Hi. We're still alive. So is Richard Griffin, but unlike us, Richard is using his life force to promulgate horrible misinformation about baseball.
We come upon Richard as he is about to answer a very reasonable question from a gentleman named Neil Shyminsky. Neil?
Q: Hi Richard,
Maybe you can explain this one to me. In the past couple weeks, I've been hearing all of this talk about A.J. Burnett's "career year", which will possibly lead him to opt out of his contract at year's end. Remembering that his ERA was well over 5.00 just a month ago, I double-checked his stats.
Sure enough, this season's ERA is more than half a run higher than his career ERA and his WHIP is also much higher than normal. His strikeout numbers are good, but they're only slightly better than his career K/9 (innings) ratio, and are actually lower than last year's K/9 numbers. In fact, his win-loss record and games started numbers are the only numbers that are noticeably better than what he's put up over the last 5 years. In contrast, Halladay's ERA, WHIP, and K/9 are shaping up to be the best he's ever compiled in a year where he's thrown at least 150 innings. But where's the love for his "career year"?
My question is this: when was it decided that a context-specific stat like wins is the determining factor in declaring a "career year", especially when Burnett's ERA and WHIP seem to suggest it's actually his worst? Or is it maybe that the "career year" stat is the number that we don't see - namely, A.J.'s usual 5-10 games lost to injury?
Neil Shyminsky, Toronto
Neil makes a lot of good points. That's why you didn't see me jumping in like an asshole and calling him a lot of profane names, even though that's what I was put on this earth to do. Neil probably got a 5 on his AP Physics exam. Then he majored in electrical engineering at McGill, married a nice French-Canadian girl named Ghyslaine, and settled down in Toronto, where he became a fan of the Blue Jays.
Richard Griffin, meanwhile, got a 2 on his AP Physics test (claimed to be sick that day), dropped out of Lakehead, cheated on an Inuit girl named Arnakua'gsak, and is about to say something stupid about baseball.
A: The reason that this is a career year for Burnett is that baseball is a team sport and the team goal is victories.
This is, presumably, the same reason that between the pitching Hernandezes, Livan (10-8, 5.48 ERA) is having a better season than Felix (8-8, 3.28 ERA). Don't you understand baseball is a team sport, Felix, you selfish prima donna?
The Twins enjoyed Livan Hernandez' winning ways so much, they decided to cut him from their baseball team. Guess they hate victories, which are the goal of sports.
Major League Baseball is not Fantasy Baseball where every ERA, WHIP, VORP or DORK stands on its own.
Dork is a slang term that means "dick," which is a slang term that means "penis."
Major League Baseball: Where no penis stands alone.®
(Slogan courtesy of Richard Griffin.)
No matter which way you slice it, Burnett has been more valuable to the Jays this year than in either of his previous two seasons in Blue Jays black.
I will slice it using Win Shares. It has the word "win" in it, and like you said, baseball is about winning.
2006 9.8 2007 12.1 2008 9.4
Burnett's biggest contribution this year compared to years past is that barring injury, he'll pitch more innings than he ever has as a Blue Jay. But come on: a lot of those innings have been horrendous. Guy had a 6.07 ERA in April and a 5.06 ERA in June. Heck, even though he's sort of turned things around, his ERA in August is 4.96. In his best 22 starts this year, A.J. is 15-4 with a 2.97 ERA, while in his less than magnificent seven outings, he is 1-5, with a 10.30 ERA.
For a guy who thinks stats are penises, you just dropped a real shitty-smelling dick of a stat, sir. What is this arbitrary division of 22 "good" starts versus 7 "bad" supposed to convey? Burnett was awful in those seven bad outings, yes -- and yet he got a win in a game when he allowed seven (!) runs. He also gave up 8 runs twice, 6 runs twice, and 5 runs twice, and his team lost all six of those games. Because A.J. Burnett pitched really badly. These games count. They are bad. They hurt the team.
Of his 16 victories, 4 came when Burnett gave up 4 or more runs. They weren't laughers, either, where Burnett was "pitching to the score" or some such nonsense -- they were all decided by two or fewer runs. So in a world where Vernon Wells or Lyle Overbay or Alex Rios hits a little worse in those four games, Burnett could have very easily gone 12-9, or 12-11, or 12-13 -- making him a huge loser in Richard Griffin's book.
A better, more nuanced argument here would be that although Burnett's 4.58 ERA is unsightly, he has made 14 very strong starts where he allowed 2 or fewer runs. Whether through skill or through luck, he managed to cluster a lot of the runs he's allowed this year into three or four absolutely horrendous outings. And I guess that's more valuable than allowing 4 runs every time out.
(As an absurd example, consider a guy who pitches nine scoreless innings 34 times and then allows 1,000 runs in his last game. Bad ERA, but pretty solid year. Although also consider that wins alone still might not capture the season this Mr. Awesome Except For One Disaster delivers -- it's possible that his teammates let him down and don't ever score for him, leaving him with a season record of 0-1. Poor Mr. Awesome Except For One Disaster!) In all of those seven starts, Burnett has allowed between 5-8 earned runs, while averaging 5-2/3 innings. To dismiss wins as a “context specific” stat is silly in a team sport that by definition is a “context specific” sport.
Anyway, you've heard it in this space so many times before, I'd have to express the number in scientific notation. Wins are a bad metric.
My new, fairly self-evident theory is that Diplodocus-intellected sportswriters elevate the importance of the statistic that is called a "win" for a pitcher simply because it's called a win. But it's still a statistic, guys, and a bad one at that -- one that depends on your offense and your bullpen.
My proposal: we give the win a new name. We call it the DORK. We call a loss a BLORK. Thus, pitchers now have DORK-BLORK records instead of win-loss records. Won't Richard Griffin feel manly when he extols Andy Sonnanstine's heroic 13-6 DORK-BLORK record? Sonnanstine knows how to DORK, yes he does! Derek Lowe is 10-11? Needs to put his team on his back and lead them to the DORK. I don't care how close some of his BLORKs are, because hey, the bottom line is: you play to DORK the game.
I like opening grafs that read like Star Wars scrolls.
It is a time of cowardice and fear, oblivious to the lessons of history. If there's a bond among starting pitchers of the pitch-count era, it's that they were born too late.
Yes. I'm sure Barry Zito wishes he were born in 1884, and instead of making $126m over the next six+ years, he had made $40 per 350 innings and lived in a crappy one-bedroom near the park and aspired to drive a Model T and read with great interest news of the first plane flight and carried a watch fob and used a glove that was only slightly bigger than his hand that he had to leave on the mound for the guy on the other team to use and died of typhoid at the age of 28. Ah...the good old days, for baseball players.
One of life's great truisms is to finish what you start.
All kinds of [sic]s here, but I can't grammar-police this article. There's too much other work to do.
It's what you tell your kids, your surgeon, your contractor.
Who tells his surgeon this? And in what context? Like, through the anaesthesia somehow, you say this to your gall bladder surgeon, who has decided to half-ass it?
This once applied to baseball, with precision, but now there's a new law: Just quit. Let somebody else finish the job. You did your part, now go be a cheerleader.
Pause briefly to say: BP has done a lot of work on pitch counts, as evidenced in their PAP (Pitcher Abuse Points) index. You can find that here. Other, more qualified people than I have researched the effects of pitch counts on the human physique, and I won't pretend to know nearly as much as they do. But it stands to reason, in this day and age, that 7-, 8-, or 9-figure investments should be protected slightly more than their more expendable counterparts in years past.
It also stands to reason that pitchers probably have to work a little harder these days to be successful, what with all of the modern strength training, nutrition, drug abuse, tape-watching, analysis, and preparation that hitters have at their disposal. Albert Pujols (and others) routinely go into the clubhouse immediately after at bats to review the tape on how the pitcher got him out. If you could go back in time and take Nap Lajoie into a room after Rube Waddell K'd him on three pitches and show him a glowing box with a video replay of the at bat, he would call you a demon, slit your throat, tear out his eyes, and generally freak the fuck out. It's a different game, these days.
That's my lob to Jenkins. Here's his return:
Pitch counts have destroyed not only the elements of pride and accomplishment among starting pitchers, but the art of winning. If one thing characterized the great pitchers of the past, from Bob Feller to Warren Spahn to Tom Seaver, it's that they learned how to win. You don't get that from a "quality start" and a nice, early shower. It's when you understand the difference between a breezy sixth inning and a stressful ninth, when you brought that victory home, and can't wait to do it again.
I would say, based purely on anecdotal evidence, that there are many pitchers who would like to close out more games than they are allowed. I would also say, based on anecdotal and statistical evidence, that the average pitcher in this league can convert most save opportunities that might come his way, and the average good closer can convert like 90-95% of them, so there just really isn't a good reason to throw Brandon Webb back out there for the ninth inning of a 5-2 game after he's thrown 125 pitches. Or whatever.
Tim Lincecum would love to close the deal.
Tim Lincecum is fourteen years old and weighs 88 pounds. I don't care if his delivery was designed by NASA torque specialists. He can just relax and let someone else pitch.
So would Matt Cain, Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir and Carlos Zambrano. They're all prisoners of the pitch-count era, trapped inside a philosophy that characterizes every organization.
Haren, Cain, and Z have been relatively injury free so far. But here's the 24 year-old Kazmir over a less-than-2-year-span:
March 25, 2008
Placed on 15-day DL (Left elbow strain)
August 26, 2006
Placed on 15-day DL (Left shoulder soreness)
July 30, 2006
Placed on 15-day DL (Left rotator cuff inflammation)
That's at least two and maybe 3 different arm injuries. You want that guy pushing it?
In 1904, a 30-year-old Yankees pitcher named Jack Chesbro led the American League with 48 complete games.
Yes. I'm sure he was still firing 94 with wicked movement late in those games. I'm sure for most of the 450+ innings he threw that year, he was fresh as a daisy. Things that happened in 1904 are incredibly relevant today. I mean, 1904 was virtually yesterday, in baseball terms. I mean, that's only 10 years before this rule:
In the case of fire, panic, or storm, the umpire does not have to wait until the pitcher has the ball on the mound to call a time-out. [9.04]
was adopted. It's only a few scant years before women gained suffrage. There's basically no difference in baseball -- or any sport -- between 1904 and now. To prove that, here are some things that happened in the 1904 Olympics, held in St. Louis:
European tension caused by the Russo-Japanese War and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis kept many of the world's top athletes away.
One of the most remarkable athletes was the American gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals even though his left leg was made of wood.
The marathon was the most bizarre event of the Games. It was run in brutally hot weather, over dusty roads, with horses and automobiles clearing the way and creating dust clouds.
1. The first to arrive was Frederick Lorz, who actually was just trotting back to the finish line to retrieve his clothes, after dropping out after nine miles. When the officials thought he had won the race, Lorz played along with his practical joke until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony and was banned for a year by the AAU for this stunt, later winning the 1905 Boston Marathon.
2. Thomas Hicks (a Briton running for the United States) was the first to cross the finish-line legally, after having received several doses of strychnine sulfate mixed with brandy from his trainers. He was supported by his trainers when he crossed the finish, but is still considered the winner. Hicks had to be carried off the track, and possibly would have died in the stadium, had he not been treated by several doctors.
3. A Cuban postman named Felix Carbajal joined the marathon. He had to run in street clothes that he cut around the legs to make them look like shorts. He stopped off in an orchard en route to have a snack on some apples, which turned out to be rotten. The rotten apples caused him to have to lie down and take a nap. Despite falling ill to apples he finished in fourth place.
4. The marathon included the first two black Africans to compete in the Olympics; two Tswana tribesmen named Len Tau (real name: Len Taunyane) and Yamasani (real name: Jan Mashiani). But they weren't there to compete in the Olympics, they were actually the sideshow. They had been brought over by the exposition as part of the Boer War exhibit (both were really students from Orange Free State in South Africa, but this fact was not made known to the public). Len Tau finished ninth and Yamasani came in twelfth. This was a disappointment, as many observers were sure Len Tau could have done better if he had not been chased nearly a mile off course by aggressive dogs.
That seems like 2008, Beijing, right? Good. Let's keep going.
Last year, Arizona's Brandon Webb topped the National League with four. The complete game has become as obsolete as five-man pepper, the two-hour game, guys swinging three bats in the on-deck circle, and coaches hitting practice pop-ups with a fungo bat.
1. NO PEPPER
2. If every game were Mark Buehrle v. Joe Blanton, you'd get bored in May.
3. It's hard to hold three bats.
4. Coaches still do this.
The sins of pitch-count madness are evident nightly, but there was no more glaring example than Lincecum's July 26 start against Arizona.
I can't believe you're not going with Johan for "the most glaring example." His bullpen has lost him like 6 games this year, and those games, unlike the Giants', actually matter.
Lincecum, a freakish phenomenon who has not had a hint of arm trouble, was demonstrating why some sharp observers consider him the best pitcher in the National League. He had 13 strikeouts, no walks, radar readings of 98 mph and a 3-2 lead, striking out the side in the seventh inning and finishing it with his glorious, unhittable changeup.
Time out! That's it for Lincecum. He'd thrown 121 pitches in his last outing, and now he was at 111, and ... well, can't you see? It's right here on this piece of paper.
It's also right here in the part of my brain that creates and registers "common sense." This game is meaningless. Tim Lincecum is the future of your organization. Remove him from the game.
Manager Bruce Bochy turned to setup man Tyler Walker, and thus was bestowed an outright gift to the opposition. Walker is a fine fellow and an earnest competitor, but he has about one-tenth of Lincecum's ability.
Most pitchers do -- Lincecum is awesome. Which is why it wouldn't really make sense to stretch him past 111 pitches in a meaningless game in late July when he'd thrown 126 pitches four days earlier.
As that one-run lead became a two-run loss, the fans couldn't believe it. They came for De Niro and got SpongeBob.
In this analogy:
Robert DeNiro = Good Actor
SpongeBob = ...Bad...Actor?
KNBR's Ralph Barbieri, who had watched from the stands, spoke for a lot of fans when he angrily called the station, got on the air and said, "If I'd known that was going to happen, I wouldn't have gone to the ballpark!"
You would have missed seven good innings of Tim Lincecum pitching, which, if you're a Giants fan, is about as good as it can get right now.
It would be misguided to blame Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti or general manager Brian Sabean. They only reflect a cautious stance taken throughout baseball, and if they have decided to protect Lincecum's arm - the better for him to dominate when the team becomes relevant - who's to argue? They've been consistent with their rules, involving all of the starters, so it would look silly for Lincecum to suddenly have a 150-pitch game.
Correct. Why did you write this article?
More than a numbers game
The problem isn't so much the pitch count, an honest endeavor, but the dismissal of all other factors. Fatigue can't be measured by a counter that suddenly reaches "100." For a laboring pitcher, 90 pitches could be a solid two hours of hell. For someone on cruise control, 120 pitches is about as stressful as a Caribbean vacation.
True 'dat, my brother. Other things you should consider: does the game mean anything? Is the pitcher the complete and utter future of your franchise? Did the pitcher throw a lot of pitches in his last (also meaningless) game? If the answers are: no, yes, yes, then you should pull him after seven innings.
There are so many more reliable signs of trouble: if a pitcher can't throw a strike on 2-and-0, if his curveball loses snap, if he constantly lifts or shakes his arm (indicating discomfort), if he takes more than his customary time between pitches, if he starts shaking off the catcher when the two have been in sync all night, if he walks the leadoff man with a five-run lead, if he can't throw his money pitch when he had it two innings earlier, if he's fussing with needless pickoff throws, if his body language betrays frustration.
The implication here: major league managers and pitching coaches have never considered this. They have seen pitchers exhibit this trouble and thought nothing of it. They have watched the absence of these signs and thought nothing of it. They have simply never thought to consider these factors at all. Not once. And they never go up and talk to their pitchers between innings and ask them how they feel. They never have, or formulate, plans. They just wait until the eighth inning and toss a reliever in there. Managing.
In a recent outing against Houston, CC Sabathia pitched his fifth complete game in the nine starts he'd made for Milwaukee. He threw 130 pitches, raising a torrent of alarmist nonsense. Fortunately, manager Ned Yost didn't join in the geeks' pencil party. What Sabathia has done for the Brewers is a story, something exceptional. It's called rising above the rest - the very essence of sports. Yost had a great answer, too, when asked if Sabathia threw too many pitches. "Never once did he labor," he said.
It has not occurred to Mr. Jenkins, apparently, that CC is 99% likely to leave the team after this season. Which means: the Brewers could not give less of two shits [sic] how beat up he gets. They are driving for the playoffs. If CC blows his arm out in June of next year, that's Hank Steinbrenner's problem.
In other words: Open your eyes, everybody. Follow your instincts. By all means, protect an often-injured pitcher such as Rich Harden, a star (think Pedro Martinez) near the end of his career, or a prospect who hasn't worked a 100-inning season in his life. But when you have a young, healthy starter and you're making distinctions between 110 and 120 pitches, you've driven way off the road.
Tim Lincecum had thrown a grand total of 62.2 innings in professional baseball before throwing 146 with the Giants last year (after 31 of those minor league innings). He is on pace to throw 216 this year.
...nobody wants to be blamed: by the media, talk-show hosts, agents, the players' association or executives protecting their financial investments. When I spoke with Bochy in the aftermath of that Lincecum game, he actually mentioned Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, who gallantly took the Cubs to the brink of the World Series in 2003, then broke down with sore arms later, prompting some after-the-fact hysteria targeting then-manager Dusty Baker.
Don't be so quick to blame then-Giants manager Felipe Alou of ruining an arm when Jason Schmidt crafted a one-hit, 144-pitch shutout at Wrigley Field ("I'd do it all over again," Schmidt recently said. "There's nothing like knowing the game is in your control.")
July 16, 2008
Recalled from minors rehab
June 28, 2008
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
June 01, 2008
Recalled from minors rehab
May 20, 2008
Transferred to 60-day DL
May 11, 2008
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
March 30, 2008
Placed on 15-day DL (Recovery from right shoulder surgery)
November 01, 2007
Removed from 60-day DL
August 13, 2007
Transferred to 60-day DL
June 18, 2007
Placed on 15-day DL (Right shoulder surgery - out for season)
June 05, 2007
Removed from 15-day DL
May 30, 2007
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
April 17, 2007
Placed on 15-day DL (Right bursa sac inflammation)
May 24, 2005
Removed from 15-day DL
May 10, 2005
Placed on 15-day DL (Strained right shoulder)
April 16, 2004
Recalled from minors rehab
April 16, 2004
Removed from 15-day DL
April 10, 2004
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
April 03, 2004
Placed on 15-day DL (Right shoulder stiffness)
April 24, 2002
Recalled from minors rehab
April 13, 2002
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
May 11, 2001
Recalled from minors rehab
April 30, 2001
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
April 20, 2001
Recalled from minors rehab
April 13, 2001
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
September 01, 2000
Transferred to 60-day DL
August 23, 2000
Recalled from minors rehab
July 29, 2000
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
August 30, 1996
Recalled from minors rehab
August 11, 1996
Sent to minors for rehabilitation
Not that many games have been under his control, really. What with all the injuries.
Don't single out Yost as some type of renegade because he believes in Sabathia's durability. And don't join the lunatics blaming Baker for the downfall of Prior and Wood.
We've covered the situation in Milwaukee. And we're not lunatics. We're people who watched Dusty Baker have Kerry Wood throw 141 pitches after an injury-riddled early career and asked: "WTF?" (Also, how is Kerry Wood different from Rich Harden? Remember back when you suggested protecting Rich Harden?)
Baker's Cubs went for it that year. They had a postseason in their reach, they had the right pitchers for the job, and those men wanted the ball - all night, if that's what it meant. People can sit around adjusting their spectacles and analyzing, but they have no idea how it feels to actually compete.
I'll have you know that I once pitched six grueling innings with a sore toe in a little league game against Rent-a-Wreck in 1988. I gave up four runs but also drove in three with a 3-R bomb to left off Dave Forgione. We won 19-4. Then my mom took me for ice cream. So, yeah, I think I know how to compete.
"Nothing that happened to me was because of that man (Baker)," Wood recently told Chicago reporters.
This reminds me of something...oh. Right.
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman (Miss Lewinsky)."
I bet you fuckers never thought you'd get a Monica Lewinsky joke on this blog, did you?! You never saw that coming! I got you! I got you all!
"You have guys who go through their whole careers and don't get injured. Other guys pitch two years and get injured six times. I don't think it has anything to do with a manager or a pitching coach or anything like that. It's either going to happen or it's not."
This is an oddly fatalistic attitude to apply to a game that requires extreme stress on a player's muscles, ligaments, and tendons. I don't think winning the dead lift competition has to do with how strong your legs are. It's either going to happen or it's not.
If more people realized that, and trusted their eyes, we wouldn't have pitch counts at all.
This condescending sentence seems like a good place to end.
What? There's like 10000 more words?
A game of honor
The complete game is a badge of honor among starting pitchers, and historians will view the early 21st century as a veritable wasteland. Only Toronto's Roy Halladay and Milwaukee's CC Sabathia (eight each this season) bear any resemblance to the iron-man performers of the past. A few notes on the subject:
Fernando Valenzuela, with the 1986 Dodgers, was the last pitcher to have at least 20 complete games in a season. This century, no pitcher in either league has reached 10.
Then Fernando Valenzuela went on to pitch 10 more years of awesome baseball and got elected to the Hall of Fame with 350 wins.
Oh no wait -- that's not what happened. What happened was, he threw like 1550 innings before the age of 25, had that last good year in 1986, then the next year his WHIP shot up to 1.5 and he never had a good season again due to -- in no small part -- a lot of injuries.
The Giants' Juan Marichal had 30 in 1968, a season dominated by pitching statistics, but how about Ted Lyons with the 1930 White Sox? That was a hitters' year of almost comical proportions. The Yankees hit a collective .309, the National League hit .303, and eight batters hit .370 or better, yet Lyons had 29 complete games, and the co-leaders in the National League had 22.
Yeah, how about Ted Lyons and those 1930 numbers? Crazy. 297 IP. But more to the point, how about Ted Lyons and that 1931 arm injury that made it impossible for him to throw his cut fastball anymore? And how about the fact that he never pitched anywhere close to that number of innings again? And how about the fact that he's in the HOF even though his 1.348 career WHIP is only slightly worse than Bronson Arroyo's? It was a different game, man.
Also, do you do any research? I have no idea if Ted Lyon's arm injury was due to the 297 innings he had thrown the year before. For all I know he injured his arm waving a sign of support for Herbert Hoover, who was President in 1930, because that's how fucking long ago 1930 is. But why use Fernando and Lyons, two guys who got badly arm-injured the very next year you cite for each of them, to try to prove your point? That's crazy.
[...] As recently as the 1998 season, there were 212 instances of a starter throwing at least 125 pitches. Last season, it happened 14 times.
Baseball is lost.
I don't think every arm injury is caused by pitcher abuse. I do think that certain pitchers could complete more games, if they wanted to, without career-ending injuries. So why did I take three hours to break down this article? Because it's in my blood, man. It's in my blood.
"One of life's great truisms is to finish what you start. It's what you tell your kids, your surgeon, your contractor."
I'm no M.D. (though I did watch "St. Elsewhere" quite a bit), but don't surgeons often have residents (or even nurses) finish up for them? And in these instances, don't they (Dr. Craig, Dr. Ehrlich, Howie Mandel, etc.) sometimes actually use the words, "Close for me"? (Emphasis added.)
In one of Joe Posnanski's most recent blogs, he talked about the average length of starts over the last 50 years, and how it really hasn't gone down that much. Here's his table:
1956: 6.41 innings per start. 1963: 6.50 innings per start. 1968: 6.66 innings per start. 1971: 6.60 innings per start. 1977: 6.30 innings per start. 1980: 6.33 innings per start. 1985: 6.22 innings per start. 1990: 6.06 innings per start. 1995: 5.90 innings per start. 1998: 6.06 innings per start. 2001: 5.92 innings per start. 2004: 5.86 innings per start. 2008: 5.85 innings per start.
The Most Hyperbolic Thing Anyone Has Ever Written About Any Subject in the History of the Universe
Thanks to reader Andrew, we know know what it is. It's this, from Richard Justice:
That's why nothing that happens this year in sports will be as emotionally powerful as what The University of Texas has planned for August 30. That's when Vince Young's jersey No. 10 will be retired by the Longhorns.
I'll allow that it's possible -- possible -- that this event will be the most emotionally powerful thing that happens in sports for the week of August 30. After that: you're insane.
A few people have written to suggest that perhaps the article was deliberately over the top, and intended to mock UT fans. Not familiar with the vagaries of UT-related journalism and crowd reaction, I have no idea what to make of this. If it is indeed satirical, my sincere apologies to RJ.
This exchange does occur in the comments section:
Posted by: Ben at August 18, 2008 04:09 PM
The worst part of this article is that Texas alums will be too dense to realize that Richard is "hooking" them. Alas, this is the most significant peril of engaging in irony.
[You got that right. A guy with the Austin American-Statesman ripped me big-time for going overboard. Really? Over the top? That little article? I thought it was understated. Good Lord, those people are dumb.--Richard]
Kurt Streeter has an article in the LA Times today about Maury Wills, and his newfound peace after committing to a life of sobriety. It's very nice and optimistic, and Wills seems like a good guy who's overcome a lot.
But then he screws it all up, Streeter does, with shizznit like this:
The fact that Maury Wills is not a Hall of Famer, the fact his greatness is not honored as it should be by the Dodgers, makes a mockery of baseball justice.
Wills, career: .281/.330/.331. That's a hefty 88 OPS+. He did steal 586 bases, which is good for 19th all-time. He was caught 208 times. Of course, Rock Raines stole 808, was only caught 146 times, and had a 123 career OPS+, and nobody in the world, for some reason, thinks he deserves to be in the HOF. Vince Coleman stole 752 bases and had an 83 OPS+. Campy was 649-199 with an 89 OPS+. Getting the picture?
Maybe you want to go back and tone down the "mockery of baseball justice" rhetoric a little?
Peruse the record books.
Wills, you will see, walked from the game with oneleagueMVP award,
Yes, he did, in 1962. And even for the always-fucked-up MVP voting, this was one fucked-up vote. Here. Look at what happened. Look at Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, and Hank Aaron's numbers. Try to argue that that Wills should have won because he had 104 steals, even if he also had a league-average OPS+. League average. (Hell, look at Frank Howard, Tommy Davis, and Stan Musial's stats. WTF?)
"But Ken," you're probably saying, "Wills was a SS. That is an important defensive position." To which I say, "Shut up, you stupid stat geek. Go play with your mom in your mom's basement where you and your mom both live because you're a geek and you have no friends except your mom because you live in her basement! Booooooooo-ya!" Then I high-five my buddy Weebs, who also hates stat geeks, and then I point out that Willie Mays was an exceptionally good CF whose EqA was like 50 points higher and that, FWIW, BP's FRAA has Wills at -7 in 1962.
three World Series rings,
This guy has four. Point: nobody. Also, I wouldn't hype his postseason success too much, since Wills went .244/.289/.282 (!) in 78 postseason AB.
586 stolen bases
and a .281 batting average,
Yet another thing he has in common with Al Bumbry and Pat Tabler.
all garnered after he came to the majors as a 27-year-old rookie.
Make some comparisons.
Wills stacks up well against many infielders already perched in Cooperstown.Ernie Banks and Rod Carew never made it to the World Series.
Oh my Godding God. Ernie Banks hit more than twice as many HR as a 24 year-old SS in 1954 (44) than Wills did in his entire career (20). Rod Carew had 3000 hits and a career .393 OBP. And you're saying that Wills "stacks up well" against them because they never made the World Series?
You do know baseball isn't like tennis, right? There are pitchers and OF and catchers and third basemen and stuff. You know that, right? And you remember when free agency began? Yes? So you realize that, for example, Ernie Banks never had the opportunity to go anywhere else, really, to try to get a ring? That he was entirely at the mercy of the quality of his team?
Did you think about any of this?
Pee Wee Reese and Luis Aparicio never won an MVP.
Great. Pick two extremely borderline HOFers and point out that they weren't good enough to win an award that is often given to the wrong person. Strong argument.
Ozzie Smith not only had a lesser batting average and fewer stolen bases than Wills, he went without an MVP award and won just a single World Series title.
I know I've said this before. I will say it again. This is one of the dumbest things I have ever read. Yes, he did steal fewer bases than Wills -- 6 fewer. He had 580. You're hanging your hat on six fewer stolen bases?! Well, that's a mighty rickety hat rack, friend, because he was also caught 60 fewer times. As for BA, well, you know how I feel about BA. Ozzie had an 87 OPS+, so 1 lower than Wills.
To sum up:
6 fewer steals 60 fewer caught stealings 1 fewer MVP, though he finished 2nd in 1987 2 fewer single-handedly-won World Series titles, because baseball is a game where individuals can win World Series titles, as I understand it
Oh -- also, Ozzie Smith was, for all intents and purposes, the greatest defensive SS the game has ever seen.
Moreover, few great players put their stamp on baseball as Wills did.
Sorry. I had a massive stroke and passed out on my keyboard.
Dodgers fans of the heady 1960s can still recall the chant that rang through Chavez Ravine when little No. 30 led off first base, ready for another steal.
"Go, Go, Go, Go!"
Never heard that before. I guess I'm ignorant, since Maury Wills put his stamp on baseball like no other player. More than Babe Ruth, or Hank Aaron, or Rickey Henderson, or Jackie Robinson, or Bob Gibson, or Yogi Berra, or Cal Ripken, or Barry Bonds, or Pedro Martinez, or Steve Carlton, or Mariano Rivudsfjindskkkkkkkkkklllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
[11 days later]
My doctor has advised me to cease this line of discussion.
This hill doesn't look too steep. Let's get a-pushin'!
Joe Morgan: The fact that the Mets lost another game proves to me that the last three outs are sometimes tougher than I've ever thought they were.
English Language: [explodes]
Cole (California): Hey Joe, im a HUGE D'backs fan. By trading for Dunn, did they make a mistaking trading for him since they already have a hitter like him in Mark reynolds?
Hey Cole. KT here. Real quick: Mark Reynolds is nothing like Adam Dunn. Mark Reynolds has a .335 OBP in 223 career games (.324 this year, in 113 games). He has 81 walks in those 223 career games. Adam Dunn has 82 walks so far this year. He has a career OPS of .900. He hits 40 HR a year, every year, like clockwork. He is, and I know Mark Reynolds is young, a far better hitter than Mark Reynolds.
Thanks for your time.
Joe Morgan: They do have a lot of hitters that strike out.
They are also 19th in OPS. Dunn immediately becomes their team leader in OPS. It is a good thing for their team that they got Dunn.
That's one of the problems on that team. But Dunn helps because he will supply power that they also do not have. It will make for a frustrating offense, but he will definitely hit the ball out of the park on a consistent basis.
This marks the first time I have ever supported Joe Morgan using the word "consistent."
Darek (Chicago, Il): Good day Joe. What are the chances of Ken Griffey Jr. playing in 2009 ? Do you see him retiring or returning to Seattle ? He might call it quits if the White sox go on to win the series, but it's a longshot
Joe Morgan: Griffey is in a situation now where he will have to decided as the season goes along.
English Language: [weeps]
He has had some bad stretches, but the last time I talked to him, he told me he felt much better. It's yet to be determined what he's going to end up doing.
KT: I hate to beat a dead horse --
Universe, Speaking from 2006: Too late.
KT: -- but the man asking this question asked you for your opinion on what Ken Griffey, Jr. is going to do next year, and your answer was to say: "It's yet to be determined what he's going to end up doing." Which the guy -- and everyone else -- knew already, which was why he asked for your opinion.
Universe, Speaking from 2006: Dump your financial stocks. They're going to tank.
KT: Now you tell me.
Springfield,Massachussets: will the redsox make it to the world series again
Joe Morgan: Their chances of making it back took a big shot when they traded Manny. I don't think people realize how valuable he was, and how much pressure he took off the other players. Without him hitting behind Big Papi, they will pitch around him in big situations.
KT: There's something poetic about the fact that the night this chat took place, Ortiz hit two 3-R HR in the first inning of a baseball game.
Joe Morgan: I have felt all along that the Cuvs were the best team in the NL,
and the Red Sox in the AL, but now the Angels have proven to be the best by far in the AL. [...]
Wins are all that matters, really, but I wouldn't say the Angels are "the best by far."
Mark: Joe, as of right now who is the AL MVP?
Joe Morgan: That's difficult to answer because the season is not over,
KT: The question was "as of right now."
Theoretical Joe Morgan: Right, and it's hard to answer because of what will happen in the future.
KT: But...the question is: right now, who's the MVP. Like, now. At this moment.
TJM: But I can't answer that, because I can't tell the future.
KT: Hang on. Let me try something. What time is it.
TJM: No way to tell.
KT: Because you don't know what time it will be in the future?
KT: Fair enough.
and the last month usually determines that. I keep hearing about Josh Hamilton's great story, but that's not what the MVP award is all about.
Amen. The guy might lead the league in RsBI, but he's also had a ton of RsBI chances, and there's a better candidate on his own team: AL OPS leader Milton Bradley.
Carlos Quentin has kept his team in the mix since Day 1. But there are other guys who should be in the mix. Dustin Pedroia in Boston should get some votes.
Pedroier is having an excellent year. But how about Kevin Youkilis, and his .960 OPS, excellent defense (2 errors last night notwithstanding) and 58 XBH?
Justin Morneau is still the leader of the Twins.
Trent Reznor is still the leader of Nine Inch Nails. Doesn't mean he should be MVP.
Someone like A-Rod could get hot and carry the Yankees to a playoff berth, so he could be in consideration.
Look at the guy's stats and tell me he shouldn't be "in consideration" right now. I don't think he should win, but he is most effing definitely "in consideration."
I would say, as of now, Quentin would get my vote.
Not a bad choice. After all that.
Nick (Brooklyn ,NY): Hey Joe, I just wanted to get your opinion on the Yankees. They've been a little shaky lately since losing Joba, How do you think the last month and a half is going to turn out for them ?
Joe Morgan: They've been shaky in general. The trade that sent Farnsworth has made them unreliable in the 8th inning, and their starting pitching needs to be more consistent, like Mussina has been and Joba was. Their offense hasn't been consistent either. They'll have a good game, a couple of poor games, then another good game--they just haven't been consistent.
Look at how many "consistent"s we have. Here. I'll reprint that, and bold the "consistent"s.
Joe Morgan: They've been shaky in general. The trade that sent Farnsworth has made them consistent in the 8th inning, and their consistent pitching needs to be more consistent, like Consistent has been and Joba consistent. Their consistent hasn't been consistentconsistent. They'll have a consistent game, a consistent of consistentconsistents, then consistent consistent consistent--consistent consistent consistent't consistent consistent.
Mike (NY,NY): Are the Rays done without Evan Longoria? Do they go out and try something bold like getting Shef or Barry?
Joe Morgan: They definitely need to try to get another hitter. They are shorthanded now, but so are a lot of teams. They have stayed the course, so to speak, without making trades at the deadline that could have brought them another hitter. I hadn't thought of him, but Sheffield would be a great fit for that team.
Joe's Brain: Got in a bunch of "consistents," mentioned Sheff...what else do I have to do today? Oh -- eat. I should eat something.
Nick (Brooklyn, NY): Joe, If you had to make your prediction for who's going to make the AL Wild Card at this point in time, who do you believe it would be?
Joe Morgan: I would pick Boston at this point, but the White Sox and Twins are right there as well. The Rays also have a chance if Boston surges past them.
Joe's Brain: Why do I feel weird?
Joe's Guardian Angel [Tony Perez]: You just made a prediction.
Another guy doesn't like Adam Dunn. His name is Paul Daugherty, and I'm going to write about his column. It will be a total waste of time for everyone involved, particularly the reader. This territory has been covered one million times. Please, I beg you, do not waste your time reading about another Adam Dunn article.
Last warning: you have read this article and the corresponding criticism may times before, in slightly different forms. Go away, now.
Dunn Too Much To Afford Defense, demeanor, salary too costly
The Reds, who are exciting only when they're not playing, traded Adam Dunn to the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday for a 23-year-old Class-A starting pitcher named Dallas Buck who, in another life, died in old Western movies...As insignificant as Dunn was to winning here, 40 homers and 100 RBI don't appear magically every March.
Nobody was winning in Cincinnati. Maybe Dunn was "insignificant to winning" (?) because his team sucked, and Dusty Baker chews a toothpick that makes him dumber. I'll give Daugherty this: it takes some pretty serious ballzos (an Italian word meaning "balls") to point out Dunn's massive productive abilities, and casually dismiss the notion that he might have been helping his team win in the same sentence. I look forward to reading Mr. Daugherty's new book: "Thousands and Thousands of Delicious Slices of Mouth-Watering Pizza That I've Eaten: I Hate Pizza."
Stop reading this, and call your mother or listen to Wowee Zowee or play some table tennis or whatever gets you through the day.
After the club traded Ken Griffey Jr., the brass wanted to see if Dunn would emerge as a clubhouse presence. Apparently, after 11 days, the brass had seen enough.
Why should this apply only to Dunn? Don't get me wrong -- I get why they traded him, though I don't understand why they didn't do it earlier. But let me ask this: did anyone emerge as a clubhouse presence after Griffey was traded? Why should Dunn be singled out for failing to do so? If that's one of the criteria that the Reds value, then shouldn't anyone who didn't emerge as a clubhouse presence be given the same demerits, even if it doesn't end in a trade?
Maybe it's because he's a veteran, and he makes a bunch of money, and you ask a little more of guys like that. I could see that. I'm sure they'll hold Francisco Cordero -- a player with more experience, making just a bit less than Dunn this year -- to the same scrutiny.
This is so boring and such old news. EVERYONE GO SWIMMING I DON'T CARE IF YOU HAVE A POOL OR NOT.
Regardless, Dunn's tax bracket didn't match his production, at least not here. He'd have wanted too much money for what he provided. Dunn was who he was: a guy who could hit a baseball 400 feet more often than almost anyone else, but couldn't produce a two-out RBI single.
Obviously the first thing you do after reading something like this is check out Dunn's numbers this year. Find out how many RBI singles he has with RISP and two outs. In the back of your mind, you get greedy. You're hoping for something like 25 singles in 70 such at bats.
But I'll admit when I'm beat (sort of). You know how many singles Dunn has this year with two outs and runners in scoring position?
Point: Daugher -- fucking no! Wait. Let's look at the rest of Dunn's line with 2 outs and RsISP:
In 37 AB's (pretty small sample, of course): .216 / .453 / .730 (!) (1.183 OPS) 6 HR, 20 RsBI, 15 R, 13 BB
Dude was pretty fucking good when it mattered, if you think that's when it mattered. Now, everyone, take a nap.
He was a big man whose bigness could give the impression he wasn't trying. Baseball wasn't his passion. It was his job. He played it that way.
I can't tell you how beautiful I find this paragraph. It starts almost on Dunn's side, and by the end, we're just straight up slamming him for -- God forbid -- playing baseball like it's his job. Which it is.
"Another day closer to retirement," Dunn said once a few years ago, around the batting cage before a game. That was Dunn. His teammates liked him, but he didn't lead. Laid back should be a character trait, not a career choice. Not when you're making $13 million.
Every attempt to discredit Adam Dunn makes me love the guy even more. He sounds like everyone's Dad.
But, oh, Adam Troy Dunn. You made the cardinal sin of baseball. Instead of using your laid back-ness as a character trait, you used it as a career choice. Didn't you know? It's totally acceptable for laid back to be a career choice if you're making, like, the league average, which is roughly 62 times the national median household salary. But once you're making 13MM/yr? Dude. Character trait only. Big mistake.
Also, by the way, his teammates liked him. Daugherty just told us that. They liked the guy. His mistake, apparently, was that he didn't lead stop reading this and do something productive like balancing your checkbook if people still do that I don't really know. It's doubtful Arizona will keep him after this season. Dunn will be the prototypical DH in '09, when his adventures in Left Field Land won't be duplicated.
On the off chance that any eccentric billionaires are reading this blog: I will pay one hundred U.S. dollars, and maybe more, for admission to a theme park called Left Field Land. May I make a suggestion, please? There should be a really good fried chicken restaurant in the food court called "The Fowl Pole." Also a giant waterslide into a pool shaped like Ted Williams' torso. And I hope this goes without saying: no women or minorities should be allowed inside Left Field Land.
To be dealt to Arizona, Dunn had to clear waivers. Any other club could have claimed him and the trade would not have been made. None did.
What's that? You think just because Paul Daugherty writes about baseball for a major newspaper, he should have a fundamental understanding of how waiver trades work?
You're so silly. I like you.
Only clubs with records worse than the Diamondbacks could have put in a claim on Dunn that would have made a difference. And most of those teams are out of contention, and have no reason to add Dunn's salary in a hopeless year. In fact, there were several reports that teams with better records than the Diamondbacks also put in claims for Dunn, hoping they might be able to snatch him up. So, more accurately: "Other clubs did claim him and the trade still happened."
Those enamored with numbers couldn't get enough of Adam Dunn. Stat freaks genuflected at the foot of Dunn's on-base percentage, while dismissing his detractors as ill-informed hacks.
Far be it from me to suggest that a columnist, who just demonstrated a basic misunderstanding of how waiver trades work, in the midst of writing an article with such a trite premise that I'm getting tired of making fun of it, might be an ill-informed hack.
Forty Homers! Hundred RBI! Hundred Runs! Look at that man ... Walk! The standard argument was, and is, "How do you replace numbers like those?" We're about to find out.
One thing you have to say about stat geeks: there are no stats that they love more than Runs and Runs Batted In. Excellent research, good sir.
And you know what? Great work all around, guys. I formally invite anyone still reading this to join me in a murder-suicide pact.
NOTE: After reading the article in its entirety, I noticed that a number of commenters pointed out Daugherty's mistake about how trades work after the July 31st deadline. No corrections have been made as of the time this blog went to press, which is not a real thing.
Thanks to reader Mark R. for the article tip.
EDIT: Great note by reader Benjamin, who points out that only NL teams with a worse record than the D-Backs could have blocked a trade to Arizona.
Hello? Can you hear me? I'm not really sure how this works. My name is Sir Walter Everton Chatsworth Rochester CXVIII. I am a rather eccentric billionaire, and I have been looking for investment opportunities that will make me seem more eccentric. A friend of mine suggested I use the internet to track down like-minded individuals, but I have never used it before, so I just typed in a sequence of random letters and this is the first thing that popped up on the screen.
If by total coincidence you have any ideas for investment opportunities you think I might be able to get behind, please contact me immediately. I am currently parasailing behind the space shuttle, which I have recently purchased.
I am your most humble servant etc.
P.S. I should also mention that I am an inveterate racist and misogynist, and my best friend is an architect who designs torso-shaped waterslides. This may limit my options for investment opportunities -- or more likely, have no effect at all on anything; in fact it's hard to understand exactly why I even mentioned that thing about my best friend -- but I thought I should mention it.
Anyone seen this ad that they're playing during the Olympics, where a bunch of dudes are trying to play volleyball, and the reveal is that they're being beaten soundly by Kerri Walsh, of the U.S. Women's Beach Volleyball team? Really great stuff, sure, but one line towards the end is so dumb I had to post it on this blog about baseball (or whatever this blog is -- I have no idea anymore).
After defeating the guys on the other side again, the ball rolls up to Kerri's feet. As if to rub it in their faces, she says: "Best seven out of twelve?"
Then in my really mild fantasy, the commercial ends like this:
Guy 1: I'm sorry -- best seven out of twelve? Guy 2: Are you sure you don't mean, just, first to seven? Or best of thirteen? I mean, that'd be the same thing. You could say either of those things and it would make sense. Guy 3: Maybe she means best out of seven. That would make sense too. Kerri Walsh: No, no. Best seven out of twelve. First to seven. Even if it takes twelve games. Guy 2: Okay, but, no, because, um, what if we tie, 6-6? Guy 1: What if -- wait, let me think for...okay, yeah -- what if she means, we put our best seven games from a larger twelve game set, and compare that with her best seven games from the same larger set of twelve. Is that what you meant? Kerri Walsh: [silence] Guy 2: How many people -- Kerri Walsh: Best seven out of twelve. Guy 2: How many people laid eyes on that line before it got into the final print of this commercial. Eight? Twenty? Forty, probably, right? At least forty? Director [off-camera]: Fifty one! Guy 3: Wow. Kerri Walsh: I didn't think about...I just...my Mom was...best seven out of twelve. [three minutes of nothing but Kerri Walsh crying] Announcer: Twenty Four Fitness! Shove it up your own butthole!
EDIT: Clip is viewable online here. (Thanks to reader Nicholas K.)
Yes, it's true, we haven't been posting much in August. However:
I got nothing.
Here's a JoeChat. Short, for some reason, but it counts, people.
Joe Morgan: Seems like the tensions of the pennant races are starting to catch up with teams. Let's get started!
Ken Tremendous: I would have just been so delighted if he had written:
Seems like the tensions of the pennant races are starting to catch up with teams. Let's get retarded!
Sadly, he won't hear that stupid song for about 10 more years, because it will take him that long to buy a tape player, and they no longer release albums on reel-to-reel.
Matt (Philly): Hey Joe, loved seeing you play in Philly. Who do you think wins the NL East?
Joe Morgan: No one can predict that yet,
Anyone can predict that. They might not be correct, but anyone can predict it. Especially someone paid to, essentially, predict things.
but I believe if Rollins starts playing close to his MVP form then the Phillies will win.The Mets play well, but then they get one injured part and they seem to fall apart, but that goes for the Phillies too.
So...that analysis is kind of a wash, then?
But the Phillies have proven they can win on the road, while the Mets and Marlins struggle more on the road. [...]
True...but the Phillies are only 5 games over .500 at home, which seems like it kind of neutralizes the road thing. (They're 3-2 at home since this chat took place, meaning they were only 4 games over .500 when he wrote it.)
Seth (Hershey, PA): Hey Joe. Do the Yankees have any chance of making the playoffs if Joba is out a while? Thanks
Joe Morgan: I think they would still have a chance because I think they would find another starter.
...find him where? Like, there's a starter somewhere in their clubhouse that they didn't know about? Like he's been hiding in Melky Cabrera's locker?
Remember, the Yanklees
Awesome "[sic]". I don't know why that typo tickles me, but it does.
still have a great lineup, and it would have to win games for them...which it can do. If I can put runs on the board, it will make my pitcher more comfortable, so I believe in lineups.
I believe in them, too, Joe. I believe.
The Yankees have a very good lineup.
Multiple Emmys. Multiple.
Todd (Philly): Joe - your best guess - does Milwaukee fold in light of what happened last night? Seems to be a yearly trend (i.e. folding) which must also be concerning....
Joe Morgan: Well what happened last night will not have an affect as to whether they fold or not. Things happen during a season, and that is not the first or last time something like that has happened between teammates. I heard someone say it was a good thing, but I do not think it is ever good to fight your teammates since it divides the clubhouse, as different guys take different sides. But I do not think it will affect whether or not they fold.
I'm going to hand it to Joe on this one. The BrewCrew are undefeated since this chat. Hindsight is 20-13 (like Ted Williams's actual vision), so it's easy to say this, but I think this is the kind of analysis that actually allows the guy to shine. Relatively speaking.
Neal (Providence RI): Now that the Angels have picked up Teixiera do you think they are a great team (like your old Reds teams)? Deep starters, shut down bullpen, hitters that go for power, avg, can bunt...sounds good to me
Joe Morgan's Brain: Stay cool. Stay calm. Just give a regular answer. Then, purchase a plane ticket to whatever "Providence RI" is. Find Neal. Shadow him in a dark trench coat. When he is alone, pounce. Hold a knife to his throat. Show him a team picture of the 1975 Reds. Say something like, "This is a team. These men are champions. No one will ever compare, you son of a bitch." Slit his throat. Change clothes, burn them, get back on the plane, fly home...before anyone knows you're gone.
Joe Morgan: Well I will not compare them to my Reds team, because my Reds team, in my opinion, was an All-Time great and we do not know that about the Angels yet. But I do think the addition makes them the World Series favorite because of everything you said. But they have not won yet, so I cannot compare them on that level.
Joe Morgan's Brain: Well done. Now enact the plan. Wrap this up.
Joe Morgan: Going back to the Brewers incident, I thought Ned Yost did a very good job handling it with the media and keeping it under wraps. Once you start talking, it opens up a can of worms. Sorry for some of the technical problems in the middle of the chat. We'll chat again next week.
Is there anything more boring, in all of sports, than the Brett Favre saga?
1. Watching the second quarter of an NBA preseason game in slow motion. 2. Watching NASCAR qualifying through your neighbor's window, using the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. 3. A press conference where the Minnesota Wild announce the hiring of a new assistant trainer, and the mics don't work. 4. Reading Peter King's thoughts on Starbucks. 5. SportsCenter. (N.B. may not count as "sports.")
Fire Joe Morgan is happy to announce that we've finally brokered a deal with Fremulon Insurance's legal team, wherein FJM now has the rights to distribute the Fremulon "unity diamond" logo and Fremulon merchandise. It was a pretty intense negotiation, as I'm sure you can all imagine.
In the end, Fremulon's in-house attorneys agreed that, despite Ken Tremendous's frequent complaints about management and senseless business trips to Buenos Aires, FJM had, in fact, done a fine job of publicizing the Fremulon name. Thanks to Herb Plaam for making this all possible. Available here.
Remember, these things are customizable, so you can change the color of the shirt, or the kind of shirt or whatever. Unfortunately you can not change the name "Zazzle."
You're a ChiSox fan. Against all odds, your team is +76 in run differential and leading the AL Central. Your GM, who can be a dunderhead sometimes, made excellent moves last off-season, and got you Carlos Quentin and Nick Swisher, and even though Swish is underperforming a bit, somehow Jermaine Dye is having his best year, and Jim Thome is putting up an .890 OPS, and you're getting some great innings out of John Danks and Gavin Floyd, and Scott Linebrink is making bloggers everywhere look stupid since we all thought getting him was a terrible move.
In short, things are going really well.
Then, at the trade deadline, your GM goes out and gets: Ken Griffey, Jr.
Who's good. Who might make your team better. But who is 38. And gets hurt a lot.
And then Ken Williams says: We're going to play him in CF, and maybe move Swisher to first, and (presumably) bench Paul Konerko (?). Or something?
Needless to say, if you're you, you're a little confused by this. At least you're wary. Junior hasn't played CF since like 1965, and is Konerko going to DH against lefties or something? And how would Konerko take it if he's benched since he makes $12m a year through 2010, because, again, your GM can be a dunderhead sometimes? And what in the world is a defensive OF of Dye, Griffey, and Quentin going to look like?
In times like these, you, a ChiSox fan, have only one place to turn for analysis. There is only one place you go to get the real insider "here's what this means" and "here's what we can expect" breakdown.
He's stoked, you guys. He and his boys are psyched. Dude. Bro. Seriously? I'm fucking stoked about this. Griffbones is going to crush it.
I zipped over to the Web sites as fast as my fingers could type Thursday to find out if it was fiction or fact.
I forgot I am a journalist and don't have to get information the way everyone else does, so instead of talking to my colleagues or calling someone in the Reds' FO or something, I "zipped" over to the "Web sites" as fast as "my fingers could type." Because I have never used a computer, and don't know how to, and had to ask my 5 year-old nephew what someone who used a computer would say if they wanted to tell people they had used a computer.
Not might trade. No "trade Griffey?" with a question mark. Did trade.
And to the White Sox yet!
And to the White Sox yet! Say boys, didja hear? Junior Griffey is to be a Chicagoan! Well slap my thigh and call me a dirigible! Roosevelt has a plan for the Krauts, by Joe! Extree, extree! Say, what news from the coast? Harvard defeats Cal in the Rose Bowl! The Maine is lost! Thousands gather to see new "Talking Pictures" -- the marvels of science never cease!
The Tribune, 9:36 a.m.: "Griffey headed to Sox."
Sorry. Just want to make sure I have the timeline correct.
8:?? or 9:?? AM: The Sports- and Editorial Departments of the Chicago Tribune, where Mike Downey works, learn of the impending trade of Ken Griffey, Jr. to the White Sox.
9:?? AM: Someone at Mike Downey's own paper begins to write up an article about how Ken Griffey Jr. has been traded to the White Sox. Downey, presumably, naps at his desk.
9:36 AM: Mike Downey's own paper, the Chicago Tribune, then posts the article, on its Web sites, about the Griffey trade. Downey: still napping.
9:47 AM: The Cincinnati Enquirer posts an article about the Griffey trade on its Web sites.
Somewhere around 10:?? AM: Downey awakens, wipes drool from face. Is informed somehow that Ken Griffey, Jr. has been traded to the White Sox, a team that plays in the town where he works as a journalist.
10:02 AM: At a complete loss as to how to pursue this information, so as to ascertain its validity, Downey turns on his computer for the first time ever. Has to go through a series of steps to create a Tribune user name and password. Sees confusing screen about software updates ready for download. Calls IT.
10:28 AM: Tribune IT guy Derek Greenhorn finishes installing Windows update on Downey's computer, tells Downey that he can now access the internet. Downey stares at him blankly.
11:56 AM: Greenhorn finishes an accelerated tutorial on "surfing the web." Downey is pretty sure he has a handle on it.
11:57: Downey tries to, in his own words, "smurf the World Wide Weird," ends up erasing his own hard drive and those of the 6 people closest to him. Tribune server crashes. Smoke pours out of Downey's computer. Downey realizes he is hungry and heads down to get himself a personal pan pizza and a tall glass of beer from a neighborhood restaurant while Greenhorn rushes to save the Tribune computer system.
2:18 PM: Downey smurfs the Weird under close supervision from Greenhorn and two Chicago-based FBI agents whose domestic terror-alert system has mis-identified Downey's computer's IP address as the possible epicenter of an internet-based terror attack.
2:19 PM: Downey does a Google-brand World Wide Weird seach protocol for "Cincinnati red baseball player Ken Griffey Jr was he traded? please help me internet I've never done this before am I doing this right? oh God, well, here goes nuttin'!", hits "shift," then "delete," then -- sure that he's figured out the right move here -- "help," then finally "return," and gazes blankly at his results. He then subsequently zips over to the Enquirer sports page, and sees that at 9:47, they published an article about the Griffey trade.
2:55 PM: After another brief nap, Downey wonders aloud whether his paper, the Chicago Tribune, has posted anything about the Griffey trade. So after a quick refresher course with Derek Greenhorn over in IT, who is now actively posting his resume on Monster.com because, in his own words, "I can't work with these boneheads for one more second or I'll kill myself," Downey figures out how to zip over to the Trib Web sites, and sees that at 9:36 AM -- several minutes earlier than the Enquirer posted their story, the Trib had posted a newsflash about Griffey being traded to the White Sox.
"Hot dog!" says Downey, to no one, as he munches on his now-cold personal pan pizza. "I'm going to write an article about this amazing day I'm having!"
Excellent news. I was stoked.
Oh, that Ken Williams, always something up his sleeve. If not an ace, then a king.
Or a 38.7 year-old oft-injured corner OF with a 103 OPS+. So, like, maybe the 9 of clubs.
Ken Griffey Jr., in center field at the Cell?
Yeah. Scary, right?
A cause to rejoice—set off the fireworks.
Oh. You went that way with it.
If you can get a guy who has more home runs than Frank Robinson, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks and Lou Gehrig, hallelujah and amen.
Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds: also available. Omar Vizquel has more hits than Reggie Jackson, Joe Morgan, Mickey Mantle, and Enos Slaughter. Maybe they should pick him up, too.
I began to picture it.
Ball after ball dropping in front of Jr. Line drives that Swisher would've caught easily splitting the gap for run-scoring doubles. Griffey running back and to his right, then pulling up lame as Nick Punto rounds second and thinks about trying to score...
Griffey in between Carlos Quentin and Jermaine Dye in the outfield?
OK, so maybe it wouldn't be the defensive equivalent of Reed Johnson in left, Jim Edmonds in center and Kosuke Fukudome in right, but it'll do. (Dye has been playing a mean right field, in fact.)
Griffey in CF won't be the equivalent of Tribune IT guy Derek Greenhorn in CF.
Ah, but Griffey right behind Quentin and Dye in the batting order? I like the sound of that.
Well, he'll definitely be better offensively than Brian Anderson. You've got that going for you. But to reiterate: 103 OPS+. Oft-injured. Center Field.
Followed by Jim Thome sixth, Paul Konerko or Nick Swisher seventh and Joe Crede (as soon as he comes back) eighth? Pitchers will swallow their seeds and gum.
The line-up is better. But this is not Manny Ramirez. It's 38.7 year-old Junior Griffey. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Could this be true?
I don't know, man. Zip over to a few more web sites and see what's up.
ESPN, 10 a.m.: "Griffey to ChiSox: Will He Agree?"
Mike Downey, a sportswriter for one of the biggest media outlets in one of the biggest media centers in the world, is getting his insider info from web sites. Like I do.
Who says bloggers and the MSM don't have anything in common?
Major League Baseball's authorized site, 10:20 a.m.: "Griffey to White Sox, pending OK."
Who refers to MLB.com as "Major League Baseball's authorized site?" That's like saying, "You know what my favorite TV show is? Emergency Room."
Junior won't go? Say it ain't so!
You are 1,000 years old.
I was salivating. A pickup of a 38-year-old outfielder doesn't usually excite me. But gimpy old Edmonds hasn't done too badly for the Cubs, has he?
Fair enough. Not a good predictor of how Griffey will do -- at all -- but fair enough.
Now you're telling me a whopper is on the line but could slip off the hook? Ken Griffey Jr., a man who needs only eight more hits to have as many as Ted Williams?
If you think about this for a second, you will realize that this is not a good reason to want a guy on your team. Because it means he is old. What you want is a guy about whom you could say: "He's currently in his prime, and his prime is comparable to Ted Williams's prime" or something. This is like saying, "I want Dr. Grzlickson to perform my surgery. He has performed more than 1000 surgeries in his 82 years as a practicing doctor."
A man with more hits than Joe Morgan, Ryne Sandberg and Jim Rice?
What a sight in a White Sox suit he would be. Only 17 more hits and he can catch Nellie Fox. Only 31 more and he can catch Luis Aparicio.
Ugh. See above, again.
He might refuse to come?
Who thought it was a good idea to print an article that details every mundane twist and turn in Mike Downey's personal musings on whether the Griffey trade would get done, without any analysis or insight into (a) what it will mean or (b) how it was accomplished or (c) any quotes from people involved or (d) anything remotely resembling entertainment?
Griffey has a right to turn down any deal to a new team? He might stay in his hometown of Cincy instead of favoring us with his presence here in Chi-town?
Yes. We know all of this. It happened in the past, and then did not hold up the trade. This is like having someone recount their dream to you and then tell you, unnecessarily, at the end, that it was all a dream.
I checked the sites one more time.
Seriously, man -- do you not understand that you, a professional journalist, have access to the same sources that are giving these reporters at other papers and web sites the information that they are then using to write these articles? If I were the President, and I wanted to know if the Senate had confirmed my choice for a Supreme Court Justice, I might try calling a Senator on the phone instead of refreshing Drudge every five minutes.
There were comments from readers, presumably Reds fans, as if Junior definitely was a goner.
Pretty clearly the first time he has ever looked at a web site. "And there are readers' comments at the bottom! And advertisements for products! And best of all, I won a free iPod!"
"Good luck, Griffey," wrote one. "I hope you can play in a World Series." (He never has, so as Frank Thomas might put it, join the club.)
But was it a mirage? A false alarm? Would it be a big tease for Sox fans to come this close to having Griffey on their side?
This article has taken on the timbre of a grandpa recounting the story of the Great Griffey Trade of '08 to his 4 year-old grandson as the grandson drifts off to sleep. Which the readers of the article, coincidentally, have begun to do as well.
I went to Fox Sports' site to see what was up.
I decided to insert yet another middleman between me, a professional sports journalist, and the sports journalism information I needed.
Fox had been a source for that "Griffey OKs deal" report.
I am bored.
"OK, I'll Go."
That was the headline I found. Griffey approved a deal to the Sox, the story claims as fact.
This is torture. This is like, you get on the elevator at work and you see a guy you kind of know, and he says, "Hey Ken." And you go, "Hey Jim. What'd you do this weekend?" and Jim says, "Well. When I left work on Friday I realized I was hungry. Which is odd, since I had just had a granola bar like 30 minutes earlier. But, nonetheless, there I was: hungry. So I walked East down Fremont Street about .3 miles until I came upon Gary's Deli. I went inside. I looked at all my options, food-wise, and settled on a bagel. I took it to the counter and paid for it with cash. The total was $1.97 after tax. So I took the bagel and I walked to the parking lot where my car, a 1998 Camry, was parked. Inserting the key into the lock, I gained access to my car, got into the driver's side, started the engine, shifted into 'drive,' and headed for home..." And the door opens on your floor and you run away.
A Junior achievement award for Ken Williams and company.
Who doesn't love a good pun?
Awaiting confirmation, I tried to conjure up an image of Junior in the Sox clubhouse.
"I drove the 12.8 miles to my house, parked the car in my driveway, exited the Camry, locked the doors, and headed inside..."
Would he dye his hair platinum blond like A.J. Pierzynski? Grow a goatee and dye it blond like Juan Uribe and Bobby Jenks? Wear his facial hair a different way every day like Swisher?
Or would he simply be good old, classy, mature, solid-citizen, credit-to-the-game Ken Griffey Jr., an asset to anybody's team?
These are some fucking exciting musings.
A clock is ticking and they still claim Junior is on his way.
I'll believe it when I see him. What was that song Pierzynski and the guys played during the 2005 World Series?