FIRE JOE MORGAN

FIRE JOE MORGAN

Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

 

Post #1377: The Relatively Short Goodbye

Hello, everyone.

After 21 years, and almost 40 million posts (we'll have to check those numbers, but it's something like that), we have decided to bring FJM to an end.

Although we have not lost our borderline-sociopathic joy for meticulously criticizing bad sports journalism, the realities of our professional and personal lives make FJM a time/work luxury we can no longer afford.

We started this site with two purposes: to make each other laugh, and to aid and abet the Presidential campaign of Bob Barr. Although we failed in the latter goal, we gleefully succeeded in the first, and thanks to a grassroots internetty word-of-mouth kind of a deal, we appear to have positively affected the lives of actual citizens as well, which astonishes and delights us to this day. We really never thought FJM would be for anyone but us. We are thrilled and kind of humbled to have been proven wrong.

We thank all of you for the kind emails, and the tips, and the support. To each and every person who ever contacted us: hat tip to you.

Perhaps the future holds another project for us on which to waste massive amounts of time. For now, we will leave the site and the archives up as a testament to the fact that if you work hard enough, and blow off enough social occasions, and stare at the internet enough, and get nerdy enough, and repeatedly ignore entreaties from your friends and loved ones to please God stop blogging about Bill Plaschke and get out of the house it's a beautiful day!, then you, too, can...have a blog.

Again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. And as Joe Morgan himself might say:

"I really haven't seen them play...slidepiece...Dave Concepcion."

Love,

dak, Junior, and Ken

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:54 PM
Comments:
Many of you guys have written in to ask us to reconsider -- even if we just post something once in a long while. You guys are nice and awesome.

And, well, we might. We might come back here once in a while and post something particularly infuriating or noteworthy. We like this place too.

But it was time to demap.

Byesers!
 
I, too, would like to add that the barrage of emails has been overwhelming. Our emotions are a veritable flood of chocolate ina chocolate fountain.

Wait a second...that seems like a...
 
Thank you sincerely for all of the emails.

Remember, the greatest intangible of all is love. Number two is grit.
 
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

 

OMG OMG OMG!!!!

OMG you guys!!!!

Could the 19-year "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcasting partnership of ESPN's Jon Miller and Joe Morgan be coming to an end?...

Well-embedded baseball moles contend the answer is "yes" to both questions. Both Morgan and Miller have two years left on their ESPN contracts, but that would not prevent a change.

OMG!

Sources said Morgan could be shifted to the network's midweek baseball telecast, where he would work with a new play-by-play partner.

OMFG!

[snip]

What's coming to light is how unpopular Morgan has become with many of his ESPN colleagues, who are less than thrilled with the way he prepares for a telecast. Some of them also don't respond well to what they call Morgan's haughty attitude, which he has displayed during some of his more outspoken performances in internal ESPN meetings.

Prone to on-air mistakes, Morgan also has come under some intense media scrutiny. And during those moments when he's made a mistake, the give and take between him and Miller can sound strained. But some of this stuff (if you don't take it all seriously) is kind of funny.

Couldn't agree more.

OMFHWOMSHIFHPSKSHHGCDOSAG!!!!!!

Stay tuned.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:17 PM
Comments:
Hat tip to Ed, the first of nearly 3.1 hyperbillion people to mail this to us.
 
Every silver lining has a cloud department:

His likely Sunday night replacement would be Rick Sutcliffe.

Also: please click on the link to the full article and revel in the majesty of Bob Raissman's (clearly fake) mustache.
 
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Saturday, October 25, 2008

 

"What Fucking Language Is This?"

That is the title of an email I received from Don and Kim M. in reference to the latest Plaschke cut to drop.

Here are the first four lines -- like the 30 free seconds you get from iTunes. These are unedited:

On Brett Favre Pass, a legacy catches hell.

Barely makes sense.

It is a dead end street, but a sports bar there is a thoroughfare of debate.

Does not really make sense.

What's he doing? Where was he doing it? Who called whom? Why Brett why?

Does not in any way make sense. Sub-Seussian nonsense.

On Brett Favre Pass, some folks are wishing he had thrown his last.

No.

Bill? The English Language is on line 1. It wants to know why you hate it so much.

[Edit: I woke up this morning to several hundred million emails defending Plaschke, and insinuating that what I failed to understand is that Brett Favre Pass is an actual street in Green Bay. I knew that. Even if I hadn't known that, I could have determined it from context. It's capitalized, for God's sake.

What I object to are clauses like, "...a legacy catches hell." Which: ??? And "...a sports bar there is a thoroughfare of debate." What the fuck is a "thoroughfare of debate?" A thoroughfare is a road, or highway, as I understand it. A highway of debate? That makes zero sense. What he means is "a locus of debate" or "an epicenter of debate" or something. But that wouldn't match up faux-poetically with the fact that Brett Favre Pass is a dead-end street, so he went with "thoroughfare," which is nonsense.

As for the last two lines, I object to: the goofball poetry, the overblown musing, the whimsical Dr. Seuss rhythms, and the unpleasantly haughty linguistic transmogrification of "Pass" into "pass."

The only person in America, apparently, who assumed I knew that Brett Favre Pass was the name of a street and had something else to comment on was John M., who wrote:

I...wish you would have included this sentence, which is not only vintage Plaschke, but also would have given you an excuse to use the food metaphors tag:

"Whatever, it has been the equivalent of a warm farewell followed by the guy changing his mind, barging back through the front door for one last piece of pie, spilling that pie on his lap, dropping messily asleep on your couch."

For you, John M., the world.]

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:48 AM
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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

 

Irrelevant/Counter-Irrelevant

It's time to play no-one's favorite game, "Irrelevant/Counter-Irrelevant," with Jayson Stark and Jim Caple. The goal is to make as many irrelevant points as you can in the space alloted. First, Irrelevant: The Phillies Will Win!

These Phillies won't be playing in this World Series because they're the best team in the National League.

Well, they did win the second-most games, and had the second-best run differential, trailing only the Cubbies. They scored the second-most runs, had the most HR, and had the fourth-best ERA, only 0.03 behind second-place Milwaukee. So, maybe they aren't the best team, but they're certainly very close.

They're here because they're the toughest team in the National League.

Fuck all that statistical noise. It's about toughness. The Phillies are tough. The Phillies are like a hockey team. The Phillies work in an Alaskan cannery 19 hours a day. The Phillies could knock out Kimbo Slice in thirteen seconds.

And that toughness is the biggest reason I think they'll win.

I'm going with "they hit the most HR in the league and have a really good pitching staff." But whatever.

"They're the most mentally tough team" in the field, an NL general manager told me three weeks ago.

That NL GM? Robert Duvall. Legendarily tough. Tough old sonofabitch. He knows tough. When he said this he was driving in a pick-up truck with 300,000 miles on it, that he built himself, and he was on his way to a black bear-wrestling contest, in which black bears take turns seeing if they can defeat him. And he's mentally tough, too. He once survived fifty days of waterboarding without giving up any information. The waterboarder? Marlon Brando, on the set of The Godfather. So I think he knows what "tough" is.

By the way, I'm currently watching Game One of the Series on like an hour TiVo delay, and Tim McCarver, after Shane Victorino almost got picked off second, said something like, "You've probably heard that you should never make the first or third out at third base, but in this case, you should never make the first out at second base."

What he could have said: "You shouldn't get picked off in a [fucking] World Series game."

And he was just the lead singer in a chorus of GMs, scouts, coaching staffs and players who have run into this team along the way.

They're called the "Stolen Bass-es" and they're performing this Saturday at the St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in Germantown, PA.

Tim McCarver just referred to Jason Werth's double as a "check swing plop job," which: ewww, and then he talked about Ben Zobrist racing to the line to grab said plop job by saying, "Gives you an idea about the closure [sic] speed of the Rays' outfielders." Why is Tim McCarver allowed to broadcast?

These people are always talking about "the way they play," and "how hard they play" and how much fun it is to watch these Phillies play.


What [people who talk about the Phillies] Talk About When They Talk About [the Phillies]:

1. The way they play
2. How hard they play
3. How much fun it is to watch them play

These people sound very interesting and knowledgeable.

These Phillies don't seem imprisoned by their team's tortured past. In an odd way, they almost seem inspired by it. They constantly talk, right out loud, about how driven they are to write their own history, make their own mark, put their own stamp on their franchise and their ballpark.

Look, as a Red Sox fan, I understand the importance of a traditionally-losing franchise being undaunted by the past. But let's also acknowledge that we are deep into this "Why the Phillies Will Win" argument, and we have nary a mention of Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat the Bat, Brad Lidge, or, you know, anything related to what actually happens on the field of play.

This is a group that sets the bar as high as it can be set, and a group of players who seem remarkably comfortable on this stage.

What? Who? When? How? Which? For? Make? Jump?

What is the evidence for this platitude?

They've won 12 games this year in which they trailed after seven innings. They've won 29 games decided from the seventh inning on. They've won a half-dozen games they trailed by two runs or more in the eighth inning or later, including a defining NLCS game in Los Angeles last week.

The Phillies will win because they are often behind late in games. I get it. I think the Phils should be fine late in the game -- it's not like the Rays' bullpen had the best OPS-against in the entire league or anything.

They may not have the best starting rotation in this World Series, but they do have the best starting pitcher -- Cole Hamels.

Hey look! Something about an actual player!

I expect him to win Game 1, set the tone and buy the offense a night to apply the Rust-Oleum after a week off. History does tell us that 10 of the last 11 Game 1 winners have gone on to win the Series.


Actual analysis! This is so much fun! (Though that is a pretty small sample size, at least it's something.)

So Game 1 starters are often Series-changers. And Hamels fits that mold. The Phillies also have the best bullpen, and the best closer (Brad Lidge), in this World Series.

Best closer, maybe. But best bullpen? The Rays' bullpen had a .220 BAA. The Phillies, in the NL, had a .251. Their OPS-against was a little worse, too.

Much like the Rockies last year, this team heads into this World Series playing as well as it has ever played.

So very soon, the Phillies will be able to hoist the Championship Trophy, just like the World Champion 2007 World Series Champion Colorado Champion Rockies, the 2007 World Series Champions of Championships! Champs!

Maybe 20-5 isn't 21-1, but it's in the same stratosphere. The difference, though,

...is that the Rockies didn't win the World Series, like you are predicting the Phillies will?

is these Phillies aren't just a good team that got hot. They're a team that was built to win, a team with all the ingredients to win, and THEN they got hot.

...okay...

As the Rockies found out last October, it isn't always the hottest team that wins the World Series.

The Rockies were hot! The Phillies are also hot! The Rockies didn't win! The Phillies will win, because they are better than the Rockies! I should go back and rewrite this without invoking the Rockies, which are irrelevant to my argument! Too late! Deadline is here! Oh well!

But when the hottest team is also the toughest team, that's a whole different story.

You're telling me. I just read that story. And it's a doozy.

How about this, instead of what you wrote:

The Phillies have a very good pitching staff, a very good bullpen, and hit the most HR in the league. The Rays are a bunch of 24 year-old kids who had never, before this season, played a meaningful game after like April fucking 13th.

Now it's time for Counter-Irrelevant: The Tampa Bay Rays Will Win!

As always, my esteemed colleague arrived at his World Series prediction after consulting with scouts, general managers and other people throughout baseball.

Didn't seem to help him.

He observed the Phillies up close and personal from opening day to the final game of the NLCS.

He observed their toughness. Missed all the HR and good pitching performances.

He studied the statistics, sorting through OPS, VORP and WHIP in search of tell-tale trends.

No he very obviously did not. He did no such thing. Take that back.

He carefully analyzed player matchups, spoke with the participants and called upon more than 30 years of experience covering the game.

Then he talked about toughness for twenty paragraphs.

Likewise, I made a careful study before making my prediction. Namely, I noticed that Tampa Bay rays play in the American League. Which is why I'm picking them to sweep.

Not the strongest argument, but I'll accept it.

The AL...dominated interleague play yet again this season, winning 149 of the 252 games played.

I'm not sure what Braves-Royals games have to do with the World Series, really. I'm still with you, ish, though.

To put that in perspective, that winning percentage would translate into a 96 victory season. The last time a league struggled as much as the NL has, Geena Davis was the catcher and Tom Hanks was the manager.

Didn't the AAGPBL become a success, after Geena Davis did that split when she caught the foul pop-up and got on the cover of Life magazine? Not that I've seen that movie 25 times, or anything.

If you're scoring at home, the Rays were 12-6 in interleague play while the Phillies went 4-11, the worst record in baseball.

The Phillies had to play Toronto, Boston, Oakland, LAA, and Texas. Tampa got Florida, St. Louis, the Cubbies, Houston, Florida again, and Pitt. Eh...maybe it's a wash. The Phils had a rough patch against some pretty good teams. Big deal.

Look, it's nice the Phillies won the National League pennant and that Warren Giles trophy will look good in their office. But now they're playing with the big boys.

Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, James Shields, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Grant Balfour...these are all names of people who play for Tampa Bay. You should talk about them.

The Rays are a well-balanced team with power, speed, great defense and deep pitching.

Getting warmer...

They are so loaded with young talent that they were able to put a pitcher with just five major league games of experience on the mound and see him silence the defending world champions in two games of the ALCS.

...warmer...

They have an experienced manager

Joe Maddon: 251-286 (537 total games). Never managed in the post-season before this year.
Charlie Manuel: 573-485 (1058 total games). Managed in the post-season twice before this year.

It took me 21 seconds to look that up.

who is willing to use his bullpen in unconventional ways if they make sense, rather than sticking to ways that boost his closer's arbitration figures.

Probably because his "closer," Troy Percival, is injured and out for the season.

And, more importantly, did I mention they play in the American League?

Yes. Very well done.

P.S. Tampa: 2nd-best team ERA, 2nd most Ks. Only 9th-most runs scored. My money's on the Phillies.

P.P.S. Originally, after the line about Maddon using his bullpen non-traditionally, I went on a long and snarky diatribe about how Brad Lidge pitched in like 70 games this year and never once went more than one inning. I was very pleased with myself. Then Timothy wrote in and politely pointed out that Brad Lidge plays for the Phillies, and Joe Maddon manages the Rays. So I swiftly deleted that shit and replaced it with the Percival line.

I am, as always, a dummy.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 10:06 PM
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

 

Poetry

Bears-Vikes, 14:56 left in the 2nd quarter. Marty Booker drops an easy TD pass from Kyle Orton, bringing up 2nd and goal from the 15. The announcer, whose voice I do not recognize and whose name I am too lazy to look up, watches the Bears' offense come to the line and paints his verbal picture thusly:

Everybody out, two wide ends, wide outs, two tight ends, and everybody split out. And Orton calls time out.

Or, if this were 1959, in the West Village,

Everybody out!
[saxophone blast]
Two wide ends,
Wide outs,
[saxophone blast; snare roll]
Two tight ends, and
Everybody --
[saxophone blast]
Split --
[saxophone blast]
Out!
[saxophone solo]
And Orton
Calls...
Time out.
[applause]

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:47 PM
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Friday, October 17, 2008

 

"Jerry 'Needs An Instruction' Manuel" --Chris Berman (1955-2008)

KT covered some Manuel lunacy in the Gallimaufry, and there's more where that came from:

While the big offensive trio had respectable statistics or better, they didn't stop the September slide. Manuel said spring training will be a time of teaching, for him to give "clarity" to players on his methods. Execution in the clutch is his emphasis, and the Mets likely will bring in new offensive players, most likely in the corner outfield spots.

So Manuel plans on teaching "clarity" (I assume this means making the team watch The Love Guru repeatedly), teaching guys to be clutch, and bringing in guys who are clutch.

Good luck with that, Jerry Manuel. I have some suggestions about how you teach guys to get clutchier:

1. Just before Jose Reyes takes a swing in BP, scream in his ear "It's Game 7 of the World Series!" and also punch him in the gut because that's what butterflies in the stomach feel like.

2. Secretly feed the team laxatives before practice because that's what butterflies in the stomach feel like.

3. Make the team eat butterflies.

4. Kidnap Carlos Delgado's kids and hold them at gunpoint while Carlos takes BP. "You like pressure, Carlos? This is what the playoffs feel like." Then, after Carlos strokes a home run, shoot one of the kids. Just in the leg, though. Remember, it's just a game.

5. Strap Luis Castillo to a speeding train. "Unless you hit in the clutch, Castillo becomes the meat in a train sandwich." Everyone comes through, and you reveal that you basically just wanted Castillo gone anyway.

6. One bat in the clubhouse is filled with plastic explosives. Stay on your toes, gentlemen.

7. Put up a picture of Derek Jeter in the clubhouse.

8. Be positive.

"You don't see a lot of guys that have statistical numbers play well in these championship series," Manuel said.

This is so bonkers I don't know where to start. First of all: what are "statistical numbers"? How do they differ from "numbers," "statistics," or "numerical statistics"? Are there "statistical letters"? We have a right to know. Second: Jerry Manuel is claiming that doing well in the regular season is a detriment to playing well in the playoffs. That's right. You want to be a playoff hero? Fuck around for 162. Careful, David Wright. Don't let those numbers get too statistical!

Third, here are your League Championship Series leaders in on-base percentage:

1. Mark Grace .575
2. Will Clark .529
3. Kevin Youkilis .518
4. Carlos Beltran .476
5. Ryne Sandberg .457
6. Dusty Baker .451
Manny Ramirez .451
8. Darrell Porter .450
Gary Sheffield .450
10. Albert Pujols .449

Look, these are pretty stupid because we're talking about minuscule sample sizes. But those are, for the most part, pretty awesome players. Players who did accrue very statistical numbers. Pujols, Manny, Sheffield, Sandberg. And hey, Carlos Beltran's number 4! Guess what: Carlos Beltran also leads the world in Divisional Series OBP and SLG. His career postseason OPS is a cool 1.302. But he still needs clutch lessons from Jerry Manuel, according to Jerry Manuel.

"What you see is usually the little second baseman or somebody like that carries off the MVP trophy that nobody expected him to do. That's because he's comfortable in playing that form of baseball, so therefore when the stage comes, it's not a struggle for him."

Here are the World Series MVPs for the past 10 years:

2007 Mike Lowell
2006 David Eckstein
2005 Jermaine Dye
2004 Manny Ramirez
2003 Josh Beckett
2002 Troy Glaus
2001 Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling
2000 Derek Jeter
1999 Mariano Rivera
1998 Scott Brosius

Two of these 11 players sort of stink. The rest range from very good to Hall of Fame locks. Because the best players in the playoffs are the best players. Period. Sure, there are Brosius-style flukes once every few years. But Jerry Manuel is mistaking the fucking Brosius Exception and turning it into the rule. That's plain dumb. Also, Jesus: coaching your team in a way that you think will produce a Craig Counsell or David Eckstein MVP award is white-hot, untrammeled madness.

Your team has: Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Johan Santana. Your bullpen stinks and you need some more starting pitching depth. But you were second in the league in runs scored, tied with the Phillies, who are in the World Series. "Clutch" hitting is not your problem. "Clarity" on your methods is not your problem. "Statistical numbers" are certainly not your problem.

But hey, by all means, start getting rid of the guys whose numbers are too good. The more silly things happen, the better things go for me, a critical asshole with the free time on a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon to blog about dumb remarks about baseball.

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posted by Junior  # 6:20 PM
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Let's Gallimaufry This Shizz




Gallimaufry time, mofos.

Mark S. writes in and says:

In the Oct. 13 The Sporting News, somebody put together a panel of 16 former major-league shortstops and asked them some questions.

First I'll list the 16: Biancalana, Bordick, Burleson, DeJesus, DeMaestri, Elster, Foli, Fregosi, Harrelson, Joost, Kasko, Kubek, Larkin, Maxville, Menke and Petrocelli.

Second, the relevant question on the table: "Jeter or A-Rod?"

Survey said:

Jeter 11
Too close to call 3
A-Rod 2

And with it runs a quote from Menke: "A-Rod will end up breaking some records, but Jeter is a winner."


Interesting. I have just conducted my own survey. The question on the table: Biancalana, Bordick, Burleson, DeJesus, DeMaestri, Elster, Foli, Fregosi, Harrelson, Joost, Kasko, Kubek, Larkin, Maxville, Menke, Petrocelli or Logic and Reason?

The results:

Biancalana: 0
Bordick: 0
Burleson: 0
DeJesus: 0
DeMaestri: 0
Elster: 0
Foli: 0
Fregosi: 0
Harrelson: 0
Joost: 0
Kasko: 0
Kubek: 0
Larkin: 0
Maxville: 0
Menke: 0
Petrocelli: 0
Logic and Reason: 1

I think everyone pretty much knew where I was going with that right from the beginning, which is why it delighted me to actually type it out and make you read it.

Back to












Many people reported this quote from Fire Joe Morgan favorite Joe Morgan, but Rob C. is the one I happened to flag, so he gets all the credit and the rest of you can suck it:

Just driving home from work with ESPN radio's call of the game on. Morgan talking about Beltran's great playoff performance in '03:

"I read an interesting article that talked about how scouts will look at a player's performance in postseason games to see how his mental makeup is, if he can handle playing under pressure. I think that makes sense to a degree, but you can't put too much weight into it, because we all know that the playoffs are a very small sample size. You don't want to put all your marbles in one basket."


I almost drove off the road.


This really does make me feel as though something has been accomplished, somewhere, by someone(s). However, lest you think for one second that Mr. Morgan has come to his senses in like a large-picture worldview kind of way, peruse this little beauty from just the other day, sent in by 1.4 million of you, quoted here from Clark:

Joe Morgan just did a location spot during which he asserted -- repeatedly -- that "they [Red Sox] cannot beat them [Rays] by outscoring them."

And here I'd thought that was the *only* way to win a game.


Oh, Clark. You silly man. There are plenty of ways to win baseball games. Outscoring your opponent...not un-outscoring them...doing the un-opposite of not un-outscoring them...the list goes on.

Alexander points us to a special video presentation here at Gallimaufry Time, which includes Matt Stairs and what can only be described as unfortunate phraseology:



"You want to rephrase that, Matt?"
"Yes, I do. Ahem. When you get that nice celebration coming in the dugout, and you're getting your weiner diddled by the guys--"
"Okay, thanks. That's enough."

And now, a special Golf Note, from Chad, who, after a lengthy and kind series of compliments about our site, writes:

A note from the Ryder Cup: Johnny Miller stated, "the US will miss Tiger, as he is one of the two greatest clutch putters of all time. The other being Jack." Guess who is in the top 5 in career putting statistics. Yup, Tiger and Jack. The fact that they are better tee to green than anyone else AND were/ are great putters is why they are the two greatest GOLFERS of all time! They had more chances to make "clutch" putts because their long games gave them more opportunities. They made more "clutch" putts because they are GREAT putters! Remove the word clutch from Johnny's statement and it is true.

Clutch is bullshit! Tiger and Jack have made more non-clutch putts, too! Once again, because they are great putters!


I digress. Thank you again for your work. I thoroughly enjoy it!
Now, you might be thinking, "How did this mildly interesting note about golf make it into the Gallimaufry?!" I'll tell you why. Because at the end it says:

Sent from my iPhone

That is insane. Chad typed that whole thing on his iPhone, people. Including the all-caps words. And not one single typo. It probably took him eleven hours. That's dedication.

As long as we're going multi-media today, here are the Built Ford Tough Keys to the Game from NLCS Game 3, sent in by Daniel:












Phillies: Win this game too, like you won the other games, at the other place
Dodgers: Try to do the things you did 6 weeks ago, when you won a baseball game

I like the idea that "Remember August 30!" is a "Remember the Maine!"-style battle cry for Dodger fans.

On a separate note, Ô¬Ò˾ý writes in and says:

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Ha ha ha! I agree, my friend. You never know what is going to come out of Harold Reynolds' mouth these days!

Let's play the absurd expectations game, says Kyle:

Sporting freshly trimmed, thick braids for the NLCS, Ramirez went 2-for-4. Not quite the torrid hitting the Dodgers were used to from him since he joined the team...

What, pray tell, counts as "torrid" in a one-game sample, if not 2-4 with a double off the CF wall? Even if you think that 2-4 isn't "torrid," using a one-game sample size to evaluate a baseball player is like using a 4-game sample size to determine that Eli Manning is suddenly better than Peyton Manning. And no one would ever be dumb enough to do that.

Finally, we close with some more bad news for Mets fans. Here's your new manager, on the first day of his new deal, talking about how to take his team to the next level:

On his first full day as the Mets' long-term manager, Manuel forcefully attacked the SABR-type mathematical analysis some have fixated on in recent years.

"You get so many statistical people together, they put so many stats on paper, and they say, well, if you do this and you score this many runs, you do that many times, you'll be in the playoffs," he said.

"That's not really how it works, and that's what we have to get away from. And that's going to have to be a different mind-set of the team in going forward. We must win and we must know how to win rather than win because we have statistical people. We have to win because we have baseball players that know and can understand the game."

Congratulations to the Phillies, for winning the 2008 NL Pennant. Congratulations to the 2009 Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Marlins, for all of the easy victories you will have over the 2009 Mets.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 3:18 PM
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

 

Congratulations 2008 NL Champion Philadelphia Phillies!

Not one of ESPN's 18 baseball experts picked you to make it to the Fall Classic.

Mazel Tov, Greg Dobbs and co.!

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posted by dak  # 2:09 AM
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Congratulations to Brad Lidge! As every baseball expert predicted, you had your psyche completely destroyed by the Albert Pujols home run in 2005 and of course never pitched competitively again.

Yesterday, Lidge was named Employee of the Month at Allentown Plaque Company, your headquarters for Employee of the Month plaques.
 
Also of note: 17 of 18 experts predicted that the Phils would beat the Brewers. But all 17 agreed they would lose to the Cubs or Dodgers in the NLCS.

You could argue that some credit is due to the "experts" for almost unanimously picking the Phils over the Brewers.

My counterargument to that is: maybe.
 
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Monday, October 13, 2008

 

Snippet

We don't have a lot of time these days, which is why our posts are appearing less frequently than Sarah Palin on Meet the Press. (Ooooooooooooh shit! Political humor! Bam!) Anyway, I just got home from work and am watching the highly entertaining latter innings of the NLCS Game 4, and overheard Timothy McCarver say this:

Boy, a devastating turn of events here in the 8th inning. The 2-run shot by Victorino to tie it, and Matt Stairs with a 2-run homer. Neither were cheap.

Forget about the big ol' [sic] that needs to nestle its way in there, right after "were." Just go look at the videotape of Victorino's line drive HR, which cleared the RF wall by about 30 inches. What does "cheap" mean to you, there, Tim?

That's it. Just a little snippet. We'll try to post more soon.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:27 PM
Comments:
I was there. Immediately after the Victorino HR, I remarked "That one was pretty cheap."

Apparently Tim McCarver has the ability to read my mind and say the exact opposite of what I'm thinking.
 
Wait a minute, Junior. You actually went to a real live baseball game? Don't you realize that baseball is way more fun when viewed as a matrix of numbers played by robots on a network of computers? I guess what I'm saying is I'm just jealous mom let you out of our basement.
 
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Saturday, October 11, 2008

 

Fun With Math

ALCS Game 1. Sox up 2-0 in the ninth. Your graphic reads:

ALCS History:

Game 1 winner has won series 12 of 22 times (55%).

Your announcer, Chip Caray, says:

As you can see, winning Game 1...very important.

Or: the minimum amount of "important" a thing can be and still be considered "important" in any way.

That's all. Just wanted to point that out.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 12:22 AM
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Sunday, October 05, 2008

 

Albert Pujols Was Not A Good Enough Pitcher To Win The MVP

I for one can't wait for the deluge of Ryan Howard-for-MVP columns from older dudes wearing RBI Glasses™. RBI Glasses™: Available at ShittyLensCrafters all across the country. Hey, here's the first one, from Bob Klapisch.

Me: Bob Klapisch, you're writing a column about your awards picks. What are you going to call it?

Bob Klapisch (stopping to think for exactly 0.00038 seconds): The Klappie Awards! I'm on break.

Bob Klapisch's Klappie Awards

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER, NL: Ryan Howard, Phillies.

Nope. Wrong. So so so so so so so wrong. You should be criticized on some sort of hypercritical baseball blog for that opinion.

We’re prepared to face the firing squad on this one, having passed over Albert Pujols.

Klapisch is talking about a literal firing squad. He has written his farewell notes to his wife and kids. But he's doing this because he's a man. A man taking a stand. A man choosing another man who is ranked 30th in his league in VORP for MVP. These are the kinds of causes for which a man like Bob Klapisch is willing to stare death in the face.

Mark DeRosa and Cristian Guzman had higher VORPs than Ryan Howard. VORP is not the final word by any means; it obviously has deficiencies. But hey, also: Ryan Howard was 6th on his team in OBP. Think about that.

But as unthinkably dangerous as the Cardinals’ slugger was, he couldn’t get his team to the postseason. Howard did.

You're right. Albert Pujols did not nearly pitch well enough, or for enough innings (Can you believe zero innings? What a bum!) for the Cardinals to to make the playoffs. (The Phillies had a team ERA of 3.88; the Cardinals 4.19. Albert Pujols? More like Albert Not A Very Good Pitching Coach!)

Pujols should have lobbied to have St. Louis the city moved to Oregon, where his Cardinals would have won the NL West by two games and he would be lauded as a clutch MVP baseball superhero with quality intangibles and a leader with the uncanny ability to come through when it counts. But unfortunately, Pujols has never been good at getting entire cities to spontaneously change their geographical locations.

Ryan Howard batted .168 in April. Albert Pujols' batting averages, by month (and I know batting average doesn't matter. Here they are anyway): .365, .373, .302, .347, .398, .321. Bob Klapisch, do you think for some reason that games played in April don't count in the standings? Ryan Howard batted .213 in August.

Granted, Pujols had better season-long numbers.

Granted, "The Wire" is a "better" show than "Hole in the Wall."

But Howard was in another reality in September, when impact players make their mark.

But "Hole in the Wall" and one very funny moment where a guy couldn't fit through the hole in the wall, and that is the kind of impact that impact TV shows make when it counts.

While the Phillies were catching and passing the Mets (again), Howard batted .352 and hit 11 home runs — one every eight at-bats.

While the Cardinals were playing baseball, Albert Pujols batted .357.

Ryan Howard hit behind Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. If Albert Pujols hit behind Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, he would have had 493 RBI. Do the math. It checks out.

He finished the season with a mediocre .251 average, but otherwise led the majors with 48 HR and 146 RBI.

Sure, he hit by far the most home runs. RBI are bullshit. Here are things he didn't lead the majors in:

EqA
VORP
WARP1
WARP2
WARP3
OBP
OPS
SLG
WPA
BB
BA
R
Literally any defensive statistic. Any of them. Just pick one.

You know who led or was damn close to the lead in a shitload of those statistics? Albert Pujols. The 2008 NL MVP.

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posted by Junior  # 7:05 PM
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

 

Food Metaphor Fans: This One's For You

Tense times in the ALDS, but FJM fans know what's important to be listening for: food metaphors. Reader Brandon sends in the following Buck Martinez beauty, re: Jonathan Papelbon.

Jonathan Papelbon, not wasting any time, going to his bread and butter there, and that's the cheese.

Simply magnificent, Buck. He sure didn't serve up a meatball!

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posted by Junior  # 1:02 AM
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Other tags for this:

mixed food
food mix-ups
metaphor mix-ups
buck martinez
 
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Friday, October 03, 2008

 

Colin Cowherd Nonsensical Falsehood of the Day

Driving in this morning, heard Cowbones lay this little ditty on his army of listeners (paraphrase):

Lou Pinella, when he was a player, was the kind of guy who never took a day off.

Lou Pinella, games played:

1969: 135
70: 144
71: 126
72: 151
73: 144
74: 140
75: 74
76: 100
77: 103
78: 130
79: 130
80: 116
81: 60
82: 102
83: 53


So...it's truer to say that Lou Pinella, as a player, never didn't take a day off.

Colin Cowherd once again proving: you can just say anything you want and no one will care.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 1:39 PM
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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

 

Let's Talk About What's Important, Here

Cubs-Dodgers starts in 10 minutes. Huge series -- probably the most intriguing DS in a pretty overall-intriguing DS year. Cubs trying to overcome 100 years of failure, the result of a curse put on them by a man with a goat. (This, unlike other curses, is actually true. It is an actual curse. A real-life witchcraft/black arts type situation. I know, I know -- I don't generally believe in curses, but in this case, science, logic, and reason all point to the Cubs' failure to win a World Series being the result of an honest-to-God occult situation. It's hard-core fucking Goonies type stuff. That's the deal.) And the Dodgers trying to overcome exceptional mediocrity with the help of Manny Ramirez, who apparently, Red Sox fans are surprised to find out, has been phoning it in since July of 2002.

Anyway, it should be a very interesting series, and not just because it's fun to listen to Ron Santo's insane-yet-somehow-charming homerism. But let's get right to the heart of the matter. How do Yankee fans feel about it?

I mean, that's obviously the #1 fucking thing we all have on our minds, right? Where do average, run of the mill Yankee fans stand on the Cubs-Dodgers series? Someone should fucking write about that. Is everyone going to just ignore that huge fucking question mark? Is the liberal media just going to blow off the single most important question heading into the Cubs-Dodgers series -- namely: how do Yankee fans feel about it?! This is an outrage. This is a farce. I cannot believe that nobody is going to investigate how Yankee fans feel about the Cubs-Dodgers series. I swear to God--

Oh. Okay, good. Someone wrote about it. Phew.

NEW YORK -- Along the avenue that borders the bleacher entrances to Yankee Stadium, the souvenir shops remained shuttered on Tuesday, as did most of the bars and restaurants. There will be no baseball in the Bronx until next year, and none left in this 85-year-old facility.

So there's no point in writing an article about the Yankees right now. The End.

But two figures near and dear to Yankees' fans hearts will take their teams head-to-head in the National League Division Series, as Joe Torre's Dodgers and Lou Piniella's Cubs prepare to open their best-of-five series on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS at Wrigley Field.

Lou Piniella, I'm sorry, is not a "Yankee." Lou Piniella is more a Mariner, a [Devil] Ray, or a Red than a Yankee. I know he played for them for like 12 years, but he wasn't like super good, really, and he's way more well-known for being a manager these days, and he won a WS with the Reds, and 116 games with the Mariners one year...

Hey -- Jeff Suppan is on the Brewers now, and Matt Stairs plays for Philly. Why don't you go ask Pirates' fans how they deal with the gut-wrenching choice of who to root for.

And yes, I am saying that Jeff Suppan is as important to the Pirates as Joe Torre is to the Yankees. And yes, that is totally fair. And no, I will not be reading my email after I post this.

Outside the press entrance at Yankee Stadium, fans clustered for autographs from players cleaning out their lockers for the last time. Even though their Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons, many still felt a rooting interest with Torre, who brought the Bombers there 12 times.

"I'm rooting for Torre. I'll always root for him, no matter what," said Jason Cardona, a 33-year-old Yankees fan from the Bronx. "[Piniella] wasn't like Joe Torre. He never won the World Series four times.

Hey Bryan. Great article on how Yankees fans feel about the Cubs-Dodgers series. Great stuff. I love the part where some random guy says he's rooting for the Yankees because of Joe Torre. That really cut to the quick. But you know what would make the article even more interesting? If you could somehow find someone...who isn't so sure who to root for.

Pat Bostonia of Wayne, N.J., was more conflicted. A season-ticket holder who estimated she attended more than 1,000 Yankees home games since the late 1970s, Bostonia, 49, was not sure who she'd prefer to see move on to the NL Championship Series.

Bingo.

"[Torre is] a great manager and a great guy, and I say good for him," Bostonia said. "I don't wish him any harm. To tell you the truth, if [the Yankees] aren't in, it just doesn't mean anything to me. I do wish him the best.

"If the Yankees aren't in, it just doesn't mean anything to me." And with that simple declaration, the author of this article, and his employer, MLB.com, realized there was nothing interesting about this angle, and decided never to publish it. And that's why you never read it, and I never commented it about it, and you never read my commentary, and none of us wasted our time.

"But I'm also a big fan of Lou Piniella.

Uh oh! Now what kind of boring non-bind do we find ourselves in?!

I'm not watching anything. I'm going to go home and put my head in a corner. Lou's a real doll, kicking the dirt and everything. I love them both."

Wow, this is getting pretty goddamn uninteresting. We'd better keep going. Is it possible to interview a woman with a comical name that sounds like it was made up by Jackie Mason in the 1960's?

Miriam Pinto, who drove to Yankee Stadium from Springfield, Mass., to say goodbye to the old place one last time, said the Dodgers-Cubs series would probably draw her in only because of the 68-year-old man filling out Los Angeles' lineup cards.

"I'll probably flip back and forth on them, but to see Joe Torre sitting there, I think that's a good thing," Pinto said. "I'm upset the Yankees aren't there, but Joe Torre deserves it. I think [the Yankees] let him go in the wrong way."

There you have it. A made-up woman with a ridiculous name is a fan of Joe Torre. But what about people with names that are bad parodies of Italian-American Sopranos-style goombahs? What do they think?

"I was glad that he left for somewhere else," added Savino Stallone, 54, who made the drive from Stormville, N.Y., with his daughter, Jennifer, and son, Joseph.

1. There's no one named "Savino Stallone" in the whole world.

2. There's no such place as "Stormville, NY." This is a parody of Italian people. You got drunk and made all of this up.

3. If there were actually a person named Savino Stallone, from Stormville, NY, his kids would not be named Jennifer and Joseph. They would be named I-Roc and Pasta Fagiole.

Steve Lombardi, who operates the Yankees fan site WasWatching.com -- a play on Phil Rizzuto's old scorecard trick of writing "WW" for plays he'd missed -- plans to watch the NLDS closely, believing that the winner may very well go on to win the NL pennant.

Here -- I'll rewrite this graf in a way that points out how pointless this article is:

Steve Lombardi, who likes baseball, plans to watch the NLDS closely, believing that the winner may very well go on to win the NL pennant.

When the part of the paragraph that links it to the overall premise can be removed without any consequence to the paragraph, there is something wrong with the premise.

"I want to see the Cubs win it all because I believe that gives Lou Piniella an excellent shot at making Cooperstown as a manager," Lombardi wrote in an e-mail.

You emailed this guy? You sat down and emailed him? This was pre-meditated?!

"Lou won 90 games with the Yankees [in 1986].

Not interesting or remarkable.

He won a ring with the 1990 Reds. His teams in Seattle made the postseason and once won 116 games in a season. Bringing the Cubs their first ring in a century would be the icing on the cake for Lou's resume -- and one that Cooperstown could not ignore."

This is probably true. And you know what no one in the entire world would think about, or care about, or mention in his HOF ceremony? The three years he mediocre-ly managed the Yankees.

Further complicating the issue,

Is that even possible?! This issue is so complicated already!!!!!!!111!!1!!11!11!111!11!!!1111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!111111!!!!!!!1111111111111

on some level, is the makeup of the Dodgers' roster. While Torre, Mattingly and -- to a lesser extent -- Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa and reliever Scott Proctor lend a Yankees flavor, the Red Sox are especially well represented.

Oh shit. Oooooohhhhhhhhhhh shit. There are former Red Sox on the DOdgers?!!?!?!?!?!? How WILL the YANKEE FANS' OPINOINS OF THE CUBS_DODGERS SERIES be changed nowe THAT tTHEY HAVE THIS INFORMATION BAOUT THERE ARE RED SOX FANS on the DoDGERS?!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Manny Ramirez hit .396 in 53 games after joining Los Angeles and changed the clubhouse culture of a team that also features Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra, three frequent thorns in the Yankees' sides.

Sure, I'll write this article. How much will I get paid? A dollar a word? Okay. Then I'll just keep writing words until you tell me to stop. Cool?

"Those are former Boston Red Sox players and I'm not too friendly with them," Cardona said. "Like Jorge Posada said on [the YES Network program] 'CenterStage,' he can't stand the Red Sox. I don't blame him. I'll always be a Yankees fan, no matter what."

You heard it here first: Yankee fans will continue to root for the Yankees. How is this not the main headline on Drudge?

"It's very strange, but let me tell you -- since Manny left Boston, I'm a Manny fan now," Pinto added. "He's just got to cut his hair, that's it."

So, let me get this straight. Now that a guy doesn't play for the team you hate, but rather plays for a team you are neutral about, which is managed by your favorite team's former manager, you no longer dislike that player as much?

Where is CNN? Where is the MSM on this? Where is the Presidential address from the Rose Garden? Why am I still typing these dumb sarcastic rejoinders?

Oh my God, look -- he's still writing this article.

Robert Anderson, 45, made the trip to Yankee Stadium from Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday, hoping as much for autographs -- Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain stopped and signed for most -- as to spend a little more time at his favorite stadium.

Saying that "there are a lot of memories in this place," Anderson said his interests would be with the man who steered his club during the most recent dynasty seasons.

This is the same result as the first person you interviewed. Why are you including this?

"I'm pulling for him," Anderson said. "I'll go for the Dodgers. You've got Torre, Mattingly, Bowa. I'll watch it, but it will never be the same because we're not in it."

So there you have it. Yankee fans: owners of various boring feelings about an event that doesn't really affect them.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 6:24 PM
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And, predictably, Gwen Ifill didn't ask one question about this issue in tonight's debate.
 
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Dear Jon Heyman

Okay, I thought I was finished, but I'm not.

Dear Jon Heyman,

I know you probably think you're a guy who "doesn't rely on stats" and "thinks there's more to the game than numbers," but I submit to you that the only reason you selected Francisco Rodriguez to be your AL MVP (MVP!) is that he corralled a large (a record, in fact -- !) number of saves. Saves, as I'm sure you've been told many times, are a ridiculous stat, the kind of stat that gives stats a bad name. So you really shouldn't use them when making such important decisions as selecting your fictional #1 MVP choice on your fake MVP ballot.

I will now list various players, persons, and other entities in the American League of U.S.A. professional baseball who were more valuable than Francisco Rodriguez:

Grady Sizemore
Joe Mauer
Dustin Pedroia
Alex Rodriguez
Carlos Quentin
Josh Hamilton
Milton Bradley
Aubrey Huff
Miguel Cabrera
Kevin Youkilis
Ian Kinsler
Brian Roberts
Nick Markakis
Vladimir Guerrero
Mark Teixeira
Jermaine Dye
Cliff Lee
Roy Halladay
Ervin Santana
Joe Saunders
Jon Lester
Daisuke Matsuzaka
John Danks
Joe Nathan
Mariano Rivera
Joakim Soria
Joe Maddon
Terry Francona
Mike Scioscia
The crowd at Camden Yards
A replay monitor
Heart, the intangible quality
Heart, the band
Ed Hochuli
The wind
Chief Wahoo
Jim Abbott
Curtis Pride
Gravity
Roberto Petagine
Levi Johnston
Birds -- all of them. Just birds in general.
This guy Rick who fixed my rearview mirror
Monster.com
Zombie Bernie Mac
I bet if Scot Shields or Jose Arredondo were the closer they would have broken Bobby Thigpen's record too, I'm just saying -- does this count as an entity?
Evan Longoria

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posted by Junior  # 3:55 AM
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I Figured Out How To Win The MVP

I want to stop writing about Jon Heyman. We're not targeting him, we're not keeping an eye on him, we don't have anything personal against him. Honestly: you send shit in, we read each thing, and then we decide which things make us angry.

This makes me angry.

I mean, look, it's late, I just ate a giant bone-in ribeye and I'm sleepy. But a quick rundown here: guess who Heyman picks for AL MVP?

(Easy one. Just think about who would make you the angriest.)

Yeah. It's K-Rod. The same K-Rod who ranks something like 80th amongst relief pitchers in WHIP. Behind dudes like Tyler Walker and Mike Lincoln and other made-up names of guys who went to your high school. Don't like WHIP? Fine. He was also only fourth amongst relief pitchers in the AL in WPA.

It gets better. Numbers one and two on Heyman's NL MVP ballot were Manny Ramirez and C.C. Sabathia, two men who combined to play something like 4 total innings in the NL. I'm not even being nitpicky here. Take a look at the MVP criteria:

The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:

1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.

2. Number of games played.

3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

4. Former winners are eligible.

5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.


See number two there? Yeah. Apparently the rules of voting don't mean a goddamn thing to Jon Heyman.

So here's my secret way to win the MVP. Play 50 games really well, then sit out the rest of the year. Say you injured your biceps, your triceps, your quadriceps, and your quinticeps (these are fake muscles). Then wait until the end of the year and pray that your team narrowly makes the playoffs. You point to your amazing 50-game run and Jon Heyman and his ilk immediately choose to ignore the literally hundreds of players who played full seasons in blatant disregard for the rules of voting.

Or how about this: people like Heyman say that if your team doesn't make the playoffs, then the whole season is essentially completely devoid of value. Nothing -- nothing you do can redeem your individual performance. But let's take it a step further. No one remembers who gets eliminated in the NLDS. Hell, who cares who loses in the World Series? The only team that has a season of value at all is the team that wins it all. So let's wait until the absolute end of the playoffs, until the final out is recorded, and every year we'll give the MVP to the guy who has the ball when the World Series ends. 'Cause fuck every guy who's not on a winner. Fuck you if your teammates were only good enough to get you to within one win of the wild card. That renders your season moot.

I will insert a baseball-playing tarsier at first base in Game 7 of the World Series, and when the closer fields a comebacker to the mound and flips it to that tarsier, I will declare the tarsier the MVP of baseball because without him who knows what would have happened to the team during that final out and isn't that the definition of value? Yes. Yes it is.

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posted by Junior  # 3:16 AM
Comments:
P.S. Ryan Howard ranked third is a fucking joke.

P.P.S. Heyman also ranks Sabathia and K-Rod below other pitchers in the Cy Young races despite placing them at or near the top of the MVP races. There are no words for this level of lunacy.
 
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

 

Holy Cow, Does Jon Heyman Hate VORP

I just crunched some numbers and data about various things that exist, using a scientific process verified by several mathematicians at top universities, and I came up with some interesting results.

Here are the five most boring things in the world, in order:

5. Slowed-down time-lapse photography of a small puddle of room-temperature water evaporating.
4. Two people you have never met, wearing identical colorless shirts and pants, talking about the dreams they had last night.
3. Debating what "Valuable" means w/r/t "Most Valuable Player."
2. Lying in a sensory deprivation tank and staring straight ahead at a blank wall while you listen to white noise.
1. Ann Coulter

So right away, we're on risky ground with articles like this one from SI.com's Jon Heyman -- it's the third most boring thing in the world, according to science. And beyond that, it's borderline hysterical in its boring and righteous anger:

Once again, VORP has nothing to do with MVP

Zero. There's a number the stat people will understand.

That's the relationship between VORP, the stat that the stat people love, and MVP.

Well, that's just not true.

If you hate the stat, you hate the stat. I'm not sure why you should hate a stat that uses a relatively sophisticated model to calculate not just how good a guy's stats are, but also what position he plays, and essentially evaluates how hard he is to replace (the true measure of "value," to me...oh God...I'm the third-most boring guy in the world right now). But if you hate it, you hate it. Not much I can do but keep posting on this blog.

You cannot, however, say that there is "zero" relationship between VORP and MVP. Because even if you choose to ignore it, it exists. Last year ARod won the MVP, and was 1st in baseball in VORP. Rollins, kind of a crummy pick, was at least top-10 (9th, actually, in the NL, behind several other more deserving candidates). People were generally happy with the choice of Ryan Howard in 2006...and it just so happens that he was 2nd in the NL in VORP, right behind Pujols. Morneau was a terrible choice, much-reviled and controversial...and he was 13th in the AL. I don't really remember anyone complaining about Pujols or ARod in 2005...and they were 2-3 in VORP in all of baseball. Only DLee was above Pujols in the NL, and if he had won, nobody would've been angry.

Keep looking at the list. The MVPs of the league are generally very high VORPulators, year-to-year. So it makes some sense that in order to predict who will win, or who should win, we can look at VORP. Right?

Baseball Prospectus, as of a few days ago, had Alex Rodriguez leading the AL in VORP (which stands for (Value Over Replacement Player) the stat its enthusiasts think is the best stat in the world to determine player value, and also the best to help determine who's the Most Valuable Player.

Maybe not "the best," but, you know, pretty effing good, I think. Better than batting average.

But as you can see, while VORP may tell you something, it shouldn't determine who wins the MVP award. Beyond containing two of the letters in MVP, there appears to be almost no relationship whatsoever here.

But...I just...we...you...I...facts...

I happened [sic] to love A-Rod. He's turned himself into a very good third baseman (he's probably the best defender on the Yankees), he's a three-time MVP (though I don't believe he deserved it the year his Rangers finished last), he's the best all-around player in the game and he's not among the prime list of reasons for the Yankees' demise this year (though, there are plenty of Yankees officials who'd have him on that list).

Yet, A-Rod shouldn't sniff the MVP award this year.

I'm with you on this, for the record. Like every other bored American who is bored at the yearly debate over what boring ways we should boringly parse the boring term "Valuable," when there is no 100% obvious winner, like Barry Bonds the year he steroided .370/.582/.799 with 46 contes for a team that made the playoffs, I take the famous approach espoused by Supreme Court Justice Stewart in reference to pornography, who said, "I can't define exactly what pornography is, but oh lordy, this FMF pictorial has me hard as a diamond." In other words, given a number of players with roughly equal stats, there is a kind of gut-level instinct one uses to cast the tie-breaking vote. That could be: did the guy's team make the playoffs, and was he an important part of the stretch run? Did the guy happen to have a lot of hits in crucial situations? Did other players on his team go down with injuries, making his production even more important to his team? And perhaps most importantly, is this guy a SS or CF or C or something, meaning that his production from that position is even more valuable, given the paucity of high-production players at that position?

(In other words, in addition to whatever kind of gut-checking you want to do, you can look at VORP and WPA and stuff like that.)

For the record, again, ARod's WPA is barely above 0 this year -- 0.28. Look at Mauer's. Or Pedroia's. Or a bunch of other people's. He is not the MVP this year.

If devotees of VORP (I'm already on their bad side after calling them VORPies last year) think their stat is key to determining the MVP, they should think again. It's worth a glance, at best.

It's worth a glance at least. It's a measure of how valuable a player is, compared to other people at his position. What is the downside of looking at it very seriously?

But VORP is supposed to be an all-encompassing stat,

No it's not. Doesn't account for defense, and doesn't account for "clutch" the way WPA does. No one is arguing it is all-encompassing. No one. What people do argue, occasionally, is that if a guy isn't even in the like top 10 for VORP or something, like Justin Morneau that year, maybe he shouldn't be the MVP.

and it led some numbers people to determine that Hanley Ramirez was a viable NL MVP candidate last year. And led many to say that David Wright was the NL MVP in a year in which Wright's Mets choked (Wright himself says no way was he MVP).

1. HRam was, indeed, a viable candidate.

2. What is Wright supposed to say? "I know my team choked harder than any team in the history of sports, but: Me for MVP!"

3. I don't understand why people debate about whether a guy's team has to make the playoffs to win the MVP, and some say "yes" and some say "no," but when a guy's team just barely misses the playoffs at the last possible second, meaning that they were in the race the whole year, and the guy in question hit .352/.432/.602 in September with 6 HR and 9 2B, it's like, "No fucking way that guy is teh MVP!!1!!!!!111!!!"

VORP, like other stats, doesn't come close to telling you everything. It doesn't take into account how a hitter hits in the clutch (oddly enough, some stat people think that's just luck, anyway),

See above. Then see WPA page. Then remember that no one in the world with a brain thinks that the MVP award should be blindly handed out to the guy with the best VORP.

As for "clutch" "just being luck," what we actually think is that it's very hard to be "clutch" year in and year out. (For example, ARod's WPA last year was 6.85. This year it's 0.28. Two excellent offensive years, two wildly different "clutch" results.)

or how many meaningful games he played in (at last count Grady Sizemore was high up on the VORP list, as well). VORP has some value. But like all other stats, it doesn't replace watching the games or following the season.

I have never watched a baseball game, so I can't speak to this. I'm not even sure what it is. What I can tell you is: watch live baseball all you want. I'll be in my grandmother's attic (following a legal dispute over squatter's rights with my mom w/r/t her basement), staring at my computer, looking at a little thing I like to call "data." That's all I care about. Data. Raw data. Baseball is good for one thing only: the production of data. That's what I believe. If I and my friends had it my way, the games wouldn't even be "played," but rather "simulated" by 1000 PCs, and the results would be downloaded directly into my brain through Optical Quanta Resonance (OQR), and instead of "discussing" the games the next day, my friends and I would just await the Retinal Scans and then text each other brief congratulations, depending on whose favorite "team" won, and then we would all go on with our lives, grateful that the annoyance of actual "baseball" had been removed from our lives, allowing us to spend more time writing code for our start-up social network site, which we are I think going to call "Together-ing!"

A-Rod may have the best VORP. But he shouldn't be on anyone's MVP ballot, much less at the top of the ballot.

I now want ARod to win.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 8:10 PM
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

 

It's Cool

It's cool everybody. Everything's cool.

Jason Bartlett was voted MVP of the Tampa Bay Rays by the Tampa Bay chapter of the BBWAA.

I know, I know, he's supposed to be a very good defender. But let me say some things about Jason Bartlett: He's missed like 30 games this year; he's hit three fewer home runs this year than Carlos Zambrano; he's 8th on his own team in VORP; and he plays on the same team as Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, and B.J. Upton.

I just want to announce here on this blog, that if any baseball analyst of any kind tells me that "you really have to watch Jason Bartlett play every day to understand how much he means to this team," and that same analyst is found drowned at the bottom of my hot tub the next morning, and I am found standing upon that corpse, in the hot tub, wearing my trunks and a hoodie and just relaxing and smoking a joint, and maybe ordering a pizza or something, and instructing the delivery guy to come in through the gate because I'm in the back standing on a body in my hot tub -- if all of that happens, I would really appreciate if someone could meet me outside, by my hot tub, and float me a few dollars for the pizza, because I will be in no mood to get off of that corpse, or get out of the hot tub for that matter, and plus I will probably have forgotten to bring some money out to the hot tub with me.

Thanks guys. You're the best.

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posted by dak  # 3:34 AM
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

 

Darin Erstad Swings Wildly, Makes Last Out in Big Z's No-Hitter

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Yes. You are.

He should have tried to punt.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 10:30 PM
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Ned Colletti Should Be Time Magazine's Person Of The Millennium

I know it's early, but I don't think it's too early to make that call. After all, the Dodgers have a winning percentage of .517. Think about it. 51.7% of the time, the boys in blue have vanquished their opponents and bathed in their blood. If you ask Bruce Jenkins, for this Colletti deserves nothing less than the Executive of the Year Award. If you ask me, we should stop kidding ourselves and just give Colletti the MVP, the Cy Young, the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award and the Latin Grammy for Record of the Year.

General manager Ned Colletti, belittled all season for the signings of Jones, Pierre, Jason Schmidt, Rafael Furcal (who may yet return to play shortstop), Hideki [sic] Kuroda and Nomar Garciaparra, is now a candidate for Executive of the Year after picking up Ramirez, Casey Blake and Greg Maddux for a pittance.

1. Hiroki Kuroda is a pitcher for the Dodgers. Hideki Kuroda is the associate producer of Eko eko azaraku: B-page and Eko eko azaraku: R-page as well as the one of the directors of Inu no eiga (All About My Dog), the delightful 2005 comedy feature. (According to IMDb user chrischew2: "It loosely follows Kentaro Yamada (Shidou Nakamura), a timid media planner whose latest campaign for dog food is so stifling—not to mention utterly side-splitting—that it brings back memories of his childhood Shiba dog, Pochi. And weaved between this heart-warming tale are bursts of zaniness, from a spontaneous musical or a mockumetary to a dog's-eye-view of infatuation.")

Totally understand the mix-up, though. They get it a lot.

2. Here is a list of teams with winning percentages greater than that of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball organization:

Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Angels
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Houston Astros
St. Louis Cardinals

Yes, the Los Angeles Collettis are tied for the 14th-best record in baseball. The Florida Marlins also sit at 77-72, but keep in mind that Marlins GM Michael Hill had the luxury of a $22,650,000 payroll, whereas Ned had to make to with just $118,188,536. Juggling the egos of guys who make more than the entire Marlins pitching staff isn't easy!

The great thing about the Dodgers is that their biggest problem - the oppressive weight of clubhouse discord - seemed to disappear overnight.

In Bruce Jenkins' world, there exists one Universal Baseball Law:

The significance of the oppressive weight of clubhouse discord >> The significance of hitting

Jenkins' sentence is actually spot-on, if you'll allow me to adjust the wording slightly.

The great thing about the Dodgers is that their biggest problem - their complete inability to hit for power - seemed to disappear overnight when they got a guy who could hit for power.

There. It's the best sentence Jenkins and I have ever co-written!

Of course Colletti gambled on Manny -- you're getting fired if you do nothing, so you might as well pay the price in talent (no one the greater Los Angeles area seemed to place any value on the next six or whatever years of Andy LaRoche) to acquire a rent-a-player in a desperate Hail Mary attempt to save your job. And hey. Look. It worked. That was easy.

Jeff Kent, forever disapproving of the club's petulant youth, was lost to a knee injury (it has to be more than coincidental that the Dodgers won 10 of their first 11 games in his absence).

It has to be more than coincidence -- we thus have conclusive evidence that Jeff Kent was poisoning his teammates just like that mom in the Sixth Sense did to the little kid version of Mischa Barton.

Jeff Kent -- tragic sufferer of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

Torre put financial issues aside, benched Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones, and stabilized the outfield - for now and years to come - with Ethier and Matt Kemp.

Somehow, the fact of the existence of Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones on the payroll and the fact that it required one hundred-some-odd games and the addition of a Hall of Fame outfielder to compel Torre to bench Messrs. Pierre and Jones are now points in Colletti's and Torre's favor? This is the equivalent of two gardeners driving to your house, digging a twenty-foot hole in your front yard with a backhoe, buying two bags of sand, pouring the bags into the hole, and then getting lavished with praise for the sand part of the whole operation.

Arizona's problem isn't so much the standings. That deficit could disappear in a week.

Well, actually, the standings are a huge problem for Arizona. They're 4.5 back with 14 to play. That's an enormous deficit. Of course it could "disappear in a week," but that's incredibly unlikely. BP has them at 2.05397% to win the division. That sounds like a problem to me.

It's the club's desultory reaction to a crisis. Virtually all of the fire and inspiration from last year's team - Eric Byrnes, Jose Valverde, Orlando Hudson, Carlos Quentin when healthy - has vanished.

You heard it here first: the reason Brandon Webb and Dan Haren pitched four shockingly, horrifyingly grotesque abominations of games against the Dodgers was the absence of Eric Byrnes and Eric Byrnes' Motivational Hair™.

Eric Byrnes' Motivational Hair™, winning division races since 2007.

(Eric Byrnes' Motivational Hair™ comes with seventeen free instances of Eric Byrnes Inspirationally Falling Down While Throwing The Ball©® (patent pending).)

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posted by Junior  # 7:20 PM
Comments:
Interesting note from the latest Gammons piece:

In Ramirez's first 40 games, the Dodgers had a run differential of plus-22 and averaged 4.55 runs per game, as opposed to 4.43 through July 31....It's hard to talk about the MVP Award for Manny when the team that paid the Dodgers to take Ramirez is 27-13 without him through Sunday and have seen their runs per game increase from 4.94 at the time of the deal to 6.22 since.
 
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Saturday, September 06, 2008

 

Whatever

When I tell you people that the reason we haven't posted more is because we haven't found that many good articles, I'm not kidding. We thank you for the links you send in, but more often than not they are little snippets instead of whole chunks of good ol' fashioned goofballness. We prefer the latter. However, in the spirit of...something...here's this weekend's Trite Snippet of Bonedumbiness:

Fox Saturday Blechball (that's the Mad Magazine parody of "baseball"). DBacks/Dodgers. Your announcers are Mark Grace and Josh Lewin. Your hitter is David Eckstein. Commence blechitude:

Lewin: David Eckstein jumps away from [an inside pitch]. He's been kind of a World Series Good Luck Charm himself. He's been there and made a difference with teams with red in their color scheme before, with the Angels and the Cardinals.


Grace: It's hard to win multiple rings, but Eckstein has done that.

All by himself, is the insinuation.

He's just a...he's a guy that just...everything he does just helps you win baseball games.

Except for hitting and fielding.

He's not flashy. Just a tough, scrappy out.


Lewin: A couple years ago, Sports Illustrated polled major leaguers, they asked, "Who gets the most out of the least?" And the runaway winner of that question -- 62% of the players -- said it's this guy, David Eckstein.

Grace: He just finds a way. He's smart. And you don't say that about too many ballplayers. [brief interlude, joking about how Mark Grace is a "genius."] But this is a smart ballplayer, he knows, he studies -- he knows his opponent. Great work ethic.

[wild pitch sends the runner to third with 2 down]

Lewin: We talked about Eckstein, who is listed as being 5'8".

Whoa whoa whoa whoa. It's my understanding that he is 5'7", 165. This I know to be true in the same way that I know the sun rises in the East. Now you're telling me that he's 5'8"??????

He cops to being 5'6".

[KT's brain melts]

And Mike Scoscia has said "5'3" of that is probably heart."


If this is true, it's a serious medical condition, and he should not be exerting himself.

Grace: And guts.

Makes less sense than saying that it's "heart."

[Eckstein strikes out swinging.]

Fin.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 4:33 PM
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

 

Jiminy Christmas

I'm not sure what to make of this.

The tone and content are so over-the-top fawning that I initially thought it was satirical. After all, Simers has been critical of the Dodgers' front office -- and in this same wry manner -- before. So, read and enjoy with this warning: the joke may be on you. Yes, you, not me. I am infallible. Plus, as is always our preference here at FJM, we like to take everything at face value, because then we have more ways to avoid working at our real jobs.

One way or the other, you have to love the headline:

It's a no-brainer, Dodgers' Ned Colletti is baseball's best general manager

...

No. No, he is not.

And furthermore, hypothetically serious-and-not-satirical L.A. Times: you think it's a "no-brainer?!" You not only think that Ned Coletti is baseball's best general manager, you think the fact that Ned Coletti is baseball's best manager is a no-fucking-brainer?!!?!?!?!?1/1/11/

(Man, I hope this isn't a parody. Because I am already borderline-hysterical, and we're only at the headline.)

I guess when you make a completely unsupportable, borderline-sociopathic claim, your only real move is to launch immediately into an over-the-top support of it. Like when you say that living relatively close to an uninhabited part of Russia not only means something, it makes you good at foreign policy. (One admires the chutzpah, even while one is offended at the notion that someone thought that would work.)

Who says the Dodgers' decision-maker is out of his league?

Me! Me! Over here! I do!

With the acquisitions of Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake, he's fooled the rest of the National League.

I'm going to go ahead and short-circuit this whole line of reasoning right off the top. These were both fine deadline-pick-ups. But the Red Sox were the very definition of desperate. Even when offering to pay the man's entire salary, there were only two teams interested in Manny -- L.A. and Florida, and Florida apparently wanted not the $7m left on his contract, but in fact $9m, the extra $2m ostensibly to sign the draft pick(s) they would get when they offered Manny arbitration at the end of the year, he declined, and they got the compensation pick. Demanding extra cash, on top of the 100% subsidy you are being offered to have one of the greatest RHH in a generation come play for you, seems like the MLB version of extortion to me.

Anyway, the point is, the Dodgers -- on July 31 at like 3:01 PM -- were the only game in town. Now, Coletti deserves credit for being that game, but it's not like he picked up some scrub from the scrap heap because he believed in him, and now that guy is awesome. He traded a few guys for Manny Ramirez. Who's leaving at the end of the year. And yes, it has certainly energized this city, but again...the team is under .500 since the trade.

As for Blake, when he was acquired he had an .830 OPS. He now has an .826 OPS. He had a .303 OBP in August. He's 35.

Sat down with Ned Colletti before Tuesday's Dodgers game to discuss the details of his acceptance speech once he's officially named Major League Baseball's executive of the year. "Huh?" said Colletti,

The correct response.

and now you know why he needs a speech writer.

And better Assistant GMs.

It's over, of course, the Dodgers playing minor league outfits now, and a lock to win the division title on the strength of Colletti's wizardry-- Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake suddenly appearing out of nowhere.

The Dodgers are 69-70. A game and a half back of Arizona. They are 15-16 since the trades. They recently lost like 8 in a row. And they're "a lock" to win the division? A fucking "lock?"

This is, however, what makes me think the article is earnest. The Dodgers do have an incredibly easy schedule down the stretch. So...it's genuine, right?

"Help me out here, Manny," Colletti shouted, while trying to divert attention from his genius.

Hang on. Is this a satire? I suddenly think this is a satire again. Hang on -- I have to go read it again to see if Simers is punking me.

I don't know. Too close to call. I'm going to keep on keepin' on, becuase I'm in too deep now.

"What do you need?" said Ramirez, later hitting his 10th homer as a Dodger.

"Don't you think Ned is baseball's executive of the year?" I asked.

"Yeah," Ramirez said, "for having me here for free."

Andruw Jones
Juan Pierre
Nomar Garciaparra
Jason Schmidt
Chan Ho Park

vs.

2 months of Manny Ramirez.

The team is under .500.

CAN'T REALLY call it the resurrection, because while he's good, he's not that good. But as GMs go, Colletti looked like a goner before Blake and Ramirez arrived.

"I didn't feel it," Colletti said, and as a general rule -- dead men don't feel anything.

The team has been almost exactly as mediocre since the trades. 15-16. 69-70.

Desperate times, desperate measures and Colletti improved the Dodgers without it costing the owner a penny. That makes him the best GM in baseball in the minds of most owners.

The Red Sox are currently starting home-grown players at first, second, third, and CF. Their best pitcher is home-grown, as is their closer who is top-3 in baseball. Their 6th inning guy is home-grown, their 7th-inning guy is home-grown, their spot-starter is home-grown. They've suffered significant injuries to Ortiz, Drew, Schilling, Lowell, and Beckett, and they're going to make the playoffs again, probably, for the fifth time in six years.

Theo Epstein < style="font-weight: bold;">"Do you think there are other teams out there saying, 'Ned's desperate, let's help Ned out?' " Colletti said, while proving the point, I guess, that he's just smarter than all the other GMs in somehow stealing Ramirez and Blake. No doubt, he fooled them all. Oldest trick in the book, too, luring your opponents to sleep, which explains why early on he signed Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones and Juan Pierre -- everyone figuring the Dodgers were finished with such a cast of misfits.

Okay, so this is obviously sarcastic. I honestly don't know what to think. Is he saying that Colletti is still a bonehead and that we should all remember how many bad choices he made, and that they shouldn't be whitewashed by the recent, more successful additions? Or is he saying that yes, the guy was a bonehead before, but now he is awesome and should be Executive of the Year, for realskies?

Thoughts?

Then the Dodgers passed on David Eckstein, on the recommendation of scouts, Colletti said, even though the Dodgers needed a second baseman. Whatever it takes to make Arizona overconfident.

Again, he's being sarcastic, but I would argue that passing on Eckstein should automatically make someone Executive of the Year, just for having the guts to expose himself to what will surely be intense media hatred.

The Dodgers even allowed Arizona to claim him, another genius move by Colletti, the Diamondbacks probably thinking now they have added just the right missing piece to the puzzle. So how come they got drilled by St. Louis Tuesday night?

I'm so fucking confused.

Now he is saying that Colletti was smart to pass on Eckstein, because AZ...lost...with Eckstein...on Tuesday?

Maybe I'm just not that smart. But that's hard to believe, since I live fairly close to Stanford University, so I must be intelligent.

So many things go into the making of baseball's executive of the year, one day kids everywhere hoping to be just as cunning and famous as the Schmoozer, the former Cubs' PR guy who went on to become the great GM of the Dodgers.

"Stop the madness," Colletti said.

"It's over; Dodgers win the division," I said.

"We just lost eight straight," Colletti said.

WTF is going on? Colletti is the voice of reason? Or Simers is baiting him to his face? Or both?

And the Diamondbacks, who have 14 games remaining against challenging opponents to the Dodgers' six, completely fell for the feint. "Stop it," said Colletti, "it's not over."

Sincere again, somehow. This article is a sincerity Rorschach test.

Like an Academy Award nominee, I'm sure, he doesn't want to think about the baseball award until he actually hears his name called.

"I'm done winning awards," said Colletti, and you can just imagine how cluttered his office and home must be with all the awards won over the years.

The final blow to my sanity. This reads like a slam, but a quick glance assures us that Colletti has, indeed, won many awards.

I give up. I can't analyze baseball journalism anymore. I need to change careers. Oh -- I know: I live close to the Pacific Ocean, so that means I am a World Class marine biologist. I'll just focus on that, then.

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posted by Ken Tremendous  # 11:03 AM
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Adam votes: satire.

It's T.J. Simers, he makes a living off of satirically making fun of people. His nickname for the McCourts are "The Parking Lot Attendant" and "The Screaming Meanie". The article was 100% making fun of Colletti to his face.

Big ups to Simers.


I think this is how I feel, too, now...though it's so weirdly presented.
 
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