This system of pitcher evaluation will soon be all a GM needs to evaluate trades, draft choices, or free agent signings.
"Should we pick up Aaron Fultz?"
"Why? Our bullpen is already set, and he's a below-average pitcher."
"Wrong! He technically qualifies as an average pitcher. Two points, not one. This will put our pitching staff at 16 points, and the next best team in our division only has 15."
"Get it done."
Weisman even anticipates that some nerds might have a problem with this system:
Now, there are certain to be quibbles about the choices I made in assigning point values -- in fact, the entire point system is rather arbitrary. There's a built-in margin for error -- because of how difficult it is to predict future performance, even with the best projections. These are not meant to be scientific.
Don't worry, people. This mathematical formula is not meant to be scientific. Which means there is no benefit to it beyond the benefit you might get from like looking at ERA trends or K/BB trends. Whatever. The point is: it's a system!
My personal favorite point of the apologia is that he says "There's a built-in margin for error." I disagree. I think this is a rock-solid problem-free scale. When you consider that an "average to above-average pitcher" gets two points, and the completely different rating of "above-average pitcher" gets three points, and when you further consider that the difference between most of the teams in the final rankings is one point, well, then you come to the inevitable and time-wasting conclusion that the built-in margin for error is: the entire system.
I know that this kind of off-season article is mostly just goof-off time-wasting before pitchers and catchers report, but goodness gracious.
Many of you have nervously emailed me to report that Weisman created and mostly hangs out over at dodgerthoughts, and is generally a very smart and statistically-inclined kind of a dude. (I have cruised the site in the past and enjoyed it, FWIW, which probably isn't very much.) And like I said in the post, I know that fun distraction-type point attribution systems are all that baseball fans have, sometimes, in the off-season, and I know he caveated the hell out of it, but the problem, to me, is the forum.
If Weisman had limited this baby to dodgerthoughts as a goof-around boredom killer, then that's cool with me. Murbles, dak, some other dudes and I once had a mock draft of rock albums, books, and movies for 9 hours in my apartment in New York. But when these things go national, and people read what they assume is gospel on a mainstream site like si.com, then I get a little annoyed. The same simplistic evaluation could have been done with actual illuminating information on the pitchers' histories instead of a point-attribution system that the author himself admits is arbitrary. And the caveats, while extant, come post-facto, when the system has already been laid out.
(I see that Weisman has just posted about our post. I will conclude only by saying that I like the dude's writing, generally, and I wouldn't anticipate the "jon weisman" label getting too much bigger anytime soon.)
Okay, we weren't going to even mention this, but enough people have emailed, so:
A site called Busted Coverage is doing a like 64-sports-blog playoff thing for "Sports Blog of the Year." FJM is one of the possibles.
Please listen very closely.
If you truly believe that FJM is better than whatever blog we are up against, please vote for us. But so help me God, people, if I even sniff a bot of any kind, or any other web-based sneakery, I will not only withdraw FJM from consideration, I will open this site's comments section back up and I will make a separate post for each and every individual comment where we analyze it and break it down and just basically go into Derek Bell-style "Operation Shutdown."
So. If you like us, please vote. Once. If you don't like us, please vote for Sports by Brooks. They have more hot ladies. No one here will blame you.
I'm kind of in the zone right now, posting-wise, so let's keep it going with a little thing we like to call:
Tim writes in and sez:
Just read your comments on Woody Paige's column about the Hall of Fame and had to point 1 thing out. The "Primarily a DH" comment concerning Jim Rice irks me. Paige is making a claim without bothering to look up anything to support it.
Jim Ed played 1543 games in the OF and 530 as a DH. In fact, he had only 3 seasons in which he played DH in more games than he played the OF. 1989 when he only played 55 games, all as the DH. 1988 when he was 35 years old and past his prime, and 1977 when the other OF options were Lynn, Evans, and Yaz. Between 1980 and 1987, Rice played an astounding 41 games as a DH.
This took me 2 seconds to look up, but I guess what Woody Paige recalls about the last 2 years of Rice's career is more important than what really happened.
I would have been ok if he had just said... he never lived up to his potential, or his career was over by the time he was 34, or even ... he was a poor defensive OFer, but he went with... he was primarily a DH.
To put Rice's designated hitting in perspective, Paul Molitor played 1174 out of 2683 career games as a DH... but his hands were just so damn quick.
Thanks, Tim. I wish I had done that research. But I did not. And that's why I love the invention of the
We'll keep things going with Trey. This one is very important, so pay attention:
Just to add to the Eckstein discussion, I was the sports editor at the University of Florida when Eckstein played and I think you might reevaluate his scrappiness once you realize how many times he was hit by pitch in his collegiate career -- a school record 41 times! As I recall, he led the NCAA as a Senior and had a shot at the all-time Div. I record, but didn't quite make it.
I can't seem to verify any of this since this was just on the verge of the Internet being a useful historical tool and even now I can't really find NCAA records ... but I am certain we ran a particularly adorable cartoon with a caricature of cute lil' Eck taking a pitch in his tiny bird-sized chest and tumbling down with the caption Hitting the Deck(stein) or something like that. Even now, I can't decide the best way to punctuate that particular play on words. (Just found some UF stats -- Eck was HBP 25 times in 64 games in 1997.)
First off, I love this email very much. I love that people were ironically onto how "scrappy" Eckstein is, as far back as 1996. Second of all, I very much desire a copy of this cartoon. If anyone out there has a copy -- as unlikely as that may be -- I beg of you to scan it and email it to me forthwith. In return, you will receive a personal email from me, commending you for your duty and service in the name of American Freedom, as well as the knowledge that a crappy print-out of it will hang over my desk at Fremulon Insurance, Inc. as long as I am alive and working there.
But enough about Fremulon Insurance, Inc. Let's keep things moving with more of the
Is that you in that Joe-Morgan-buying-a-beer-and-a-dog video? You're old.
No, it is not me. That is my son, Ken Jr. I am much older.
Justin chimes in on the Bob Elliott/NAMBLA David Eckstein Fluff(er) Piece:
I also especially like that when talking about how MLB needs to be cleaned up and have its image improved, Elliott then compares Eckstein to.... Pete Rose, one of the few men ever completely banned from baseball. Well-done, Bob.
Yey verily, love of Eckstein is a corruptive force. Besides melting men's hearts, L'il Eck will sometimes melt their minds, in a Death in Venice kind of way.
The Allan Ryan post, wherein he typed "David Eckstein scrappy" into Google and then wrote that fact into his article, let to a flurry of similar experiments. First, Andrew:
In light of your recent post, I typed in "Alex Rodriguez Scrappy" to google, and it gave me the following results:
Results 1 - 10 of about 59,000 for alex rodriguez scrappy (0.27 seconds)
That's more than 10 times as many results, and for whatever ridiculous reason, it's faster, too.
Telling. Now we have Nicholas:
Just thought I would let you know I googled "David Eckstein crappy" and I got 11,900 possible hits in 0.31 seconds. So not only is it lazy journalism for using scrappy, he hasn't even investigated all possibilities...
Get on that, journalists. I want a google search result for all like 10^72 possible results of "David Eckstein" and any other combination of letters.
James chimes in with a question that elegantly allows us to use the coveted "Food Metaphors" label:
I'm not entirely sure what the etymology of the word "scrappy" is. It has two meanings, one of which is "made of scraps" which I suppose could describe David Eckstein since he looks like the Good Lord made him out of the leftovers from real adults, but I think when the sportswriters use it they generally mean he's a fighter. I'm not sure, but I'd wager that this meaning of scrappy comes from a willingness of hungry people to fight over small scraps of food. Food metaphor?
My Condensed O.E.D. has scrap as lME, and the resultant scrappy as chiefly North American, though the quote below scrappy is Thackeray: "There is a dreadfully scrappy dinner, the evident remains of a party." Interestingly -- or not, depending largely if you're even still reading this -- there is a N. Amer colloq. for "scrapper," which is "a fish that is hard to land once caught." This seems as apt a description of Eckstein's style of play as any.
The point is: food metaphor, definitely, for all of this.
Finally, let's end the with a message of hope from Benjamin:
FYI, a year or two ago I was quite drunk in the Wrigley Field bleachers at a Cubs/Cards game while David Eckstein was warming up in the outfield. I yelled "David Eckstein, you are scrappy!!!!" He laughed and pointed at me and all the other players laughed as well. So I think even he realizes how stupid this is.
I'm late to this party -- Deadspin already picked it up -- but I can't resist. FJM Legend Woody Paige wrote an article about his HOF vote. This should give you doubters out there a lot of confidence in the sanctity of the HOF voting system.
I'm sitting here, looking out the window and pondering the snow, the sun, the creek, the peak and the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. [...]
Do I vote for suspected steroid users, particularly a couple included in the Mitchell report on Thursday, or do I automatically dismiss their candidacy?
Up to you. There is a "character" clause in the HOF voting rules, but hell, Ty Cobb is in, so go nuts.
Do I vote for guys I personally like, or is that not being objective?
...That's the definition of "not being objective," dummy. Vote for them if they're good enough. This is not the Woody Paige Memorial Day Bar-B-Q Jamboree Invite List.
Do I vote for a creep or a man who committed suicide? Do I check 10 players, the maximum allowed, or keep it to one or two? Do I go with pitcher Tommy John because they named a surgical procedure after him?
These are pretty much up to you, but off the top of my head: (a) if he is good enough to get in, (b) up to you, (c) no.
Here are my thoughts about the votes, although you can influence my final decision:
Gossage — During a visit to Yankee Stadium in the late 1970s, I wanted to talk to Goose but was told he was cruel and gruff to reporters. I sheepishly introduced myself and said I was from Colorado, his home state, and he talked pleasantly for 30 minutes. We've been good friends since. I would vote for him even if he wasn't deserving. [...]
Whoops! You're not supposed to say things like that, Woody. It kind of means you're a terrible journalist.
Let's just look at those voting guidelines one more time:
Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
Let's see...just going to scan it one more time...nope. Don't see anything about talking pleasantly with people, or journalist-player home state connection.
Knoblauch, McGwire and Justice — I won't vote for them because of the swirl of steroid and human growth hormone accusations, and I also won't vote for them because I don't think they're worthy. Justice had a career batting average of .279 (with 305 home runs and 1,017 RBIs). His teams did win two World Series, but I don't feel it.
Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played, and whether Woody Paige "feels it." (Emphasis mine.)
Knoblauch was a very good second baseman, but this is not the Hall of Very Good.
What a classic fucking strawman. "You seem like a nice guy. I hate nice guys!!!!"
McGwire had 583 homers but a career .263 average.
Reggie Jackson had 563 homers but a career .262 average. There are a lot of arguments against Mac in the HOF. This is not one of them.
The drug suspicions, and his appearance at a Washington hearing examining drug use, haunt him.
This is sort of one of them. But the last one was so dumb I can't even give you partial credit.
(Dale) Murphy — Got my vote, but he won't get in. He was two short of 400 home runs and hit only .265, but he won back-to-back MVP awards, made seven all-star teams and earned five Gold Gloves.
He played 26 games for the Rockies in their first season, 1993, before retiring. I vote for Rockies. He was who a ballplayer should be. And he always remembers my name. I'm a sap.
Holy shit, are those bad arguments. Those aren't even arguments. Those aren't anything. That's not even English. That is a collection of glyphs scrawled on a cave in Lascaux. You will vote for Murphy because he was a Rockie? And he always remembers your name? Are you kidding me?
If this were politics, and you were a congressman, and you were talking about why you would or would not vote on a certain bill, and you were this frank in admitting your (a) lack of qualifications and (b) absurdly low ethical standards, not to mention (c) how easily you can be bought, you might be impeached. I know baseball is just a game, but jeez, man. Have a little self-respect.
Andre Dawson and Tim Raines — I'm voting for them. Both are borderline. But I was amazed by, and wrote columns about, Dawson and Raines when they played for the Denver Bears. Dawson passed through in 1976 on his way to the Montreal Expos, and Raines was the 1980 minor-league player of the year as the Bears' second baseman. (Raines did have a cocaine addiction problem but overcame it.)
Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played, and whether Woody Paige "feels it." Also, you can chuck the "character" thing out the window if the payer in question ever played for a fucking minor league team in Denver, because somehow that makes up for it. In fact, if the dude ever played in or near the Denver-metro area, at any level, just stamp a big ol' "yes" on the form and go about your business. (Emphasis mine.)
Jim Rice — He has been shut out for 13 years, mainly because he primarily was a DH. That doesn't bother me, but his overall numbers are just shy. Yet, he was an MVP, in the top five in the MVP five other times and made eight all-star teams in 16 seasons. Why not? I'll check his name.
Well, his playing career doesn't really warrant it. But on the other hand, his playing career kinda warrants it. So, okay.
Again, I know these aren't exactly world-changing policy decisions, but Jiminy Christmas, friend. Spend a little time. Do some analysis. Think it over. I mean, did you even research whether Jim Rice has ever visited Denver? Or whether he was ever polite to you?
Don Mattingly — Another former player, now a coach, who I became friends with, so I'm prejudiced.
I am getting to like the flatness with which he describes his own corruption.
I like voting for friends, especially when they hit .307 lifetime, won an MVP, made six consecutive all-star teams and won a Gold Glove nine times in 14 seasons. Class act.
Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played, and whether Woody Paige "feels it." Also, you can chuck the "character" thing out the window if the payer in question ever played for a fucking minor league team in Denver, because somehow that makes up for it. In fact, if the dude ever played in or near the Denver-metro area, at any level, just stamp a big ol' "yes" on the form and go about your business.Oh -- also, if Woody Paige is friends with him, and if Paige at anytime describes him as a "class act," then pretty much go ahead and let him in. (Emphasis mine.)
Bert Blyleven (287-250) and Tommy John (288-231) — Also on my list. I will give a vote as a salute to Dave Concepcion, in his final year on the ballot.
A vote for Davey C. Yet another thing you and Joe Morgan have in common.
My nine. Your turn.
Well, I have met and spoken with the following baseball players in my lifetime:
Wade Boggs Kevin Youkilis Bill Mueller Derek Jeter Tino Martinez Jorge Posada David Wells David Cone Johnny Damon Kevin Millar Bronson Arroyo Jeff Weaver
So, I'll be voting for them. Also, I will vote for anyone who has ever visited, mentioned, or some within 100 miles of Partridge, KS. And finally, I will vote for anyone who has a name that is similar to, or an anagram of, my name. Because that is what I have learned from you, Woody. Vote crazy!
And now Jonathan writes in to say that congresspeople definitely can get impeached.
I am sure you've gotten like 40 e-mails about this already, but congressmen definitely can be impeached. The House of Reps. has the power to impeach any Federal government official (judges, reps, senators, president) and then the Senate tries them. In fact, the first person impeached was Sen. William Blount, a member of Congress. As far as I know no Rep. has ever been impeached (I did one Google search, but I like to think of myself as the Joe Morgan of legal analysis) but either way they definitely can be.
I am stubbornly going to continue to not look this up, in the hopes of being able to print an infinite number of conflicting errata/addenda to this post that no one will ever read. And yes, I know I split an infinitive, but in this case I think it was warranted.
The Constitution limits impeachment to "[t]he President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States. . . ." A dispute exists to this day whether members of Congress are "civil officers of the United States." The dispute remains unresolved and is largely academic because both the House and Senate have their own expulsion procedures if a rep or senator misbehaves.
This comments section is one more post away from becoming its own blog about the Constitution.
We continue now with James, commenting on what historians call "The First Impeachment," that of Tennessee Senator William Blount in the late 170's.
Blount was impeached by the House, but the Senate dismissed the charges, not because they believed Blount was innocent (they expelled him from the Senate), but because they believed the House had erred and they did not have jurisdiction. The Constitution says "civil officers" can be impeached, and commentators generally agree that the term "civil officers" refers only to executive and judicial branch officers. Since then, Representatives and Senators found guilty of malfeasance have been expelled by the house to which they belong rather than impeached in the two-stage process of impeachment by the House and expulsion by the Senate.
This blog is just a long civics lesson at this point.
According to Article XXI of the Colorado State Constitution, if Woody Paige was a state congressman, one would only have to get enough signatures on a petition to equal 25% of the number of people who initially voted for Woody, and you could hold a recall election. Then a simple majority could boot him out.
Colorado is one of only 18 'recall states' in the nation.
A few days ago, I linked to an article in the Toronto Star about David Eckstein, but mistakenly attributed it to the Toronto Sun. Then several of you emailed me with the correction, and pointed out that the Toronto Sun is a crummy like tabloid thing, and so the joke became that the article in the Star was so bad, not even the Sun would print it.
Oops. A walk-on with the University of Florida Gators in 1994, David Eckstein hasn't walked anywhere since.
With the Anaheim Angels and the St. Louis Cardinals he was always the first player to sprint to his position when his team took the field.
That is, when he played. The guy missed 45 games last year and 39 the year before that. Maybe he sprinted into the trainer's room?
The 5-foot-61/2 Eckstein knew a tryout at the University of Florida consisted of a round in the batting cage, handling a few ground balls and being timed in the 60-yard dash.
So, sensing the lay of the infield, Eckstein, although uninvited, went to the pre-season scrimmages and sat.
There he was on the end of the bench like a grade niner, waiting and hoping the grade 12 student either would forget his cleats, get a detention or lose his way on campus.
This is how bad it's gotten: when discussing a young , college-aged Eckstein, the analogy Bob Elliott uses is to a younger, high-school-aged Eckstein. Journalists obsess over how young the guy looks. It's positively fetishistic.
Finally, Eckstein was given the chance to play and he not only fit in with the Big Men on Campus, but coaches took a liking to this imp.
He was just called an "imp." This is bordering on pedophilia.
Despite record revenues, baseball has warts and a case of acne worse than a goalie wearing those old form-fitting masks.
But watch Eckstein run the bases a few times and he'll bring back memories of Pete Rose running with his page-boy hair cut.
Eckstein is in constant movement from the time he's on deck. He is a whirling dervish swinging bats in quick circles looking as if he might lift off, helicopter style.
I am scared for David Eckstein. I think Bob Elliott might have a crush on him.
We first met Eckstein in the Yankee Stadium clubhouse in 2001 before the Angels opened post-season play against the Yanks.
This was after a young pup looking all of 18 showed up at Eckstein's locker with close cropped blonde/white hair. We asked: "Know where Esksten is?" The 165-pound, 26-year-old answered "I'm David Eckstein."
Now I know he has a crush on him. A "young pup" with blonde/white hair? In my imagination, Bob Elliott is like a large Texan oil man in a 10-gallon hat, staring at Eckstein and hallucinating a delicious pork chop.
Or just read it in Phil Rogers's end-of-the-year wrap-up:
If I could have been a fly on the wall...
I would have been with Derek Jeter when he got word that the Yankees had reversed course and decided to recommit themselves to Alex Rodriguez after seemingly deciding to turn the page. There's a reason Rodriguez doesn't have a World Series ring. He wears on his teammates.
There's a reason this "point" keeps getting made. Journalists forget that in baseball, there is "pitching."
Allan Ryan of the Toronto Star boldly goes where every single other reporter in history has gone before:
Partner new Blue Jay shortstop David Eckstein and the word "scrappy" and a Google search will advise you of some 5,300 possibilities. In just 0.38 seconds, too.
1. I get 5940.
2. The tenth one down is a link to a post on this site, deriding reporters for using the word "scrappy" in articles about David Eckstein.
3. I love -- love -- that you cite the short time it took for Google to do the search. As if that is in some way indicative of just how fucking scrappy this guy is. "If you search for 'Carlos Guillen scrappy,' it takes Google .41 seconds to show results. 'Bill Doran scrappy?' .40 seconds. But type in 'David Eckstein scrappy' and you will have your results in .38 seconds. Even Google knows just how scrappy this guy is."
Then again, when you've hauled off a .289 average and .351 on-base percentage over seven major-league seasons that include a pair of World Series rings and a Series MVP award ... well, "scrappy" will turn up a bit.
Why? Why will it show up? Manny Ramirez has "hauled off" (and why that verb?) far far better numbers in the last seven years. He also won a WS MVP. No one calls him scrappy. Here. Let me rewrite your last sentence for you.
Then again, when you're small and you play baseball and are just kind of mediocre and lazy sportswriters don't want to bother coming up with anything new to say about you so they literally google your name and the word "scrappy" and then actually flaunt how lazy they are by writing into the article that the way they decided to write this article was to fucking google your name and the word "scrappy," in a move reminiscent of how we all used to begin Social Studies papers in junior high by writing like "Webster's Dictionary defines 'democracy' as..." or whatever... well, "scrappy" will turn up a bit.
There. I think that's clearer.
It's just in the mindset, Eckstein explained yesterday during a conference call from the Tampa airport. He'd just cleared his medical and was officially aboard for the 2008 season at $4.5 million (all figures U.S.).
After the doctors give Eckstein a medical examination, do they sometimes get confused and give him a lollypop? (I'm not sure that's a good joke, and I was just about to cut it, but now the image of Eckstein in like 1950's clothes licking an oversized swirly-colored lollypop is in my head and it makes me laugh. So: it stays in.)
"It's more an attitude of showing up every day, ready to give you 100 per cent," Eckstein said. "You'll never see me a take a pitch off, a day off ... that's what I bring. I think it's my best quality.
It certainly isn't "good hitter."
"It may be the reality – that when you're a smaller guy, you have to play better than the other guys – but I'm a little stubborn. When you're small, you don't think you're small."
Do you think you're "scrappy?" Because everyone else does.
If Allan Ryan is a high school student from a nearby school who has gotten an internship at the Star and this is his first published article: congratulations! I wish you the best in your career as a journalist. If this is any other situation: yikes.
As many of you pointed out, this article was printed in the Toronto Star, not the Toronto Sun, as I originally wrote. The Toronto Sun is a goofy low-grade tabloid, which would never have printed something as frivolous and pointless as a google search for "David Eckstein scrappy."
The 2007 FJM Food Metaphor of the Year Award is a lock. Take it away, Wojo:
The Mitchell investigation was doomed from the beginning. The report itself is 409 pages of cotton candy -- wisps of truth teased into a Don King hairdo full of air, hearsay and perhaps wishful thinking. Blow softly on it and it bends and rips apart.
"A Don King hairdo full of air." My God it's...it's so beautiful.
Of course there are still three weeks or so left, and you know that December is when the media outlets release all of their award-hopeful food metaphors. But my vote is in.
Now, before you read this next quote, remember that John Kruk is not just a fat sanctimonious dummy who apparently will do anything to protect the heretofore untarnished legacy of his old teammate Lenny Dykstra (and others). He is also J.D./PhD from Stanford. After graduating law school, Kruk was at Latham Watkins in NY for six years before being poached by Skadden, where he headed up their litigation team for eleven years, rising to Managing Partner in 2003.
So it means something when Kruk dispenses his legal opinions. To wit:
But you can't prove that they took anything! Just because you have 'em doesn't mean you took 'em. Now, common sense tells you if you're purchasing them you're probably going to use 'em also, but -- if there's no drug test, no failed drug test, how can you suspend anyone by hearsay? I mean, that's like arresting someone at 12 o'clock in the afternoon, saying, "About a week ago, you had a couple drinks and you were driving, so we're going to arrest you now." You can't do it unless you prove it.
Alcohol is not illegal. Many steroids are, when obtained the way these dudes often obtained them, I think. Also, in many cases, there is substantial corroborating evidence in the form of eyewitness testimony and credit card receipts and the like. To say nothing of the circumstantial evidence of: the users' injuries' healed quickly and they got better at baseball. But again, I'm no expert.
I also look forward to any of the named players stepping forward and claiming that they purchased, but did not use, steroids. Forgetting the validity of the legal arguments set forth by John D. Kruk, Attorney at Law, I just don't think the "I never injected" arguments would hold up that well in a MLB hearing (which is very different from a like Federal grand jury).
Through All of This, Let's Remember Who the Real Victims Are
I'm talking, of course, about the players who cheated and were caught.
I feel so bad for them. All they were trying to do is cheat and buy and use illegal drugs so that they could make more money and skew the history of baseball. Is that so wrong? Show me how that's wrong. And for cripe's sake, if you have to go ahead and investigate them and catch them cheating and lying and illegally purchasing and whatever, don't actually name them! What purpose does that serve?
But don't take my word for it. Take the word of famed genius and multiple-variation idiot John Kruk, on ESPN a second ago:
John Kruk: You know -- most of this is all hearsay. You heard Roger Cossack say that this stuff wouldn't stand up in a court. The thing I keep hearing from Mitchell and from Bud Selig is this: "Now we move forward. Now we move forward." If you want to move forward, why do you bring up names from the past who have nothing to do with the game of baseball right now? Mo Vaughn, Lenny Dykstra, David Justice -- guys who aren't involved in the game anymore. Why bring up their names? If you want to clean the game up, clean the game up. Those guys aren't dirtying the game anymore. They're out of it. So leave 'em out of it and move forward and get the guys who are. But again -- why do you gotta name the names? What is the purpose of naming the names of these people? Is it to satisfy the public? Is it to satisfy themselves? Why drag 'em all through the mud? Let them go. You got 'em, you call 'em in separately, privately, and you say, "Here's what we got on you, now you talk." If they don't want to talk, then you can do something as far as suspension. But you -- you don't have to get out in the public with this.
Forget for a minute that Krukie seems to lose his argument completely towards the end, where he advocates suspensions for players who are no longer playing the game. And forget for a minute that Mitchell clearly asked each and every player whose name came up in the investigation to come and speak with him on the record, and that they all declined. Instead, focus on this: if you used steroids, which is cheating, you deserve less than zero sympathy from anyone. You certainly don't deserve a get-out-of-jail-free card from Krukie.
Why name the names? Are you fucking kidding me?
No one who used this shit before the MLB testing policy was in place should be punished by the game itself. But their names? Those are ours, now, thank you.
Who enjoys cheap schadenfreude? Hit up this link on Beliefnet (I'm a big, big Beliefnet guy) and read the headline. Then read the byline.
Ah fuck it, I'll just print it here. The headline:
Living a Pure Life
By Andy Pettitte and Bob Reccord with Mark Tabb
Can you believe Mark Tabb co-wrote this article?!?! The irony!
As a Christian I also have one goal. I want to fulfill God's purpose for my life. I constantly ask myself "What does God want me to do?"
Then God came to me in the middle of the night. He took the form of a beautiful woman, the most beautiful I'd ever seen. I was nervous, because what happens if seeing God gives you a boner? Is it a sin or does He/She understand and just chuckle to Him/Herself a little bit? But I didn't have to worry. Gorgeous She-God wasn't there to tempt me. He/She whispered in my ear three letters: HGH. Before I could explain to Him/Her that HGH was against the rules of baseball, God Woman was gone.
The next day, I saw God again. This time, God appeared in the form of my teammate, good friend, and hunting buddy, Roger Clemens. "Andy," God said, "I've been doing a lot of steroids. Like a literal buttload. Like a million trillion billion steroids. Unless you do steroids, too, I won't be your good friend and hunting buddy anymore." I nodded. God was so wise. He knew how much I needed a hunting buddy.
Finally, I saw God again the day after that. He took the form of my trainer, Brian McNamee. God said, "Don't worry, you'll love this needle. Roger says it's the softest one." So I let God do what He had to do. That's just one of the sacrifices you have to make when you make pleasing God Job Number One.
Those may sound like odd questions to ask in a book about purity. After all, doesn't purity just mean sexual purity? Hardly.
It also means you can only inject the purest HGH. I always ran my HGH through three Brita filters and then took it to a priest to get it blessed. Holy HGH, or HGodH as I call it, was the only chemical I would allow in my pure veins. I knew God would approve. In fact, a lot of my teammates started calling me HGodH. I beamed with pride whenever this would happen.
The question of God's purpose for my life both today and for the rest of my life makes everything else secondary, even baseball.
See, baseball was always secondary to me. Secondary to my moral code, my religion, my health, my family's respect for me. Secondary to my desire to have Roger think I was "cool," not "an uptight Christ-y dork." Baseball is just a sport, a sport with made-up "rules" written by human beings. America is just a country, a country with made-up "laws" written by other human beings.
God plays by his own rules, folks. And HGH is fucking legal as hell up in heaven. Babe Ruth holds the Heaven Baseball League single season record for homers with 446. And in heaven, the season is one game long.
Don't get me wrong. I know the Lord wants me to play baseball. After all, a man needs to have a job. But my career won't last forever. Eventually my life will take another turn. When that time comes, God's plan for me and my family will come first. With every decision I make I have to think about what the longterm effects will be.
Those effects include liver damage, hypogonadism, depression, enlarged heart, and a legacy forever tarnished. Is it worth it, God?
God (turns into a giant, anthropomorphic smiley-faced syringe): Does this answer your question?
Post-Mitchell Report, it sure is fun to dig up old articles and find damning quotes from steroid users:
Clemens Had a Fountain of Youth in Vioxx
What was Clemens's youth dew of choice? A miracle lotion in the form of a steroid called "the cream"? A droplet of the steroid known as THG? Or an injection of a good old-fashioned steroid in the rumpus?
Actually, it was Vioxx, the prescription pain reliever withdrawn from the market in September because of a study that showed the drug doubled the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Well, actually actually, it was the last thing you said in the previous paragraph. Winstrol. And humorously, Clemens was too scared to inject himself, and that seems to be one of the only reasons his name is in the Mitchell Report today. So yeah: Vioxx, Winstrol, and also some HGH.
"To be honest, my thoughts were: 'O.K., how's my body going to hold up? I can't take Vioxx anymore,' " Clemens said.
It's cool. You can keep having a guy stick you in your back door meat with Winstrol. Remember Winstrol? It turned your arm into magic again.
This was either a candid admission by a renowned pitcher about his fragile age or a kind of masking agent for prior use of steroids. What a clever alibi Clemens would have if his statistics, body and arm break down this year: See, it was the Vioxx vacuum, not steroid withdrawal.
Kudos, New York Times reporter Selena Roberts. Now hold on, big chunk coming:
In his new book, Canseco depicts Clemens as a player with expert knowledge of steroids who was frustrated with 'roid-infused hitters catching up to his fastball.
Clemens didn't respond to the book with a categorical denial of steroid use, but he did have a comeback for Canseco, a habitual lawbreaker.
As Canseco wrote: "One of the benefits of steroids is that they're especially helpful in countering the effects of aging. So in Roger's case, around the time he was leaving the Boston Red Sox - and Dan Duquette, the general manager there, was saying he was 'past his prime' - Roger decided to make some changes. He started working out harder. And whatever else he may have been doing to get stronger, he saw results."
Is such innuendo blasphemy to Clemens's holy legacy of work ethic? "I could care less," Clemens said.
"I've talked to some friends of his," Clemens said. "And I've teased them that when you're under house arrest and have ankle bracelets on, you have a lot of time to write a book."
Clemens added, "After I did all that hilarious teasing, I went home and had a guy inject me with illegal steroids. It felt good. 18, 20, 25 million dollars good. You see, I am not a loser under house arrest who has to write a book like Jose Canseco. The difference between him and me as that I will never, ever get caught using steroids. Ever."
With the notable exception of ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd, ESPN's commentators did better than many in the mainstream media at reining in the impulse to speculate, pontificate and prematurely assign responsibility for Taylor's death. Cowherd, however, trusted his "gut feeling" to guide him to "the truth." His gut told him that Taylor's "history of really, really bad judgment, really really bad judgment" had caught up with him, and even if the emerging reports that Taylor had "cleaned up his act" were true, "Well, yeah, just because you clean the rug doesn't mean you got everything out. Sometimes you've got stains, stuff so deep it never ever leaves."
Most other ESPN commentators seemed to understand that when it comes to race, crime and sports, the last source to be trusted is one's gut, which tends to be lined with bilious stereotypes and prejudices. Some commentators, including Michael Wilbon of "Pardon The Interruption," admitted to not being surprised by the shooting, of suspecting a link to Taylor's past associates or enemies, but they aired their presumptions tentatively, with sadness or anger at the "senseless death" of yet another young black man, not in the gloating, know-it-all voice that many of Cowherd's listeners called "appalling" and "indecent" in their e-mails to me.
I listened to this segment of Cowherd's show, because I am a masochist. And trust me, the people calling in were (conservatively) 70% racists. One kept intentionally stressing the "po" part of "police," in a snarling, derisive tone. Cowherd did little or nothing to call them out.
You're allowed to say pretty much whatever you want in this country, despite some ESPN employees' best efforts. But if you do, I get to call you a bonehead. Ergo, Colin Cowherd: you are a bonehead. Even your own ombudsman says so.
Phil Rogers' Baseball Thoughts: More Vomit, Less VORP
Phil Rogers believes it is the solemn duty of a baseball executive to be a party animal. Seriously.
Meetings change ... for better? Unlike the old days, action lags, though possibilities remain
Love when a guy straight up says "unlike the old days" -- it's a handy heads up that I should immediately bookmark the article and start ridiculing.
Back in the day, before the Internet, digital music and VORP ratings, baseball's winter meetings used to be almost as much about debauchery as business. They were not considered to be in session until some well-known executive had fallen flat on his back off a bar stool or a trade had been made in a washroom, just before somebody vomited.
Doesn't this sort of sound like the 24-year-old who comes back to his old high school and brags about how crazy it used to be at Eisenhower High when him and Mikey Rags and Paul Shutson used to drink beer while doing the rope climb and remember that one time when Mikey took a shit inside the guidance counselor's file cabinet? That was awesome!!!
We're talking about baseball executives. Executives. But Phil is straight-facedly saying that he misses how often they used to vomit.
There were some downsides to this, of course. Fistfights weren't that uncommon. You could oversleep and miss the Rule 5 draft. And sometimes the owner of a team would get confused and trade for Domingo Ramos when it had been Damaso Garcia his scouts had recommended.
Those brown people all look and sound alike! Again, just to be clear, Phil's getting misty-eyed about guys getting drunk and violent and basically completely fucking over their team's fans by overfuckingsleeping. Can you imagine if Brian Sabean held a press conference and was like, "Sorry, friends, I missed out on some great trades because I had to have myself a fourteen-hour whiskey nap." Actually, Sabean might be better off completely horse piss drunk.
It wasn't a perfect world, but at least then the people who took themselves too seriously stood out. And things happened.
It wasn't a perfect world, but at least guys were punching each other in the face and vomiting into each other's butts. And there warn't no fucking computerfaces nerding up my field of vision!
I wonder why general managers tend to take themselves seriously these days. Is it because they're responsible for multi-million dollar assets and they aren't professional fuck-ups for a living?
At last week's meetings in Nashville, the Ivy League numbers crunchers and lawyers paraded around the Opryland Hotel like accountants on the eve of an audit. In the end, nobody covered themselves in glory except perhaps Detroit general manager Dave Dombrowski. Dave Dombrowski went to Cornell, an Ivy League school, for a while before transferring to Western Michigan. He was a wunderkind who became general manager of the Expos at age 31 -- the youngest in baseball at the time. I bet he has crunchered numbersons, or at the very least has gentlemen who cruncher them for him.
Phil, I'm sorry the baseball winter meetings are no longer the rootinest, tootinest, topsy-turvy pastiche of the Old West you believed them to be in the past. These men have jobs to do. They may wear suits now. They may even -- gasp -- wear glasses or have college degrees. Some of them use statistical analysis, perhaps because it helps them avoid doing things like proposing that the White Sox trade Mark Buehrle and Joe Crede for A-Rod, Melky Cabrera, and a couple of live arms. Or believing that Kevin Millwood (WHIP of 1.62 last year!) from ages 31 to 35 at 12 million dollars a year is a good deal. Or telling us, point-blank, before the 2007 season: "Don't be surprised if Erstad's play is bigger than the headlines given his signing." (Erstad, 2007: .645 OPS.)
You know who did do these things, Phil? You did.
But to your credit, you did so with vomit all over your fucking shirt.
I don't really know anything about basketball. I understand there's a gentleman named Shack who's extremely good. The Dream Team is something that exists, I believe, and I know that Mark Eaton had a beard, and that Wilt Chamberlain once had sex with 100 women in one game, a record that still stands today.
The other thing I know about basketball is that the Knicks have surpassed the Chicago Blackhawks as the worst-run franchise in all of sports. And that somehow, despite several years of multi-faceted incompetence, Isiah Thomas has not been fired yet.
Not really. Those would be exciting backyard brawl rules, though, wouldn't they? Anyway, it's being reported here (and quoted on Baseball Think Factory here) that eighteen web writers were nominated for membership in the Baseball Writers Association of America. You may remember the BBWAA as the organization who voted Justin Morneau and Andre Dawson to be MVPs because adorably, kind of like a puppy who destroys your favorite sweater, it just didn't know any better.
Sixteen of the eighteen writers got in. Not bad, huh? But wait: who were the two unluckies who didn't quite cut the baseball-flavored mustard? None other than Rob Neyer and Keith Law, two men of reason.
Let that sink in, and I will regale you with excerpts from columns by Jim Caple, who did get in to the BBWAA:
PARKING Chumps pay $25 for parking. Cheapskates take public transportation, which provides valuable life lessons for the children:
"Daddy, why is that man talking to himself, picking at his sores and not wearing any pants?"
"Because he roots for the Cubs, son."
Haw haw haw! Baseball! Stomach sore from laughing? Better take some Aleve and get a load of some more hilarious baseball talk:
Harry Potter reveals the truth!
There also is no school called Hogwarts, at least, not that I ever went to. I went to Malfoy Academy and our team nickname was the Warthogs so I guess Rowling thought she was being real clever by changing it around. And it ain't no school for wizards, neither. It's a private school founded by the Malfoy family, who made a fortune in something much worse than black magic -- tobacco. I'm so psyched this guy will be eligible for a Hall of Fame vote in the future, along with our good friend JonHeyman. The Hall is in good hands, people.
The BBWAA is clearly an organization all about change, adaptability and flexibility. Check out their state of the art web presence. I'm pretty sure the only way we could improve our own nearly flawless, aesthetically pleasing design is to adopt their eye-catching neon green and web-link-standard-blue color scheme.
Mr. Neyer, Mr. Law: you are not "beat" enough to be beat writers for the BBWAA. You do not spend enough time smelling players' sweat and managers' chaw. Your brand of writing -- writing about facts, information, and data -- will not be tolerated within their ranks. Gentlemen: congratulations.
Irving Janis, the now-deceased Yale research psychologist who was an expert on the topic of 'groupthink,' wrote that groups with high levels of cohesiveness tend to reject dissidents that question their norms. While that may seem obvious, the more interesting phenomenon is something called polarization, wherein the collective view of the group is far more extreme than the views of individual members. Moderates find themselves adopting either excessively conservative or excessively risky positions in order to preserve group norms, even to the detriment of the 'work at hand.' As a result, and I'm quoting here from Janis' seminal 1972 work Victims of Groupthink: A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes, groups tend to "develop stereotyped images that dehumanize out-groups against whom they are engaged in competitive struggles." Think about that the next time one of these douchebags calls Bill James a computer.
Conclusions: a) The BBWA isn't any more stupid than all of the other stupid groups that implement ill-informed, biased, and detrimental decision-making strategies, and b) Neyer and Law, bless their hearts, don't stand a snowball's chance next year, the year after, etc.
Lest You Turn To Slate To Be Your One-Stop Shop For Sports Analysis
It turns out they're not perfect. Robert Weintraub suggests some ways to defeat the Patriots:
Eliminate mistakes: This Patriots dynasty is reminiscent of the 1996-2000 Yankees. Like those Yankees, the Patriots lack a bunch of guys with gaudy numbers...
Tom Brady: 12 games, 41 TD, 5 INT, 70.2% of passes completed, 308 yards per game, QB rating of 123.4 Randy Moss: 12 games, 17 TD, 75 receptions, 94.1 yards per game
Plus Wes Welker is third in the NFL with 84 receptions. If you look up gaudy in the dictionary, you'll find an animated GIF of Robert Weintraub shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head sadly, with the caption "I don't know what this word means."
These are motherfucking record-setting paces, Rob. Graphics comparing these guys to Manning and Rice show up every game they play.
There’s another reason for the Patriots to win them all, one that will loom larger with each passing Sunday. That one has conspiracy types beginning to look under every rock to see if the fix could possibly be in.
Some members of the Baltimore Ravens think so. Hard to fault them after a bizarre series of plays turned what looked like certain victory into defeat and left them fuming at both the calls and the attitude of the referees.
"Hard to fault them?" Hard to fault them. Really. It's hard to fault them for thinking that the fix was in, that the refs got together and decided: "Listen. The NFL wants the Pats to win. And since we are a collection of fatuous corrupt toadies who deny our own free will and responsibility, and seeing as we have no moral center or ethical compass by which we navigate, we will do anything in our power to ensure a safe passage for New England."
Attention, fucking morons:
The Ravens' coach called the time out.
The Ravens' coach. Not the Patriots' coach. The Ravens' coach.
There is nothing about the action of the referee that could in any way, shape, or form, insinuate that there was a pro-Patriots bias. Because the Ravens' coach called the time-out, and it was granted to him. Because that's how fucking football works.
If the Ravens' coach had called a time-out and it had not been granted to him, and the Patriots had scored a touchdown, then you could jump up and down and put on tinfoil hats and yell about the NFL conspiracy to help New England all you wanted. But that did not happen. What did happen was: a Ravens' coach asked for a time-out and it was granted to him.
Point the second: the penalty call on the next play was "false start." And indeed, if you understand football and watched the play, the Patriots' guard was guilty of a false start. This play, as all adults who watch football know, nullifies the play. There is no play. It is a "no-play" type scenario. The Patriots are penalized 5 yards.
Point the third: on the second 4th-down conversion of the drive, Ben Watson was pretty obviously held. (So was Jabar Gaffney, coming across the middle.) He was held. Flags came in from two different officials. That's how obvious the holding was. He was being held, dummies.
Was this sequence of plays unusual? Yes. Was it the result of a corrupt officiating crew who were paid off with large amounts of cash in white envelopes by guys who look like The Judge from The Natural? You decide!!!!!! (No, turdfaces, it was not.)
“It’s hard to go out there and play the Patriots and the refs at the same time,” cornerback Chris McAlister said. “They put the crown on top of them. They want them to win. They won.”
Grow up, man. Seriously. On the 2-yard-short Hail Mary at the end of the game -- a play which is also somehow being used in these bouillabaisse-of-stupidity articles as evidence of nefarious doings, despite the fact that it was just, like, a football play -- Asante Samuel was literally grabbed by the shoulders and forced to the ground by a Raven receiver. A call should have been made, and was not. It's just football, people.
In a playoff game against the Broncos in January of 2006, Champ Bailey picked off Tom Brady in the Denver end zone, ran it back 100 yards, and just as he crossed the goal line (and started dogging it) he was stripped from behind by Ben Watson. (This led to one of my favorite athlete quotes ever, by Bailey: "It was a great play by me.") The ball looked like it went through the end zone for a touchback, but it was ruled on the field that it went out of bounds, and the Broncos kept the ball and scored. Every thinking Patriots fan in the world bit his/her tongue about this, because we knew that without the Tuck Rule Game a few years earlier there's no Rams-Pats Super Bowl. This stuff evens out. It's sports.
Whining about conspiracies and refs who love the other guy and hate you is something you get yelled at by your dad for doing when you're in little league. Writing articles for mainstream media portals and lending credence to it -- in any way -- is so painfully, stultifyingly dumb it makes my brainpan hurt.
Yes, yes, yes, I fucking know that technically an assistant coach isn't supposed to be allowed to call a timeout. I watched the same SportsCenter/NFL Live shows you all did. Tell me, though, people, did any of you know that was a rule before this game? (Please don't email me if you did.) And does anyone in the fucking universe really think that the ref did something wrong by granting the time out? And does one solitary human being on god's goddamned green goddamned earth think that if the time out had not been granted and the Pats had scored a touchdown that one single Ravens fan in the fucking universe would have said, "No no -- that's fair. Assistant coaches are not allowed to call time outs. That's the right call, there, not to grant that time out. Good work, refs." No, friends, no. They would have screamed so hard and for so long their throats would have shredded into a bloody pulpy mess.
And to the small number of wrong-brained people who have emailed me and pointed out that Bill Belichick was caught cheating earlier this year -- as if that is in some way indicative of a larger NFL-wide conspiracy involving referees in the Baltimore Ravens game -- I say to you: yes, he was. Then he was punished, and then the Pats won 12 straight games with the whole fucking NFL breathing down his neck looking for anything out of the ordinary.
You can hate the Patriots because they're good and they beat everybody and Belichick is a dick and Tom Brady is better looking than you are. But -- and listen to me very carefully here -- you cannot hate them because there is a conspiracy to help them win. Because that belief is childish and mentally deficient and wrong and stupid and reductive and you are an idiot.
11:22 a.m, from Jerry Crasnick • With the Twins in search of middle-infield help, one potential target is free agent David Eckstein. "I've always had a lot of respect for him," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "He catches the ball. He knows how to play. He's a ______ ______."
If we had comments, I'd let you guys guess what Gardy said in the comments section. But we don't!
It would be great if the answer were "fucking cocksucker."
Ever get the feeling that Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen kinda sorta got really, really lucky that year they won the World Series? How about this Kenny comment from the Chicago Tribune blog:
NASHVILLE - Despite earlier comments by manager Ozzie Guillen, general manager Kenny Williams said the White Sox have no interest in free agent center fielder Andruw Jones.
"Andruw Jones is not on our list," said Williams, adding that he liked Jones but wanted players who can help lower the team's strikeout total, raise their on-base percentage and work deep counts.
So Ozzie says they like him, Kenny says his OBP and ability to work deep counts aren't up to proud White Sox standards. (I'll grant him that Andruw strikes out a ton.)
The reader who sent this to us submits:
Jones has 152 walks in the last two years. I may have missed a player or two, but I have him ranking 26th in the majors over those two years. Number of White Sox ahead of him: One.
I submit: Jones' P/PA last year was 3.96. Number of White Sox regulars who ranked higher: Two (Thome and Dye).
More to the point, though, what the hell is Kenny Williams worrying about OBP for? His manager is a guy who thinks the problem with the offense is not enough bunts and hits and runs and free outs and raw, unvarnished anger. You might want to talk to that guy if you're worried about getting on base, K-Dubs.
As I always say, the problem with these two men is their consistency. If they would remain consistent, everything else would fall into place. A consistent consistency is the most difficult part of being consistent. Keeping your consistency consistent is something I've dubbed consistinency.
9:56 p.m., from Peter Gammons • If Darin Erstad doesn't find a job that suits him, there is word that he could return to the University of Nebraska, his alma mater, and be an assistant coach for the football team. A punter in college, Erstad was part of the Cornhuskers' 1994 national championship squad and remains one of Tom Osborne's favorite players.
First of all, did anyone know Erstad was a punter?!
Second, when Nebraska's reporters write about his coaching, are they going to say that he brings a certain "baseball intelligence" to his profession, and talk about how he used to be a baseball player?
Prediction: Darin Erstad becomes the first baseball player-slash-football assistant coach. Every time he does a correct thing, like throw to the right base or run off the field after three outs are recorded, commentators will nod gravely and say things like, "Erstad once again making the right play. He's not just like having a coach on the field. Unlike most players, he is literally a coach. Of football. So he's tough and smart."
The University of Nebraska also transitions its way to an all-punting offense.
Full disclosure: I posted this article eleven minutes after KT without having seen his post. Embarrassing, exhilarating, sad, and wonderful all at once.
The late Bill King, who called Oakland Athletics games for 25 years, and Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball coverage were the other two broadcasters placed on the ballot by online voters.
Fuck the heck?!
Online voters. You sons of bitches.
Joe Morgan, baseball player = one of the very very best second basemen of all time. Athletic, gifted, great eye, great hitter, great fielder, just absolutely all-around magnificent.
Joe Morgan, announcer = whatever the opposite of the "Hall of Fame" is.