Even slugger Lance Berkman, one of the hottest hitters in baseball this season, resorted to dropping a bunt single in the eighth inning, with the Astros down by four. It was only the second bunt single of his career and first since 2002.
"That's a good play," Cooper said of Berkman's decision to bunt with the third baseman playing him deep. "That's a baseball player's play. It's a nice job. We need baserunners. If you hit a ball out of a ballpark, I call them rally-killers when you get down like that. We need to keep a rally going, and that was a nice play to me."
If you hit the ball out of the ballpark, scoring a run for your team and getting said team from 5-1 to 5-2, you have done something bad.
That is the position of Cecil Cooper, who has been involved with baseball for like 30 years.
You have done something bad. By hitting a home run.
Please. Do something. I don't know what. Write a letter. Call your local congressman. Take to the streets. Get religious. This shit has to stop.
(Thanks to the one billion people who emailed us about this.)
****EDIT: I Am A Dumb Moron
As many of you pointed out, there was nobody on base when Berky laid down the bunt single, so when I wrote "2-run homer" I was, to coin a phrase, "wrong." I have corrected this.
But: two things:
1. how is it "killing a rally" when there is no one on base? 2. It's still dumb to say a bunt single when you are down 4 is better than a home run when you are losing a baseball game, even though -- as many of you pointed out -- sometimes guys hit better from the stretch, etc. Some of you even broke out Win Expectancy charts and showed me that the difference is not very big, at all, between "runner on, down by four," and "no runners on, down by 3." My issue, though, is that Mr. Cooper seems to be saying that having a baserunner on first is far better than that baserunner already having scored, which is silly.
Thank Your God Of Choice That Jemele Hill Is Not In Charge Of Rigging the NBA
I'm sure when you pack up your bags and go to Official Sports Column-Writing School, the first thing they tell you is "Take a position and really argue it!" From what I've read, a lot of sportswriters are taking this rule of thumb and turning it into "Take a ridiculously, phenomenally imbecilic position and really argue it!"
(Also, as a corollary, should you ever get called out on the resulting column (say, on a sports metacriticism blog), you may claim, utterly disingenuously, "I meant for it to be controversial -- it got the Internet buzzing, didn't it?")
Now hold on one second. No. No, they shouldn't. This is an example, like many many others, of when the conventional wisdom is absolutely, one hundred percent correct. A Lakers-Celtics Finals would further reinvigorate the NBA. It would captivate a national audience like no matchup since perhaps Michael Jordan vs. Anyone. It would draw in lapsed basketball fans with fond memories of Magic and Larry in the 80's. It would feature some of the sport's biggest, most beloved and most reviled stars. Outside of Detroit and San Antonio, I imagine a poll of Americans would run something like 80% "Lakers-Celtics all the way!" to 20% "Get out of my face and stop asking me about basketball, a sport I hate!"
But Jemele Hill is taking a stand. A contrarian stand. A lousy stand. Forgive me, citizens of Easily Entertained, Need-Flash-To-Appreciate Nation for this blasphemous proposal:
Let's root for another edition of Pistons versus Spurs in the NBA Finals!
Note the immediate attack mode: if you do not agree with my ridiculous opinion, you are shallow. You are sheep. You are the Church and I am Martin Luther, here to tear down everything you thought you knew and enjoyed about basketball.
(Trying to block out the sound of 260 million people collectively groaning.)
Correctly groaning. Extremely correctly groaning. I'm hoping that suggestion doesn't make NBA commissioner David Stern lose his lunch. But if Stern could overcome his nausea at the thought of another clash of these underappreciated titans, even he would have to admit that Pistons-Spurs would be the best thing for the NBA.
Here we are with the overreaching again. You can argue that you personally prefer Pistons-Spurs. You can even argue that a fan with a refined basketball palate, a connoisseur of the game who always knows what to order from the basketball sommelier whenever he goes out to a fancy basketball dinner, should prefer Pistons-Spurs.
It's absolutely insupportable that Pistons-Spurs is the best thing for the NBA. Think about how many more kids might get sucked into a Lakers-Celtics Finals. Think of the TV ratings. The news stories. The personalities. My mom might buy a Sasha Vujacic jersey if Lakers-Celtics happens.
Full disclosure: As a Detroiter, I would love to see the Pistons in the Finals for the sixth time in my lifetime.
You don't say.
But this isn't about me. This is about the league's credibility....
The biggest NBA conspiracy theory going right now is that the league is trying to make a Boston-L.A. Finals happen, because it would mean insane television ratings and a return to the time when the dominance of those two franchises overshadowed everything else in sports.
Jemele Hill is arguing that a crushingly boring Finals matchup is better than the possibility of a scintilla of an insinuation that there potentially could be a chance that the NBA is rigged.
If this were any other NBA season, the insinuation that the league was somehow working to orchestrate the return of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry would be considered a real reach -- but not when the Tim Donaghy betting scandal is still looming....
If there are any controversial calls that favor Boston or Los Angeles, or if there are games in which either of those teams makes a ton of trips to the foul line, the CTs (conspiracy theorists) will ask: What would prevent the NBA from urging the officials to call games a certain way to ensure a Finals involving teams from two of the biggest media markets in the country?
There already has been a controversial call -- Fisher mauling Barry at the end of Game 4. The Lakers made it through anyway. Outcry is audible but not deafening. Overall, America is ecstatic (I took a poll (unscientific, sample size=five of my friends, margin of error=0%).
But if it's Pistons-Spurs, the NBA Finals will be conspiracy-free.
And viewer-free. Last year's Finals with the Spurs and Cavs drew the worst ratings in NBA Finals history with a 6.2 average. The second-worst-rated Finals? 2004, Spurs-Nets. Sixth-worst? 2005, Spurs-Pistons. Notice anything?
America hates the goddamn Spurs.
I anticipate the crybabies will complain that the Spurs and Pistons are boring to watch.
Crybabies = America.
But most real basketball and sports fans won't think that way -- just those casual NBA viewers who want it both ways. You know, the ones who deride the NBA for promoting individuals, but whine when Kobe, LeBron or some other one-named superstar isn't in the Finals. The ones who claim they love underdogs, but won't give the Pistons or Spurs a chance.
I wouldn't call myself particularly casual in my NBA viewing. I've watched 43,285.5 of the 43,286 playoff game this year (had to miss half of the Toronto-Orlando games due to massive quadruple-bypass open-heart surgery -- still mad about that). I'm fine with the NBA promoting individuals, and I think the league is better served when its most famous players are playing on its biggest stage.
Common sense, people. Don't let being a sportswriter get in the way of that.
If you're someone who grumbles that NBA players don't play defense,
you should root for Pistons-Spurs
even though Boston may play the best defense of the remaining playoff teams?
(although Boston may play the best defense of the remaining playoff teams).
If you complain you're sick of seeing NBA teams that don't play hard,
root for Pistons-Spurs. If you love teams that win because of their commitment to team basketball, root for Pistons-Spurs.
I don't know if this is aimed at Kobe Bryant or what, but the Lakers play some of the most beautiful team-oriented offense I've ever seen. Gasol and Odom are terrific passers for big men, and everyone on the team is unselfish enough to swing the ball to the open man for a clear shot. I'm not sure Tex Winter has ever seen a team execute this pure a version of the triangle, and Tex Winter has been coaching basketball for fourteen centuries.
The Celtics are team-oriented almost to a fault. Apparently, "ubuntu" means whip the ball twenty-five feet behind you to a guy standing on the perimeter even if you're wide-open for a layup.
If you're sick of seeing basketball dominated by And-1 wannabes, root for Pistons-Spurs.
You know what I'm not sick of? Watching Kobe Bryant somehow twist his way past a quintuple-team and gently lay in a double-clutch reverse layup.
Also, watching Kevin Garnett cry tears of joy.
These are two teams loaded with unselfishness -- and they feature players who are among the NBA's best citizens.
Like Rasheed Wallace, America's greatest basketball talent who also may or may not be the homeless guy you pass on the way to work. It could be him. You've never seen them in the same place at once.
When people call Tim Duncan milquetoast, it makes me want to break kneecaps. First, Duncan is a thoughtful quote -- as are most of the Spurs. Second, Duncan shouldn't be penalized because he'd rather frustrate his opponents with precise passing out of double-teams and unstoppable bank shots, rather than trying to make the Top 10 Plays on "SportsCenter."
He's not penalized. He's considered boring -- because passing out of double-teams and shooting 16-foot bank shots are things that look more boring than things that, say, Kobe or Lebron or Chris Paul does.
Besides, unlike the Lakers and Celtics, the Pistons and Spurs didn't get to the conference finals with the help of questionable blockbuster deals. Talk about your NBA conspiracy theories. The Lakers got Pau Gasol for 10 rubles and a John Tesh DVD. And Kevin McHale forked Kevin Garnett over to the franchise he just so happened to win three NBA titles with. Nothing suspicious about that, right?
So are you pro- or anti-conspiracy theory? It seems like you actually believe that the Lakers and Celtics were rigged back into relevance, which I don't really buy. McHale and Wallace seem more inept than diabolically devious.
Seriously, maybe we shouldn't root for outcomes based solely on whether they give conspiracy theorists less ammunition. Is that really how you want to live your life?
The Pistons and the Spurs built their teams the old-school way --
By having their superstar get hurt for a year, improbably winning the lottery, and drafting arguably the greatest power forward of all time. Old school!
Pistons-Spurs -- that's what we all should be dying to see.
Except that anyone who enjoys basketball and wishes to see it continue to succeed in the United States should be rooting extremely hard for the exact opposite of that. Other than that, good job.
SprungOnSports (Long Island): Do you think Willie Randolph should be fired for the Mets' recent failures, or are his players or the GM more at fault?
Once again, SprungOnSports (Long Island) gets there first. That dude is eager.
Joe Morgan: If you're going to fire Willie, you'd have to fire Jim Leyland, John McLaren, Bud Black, and Ned Yost. The list could go on and on. Why is he the one being picked on when so many other teams are playing below their potential. Maybe Willie's point of playing under more scrutiny is a valid one.
John McLaren doesn't seem that great, but Bill Bavasi is the one who put that team together. Jim Leyland won the pennant two years ago and has probably earned at least an ASB-type chance. Maybe Bud Black should go, though he did win 89 games last year. Ned Yost...maybe. That team should be playing better. I don't know. It seems to me that instead of anyone playing the race card, we should look at the obvious facts: the team has a $138m payroll, acquired Johan Santana in the off-season, was PECOTAed to win 93 games this year, and most importantly, had an all-time record collapse last year down the stretch. Any manager of that team -- in NY -- is, as Mike from Paradise Hotel 2 would say, going to be on the boilerplate if his team gets off to a bad start.
Alan (Philly): Joe, have you ever seen a second baseman or any player at that as versatile as Chase Utley?
Mention Cano. Mention Cano. Mention Cano.
Joe Morgan: There have been a lot of really exceptional second basemen around. Robinson Cano has that ability of being versatile. [...]
Robby Cano, or "RoCa" as Jim Kaat has surely tried out calling him at home before he announces games and then decided, "Nah -- AlSo was better," is an excellent baseball player. But Chase Utley has 16 HR this season, and Cano's season high to this point in his career is 19. Just sayin'. He's also 51-60 in steals for his career, and Cano is an abysmal 11-24. I'm not sure what "versatile" means here, but Cano's not in his league for two out of the classic "5 tools."
I think Chase Utley right now is the best of the group, but there are a lot of really good second basemen around.
The only one whose name I know, however, is Robinson Cano.
George,E.L.,Ma.: Hi Joe.Do you think that the Red Sox will make a move with Lugo(trade or release),or stick it out?
Joe Morgan: He seems like he's been playing better.
He has a .684 OPS (not horrendous for a SS, but that's after a pretty good May) and 12 errors in 44 games (horrendous for a SS). He's being paid eleventy million dollars a year through 2010 and is routinely lifted for a defensive replacement in the late innings. You can't release him, you probably can't trade him unless you Renteria it up and pay like $8m/year to some team that needs a 2Bman.
I don't know if you can go find a shortstop at this juncture of the season.
Unless you have a decent prospect, Jed Lowrie, at AAA. (To be fair, I don't know that Lowrie is necessarily a better option at this point. His defense seems iffy. Though he did have an .862 OPS in 40 games at AAA last year. I think you're stuck with Lugo through the year at least.)
There may be someone available at the all-star break.
Lugo for Kouzmanoff straight up?
Being honest with you, Lugo is not hindering the Red Sox right now. It wasn't his fault the Sox got swept by Oakland.
First of all, thank you for your honesty. Second: what a silly thing to say. It's never one person's fault when a team gets swept. Amount of light shed on the Lugo situation by this answer = .0016 candle power.
john (philly): Will Jay Bruce have an immediate impact for the Reds?
Joe Morgan: I think he will. He brings energy to the team, and besides that, he is a pretty good hitter.
I like that the #1 reason he will help his team is: "energy," and the distant #2 reason is: "ability to hit baseballs."
Ross, Chicago: Is Jim Thome done? Any trade value?
Joe Morgan: I never like to think of players as being done. Only the player will know. They said Frank Thomas was done in Toronto and he is doing well in Oakland. We've poured dirt on guys who have come back to play well before, and only Jim Thome knows whether he's finished or not.
Jim Thome is on pace to hit 32 HR and walk 94 times. Something tells me his BA will come up when his BABIP normalizes a little. See how easy it is to answer questions with facts?
SprungOnSports (Long Island): You just saw the White Sox this past weekend, are they for real?
Hey buddy! Welcome back.
Joe Morgan: I don't think there are any great teams are there.
(a) Not the question. (b) Typo makes it sound like drunk Yoda.
the White Sox had been shut down before we got there for two days.Carlos Quentin saved them when I saw them.They can win the division because they have pitching. You will see pitching dominate the league more this year. More teams will struggle to score runs. Teams that have pitching definitely have the advantage.
Honestly, man -- when was that not the case? Teams with pitching have an advantage? When...did that...not...make...blorp...grrrrnllll
Willy (Cincy):Hi Joe. Any thoughts on why junior is struggling as much as he is this year. Can you lose your bat speed that quick?
(raises hand) I know this! Call on me!
Joe Morgan: Part of it is trying to chase 600 home runs.
No! That's not it! Call on me!
I'm just shocked that he has struggled as much as he has, as he still possesses that sweet swing.
(straining; tipping chair-desk combo unit forward toward teacher) Yes...but...just call on me, and I'll--
The player knows whether his bat speed is gone, and if you're worried about your bat speed,
No, he's not worried about his bat speed, there's something else...call on me! Call on me!
you'll start starting your swing too soon and getting out of position.
He's 38, is the answer. He's 38 years old. You should have called on me.
Blake (Aberdeen, MD): After 50 games thus far, what do you think of the Orioles 25-25 ? What could the Orioles get for Sherill at the All-Star break?
Time for the KT Odds Report
Odds that Joe says "there are no perfect teams" -- 1 in 4 Odds that Joe says he hasn't seen the Orioles enough to know about how good they are -- 2 in 5 Odds that Joe knows who George Sherrill is: 1 in 12,500 Odds that Joe actually suggests a trade the Orioles might make using George Sherrill at the ASB and names the specific player or players they get back from a specific team, which would fill a need that the Orioles have that Joe has identified: Sorry, a system error occurred. Abort (A), Retry (R), Fail (F)?
Joe Morgan: You have to give them credit for bouncing back. It's too early to start talking about trading or getting rid of people, as you are still trying to build a foundation. I would say, let's wait before we do anything. The Orioles have to be happy at where they are, as everyone thought they would be a disaster.
Just hit F and we'll try again.
Ryan (Bristol, CT): If you were to choose the final AL East standings, what would they look like?
Joe Morgan: Boston would be the only obvious one at the top. The rest of the teams could be interchangeable. But I could go out on a limb and say Boston-Tampa Bay for the top two.
A prediction! Good for you, man. Well done.
MJ (Edmonton): Joe who was the toughest pitcher you ever faced in your career?
Joe Morgan: I faced so many good pitchers, and at any given day, that pitcher could be the best at that moment. Koufax, Gibson, Seaver, Carlton, Ryan--any of them at their best was the toughest.
I really have no beef with this answer. I am 100% sure that facing those five guys -- obviously -- was miserable for even a hitter as great as Joe. But I'd like to add that I love it when a guy gets asked this, and the answer is someone insane. Like, hey, Tony Gwynn (for example), who's the toughest pitcher you ever faced? "Danny Darwin, bar none. Danny Darwin owned me." I love that. I wish that happened more.
That's all. Back to the chat.
Jeff (Norwich, CT): What is up with the Red Sox problems on the road? They have great pitching and hitting. But no one is stepping up on the road! Any explanations?
Joe Morgan: The team is built so well for Fenway. They all know it so well, and Fenway is a great-hitting park to begin with. It's always been that way for the Red Sox--dynamite in Boston, and not so good on the road.
Last year they were 45-36 on the road, which ain't bad. And in 2002, they were far better on the road than at home. Other than that, you're exactly right.
I expect this team to make adjustments. As I've said before, they are the best team in the game.
The Cubs have a better team ERA and a better team OPS. For the record.
Jeff (Cleveland, OH): Joe, how does a team like the Indians break out of an offensive slump? This is a time when team chemstry plays a role? If you were Eric Wedge, other than continuing to say we need to grind it out, what might you do to help a team like Cleveland start hitting?
Joe Morgan: You have to see them on a daily basis to have an answer--are they overly aggressive, are they not aggressive enough, etc.--but when it starts to happen, players take it on themselves to perform better, which puts a lot of pressure on them. There are a lot of different things a manager can do--manufacture runs, put the hit and run on, or many other things.
Put the hit and run on. Bunt. Be stupider. That's the only way to be better.
I would have to see if somebody is pressing, or if it's just one of those cycles the team is going through. The Yankees had one of the worst batting averages with RISP at the beginning of the year and now they're doing better.
Odds that Joe uses the term "regress to the mean": 1 in [my computer blew up. I am now typing on a new computer. I'm still going to hold out hope that he uses the term "regress to the mean" here. Wouldn't that be something? I mean, it's so crazy, it just...might...]
The best team keeps these low points to a minimum. They do indeed have to grind it out, even if it seems like a cliche.
MJ (Edmonton): Joe are you for or against instant replay in baseball?
Buckle up, people.
Joe Morgan: I'm against it for the reasons they're talking about it.
...Who? Are there voices in your head, Joe? You need to call a doctor if there are voices in your head telling you to do things.
It's only because of the bad HR calls recently.
The only reason we want to introduce a solution is because of all the problems we've been having.
There are so many other plays that have an impact on whether the game is won or lost.
Probably, though, home runs are at the top of that list, no? As far as single plays that affect games? I mean, you're talking about plays that by definition score at least one run.
It's the same thing with steroids--people only focused on the home run hitters.
I am a relatively smart person. I majored in Knowledge Acquisition at the University of Science. I cannot for the life of me figure out how wanting to institute replay for HR calls is the same thing as people focusing on HR hitters in the steroids scandal. Yes, in both instances people are "only focusing on" something involving home runs. But: "it's the same thing?" Da-wha?
Everyone influences the game, so why are you looking at one area.
I'm sorry...I thought your objection, as noted in last week's chat, was that soon people would insidiously start expanding replay to other areas. Now you are complaining that it only focuses on one area?
I wouldn't want the K-Zone calling balls and strikes. The reason the umpires called these incorrectly was because they were still running when they made the call.
Yeah, dude, we know why they were called incorrectly. They're not introducing replay so the cameras can follow the umps to get video evidence of why they called HR incorrectly. Willie Randolph didn't go running onto the field to argue that the reason Bob Davidson called Delgado's home run foul was not because he has bad eyesight (as Davidson was asserting in this hypothetical and absurd alternate universe) but rather that he got distracted by a low-flying plane. He ran out to argue that the call was incorrect. Get it?
Your eyes are bouncing when you run,
Someone with artistic skills: please draw a picture of an umpire running towards the outfield fence and show his eyes "bouncing" in a comic way. I will put the winning drawing up on this site in a separate post.
so you can't see with the same precision, and you won't always get a correct view.
You know what doesn't bounce when an umpire runs? An instant replay camera, trained on the path of the flying ball, with the ability to zoom.
There has just been an unusual amount of incorrect calls this season.
If only there were a way to prevent such things in the future.
Once you open that replay box, where do you stop?
At home run calls. Or at some other point, if you want more plays to be reviewable. Like the NFL did.
The game would slow down even more than it does now,
I don't think that's true.
and baseball came out with a new set of rules to speed up the game. I'm concerned with dead time.
Then stop doing analysis on live TV. Oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhh snappp! (high-fives no one; is alone in mom's basement)
Igor(Yonkers,NY): Joe, When will the best player of all time, Barry Bonds, be back in uniform and with whom?
Joe Morgan: If I had a team, Barry could play for me.It's pretty obvious to me that there has been some kind of effort to keep him from playing.
No hint, even, of Barry having made his own bed, steroidically speaking. And another wild accusation of collusion from Joe. Frequent readers of this blog will remember similarly unfounded claims being made against the Red Sox for tampering with J.D. Drew in his option year. No evidence is given, because apparently, when you're Joe Morgan, you need not have any.
He hit 28 home runs last year, and there are a lot of less-productive players playing this year. They could use his legal problems as an excuse, but they would not keep him from playing.
dak/Junior and I disagree on this. I can't imagine having that dude on my team. Sorry, everyone. I know he'd OPS like .900, but he'd clog up the metaphorical organizational basepaths with his slowfootedly awful personality and his knee injury of misanthropic distraction. Call me crazy. Call me a hypocrite. That dude doesn't play for my team.
MJ (Edmonton): Joe, which of today's players is the most fun to interview?
Joe Morgan: I enjoy talking to most of the guys.
Gary Sheffield, Robby Cano, Sheffield, Derek Jeter, Sheff, Gary S., Sheffieldio, Top Sheff, Sheffenpopper Incorporated, The Right Honourable Garibaldy von SheffenPfeffer...all of them.
I really enjoy talking to Jim Thome, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz. But I don't get a chance to interview them like I used to.
Here's a question... Suppose you're the Atlanta Braves, and your left fielders are Matt Diaz (who is out for 4-6 with torn cartridge in his knee), Gregor Blanco, and Greg Norton. If you sign Barry Bonds for the $0 that it would cost... Would you win more games than if you didn't sign him? My answer would be yes.
You're Ryan Howard. You won the Rookie of the Year in 2005. You won the MVP in 2006. You hit 47 home runs and batted in 136 despite missing 18 games last year.
And now, after 196 mediocre at bats, you're cat vomit, according to Gerry Fraley.
Dish: Phillies wise not to meet Howard's demands
Philadelphia Phillies general manager Pat Gillick plans to move on when his contract expires after this season. He will leave his successor, probably assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr., with a difficult call: Should the Phillies keep first baseman Ryan Howard?
Unless you absolutely can't afford to pay anyone, why are we having this conversation? Throughout his career Ryan Howard has been one of the better hitters in baseball. He's still in his twenties, he gets on base, he hits a home run once every 11.5874126 at bats. That's good stuff. These are the players you want.
Oh wait, no. You're the Phillies. What you want is to pay Adam Eaton $8.125 million.
The safe answer is yes.
"Logic" and "reason" and "numbers" would say yes. But I ask you this: Volvo makes the world's safest cars, and does Volvo use "numbers" to test their cars? No. King Wilhelm VII hand-sculpts each car out of the indigenous Swedish Metal Trees. So you see, sometimes the unsafest choice is the safest.
The bold answer, the one that could do more for the club, is no.
I am fine with this contrarianism if you want to make a rational argument based on MORP or aging curves or some analysis of the current free agent market. That's what, you're going to do, right, Gerry Fraley?
Howard is increasingly becoming a Dave Kingman-esque, one-note player.
Oh boy. Dave Kingman's career OBP was .302. Ryan Howard's is .387. (Kingman's career-high OBP was .343!)
And for those raring to point out that Howard's current slash stats of .209/.316/.469 look like a bad Kingman year, I refer you to Howard's current BABIP, which stands at a shockingly low .252. Howard's career BABIP? .341. So yeah, that batting average is going up. Way up. Because Ryan Howard hits the ball hard and he is a baseball monster who you want to pay to keep on your team unless you're the Pirates or some shit. He began Wednesday's game against the Colorado Rockies tied for fifth in the National League with 14 home runs and tied for seventh with 38 RBIs.
That sounds wonderful. GET THIS ASSHOLE OFF MY TEAM.
But Howard was hitting only .209 with a sickly .785 on-base plus slugging percentage and was on pace for a ridiculous 225 strikeouts, 26 more than his record-setting total of last season.
BABIP. See above. And wow, those strikeouts absolutely killed him last year to the tune of a .392 OBP and the third most home runs in major league baseball.
Ryan Howard is a human-shaped anchor who will drag your team all the way to the bottom of the standings. He has never won a baseball game and never will, until he moves to China, where the fewest runs scored wins the game and the women have sideways vaginas and vertical smiles. But Howard has been going in the wrong direction for more than a year.
He followed up his 2005 rookie-of-the-year performance by hitting .313 with 58 homers and 149 RBIs with a 1.084 OPS in 2006. Then, he dropped to .268 with 47 homers, 136 RBIs and a .976 OPS last season.
A .976 OPS!!! How dare he (multiple interrobangs)?!!??! This was only good enough for 7th in the National League, tied with that other loser, Chase Utley, who I've been meaning to kick off the team as well.
Jimmy Rollins should go. Cole Hamels is dead weight. Give me Pedro Feliz, the ghost of Jim Thome and the corpse of Kris Benson and I'll give you a pennant and a roller-coaster ride of a season!
Howard's chase-everything approach has continued this season. He has been increasingly vulnerable against lefthanders, with 36 strikeouts in his first 84 at-bats against them.
This is a troubling trend. Of course, the possibility exists that Howard is already in the midst of a Hafnerian decline phase, in which case it looks even worse that the Phillies waited until he was like 39 to call him up from Triple A. But Fraley's not talking about denying him a $200 million, 8-year deal. He's saying just cut him loose after this year.
The Phillies are paying $10 million for those strikeouts. With Howard eligible for salary arbitration annually through 2010, that number will continue to rise.
If you can get him year by year until 2010, of course you do it. Of course. I'd sign almost anyone to a one-year deal. I mean, shit, you signed Tom Gordon to a three-year deal worth almost $20 million, and he was a retired 53-year-old jazz saxophonist at the time.
And enough with the "$10 million for those strikeouts" bullshit. Strikeouts are only very very slightly more damaging than regular outs.
If Howard's pattern continues, the Phillies should not continue to meet his price. The next GM will have to make that call. Will he be bold enough to trade Howard and get the offense-choking strikeouts out of the lineup?
If Ryan Howard hits precisely .200 for the rest of the year, sure. But pardon me if I don't have absolute faith in Mr. Fraley's clairvoyance. In fact, in a hypothetical league filled with baseball teams general managed with men like Fraley, I would happily snatch up the following hitters for my team, all of whom finished in the top ten in the major league in strikeouts:
Ryan Howard Adam Dunn Grady Sizemore Dan Uggla B.J. Upton Carlos Pena
The sky would turn black like at the end of 300, except with home run balls instead of arrows. My K-Men would be the most exciting, most infuriating team in baseball. Other teams would start putting infielders in the outfield and outfielders in the first few rows of the crowd. Daisuke Matsuzaka would commit ritualistic seppuku after getting bombed for 14 home runs. Then I would sell the team to Mark Cuban and purchase the lives of the scientists who taught monkeys to control robot arms with their thoughts. Not because I'm angry at them, but because I want them to teach robots to control monkey arms with their thoughts, and then have the monkey-thought-powered robot arms to fight the robot-thought-powered monkey arms.
RetroChat! SprungOnSports (Long Island): Joe, can the Yankees be salvaged and play consistently enough to get back into the playoff hunt?
KT: I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but SprungOnSports (Long Island) is always the first one in the pool and the last to leave at these JoeChats. What gives, SprungOnSports (Long Island)? Why so eager to not have your questions answered?
Joe Morgan: If you take the reputations away of all the All-Star players and the big salaries, and you just look at them objectively, you would not be that impressed.
...Wha? What happened to "Well they're still the Yankees...", which is how you always answer this question? Fremp? Is that you, Fremp?
I think they are in trouble. They will be better with A-Rod back, who carried them through the first month last year, so he may be able to do that again. But you have to be concerned about their starting pitching. I just do not think they can win consistently with the pitching they are throwing out there.
Oh brother. Fremp Controversy II? (Except for the use of "consistently.")
Rob (Baltimore): Joe, is a team playing better baseball than the Cubs right now? Are they now a serious threat to win the WS?
Joe Morgan: Any team that gets into the postseason can win it all, if they get on a hot streak. We have seen it happen plenty of times. There are no great teams anymore. Boston is the best team overall. And I think the Cubs will make the playoffs, so I think they have a chance.
Crisis averted. No great teams. Music to my ears. Fremp-proof evidence.
Terrence (NYC): After this weekend's series, I'm hoping Jose Reyes is starting to take off- not only did it look like he was having fun, but he seemed a little angry as he was doign good things- almost like he's playing with a chip on his shoulder about the media and fan criticism. Do you agree?
Joe Morgan: Well I think that too much blame is put on Reyes when the Mets struggle.Yes, Reyes struggled last season down the stretch, but I think too much pressure is put on him.
I don't know, man. He's the SS and leadoff hitter for the Mets. He hit .205/.279/.333 in 117 September AB last year, and was 5-9 in SB after being 23-26 in August. His team collapsed horribly. He certainly wasn't the only one to stink it up, but when you're the leadoff hitter and SS and you stink it up in September and your team collapses horribly, you're going to take that hit. Hell, David Wright took a hit, too, and he OPSed like a billion. (I haven't checked that specifically, but I'm pretty sure it was like a billion.)
So he should be playing with a chip on his shoulder, with everything that has but put on him, especially last season's collpase. I am a big fan of his and I hope that he continues to play well.
Rich (Sun Valley, ID): Joe, have you ever seen a team leave as many men on base as the Cardinals in the last week?
He has no idea what you're talking about, Rich. He hasn't seen the Cardinals play this year. I guarantee you get nothing specific here.
And when is the last time you saw a team get 18 hits (the Rays) and lose? Thanks-
He has never seen that. He doesn't watch baseball. You get no answer here. KT guarantee.
Joe Morgan: Those things happen; where you get a lot of guys on base, and you do not drive them in, the pressure builds and you get tight. It happens, and it happens as a team. Just like hitting in contagious, so is leaving men on base. I have seen plenty of games where teams just cannot seem to drive ina run.
As Nikki Finke would say: toldja!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jon (Mad-town): Will we ever see a a great/dominant team again? I think the D-backs have something in the works for the next decade.
Joe Morgan: Yeah I think we will see dominant teams again. When scientists build a time machine and we can go back to Cincinnati in 1975, assholes.
Just kidding. He didn't write that second part. But how awesome would it have been if he had?
These things happen in cycles. But it has to be a team that has strengths in all areas of the game.
Hang on...this theoretically "dominant" team has to have strengths in all areas of the game? I don't understand.
I think the D-backs, because they are young and can develop, could be great for a very long period of time.
Name three Diamondbacks. (And Randy Johnson doesn't count, because you'd only be naming him because you remember he was on the team in 2001 and don't know that he's been traded like five times since then.)
Kevin STL: Joe, after that fiasco with Delgado's HR being called back, do you think the need for Instant Replay is upon us? Seems as though you and J Miller already knew the ball was fair before they overrode the call because of the replay.
Joe Morgan: Well I knew it was fair before the replay, because I had a good angle. I dfo not think you can have replays, because you would use it too much.
No you wouldn't, if the league regulated how often you could use it. We're very early in this debate, and we already have our "Why does everyone ignore this basic and simple fact?" thing.
There has been talk on using it for HR in the 8th or 9th inning, but that is not fair because often the winning HRs are hit earlier in the game. Replay would slow the game down more, so I think we will just have to live with the decisions of the umpires.
A few intrepid emailers have pointed out: when a controversial HR is hit, here's what happens. One team argues the call. The manager comes out. The hitter and the manager converge on the ump. The up calls the other umps and they talk for 1-3 minutes. The call is either reversed or upheld. The losing side argues. Often, someone is tossed after 1-3 more minutes of arguing. The game continues.
There is no way a red flag-type review situation could take that much longer than it already does.
I did like how they gathered around and talked about the play. But I did not like how the play was overruled by someone who was not the closest to the play. To overturn something like that you need to be 100% sure.
Hey -- here's a way to make it so that you're 100 sure: watch a replay.
Steiny (NYC): Joe, do you think Barry Bonds will be on a major league baseball team before the end of the season?
Joe Morgan: I have no reason to believe he will, so I will say no. But it is too bad, because the guy hit 28 HRs last season and there are plenty of guys with lesser talent playing on teams right now. It is unfortunate that he has become the poster boy for the steroids era, when it is obvious that hundreds of other guys were doing it as well.
Huh. Good point. Why would it be that Bonds became the poster boy for steroids instead of, you know, like Paxton Crawford or something? Can't think of a reason off-hand. I mean, both he and Paxton Crawford used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. Both Bonds and Paxton Crawford broke the all-time HR record for a season. He and Paxton Crawford both also set the all-time career mark in HR. So that can't be it. And it was Paxton Crawford, actually, I think I remember, who set the all-time record for walks in a season, because he was the most famous and feared hitter in the history of baseball...
I don't know. There's gotta be a reason somewhere.
MJ (Edmonton): Joe, how do players regain their consistency coming back from an injury?
You know what's amazing? Joe has been baited one thousand times by people using "consistency" in the question, and he's never once indicated that this is strange or unusual.
Joe Morgan: The toughest thing about coming back is the first few days you are full of energy and running on pure adrenaline, which makes you play well; [...]
I am going to take this as evidence that Joe Morgan wholeheartedly supports the use of adrenaline-based PEDs.
Joe Morgan: That's all the time I have. We'll chat again next Tuesday.
Joe has been baited one thousand times by people using "consistency" in the question, and he's never once indicated that this is strange or unusual.
Not only that, but out of the presumably hundreds of millions of questions he's getting, he's specifically picking all of the ones with "consistency" in them. Maybe he thinks it's like his "mega-dittoes" or something.
Alright, I'll be the guy who defends Joe Morgan. Nobody's happy about this, but, here goes.
Re: Bonds/'roids. Morgan never said that he didn't understand why Bonds became the poster boy. He just said that it's unfortunate.
And I agree with him. As we've discussed many times -- and feel free to bring up Frat House again if you like -- I think it's unfortunate that steroid users get vilified more than the other cheaters in baseball history. And similarly, I agree with Morgan that it's unfortunate that Bonds gets vilified more than other steroid users. In both cases, I understand why...I (We? Ugh. We.) just think it's not cool.
A little over one month ago, I wrote an elegantly-titled post called "The Big Dead" about Gerry Fraley's obituary for Frank Thomas' baseball-playing abilities.
In his piece, Fraley made the following outlandish, fairly unsubstantiated claims:
The reality, which Thomas does not recognize, is that he represented a hindrance to the club.
Thomas was a deadweight.
Releasing Thomas puts the Blue Jays in position to craft a more suitable lineup. They will be a better club offensively and defensively without him.
And of course: 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.
Frank Thomas did receive a call, almost immediately. In 89 at bats with the Oakland A's, he has hit .315 with 4 HR, 16 RBI, an OPS of .921, and slash stats of .315/.415/.506.
Just as his numbers in Toronto were absolutely bound to go up, I suspect these will go down. But sometimes it's fun to go back just one month and look at what some sportswriters were saying with absolute certainty.
Whatever -- I'm calling it right now: Frank Thomas will win the Triple Crown. Of horse racing. For the next twenty years consecutively.
His jockey will be a Shetland pony adorably outfitted in a pink jockey outfit.
** EDIT **
From the Yahoo! box score, we have the following news:
OAKLAND DESIGNATED HITTER FRANK THOMAS LEFT THE GAME IN THE BOTTOM OF THE FIFTH INNING DUE TO A STRAINED RIGHT QUADRICEP.
This does not affect my prediction. I repeat: this in no way affects my prediction. In fact, what the hell -- tack on a few more Triple Crowns for this guy!
According to Steve Rosenbloom, it's turning fewer runs into more wins. Grinding: what can't it do?
Grind it out: Revisiting Thome-for-Rowand
Sportswriters, just a quick tip -- one way to get on FJM with alacrity is to invoke the 2005 White Sox and how awesome their actually mediocre offense was without mentioning their stellar pitching. Gets me every time. It's like that YouTube clip where a guy in a monster mask pops out of a trash can and then ostensible prankee punches the guy in the face.
I love Jim Thome. I don’t think Aaron Rowand is Superman. But I think that trade killed the White Sox and will continue to kill the Sox for who knows how long.
This is ridiculous for almost too many reasons to list. Reason #1: Thome was way more valuable than Rowand in 2006, the first year after the trade was made. Hit 42 homers, OPSed 1.014. Thome was pretty good in 2007, too, with 35 and .973, though Rowand probably had him beat with his fielding and his surprising year at the plate. Reason #2: Aaron Rowand isn't even playing under the old White Sox contract anymore. He had a player option for 2008, and he damn well took advantage of his crazy, career-best 2007.
Which brings us to Reason #3: If the White Sox needed Aaron Rowand so bad, they could have just signed him back as a free agent before this year. Why did they not do this? Because Brian Sabean and the aging-veteran-loving San Francisco Giants gave him $60 million.
So unless you're saying that Thome's very presence is the reason the White Sox are losing -- oh. Oh God. That's exactly what you're saying, isn't it?
It doesn’t make sense if you compare their careers. Thome is going to the Hall of Fame; Rowand is going to the hospital. But it makes perfect sense if you understand the grinder mentality that Rowand represented, the grinder mentality that the 2005 Sox lineup had, the grinder mentality that existed precisely because Rowand wasn’t Thome.
Because Thome was miles better at hitting. You don't want your players to be too good. Jesus, baseball rule number one, people. This is day one shit. NOT TOO GOOD, that's what ol' Abner Doubleday would say as he went out to his barn, going about his business of not inventing the sport of baseball.
I don't know how many times I can type this into our blog.
2005 White Sox (Rowand-y, grinding, mentally strong): 741 runs (9th in the AL), OPS+ 95 2006 White Sox (infected with Thome, non-grinding, mentally weak because too good at hitting): 868 runs (3rd in the AL), OPS+ 103
And what the hell, one more time for the long-time readers:
2005 White Sox pitching: 3.61 ERA (1st in the AL) Hermanson, Cotts, Politte ERAs: 2.04, 1.94, 2.00.
That's 180+ innings of like, vintage 1999-era Pedro. From Dustin Hermanson, Neal Cotts, and Cliff Politte.
But sure, it was also the grinding.
It existed and worked because those Sox were forced to worry about where their next run was coming from and forced the entire lineup to worry about fundamental, situational hitting.
What these stat geeks don't get about baseball is that it's not about OBP or OPP or DORPy-DORP-DORP, it's about worrying. When your team sucks, you worry, and then the clutch hits just pile up.
This Sox lineup, see, goes the other way by accident, or because it’s over-powered.
** EDIT **
Upon reading this again, it seems like "over-powered" might mean White Sox batters are getting over-powered by opposing pitchers, and thus going the other way unintentionally. So read the next paragraph with a giant grain of salt over your eyes in the shape of reading glasses that transform it into something that makes sense.
** END EDIT **
Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause. Move over, "clogging up the basepaths," you've got a new companion in the four-poster California-king-sized Bed of Baseball Idiocy. "Over-powered." If Steve Rosenbloom's favorite NASCAR car were losing races, he would be the guy taping "wind-blockers" all over the hood, yapping "This car's too fast, I tells ya, too fast!"
The 2008 White Sox aren't failing to score because they lack a grinder mentality. They're 8th in the AL in runs because they're 8th in the AL in OBP, in no small part because Thome, Paul Konerko, and Nick Swisher -- all ordinarily quite valuable hitters -- are off to career-worstish starts. Are you going to accuse these guys of not grinding? Swisher leads the AL in pitches per plate appearance. It's true. I looked it up. Is that not grinderiffic? Thome is 8th in that category, by the way. These three decent-to-great hitters are having concurrent slumps because Thome is old and Konerko is getting old and Swisher -- well, sometimes guys just stink for a couple of months. It happens.
The frustrating thing is that there are valid criticisms to be made about the Thome-Rowand trade. Rowand is seven years younger and he plays a premium defensive position well. Of course, without Rowand's incredible 2007, which I don't think even Pat Gillick would've claimed to have foreseen, Thome still would have been more valuable for the past two years. The White Sox did also have to include top prospect Gio Gonzalez (for whom they later traded again in the Freddy Garcia deal, and then dealt for Swisher), and the Phillies had to throw in $22 million because of Thome's bloated deal.
One criticism that is not valid is: Jim Thome emanates a pheromone that makes his teammates hit worse, while Aaron Rowand, through sheer lack of Thome-power, compels Juan Uribe to get clutch hits. With Thome ahead of Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye, you have a rerun of the Frank Thomas-Magglio Ordonez-Carlos Lee lineup. Wait for the homer. And wait. And wait. And wait behind teams like the rebuilding Twins. Yeesh.
2004 White Sox (Thomas-Ordonez-Lee, too many homers, too much waiting): 865 runs (3rd in the AL), OPS+ 102 2005 White Sox (Clubhouse constantly freshened by Rowand Magic Grinder Scent): 741 runs (9th in the AL), OPS+ 95
The best reason to say no to instant replay in baseball might seem like the silliest one:
Then you should definitely employ and then defend it.
Who in his right mind wants to see the standard manager-umpire confrontation—the nose-to-nose, spittle-flying, why-did-you-have-to-have-garlic-chicken-for-lunch altercation—become extinct?
In case you don't want to read ahead, let me summarize what's happening here. Rick Morrissey is setting up what we in the brain-having industry call: a false dilemma. Rick Morrissey likes it when managers go toe-to-toe with umpires. Instant replay, he reasons, will be the end of that. So he hates instant replay.
What he bizarrely fails to understand, is that (a) instant replay is being considered only for run-scoring plays (mostly HR) and (b) many manager freakouts happen after slow burns involving several ball-and-strike calls or bad calls at second on phantom double plays or whatever, and so (c) even if instant replay is instituted there will still be hundreds, nay thousands, of situations leading to managers getting angry, ergo (d) instant replay will surely not see the end of the aforementioned toe-to-toe freakouts.
So: this whole article should not have been written.
Who wants to see Ozzie Guillen calmly throw a red flag on to the field signifying his challenge of an umpire's call? I prefer it when he sends a red streak of profanity in the general direction of umpire Joe West.
This is why Ozzie Guillen still has a job. People don't care if he's a good manager. They defend him under the Lloyd McClendon Train Wreck Act of 2001.
You say you would prefer to see the correct call made?
Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. And I'm not just saying that. Watch:
There. A thousand times "yes." Actually, 1200 -- I threw in an extra 200 yesses to show how serious I am about wanting correct calls to be made in baseball games.
There were three blown HR calls in like 2 days last week. But who cares about the games themselves? Let's get the fans riled up with some good ol' fashioned spittin' in dudes' faces!
I say I would prefer to see Lou Piniella lose it over an ump's human call. That is as uniquely baseball as managers wearing team uniforms.
I've seen Lou Pinella lose it over an ump's human call about 250 times. I get it. He gets all red-faced, he screams and yells, the ump yells back, he gets kicked out, he gives a fiery postgame press conference, he gets suspended, goto 10. It's boring. It's in fact so hacky and well-known at this point that he mocks himself for doing it so much in a commercial for fucking Vitamin Water or something. You would seriously rather continue seeing that than you would see terrible game-affecting calls get reversed? (This question ignores the fact that, again, even if replay is instituted, I guarantee Pinella will get to perform his little ritual just as often.)
For the record, I personally think it's dumb that managers wear uniforms. It looks ridiculous. And if we're going to be all humanistic and nostalgic here, how about going back to these days? I think managers looked way better back then.
The powers that be in baseball say instant replay will be tested in the Arizona Fall League. If it works well there, it will be used during the World Baseball Classic, spring training and major-league games next season.
This seems rational and well-reasoned.
The Tribune's Phil Rogers reports that the technology could be in place for the 2008 postseason but that it's unlikely Major League Baseball would move quickly to introduce something so new to the game.
Again: good work, baseball. Don't rush it. Work out the kinks. Seems good.
Officials insist instant replay would be used only for disputes involving home run calls, but don't believe them for a second.
It eventually will be used for all controversial calls, excluding balls and strikes. If there's one thing we know about technology, it's that it takes over like weeds. Or haven't you seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" yet?
Okay. In football, you only get two a game, right? So what makes you think that MLB is going to use it more than that? The best thing about the NFL replay system is that you have to choose your spots, and there's a penalty if you're wrong. So it has become a legitimate part of the strategery of the sport. It also works.
Grrrrrr...technology! Change! Grrrrrrrrr!
(Also: 2001? From 1968? Not Minority Report, or a George Saunders story, or Battlestar? 2001? It's an excellent movie, but that's your reference point? Still?)
"The times are such that our fans are used to seeing all the high technology, and they're used to seeing the other sports that use these systems to make determinations, and the fans are clamoring for all the sports to look at that," Jimmie Lee Solomon, an MLB vice president, told the Associated Press.
Systems. Determinations. It sounds so poetic, doesn't it?
No, Sarcastic Jones, it sounds rational. Which is how it should sound. There is plenty of poetry in baseball. Getting calls right and monitoring the game correctly should be anti-poetic. It should just be right.
Baseball is different. Automatons do not rule this sport the way they do football. Men who otherwise would be running counterintelligence operations in South America are not running baseball. Anal-retentive people are not yet holding the reins to the national pastime, though they're trying.
Uh oh. My knee is acting up. And you know what that portends: statistics are about to get blamed for everything that is wrong with the game.
As it is, stats freaks are taking over player-personnel departments. The new-breed general managers are slaves to their computers. Couldn't we leave something open to the vagaries of being human?
False dilemma #2. GMs who are into stats rob all of baseball -- and I mean, every last tiny bit of baseball -- of humanity. The game still gets played, guys, whether it's played by Bill Bavasi's free-hacking .280 OBP scrappers or Billy Beane's plodding .370 OBP club-footed fatties. The "vagaries of being human" are on parade in every single baseball game, every at bat, every pitch, every play. If an actual computer assembled the roster, and a second computer (wearing a team uniform, as per MLB rules) managed the team, and the first base coach and third base coach were both ASIMO robots, and the umps were Cylons, and the announcers were fax machines, and the team trainer was a robotic arm with a surgical knife, and the fans were Jar-Jars, the game would still be played by humans.
What's wrong with quirkiness? Why must everything be uniform?
Nothing. It doesn't. But you know what's supernotawesome? When you're a Cardinal fan and Don Denkinger calls Jorge Orta safe at first. Or when you're the Orioles and some little twerp leans over and takes an out away from Tony Tarasco. Or when you're the Red Sox and Chuck Knoblauch misses tagging Jose Offerman by eleven feet and Tim Tschida calls him out.
(Stop writing the emails now, folks. I know none of those teams actually lost its Series because of one play. But it still sucks. And it could be corrected really easily.)
In general, baseball people are earthier than, say, football people, which might explain why Piniella kicked dirt on third-base umpire Mark Wegner during a game last season. After the fact, it was obvious the Cubs manager knew Wegner had made the correct call on the contested play, but he simply wanted to fire up his team, which was performing poorly at the time. How will a manager be able to do that sort of thing if instant replay becomes part of the game? By kicking dirt on the camera?
No. By doing the exact same thing. This whole discussion is moot, since we don't know which situations will be reviewable, but if you don't even think the play was called incorrectly and just want to fire up your team, then go out and fire up your team. And since most likely balls and strikes and maybe even routine safe/out calls won't be reviewable, there will be plenty of opportunities to fire up your team with theatrics and stuff. I'm thinking that you really didn't think this through, Mr. Morrissey. Am I right?
You might be wondering the reason for the sudden urgency over instant replay in baseball. In the last week, TV replays showed that umpires had made incorrect calls on home runs in three games.
Geez. That seems bad. Seems like if all three calls could have been reversed in like 90 combined seconds of looking at a tape, the game would be better off.
Yeah, so? Two of the games involved—surprise!—New York teams. So now it's a hot issue.
Dude. I really don't think this has anything to do with New York. I think it has more to do with the fact that there were three of them in a week. Stop yelling about New York, Chicago. There is no conspiracy to help New York. (There has never been a conspiracy to help New York. The Bulls have now been awarded the #1 overall pick in the NBA lottery twice when having like a .0000004% chance to get it. If anything, there is a conspiracy to help Chicago. But: there is no conspiracy to help Chicago.)
Baseball is better the way it is, warts and all. Sometimes human error is the story. What a boring world this would be if machines decided everything.
Piffle. Insane. Batshit. Balls. Human error is often the story in baseball, and all sports. Human player error. Why let anything besides human error or human excellence on the field decide the outcome? Why? That's lunacy. Plus, even if you correct hugely important calls -- like HR calls -- there is still a human error component on every pitch in the way of strike zone judgment.
If this plan were to take QuesTec and create a LASERTechnoGrid™ on every batter and put a chip in the ball and have the LASERTechnoGrid™ turn red for strikes and green for balls, then yes, I would say, that's silly, and let's let humans be humans. But huge game-altering HR calls? That can be corrected with like a minute's review of normal TV camera work? Why not do that? Why allow massive injustice to alter the fate of these games while we watch and yell at the TVs and the umps have to live with the calls for the rest of their lives? Why?
Speaking of boring, is there anything duller than waiting for an NFL referee to look at a replay from every angle under a hooded camera? If you think baseball is slow now, just wait.
Oh my God am I so much more willing to TiVo through a challenge break than I am to accept a totally crappy call made against my team. So much more.
I know you Cardinals fans would have loved replay during Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. That's when umpire Don Denkinger called Kansas City's Jorge Orta safe on a play at first base even though TV replays clearly showed he was out. The ninth-inning goof gave the Royals new life against St. Louis. They went on to win that game and the next to win the title.
Please somehow say that this was a good learning experience or something for Cardinal fans. Say whatever does not kill you makes you stronger. Please.
But if there had been official replay and Denkinger's call had been overruled, what would Cubs fans have to say during trash-talking sessions with Cardinals fans? Very little. Instant replay shows no mercy for the downtrodden.
That's your argument? It's awesome for fans of a team that had nothing to do with that game? How is that an argument? I know it sucked for Austrians when Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Ferdinand, but how cool was it for Pro-Serb Austrian-hating Hungarians? They got to razz the fuck out of Austria after that.
The umpire is the law, always has been. His word is final. You can argue all you want with him, but you're not going to win. There's something quaint about that,
Quaint. Good for: inns, antique stores, English countryside pastorals, and sometimes courtship rituals. Bad for: high-stakes athletic contests that people care about passionately and which could be easily fixed by a modicum of technology.
something that hearkens back to when baseball was played in a cleared-out cornfield. Back then, managers and players foamed at the mouth in their anger over close calls, but it didn't do any good.
With this logic, why stop at barring technology? Let apes ump. They're sure to get most of the calls wrong, and then everyone can scream and yell throughout the entire game. Apes are like 99% human, DNA-wise, right?
Years from now, we might be looking back fondly on the days when flesh-and-blood umpires roamed the earth.
Or, you short-sighted buffoon, you and your readers might be looking back and saying, "Jesus, if instant replay hadn't been instituted before the 2008 playoffs, Soriano's 7th-game 8th-inning HR would have been called foul and we would never have won our first World Series in 100 years. Thank God for that tiny little change that affected very little and didn't really change the game at all. And how fun was it to watch Pinella go ballistic at the umps before they reviewed it!
We truly live in a Golden Age of Reason," they'll say, before writing another letter to the Trib demanding you be fired.
Ryan from motherfletching Wales drops some Welsh-flavored truth bombs:
It seems to me that there are two essential arguments being made against instant replay. First that it offends the sense of tradition of some people. Second is the fear that while it may initially be used in cases of disputed scoring plays (or possibly just homeruns), umpires will come to rely on it to make calls on other plays, which will slow the game down inordinately. These arguments are very similar to the ones that were raised a few years ago when it was decided that at the highest levels of the game, rugby would use instant replay if the scoring of a try (analogous to a touchdown in American football) was in question.
I play and watch rugby, and if there is one sport more steeped in old-timey traditions that baseball, it is rugby. They didn’t even allow players to get paid until 199fucking5. The argument was ‘the game has always been amateur, so why should we change now?’ This is how set in its ways the game is/was. People watching professional/international games at home started complaining that sometimes the referee made the wrong call with regards to a try being scored. Eventually the governing body realized that it is better to get the calls right than it is to adhere to tradition. The TMO (Television Match Official) was introduced and (some) people thought that soon enough referees would be asking TMO’s about the minutiae of the game. This has not happened, and now rugby fans embrace (or at least accept) the TMO.
Avery isn't from Wales. Avery is from HotLanta. But Avery still makes some good points.
There are 2 other arguments I wish would get more press in favor of the limited use of instant replay you're talking about. 1st - I would be willing to bet that it would actually speed the game up. Right now, after a difficult home run call, the umpires dont make the call and then start the game up instantly for the sake of speedyness - they always huddle up with each other, debate it out, sometimes overrule each other - ive watched games where those huddles seemed to take forever. There is no way that checking a TV to see what actually happened would be slower.
2nd - Isnt there already a 5th umpire at every game, who takes over if one of the starting umpires gets injured? How about we just let that guy sit in front of a TV, and give him a phone to call down and tell the guys on the field what really happened, then (like in college football) everyone can avoid the dreaded "umpire under the hood" which has become synonymous with slowing down the game.
In baseball they dont have a 5th umpire at games in case of injuries. in that case, the umpires go with a 3 man crew and the field umps tend to roam around based on where the baserunners are. If the ump behind the plate goes down, then one of the other umps go back there. Maybe in the playoffs with the RF and LF umps they have an extra one just in case, but in the regular season they dont have "backups.
I am hereby going to suggest that the league use this replay thing as a way to create 15 more umping jobs -- have apprentice umps work the replay booth at each game, as a way to make everything legit, and a way to break in new young umps and get them game experience. Everybody wins! Except Morrissey.
Sorry for the lack of posts, you guys. The insurance industry is not exactly at its zenith right now. On my desk are 3500 pages of subpoenas requesting records that have been long since shredded, and while your humble narrator remains innocent of any wrongdoing, one would guess that several of my compatriots will soon be doing perp walks outside the Partridge, KS town courthouse. Bill Gristleman, Chad Thinson, Emerson Queltz, James Jimson, Hap Gerdle, Avery Klumhauser, Gern Blenston...all my friends. They'll all be gone soon. Oh, Fremulon, we hardly knew ye.
So what's a guy to do? How about: submit to the temptation to be baited by a dumb article entitled "8 Reasons Why Baseball is Lame and Boring" by the pseudonymous "J-Mo." That selfsame pseudonym, as well as the general tone of the article, suggests that the only reason for its existence is to get picked up by angry bloggers like me and drive traffic to the dank, dark, msn/lifestyle/men corner of the worldwideternets.
But screw it. I'm in a fightin' mood.
In just about every U.S. city, if you’re not a fan of baseball, you might as well not be American. Harboring an aversion to the sport is equivalent to burning Old Glory—especially here in Boston, where I live.
This is correct.
What? You don’t know Big Papi’s slugging percentage? That’s an immediate flogging.
It's up to .459, after a very disturbing and PECOTA "Collapse Rate"-style fear-inducing .375 in 96 April AB. .608 in May is more like it. Anyway, yes, I would flog you, if I still lived in Boston.
Tell anyone you’d rather walk along the Charles River than spend an afternoon at Fenway Park? You’re looking at five years in Guantanamo Bay, pal.
That seems extreme. The flogging will suffice.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of a namby-pamby anti-sports guy. Football is a part of my DNA and most of my shirts growing up were the color of blood. But let's face it: Baseball is lame and boring. At the risk of being cuffed and detained by Homeland Security (which, by the way, is why I’m writing this article under a pseudonym), here are eight reasons why.
Before we get going here, let me just say that "boring" is probably the #1 complaint of non-baseball fans about the game of baseball. The standard counter-argument -- and it's a good one -- is that there is much to enjoy about the non-action periods of a game. The positioning of fielders, the psychological drama of pitcher vs. batter, the strategizing, the fact that the defense puts the ball into play on its own schedule, the fact that somehow the game has evolved perfectly so that a runner with just big enough a lead to not get picked off first who starts running exactly when the pitcher goes into a delivery from the stretch will slide into second at almost exactly the moment that the ball can travel from pitcher's hand to catcher's mitt to catcher's hand to second baseman's glove, and so on. If you don't subscribe to this theory, and long for the exactly-as-long-gametime and exactly-as-many-moments-of-actual-action of the NFL, there's probably no way to change your mind. My point is only this: it's very hacky and boring to say that baseball is boring, because anyone who doesn't like baseball is going to say it's boring.
Schedule Can we agree on this? One hundred and sixty two games in a regular season is 142 too many.
You want 20 baseball games a year? Seriously? You want the season to last from April 1 to April 25? You want each team to play each other team once, with like 5 interleague games? You want the May Classic? You want that?
Come on. By the time July rolls around, a game-winning home run or strike out in the bottom of the ninth doesn’t mean squat, except that it’s finally time to go to bed. Knock the schedule down to one game a week and then we might have something to look forward to,
Ah. You want one game a week. Keep the calendar the same, just spread the games out so thin you forget the season's still happening. And knock the revenue down 85%. And make it as hard to see in person as football. Awesome.
Here's the thing, though, J-Mo: the joy of baseball is that the season stretches out over a long period of time, and they play every night. That's what separates the game from other games. Shit's poetic, holmes. Baseball is poetic. It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. (I just came up with that! I am a genius.)
just as long as we don’t have to endure pregame interviews and press conferences all week long. Ugh.
Anyone want to stick up for basketball or football press conferences and postgame interviews as being more interesting than those in baseball? (Clinton Portis excepted.)
And while we're talking about this, anyone want to say that the baseball season is more boring than the NBA playoffs, in which 28 of the 30 teams qualify, and then play best-of-seven series against each other from March to the following February?
Physical Fitness It’s no shocker that you don’t have to be Mr. Universe to play baseball, but some guys look like they’ve been chewing on North Carolina pulled pork in the dugout instead of tobacco.
Brought to you by J-Mo Smokeless Tobacco. J-Mo: It's Less Fattening Than Pork!
Take a look back a few years and it’s even worse.
So...the "problem" you're describing is getting better.
Milwaukee tumors were as commonplace a generation ago as Camaros with T-tops. It’s no wonder steroids are such a problem in the league today. Why work out when all you have to do is shoot up?
Baseball: the only sport where athletes use steroids.
Also, as far as I am concerned, the less-than-chiseled silhouettes of some MLB players is a huge vote in favor of baseball as the People's Game. It has also led to some of the most excellent quotes in sports history, like when Terry Francona, told that Kevin Youkilis's nickname is "The Greek God of Walks," responded, "I've seen him in the shower. He isn't the Greek god of anything."
Fair-Weather Sport Ask any football, soccer, rugby, or lacrosse player what they think about rain delays in baseball and they’ll likely give you an answer we can’t print here.
"Fuckshit!" they'll say, those foulmouthed lax players.
What they’ll imply is that baseball players are a little less manly than other athletes simply because they won’t play in the rain. What’s the worst that could happen?
The game will be impossible to play, and no one will watch it.
Slower pitching? More runs scored? A few extra scratches and bruises? (Boo-hoo.)
It's not a contact sport, dummy. It's a precision sport. You don't perform knee surgery in the rain either.
Stealing second means sliding into left field? Sounds like we have a way to make baseball less lame and boring.
Yes. Play it in the rain. Excellent idea. You know what else would be cool? Opening a petting zoo at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Statistics If I want a lesson in mathematics, I’ll walk through the halls of MIT, not the turnstiles of Yawkey Way. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, aren’t we?
Oh, we're enjoying ourselves, J-Mo. And here's the thing about statistics, which to me seems self-evident, but to pseudonymous blowhards might not: you don't have to use them, if you don't want to.
On-base percentages, opponent on-base plus slugging percentages, sabermetrics … Alan Greenspan might enjoy crunching the numbers, but for those of us who’d rather leave our brains at work, the cold-beverage-intake-to-bladder-outflow ratio makes a whole lot more sense.
Bra. Seriously, bra. Fuck these nerds. For serious. True story, bra -- I'm at the game yesterday. I'm wasted. Seriously, bra, I've had like eleven brews. I'm there with my boy Donnie -- awesome guy. Solid guy. The papers call him the "Laundry Room Rapist." So Donnie's like, "Bra, you want another one?" And I'm like, "Shitchyea, dude! I ain't driving!" And Donnie's all, "Bra, you are driving, remember?" And I was like, "Ohhhh shit!" And we high-five, right?
So basically everything was awesome. We were crushing it, bra. And then, this little fucking nerd in front of us is like, "Can you be careful? You're spilling beer on my daughter's head," and I'm like, "Whatever dude -- it's a ballgame. Shut up and enjoy the ride!" and he's like, "Just try to be more considerate," and then his little nerd son is like, "Daddy, look, Manny's up!" and his nerd dad is like, "Let's go Manny!" and his nerd son is like, "His batting average is down to .288" and that's when I just lost it, bra. Those fucking nerds and their numbers. So I pull my rod out -- you know, because I have to piss, right? -- and the guy is all, "Hey! You can't do that here!" and I'm like, "Sorry, nerdbra, the only statistic I care about is how many brewskis I've had and how much piss I've pissed" and the next thing you know security is dragging me out and they're all like, "You're banned for life" and I'm like, "Bra, what the hell?" and they're like "You pulled your penis out and urinated at your seat and there's vomit on your forearm, and also you can't smoke in the stadium, and your friend is wearing a shirt and shoes but no pants," and I'm like "He's Donald Ducking it, bra -- it's classic!" and they're like, "Get out of here and never come back."
And that's when I realized: nerds have ruined baseball.
Going the Distance If a quarterback can get nearly knocked unconscious multiple times by 300-pound defensive ends for four full quarters, then why shouldn’t a pitcher have to throw a ball 60 feet for a full nine innings—especially if that pitcher is making millions of dollars a year?
...Sorry, do you really want an answer? Okay. Because there aren't 7 other quarterbacks who specialize in 4th quarter passing on an NFL roster. Because baseball isn't really about enduring physical pain, because it, again, is not a contact sport. Because a pitcher has to hurl a ball 90+ mph over and over again into an imaginary box that measures about 500 square inches, and if he spots the ball in about 450 of those square inches it will be launched into outer space by a roided-up monster holding a tree branch and wearing enough protective armor to render moot even his most child-like fear of getting hit with the ball, and the ability to hit those last 50 square inches with the ball he's throwing from 60.5 feet away tends to deteriorate after he's done it 110 times (plus warm-ups), and his ability to do it at all will pretty much fly right out the metaphorical window if someone makes him do it so much that his fucking arm falls off.
Instead he gets pulled before things can go from bad to worse, and fans go nutty when the song they voted for plays over the loudspeakers and their star closer comes out of the bullpen like Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in Major League.
Topical. Also: how is this a bad thing if it gets fans riled up in a good way? Also: fans tend to love CGs more than even closer entrances. Also: fans don't vote for those songs. They are chosen by the closers. Also: if you ever went to a Padres game in the late 1990s when Trevor Hoffman came in, or to the Stadium when Mariano comes in, or to Houston when Wagner came in, or to Anaheim when Percival came in, or to Boston when Papelbon comes in, and you didn't enjoy yourself, you are a soulless thug.
Don’t even get me started on “The Papelbon.”
Are you talking about this:?
Because that was awesome.
Superstitions Evoke God in public schools, at any bar, or even on national television and you’re likely to be shown the door.
Public schools, maybe, sure, because of that whole thing about not forcing religions on people in America. But bars and TV? It's all God all the time out there, man. In fact, I would go as far as to say, if you're an atheist you're much more likely to be "shown the door" than if you say you love God.
Yet baseball fans collectively acknowledge a higher power that influences their favorite teams and players.
Oh. This is what you were talking about. I thought you were going to say that you're sick of athletes attributing their play to Jesus. I am sick of that, too -- in all sports. But you're talking about stupid superstitions. Ugh. You don't even know where your argument actually lives, here.
A seemingly innocuous trade of a pudgy pitcher in 1920 by the Red Sox to the Yankees? Yup, that was a curse.
The only person who really believes that is this dude, and he doesn't really believe it as much as he used it to sell books. Sentient human beings understand that decades of racism and mismanagement were actually more responsible for the failure of the franchise than ghost stories and nonsense.
Winning two World Series titles in three years? Fate.
Two titles in four years, genius, not three. And not fate: just good teams. Even the most Leigh Montvilled-out poets among us don't attribute the second title to fate. How would that even make sense?
A Red Sox shirt buried in concrete at the new Yankees Stadium? Bad vibes, dig it up!
More like bad press, if you're a new loudmouthed Yankee owner trying to make his mark by screaming as loud as daddy did.
A hawk that recently attacked a teenage girl named Alexandra Rodriguez (A-Rod, as in Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez) at Fenway Park? You guessed it, an omen. And we wonder why the Pope won’t visit our city.
First of all, that was amazing. If you didn't hear about this, here's the story. It's pretty amazing that her name was Alexa Rodriguez, don't you think? I mean, come on -- how can you not love that? (Except that a girl was attacked by a wild animal, and thank goodness she's okay, and all of that.)
Off-Season Shenanigans Baseball is a year-round sport and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Between charity events, trades, management shake-ups, and stadium upgrades, teams and the media make it painfully clear: You will think about baseball 360 days a year—OR ELSE!
First of all, did you intend to give us 5 days off, or are you maybe thinking of a circle? Second of all: for a guy who prefers the NFL to MLB, this is straight-up bonkers. The NFL is the sport with year-round coverage, and their regular season is only four months long. The draft, the minicamps, the free agent signings, the pre-season...the NFL gets 24/7/365 coverage by the media. (And it should, by the way, because people are interested in it.) The baseball season starts on April 1 or so, goes to October 1 or so, then another month for the post-season. Then nobody cares about it until like March, because the NFL is in full swing. (Some people like the Hot Stove season -- myself included -- but the whole world stops when the NFL releases its new schedule.)
But the league occasionally throws us a bone with some quality off-season entertainment like a six-hour Senate hearing. Now that’s excitement!
Fair enough. The congressional stuff is boring. 9/10 of the way through the article, you have managed to make a good point about why baseball isn't that interesting right now, by citing something that has very little to do with the actual game. Good work.
Then there's something about fantasy baseball being boring, which is, itself, boring. And there you have it. 8 reasons why baseball is lame and boring, brought to you by a person who chose to write under a pseudonym that parodies an 8-year-old cultural reference on a website that contains a chunk of url reading: msn.lifestyle.men.
You forgot to further destroy his argument by mentioning that no quarterback actually spends "four full quarters" being attacked by defenders. Even the Superbowl Champion New York Giants had a regular season average time of possession of 31:22. As a stats nerd, I used complicated mathematics to determine that that equals an average of 2.091 quarters, and I'm quite sure that 2.091 < 4.
Also, maybe I am weird, but I would rather watch a 6-hour Senate hearing than a 6-hour Mel Kiper Jr marathon.
"Why work out when all you have to do is shoot up?"
Steroids allow you to work out longer, harder. They don't make muscle just magically appear. They allow you to build more muscle faster, but you still have to work out like a maniac. This is why Barry Bonds hurt his ligaments, etc. after he went on steroids. The drugs masked the pain even as they built up his muscles so that they were too much for his connective tissue. Taking steroids is not the lazy way out, its the unnatural way.
Also, wouldn't steroids make you more fit? I don't understand his argument here.
Since the writer is from Boston, the whole "fans voting for the closer's song" section is right. Last year, one of the radio stations - either WAAF or BCN - let fans vote for Papelbon's song and that's how he wound up with "Shipping Up to Boston."
But all of a sudden here comes Cyndi with a left hook to the face of Matt:
Since the writer is from Boston , the whole "fans voting for the closer's song" section is right. Last year, one of the radio stations - either WAAF or BCN - let fans vote for Papelbon's song and that's how he wound up with "Shipping Up to Boston."
Sorry, but “Matt” is wrong. Dr Charles Steinberg chose “Shipping up to Boston ” back when he was still running all things commercial/promotional for the Sox. They covered it on one of those “hated” post-game shows in NESN.
Plenty of radio stations and newspapers made a big deal out of what Papelbon’s song should be and had fan votes, but none of them actually chose what the song was. The Red Sox chose it themselves.
So it was The Dentist. Interesting. I am going to defend Steinberg on this one -- I'm glad it is region-specific, and not just "Hell's Bells" or something.