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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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

 

Movie Trailer Guy Voice: From The Mind That Brought You "Gamers"...

...comes the uplifting story of a tough as nails general manager who overcame the hardship of having the greatest baseball player to ever live on his squad, and went on to lead his franchise to three consecutive seasons of between 70 and 77 wins.

SABEAN

Catch it now in ballparks across America. Currently starring Brian Bocock, Jose Castillo and Jack Taschner.

Lowell Cohn, the man who thinks David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez suck balls, believes Brian Sabean is a great GM -- better than Billy Beane. Incredible, I know. But we have evidence. He wrote it down himself and put it on the Internet, which I like to call "the world's refrigerator post-it note":

Sabean makes GM moves; Beane runs a clearinghouse

My kid and I write a blog together.


I know. Boy, do I ever know. But this is your PRO-fessional stuff. I'm sure it's top-notch, not like those riff-raffy blogs out there.

In our latest offering, we argued who's a better general manager, Brian Sabean or Billy Beane, and I chose Sabean, although Beane is very good.

Wow. Wow. Je-whoa. Ber-splurgh.

There you have it.

BEANE = VERY GOOD

and

SABEAN > BEANE

so by the transitive property of general manager excellentitude,

SABEAN = SCRUMTRILESCENTABULOUS!

I'm lucky no one caught up with me in person, because I would have been stoned to death for proposing such an unpopular --

-- and wrong. Don't forget wrong --

opinion....Sabean got the Giants to the World Series in 2002, and Beane never got the A's to the World Series, and never will.

Never is an exceedingly long time, Mr. Cohn. It's longer than forever. I think it goes never > forever > Lowell Cohn's age > eon > era > epoch. MATHEMATICAL INEQUALITY ZING!

In Billy Beane's first two years as GM, the A's finished last in their division. In the following eight years, the team finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st. In the last two years, we've seen the Rockies go to the World Series and the mother-f-ing Cardinals win the damn thing. You're going to say with 100% confidence that the A's will never even get there with Beane at the helm?

I don't think Beane even cares about the Series.

[British accent] Yes. Yes, I do think you're right. He's a rather detached chap, isn't he? Hasn't the foggiest inclination toward winning 'tall. Hates to win. Likes to be buggered.

We're talking about Tony Blair, right? [end British accent]

He wants to do pretty well, wants to keep up appearances, wants to claim he's a poor small-market GM and, gee, not arriving at the ultimate destination -- the Series -- isn't his fault even though he's brilliant. So please don't blame him or expect too much of him. He has a built-in excuse.

I have to say, accusing Beane of actually wanting to lose in the playoffs is a new one for me. Lowell Cohn is claiming such an intimate knowledge of Billy Beane's psyche here it's just retar-diculous. And fun. It's a lot of fun. Thanks, Lowell.

And hey, you know if the A's got to the World Series and lost, people would pillory Beane for "building a team just good enough to lose in the big moments." Can't wait for that one.

Now hold on. This is where it gets good.

Sabean made the daring, unpopular trade of Matt Williams for Jeff Kent, which set up the Giants for years. Beane never makes trades like that.


Except for --

One reader pointed to Beane's Mark Mulder for Dan Haren, Daric Barton and Kiko Calero trade as proof Beane can deal like Sabean.

A fantastic trade. As the Germans say, wunderbar. As the Chinese-high-school-students-taking-German say, wunderbar.

Please. Haren already is gone.

For six -- six! -- minor leaguers! So for one Mark Mulder (who, since the trade, has posted one good season, one terrible half-season, and one even terribler twentieth-of-a-season), Billy Beane ultimately received eight minor leaguers and three solid-to-outstanding years from Dan Haren.

You're right. Sabean's better.

All Beane's good young guys already are gone -- Tim Hudson, Nick Swisher, Miguel Tejada. I could go on.

I bet he wanted to keep some or all of these guys, but there's that small payroll thing -- the thing that you apparently think is some sort of Billy Beane hallucination that makes him enjoy losing in the playoffs.

The A's aren't a baseball team. They're a baseball clearing house. In and out. In and out.

SEX JOKE SEX JOKE SEX JOKE

As far as Daric Barton goes, well, in the first place, who the heck is Daric Barton?

Daric Barton was one of the most highly-touted prospects in the nation. He placed 32nd and then 28th on Baseball America's list of top 100 prospects. In five minor league seasons, at ages ranging from 17 to 21, he had an OBP of .414.

Brian Sabean
(angry): Throw him back. Bring me the corpse of Ryan Klesko!

Back to Cohn.

That's how I feel.

Thank you. It's good to share. Particularly in an article about baseball GMing. Your feelings are especially important in that context.

But, I can't ignore reality -- no one defends Sabean, his reputation is in the dumper. It's in the dumper even though he was under orders from up above, I believe, to patch together a team around the grumpy power-hitting left fielder because while the grumpy power-hitting left fielder was here, fans would not accept young players and rebuilding.

This is Lowell Cohn's only semi-legitimate argument. If, indeed, he was handcuffed by ownership, then yes, he was fucked from Day One.

But note, also, that this is pure speculation on Cohn's part.

You can question his guts -- interesting because his persona is Mr. Tough Guy. He could have fought back or even quit -- people do quit. He didn't show mondo guts allowing the Barry Bonds cronies and that one drug dealer to lurk in the clubhouse. Those are strikes against him.


Fun game: keep track of how many strikes Lowell Cohn launches against Brian Sabean in this article -- an article written to praise Sabean for being better than the "very good" (Cohn's words, remember) Billy Beane.

Sabean has other strikes against him, lots of crummy free-agent signings -- Armando Benitez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ray Durham, and yes, Barry Zito.

So many strikes!

And Zito -- Jesus. Not enough strikes is more like it! Thank you.

He is notorious for one stinker of a lousy trade -- Joe Nathan, a terrific closer, and two other players for -- hold your nose -- A.J. Pierzynski.


More strikes! A strike that's also a stinker! This one is up there as one of the worst trades of the baby millennium. Those anonymous "two other players," by the way, Lowell, were Francisco Liriano (was pretty good in 2006, remember?) and sort of serviceable Boof Bonser.

After Dusty Baker left, Sabean hired Felipe Alou, who was too old, a guy the players couldn't stand. And now he has Bruce Bochy, who's shown no aptitude to rebuild a team that desperately needs rebuilding.

Strike strike strike strike strike strike strike. We're playing the "Strikes Against Brian Sabean in an Article Supporting Brian Sabean" Drinking Game, and everyone here has died of alcohol poisoning, had their ghosts rise from the dead and resume playing the game, and then had their ghosts die of alcohol poisoning.

The Giants' farm system has been a joke, nothing like the A's -- this is a positive Billy point here. The only productive player the Giants' farm system produced in the current century was Pedro Feliz, and he wasn't all that productive.


Aaaaaaaaannnnnnd there's another strike.

Sure, these are lots of bad marks against Sabean.

You have to love his restraint here.

Any team that depends heavily on Durham, Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia and even Omar Vizquel is a team going nowhere.


But -- but -- this is the team built by the guy you're defending. Lowell? Lowell? Oh god, he got into the bushes again. Get out of there! (Gets umbrella, beats bushes) Out!

He needs to find out if his young guys can play. Amend that. He'd better pray his young guys can play -- Eugenio Velez, Dan Ortmeier, Brian Bocock, Fred Lewis and Rajai Davis. Aside from Velez, I don't feel confident about any of those guys. Do you?

Well, let's see here. Ortmeier OPSed .683 and .763 in the hitter-friendly PCL at ages 25 and 26. Bocock slugged .328 in A+ ball last year. Lewis and Davis have passable minor league résumés, but yeah. This is rough.

Brian Sabean for Mayor!

To his credit, Sabean has strong starting pitching --

Hurray! [cue YouTube video of parade that KT posted the other day]

strong, not great.

Cancel embedding of YouTube video. Cancel it now.

He has reasonable relief pitching.

"Reasonable Relief Pitching," the Brian Sabean Saga. An inspirational tale of love and loss, of Keiichi Yabus and Brad Hennesseys.

The batting order does not have power. It is a single/doubles club, not a home-run club, and that needs to change.

I think of it as more of an outs/more outs club. Is that a thing? Is that, maybe, what Sabean was going for? You're the guy who can read people's minds, Lowell. Please tell me that's what Sabean was going for.

Now that he is free -- finally free -- to make a real team, Sabean has to show he has a vision for his club and knows how to bring that vision to life -- not this year, but certainly in 2009 and after. I have defended Sabean, but now it's up to him.

I have defended him nobly! In this article where I outline, in exhaustive detail, the fourteen different ways in which he has utterly failed his team, his owners, and the city of San Francisco, I have defended him well. I defended him by mentioning Zito. I defended him by mentioning Bocock. I defended him by mentioning Pierzynski.

The defense rests, your honor.

He has to defend himself.

From you, Mr. Cohn. At this point, you're like the defense attorney half of Colin Ferguson and Sabean is the defendant half. You (Cohn/defense attorney Ferguson) are hurting your (Sabean/defendant Ferguson) own case.

But yeah, you're right. I'm convinced. Billy Beane blows.

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posted by Junior  # 11:41 PM
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

 

Stand Back And Watch The Pros Blog!

Usually we don't cover blogs, because everyone knows they're written by clinically obese, pimply-faced, wheelchair-bound agoraphobics with Oedipus complexes. Or Mike Pagliarulo. But I'm making an exception for Lowell Cohn, who writes! professionally! for something called the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and who apparently is award! winning! as the blog description tells us:

Cohn vs. Cohn

It's a battle of the generations. Wizened, award-winning Press Democrat Sports Columnist Lowell Cohn squares off every Friday with his wise-guy, college-age son Iggy in a no-holds-barred debate on the sports topics of the day.


Here's the thing: you sort of want Iggy to come in and kick his 80-year-old dad's ass, right? Use your native Internet skills and limited attention span to show him who's boss, Iggy!

No such luck. For we see in this post that Iggy and his dad agree on one very important thing about baseball: there are men -- legends, really -- who are gamers. These are the men who Win Ballgames with their hustle and their grit and their filthy, muddy, dirty, bloody uniforms and the sheer willpower of their gamey, grindy hearts.

Gamers

This is a combo effort from Iggy and Lowell. What is a gamer in baseball? And who is a gamer?


Iggy, really? How could you? I feel betrayed. You were one of us, Iggy. I've lost all hope for the future. In a world full of Iggys, how can we begin to make progress?

We began thinking about this because the Giants have a clever ad campaign about gamers, and we decided a gamer is someone who does whatever he can to win -

Get on base, drive up the pitcher's pitch count, hit for power --

stealing home,

Stealing home?! Iggy. Jesus. Iggy. How far down the list is fucking stealing home when it comes to the skills you need to win a damn baseball game? How often has a steal of home won a game compared to, I don't know, a single to left?

Iggy, get off Facebook for once in your life and go read one of your fancy "websites" about baseball. You like "surfing the web," don't you Iggy?

making a diving catch, taking out the second baseman, hitting the clutch homer, always playing hard.

Hitting a home run, apparently, is only gameriffic if you do it in the bottom of the ninth. All other homers are for selfish stat-padding jerks and actually hurt your team. I know this is true because I read it in the Bible.

A gamer doesn't care about his stats.

A gamer will OBP .235 if it'll help the team (and it will)!

He never takes a game off for a phony reason.

Like trying to be in top shape for the postseason!

He gets his uniform dirty.

And not with tacos or fried chicken, like a non-gamer might (wink wink!). A gamer gets his uniform dirty the old-fashioned, American way -- with dirt and a dirt gun that fires dirt at your uniform.

We've made a list of seven gamers and a list of seven non-gamers of guys currently playing. We're calling the Gamer List, the Cal Ripken List - for obvious reasons.

(white) (the previous parenthetical may seem unfair, but just keep reading)

He was the ultimate gamer. He always played - you couldn't pry him out of the lineup. And he was a great fielder and hitter, one of the all-time great shortstops.

This is where Iggy and Pop fall down. You don't have to be good to be a gamer. In fact, it's better to not be good. Gaming isn't about hitting or fielding or baseball, it's about what's inside your body. Like your heart, or if your blood is susceptible to sickle-cell anemia.

He's the guy who changed the template for shortstops from swift little guys to big men with power.

Again, get this straight: swift little guys are the true gamers. Gaming 101, gentlemen. Power ruins baseball.

He was A-Rod before there was A-Rod.

And that's a good thing? Good Christ: A-Rod is everything that is bad about baseball, don't you know that? You're writing an article about gamers, not guys who look like they're wearing make-up while they break the all-time home run record and move over to third base even though they're on the way to becoming the greatest shortstop of all time to accommodate (spoiler alert) the #1 gamer on your list.

We're calling the Non-Gamer List the Barry Bonds List, for equally obvious reasons.

He's the greatest player of all time?

He was a great player but he was not a gamer.

Uh huh. Right. He never, ever helped his team win games.

He came to the plate so many times last year when he could have helped the Giants by hitting a ball to left field. Remember that crazy defensive shift teams used that exposed the left side of the infield and left field. Did Bonds ever once hit a ball to left? Get serious. He was a permanent resident of Jack City.

He was 43 years old and he OPS+ed 170. You're angry that he didn't hit enough balls to fucking left field? He got on base 48% of the time. For that alone you should have been cool with him sitting in a lawn chair in left field, facing away from the batter and playing a vintage Sega Game Gear.

And yes, he was a permanent resident of Jack City. He is the holder of the record for most home runs hit ever ever ever. If this makes you not a gamer, God help your team of gamers.

He wanted to hit home runs to make history.

What a monster! He should have hit some balls to left field to get his team to 72 or 73 wins instead of 71. Then we would always remember 2007 as the year Barry Bonds gamered, through sheer force of his gaminess, his team to a 73-89 finish. Instant Classic -- the entire 2007 Giants season.

He cared nothing about the team. He cared only about himself.

Iggy knows a lot about Barry Bonds' psyche. Even if this were 100% true -- did he help the team or not? Keep in mind a) he was the only regular on the Giants who OBPed over .344 and b) he led the major leagues in OBP. By 35 points.

THE CAL RIPKEN GAMER LIST:

Derek Jeter:


Original choice.

He is the essence of a gamer. No one else is like him.

I think Jeter's fragrance should have been called Essence of Gamer. That or Eau de Can't Go Left.

He is a great player, a sure Hall of Famer, and every day he plays like he's a rookie trying to make the club. He is a throw-back to another era. And he is the one who makes the play that wins the game.

I give you credit for calling Jeter, a guy who is not completely white, a throwback player.

Remember in 2001 in Game 3 of the division series against the A's --

No one, and I mean, no one, remembers this game. Who could remember such an obscure game? Please, lay the details on me --

when he ran across the field and backed up a throw from right field, a throw the first baseman missed, and he threw home and the catcher tagged out Jeremy Giambi who would have tied the game but he forgot to slide - a non-gamer. Jeter's was the ultimate gamer play.

Oh. Oh my God. You're right. I didn't know that about Derek Jeter. Since he did make that one play once, he must be awarded the Gamer of the Century Award posthaste.

(Derek Jeter has played in 123 postseason games. Think about that the next time someone brings up how many big moments he's had. 123.)

Now it gets crazy:

Mark Ellis: He is a gamer and he's what they used to call a hard-nosed ballplayer. He hangs in on the double-play pivot and he gets big hits and nothing bothers him, ever. He is the best player on the A's because of ability but mostly because of attitude.

Look, Cohn father and son, maybe it's time you get out of the blogging business. It's rough out there. There's a lot of competition. And you, as they say, are making no sense. How is Mark Ellis more hard-nosed or better attituded than Asdrubal Cabrera or Brandon Phillips or Kaz Matsui or Miguel Cairo or Mike Fontenot or Trey Willinshamerson, the second baseman on my high school team? He hangs in on the double play? How many major leaguers are constantly bailing on double play balls?

Mark Ellis is a good player who has many mediocre teammates. Can we agree there's nothing magical about him?

Aaron Rowand

This is going to be a long post.

The Giants hope to mold all their up-and-coming players in his gamer mold. He famously dove face first into a chain-link fence to catch a deep fly ball when he played for the Phillies.

I scorched my face in a Belgian wafflemaker this morning. Pressed it real good. Can I have $60 million please? Thank you.

Torii Hunter - A better fielder than Rowand, Hunter is famous for catching potential home run balls. He's a hustle player who brings energy to his team and makes his teammates play better.


You want to put that statement up for scrutiny in a court of law? This isn't basketball, where I'll buy that Magic Johnson or Steve Nash or Chris Paul make their teammates better (at least on offense, for a couple of those guys). How many more doubles does Torii Hunter make Jeff Mathis hit this year? Seven? Twenty? A hundred? You tell me.

Although he isn't a great hitter, the Angels gave him a 5-year $90 million contract this off season, which shows how highly people value his gamer contributions to a ballclub.

Whoops!

Nick Swisher - He does whatever he can to help the team win. He's a switch hitter and he can play several positions. His teammates love him, which is a must for any gamer candidate.

So now we have, gamer qualification-wise:

Play to win
Big plays
Hard-nosed
Good attitude
Hang in on double play
Hurt yourself
Catch balls
Make your teammates better
Multiple positions
Switch hitter
You make people smile

Here's my new theory: literally anything you do can make you a gamer. You like Neapolitan ice cream? Gamer. You play the harpsichord? Gaming it. Civil War reenactment buff? Game on.

Eric Byrnes - He makes diving catches in the outfield, always sells out his body. He always hustles on the base paths, and he'll more than likely be an analyst on ESPN when he retires, for whatever that's worth. Gamer.

ESPN analyst? Gamer.

Troy Tulowitzki - A great fielder, plus he has power and above-average size for a shortstop. He draws favorable comparisons to Cal Ripken Jr. - the highest compliment.


Read that again. Nothing in there has anything to do with the traditional definition of a gamer. This is just a description of a good baseball player. Great in the field, he hits well, he's big.

For the last time -- smaller is gamier. Do I have to refer you to the "david eckstein" tag on this very site? Bone up, Iggy.

THE BARRY BONDS NON-GAMER LIST:

Barry Zito: He never wins a big game. He always has an excuse. He always wilts under pressure.


He just sucks, okay? It's not that he's not trying. He's not good. He hasn't been good for a pretty long time. You want to make a list of players who suck? We can do that. It would make a lot more sense.

Maybe it's unfair to call him a non-gamer. Maybe he's just not good enough.

Thank you.

Manny Ramirez - An awful fielder, and he frequently doesn't run out fly balls. The other day against the A's, Manny stood and watched a long fly he hit to center field as if he expected it to be a home run -- not a gamer thing to do. It got caught.

So...it didn't matter. Let's also ignore the fact that Manny is known for absolutely killing himself to prepare for games, training-wise. Take some lessons from Mark Ellis, Manuel.

Eric Chavez - Clearly it was a mistake for the A's to sign Chavez instead of Miguel Tejada. Chavez is always hurt, and when he's in the game, he has a new batting stance every week - none of the stances work. Plus, he never has come through for the A's in the postseason, hitting a career .222 in October.

Seems like a dick move to pick on a guy who just can't get healthy. Wouldn't Chavy have been an example of a guy who would have been a quintessential gamer in 2004? Team leader, seems like a good guy, pretty great player? Now, since his back muscles don't work, all of a sudden he's an asshole? If Chavez is reading this, he's gotta be like, Come on, father and son bloggers, I just had like seventeen epidurals. You think I'm trying to suck out there?

Right, I'm trying new batting stances every week. That's apparently incorrect. The guy most famous for doing that is the captain of your Gamer Team and an American hero. I think he fought in Afghanistan.

Carlos Beltran - The Mets gave him $119 million to be the player they would build their team around. He's been unreliable, frequently missing time to injury and playing poorly in the playoffs. The Mets have shifted their focus to third baseman David Wright - an up-and-coming gamer.

This is just inexplicable. Carlos Beltran, on the whole, has been brilliant in the playoffs, with an overall OPS of 1.302 and a slugging percentage of .817! He hit 3 home runs in the 2006 NLCS for the Mets. Do Lowell Cohn and son remember the 2004 playoffs, when for 12 games Carlos Beltran hit like he was using Mjolnir for a bat? He hit 8 home runs in 46 at bats! This is the choker you're complaining about?

Also, games played as a Met: 151, 140, 144. Not perfect, but he's not exactly Rich Harden, either. The last two years Carlos Beltran has been super-valuable for both his offense and his defense.

Andruw Jones - He doesn't play center field as well as he used to, and he's a lock to strike out 100 times a season. He hit 51 home runs three years ago, and people started calling him the best center fielder in baseball. But last year, he hit only 26 dingers while batting a measly .222.


This is turning into a list of guys who used to be good but then declined. What in the name of Carlos Beltran's Mjolnir-bat is the point here? He strikes out and he's fat, so he's not a gamer? Tulowitzki is big, so he is a gamer?

I'm going to start writing exclusively in bewildered rhetorical questions.

Pedro Martinez - He's been hurt for the last 2 seasons, and who knows how long he'll be out now with a pulled hamstring. He's always been a controversial player, throwing at players' heads and fighting with old man Don Zimmer. Now that he isn't a dominant a pitcher, he's more of a distraction than he's worth. Gamers don't distract their teammates.


He's the most dominant pitcher of his era, and maybe ever. He's declining with age. What a lazy son of a bitch. Also, fighting another team's coach should be the number one characteristic of any gamer list worth its salt.

David Ortiz: This is a great hitter, a great clutch hitter. And he's a pleasure to watch. So why is he a non-gamer? Because he doesn't use a glove. He doesn't play a position. No designated hitter ever can be a gamer. Ortiz is the ultimate Half Gamer.

I like that Iggy and Lowell call David Ortiz "This." And they close with one final nugget of lunacy. David Ortiz -- the clutchiest, most beloved, winningest player in baseball in the 2000s -- is not a gamer.

A couple more things. Gamer list:

Ripken
Jeter
Ellis
Rowand
Hunter
Swisher
Byrnes
Tulowitzki

Or, in other words:

White
Half-white
White
White
Black
White
White
White

Non-gamers:

Bonds
Zito
Ramirez
Chavez
Beltran
Jones
Martinez
Ortiz

Or:

Black
White
Latino
Latino (Born in San Diego, but hey, a last name that ends in -ez!)
Latino
Afro-Caribbean (I think? Born in the Netherlands Antilles. Not white.)
Latino
Latino

Hmm. Also, shit, dogz. That non-gamer team, when they were healthy and not as old, would really have kicked the living tar out of the gamer team.

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posted by Junior  # 2:09 PM
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