Maybe you've heard -- Buzz Bissinger is in the bloggy sports news ether today. Several people sent us Buzz's piece on Kerry Wood in the New York Times magazine Play from about a year ago. I read the article from start to finish. It's artfully written, evocative, unPlaschkely poetic -- and deliberately, wrongheadedly misleading. Buzz Bissinger, such a gifted wordsmith and storyteller, weaves a beautiful, heart-rending tale about Wood, but doesn't bother to do enough research to avoid coming to the exact wrong conclusion about Wood's generation of pitchers.
And that's where blogs come in. Bissinger writes:
The rule of thumb is that a pitcher should get some 400 innings of work in the minors before being called up. But with today’s baseball economics, La Russa knows that has become an untenable luxury.
Buzz's stance is clear: leave 'em in the minors longer! Wood, Prior, Liriano, King Felix -- they've been picked while still unripe. Big Bad Economics, Modernity, Progress -- whatever your boogeyman -- that's who's to blame.
Buzz is wrong. And had he done a modicum of research, he would have found this out immediately. I know this because people did that research for him here, here, here, here, here, and here. Good people on the Internet. Blogging. Posting on message boards. Thinking. Writing. Addding. Subtracting. Mother's basement-ing. Spreadsheeting. Checking on articles that get published in the Old Gray Lady so we don't just have to accept what's in black and white print as pure gospel.
How is this a bad thing?
Pitcher, Minor League Innings (numbers courtesy of The Baseball Cube)
Steve Carlton, 306 Nolan Ryan, 287 (and quoted by Bissinger in the piece) Don Sutton, 249 Tom Seaver, 210 Jim Palmer, 129 Bert Blyleven, 123
And a few current players with no durability issues:
Johan Santana, 334 C.C. Sabathia, 232.7 Mike Mussina, 178
I looked up, by decade, the number of pitchers who were 21 or younger and had seasons throwing 150-plus innings in the big leagues.
Here's what I came up with:
1960s: 32 different pitchers. 1970s: 26 different pitchers. 1980s: 15 different pitchers. 1990s: 5 different pitchers. 2000s: 8 different pitchers (so far).
I dug out a 1974 Baseball Register I have, and, far more slowly, did the same for all pitchers who made their major league debut in 1973. For the recent years the numbers were:
2004 averaged 137 minor league games and 433 innings (113 pitchers) 2005 109 games and 353 innings (100 pitchers) 2006 130 games and 434 innings (134)
Bounce to the old stuff: 1973 85 games and 420 innings (53 pitchers)
Francisco Liriano, in his first full season with the Minnesota Twins in 2006, went 12 and 3 and seemed destined for greatness, but he will miss the entire 2007 season after undergoing ligament replacement surgery — the so-called Tommy John procedure — on his elbow last November. “The economic push is to bring kids up, and it’s unfortunate,” La Russa says.
Yes, so unfortunate that Liriano was called up after only 484.1 minor league innings. I looked it up. Searched for francisco liriano cube. Took 0.23 seconds.
Buzz -- Pulitzer Prize-winner, exceptional prose stylist -- arrived at the exact opposite of the truth. And thanks to an entertaining, extremely satisfying interview of Buzz by Boog Sciambi (spoiler alert: it ends with Buzz calling an unrelated radio host a "slimebucket" and Boog hanging up on Buzz), we know why Buzz did this.
It was because Tony LaRussa told him what conclusion to draw, and with maestro LaRussa conducting Buzz's train of thought, Buzz didn't care to punch a few numbers into Google ThoughtMaps to guide his thought-train into Accuracyville Station. (Is this better than the Underwater StupidTank metaphor from a few posts back? I can make it more convoluted, if that's the problem.)
Old Baseball Men told Buzz what to think and Buzz dutifully wrote what they told him. He did so beautifully, but I'll take an ugly truth over a beautiful falsehood every day of the week except those days I'm feeling really shallow. The Kerry Wood profile as a whole still has some value, of course, but how much value, considering its central tenet is based on purely anecdotal, and ultimately inaccurate, information? Why can't Buzz Bissinger see that blogs provide a valuable fact-checking service as well as a place to see athletes drink Creme de Menthe off a naked lady-shaped ice luge? And why is Buzz Bissinger in my house spitting on me, punching me, and screaming "Stop being so fucking goddamn profane, you cunt-word!" as I write this?
Next up: I tear Braylon Edwards a giant new poophole.
Man, I just rewatched the Leitch/Bissinger tête-à-tête because my girlfriend said "I want to see that crazy man again." At the end of the segment, Bissinger goes after Leitch for staying out of the press box, accusing him of ignoring the facts. Reader Thomas chimes in:
"Don't let facts get in the way of your writing," as Bissinger condescendingly asserted that Leitch (and bloggers in general) tend to do.
Rather, let cute anecdotes from Tony LaRussa and Jim Riggleman get in the way of facts.
Another crazy Buzz moment I liked was when he was all "It's amazing to me that you say 'sports news without access, favor, or discretion' when you admit to being biased for the Cardinals." Umm, dude? I don't think that's the kind of "favor" they're talking about.
Tonight, I was interviewed as part of that program's multi-part investigation of Sports and the Media. What followed the tape piece was a live discussion among Will Leitch of Deadspin, Buzz Bissinger of "Friday Night Lights" and "Being Very Angry," and of course the one guy you go to for any discussion of Sports and the Media: Braylon Edwards of the Cleveland Browns.
If you didn't see it, the discussion went like this:
Bob Costas: There are some criticisms about blogs. How do you respond?
Will Leitch: Well, I think some of them are valid--
Buzz Bissinger: I have to interrupt here. (to Leitch) Fuck you and everything you stand for.
Braylon Edwards: (to himself) I am going to kill my agent.
The argument I had tried to make in the pre-taped segment was: you can't say anything about "blogs," any more than you can say anything about any medium. There are good blogs and bad blogs. There are blogs that cover the personal lives of athletes, ones that cover only the games, ones that offer opinions, and even a few that quixotically and foolishly attempt to metacriticize the media as a whole. What Bissinger did that was so annoying to me was: he lumped all of these into one thing ("Deadspin," essentially), then took one article from one day out of a file that looked suspiciously like it'd come from Joe McCarthy's safe, and read one sentence from it aloud. And furthermore, he seemed to conflate the actual blog and the people who write for it with the silly comments people make at the bottom of every article.
It's a big dumb ignorant mistake to do this. It's a big hot wet mushy smelly bonebrained mistake to (a) use one sentence from anything as a representative sample of the thing, much less as a representative sample of all blogs everywhere, and (b) to mix blog comments and blog articles. It's an even bigger mistake, in my opinion, to disparage the level of discourse on the Internet and use blog comments as an example. (And swear a ton while doing it, while saying that the Internet is "profane.") Picking a random blog comment and wielding it as a club to bash "blogs" is like picking a random romance novel off an airport bookstore shelf and saying, "This book sucks. Fuck you, Tolstoy -- your medium is worthless!"
For what I hope is the last time, but is clearly not: the level of discourse on Athletics Nation, and Baseball Prospectus, and SoSH, and Joe Posnanski's blog, is every bit as high (if not higher) than what you can read in the best newspapers in the country. Bissinger's hare-brained attempt to prove Leitch an uneducated oaf by asking whether he had read any W.C. Heinz (which failed miserably when Leitch had, in fact, read some W. C. Heinz) was a perfect example of the old guard's attitude toward the new guard: you little shits don't get it. You don't know how to write. You have no gratitude or appreciation for those who came before you. So: fuck you. (P.S. I have never really read your blog.) (P.P.S. Fuck you, though, anyway.)
There are sports bloggers (and message-board posters) who write very well, in my opinion. There are those who love Ring Lardner and David Halberstam and Robert Creamer and Roger Angell. They try to write well, and entertain, and contribute to the universe of sports reporting. Please read them, Buzz. If you find nothing of interest, you can swear all you want. (For the record, FJM is extremely pro-swearing. We just feel you should be funny while doing it.)
If there is anything tangible and helpful to take away from Mr. Bissinger's performance -- and it takes a good deal of chaff-sorting to get anywhere near this little nugget -- I think it's this: a lot of the discourse and sub-discourse (commenting) on the internet is, in fact, pretty shitty. This is not news, though, really. A lot of newspaper writing and editorial writing and every kind of writing is shitty. It's just not as immediate and anonymous and easily-accessed as Internet writing is. Thus, the net has this reputation, now, as being a nihilistic and thoughtless meetingplace for people to spew venom. Partially deserved, partially not, whatever -- point is, the part that is deserved can be altered. We can all probably do a little better in this realm, by making sure that whatever we write has an actual point, and some thought behind it. So, there's that.
Okay. I guess that's it. As the kids would say: [/serious and unfunny discussion of Internet journalism standards]. Coming soon: more swearing!
[Just added two clauses to this post at 9:25 AM PST -- the clarification about what Bissinger actually did (taking one sentence and reading it aloud) and the subsequent (a), (b) follow-up in the next paragraph.]
Here's some information on W.C. Heinz, whose memory Buzz Bissinger attempted to use as a club with which to bludgeon Will Leitch:
One of his pieces from around this time - Death of a Racehorse - is famous for its brevity (fewer than 1000 words) and its brilliance. The story centers on a promising young two-year-old horse racing for the first time, and concludes with the horse's death less than two hours later after it broke down in its first race.
Written in double quick time on a manual typewriter as the events unfolded, Death of a Racehorse is generally acknowledged as one of the greatest sports articles ever written.
So this piece, Death of Racehorse, was brief, hastily written, and composed as the event it concerned occurred, yet Bissinger endorses this man? How dare he embrace this human pestilence?
Plus, I totally read this piece and it was accompanied by a picture of the horse drinking from a beer bong with some sexy lady horses right before it died.
Caveat: the quoted block of text comes from Wikipedia, so there is a 60% chance it is 100% false. The internet rules!
Junior's comment about W.C. Heinz's "Death of a Racehorse" being 1,000 words (and quite good, of course) is funnier when you consider Bissinger's most recent magazine article: A 13,000 (!) word piece on Barbaro that compared him to legendary sports figures and talked about how Barbaro made the world a better place.
I blogged about it last year when the piece ran in Vanity Fair. It is, of course, becoming a movie. The best line from his article was this:
"The University of Pennsylvania itself was having a field day, handling more than 500 interview requests and perhaps the most publicity the university had ever received." Yes, tiny ol' Penn, unknown in the world until a racehorse won one race on TV then got injured in another.
An interesting twist in the ongoing saga of imaginary ESPN intern Bill Fremp. This week's JoeChat is significantly more Joe-like than last week's. Is Joe actually back at the keyboard? Or is Fremp adapting...changing...learning?
JW (NH): Joe - man what a waste of $126M! Can Zito find his curveball working in the bullpen or is it harder to get consistent when you don't go every fifth day?Joe Morgan: Well every fifth day will not make you consistent.
Let me just pause here to say that one of the ways that we knew (and by "knew," I mean "wildly claimed") it wasn't Joe last week was: there was nary a "consistent" to be found. Count how many there are this week.
But the Giants do have to be worried about their investment. But many people saw this coming. (...)
Lot's of "but"s this week, already, too. Is this really Joe? Or an increasingly clever imposter?
Mike (Clearwater, FL): Hi Joe - Are the Rays for real? Can they really manage to stay near the top of the standings?
Joe Morgan: To say they can do it for the whole year is a bit hard to tell right now. So far they are doing eveyrthing right. But I feel like that ballpark will hurt them in the end, becasue it is so hard to be consistent there, where teams think they can score runs. You need a big home field advantage, and I do not think they have it. A lot of the fans, when they play the Yankees, for example, are New York fans. I think the mixture of fans there does not give them much of a home field advantage, which they need. But they do have talent and are playing very well together right now.
But...but...consistent...Yankees...nonsense. This smells like Joe. And yet, I can't quite bring myself to believe...
SprungOnSports (Long Island): You saw the Tigers and Angels last Sunday, what's your take on those two AL clubs who have not been playing to their potential as of late?
Joe Morgan: The Angels are playing up to their potential when you consider they have had injuries to their top two starting pitchers. The Tigers are just incosistent.
This is Fremp. I promise you. He's gotten better at his craft, but another "consistent," and a typo to boot? Gilding the lilly. Too perfect. Like the too-perfect English that Axis spies spoke when impersonating British businessmen.
They scored a lot of runs last week and are not scoring this week. The week before I saw them, they were on a hot streak. But it's easy to look good against Texas before you play the Angels. But I do think Detroit will play better as the season continues. And I thought Verlander played better and used his three pitches well. Again, as I have said before, it comes down to how Sheffield plays. He is their run producer and the difference maker. When he hits well, they'll do well.
More "but"s, and a Sheffield reference. I'm sorry. This is too stupid even for Joe. Not even Joe would call Gary Sheffield (.159/.321/.254) the "run producer" or "difference maker" on a team with Cabrera, Guillen, Ordonez, and Granderson. This is not Joe. This is the Wyatt Gwyon of Joe Morgan impersonators.
Kevin (STL): The Mets offense is not very consistent
Well done, Kevin.
right now....How much of that is due to Reyes struggles?
Joe Morgan: For some reason everyone wants to blame Reyes for everything that happens with the Mets. He is not even one of the top payed players on the team, and yet everything gets blamed on him, including last year's collapse.
...Well, he did hit .205/.279/.333 in September, unlike his buddy David Wright, who got blamed for the collapse way more (to the tune of: he lost the MVP because of it) despite the fact that Wright hit .352/.432/.602 with 6 HR in September. And I'm not sure what his salary has to do with anything, when you're just talking about on-field performance. This is such a weird response, I want to believe Fremp just took a break here and the real Joe sidled up to the keyboard for a moment...
They have Delgado, Beltran and Wright also playing for them. Now it does not help them that he has not been playing well at the top of the order. But there are other guys on this team besides Reyes, and the Mets need their veterans to step up.
Delgado may be done, but Beltran isn't playing that badly, and Wright has a .980 OPS this year. They do need Reyes to play way better. I think we can all agree on that. Can't we....Fremp?!
Dave (Chicago): Do you think Sheffield can make it back from his shoulder problems or is this the end of the line?
Joe Morgan: That is a big question with a veteran player. I had this conversation about Frank Thomas last year, when he got off to a slow start, but look what he ended up doing last year. When you are a young guy and this happens, you're in a slump, but when you are a vet it becomes an "end of the line" issue, and that's just the nature of the game. But Gary told me he is getting closer. We'll just have to see.
When did Gary Sheffield talk to Bill Fremp? I would've loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.
Tom (NY): Despite all the problems in Yankee-land, we are only 1 game out of first...surprised?
Joe Morgan: No I am not surprised; Boston has struggled of late and have kept the Yankees in it. You need to have Kennedy and Hughes win some game for you though. But looking at their potential they are capable of doing that. But I am not too surprised.
Now this...this seems like Joe. Rambling, semi-coherent sentence fragments. A completely inappropriate semi-colon after the first sentence. Ends exactly the same as it begins, rendering the middle meaningless. I'm going to be optimistic and say that right before this answer, Joe decided he'd had enough of Bill Fremp (Edgewood, KY) and fired him. Got back in the saddle. Pulled a Pat Riley and took day-to-day control of the team. Time will tell.
Joe Morgan: That's all the time I have! Talk to you next week!
Looking forward to it. (ominously) Whoever you are.
I will appear on a segment of HBO's "Costas Now" tonight. Subject matter: Is Miley Cyrus too young for that Vanity Fair picture? Or "Bloggers and Sports Media." They interviewed me for both and haven't told me which one I'm in.
There is also a live panel (of which I am not a part) with Will Leitch, Buzz Bissinger, and of course Braylon Edwards.
NFL Draft time. That's right, you heard me. NFL Draft.
Remember May 1 of last year, when dak pointed out that Mel Kiper Jr. gave every team a grade between a C and a B+?
Mel did it again. This year, no one was worse than a C- and no one was better than a B+. The article should be titled "On a scale of B to C, how gutless is Mel Kiper, Jr.?"
So here we are. 2008. Mel Kiper Jr. sits down at his Apple Lisa (he's old-school) to write his annual Draft Day grades column -- the single most-read piece of writing he'll do all year. He digs deep in his soul to assign the most perfect letter-grade assessment of each team's performance on this, the day he was born to live, experience, and grade. Draft Day is Christmas, the Super Bowl, and 9/11 all rolled into one for Mel Kiper, Jr. Mel Kiper, Sr. put him on his knee when Mel Jr. was a boy and told him, "Son, there is a sport called football where grown men play a pushing game involving an oblong fun-ball. You will not be one of those men. There will also be men who select the best among these other men, the best 'football players.' You will not be one of those men. You will be the man who judges the men selecting the other men. You will write one article a year that anyone will read, wherein you assign a letter grade evaluating the performance of the men selecting the other men. You were destined for the role of giving these grades. Your mind will be honed like an ancient Indian arrowhead to pierce, with laser-like intensity, the precise letter grade zone that each selecting man deserves."
And Mel Kiper Jr. nodded, for he knew what his father said was true.
Just want to give a quick "congrats" to Doug Spernelman, who was recently named Employee of the Year here at Fremulon Ins., Inc., LLC. Doug came to us after 11 years in H.R. over at Gruntwelk and Karp, and he's really done a bang-up job helping us weather the sub-prime storm.
Here he is accepting his award.
Great work, Doug.
(It's been like three years of nothing but attacking sports journalists. I'm allowed one of these.)
Possibly because I'm scared of technology, I'm not always pleased by what are called "advances" in our society. Sometimes I think we were better off in more innocent times -- which is, to say, back when I could understand stuff better.
At least he admits it. One point for admitting it. Deford 1, Sanity 0.
Actually, I consider myself secular Amish.
Admitting it again doesn't get you a second point.
Synthetic rackets pretty much ruined the beauty of tennis. Children have no business swinging lethal aluminum baseball bats. Now there's even talk that a new bathing suit made by Speedo, in which all sorts of swimmers are setting world records, constitutes "technological doping."
The tennis racket argument is one to which I weirdly subscribe. I used to follow tennis fanatically. The first time I ever voluntarily woke up early was to watch Breakfast at Wimbledon when I was like 7. But the other things...aluminum bats is a cost issue, I think, for little leagues and colleges and stuff. The bathing suit thing...? Never heard of it. How much of an advantage can a speedo be? Does it have an outboard motor attached to it? (Hope it's not an inboard motor! Hey-oooo!) (Ouch! Now that's what I call a "close shave!" Heeeyyyyy-oooooo! )
What were we talking about? Oh yes. The Unabomber was giving us an anti-tech panegyric.
You know what's even worse? Technology has made it so there are so few surprises left in the world. Is that really an advance? Parents know whether their baby is a boy or girl long before it's born.
Yes, we should all be like the peasants, and birth our babies in the fields, and decorate our nurseries in gender-neutral yellow. (You do know you can opt not to learn the sex, right? It's a choice. Choices are usually considered good things.)
You can tell who's calling you on the phone before you answer.
I'm calling bullshit louder than I've ever called bullshit in my personal history. Is there a single person on this crazy blue marble we call "Earth" who does not like caller ID? Caller ID is the greatest thing in the universe. How many unwanted calls have been avoided thanks to caller ID? A hundred billion? Does Frank Deford not know the specific pleasure one has when one looks at one's phone and sees "Work" and rotates one's Blackberry toggle wheel thingy to "ignore?" Does Frank Deford prefer -- when awaiting an important call -- to answer his ringing phone and hear the voice of a representative from Wachovia Bank who wants to know if all of his investment needs are being met? I ask you, people -- does Frank Deford not have one crazy ex-girlfriend?
The real joy in taking photographs was that you didn't know how they turned out 'til you got them back from the Photo Zip a few days later. Of course, some of the pictures were awful, but what's the fun of taking only safe shots instead of snap shots.
I measured the decibel level at which I called bullshit on the caller ID thing, and I am now buying a second amp and a kick-ass tweeter, and I am paying some very pricey A/V guys to install this equipment with like 6"-diameter cable connecting everything, and I am inventing a new kind of megaphone that has its own internal volumizing booster, and I am doing all of this in order to call bullshit louder than I just called bullshit on that other thing, because: are you fucking kidding me?
Listen, man -- I like nostalgia. I think there are certain aspects of our pre-internet days that were preferable to their modern counterparts. (For example, baseball cards were much better in the 1980's than they are now. Upper Deck ruined everything.) But taking pictures of important events in your life and then driving somewhere and dropping them off and then waiting a few days and then driving back and picking them up and finding out that half of them were out of focus and the other half sucked? This is not one of them.
Digital cameras are way better -- for the average non-professional, at least, which is all I can speak to -- than film cameras. Easier to use, cheaper to use, faster to use. If you are being driven crazy because you can't remember who played Hunt Stevenson in the TV version of "Gung Ho," IMDb is better than the old method: just going fucking crazy and never coming up with the right answer. (Which is: Scott Bakula.) That's the deal, man. Not everything newer is better. But a lot of stuff is.
Maybe that's why sport gets more popular all the time. It's about the last thing we have that still has some suspense to it.
Tell that to Obama and Clinton! (Political humor. Topical. Relevant.)
And that's why I can't stand the National Football League and National Basketball Association drafts. What disappoints me so about these protracted selections is that fans don't want surprises in the draft. Really, they don't. They want to look into the camera and see the picture before it's taken.
Is this true? I'm seriously asking. I don't feel this way. I don't like to know what I'm getting for Christmas, I don't like knowing plot twists in movies, and I don't particularly like knowing whom my team is going to draft. If I'm a Dolphin fan right now, I'm happy, because Long seems like a good bet. But I'm a tiny bit sad, because the wrapping is off the present on Dec. 23.
For weeks now, leading up to the real NFL draft this weekend, all sorts of self-appointed experts have been creating so-called mock drafts, and basically, they're all the same. Oh, some bloviator might have this linebacker going third and that one pegs him fourth, but it's pretty much the same names at the top.
That's because the 25 or so best players in the draft are pretty clear every year, and the needs of the 32 teams are pretty obvious, and the trends of the GMs of those teams are known quantities, so...people can predict things, kind of. Still, nobody nor his mother saw Ted Ginn, Jr. going #9 last year, did he or her?
The fans get brainwashed, and so if their team should dare take somebody who wasn't touted by the echo chorus, they have a fit.
Do they? Again, I am asking. I think fans have a fit because they are diehard and/or drunk, and use the draft to take out their frustrations on their GMs. Jets fans just seem to take out their frustrations, period, no matter whom they pick. I don't think it's always because the pick was unexpected or something.
Mock drafts become the reality that reality must accommodate itself to. It's like in school now, where children study how to take tests rather than study how to learn something.
An elegant analogy, but I'm not sure it's an apt one. Because again, I disagree with the central premise here -- that any variance from Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 16.0 drives people crazy. I think the fans are super knowledgeable and get upset when a team reaches too far, or skips over someone who they think could help them. Sometimes they're wrong -- amazingly, Mario Williams might end up being a better #1 overall than Reggie Bush, and who the hell saw that coming (if it indeed happens)?
It's also terribly ironic. Football fans always want their team to go for it on fourth down instead of punting, to take risks on the field, but when draft day comes they're all conditioned by now to be completely conservative ... lemmings.
Going for it more on 4th down -- last year's Super Bowl 4th and 13 abomination be damned -- seems to be a better bet than most coaches think. And again, I just don't think people freak out on draft day because of conservatism instilled in them by mock drafts. I think they freak out because people freak out about the things their football teams do.
And, of course, draft mistakes are legion. But draft-guessing has become a cottage industry, and essentially these seers are graded on how they assess the draft, not how their top selections actually play football after they are drafted. It would be as if you judged your stock broker on how well he picked the most popular stocks, not how well he chose stocks that actually went up in value.
Being a New England Patriots fan, I can definitively say that we judge Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick on how the guys play on the field. I was shocked when they took Ben Watson in the first round. I was surprised when they went with Maroney. But I didn't really get upset...because I am not an insane person who judges books by their covers. (Except for this one, which you can clearly tell is going to be awesome just by looking at it.)
I sometimes have the feeling that the more film we have of these players, the more sophisticated technology to study them, the less we know, both about the players being chosen and the professionals who choose them.
How can that be? Seriously. Even metaphorically, how can that be? You're telling me that today's GM knows less about Chad Henne now than he would have in the 1970's? How? Why? When? Which? Whap? Worf?
Football people have guts. I think, though, that too few of them any longer dare possess gut instinct.
There you go, NFL GMs. Ditch the scouting reports. Throw away the tape. Ignore the needs of your team. Put the blast shield down and use the Force to deflect the little laser blasts from the training drone.
(Yeah -- that's a ST: TNG reference and a Star Wars reference in the same post. Sometimes I play into the blogger stereotype. Deal with it.)
I want to educate on the "aluminum bats". They are, usually, cheaper than wood...the really crappy ones that is. I don't think that's what he meant, though. The alloy bats, the ones that are standard at the high school level and increasingly popular below that, are MUCH better than wood and aluminum. besides being lighter and weighted for performance, the metal itself generates a "pop" that you don't get in wood...aka hitting is much much easier.
It's also really fucking expensive and prices out any lower middle class family. So if you're poor you won't hit as well. Rich kids always win in America though, i think that's going on the new dollar coin or something.
Ozzie Guillen Wants Derek Jeter Inside His Hypothetical Daughter
It's come to this: Ozzie Guillen saying out loud that he wishes he had a daughter so Derek Jeter could fuck her. In the already crowded Hall of Fame of Jeterbole (you can figure that portmanteau out), this is going to get its own wing. "I keep saying the best [Yankees] player who ever happened—bigger than someone else, but I'm not going to say the name here—is Derek Jeter," Guillen began, perched in the Sox dugout.
Is "best player who ever happened" some weird, different category from "best player ever"? It certainly must have nothing to do with, I don't know, being good at baseball. Because Derek Jeter is terrific, spectacular, amazing at baseball (mostly). But he's nowhere near the best Yankee ever. I know it's tough, but I've always tended to think Mr. Babeland Ruthlor was the best. That's probably because I've always got my head buried in a book full of computers!
"Derek Jeter has everything in his life. He's got money. He's got rings. He's got …"
Guillen paused, because timing means everything in comedy.
"He's not married."
Well, yes. I suppose money should factor in the discussion of best Yankee who ever happened. In which case, I nominate whoever plays 3rd space base for the Intergalactic Space Yankees in the year 30-Space-40. He will make 3 alpha credits per year, which is a ton of alpha credits if you know anything about that sort of thing.
"At the All-Star Game (where Guillen managed him in 2006), I looked around to see if he has anything I don't like. No. He's the perfect man. Too bad I don't have a daughter."
Calling out Ozzie Guillen for saying crazy things is like calling Robin Williams out for being ... really really funny! I love you, Robin. Big fan of RV. Anyway, here's the part where Ozzie talks about wishing he had a daughter so Jeter could get all up in that hot mess. I always sort of thought Ozzie would raise his daughter to like guys with shittier OBPs, though. Then little female Ozzie could rebel and date Jack Cust or something.
Let's also not overlook the fact that Ozzie went all the way to "He's the perfect man" to describe Jeter. We've reached the point where you can't outdo other Jeter-praisers with talk of baseball or sports or sportsmanship or leadership. You have to go to overall quality of personhood. I look forward to the day when Time Magazine crowns Jeter "Invention of the Millennium."
"He's the best thing ever in the game. He's got everything he wants. He lives in New York. Even [ George] Steinbrenner loves him. Nobody is better than Derek Jeter in the game. Nobody."
There's one thing Derek Jeter doesn't have: true love.
For reals question: would Jeter's life be better, in the eyes of Ozzie and people like him, if Jeter had a super hot wife? Like Alba or someone? Or is the mystery and majesty of widespread single-dude starlet/model boning so vicariously alluring that it's an essential part of his celebrated Jeterdom?
You know what I'm talking about. Three days into the season, a sportswriter disembowels a player for "hitting .028!!! He's killing his team!!!!" Then a month or two later, it's completely forgotten because baseball's season is eternal.
Exhibit A, NUMBER ONE, AWESOME today: Wallace Matthews in Newsday.
Reyes, do you want to be a Jeter or a Rey Ordonez?
We're 18 games in, Wallace. Please don't use statistics -- which I'm sure you claim not to trust anyway -- to crucify a guy who is 24 years old and in all likelihood is going to be fine.
I'll summarize the intro for you: Derek Jeter is a supergod amongst gods, like all Titan-style, like Cronus and shit. Rey Ordonez was a bust. Jeter rules, Ordonez drools. Et cetera, ad nauseam.
Here's the meaty part:
This year, you [Reyes] are hitting only .280.
I'm excited to do this. Are you?
You have drawn a mere four walks,
Jeter: 2 walks.
stolen only three bases in five tries,
Jeter: 0 steals.
scored only 12 runs.
Jeter: 7 runs (!)
Your OBP, .313,
is worse than all but three other NL leadoff hitters.
-- but better than the living embodiment of heroism, Derek Jeter. Even Rickie Weeks, batting .192 at the top of the Brewers' lineup, is getting on base more often than you.
And Jeter. Don't forget the man whose face I am nominating to adorn the next dollar coin, Derek Jeter.
Jeter is a terrific hitter. Jose Reyes is a terrific player. Wallace Matthews is driving an Underwater StupidTank to Uninformed Thinking Island if he believes that either of their starts is indicative of what their career values will end up being.
The title of this post isn't a rhetorical question. Objectively speaking, yes, a fast guy is more valuable than a slow guy on the basepaths. So if Xavier Slowplayer and Yadier Speedygas both OBP-ed .315 and slugged .390 and you could reasonably expect them to maintain those rates, I think you could say with a straight face, I'd rather have Speedygas because Slowplayer clogs the bases.
Maybe not the terminology I would use, but the point stands.
The problem is, 99.99463% of the time when writers use "clog the bases" or "clog the basepaths" or some variant thereof, the guy they're accusing of base-clogging is way better at getting on base, hitting home runs (the opposite of base-clogging -- it's base-Drano-ing!), or both. So it makes little to no sense to complain about their lack of speed. It's like grumbling that your awesome Bugatti Veyron has shitty trunk space. It would be nice if the Veyron could fit more than one of those baby-sized Coke cans in its cargo hold, but in the grand scheme of things, it's just not that important.
And now I realize that the whole analogy is completely mangled because the Veyron is fast, and base-cloggers are slow. Avert your eyes from this car crash of a mixed-metaphor clusterfuckfest.
Gwen Knapp has a theory that speed is undervalued in today's game, so the A's should abstain from signing Frank Thomas for the minimum. Too late, of course, but still. She pushed our clog the b-paths button, so here we go:
Sweeney is hitting .309, and he has already become an important clubhouse presence for the A's, much as Thomas was in 2006. Thomas or a hitter of his ilk would add a fear factor to the middle of the lineup, which is currently almost indistinguishable from the top. But Thomas would be an equal threat to clog the basepaths, where the A's move faster and more efficiently than they have in a long time.
Sweeney is off to a good start. OBP-ing .391, slugging .418. But we're talking 55 at bats. Thomas is off to a miserable start -- but in 60 at bats, he's already only four home runs shy of the total number of homers Sweeney hit all of last year, when, for the Royals, Sweeney went for a sweet .260/.315/.404.
Thomas got on base at a .377 clip and slugged .480 while appearing in 155 games. We could go back a year further and see that Sweeney put up a respectable .258/.349/.438 in 2006. But Thomas was a monster who (sort of undeservedly) got MVP votes in 2006, with his .926 OPS and 39 home runs -- for Oakland!
So Ms. Knapp: should we really be fretting about how clogged those bases are when it's pretty clear that Thomas is a way more valuable offensive player? Granted, he's 95 years old, but Sweeney's the one who appears to be in more drastic decline -- he hasn't even played a full season since 2001.
Verdict: I still haven't seen anyone use "clogging up the basepaths" in a way that makes any sort of compelling argument. Aren't you glad you know what I think about this?
Next post will be more shrill and have more jokes about barf and testicles and stuff, I promise.
Gerry Fraley, two days ago: When Thomas clears waivers this week, he will become a free agent available for the pro-rated minimum. If Thomas expects a deluge of calls from teams eager to add him, he will be disappointed again. The Big Hurt is the last to realize that he is finished.
Encarnacion's homer kick-started the Reds' rally against Eric Gagne. Encarnacion is the most volatile player in the Reds' lineup - his early season defensive woes and his slump at the plate have been counter-balanced by a few clutch homers, often in the same game.
Fortunately for him, Reds manager Dusty Baker seems to be more patient with Encarnacion than previous manager Jerry Narron. "I'm happy for him because this guy bleeds internally, big-time," Baker said.
Of all the attributes of gritty players, "hemorrhaging" is rarely given its due. Especially internal hemorrhaging. Dudes who internally hemorrhage...man. Give me 8 guys like that, and a pitcher with anemia, and a couple bench guys with rotaviruses, and a closer with a leaky heart valve, and maybe a LOOGY with Polycythemia vera, and I'll win the division every time.
This morning on my way to work, I was listening to the Mike Tirico radio show. Joe Morgan was spouting his usual nonsense about how the Yankees are a "confusing team," and how he's not sure how they're going to win games.
Then some crazy shit happened.
"They're not -- and I won't say manufacturing -- but producing runs."
I nearly drove my imaginary car through the walls of my mother's basement!
He won't say "manufacturing?" He won't say "manufacturing runs?"
Until this morning, "manufacturing" was one of Joe Morgan's favorite things to say. His favorite soccer team was Manchester United, just so he could get half a boner by saying "Man U" repeatedly. If Joe Morgan were an eskimo, et cetera et cetera.
"I won't say manufacturing." It's troubling, really. Has someone talked some sense into him? Has someone talked some different nonsense in to him? Is Bill Fremp doing a perfect Joe Morgan impression in audio-only interviews?
Aaand, this just in: Joe Morgan is in fact an eskimo!
Instead of "Hurt," get it? You guys do get it? You're giving me a raise? You guys are the best.
It's not me saying he's dead, though -- it's Gerry Fraley. I think he'll be the Big .830 OPS or So. Fraley is convinced that the man's arms have run out of what a Super Nintendo game instruction manual might call Ultimate Hit Power. He also sort of hates him as a person.
Here, you should just read this thing:
Self-absorbed Frank Thomas smelled a rat --
Bang! Is there a word for Internet-character-assassinating someone? E-slamming? iFuckage? It's not "pwned." Do not say it's "pwned." Anyway -- Fraley just www.crucified Thomas, and we're six words in.
-- when a rapid sequence of events led to Toronto releasing him. Thomas claimed the Blue Jays benched him on Saturday -- and subsequently released him on Sunday -- to prevent him from getting enough plate appearances to guarantee his $10 million salary for next season.
I'd say this is 100% accurate. How could saving $10 million not factor into anyone's decision about anything? If Mexican uberbillionaire Carlos Slim gets his bathroom re-grouted and the grouter is like, "That'll be 10 million two hundred thirty-six dollars," Carlos Slim would be all like, "You said it would be just two hundred thirty-six dollars no way what the fuck?!" And he's Mexican uberbillionaire Carlos Slim. The last guy who should care about money.
The point is, the Blue Jays could save some serious scratch by hoping Thomas got hurt or simply denying him the at bats. Why wouldn't they consider this?
"The Big Hurt" always has been unable to see beyond his own situation.
Yes. What a class-A Selfish Sally, caring about 10 million dollars. He ought to be given a stern talking-to, this Large Injury gentleman. A year ago, the Jays could afford to wait as Thomas found his way out of a slow start and finished with 26 homers and 95 RBIs.
So you're saying he started slow last year...and yet he finished with very solid all-around numbers? I don't know, isn't it possible THE VERY SAME THING COULD HAPPEN AGAIN?
Last year Thomas hit .250 in April and .193 in May, but he kept walking and he kept hitting for power when he made contact. This year he's hitting .167 so far, but he's walking and hitting for power (3 home runs, tied for most on the team).
We're talking about 60 at bats, people. Nate McLouth has a 1.111 OPS. It's so early John Kruk is calling 40 wins for Randy Johnson. They do not have that luxury this season. The reality, which Thomas does not recognize, is that he represented a hindrance to the club.
After 60 at bats, you're willing to make that call. David Ortiz was negative 6 for his first 60 this year. It's so early the Washington Nationals haven't played an official game yet (Fake Ed. Note -- fact check needed).
Thomas was a deadweight. He was hitting only .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs. Nothing indicated that Thomas, five weeks from his 40th birthday, was going to break out of the slump.
Other than the three home runs and the eleven walks. In 2006, Frank Thomas hit .190 in April with five home runs and seven walks. There was no indication this 37-year-old man was anything but completely toasted bread. He finished the year with 39 freaking home runs and a .926 OPS (and 114 RBI if you're into that sort of thing, which I assume Gerry Fraley is). In his last 35 at-bats with Toronto, he had only four hits -- all singles -- and one RBI. Those few times Thomas reached, he
And now we're talking about 35 at bats. During which Thomas reached base 8 times. Not good, certainly, but not exactly the kind of Vladivostok-cold stretch that would compel you to release one of the greatest hitters of the past twenty years.
Except that -- gasp -- he clogged the bases, of course. Drop the bum.
With Thomas as the designated hitter, Toronto received little production from a vital spot in American League lineups.
Sorta like Boston the first fifteen games. I think they released Ortiz, though. Let me check MLB.com.
He was 39 years old for the majority of the season. But now, at the age of 39-almost-40, after 60 lousy at bats, he's worthless. Worse than worthless -- he makes other guys sad!
Also, replacing Thomas in the clubhouse with Scott Rolen, who's on track to return mid-May from a spring training finger injury will change the Jays' internal dynamics for the better. Rolen understands how to establish a productive atmosphere.
See? Thomas puts up team-killing RBI, Rolen puts up motivational posters with pictures of eagles and words like "INTEGRITY." Stick with Thomas if you want baseball. Rolen's more of an atmosphere guy -- Glade plug-ins, incense, and oh, he's got a great eye for wallpaper patterns.
Thomas never embraced the obligation of setting a tone for an entire team. That the Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005 when he was not around did not speak well of Thomas.
Revised Ingredients for a World Series Championship:
Strong starting pitching Lights-out bullpen Timely hitting Lack of Frank Thomas
When Thomas clears waivers this week, he will become a free agent available for the pro-rated minimum. If Thomas expects a deluge of calls from teams eager to add him, he will be disappointed again. The Big Hurt is the last to realize that he is finished.
You're 0 for your last 4! You're licked, Hurt! Take a seat and watch Rolen color-coordinate. He's a wizard with paint samples.
I'm thinking about getting some cash together and signing Frank Thomas to play for my new independent team, the Bloggytown Basecloggers. We're going to lead the league in home runs and our clubhouse is going to smell like shit.
Four thousand of you wrote in to mock Fraley for saying cutting Thomas, a DH, would help the Jays defensively. His point was that Adam Lind would be called up from AAA to play left field, and that Lind is superior defensively to the current LF platoon of Shannon Stewart and Matt Stairs. This is my fault -- I didn't copy and paste the entire article, so unless you clicked on the Fraley link (and for this I don't blame you) you wouldn't have read that stuff. Apologies for the cherry-picking.
Second, many of you also pointed out that Scott Rolen basically had to be escorted out of St. Louis by security because of his feud with Tony LaRussa. I still say the man smells nice and brings his teammates cupcakes on their birthdays.
I have invented a name for the ESPN intern whose job it is to type in/clean up/invent Joe's answers to these chats. It's Bill Fremp. He's 22, he went to Conn College, but he's originally from Edgewood KY and is a diehard Reds fan, which is why he's covering for Joe by judiciously editing Joe's comments and stream-of-(lack of)-consciousness ramblings, and entering semi-coherent versions of same into the record. Let's see how Bill does today.
Joe Morgan: I may be the only one that feels this way, but I still believe the weather has had an adverse affect on some of th ebest hitters in the game.
Nicely-placed typo, Bill. You can't fool me. Joe's not typing this.
In places like Detroit and Boston, hitters are struggling. But you have to give credit to the guys who have persevered and fought through the cold weather. But as it warms up, there will be more offense coming from some of the best hitters in the game.
You've studied old chats, haven't you, Billy m'boy? You remember that sometimes Joe says "but" at the beginning of every sentence. You're good, I'll give you that. You're very good.
Randy(Knoxville,TN): Good morning Joe!! My question for you is about Alfonso Soriano...what are your thoughts on him as the lead-off man for the Cub offense? While he can provide instant offense with the long ball, he also strikes out a bunch and doesnt draw many walks. Last year he struck out 99 more times than he drew a walk(130 K's vs 31 BB). I love him as a hitter, but not at the top. What do you think?Thanks, Joe.
Joe Morgan: I have never felt like he should be a leadoff hitter, but both Torre and Piniella used him there because he felt more comfortable. But if I'm paying a guy millions of dollars, I'm going to hit him where he can serve the team the best. His on-base percentage is not where a good leadoff hitter's should be at.
Oh, Billy. Billy Billy Billy. You've already screwed up. The real Joe would have talked about how Soriano can steal bases and make things happen. The real Joe would never admit that there is such a thing as "on-base percentage," because the real Joe thinks "on-base percentage" is a made-up stat relating to Quidditch matches. The real Joe could not recall off-hand two teams Soriano has played for, much less their managers. This is far too good an answer. Ease off.
John (Toledo, OH): The Royals got back to back complete games from Bannister and Greinke, if they keep pitching well, are the Royals a .500 team? Are things finally turning around?
Joe Morgan: Things are turning around. They are getting better players there, and therefore they will play better. .500 is definitely a possibility for the Royals this year.
Dude. The first two sentences are reasonable facsimiles of what I'm sure Joe said. But. I know you want to make Joe look good, because your Pa told you lots of great stories of watching him hit when he, your Pa, was growing up in Edgewood KY and he'd skip school to go to Reds' games and watch Joe hit. But when you read Joe this question, and he said:
"Well I haven't really seen the Royals play enough to know. But they have been bad for a long time and maybe now they'll be good. It will all start with their pitching. You can't win without pitching. But there aren't any great teams out there, so maybe they have a chance. But I haven't seen them play enough to know if they can win on a consistent basis."
you should've just typed that. Don't have him make an actual prediction that makes it seem in any way that he has any idea what kind of season the Royals will have.
I'm going to suggest you go ahead and let Joe answer the next one, to remind yourself of his characteristic tone and style.
Jeff (Columbus, OH): Joe, what effect do losses like the ones the Indians have suffered against the Angels and Red Sox have on the team? As a manager, can you keep sending a closer out there that no one (other than yourself apparently) has faith in without damaging the team? Thanks
Joe Morgan: Their pitching has not been up to par. Teams like the A's were expected to be last in the west, but they're overachieving right now. The Indians and Tigers are underachieving, so you have to keep things in perspective.
There we go. Doesn't answer the question, makes a weird comment about the A's overachieving (and "teams like the A's [being] expected to be last in the west," which = ???), then drags the Tigers into it, and never mentions the issue of Borowski at all. There's your template, Bill.
Michael (Orlando, Florida): Hey Joe I love listening to you call games. What do you think we can expect from the Atlanta Braves this year. Do you think that we just dont have enough starting pitching. We know we will score runs. I think they already have seven 1 run losses this season.
For this answer, I'm going to put this symbol:
when I think Joe actually said or typed something, and this symbol:
when I think it was Bill Fremp of Edgewood, KY. The symbols will follow the text in question. Joe Morgan: I'm actually surprised at the Braves. (!!!) I thought they would sneak up on the Mets and Phillies, and they still may. (!!!) They are a team you have to contend with. (!!!) Their defense is a little suspect overall, (???) although I must say I love Yunel Escobar (????????) as a shortstop. Their starting pitching needs to be better, (!!!) as it puts pressure on a mediocre bullpen. (???) Starting pitching is still the key to a pitching staff, (!!!) because they get you deep into the games so you can set up your rotation (!!!) of relievers (!!!!!!!!) to your advantage. (!!!!!!!!!!) You need innings from your starting pitching. (!!!)
All in all, I guess Joe said most of that. But there's no way he knows that Yunel Escobar is their SS, or that he's good, or how to spell his name.
Joe (Toronto): Last week you said Hanley Ramirez was the most productive player in the league. He doesn't lead in any major statistical categories, so why do you think that?
This is what we in the business of baiting Joe Morgan call: JoeBaiting. It's a reference to the last JoeChat, wherein Bill Fremp totally gave away that someone else was helping Joe with these chats when he declared that H-Ram was the best offensive player in the NL last year, and insinuated (in so many words, if you read between the lines) that he was using something like VORP to make such a decision. Thus, my buddy Joe here is trying to dig a little, to maybe find out whether Joe indeed was shown a VORP chart or something. Let's see what happens. It's exciting, isn't it, America?
America: (in unison) No.
Joe Morgan: If you consider everything---power, speed, defense, batting average, on-base percentage, RBIs, runs scored--then he comes out on top.
So far, so bad, for VORPies like me. Seems like Joe is using "traditional" stats. But wait...
Look at it from that perspective. Plus, he plays the toughest position on the field.
Could this be a coded message from Bill Fremp, of Edgewood, KY? Obviously, VORP is somewhat dependent on a player's position, as it is easier to replace a LF's production than a SS's. I think there's a chance Bill is trying to send us a message, that he is out there, somewhere, typing away. I'm here, he's saying. I'm at the keyboard. I can't speak out loud. He'll hear me. Help me.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): With Randy Johnson putting out a good start, and Webb and Haren making a great 1-2 how much do you like the Diamondbacks right now?
Joe Morgan: I was already a big fan of the D-backs before Johnson's outing, but you have to wait to see how he bounces back from this outing. But Johnson will not win or lose the division for them--they won it last year without him, and their young players are getting better. I like them even if Johnson doesn't pitch well. They were outscored by their opponents last year--that will not happen again this year. Justin Upton looks like the next Albert Pujols.
Joe Morgan citing RS/RA? No way. Joe knowing who Justin Upton is, and comparing him to anyone but Gary Sheffield? Iffy.
Joe Morgan: Thanks for your questions, and I'll see you next week at 10:30!
Joe knowing when his next chat is, down to the minute? Forget it.
A-Rod Blows Clutch High-Five, Yankees Lose Ten Straight
We'll be talking about this one for months, folks. NY Post me.
A-ROD LEAVES ABREU HANGING
Because every move he makes is under a huge spotlight, Alex Rodriguez was asked last night why he doesn't shake hands, exchange fist knuckles or acknowledge Bobby Abreu Bobby Abreu when Abreu homers in front of him.
That's right. Twice this season already, after Bobby Abreu hit a home run, Alex Rodriguez failed to high-five him, costing his team countless runs. (Under the 2008 official baseball rule changes, as you may recall, a post-HR high-five clinches the "bonus zone," wherein the umpire must roll a seven-sided die and award the high-fivers' team the number of runs equaling the result of the roll.) As Abreu approaches the plate Rodriguez is off to the left side going through his preparation to hit, a program that includes a violent practice swing.
Violent and nefarious and villainous, like A-Rod! His practice swing is so violent, it tore through the fabric of space-time and poked through a hole in Nuremburg, Germany, where his evil bat struck Flocke the adorable polar bear cub in the head!
Truly, we've arrived at a nadir in A-Rod bashing. It's not his fault that every time Derek Jeter high fives a teammate, an orphan gets a tube of Rolos.
"I have always done that because I don't like celebrating on the field," Rodriguez said before last night's 7-5 loss to the Red Sox in which he went 1-for-4 and 0-for-1 in the clutch to lower his batting average to .067 (1-for-15) with runners in scoring position. "When the hitter in front of me strikes out, I don't go over and pat him on the shoulder."
0-1! 0-1! Torches and pitchforks, please, everyone. These clutch stats are, of course, entirely gratuitous. Yes, Alex Rodriguez is 1-15 with RISP this year. Last year with RISP he hit .333/.460/.678. That's right. A high-five-worthy 1.138 OPS. And for his career, he's at .960, right in line with his overall OPS of .967.
The Post truly has an unprecedented claptrap to paragraph ratio. We all know, anyway, that A-Rod only likes to high-five pitchers who're trying to tag him out.
Movie Trailer Guy Voice: From The Mind That Brought You "Gamers"...
...comes the uplifting story of a tough as nails general manager who overcame the hardship of having the greatest baseball player to ever live on his squad, and went on to lead his franchise to three consecutive seasons of between 70 and 77 wins.
Catch it now in ballparks across America. Currently starring Brian Bocock, Jose Castillo and Jack Taschner.
Lowell Cohn, the man who thinks David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez suck balls, believes Brian Sabean is a great GM -- better than Billy Beane. Incredible, I know. But we have evidence. He wrote it down himself and put it on the Internet, which I like to call "the world's refrigerator post-it note":
Sabean makes GM moves; Beane runs a clearinghouse
My kid and I write a blog together.
I know. Boy, do I ever know. But this is your PRO-fessional stuff. I'm sure it's top-notch, not like those riff-raffy blogs out there.
In our latest offering, we argued who's a better general manager, Brian Sabean or Billy Beane, and I chose Sabean, although Beane is very good.
Wow. Wow. Je-whoa. Ber-splurgh.
There you have it.
BEANE = VERY GOOD
SABEAN > BEANE
so by the transitive property of general manager excellentitude,
SABEAN = SCRUMTRILESCENTABULOUS!
I'm lucky no one caught up with me in person, because I would have been stoned to death for proposing such an unpopular --
-- and wrong. Don't forget wrong --
opinion....Sabean got the Giants to the World Series in 2002, and Beane never got the A's to the World Series, and never will.
Never is an exceedingly long time, Mr. Cohn. It's longer than forever. I think it goes never > forever > Lowell Cohn's age > eon > era > epoch. MATHEMATICAL INEQUALITY ZING!
In Billy Beane's first two years as GM, the A's finished last in their division. In the following eight years, the team finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st. In the last two years, we've seen the Rockies go to the World Series and the mother-f-ing Cardinals win the damn thing. You're going to say with 100% confidence that the A's will never even get there with Beane at the helm?
I don't think Beane even cares about the Series.
[British accent] Yes. Yes, I do think you're right. He's a rather detached chap, isn't he? Hasn't the foggiest inclination toward winning 'tall. Hates to win. Likes to be buggered.
We're talking about Tony Blair, right? [end British accent]
He wants to do pretty well, wants to keep up appearances, wants to claim he's a poor small-market GM and, gee, not arriving at the ultimate destination -- the Series -- isn't his fault even though he's brilliant. So please don't blame him or expect too much of him. He has a built-in excuse.
I have to say, accusing Beane of actually wanting to lose in the playoffs is a new one for me. Lowell Cohn is claiming such an intimate knowledge of Billy Beane's psyche here it's just retar-diculous. And fun. It's a lot of fun. Thanks, Lowell.
And hey, you know if the A's got to the World Series and lost, people would pillory Beane for "building a team just good enough to lose in the big moments." Can't wait for that one.
Now hold on. This is where it gets good. Sabean made the daring, unpopular trade of Matt Williams for Jeff Kent, which set up the Giants for years. Beane never makes trades like that.
Except for --
One reader pointed to Beane's Mark Mulder for Dan Haren, Daric Barton and Kiko Calero trade as proof Beane can deal like Sabean.
A fantastic trade. As the Germans say, wunderbar. As the Chinese-high-school-students-taking-German say, wunderbar.
Please. Haren already is gone.
For six -- six! -- minor leaguers! So for one Mark Mulder (who, since the trade, has posted one good season, one terrible half-season, and one even terribler twentieth-of-a-season), Billy Beane ultimately received eight minor leaguers and three solid-to-outstanding years from Dan Haren.
You're right. Sabean's better.
All Beane's good young guys already are gone -- Tim Hudson, Nick Swisher, Miguel Tejada. I could go on.
I bet he wanted to keep some or all of these guys, but there's that small payroll thing -- the thing that you apparently think is some sort of Billy Beane hallucination that makes him enjoy losing in the playoffs.
The A's aren't a baseball team. They're a baseball clearing house. In and out. In and out.
SEX JOKE SEX JOKE SEX JOKE
As far as Daric Barton goes, well, in the first place, who the heck is Daric Barton?
Daric Barton was one of the most highly-touted prospects in the nation. He placed 32nd and then 28th on Baseball America's list of top 100 prospects. In five minor league seasons, at ages ranging from 17 to 21, he had an OBP of .414. Brian Sabean (angry): Throw him back. Bring me the corpse of Ryan Klesko!
Back to Cohn.
That's how I feel.
Thank you. It's good to share. Particularly in an article about baseball GMing. Your feelings are especially important in that context.
But, I can't ignore reality -- no one defends Sabean, his reputation is in the dumper. It's in the dumper even though he was under orders from up above, I believe, to patch together a team around the grumpy power-hitting left fielder because while the grumpy power-hitting left fielder was here, fans would not accept young players and rebuilding.
This is Lowell Cohn's only semi-legitimate argument. If, indeed, he was handcuffed by ownership, then yes, he was fucked from Day One.
But note, also, that this is pure speculation on Cohn's part. You can question his guts -- interesting because his persona is Mr. Tough Guy. He could have fought back or even quit -- people do quit. He didn't show mondo guts allowing the Barry Bonds cronies and that one drug dealer to lurk in the clubhouse. Those are strikes against him.
Fun game: keep track of how many strikes Lowell Cohn launches against Brian Sabean in this article -- an article written to praise Sabean for being better than the "very good" (Cohn's words, remember) Billy Beane.
Sabean has other strikes against him, lots of crummy free-agent signings -- Armando Benitez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham, and yes, Barry Zito.
So many strikes!
And Zito -- Jesus. Not enough strikes is more like it! Thank you. He is notorious for one stinker of a lousy trade -- Joe Nathan, a terrific closer, and two other players for -- hold your nose -- A.J. Pierzynski.
More strikes! A strike that's also a stinker! This one is up there as one of the worst trades of the baby millennium. Those anonymous "two other players," by the way, Lowell, were Francisco Liriano (was pretty good in 2006, remember?) and sort of serviceable Boof Bonser.
After Dusty Baker left, Sabean hired Felipe Alou, who was too old, a guy the players couldn't stand. And now he has Bruce Bochy, who's shown no aptitude to rebuild a team that desperately needs rebuilding.
Strike strike strike strike strike strike strike. We're playing the "Strikes Against Brian Sabean in an Article Supporting Brian Sabean" Drinking Game, and everyone here has died of alcohol poisoning, had their ghosts rise from the dead and resume playing the game, and then had their ghosts die of alcohol poisoning. The Giants' farm system has been a joke, nothing like the A's -- this is a positive Billy point here. The only productive player the Giants' farm system produced in the current century was Pedro Feliz, and he wasn't all that productive.
Aaaaaaaaannnnnnd there's another strike.
Sure, these are lots of bad marks against Sabean.
You have to love his restraint here. Any team that depends heavily on Durham, Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and even Omar Vizquel is a team going nowhere.
But -- but -- this is the team built by the guy you're defending. Lowell? Lowell? Oh god, he got into the bushes again. Get out of there! (Gets umbrella, beats bushes) Out!
He needs to find out if his young guys can play. Amend that. He'd better pray his young guys can play -- Eugenio Velez, Dan Ortmeier, Brian Bocock, Fred Lewis and Rajai Davis. Aside from Velez, I don't feel confident about any of those guys. Do you?
Well, let's see here. Ortmeier OPSed .683 and .763 in the hitter-friendly PCL at ages 25 and 26. Bocock slugged .328 in A+ ball last year. Lewis and Davis have passable minor league résumés, but yeah. This is rough.
Brian Sabean for Mayor!
To his credit, Sabean has strong starting pitching --
Hurray! [cue YouTube video of parade that KT posted the other day]
strong, not great.
Cancel embedding of YouTube video. Cancel it now.
He has reasonable relief pitching.
"Reasonable Relief Pitching," the Brian Sabean Saga. An inspirational tale of love and loss, of Keiichi Yabus and Brad Hennesseys.
The batting order does not have power. It is a single/doubles club, not a home-run club, and that needs to change.
I think of it as more of an outs/more outs club. Is that a thing? Is that, maybe, what Sabean was going for? You're the guy who can read people's minds, Lowell. Please tell me that's what Sabean was going for.
Now that he is free -- finally free -- to make a real team, Sabean has to show he has a vision for his club and knows how to bring that vision to life -- not this year, but certainly in 2009 and after. I have defended Sabean, but now it's up to him.
I have defended him nobly! In this article where I outline, in exhaustive detail, the fourteen different ways in which he has utterly failed his team, his owners, and the city of San Francisco, I have defended him well. I defended him by mentioning Zito. I defended him by mentioning Bocock. I defended him by mentioning Pierzynski.
The defense rests, your honor.
He has to defend himself.
From you, Mr. Cohn. At this point, you're like the defense attorney half of Colin Ferguson and Sabean is the defendant half. You (Cohn/defense attorney Ferguson) are hurting your (Sabean/defendant Ferguson) own case.
But yeah, you're right. I'm convinced. Billy Beane blows.
Usually we don't cover blogs, because everyone knows they're written by clinically obese, pimply-faced, wheelchair-bound agoraphobics with Oedipus complexes. Or Mike Pagliarulo. But I'm making an exception for Lowell Cohn, who writes! professionally! for something called the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and who apparently is award! winning! as the blog description tells us:
Cohn vs. Cohn
It's a battle of the generations. Wizened, award-winning Press Democrat Sports Columnist Lowell Cohn squares off every Friday with his wise-guy, college-age son Iggy in a no-holds-barred debate on the sports topics of the day.
Here's the thing: you sort of want Iggy to come in and kick his 80-year-old dad's ass, right? Use your native Internet skills and limited attention span to show him who's boss, Iggy!
No such luck. For we see in this post that Iggy and his dad agree on one very important thing about baseball: there are men -- legends, really -- who are gamers. These are the men who Win Ballgames with their hustle and their grit and their filthy, muddy, dirty, bloody uniforms and the sheer willpower of their gamey, grindy hearts.
This is a combo effort from Iggy and Lowell. What is a gamer in baseball? And who is a gamer?
Iggy, really? How could you? I feel betrayed. You were one of us, Iggy. I've lost all hope for the future. In a world full of Iggys, how can we begin to make progress?
We began thinking about this because the Giants have a clever ad campaign about gamers, and we decided a gamer is someone who does whatever he can to win -
Get on base, drive up the pitcher's pitch count, hit for power --
Stealing home?! Iggy. Jesus. Iggy. How far down the list is fucking stealing home when it comes to the skills you need to win a damn baseball game? How often has a steal of home won a game compared to, I don't know, a single to left?
Iggy, get off Facebook for once in your life and go read one of your fancy "websites" about baseball. You like "surfing the web," don't you Iggy?
making a diving catch, taking out the second baseman, hitting the clutch homer, always playing hard.
Hitting a home run, apparently, is only gameriffic if you do it in the bottom of the ninth. All other homers are for selfish stat-padding jerks and actually hurt your team. I know this is true because I read it in the Bible.
A gamer doesn't care about his stats.
A gamer will OBP .235 if it'll help the team (and it will)!
He never takes a game off for a phony reason.
Like trying to be in top shape for the postseason!
He gets his uniform dirty.
And not with tacos or fried chicken, like a non-gamer might (wink wink!). A gamer gets his uniform dirty the old-fashioned, American way -- with dirt and a dirt gun that fires dirt at your uniform.
We've made a list of seven gamers and a list of seven non-gamers of guys currently playing. We're calling the Gamer List, the Cal Ripken List - for obvious reasons.
(white) (the previous parenthetical may seem unfair, but just keep reading)
He was the ultimate gamer. He always played - you couldn't pry him out of the lineup. And he was a great fielder and hitter, one of the all-time great shortstops.
This is where Iggy and Pop fall down. You don't have to be good to be a gamer. In fact, it's better to not be good. Gaming isn't about hitting or fielding or baseball, it's about what's inside your body. Like your heart, or if your blood is susceptible to sickle-cell anemia.
He's the guy who changed the template for shortstops from swift little guys to big men with power.
Again, get this straight: swift little guys are the true gamers. Gaming 101, gentlemen. Power ruins baseball.
He was A-Rod before there was A-Rod.
And that's a good thing? Good Christ: A-Rod is everything that is bad about baseball, don't you know that? You're writing an article about gamers, not guys who look like they're wearing make-up while they break the all-time home run record and move over to third base even though they're on the way to becoming the greatest shortstop of all time to accommodate (spoiler alert) the #1 gamer on your list.
We're calling the Non-Gamer List the Barry Bonds List, for equally obvious reasons.
He's the greatest player of all time?
He was a great player but he was not a gamer.
Uh huh. Right. He never, ever helped his team win games.
He came to the plate so many times last year when he could have helped the Giants by hitting a ball to left field. Remember that crazy defensive shift teams used that exposed the left side of the infield and left field. Did Bonds ever once hit a ball to left? Get serious. He was a permanent resident of Jack City.
He was 43 years old and he OPS+ed 170. You're angry that he didn't hit enough balls to fucking left field? He got on base 48% of the time. For that alone you should have been cool with him sitting in a lawn chair in left field, facing away from the batter and playing a vintage Sega Game Gear.
And yes, he was a permanent resident of Jack City. He is the holder of the record for most home runs hit ever ever ever. If this makes you not a gamer, God help your team of gamers.
He wanted to hit home runs to make history.
What a monster! He should have hit some balls to left field to get his team to 72 or 73 wins instead of 71. Then we would always remember 2007 as the year Barry Bonds gamered, through sheer force of his gaminess, his team to a 73-89 finish. Instant Classic -- the entire 2007 Giants season.
He cared nothing about the team. He cared only about himself.
Iggy knows a lot about Barry Bonds' psyche. Even if this were 100% true -- did he help the team or not? Keep in mind a) he was the only regular on the Giants who OBPed over .344 and b) he led the major leagues in OBP. By 35 points.
THE CAL RIPKEN GAMER LIST:
He is the essence of a gamer. No one else is like him.
I think Jeter's fragrance should have been called Essence of Gamer. That or Eau de Can't Go Left.
He is a great player, a sure Hall of Famer, and every day he plays like he's a rookie trying to make the club. He is a throw-back to another era. And he is the one who makes the play that wins the game.
I give you credit for calling Jeter, a guy who is not completely white, a throwback player.
Remember in 2001 in Game 3 of the division series against the A's --
No one, and I mean, no one, remembers this game. Who could remember such an obscure game? Please, lay the details on me --
when he ran across the field and backed up a throw from right field, a throw the first baseman missed, and he threw home and the catcher tagged out Jeremy Giambi who would have tied the game but he forgot to slide - a non-gamer. Jeter's was the ultimate gamer play.
Oh. Oh my God. You're right. I didn't know that about Derek Jeter. Since he did make that one play once, he must be awarded the Gamer of the Century Award posthaste.
(Derek Jeter has played in 123 postseason games. Think about that the next time someone brings up how many big moments he's had. 123.)
Now it gets crazy:
Mark Ellis: He is a gamer and he's what they used to call a hard-nosed ballplayer. He hangs in on the double-play pivot and he gets big hits and nothing bothers him, ever. He is the best player on the A's because of ability but mostly because of attitude.
Look, Cohn father and son, maybe it's time you get out of the blogging business. It's rough out there. There's a lot of competition. And you, as they say, are making no sense. How is Mark Ellis more hard-nosed or better attituded than Asdrubal Cabrera or Brandon Phillips or Kaz Matsui or Miguel Cairo or Mike Fontenot or Trey Willinshamerson, the second baseman on my high school team? He hangs in on the double play? How many major leaguers are constantly bailing on double play balls?
Mark Ellis is a good player who has many mediocre teammates. Can we agree there's nothing magical about him?
This is going to be a long post.
The Giants hope to mold all their up-and-coming players in his gamer mold. He famously dove face first into a chain-link fence to catch a deep fly ball when he played for the Phillies.
I scorched my face in a Belgian wafflemaker this morning. Pressed it real good. Can I have $60 million please? Thank you. Torii Hunter - A better fielder than Rowand, Hunter is famous for catching potential home run balls. He's a hustle player who brings energy to his team and makes his teammates play better.
You want to put that statement up for scrutiny in a court of law? This isn't basketball, where I'll buy that Magic Johnson or Steve Nash or Chris Paul make their teammates better (at least on offense, for a couple of those guys). How many more doubles does Torii Hunter make Jeff Mathis hit this year? Seven? Twenty? A hundred? You tell me.
Although he isn't a great hitter, the Angels gave him a 5-year $90 million contract this off season, which shows how highly people value his gamer contributions to a ballclub.
Nick Swisher - He does whatever he can to help the team win. He's a switch hitter and he can play several positions. His teammates love him, which is a must for any gamer candidate.
So now we have, gamer qualification-wise:
Play to win Big plays Hard-nosed Good attitude Hang in on double play Hurt yourself Catch balls Make your teammates better Multiple positions Switch hitter You make people smile
Here's my new theory: literally anything you do can make you a gamer. You like Neapolitan ice cream? Gamer. You play the harpsichord? Gaming it. Civil War reenactment buff? Game on.
Eric Byrnes - He makes diving catches in the outfield, always sells out his body. He always hustles on the base paths, and he'll more than likely be an analyst on ESPN when he retires, for whatever that's worth. Gamer.
ESPN analyst? Gamer. Troy Tulowitzki - A great fielder, plus he has power and above-average size for a shortstop. He draws favorable comparisons to Cal Ripken Jr. - the highest compliment.
Read that again. Nothing in there has anything to do with the traditional definition of a gamer. This is just a description of a good baseball player. Great in the field, he hits well, he's big.
For the last time -- smaller is gamier. Do I have to refer you to the "david eckstein" tag on this very site? Bone up, Iggy.
THE BARRY BONDS NON-GAMER LIST:
Barry Zito: He never wins a big game. He always has an excuse. He always wilts under pressure.
He just sucks, okay? It's not that he's not trying. He's not good. He hasn't been good for a pretty long time. You want to make a list of players who suck? We can do that. It would make a lot more sense.
Maybe it's unfair to call him a non-gamer. Maybe he's just not good enough.
Manny Ramirez - An awful fielder, and he frequently doesn't run out fly balls. The other day against the A's, Manny stood and watched a long fly he hit to center field as if he expected it to be a home run -- not a gamer thing to do. It got caught.
So...it didn't matter. Let's also ignore the fact that Manny is known for absolutely killing himself to prepare for games, training-wise. Take some lessons from Mark Ellis, Manuel.
Eric Chavez - Clearly it was a mistake for the A's to sign Chavez instead of Miguel Tejada. Chavez is always hurt, and when he's in the game, he has a new batting stance every week - none of the stances work. Plus, he never has come through for the A's in the postseason, hitting a career .222 in October.
Seems like a dick move to pick on a guy who just can't get healthy. Wouldn't Chavy have been an example of a guy who would have been a quintessential gamer in 2004? Team leader, seems like a good guy, pretty great player? Now, since his back muscles don't work, all of a sudden he's an asshole? If Chavez is reading this, he's gotta be like, Come on, father and son bloggers, I just had like seventeen epidurals. You think I'm trying to suck out there?
Right, I'm trying new batting stances every week. That's apparently incorrect. The guy most famous for doing that is the captain of your Gamer Team and an American hero. I think he fought in Afghanistan.
Carlos Beltran - The Mets gave him $119 million to be the player they would build their team around. He's been unreliable, frequently missing time to injury and playing poorly in the playoffs. The Mets have shifted their focus to third baseman David Wright - an up-and-coming gamer.
This is just inexplicable. Carlos Beltran, on the whole, has been brilliant in the playoffs, with an overall OPS of 1.302 and a slugging percentage of .817! He hit 3 home runs in the 2006 NLCS for the Mets. Do Lowell Cohn and son remember the 2004 playoffs, when for 12 games Carlos Beltran hit like he was using Mjolnir for a bat? He hit 8 home runs in 46 at bats! This is the choker you're complaining about?
Also, games played as a Met: 151, 140, 144. Not perfect, but he's not exactly Rich Harden, either. The last two years Carlos Beltran has been super-valuable for both his offense and his defense. Andruw Jones - He doesn't play center field as well as he used to, and he's a lock to strike out 100 times a season. He hit 51 home runs three years ago, and people started calling him the best center fielder in baseball. But last year, he hit only 26 dingers while batting a measly .222.
This is turning into a list of guys who used to be good but then declined. What in the name of Carlos Beltran's Mjolnir-bat is the point here? He strikes out and he's fat, so he's not a gamer? Tulowitzki is big, so he is a gamer?
I'm going to start writing exclusively in bewildered rhetorical questions. Pedro Martinez - He's been hurt for the last 2 seasons, and who knows how long he'll be out now with a pulled hamstring. He's always been a controversial player, throwing at players' heads and fighting with old man Don Zimmer. Now that he isn't a dominant a pitcher, he's more of a distraction than he's worth. Gamers don't distract their teammates.
He's the most dominant pitcher of his era, and maybe ever. He's declining with age. What a lazy son of a bitch. Also, fighting another team's coach should be the number one characteristic of any gamer list worth its salt.
David Ortiz: This is a great hitter, a great clutch hitter. And he's a pleasure to watch. So why is he a non-gamer? Because he doesn't use a glove. He doesn't play a position. No designated hitter ever can be a gamer. Ortiz is the ultimate Half Gamer.
I like that Iggy and Lowell call David Ortiz "This." And they close with one final nugget of lunacy. David Ortiz -- the clutchiest, most beloved, winningest player in baseball in the 2000s -- is not a gamer.