FIRE JOE MORGAN: 02.08

FIRE JOE MORGAN

Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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

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Monday, February 25, 2008

 

I Just Made A Man Invent The Derogatory Term "VORPies."

It's a historic day. For years, man has waited for just the right term to use when insulting other men who love baseball numbers just a little too much. (What are they, gay for numbers? Probably.) And now, just like the wait for Shrek 3, that wait is ogre.

Jon Heyman has called us VORPies.

Sorry VORPies, Rollins was the right choice

I can't decide what the funniest voice to read this in is. Prohibition-era gangster? '80s-movie-antagonist-and-eventual-ski-race-losing-preppy? Daniel Plainview?

Rollins acknowledged that his brash "team to beat'' prediction probably helped him win the MVP. Of course, it didn't hurt that he hit 30 home runs, scored 139 runs and slugged .534 while batting leadoff and playing a superb shortstop for a division champion.

He had a very good year and an even better storyline. That he won the MVP was wholly unsurprising, I suppose. But I am a VORPy, sir, and VORPies wear the VORPy family crest (a ThinkPad with a griffin's tail) and sing the VORPy national anthem ("God Save PECOTA (Not That We're Certain God Exists)") and by God (if He exists), above all a VORPy abides by the VORPy code, which we sing thunderously from the mountaintops and tattoo onto our left biceps:

Be reasonable, and be reasonably objective. Please. At least try.

We're working on pithy-ing it up.

The Rockies' great slugger, Matt Holliday, finished second, but even a Rockies person told me in the playoffs last October that Rollins deserved the MVP, just as that Rockies person believed their shortstop Troy Tulowitzki deserved the Rookie of the Year (the Brewers' Ryan Braun wound up winning a close vote for that award).

Hear that? Hear that, VORPies? One person -- a Rockies person! -- would have also voted for Rollins! Disband the VORPies! Cancel our convention (VORPyStock 2K8) at the Twentynine Palms Holiday Inn! Defenestrate in perpetual shame!

A Rockies person quietly whispered softly in Jon Heyman's ear, and like that, the debate was over.

That person believed that great offense combined with stellar shortstop play should have been enough to take the awards, not a bad thought at all.

Not a bad thought, maybe. Not really a great thought, either, if you think about what kind of thought it is.

Great offense + stellar shortstop play = MVP

What about Even greater offense + stellar catcher play? Or Best offense in history + okay left fielding? Or Slightly better offense + slightly worse shortstop play?

Even non-VORPies might admit that we need a more versatile equation than

Great offense + stellar shortstop play = MVP

if we're going to be serious about discussing the MVP. But that's me talking. I'm trying to be reasonable and reasonably objective. Such is my burden. I am a VORPy.

Even so, I wasn't shocked that stats people

Please -- VORPies.

have taken issue with Rollins winning the MVP award.

Very diplomatic of Heyman. Even though ONE ROCKIES PERSON told him he preferred Rollins, he refuses to be shocked that anyone else would disagree. Open mind full heart can't lose.

There are numbers crunchers

VORPies

out there -- including a firejoemorgan.com author

That's me! Please, "firejoemorgan.com VORPy" will do next time. Whatever I am currently doing, "authoring" is way too generous a term to describe what it is.

who wrote a guest piece in Sports Illustrated last week -- who believe baseball writers rank somewhere between morons and idiots for voting Rollins as MVP over David Wright, who had a higher VORP.


To be fair to this firejoemorgan.com VORPy, the piece was a little more indignant about Juno, Crash and Forrest Gump. Rollins over Wright is wrong, I think, but within earshot of being debatable. It's not Dawson-wrong or perhaps even Morneau-wrong.

But you're right, David Wright had a higher VORP than Jimmy Rollins. And a higher EqA. A higher OBP. A higher OPS. More Win Shares.

The stat people

VORPies. Come on, not that hard -- you're about to mention VORP in four words --

seem to believe VORP -- a Baseball Prospectus statistic that stands for Value Over Replacement Player -- defines a player,

Sure, I'll look at VORP. And EqA. And OBP. OPS. Win Shares. Various fielding assessments. Games played.

Somewhat counterintuitively, the Additional Credo of the VORPies along with the "Be reasonable" one is "Don't just look at VORP. That would be stupid."

but why haven't many of them championed last year's VORP leader (Hanley Ramirez) as MVP instead?

Hanley Ramirez is terrible at defense. All of the different fielding metrics and all of the guys who judge fielding-type things often disagree to the point of cacophony, but they seem to be pretty in sync on this point: Hanley is a Bill the Butcher-level butcher in the field. (Yo, two DDL characters in one post. Big ups, yo!)

So yeah, H-Ram led Wright by 8 runs of VORP (which already makes a positional adjustment), but by most estimates he gives that away and more in the field. Reasonable, huh?

I assume the stats guys favor Wright because he played for a contending team. I guess the rule is this: Highest VORP wins unless the VORP champion is playing for a loser.

Nah. Defense.

If Wright's offensive stats were slightly better than Rollins', and I will accept that they were,

Sweet. I know about this club. It's pretty exclusive. We have an awesome secret building, though, and on Thursdays we get drunk and watch Yahoo! Gamecasts. If you're open-minded enough about baseball, we just might let you start the application process.

What's the name of our club? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with WORPies and is VORPies.

shouldn't Rollins get points for playing a superb shortstop compared to Wright's slightly-above average third base?

Yes. Defense counts. And both Rollins and Wright are very good at it. Rollins is probably a little more valuable in the field. By Win Shares and WARP, which both include defense, Wright still comes out significantly ahead. By John Dewan's Revised Zone Rating and Out of Zone plays made, Wright and Rollins both score relatively well, which doesn't indicate that Rollins should overcome a pretty large offensive deficit.

And shouldn't Rollins get credit for showing extraordinary initiative and leadership?

To the extent that you believe he leadershipped J.C. Romero to a 1.35 post-ASB ERA and initiative-d Ryan Howard to a 1.043 September OPS, sure. You can give him some credit. Me, I'm not doling out entire wins for that kind of stuff. Maybe in the case of a tie? I don't know. Trying to be reasonable here. KT would kill me for even suggesting intangibles could break a tie.

For helping his team barrel into the playoffs from seven games back with 17 to go, as opposed to Wright's team, which perpetrated a historic choke?

Very enjoyable to read "perpetrated a historic choke" followed immediately by the words:

Though the Mets' collapse was no fault of Wright's,

A little gunshy, huh? Just go the whole fucking hog: blame Wright for the choke. Do it. Feel the dark power coursing through your veins. Yes. Feels good, doesn't it? Soon you will be able to shoot lighting bolts from your hands. Unlimited power!

for the MVP to come off the all-time choke team, he'd better have a greater advantage in stats than this: Wright outhit Rollins .325 to .296, but both hit 30 home runs and Rollins beat Wright in Runs Created by 13.

Heyman is using Runs Created in the sense of Runs + RBI - HR. This is bad. Do not do this. There's an alternative: actual Runs Created. That's right. It's the one you get if you type "Runs Created" into Google and click I'm Feeling Lucky. You're already arguing using a stat called Runs Created. Why not simply use a better one?

According to their Baseball Reference pages, Wright out-run-created Rollins in the better sense of the term Runs Created, 146 to 135. This is, completely unsurprisingly, in line with their standings in essentially every other semi-robust offensive statistic ever invented.

Wright's big advantage apparently comes down to the fact he got on base more often (his on-base percentage was significantly higher, .416 to .344),

Yes! Hooray! You've been inducted into the VORPies! (Pops champagne cork, cues Handel's "Messiah.")

usually via a walk (he had 94 walks to Rollins' 49). To the stat guys, walking is more thrilling and much more valuable than actually winning the pennant.


Ooh. (Stuffs cork back in champagne, cues comedy record scratch sound effect.) Jon, as one VORPy to one near-VORPy, let me just say: for us, it might not ultimately be about what's more thrilling. We, the VORPies, are sort of trying to figure out who was more valuable at playing baseball, and sometimes this means looking at things that aren't that thrilling. Non-VORPies are telling us this all the time: taking the extra base, sacrificing, hit-and-running -- these things aren't thrilling, yet they're constantly heralded as intensely, team altering-ly valuable.

Well, walking is definitely kind of valuable. It means you're not out-ing. David Wright was spectacularly, thrillingly good at not out-ing last year. And he hit the ball far. And he ran the bases well. And he was a good defender. And hey, his team wasn't unconscionably shitty. I think he was good enough to be MVP. I guess we could agree to disagree, but there's no fun in that. Let's disagree to agree.

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posted by Junior  # 5:20 PM
Comments:
VORPum sat sapienti
 
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

 

Painting By Numbers

Hey, Bruce? Bruce Miles? It's me, Tom Gerndleman, your editor at the Daily Herald. Listen -- I don't have a lot of time. I need an article about Ryan Theriot, but I have Bulls tickets tonight, and I have to leave in eight minutes. Do me a favor, and just write down every cliché you can think of about sub-par, sort-of fast, white baseball players, and just link them all together so you can file before I head out? Thanks.

...the scrappy Theriot would just as soon tells those statistics to shut up.

Theriot doesn't hate baseball, but the stats-oriented crew probably can't find much love for him.

Theriot is one of those throwback players who'd rather get his uniform dirty than impress the pencil pushers at Baseball Prospectus.

Good start. Now we need something that helps justify why we're writing this article.

The Cubs cite Theriot as a big reason they won the National League Central last year, even though you might be telling a fish story to say his numbers were outstanding.

Great. Now let's show that he's aware of his own limitations.

Even though Theriot may not put all his stock in numbers, he knows what they are and that people are going to analyze them.

"It's getting a lot more numbers oriented, which in some cases is good," he said. "In some cases, it's not. It's easy to get wrapped up in that, too, because it's fact. It's truth. It's right there for you. You can see the numbers. It's easy to explain to somebody.

Nice. Now hit me with something about, you know, the "I" word.

"What's hard to explain, what's hard to show is what you guys see every day: the intangibles. You guys come into the locker room and see how the players interact with each other and interact with others. That's stuff hard to explain to somebody who really doesn't understand."

Perfect. I'm going to assume you made that quote up, because no one in the world -- not even a major league ballplayer -- could be that predictable. But keep going -- this is great. Maybe add something about, you know, how maybe even if he goes 0-4, he still helps his team win by getting his uniform dirty and playing tough D, and how those things don't show up in the stats.

For example, getting one's uniform dirty and saving a run from scoring even though you might have gone 0-for-4 that day?

"You don't put that down in the stats," he said.

...Okay, a little on the head, but fine, it'll do. Now we need an authority figure to weigh in -- something about catching someone's eye with his hard-nosed play.

Lou Piniella had little to go on a year ago, when Theriot caught his eye in spring training. The new Cubs manager liked what he saw and told Theriot to relax, that he had made the team.

Again, you're not changing the clichés at all, really, but I don't care. I'm out the door in T-minus 2 minutes. So let's really cruise, here. Give me a nice thick juicy run of the most trite pablum you can find.

"We always thought the guy was a gamer," Fleita said Saturday. "Mentally tough. He's always been an 'intangibles' guy with great makeup. Those guys, if given an opportunity, usually seize it.

Holy shit, man, that's awesome. "Gamer," "mentally tough," "intangibles," "great makeup," and "seizing the opportunity?" You packed all five into one graph. That's just great work. Give me another one.

"He came to camp last spring with an outfield glove. 'Just put me in, Coach,' and I'll play.' I think that attitude and his character had a lot to do with the success he had. He just wants to be part of the team. He'll drive the bus, if necessary."

This -- this is poetry. "Just put me in, coach?!" Are you kidding me? I haven't seen anyone use that one in years. "Attitude," "character," "part of the team," and "he'd drive the bus?!" This is great. Great stuff. We're almost done. Hit me with his diminutive stature:

Theriot batted .348 in July, but the Cubs say the grind of a long season took its toll. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Theriot played in 148 regular-season games, by far the most of his professional career.

Great. Now a quote from Theriot about how he knows he's not about numbers.

"I'm not about numbers. I'm not a numbers guy at all. You look through my career, and nothing's ever going to jump out at you. I've been lucky to have coaches and management who don't buy into that stuff.

"There's lots you can say about a guy who hits .300 or .320 for that matter. How many runs did he score, how many hits did he get when it was important?"

Okay. Give lip service to the nerds who think this is all a lot of crap, written about a guy who's projected to have a .237 EqA next year.

The analysts have weighed in on Theriot, with Baseball Prospectus projecting a .330 OBP.

Okay, you went OBP. That's fine. Hurry -- I have to leave in 30 seconds. Wrap it up.

So how does Theriot analyze himself?

"I'm going to play hard," he said. "I'm going to give everything I've got. And I'm not afraid to fail. I think I'll do what it takes to do something great and help the team win. I take pride in my defense. Either you've got to drive them in or you've got to save a run.

...

There's no fucking way he said all that, in that order, is there? Really? Wow. That's...that's genius. This thing is writing itself. Let me just look over that graph one more time.

I'm going to play hard

I'm going to give everything I've got.

I'm not afraid to fail.

I think I'll do what it takes to do something great and help the team win.

I take pride in my defense.

Amazing.

Thanks, buddy. I'm out of here. You earned your paycheck today.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 6:19 PM
Comments:
Hat tip: Mike S.

(It turns out that a baby's nap is almost exactly as much time as I need to post an article.)
 
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Have You Ever Noticed This About Parenthood?

Being a dad is crazy! Oh my God, it's so insane. If you don't have kids, you just have no idea what it's like. Kids are nuts. I'd like to share just a few little observations I have to make about being a dad.

1. Just kidding. Here's a dumb quote from Dusty Baker.

Baker has repeatedly talked about the desire to have a do-it-all leadoff hitter with speed.

Dusty is the only one who wants this?

What kinds of hitters is he looking for further down the lineup? Does he want guys with lofty on-base percentages? The answer will likely not sit well with fans of the book "Moneyball," because Baker said he believes the OBP statistic is overvalued.

I can't wait for what comes next. This is the single most exciting thing that has happened to me in the past week.

"I'm big on driving in runs and scoring runs," Baker said.


Huh. Seems like an odd way to go about winning baseball games, but okay. I mean, I would challenge your "driving in runs/scoring runs" strategy as outdated. Have you tried the modern and new methodology of: philosophizing about runs, and then sort of "surrounding" the runs with positively-charged ions, and then "inducing" runs with a combination of computer-aided design and game theory-based modeling?

Despair, Cincy fans. Your manager is giving an interview, and feels the need to announce that he is "big" on "driving in runs" and also "scoring runs." The man is a dummkopf.

"Guys in the middle should score about close to equal to what they drive in.

"About close to equal" is the set. Here's the spike:

On-base percentage, that's fine and dandy. But a lot of times guys get so much into on-base percentage that they cease to swing. It's becoming a little bit out of control.

And if they swing...and get on base...they have increased their...what, Dusty? Their...what? Their "On-blank-blank." Sound it out. Their "On-blank-Percentage." You can do it: their...okay. Forget it.

And yes, I know what he is saying. He is saying that he wants his guys to swing and get hits to "drive runners in," because he is "big" on that. But patient hitters, who walk a lot, are often better hitters, who hit better when they swing than impatient hitters, because they swing at better pitches. Forcing patient hitters to swing more = a bad idea.

Oh -- before, when I said that was the spike? I was wrong. Here's the spike. And it's a doozy.

"What you do is run the pitcher's count up, that helps," Baker said. "You put him in the stretch, that helps.

Correct. Correct. Now undermine it.

But your job in the middle is to either score them or drive them in. The name of the game is scoring runs. Sometimes, you get so caught up in on-base percentage that you're clogging up the bases."

Blammo!

Kerpow!

Bler-mump!

Sowpods!

I really can't understand how he can be "big" on scoring runs and driving in runs, but down on "clogging up the bases" with men who will (a) score the runs by (b) providing an opportunity for others to drive them in. You cannot score runs any other way. Unlessssssss -- I got it. He wants solo home run experts. That's it. He wants really fast runners, who will hit solo home runs and then run really fast around the bases. Okay. My apologies.

Despair, Cincy fans. Despair.

Next time: Dirty Diapers -- They're So Stinky!

Labels: ,


posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:51 AM
Comments:
Hey, Dad. I'm six fucking days old. How about not blogging for two hours and, I don't know...picking me up or something.

I am doomed.
 
You'll be fie, kid. Suck it up and keep scanning that Bruce Jenkins article.

Also, many people sent us this article, but Rick was the first to complain about not getting a hat tip, so:

Hat Tip: Everyone Who Sent Us the Article Except Rick. (And also Rick, who seems like a nice guy.)
 
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Friday, February 22, 2008

 

Hi Everybody

KT here. Back from the hospital after the successful and unironically life-changing birth of my first child, McCarver FRAA Tremendous. (We call him "Woody," for short.) Here's a picture of me with him in the hospital:

Cute, right?

After five days, I would like to say that this parenting thing is an absolute breeze, and that I don't understand why anyone would complain. Mrs. Tremendous and I are fresh as daisies and have tons of free time. Tonight we're going to catch a show, and maybe take off for the weekend. We're thinking of going to Coachella this year, too. Could be good.

Thank you to those who have emailed various kinds of congratulations. Those of you who find articles you want us to read might want to send those dak's or Junior's way, because -- again, though I have tons of free time right now -- holding a baby with one arm while fisking sports journalism with the other is a lot for one mom's-basement-confined Kansan nerd to handle, and I am currently 400+ emails in the hole.

But you guys didn't come here to read meae culpae regarding lack of blogging time. You came here to read about how David Eckstein is small and scrappy, right? Great! Someone has finally written that article. Prepare yourselves to learn something.

The Blue Jays family tree of shortstops begins with Hector Torres in 1977.

The next branch is Luis Gomez, followed by Alfredo Griffin, co-American League rookie of the year in 1979.



...



Sorry. I just fell asleep. I'm kind of worn out. Give me a second. Okay. Here we go. What about Blue Jays' SS again?

Had it not been for Griffin's persistence and insistence, the Jays might have had to look elsewhere for their shortstop for this their 32nd season.







Mmmmrph.







...











Ah! God. You scared me. I'm up. I'm up. Okay. Awesome. I am totally concentrating.

The Anaheim Angels were scuffling through the opening month of 2001 with a losing record. Benji Gil and Jose Nieves were splitting time at short, while a white-haired, mighty-mite, 26-year-old named David Eckstein was replacing injured Adam Kennedy at second.

A white-haired mighty-mite. I know it's like his whole deal, and it's what made him famous and rich, but would you like to be called a "white-haired mighty-mite" if you were 26 and a pro athlete?

With Kennedy due to be activated and a roster move coming, Griffin, the Angels' first base coach, headed into manager Mike Scioscia's office.

"Alfredo went to Mike, said they should keep me and play me at short," Eckstein said at the Bobby Mattick complex yesterday. "He'd never seen me play short. I heard later Alfredo told Mike 'Keep him, I'll teach him how to play.' "

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, I have obtained the transcript of that conversation.

Mike Scioscia: Come in. (beat) Hey 'Fredo.

Alfredo Griffin: Hey Coach. Got a sec?

Scioscia: Sure. What's on your mind?

Griffin: Well, Kennedy's coming back, which means we have to make a roster move. I'm thinking we start Eckstein at short.

Scioscia: ...

Griffin: You know. See if he can handle it.

Scioscia: Eckstein?

Griffin: Yeah.

Scioscia: David Eckstein?

Griffin: Yeah.

Scioscia: ...

Griffin: What do you think?

Scioscia: (punches Griffin in the face)

Griffin: Hey!

Scioscia: Are you fucking serious?

Griffin: Yeah! I think he can do it.

Scioscia: Fredo, my kid's little league coach came by yesterday and asked Eck if he wanted to try out for the team.

Griffin: Let me just make my case. I know he's small -- barely 5'7", maybe 165 pounds -- but he's scrappy. He's also gritty, gutsy, and he hustles. He's an albino, which is kind of cool, in like a human-interest, fan-outreach kind of way. He has a lot of grit and hustle. He can't throw very well, which is a bonus, and he doesn't hit much, which is good, because we want our baseball team to be bad. He always runs to first base when he hits the ball -- most guys just jog down, or like kind of saunter. Eck runs. He's small, too, I don't know if I mentioned that. Now, granted, his lungs are too small to convert oxygen into carbon dioxide, and he has to play barefoot because no one makes cleats for dolls. But he's gritty, coach. And scrappy. And I think we should give him a shot --

Scioscia: Fredo. Stop.

Griffin: What, coach?

Scioscia: You had me at "doll cleats."

Griffin saw in Eckstein something all the king's men and all the king's horses with the Boston Red Sox did not.

Why the "all the king's horses..." trope? Odd choice. Also, the thing that Griffin saw was: a player who over his entire career has an 89 OPS+. That's right: Eagle-Eye Griffin had the præternatural 6th sense necessary to spot, from a great distance, a player who is 11% worse offensively than the average major league baseball player.

The 5-foot-61/2 Eckstein played second in the Boston organization from 1997 until he was released at triple-A Pawtucket in 2000 to make room for the redoutable Lou Merloni.

Framingham Lou, Career OPS+: 87. And please don't use the ironic "redoubtable" to draw a contrast between anyone and David Eckstein. And if you have to use "redoubtable," please spell it correctly.

Angels GM Bill Stoneman claimed Eckstein for $20,000 US, sending him to triple-A Edmonton for 15 games.

Stoneman had never seen the infielder play, but he knew Eckstein arrived at the University of Florida Gators as a walk-on without a scholarship in 1994 and left as an All-American.

But did he punt? I don't care about anyone's college sports career unless he was a punter.

Griffin, an 18-year major leaguer, has told us before he has to walk away from Eckstein to stop from hitting him ground balls.

Kiss-up.

Then Griffin would look up 10 minutes later to see Eckstein taking grounders from another coach.

Fine. Great. Admirable. But he's a kiss-up.

"They made me everyday shortstop after we lost two of three at SkyDome and I only started once -- as a DH," Eckstein said of the series against the Blue Jays.

This quote adds: nothing, to this story.

When the Angels returned to the West Coast, Eckstein was named the starting shortstop.

The boxscores from the games in Toronto show Gil had three clanks leading to an unearned run.

I don't understand this. Does that mean Gil had three hits? That he was 0-3? How did the unearned run factor in, from Gil's point of view? This is insanely confusing. My brain cannot process that sentence. I am going to stop, take a quick nap, and let my son take over for a few lines.

Despite his size, Eckstein is still a large enough target for pitchers.

grrph. ahm. sp.

He broke Frank Robinson's rookie record being hit by 21 pitches in 2001. He had 27 the next season and has been double figure in bruises each of his seven seasons.

fffff. bl.

Even his nickname with the Angels was short -- Eck -- as it rhymed with 5-foot-5 Freddie Patek, the shorty who played short for the Kansas City Royals in the 1970s.

Hey -- I have a headline for a potential article written about that fact: "Short Shortstop Has Short Nickname, Like Other Short Shortstop." That sounds interesting! Thank you for including that in your article. Fascinating stuff.

(That was McCarver. He's learning quickly. Let me just put him down for a nap and then I'll take over again.)

(Also, let me add something to what my son wrote earlier: the best you can do to prove that Eckstein is like good at baseball is to point out how often he is hit by pitches? That's weak, even by pro-Eckstein article standards.)

"He has been through it all before," manager John Gibbons said. "He won a World Series with the Angels and St. Louis. There is something to be said for winners.

Sometimes that thing is: "That guy was on a team that won something."

"He's small. He's a throwback player. He'll get on base for us and make all the routine plays."

Small? Check.

Throwback player? Well, he's white, so: Check.

"He'll get on base for us?" Check. 35.1% of the time he plays, which is not bad for SS. Of course, he has missed 84 games to injuries in the last two years, and he's no miniaturized spring chicken. He turns 33 next year, which is 57 in albino meerkat years, so expect his numbers to decline a little from their 11%-below-league-average status.

The routine plays ... ah yes. The Rogers Centre turf will be quicker than either Angels or Busch Stadium.

"If it's quicker, I'll play a little deeper, you never know until you get on the field itself," said Eckstein, who hasn't been in Toronto since 2005.

You, my friend, give electrifying interviews. Also, please don't play any deeper. It will be sad when you can't get the ball across the infield without doing one of those Eric Byrnes "run towards the target, release the ball, and Superman-it forward into the turf" things every time a 2-hopper comes your way.

Scouts don't expect Eckstein to have a problem getting on base -- he hit .309 with a .356 on-base percentage in 2007. They do wonder how he will handle the turf.

Of course, he only had 434 AB because he missed 45 games. So he only walked 24 times or something. Whatever. Eck can weasel his way on base okay for a SS, I'll give him that. The turf, however, is going to eat him alive. After which, the turf will be still be hungry.

(I just ran that joke by McCarver, and he said he thought it was 'kind of lame." I'll leave it in.)

Gibbons has said a couple of times this spring "Eckstein is our shortstop," and will not have John MacDonald as a defensive replacement/caddy when the Jays are up a run in the late innings. It is a situation worth watching.

...If you like watching incredibly boring things.

"The thing about Eckstein," Gibbons said the day the little big man showed, "is that he will never, ever look back and say 'I didn't give it my all.' "

You hate to give out year-end awards in February, but this is a frontrunner for Most Backhanded Compliment of the Year.

Signed as a free agent, Eckstein, who won every Most Underrated or Who Gets the Most of Their Ability poll we've seen, said he had other options.

He wins those stupid polls because you and your cloying, hacky brethren keep writing this same article over and over. I will also -- again -- point out that if a guy keeps winning awards for how Underrated he is, he is ipso facto no longer underrated. And as for Who Gets the Most of [sic] Their [sic] Ability, the answer is probably Alex Rodriguez. Or Pujols, maybe, or Miguel Cabrera, or maybe Jimmy Rollins, or something. They have more ability, and they get more out of it.

And by the way -- I know I keep interrupting it with dumb comments, but does this article have any cohesion or flow or point?

"This," he said, "seemed like a good opportunity. This is a team that wants to win, needs to win."

Meaningless.

I'll leave the final comment to my new son. What do you think of this article, McCarver?

McCarver: [spits up on me]

Labels: , , ,


posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:26 PM
Comments:
You made a baby?!
 
Apparently.

Thanks to Ed, my foggy brain finally clicked into what 'clanks" refers to: (duh):

In reference to the line "Gil had three clanks leading to an unearned run", I believe the "clanks" refer to errors. Gil had three errors in the series at Toronto from 4/27/01 - 4/29/01.

However,

(a) No unearned runs were scored in the series, and
(b) Elliott is not quite correct when he states "(w)hen the Angels returned to the West Coast, Eckstein was named the starting shortstop". In fact, in their first game back, on 5/1/01, Eckstein played 2nd base. He committed two errors (or "clanks"), leading to an unearned run.

 
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Monday, February 18, 2008

 

This Is What We're Up Against

Sure, sometimes it seems like we've said everything there is to be said about EqA and VORP and why batting average and wins are for stupids. We're repetitive, redundant, reiterative, repetitious, redundant, redundant and redundant. We get it.

Then we take a step back and remember that 99.999992% of baseball fans think like the people in this article:

YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING!
STUDY SAYS DEREK JETER'S THE WORST

No, nobody is kidding. This is old news, of course, to the other 0.000008% of us.

February 17, 2008 -- How's this for junk science - even with three Gold Gloves, Yankees captain Derek Jeter has been labeled the worst fielding shortstop in baseball.

I'm so happy the New York Post is out there doing its thing -- being angrily, outrageously, passionately wrong about everything. Rare is the institution you can rely on day in and day out, but you can set your watch by the Post. Whatever time the Post says, you're guaranteed to know: it's wrong.

Gold Gloves are a m.-fucking joke. Although I've learned nothing yet about this junky "science" study and of course I will learn nothing further by reading the rest of the article (thank you, Post!), I already trust it infinitely more than Gold Gloves, because Gold Gloves are liars. They are no-good cheating liars, and I would not let my fictional daughter marry a Gold Glove.

But the numbers prove it, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania said yesterday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, in (of course) Boston.

Yes, these researchers from the University of Pennsylvania meticulously altered their data, fudged everything they'd worked on for months, slandered Jeter and praised A-Rod, all because they had a meeting once in Boston. Never trust a scientist! All scientists are Sox fans! Post!

Post BREAKING NEWS: SCIENCE PLAYS FOR BOSTON!

Using a complex statistical method,

for nerds with calculators and pocket protectors and Daily News subscriptions,

researchers concluded that Alex Rodriguez was one of the best shortstops in the game when he played for the Texas Rangers.

This is an interesting finding. I wish I knew more about how the study worked. Just kidding: give me what Mike Birch has to say on the matter. Mike Birch works at Lids, the hat store.

"I don't know what they're smoking down at Penn," said Yankees fan Mike Birch, 32.

Take that, complex statistical study. Birch is insightful and funny. One time he sold me a sweet lid with the Under Armor logo on it. "I don't know what they're smoking"! Classic. Classic Birch.

"That's preposterous. I completely disagree. Jeter's a clutch player."

In one corner: "The method involved looking at every ball put in play in major league baseball from 2002 through 2005 and recorded where the shots went. Researchers then developed a probability model for the average fielder in each position and compared that with the performance of individual players to see who was better or worse than average."

In the other corner: Mike Birch. Watches three innings a week, occasionally while sober. Listens to Mike and the Mad Dog "except when they talk too smart and shit." Watches "Rome Is Burning" with the sound off. I.Q. of 175. Graduated from Cambridge University. Fields Medal winner.

I know who I'm taking.

"It's ridiculous," said fan Jay Ricker, 22. "Jeter is all-around awesome.

"I agree," said Science, 424. "Fuck me, that is a good argument. I might as well not exist. That's it. I'm taking 500 Darvocets. Humans, welcome your new overlord, Jay Ricker, 22. He is all-around awesome."

He's better than A-Rod any day. Character has a lot to do with it. He's out there for his teammates, not just himself. He does it for the good of the team. That's the kind of guy you want on the field."

Yes. You would never, ever want a guy scientifically proven to be dramatically better at fielding. That is not the kind of guy you want on a field. No fielders. Just team guys.

Ricker added that "A-Rod's only out for the money. For him it's not about baseball, it's just about banking."

Studies have shown that A-Rod is, incidentally, the league's best banker. A lot of people don't know this, but he was heavily recruited by Blackstone and Goldman coming out of high school. Jeter is genetically incapable of using an ATM; he in fact only understands those letters to be the abbreviation for ass to mouth.

Fans said Jeter's greatness goes beyond the numbers he produces on the field.

"He has intangible qualities that can't be measured with statistics," said East Village bar owner Kevin Hooshangi, 28.


Fans repeated a thing they had heard innumerable times on the TV and radio.

"I can't change my mind about this," despaired Kevin Hooshangi. "My whole worldview depends on it being true. Jeter has intangibles. Jeter has intangibles. He does. He does!" Hooshangi continued to chant about Jeter, tears streaming down his face. "I know he does. He has them. Intangi...(unintelligible sobbing)..."

"He's the ultimate teammate. It doesn't matter what his percentages are when he's making big plays in big games. He's the one with four World Series rings."


Theory: Jeter wears rings on fielding hand, rendering fielding borderline impossible.

However, Frank Angelo, 50, gave A-Rod his due. "He's the best shortstop in the American League playing third base," Angelo said.

Then Angelo realized what city he lived in, and what newspaper he was talking to.

But Jeter as one of the worst?

"That's not true," Angelo said. "He's a good fielding shortstop." He even said he would keep Jeter at short. "Jeter's the captain, he was there before A-Rod," said Angelo.


By this logic, Jeter never should have taken over for Tony Fernandez. Fernandez was there before Jeter. Jeter should've had to slide over to third. But wait, Wade Boggs was at third. No go. Already there. But hey, should Boggs have even been there? No! He took over for Charlie Hayes. That never should have happened.

NO ONE SHOULD HAVE CHANGED POSITIONS EVER. After the original roster of the 1903 New York Highlanders died, all baseball should have stopped being played forever. Thanks, Frank Angelo.

But as Yankee fan Brittnay Thompson, 32, said, it's about who's good in May, and who's good in October.

"In big situations A-Rod drops the ball, no pun intended," said Thompson.


Thompson added, "Are you awake, FJM guys? We're still out here. Morons, I mean. We totally outnumber you. We're loud, we're close-minded, and we dominate the media. We'll never stop being dumb about baseball. Never. We'll always keep the idiot ball rolling. Is that a pun? If it is, I didn't intend it."

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posted by Junior  # 8:09 PM
Comments:
Hat tip: KT. Congrats, buddy.
 
Better name: William Xavier, or McPlaschke Fraa?
 
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Saturday, February 16, 2008

 

If At First it Doesn't Succeed...

Regular readers of this blog may be familiar with this post, containing an article written by legendary prose artiste, poet laureate of the Americas, and Congressional Medal of Honor Winner: William Everton Plaschke IX. That piece won Plaschke a Pulitzer, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a from-beyond-the-grave visit from Dr. Samuel Johnson, who battered Plaschke about the face and neck with a dictionary and told him to stop writing forever, lest he squander every gain made by proponents of the English language over the last 250 years.

I bring this up because the article began with PlaschkeGraphs™ -- the single-sentence contrapuntal paragraphs that made him famous -- thusly:

Around the hotel table sat Dodgers executives discussing trades.

In the corner sat the old scout watching television.

Around the hotel table they were talking about dumping Milton Bradley and wondering whom they should demand from the Oakland A's in return.

In the corner sat the old scout who has never worked with radar gun, computer or even stopwatch.


Around the hotel room table, someone mentioned an unknown double-A outfielder named Andre Ethier.

In the corner, the old scout jumped.

Poetry, my friends. Pure, unadulterated, terrible, poetry.

Anyway, I was smurfing the WW Web today and came across this little number, also from Plaschke, which assaulted my retinal arena in a frighteningly similar way.

On one end of the dark wood table sat baseball's ideals -- the swaggering, swarthy starting pitcher.

On the other end of the same table sat baseball's reality -- the slinking, shirking steroid pusher.


On one end of the table, Roger Clemens bragged about tough times and hard work and never taking a shortcut.


On the other end, Brian McNamee talked about syringes and abscesses and bloody pants.

Look. I know it's probably really hard to file 3-5 stories a week, when you're a sportswriter. (Or 0-1/month, if you're Stephen A. Smith.) I know that Plaschke has won awards and gets to be on television and stuff, so there's no real incentive to change anything. But come on.

At the L.A. Times, Plaschke sits at his typewriter.

Here in my mom's basement, I make fun of Plaschke.

At the L.A. Times, Plaschke lazily concocts another identical opening to one of his columns.

Here in my mom's basement, I ask my mom for more Kix.

Etc.

Ad nauseam.

Labels: , ,


posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:16 PM
Comments:
Originally, I misspelled "nauseam" as "nauseum." Blecch. Sorry.
 
Also, Matt points out that there is no "Congressional Medal of Honor," per se, but rather just a "Medal of Honor" awarded by the President on behalf of Congress. This sounds very plausible, so instead of looking it up, I'm just typing it here.
 
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Friday, February 15, 2008

 

Stephen A. Smith On-Line Incompetence Update

A follow-up to our previous post:

Stephen A. Smith has now capitalized all the words in the Rosa Parks quote. There is no reason all of the words should be capitalized, but at least they are all capitalized.

He has also posted some new things, which is good, even if they are inexplicably in different fonts, and with different line spacings.

And it no longer says "Welcome to The Official Stephen A. Smith My Blog."

So, good work all around.

(Except that it kind of says, "Welcome to the Official Stephen A. Smith Stephen A. Smith Blog." But at this point, we'll take it.)

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 2:24 AM
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Thursday, February 14, 2008

 

Preseason A-Rod Hating Has Begun! (And Other Weirdness)

Post me!

YOUTH & NAIL
YOUNG YANKS WILL STRUGGLE TO MAKE PLAYOFFS


This isn't necessarily George King III's fault, but there's like forty different ways to read that sub-headline. "Because of their young players, the Yankees will fail to make the playoffs." "The youth of the Yankees will help them during their tough times this sesaon, and, despite struggling, they will make the playoffs." "The younger members of the Yankees will struggle to make the playoffs, while the older members will make it easily."

Okay, fine. Three ways.

They have the same first name, but after that Torre and Girardi are very different.

It really is hard to think of two more different men than Joes Girardi and Torre -- two Italian-American former major league catchers (each at one point for the St. Louis Cardinals) who have each been named Manager of the Year and Manager of the New York Yankees.

Torre let the players police themselves; Girardi is a stickler for detail and will run a tighter ship. How that plays with the veterans will be interesting to see throughout camp.

I guess that will be kind of interesting. Mostly to me, it will be interesting to see how much of the Yankees' success / failure / averageness is absurdly blamed on / credited to / assigned to Joe Girardi, and the way he gets along with the veterans (weren't we going to talk about the younger Yankees?), when it is way more likely to do with, say, pitching.

The organized Girardi can manage, and the Yankees New York Yankees were fortunate he was available. However, he has one year of experience. And his coaching staff is dotted with neophytes.

Surely his inexperience (second year overall, first with the Yanks!) will only hurt the team. One need only look at the list of recent WS winners, and it's easy to see that you simply must have decades of experience both with the league and your team, to win it all:

2007: Terry Francona (4th year with team, 8th overall)
2006: Tony LaRussa (fine -- 100 years with team, 340 overall)
2005: Ozzie Guillen (2nd year with team, 2nd overall)
2004: Terry Francona (1st year with team, 5th overall)
2003: Jack McKeon (1st year with team, 13th overall)
2002: Mike Scioscia (3rd year with team, 3rd overall)
2001: Bob Brenly (1st year with team, 1st overall)

Can Alex Rodriguez, coming off an MVP campaign, and Robinson Cano, the ink fresh on his first big contract, sustain last year's production?

Rodriguez won't hit .314, club 54 homers and drive in 156 runs.


Okay. He might. He certainly might hit higher than .314, not that it really matters that much.

That doesn't mean he won't have a solid year.

Very true. So what's the problem again?

The Yankees made two mistakes with Cano. They didn't retain third base coach Larry Bowa, who rode Cano hard every day last season before following Torre to LA this offseason. Then they gave Cano, not a hard worker, a multi-year deal.

Because he's good. They gave him a multi-year deal because, ultimately, it doesn't matter how hard he works, as long as he plays baseball well.

And so now, I'm supposed to believe, the onus for Cano performing well in his first big contract year falls on...Girardi? Wait -- actually, now I'm not sure what I'm supposed to believe. A-Rod? Probably A-Rod. Everything is that guy's fault.

Unless Cano does well. Then we can all agree that Jeter did it.

There was nothing wrong with Andy Phillips and Doug Mientkiewicz, but the Yankees got rid of them. Instead, they are looking at Duncan, Wilson Betemit, Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg. How long before Rodriguez complains about not having a glove guy saving him errors?

I love how the bar just keeps getting higher when it comes to creative ways of calling Alex Rodriguez a shitty guy.

He committed plenty of errors last year. I don't once remember him blaming anyone other than himself. Has he ever thrown a teammate under the bus? Why are we suddenly anticipating some sort of inevitable locker room blamefest where A-Rod starts whining about Jason Lane's glove?

Because he went to therapy and kind of liked it?

I don't get it. This kind of A-Rod bashing is Lame Fucking City, USA. In the words of the incomparable Sagat: "Funk dat."

Labels: , , , , , ,


posted by dak  # 10:04 PM
Comments:
Check plus for Sagat ref.
 
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

 

6-4-Blecch

Possibly pseudonymed reader Cletus points us to this slightly old, but still tasty nugget from Tom Singer over at mlb.com.

DP combos thriving throughout MLB
Chemistry up the middle becoming a trend with contenders

Baseball's ever-isolating spotlight is one of the game's charming appeals. When the ball is pitched or when it is struck -- it's all on you, regardless of which glove you're wearing at the time, batting or fielding. So, on a ball field, every man is an island. Except those two in the middle, whose teamwork is crucial as two pistons of the same engine, the most critical links in a strong chain.


I have a 2002 Honda Civic. Good car, good mileage. Cleans up nice. Problem is, there's something wonky going on in the engine. Gets really noisy in the higher gears.

I brought it into a mechanic, and he explained my problem in a surprisingly long-winded fashion (it seems so obvious in hindsight!):

"You got a couple pistons in here...they don't like each other. You know -- chemistry issues. This one piston [pointing to a piston], he doesn't like this other guy over here [pointing to another piston]. One of them has been in the car for quite some time. The other is, you might say, a 'rookie.' New piston. Also -- and you may find this hard to believe, but I'm a mechanic, so trust me on this one -- they are from different religious backgrounds and like to play different kinds of piston music in the piston clubhouse. So I don't think that's helping neither...So, like I said, it's a chemistry thing. Teamwork problem. It has nothing to do with the fact that this one piston is very rusty and has the piston-equivalent of a weak and inaccurate arm, and I am 99.9% sure that your problem also has nothing to do with the fact that this other piston has trouble getting the pistonball out of his pistonglove quickly. I won't deny that those are vital components of turning a PDP, but in my expert opinion, this is clearly a teamwork / chemistry thing. Okay, so, anyway, just let me know when I can stop talking. I feel like at this point everyone should understand that (a) using inanimate engine-parts in a baseball chemistry metaphor is a bad choice by the author and (b) it's quite possible that the degree to which a DP combination excels at turning the DP depends more on their individual abilities than anything related to 'timing' or 'teamwork' or what have you. That will be 300 million dollars."

Holding onto these positions is as difficult as holding your ground in the storm of a take-out slide. Second and short are among the first positions targeted by teams seeking to reach the next level.

You heard it here first, baseball fans. If your team is trying to improve, there's a good chance that they'll go after a 2B and an SS. Well -- not quite. Those will be among the first positions they'll go after. Those two. Will be among the first. (Out of nine.)

Singer then goes on to point out which teams have the longest-running DP tandems (Phils, Yanks), and which teams may in the future (Mariners). I have no idea how this bolsters his argument. I'm actually not sure what his argument is, but, whatever.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's choice at second -- Brendan Harris (acquired from the Rays as part of the Delmon Young package), Nick Punto or Alexi Casilla -- will be influenced by how new shortstop Adam Everett relates to them.

"A lot of it is going to be about compatibility," Gardenhire said. "We're going to have to wait and see how it all plays out with those guys together."


Seems like sound reasoning, right? Forget how they handle the bat, or how good their defense is on the 97% of plays that don't result in double plays. (Please someone e-mail me to correct me on that number. I'm estimating.)

No. The most critical criteria on determining the starting 2B for the Minnesota Twins is, apparently: How does Adam Everett relate? Does Evy wanna hang? Can you drink brews with AE?? Or, slightly more fairly: How quickly will Adam Everett develop a nebulous unspoken understanding of where you're going to be on the diamond under different baseball circumstances?

It's a long way from Spring Training to developing the sixth sense displayed by keystone soul brothers.


Note that the length of this way is mostly dependent on the fact that humans are incapable of developing a sixth sense.

As the Phillies' Utley says of his vibes with Rollins, "We definitely feed off each other. It's a lot easier playing second with Jimmy over there. I always know where he's going to be."

Forgive Chase. You see, while playing college ball at UCLA, Utley's DP partner was 2B Jack Santora, who was prone to positioning himself under a desk in the press box while the other team was batting. Chase never knew where he was going to be because he simply couldn't see him.

No question, had Baryshnikov picked up baseball, he doubtlessly would have played either short or second. The positions aren't played as much as they are performed, acts of athletic choreography best seen and appreciated through an action-freezing camera lens.

I agree with you on that point, Tom Singer. One can not even question that, if Mikhail Barykhnikov had played baseball, he would have played either short or second. Doubtless. As you said. In the same sentence where you said "no question."

Come on spring training. We need you. Only a few days left until we hear that beautiful, booming voice over the stadium PA: "Now batting...number 13...performing second base...Asdrubal Cabrera."

Labels: , ,


posted by dak  # 4:32 PM
Comments:
Reader Slade:

It should be noted that the most famous DP combo of all-time, Tinker to Evers to Chance, hated each other's guts during their playing days, with the feud not ending until the late 1930s.
 
And reader Joe, who I will call BioJoe, has some notes about the human body.

As a bored student with time to check these things out I thought I'd point out that humans are more than capable of developing a sixth sense contrary to your last blog. Senses are measure by us having a free standing sense organ to associated with it. Most of us have at least 9 but possibly up to 21 depending on who you ask and how you define a sense. The nine are: touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, thermoception (sense of heat), nociception (pain), equilibrioception (balance), and proprioception (movement). The possible extra senses to make 21 mostly require sub division of these 9.
 
And Kevin has data closest to what I was looking for, though I'm not really sure what the sample is (surely there were more than 399 DP's in all of baseball last year?):

2007:

TPA: 18861

DP: 399

2.12% of all plays.

close.

 
Russell on DP%:

Of all plate appearances in 2007, 2.5% of them ended in a double play. Your guess of 97% was only half a percentage point off.

Of those double plays, btw, only a little more than half (51.6%) went either 463 or 643.

So, in reality, you're talking 1 play in about 80.


Someone wanna rebut the guy who said we have 21 senses? 'Cause that still seems wrong to me.
 
Aaron C. makes an interesting point:


I think something is missing in the analysis you and commenters give. Namely when talking about the effectiveness of DP combinations, you have to include more than just the 399 or whatever that were successful, but also think about the times that could have worked if only the 2B and SS loved each other more. When the 2Bman's heart really isn't in it, the runner can beat the throw to first. Or if the SS just has a terrible, terrible arm, a play that would be successful by, say, the Marlins, would fail by, say, the Yankees.

 
A guy who has almost the exact same name as a former Heisman trophy winner (you know who you are) writes:

I decided to double check Joe’s work. His percentage is close, but his number is off. There were 3983 GDPs in 2007. I came up with a 2.131% rate for GDP compared to plate appearances.

He attached a spreadsheet that seemed to prove his case.
 
Reader Keith also attached a spreadsheet, and took a different -- and now that I think about it, probably more accurate -- angle on the situation:

In the 2007 regular season, MLB second basemen had 19,591 total chances and 2,765 double plays, which means 14.11% of 2B chances involved a double play. For shortstops: 22,108 TC, 3,223 DP, 14.48%.
 
Patrick, please sort this mess out:

BioJoe merely subdivides the traditional five sense to get nine. Thermoception and nocicemption are sub-divisions of the sense of touch. If they were truly independent senses, the loss of the sense of touch would not result in a corresponding loss of ability to sense heat in pain. Similarly, equilibrioception synthesizes hearing, sight, and touch to percieve balance. Proprioception would be a component of sight, since it would be impossible to percieve the movement of objects one cannot see.
 
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Monday, February 11, 2008

 

Why, God, Why

...do articles like this continue to be written?

Baseball is a contact sport with shortstop Ryan Theriot.

The 28-year-old Cub, coming off his first full season in the majors, seldom strikes out (50 in 537 at-bats). That makes him an ideal No. 2 hitter, but he's versatile enough to lead off, having batted .300 in that role last season.

What is so hard about identifying the thing that makes a good lead-off hitter? OBP, man. OBP. That's it, really. That's the #1 thing. Speed is great. Speed is definitely #2. But if you're Juan Pierre, and you're super speedy, but you make more outs than anyone else in the entire game of baseball, you are not an ideal lead-off man. (As now several different teams have realized.) You may be an occasionally awesome lead-off man, when you bunt for a hit and steal second and move to third on a 4-3 and come home on a sac fly. But the 500 times you pop up, ground out, or are easily thrown out trying to bunt your way on make you an unideal lead-off man.

(#3 most important quality is guts, followed by grit, then fearlessness at #5, then IsoP.)

High-energy, low-key ... that describes Theriot, who carried the Cubs in July with a .348 average. His ability to manufacture runs endears him to manager Lou Piniella, who understands the importance of speed when the winds are blowing in at Wrigley Field.

I am going to do a Michael Moore kind of documentary where I talk about how the run manufacturing plant in my hometown was shut down, and all of these hard-working run manufacturers have been put out of work, and I'm going to take a camera crew and march into Billy Beane's office and demand to know why instituting his newfangled cost-saving measures means that the run manufacturing plant had to get shut down, putting all these salt of the earth run manufacturers out on the street. And he'll say, "There is no such thing as a 'run manufacturing plant.' And the phrase 'manufacture runs' is meaningless." Then we'll both turn to the camera and stare at it for like 45 excruciating minutes without moving. Then the screen will flash a giant bleeding skull for 1/8th of a second. Then men in hazmat suits will storm the theater and spray people down with an iridescent gas, while you hear a robotic voice yell "DISPERSE. DISPERSE." It will be like a cross between "Roger and Me" and "The Joke."

Also, while "High-energy, low-key" may be perfectly good ways to describe Ryan Theriot, I would also suggest describing him as "owning a 72 OPS+ last year" and "a guy who hit .266/.326/.346 in his first full season" and "a guy who could only manage .271/.355/.337 in his entire minor league career" and thus "probably not an ideal top-of-the-order guy."

"With more speed we could have scored four or five runs in our last game in Chicago," he said, referring to the final loss to Arizona in last year's playoff.

With more hits you could have won too. Or with better pitching. And P.S., after losing the first two games, you were down 2-0 in game 3 before anyone could blink. (And after a lead-off walk to Soriano in the bottom of the first, Mr. Ideal #2 Hitter here went 4-6-3. [Yes, it's a small sample size. He started it.])

Power is the missing link in Theriot's hitting approach. His .266 report card was spruced up with just three home runs. So pencil him in as a table-setter.

Make sure the eraser is in good shape, though, because a guy with a .326 OBP will be setting fewer tables than a guy who hates setting tables at a table-setting convention. Ohhhhhhhhhh! What a burn!

"It's what I've always done," Theriot says. "My numbers aren't going to jump out at you."

Your .326 OBP jumped out at me, faster than an awesome jumping frog hopped up on jumping beans on a trampoline at a frog-jumping convention. Noooo he didn't!!!!!!!

Shortstops who lack power are vulnerable. Knowing that, Theriot must be wary of infield predators.

"You have to keep that sense of urgency about you," he says. "There's always somebody behind you, trying to take away your job."

His competition will come from Ron Cedeno, a talented athlete who was a bust in 2007 but helped the Aragua Tigres win their second straight Venezuelan Winter League title with 11 RBI in the playoffs.

Ronny Cedeno is 25 and has a career .329 OBP in the minor leagues (and a .277 in his limited MLB time). He ain't taking anybody's anything away from anyone.*

If Theriot can hang on he would be the fifth different shortstop starting on opening day for the Cubs since 2004. Alex Gonzalez, Nomar Garciaparra, Cedeno and Cesar Itzuris preceded him.

Seems like Ryan should fit right in.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 7:57 PM
Comments:
KT-

How on earth has it taken you this long to make a reference to the Jest on this blog?
 
It's not the first, Murbles.
 
* As reader Jeffrey points out, Cedeno did make a huge leap in OBP (and other things) when he went from AA to AAA in 2005. But whether he's the guy who tore up the PCL or the guy who did a lot of sub-.300 OBPing in A-ball remains to be seen.
 
And then Dan adds something we thought we remembered but were too lazy to look up:

Just so you know, everyone tears up the PCL. It's by far the best hitting environment in the minor leagues. Bubba Crosby hit .361/.410/.635 while there in 2003. If he can hit there, anyone can.
 
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Sunday, February 10, 2008

 

As Long as We're Just Killing Time By Reprinting Dumb Athlete Quotations

Might as well include this one, submitted by Brian, from Chris Carpenter, in re: the timing of his return from surgery:

"The question is whether it's going to be before the All-Star break, after the All-Star break or somewhere in between," Carpenter said..."

Or, a rarely-considered fourth option: behind the All-Star Break.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:57 PM
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This Might Be Dangerous

On a slow Sunday, Vikes' fullback Tony Richardson talks about his long-term plans:

"I don't want to move at this point in my career. I had a good meeting with the owners. I've got some gas left in the wheel and want to keep playing."

One assumes there is a corresponding tread in his tank. Both problems should be fixed post haste.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:56 PM
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Friday, February 08, 2008

 

Only Mildly Sports-Related

Some of you may know that my new journalistic hero is Mike Seate of the Pittsburgh Trib. Remember him? The guy who said that fans of an imaginary thing called superbike racing were morally superior to fans of baseball?

Remember? This guy:


Awesome.

So, Mike Seate has recently become part of a point/counterpoint involving the speeds at which various people drive on the streets of our nation's cities. Here's "point," in which Seate describes a section of Pittsburgh riddled with high-speed traffic accidents (these excerpts are not necessarily continuous):

Commuters treat North Shore like NASCAR track

Last week, I visited Derek Gamret, a North Shore parking lot attendant who is used to the sound of crunching metal...I was amazed to see how close the attendant had come to calamity, as the waist-high brick wall surrounding his lot recently was torn apart by a speeding car.

Either NASCAR has added the North Shore as a track or something weird is going on.

Cars speed across the bridge from Downtown, he said. Just as I had suspected. To verify my research, I headed back to the intersection with a handheld radar gun.

I use the radar gun to keep my buddies honest when they brag about the top speeds they allegedly reach at local racetracks, but my racer friends have nothing on North Side commuters.

The Seventh Street Bridge's posted speed limit is a lazy 25 mph, but in less than 15 minutes, I managed to track cars doing more than twice that speed.

It's one heck of a gamble to take on a daily basis. Stand there long enough, and you'll be amazed there haven't been more crashes -- and more trees and buildings bearing the scars of too many commuters who think they're NASCAR drivers.

Excellent work. I like the idea of a journalist trying to keep speeders at bay in a like vigilante-justice kind of way. I also love that Seate owns his own radar gun -- for recreational purposes.

Now here's "counter-point," in which another journalist argues that laws against speeding on public streets are draconian and unnecessary:

Fla. lawmaker aims to crush cyclists' thrills

A few years back, I wrote a book about the then-emergent sport of motorcycle stunt riding. At the time, maybe a dozen teams of young riders were making a good living pulling wheelies and other collarbone-crushing stunts on high-powered motorcycles.

Definitely seems like the kind of behavior you want to go out of your way to...protect?

Florida State Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R-Miami) has introduced House Bill 137, which is aimed at stamping out stunt riding once and for all. If the bill becomes law, anyone caught stunt riding or exceeding the speed limit by 50 mph on a motorcycle in Florida will be arrested and have their bike impounded and their license suspended for 10 years.

I love this law. This is an awesome law. How can you be against this law? [Edit: see comments for a far better understanding of it than I provided here.]

Lopez-Cantera said he's determined to make stunt riders "fear the law." It might sound like action-movie dialogue from "Robocop," but, unfortunately, this is an elected representative talking. The state senator claims the 119 motorcyclists killed in roadway accidents in his state in 2006 motivated his decision. But he fails to address how car drivers -- many distracted by cell phone conversations, drugs or alcohol, or just plan bad drivers -- might have contributed to the number.

Drivers do get distracted by cell phone calls, yes. Possibly by drugs and alcohol, too. But another thing that might contribute to accidents involving motorcycles going 50+ MPH over the speed limit while doing dangerous stunts is: the motorcycles going 50+ MPH over the speed limit while doing dangerous stunts.

This kind of overzealous, punitive lawmaking is a threat to all motorists, regardless of how we get around.

Also a threat to motorists: people who go really fast on motorcycles and do stunts.

A proposed law might mean one thing on paper, but out on the streets, where cops can and, often, will interpret the rule of law with millions of variances, there's no telling what they might construe as "stunt riding."

Like, possibly, going 49 MPH over the speed limit while doing a dangerous stunt? You're right. Get rid of the law.

You can find car drivers exceeding the speed limit by 50 mph every day, but I can't imagine anyone jailing them for doing so.

Mike Seate seems to want to, based on that earlier column.

Maybe lawmakers like Lopez-Cantera wouldn't introduce ill-conceived laws like this if they respected the rights of motorcyclists, and viewed us as something more than a group of thrill-seeking kids who need to be taught a lesson.

America!

Now, kids at home, I want you to guess who wrote the "counter-point" to Mike Seate's "point."

That's right -- it was Woody Paige!

Just kidding. It was also Mike Seate.

So, to sum up: people in cars who go 50 in a 25-mph zone: dangerous NASCAR-wannabes who should be brought to justice.

People on motorcycles who superbike-it-up and go 115 mph on the highway and do crazy stunts on public roads: kick-ass dudes who are being hassled by the man.

(I know. It's only mildly sports-related. At least it mentioned NASCAR.)

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:25 AM
Comments:
David raises some interesting points:

I've done some cursory research, and it looks like Mike Seate is justified in his opposition to Florida's HB 137, though I don't like the way he presents his argument. Florida already has plenty of laws on the books that punish all drivers (car and motorcycle) for reckless or high-speed driving; HB 137 singles out motorcyclists in particular by impounding the bike of any rider "charged with reckless driving or exceeding the speed limit by 30 miles per hour." (looks like the actual law is 30-over, not 50). Here is a summary of the proposed law.

I wholeheartedly endorse laws that take dangerous drivers off the road, but this law seems downright discriminatory. To summarize:

Drive a four-wheeled car more than 30mph over the limit: get a ticket and a "mandatory hearing before a designated official."

Drive a two-wheeled motorcycle more than 30mph over the limit: your vehicle is automatically impounded.

I have to agree with Mike that a high-speed car or truck is at least as dangerous as an equally high-speed motorcycle, and so should be subject to the same laws.

To summarize:

HB 137: unfair law.

Mike Seate: motorcycle-obsessed journalist with a great picture

Pitchers and Catchers report: can't come soon enough.

 
As most of you know, my greatest dream is that this blog turn into a state-law-based debate over vehicular safety. To that end, Mr. S. jamison weighs in with a comment about the previous comment:

In response to the comment from the recent post "Only Mildly Sports-Related", there is a perfectly good reason that motorcycle laws are discriminatory. This is because motorcycles themselves are discriminatory.

Since we need to check the statistics instead of rely[ing] on "common knowledge", the NHTSA released the following traffic safety facts (check http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/809908.PDF for more information):

Occupant Fatality Rate 2003

(per 100 million vehicle miles traveled):

Motorcycle: 38.93
Passenger Car: 1.23
Light Truck: 1.19

The Florida law is extremely well-considered... if some nut in a car travels 50 over, he's still far less likely to get killed (along with others in the car) as some guy on a motorcycle.


Your move, pro-motorcycle-speeders.
 
But, you're asking, how do people in Illinois feel about this Florida law? Stan?

I'm an attorney in Illinois, and if you speed 40 MPH over the speed limit in IL it's a Class A Misdemeanor, the same level as a DUI!!! Plus, in IL you don't have to do fancy stunts to fall under the law. So his article is just odd and really unnecessary.
 
Patrick raises what for Mr. Seate must be an epistemological nightmare:

[O]ne has to wonder if he would be for or against motorcycles going 50+ MPH over the speed limit while doing dangerous stunts while on the Seventh Street Bridge.
 
And now Ed takes S. Jamison to task!

S. Jamison quotes fatality rates per mile traveled, and then concludes that "if some nut in a car travels 50 over, he's far less likely to get killed...".

This conclusion does not necessarily follow from the data. I think it is reasonable to assume that motorcyclists are far more likely to be traveling 50 over than auto drivers, and thus the fatality rates per-mile-traveled-at-50-over may very well be comparable between cars and motorcycles.


This is the most fun I have ever had writing for this blog. I swear to God.
 
Mark sez, take that, people who think motorcycles are dangerous:

One of the IIHS' favorite stats to report is that, "per mile traveled, motorcycle rider fatalities are 31 times greater than those in automobiles." Well, golly, since they bothered to factor in "per mile traveled," that sounds pretty bad, doesn't it? I suppose it does, but it leaves out a few mitigating factors. For example, a motorcycle will be carrying a single rider about 90% of the time. When you ride one mile without an accident on your bike, you are counted as one safe mile traveled. But the stats for automobiles includes not only cars with two or more passengers, but also vans, trucks and even buses. A bus with 40 passengers goes one mile without an accident, and it is counted as 40 safe miles traveled, compared to your one mile. Then, add in the fact that motorcycles simply aren't ridden the number of miles in a year that a car is used. In fact, we average only about 30% of automobile usage. Oh, and they count dirt bike miles, too, and ATVs, which obviously results in a lot more accidents "per mile traveled." Ever see someone go off-roading in the family sedan, or better yet, a fully-loaded school bus?

Are you beginning to see how this works? If not, I'll make it even simpler: Per mile traveled, a pedestrian is 18 times more likely to be injured or killed in an accident than a motorcyclist. We need to get those crazed, daredevil walkers and joggers off our sidewalks! But wait --there's something worse: Per mile traveled, equestrians (horseback riders) are 25 times more likely to be killed or injured in an accident than a motorcyclist! Sure, I'll admit that motorcycle riding can be dangerous but I don't hear anyone talking about how dangerous it is to ride a horse, or about regulating them more, or even banning them outright.


Keep 'em coming, people.
 
Hang on, you guys -- Zak has a good point.

It's worth considering that, although motorcyclists put themselves in ridiculous danger (especially in speeding), people speeding in cars endanger all other road-users more.

Plus, cars clog up the roadpaths, and that's just shitty.

 
Kevin points out:

I love how Seate is writing about a bill that isn't even going to see the State Senate floor anytime soon!

http://www.topix.com/motorcycles/2008/01/florida-reckless-motorcycle-bill-deferred

Timeline:

Bill Deferred: Jan 11
Seate Article: Jan 28

 
And we come full circle, with David chiming in again.

Mr. Jamison made a very good point that I failed to note, viz that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous to their riders than cars. This may have something to do with a motorcycle being able to travel every bit as fast as a car, but lacking in safety items like seatbelts, airbags, rollcages, and two additional wheels.

Mr. Jamison has provided a very good proof of this point with some statistics from the NHTSA. I fully agree, but my hypotheses was that motorcycles present an equal, if not lesser, threat to innocent bystanders (pedestrians, bicyclists, farmers' market patrons, or "nonmotorists," as the NHTSA likes to call them).

I've used the NHTSA's 2003 Traffic Safety Facts (being the easiest such report I could find online) for my stats. Here comes the science:

Collisions with nonmotorists, 2003:
Motorcycles: 19 of 3,751 (0.5%)
Passenger Cars: 2,512 of 26,169 (9.6%)

So by my count, although motorcyclists are more likely than passenger car drivers to hurt themselves in a crash, they are far more likely than passenger car drivers to hurt pedestrians. Granted, "collisions" is not the same thing as "fatalities." But I can assure you that when a pedestrian gets hit by a car or motorcycle, it is at least going to be pretty damn painful.

I took this a step further, to see how the motorcycle/car debate looks from a pedestrians point of view. I even made up a handy little spreadsheet to chart it out (attached) [Edit: no it isn't, in these comments, because I don't know how to do that. --ed.]. Essentially, motorcyclists crash at a higher rate than cars, but fewer of their crashes involve nonmotorists. However, if we look at nonmotorist crashes per total vehicle miles traveled, we find that a hypothetical motorcycle driving the same number of miles as a passenger car is actually slightly more likely to hit a pedestrian. Taking this even further, our hypothetical motorcycle and car would hit pedestrians every 502.1 and 661.2 million miles, respectively. To put that in perspective, if you put rockets on your car or bike and took a trip into space, those distances would put you somewhere in between Jupiter and Saturn. That's a lot of miles.

So, after a couple hours of following this diversion, what have I found?

1) In terms of actual accident rates, motorcycles are far more dangerous to their riders, and a tiny bit more dangerous to pedestrians, than passenger cars.

2) Therefore, my hypothesis and Mike Seate's ramblings are pretty much incorrect.

3) If you are a pedestrian, make sure to avoid the region between Jupiter and Saturn.


Finit. Good work, everyone.
 
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Thursday, February 07, 2008

 

Hey, Jealousy!

You guys are still into the Gin Blossoms, right? Cool. Me too.

Several of you sent us this little ditty from Rich Hofmann over at the Philly Inquirer. One had hoped that the dismissal of on-line internet web blog "My Blog" WWW-blogger Stephen A. Smithblog from the Inquirer's daily ranks might have jolted their sports dept. into a new era of good-ness.*

Alas.

New York disgustingly canonizes new ace before he even pitches

For the record, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. Let's remember that as we read this article about how "disgustingly" the Mets celebrated his arrival in Queens. He's the best pitcher in baseball.

NEW YORK - In the realm of the nauseating, this was even worse than Eli Manning and the fellas parading the Lombardi Trophy through the Canyon of Heroes (because the Giants earned it, after all). You really had to see the way they welcomed Johan Santana to the New York Mets to believe it.

Not sure why a tickertape parade for a Super Bowl is, in any way, "nauseating." Did you mean to type "par for the course?" Or maybe "fully warranted" or "traditional?" Or "fun?" (Especially since the team in question just pulled off one of the great upsets in football history.) This would have had to have been a very bad typo indeed, but I have no other explanation for you calling it "nauseating." Anyway, on to Santana.

The news conference seemed to have seating for about 200 or so,

Ewwwwww! Nauseating.

and plenty of people were standing.

Ugh. Gross.

The luncheon menu featured chicken and beef satay,

Bleurgh. Barf.

rice pilaf, pasta, green salad and gourmet sandwiches.

Classless.

The festivities were broadcast live on two television stations, one radio station and two Web sites (mets.com and losmets.com).

How dare the Mets...allow...people to hear...the press conference? (I'm struggling here, to locate nausea. I'm sure it'll get easier. Hofmann seems so strident.)

First, a video was shown that featured all manner of New Yorkers, from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Chris Rock to Jerry Seinfeld, proclaiming their city as the greatest place in the history of places.

New York's a pretty great city. Actually, do you have a copy of that? It sounds cool.

It was all very understated, as per the local custom.

Well, the time for restraint is definitely: introducing the best pitcher in baseball to fans and media who follow the team. I'm thinking a terse press release, ("Santana signs with Mets. 'We are pleased,' say team officials, understatedly."), followed by an ascetic black-and-white photograph session. Water should be served (room-temperature) and then local and state police calmly but firmly escort people to the exits.

Then Santana arrived and was introduced by general manager Omar Minaya. Then they lined up for pictures - ownership, manager Willie Randolph, everybody smile now. A public-relations functionary had them turn to the dozens of exploding still cameras, and then to the other cameras over there, and then, could the still cameras please kneel down so the television cameras in the back could get a clear shot? Turn this way, turn that way; the guy had the group pose for everybody with a camera except Google Earth.

Here. Maybe this will help you understand what you were watching. Have you not been to one before? They can be scary and confusing if you've never been to one before.

And then the PR guy attempted to shut down the last shutterbugs and begin the news conference by announcing, "Johan, your public awaits."

At which point, I gagged on some vomit.

You have now induced more nausea than any press conference possibly could.

The Mets themselves said all of the right things - third baseman David Wright said the Phillies were still the team to beat in the National League East, as did Randolph - but this was quite the welcome for Santana, the two-time Cy Young winner. And listening to the radio on the way home, you could tell it was clear that all of the pomp and circumstance has led Mets fans to the inescapable conclusion that they already have won the World Series, before the first golf club has been shipped to spring training.

Well, they did collapse last year, in horrific, almost 2004 ALCS Yankees-esque fashion. But they were 7th in the NL in team ERA, and 6th in Ks, and they really didn't have a #1 starter. Though their offense struggled late, if they had Santana last year, they'd've made the playoffs easily. So, despite Moises Alou being 58, and Glavine leaving, and Pedro being a wild card, you have to say that getting Santana makes them pretty effing tough.

And, in that spirit, Santana raised his hands at one point and showed off all the World Series rings he won in Minnesota.

Oh, wait.

Ha ha ha ha! He never won a World Series in Minnesota! What a douche. Only jerks and losers don't win World Series titles by themselves.

Santana has won 70 games in the last four years. Here's how the Twins have ended the season in runs scored in those four years: 12th, 8th, 14th (last), 10th.

"It takes 25 players," Santana said, more than once, in response to more than one question in more than one language. He seems a sincere sort, and he has been a great and durable pitcher (although only 15-13 last season).

His team had a .721 OPS. That's 13th out of 14 teams. The league -- the American League, mind you -- batted .225 off him with a .273 OBP. He had 55 more Ks than anyone on the Mets. And this was a down year for Santana.

His career ERA+ is 141. His career WHIP is under 1.1. He Ks 9.5/9 IP. His DERA is 3.20. He is left-handed. His change-up looks like it's being controlled by a dude playing RBI Baseball, who can maneuver it mid-air with a joystick. He is 28.

These are all things you could have written that would have been more relevant than "only 15-13 last year."

"I'm happy to be here," Santana said, at one point. "What happened last year stays in the past. I'm looking forward to '08 . . . We're going to start a new season, '08, and make it very special from now on."

Disgusting.

Take it home, Hofmann.

The Mets do not want to find out [what will happen if they are in a long divisional fight]... Because they just spent up to $150 million on one of those green Christmas-tree things you hang from the rearview mirror. They would hate to find out that it failed to mask the stench of 7/17.

(That's 7-game lead with 17 to play, not July 17th.)

Anyway, in an article about how gross and disgusting a press conference was, here are words that Rich Hofmann used in his article:

Nauseating
Exploding
Gagged
Vomit
Choked
Stench

Crazy, right? As the Gin Blossoms once said, "And we started out to conquer doubt and frisbee / I should've been a whole lot farther."**

* [Edit: I am a moron, as reader Michael points out, because Hoffman writes for the Daily News and not the Inquirer. I'm leaving the thing about Stephen A. up, though, because I want his blog to be the #1-read blog on the internet.]

** Lyric chosen at random; does not relate to article in any way.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:24 PM
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The Worst News for Chicagoans Since Mariotti Was Hired by "Around the Horn"

Here we find news that the ChiSox have inexplicably re-upped The Hawk through 2011. The CDC recommends that humans only be exposed to 3-4 PPM of The Hawk, so a major health advisory has been issued for the entire Illinois area, and for everyone with XM Radio.

We also find this nugget of wisdom about the man with the worst HR call in baseball:

When Harrelson signed his previous contract in 2003, he predicted the Sox were in line to win a World Series. His vision was confirmed in 2005.

2003 ChiSox / 2005 ChiSox:

C. Olivo / Pierzynski
1B. Konerko / Konerko
2B. Jimenez / Iguchi
3B. Crede / Crede
SS. Valentin / Uribe
LF. Lee / Podsednik
CF. Everett / Rowand
RF. Ordonez / Dye
DH. Big Hurt / Everett

P. Buehrle / Buehrle
P. Colon / Garcia
P. Loaiza / Contreras
P. Garland / Garland
P. Wright / El Duque

CL. Gordon / Hermanson-Jenks
RP. Marte / Marte
RP. Koch / Politte
RP. Wunsch / Cotts
RP. White / Vizcaino

Reserves:

R. Alomar / Ozuna
Graffanino / Perez
S. Alomar / Widger
Harris / Harris
Rowand / Big Hurt
Daubach / Blum
Rios / Gload

Manager:

Manuel / Crazybones

The Hawk sure was prescient, foretelling all of those trades and signings that would lead to the WS in 2005, wuddn't he?

There's also this:

"As long as I love it and have a purpose, I'm going to be there," Harrelson said.

Which is why he retired in 1977.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:16 PM
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

 

Era of Anonymity Comes to an End

So, after a few conversations with various other bloggers and like 28 minutes of low-grade soul searching, the editors of this site have decided to reveal our identities.

The reasons for this are:

1. We figured whoever reads this site has a right to know who's writing it.
2. The people we make fun of have a right to face their accusers.
3. We don't want anyone to be able to write off what we say as the un-credited ramblings of people too afraid to stand behind them. (The ramblings.)
4. We figured no one cares that much one way or the other, so why not?

So, if you are interested in learning who we really are, you can click on the "About Us" link at the top. If you're a true romantic, and want to believe that we are cloaked cyber-Zorros who exist only within the internet, ignore the link and go about your business, secure in the knowledge that whenever Woody Paige makes a terrible pun, we will be there.

Labels:


posted by Ken Tremendous  # 3:01 PM
Comments:
When do we open up comments again?
 
I might as well go ahead and reveal my identity as well.
 
And yes, enough e-mails, people, you guessed right: this is Coach.
 
If only out of respect to the sort-of-recently deceased, I feel like someone should point out that Junior was, um, joking when he said that Coach was Robert Altman.

Remember how we make jokes sometimes?
 
Chester Jesterton is the prophet Muhammad (no IMDB entry).
 
This is Spinoza.
 
And this is America's Sweetheart.

(That's for you, Murbles.)
 
Then again, that would explain why I stopped posting around the release of "A Prairie Home Companion."
 
And also why my posted have sucked since "Nashville."
 
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Monday, February 04, 2008

 

Stephen A. Smith On-Line Incompetence Update

A few days ago, I published this report on Stephen A. Smith's blog. It included the fact that at the top of the front page, it read:

"Welcome to the Official Stephen A. Smith Online Blog."

Which, obviously, is silly, since "blog" is short for "weblo-g," a special kind of device you can only find on-line.

But never fear, people. Stephen A. has taken some time and thought it over, and has now corrected the problem. The blog now reads:

"Welcome to the Official Stephen A. Smith My Blog."


Which we can all agree is far, far dumber.

Next week: "Welcome to the Official Stephen A. Smith Me-xtravaganza Webternet Blogging...of Me."

(And by the way, he still hasn't posted anything new.)

(And he still hasn't capitalized 'made up.')

Labels:


posted by Ken Tremendous  # 9:19 PM
Comments:
Eagle-eyed reader Josh tipped us off, so we tip our caps to him.
 
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Let's Clog Those Bases, People

Once again, allow me to congratulate the New Jersey Somethings on their richly deserved victory yesterday. For the record, I am disappointed but not upset. When one's teams have been on a run like my teams have since '02, it's dumb to complain. And the Pats losing yesterday will ultimately be about maybe 20% more irritating than them winning, and thus forcing me to listen to people say that their season wasn't legitimate because of SpyGate.

(For the record, you can't just add "Gate" to something to indicate "scandal." The hotel, as we all know, was the Watergate. It wasn't like there was a like Nixonian/"Chinatown" water scandal, and someone said, "Hey -- 'gate' is the LME root for 'cover-up.' Let's call it Water-gate.")

In any case, nice work, Giants. Nice work, Eli, and David Tyree's helmet, and Tom Coughlin. Super Bowls should be about upsets. It's what makes them fun.

To cleanse my palate as we head into the dark time when Michigan State basketball gets top billing on any given weekend, here's a quick bases-clogging sighting, sent to us by many of our eagle-eyed readers:

"On-base percentage is the highest thing on the list," manager Tony La Russa said at the team's annual Winter Warm-Up. "If you've proven that you can get on base, that will give you the best chance to lead off.


Sanity at last.

It doesn't mean it's the only thing. Say [Molina] has an on-base percentage of .700 in Spring Training. I don't think I'm going to lead him off because he clogs those bases a little bit. But I'm going to wait, let guys play."

Oops. And he was doing so well.

My friend, if anyone on your team ever has an OBP of .700 -- even someone as slow as one of the Molina Bros. -- I'd say you should definitely lead him off. Or hit him second. Or third, depending on his other numbers.

Once again, let us remind all baseball-minded persons out there that the object of the game is to "clog" bases. That is how you score runs. (And yes, I do realize he is not totally pulling a Dusty here. I just don't think anyone should ever use the term "clogging [up] the bases.")

Pitchers and catchers report in a few days. Eli Manning is your reigning Super Bowl MVP (which I'm pretty sure is my fault.) Ladies and Gentlemen, the state of our nation is: meh.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 3:03 PM
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"With the social security check my wife and I receive, I'm making ballplayer money for two columns a week."

That was Bill Conlin a couple of months ago. Charming fellow, no?

What Bill neglected to mention is the most amazing part of the equation here is that his columns, for the most part, seem to be of the Larry-King-brain-leakage-stew variety. When you think of it that way, yes, it is rather extraordinary that you tricked someone into paying for an old-person condo in Florida for you in exchange for such incoherent, scattered nonsense.

Such as:

WHEN I'M KING of the World . . .

The Johan Santana hand-wringing will cease . . . OK, the Mets will have the awesome lefthander with the changeup from hell at the front of their rotation. And the Phillies will have Old 629, Adam Eaton, at the back end of theirs.


This is the equivalent of saying, "Look, quit complaining about living in Dresden. Yes, we just got the shit firebombed out of us. Yes, your skin is currently on fire. So is mine. But dammit, I am stating a contrarian opinion here!" He's explaining exactly why the hand-wringing he's complaining about exists.

That by itself is no reason to contemplate Charlie Manuel's superb nucleus being dragged to also-ran status by inferior component parts. The pressure is all on the Mets.


Bill Conlin is now on record: having the best baseball pitcher in the baseball-playing world is exactly -- exactly -- balanced out, baseball-wise, by the concomitant pressure incurred by acquiring said pitcher. There is no benefit to having better players. Call it Conlin's Law: for every good player acquired, you take on an equal amount of bad juju. Fuck getting good players. Fuck them hard.

And when all the zeros are finally in place, the 28-year-old Venezuelan's enormous contract and the Himalayan expectations wrapped around it will subject Johan to more fan and media scrutiny than any pitcher in the history of a city, the Sour Apple, that has made a lot of grown pitchers cry. Hideki Irabu, Jeff Weaver and Kevin Brown come immediately to mind.

Because you apparently are unfamiliar with the sport of baseball, Bill, allow me to forthwith explain to you the differences between these three men and Johan Santana. I will do so in the manner of, oh, let's say, a Mets fan talking to his girlfriend who knows nothing about baseball.

"Shit, honey, don't you know anything about baseball? Shit! Jesus. Hideki Irabu never fucking played an inning of Major League Baseball before pitching for the Yank-Mes! Me and Sal call them the Yank-Mes, get it? Hideki Irabu! Goddammit, Denise, you are so fucking dumb. The guy just wasn't any good, see? He went to Montreal and had like a nineteen ERA, and there isn't a fucking Montreal Post printing embarrassing pictures of you on the back page. The only thing in Montreal are like pretty dece strip clubs and fries with gravy on them. Remember those fries, Denise? Yeah, you shouldn't eat shit like that anymore, you're not a kid anymore, you'll get big in the hips. Yeah, I said it. Shut up!

"We're talking about Johan Santana here. JOHAN! Don't bring that weak Hideki Irabu shit into my house.

"Jeff Weaver? You gotta be kidding me. Jeff Weaver was always a piece of shit. Fucking California pussy. The guy was never that good. He had a couple of half decent years that would make Johan cry if he sunk that low. And look what he's doing in Seattle. You're telling me it's pressure in Seattle too? Shit, Denise. Although with Weaver, who knows, you could be right. His brother's a pussy too. Tell him I said that. Tell him!

"Kevin Brown can suck my cock. You want to compare him to Johan? Fucking Johan?! Kevin Brown was 39 his first year with the Spank-Mes. Spank-Mes! Where do I come up with this shit? 39 and the only reason he was good the year before was all the fucking 'roids he was shooting into his ass. It was in that report that Kevin Mitchell just put out. Plus KB's spine was made out of fucking Styrofoam peanuts by then. Johan is 28 and ready to rock, and he's pretty handsome for a Latino or whatever he is. I'm not gay or anything, I'm just saying. I'm not gay, remember when you caught me with all that porn in my car? It was all hetero porn. Not even any Asians or weird shit like that.

"Anyway, I think I've proven how you know shit about baseball, Denise. Get me another beer, I'm not done pre-gaming before I go over to Sal's to watch Gladiators. Fucking Wolf, man! I would kick his ass in Assault, though."

posted by Junior  # 1:21 AM
Comments:
Most swearing ever! Nice work.

P.S. Eli #1!!!!!!
 
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

 

I Take It All Back

Eli Manning best QB evaaaaa!!!!1!1!!!

(Congrats to Giants fans.)

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 10:20 PM
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The Small Sample-Sized Revisionist History Chronicles

In a few hours, the New American Awesomes will play the New Jersey Somethings in the Super Bowl. The Awesomes are 37-point favorites. Is it possible that Somethings’ QB Ed Manning will lead his team to an upset victory? Of course. This is the NFL, where even the surest of sure things has maybe a 70% chance of winning.

And if that happens, it will help the Somethings believe that they weren’t completely violated by the Chargers in the 2004 draft-day trade that gave them Ed Manning and gave San Diego every other great player available in the next two drafts. I mean, we all agree that Shawne Merriman, Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding, and another choice that led to acquiring Roman Oben > Ed Manning, right?

Every angle says Giants, Eli are winners in big trade

Oh. Apparently not.

Let's begin this debate about who won the Eli Manning-Philip Rivers mega-deal -- the New York Giants or San Diego Chargers -- with an e-mail from one of the smartest general managers I have ever been around.

Sounds good. If you're going to try to prove that the Giants somehow got the better end of the deal, I guess a quote from a smart GM is a good place to start. Whose unbiased opinion did you solicit? Scott Pioli? Kevin Colbert? Bill Polian?

Giants GM Ernie Accorsi.

Oh. You asked...the guy who did the trade for the Giants. That's smart. If you want an objective opinion on something, ask the dude who did it.

Though Accorsi is of course biased,

Stop right now. Stop writing this right now. You just typed the reason not to write this article. Stop. Stop immediately.

everything he states in the following e-mail is accurate. It makes the best case on why the Giants won that deal -- basically Manning for Rivers, Shawne Merriman and kicker Nate Kaeding.

And a 5th round pick that they traded to the Bucs for Roman Oben, who anchored the Chargers' O-line in 2004 and served as a mentor for all of their young draftees.

Since kickers are a dime a dozen the deal is basically Manning for Rivers and Merriman.

A dime-a-dozen kicker who has hit 87% of his field goals and scored 480 points in 4 years. But okay, let's just ignore him.

Not only did the Giants win the trade, they won easily. Here is Accorsi's reasoning and why I think he's right, run in its entirety with only punctuation and spelling corrections added.

Nice. Make the expert you're about to cite sound like a dummy who can't spell.

The e-mail began with me asking Accorsi what made him so convinced Manning would be worth the draft picks New York gave up to get him.

"We thought he was the best of the three then (Rivers, Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) and we think he's the best of three now," Accorsi wrote. "People who dwell on statistics in football, just cling to them because they can't evaluate QBs.

You corrected his punctuation but didn't get rid of that entirely superfluous comma? Who's the dummy now, Freeman?

The job is QB, not passer. Unitas and Namath didn't have good QB ratings. They threw a lot of interceptions because they took risks and had to carry their teams."


I'm kind of with you. It obviously isn't just about passing. Though passing is a big part of it, I'd say, and Big Ben's 92.5 passer rating is certainly a good deal better than Eli's 73.4. Eli also has more picks than TDs in his career. [EDIT: No he doesn't. I am an idiot. I looked at "long" instead of "INT" on this page. Sorry, Eli fans.]

I know -- different systems, etc. But you'd still take Eli over Roethlisberger? (America's Sweetheart -- are you reading this?!)

Indeed, if I had to choose the better quarterback of the three,

(sic sic sic sic sic sic sic sic sic sic sic)

it would be Manning, followed by Roethlisberger and Rivers. Manning, right now, is the better winner (which does seem insane since only a short time ago people were questioning Manning's leadership skills).

And equally insane when you consider that Roethlisberger has more wins. And that his team went 15-1 one year. And when you consider that his team won a Super Bowl. (Roethlisberger stunk it up in that game, but apparently Freeman doesn't care: It's About Winning.)

But Manning has clearly entered another stratosphere, as sudden as that entrance has been, in terms of those leadership abilities.

"Manning is a winner," continued Accorsi, who is an avid sports historian and baseball fan. "He had proven that in a host of games before this run.

He has certainly improved, yes.

Why do we determine whether pitchers belong in the Hall of Fame based on games won but that is not an ingredient of the QB rating?

1. We shouldn't, really, discuss "wins" as a baseball HOF criterion.
2. You're right that the QB rating is dumb. But:
3. Roethlisberger has won more games than Manning.
4. In the two years he's started, Rivers has more wins and a far better QB rating than Manning.

In my opinion, the QB has much more of an influence on the outcome of a game than the starting pitcher. With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Eli can't turn the game over to Mariano Rivera. He has to finish the game."

But Chien Ming-Wang can't hand the ball off to Alex Rodriguez and have him rush it up to the plate. Or throw a screen to Jeter and have Jeter rush the ball to the plate and deliver it to Posada by hand. There are reasons why being a QB is harder than being a starting pitcher. There are other reasons why being a starting pitcher is harder than being a QB. But there are many more (and more obvious) reasons why comparing a QB and starting pitcher is dumb and meaningless.

"What difference does it make what we gave up?" Accorsi continued.

...because that's how you evaluate whether it was a good trade. Do you think Brian Sabean is like, "Who cares about Liriano, Bonser, and Nathan? We got A.J. Pierzynski and cash!!!!"

"You better be right about the QB, but if you are, you can't overpay for a great QB and we think he's going to be a great QB. What would you give up for Elway? What would you give for Montana or Unitas? Just like you can't overpay a great player. Can you overpay for Mays or DiMaggio? That's all fodder."

As the great Bard of Avon once said of ladies who doth protest too much: "This is fucking insane, Accorsi."

This is where I disagree with Accorsi slightly. You can overpay for almost any player -- even a Montana or Unitas -- but only if you leave your team barren of talent and draft picks.

They traded 4 draft picks for the pick that got them Eli Manning. Draft picks that were used to draft several excellent players.

An example of this is the Herschel Walker trade. Dallas received six Minnesota draft picks for Walker. Then coach Jimmy Johnson used two of those picks to draft Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith and Pro Bowl defensive back Darren Woodson. Johnson used other picks to make a series of trades to acquire other talents like Russell Maryland. The Vikings were devastated by that deal for years because they drastically overpaid.

The Giants did not give up that kind of talent or picks. Not even close.

Maybe it wasn't that bad. But Merriman might go the Hall someday, if he keeps being the crazy beast he has been so far. Rivers is a solid QB (more solid than Manning, in the last two years). Kaeding hits 87 out of every 100 field goals he attempts. That ain't a bad haul.

My friend Doyel might know college basketball better than anyone, as well as the thug-filled, cracked-jaw-fest that is the MMA, but one thing NFL media rooks like him forget when discussing the Giants-Chargers trade is this caveat: The Chargers wanted fierce defensive end Osi Umenyiora to be included in the deal.

Accorsi said hell no. It was the right move by Accorsi, and Umenyiora has been a force.

If the Twins had asked for Barry Bonds in the Nathan/Liriano/Bonser deal, and Sabean had said no, that would not have meant that Sabean had made a good deal.

Basically, if the Giants had given up Umenyiora, they might have drafted Merriman. What Accorsi said next is interesting -- and true.

"We didn't get Merriman," Accorsi said, "we led the league in sacks. Osi is better anyway."

Osi is very good, yes. But once again, the fact that you didn't include him in the trade doesn't mean the trade was good. And the fact that they might have drafted Merriman if they had traded him is (hypothetical)^2 nonsense.

And as far as we know Umenyiora never failed a performance-enhancing drug test the way Merriman has.

Fortunately for everyone involved, no one cares when NFL players fail drug tests.

"These are the facts, in the fourth year the kid has us in the Super Bowl," said Accorsi.

Is it worth it to point out that Roethlisberger "got" the Steelers there sooner? Probably not. Is it worth it to point out that the comma in that paragraph should be a colon or maybe a dash? Probably. (Click here, Freeman -- it'll help when you want to correct people's punctuation.)

"He had a chance under adverse conditions on the road to win the game to get in the Super Bowl and he did it. The other guy didn't. Very simple. All the other arguments are just reasons to fill air time."

He has had an excellent playoff run. Very impressive. Very much like Tony Eason in 1985-86.

Again, a slight disagreement with Accorsi. Rivers was playing the New England Patriots, a better team than Manning's opponent, the Green Bay Packers. Also, Rivers was impressive by playing without an ACL in one of his knees.

Oh, right -- there's also that.

And in Manning's defense, the physical conditions he played in were far worse than those Rivers faced. Manning's game was the Ice Bowl; Rivers by comparison played in the Nice Bowl.

First of all, excellent Woody Paige-esque writing. Second of all, miserable weather tends to level the playing field, I think. The Giants passed 543 times this year and rushed it 469. The Pack was 578/388. The Giants stood to benefit from the weather. And since they're from a cold-weather city, it shouldn't have bothered them as much as it might have otherwise, like, say, if they were from San Diego. (And also, the Giants' defense won them that game.)

The larger point Accorsi makes is nevertheless valid. To me, we have seen all of Rivers' upside. This is the best Rivers is going to be -- a good quarterback but not great. We might be witnessing just the early stages of Manning's rise from good to outstanding.

In other words, there is far more upside to Manning than Rivers and that in itself makes the trade worthwhile.


I like it when people issue opinions based on very little fact, and then draw conclusions based on the conversion of those opinions into facts.

Rivers might one day reach the Super Bowl, too. I'm just not sure he can. However, we know Manning is capable. There are no more questions when it comes to him.

Rivers has lost twice in the playoffs, both times to the most dominant dynasty in recent football history, both times in close games. This year, he lost by 9 points while playing on the road, on one leg, and with the best RB in football on the bench and the best or second-best TE in football also on the bench. But I guess a sample size of three games -- which contradict a wealth of other evidence -- is enough to declare Manning better than Rivers.

"Milt Davis, a corner who started for the Colts against the Giants in the '58 sudden death game in Yankee Stadium and now owns a doctor's degree, told me 38 years ago, 'Ernie, you judge a QB on one thing: Can he take his team down the field in the fourth quarter, from behind, with a title on the line and into the end zone. That's what matters.' I came (into the league) under Unitas and that's how I judge quarterbacks."

In the Tampa Bay WC game, the Giants were up 17-7 after 3. In the Green Bay game, the winning FG was set up by a terrible Favre interception. And here's the Microsoft-Yahoo! sports description of the game winning drive in the Dallas game:

The Giants trailed only 17-14. After not getting anywhere on their next drive, a 25-yard punt return by McQuarters left Manning only 37 yards from the go-ahead touchdown. He needed only six plays to get it on a 1-yard run by Brandon Jacobs, who celebrated by throwing the ball into the play clock.

There was still 13:29 left, the 92nd between these division rivals but the first in the playoffs. While it got more interesting, the caliber of play didn't improve. Dallas made more sloppy mistakes and New York missed chances for clock-killing drives.

That's all Eli, baby!

He was good in all 3 games, but if you're judging him on Milt Davis's criterion, Eli gets an INC. And for the record, in the Dallas game, after the go-ahead TD, Manning did not attempt a pass. The Giants went 3-and-out with 3 rushes. Then, on their next drive, they rushed twice and Eli was sacked. Fourth quarter heroics!

"All the people that still knock Eli better settle down for a long period of frustration," Accorsi said. "Because as his brother said today, 'Eli is going to a lot more Super Bowls.' Whether people like it or not."

What was it again that Shakespeare said about ladies who doth protest too much? Oh yeah: "Hey, Accorsi -- take it down about 1000 levels."

"By the way, we drafted Rivers in order to make the trade because that is the QB San Diego wanted," Accorsi said. "We would not have drafted (Rivers). If we didn't make the trade, we would have drafted Roethlisberger. He was our second-rated QB."

Your team would probably be better if you had just drafted Roethlisberger.

Did the Giants win that trade with San Diego?

Yeah, they did, and it really wasn't all that close, either.

For the record, you did not write one single thing about Shawne Merriman in this entire article, except that he failed a drug test and that Usi Umeemoyeiyre is better. Shawne Merriman is wicked good. Nate Kaeding is also: wicked good. Rivers is better than Manning. Teams are more than QBs. You are: wrong.

Eli Manning may win a Super Bowl today. If he does, congratulations to him. I think it's probably hard to be the less-good younger brother of a HOF QB, especially when you play in NY. But you just can't say that he's better than Rivers, or Roethlisberger, yet, and you certainly sound like a little bit of a crazy person when you not only say that Eli was worth Merriman, Rivers, Kaeding, and a year of Roman Oben, but indeed that "it really [isn't] all that close." That's bonkers.

For years dumb sportswriters have been declaring certain players (Scott Brosius) "better" than certain other players (ARod) simply because they -- the first certain players (Scott Brosius) -- performed well in the playoffs. This, in the immortal words of nerdbone conservative George F. Will, is nonsense on stilts. I'm glad to see that football writers are finally catching up.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:13 PM
Comments:
Brandon writes:

Hate to be a dick, but "nonsense upon stilts" was coined by Jeremy Bentham, one of the greatest philosophers of the last two centuries. Attributing it to George Will is kind of like attributing "veni, vidi, vici" to Ja Rule.

I knew he had stolen it (used it in "Met at Work") but did not know from whom. So: nice, Brandon.
 
A follow-up from Brandon:

The full citation is Bentham, /Anarchical Fallacies/(Article II),
which you can find in vol. II of the Bowring-edited /Works/. He's critiquing the idea that individuals have inalienable natural rights.

If you ever find yourself at University College London, Bentham (himself) is displayed there in a wooden cabinet with a glass front. I'm not kidding.


I am now proud to announce the first-ever use of the "jeremy bentham" tag.

Well done, Brandon.
 
Simon now one-ups Brandon:

I can't be the only one mentioning this, but it merits mention that while Bentham's body appears at UCL, his head does not. From the UCL Web site:

Bentham had originally intended that his head should be part of the Auto-Icon, and for ten years before his death (so runs another story) carried around in his pocket the glass eyes which were to adorn it. Unfortunately when the time came to preserve it for posterity, the process went disastrously wrong, robbing the head of most of its facial expression, and leaving it decidedly unattractive. The wax head was therefore substituted, and for some years the real head, with its glass eyes, reposed on the floor of the Auto-Icon, between Bentham's legs. However, it proved an irresistible target for students, especially from King's College London, who stole the head in 1975 and demanded a ransome of 100 [pounds] to be paid to the charity Shelter. UCL finally agreed to pay a ransome of 10 [pounds] and the head was returned. On another occasion, according to legend, the head, again stolen by students, was eventually found in a luggage locker at a Scottish Station (possibly Aberdeen). The last straw (so runs yet another story) came when it was discovered in the front quadrangle being used for football practice, and the head was henceforth placed in secure storage.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/Faqs/auto_icon.htm

I propose the same treatment for Bud Selig, with particular emphasis on repeated kicking.

 
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