Friday, July 27, 2007

The "Other" Dumb Mike of MSNBC.com

I feel bad for Michael Ventre. After all the coverage Mike Celizic has had here at FJM, he hasn't had a single thing written about him. It's not fair! He says stupid things too, ya know.

Red Sox on verge of Mickelson-like collapse?
NL East leaders hitting summer swoon as rival Yankees lurk


This is a pretty legitimate concern. The Red Sox are 62-40. The Yankees' Pythagenport is 61-40.

Yet I can’t help but think of the Red Sox as the Phil Mickelson of baseball.

Heh. Maybe. Go on.....

Lefty had once held the title of Best Golfer Never to Have Won a Major. Then in 2004, he won a major, the Masters. He added to his credentials by winning the PGA Championship in 2005, and another Masters in 2006. Life was good.

Red Sox win 1 thing in 1 year, Mickelson wins 3 things in 3 years. Continue.

But it appears Mickelson had intended only to visit his sport’s peak, not set up camp there. Since then, he collapsed in the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. This year, he faltered badly in the Scottish Open, a warm-up tournament for the British Open, then missed the cut at Carnoustie.

So you're cherry picking Phil's worst moments to draw this comparison. In addition, you're comparing to how the Red Sox have only visited their "sport's peak" by winning the World Series, and then fell off, rather than set up camp there. Just one little problem, there, Ventre.

NO TEAM HAS WON THE WORLD SERIES MORE THAN ONCE THIS MILLENIUM.

You know what, the Arizona Diamondbacks, LAAnaheims, Fish, ChiSox, and Redbirds are the "Phil Mickelsons of baseball" as well.

If you stare at Mickelson long enough, you can see Mike Torrez. If you look even harder, you can see Bill Buckner.

And if you study the Red Sox these days, the phenomenon is mutual. Stare intently at the wobbly American League East leaders and you’ll see Mickelson, smacking errant tee shots and bogeying three of the final five holes at Loch Lomond.


"anecdotal bullshit" label going on this one? You betcha....

It may not be completely fair to compare the two, since Boston’s bustling infirmary has had something to do with its recent vulnerability. David Ortiz is just recently back from resting a strained shoulder. Curt Schilling is rehabbing in the minors because of right shoulder tendinitis. Jon Lester recently returned to the team after battling a form of lymphoma. J.D. Drew has constant hamstring issues. Matt Clement is still working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery. Brendan Donnelly is recovering from a strained forearm.

It's not fair to say Boston is faltering, because they pay players with higher-than-average injury risk, and now those players are getting hurt. Oh wait, that is fair.

But the Red Sox have shown disturbing signs — for their anguished fans, at least — that they might not feel comfortable at the top. Despite their World Series breakthrough in 2004, their natural tendency to collapse appears to be surfacing.

This is more due to a surge coming from the Yankees than anything (who are STILL way behind their Pythagenport)

And the Red Sox collapsing is about them "not feeling comfortable at the top" and a "natural tendency to collapse". These are good explanations for baseball things, no?

Before Thursday’s games, they held a 6.5 game lead over the second-place New York Yankees, who had been stuck in as large a mental quagmire as they have ever had to try and overcome. It marked the first time since May 11 that Boston had held a lead of fewer than seven games. The Red Sox held a 12-game lead in early July, but the Yankees have somehow asserted themselves.

Somehow, a team that was scoring more runs than they were allowing started to win more games than they were losing! How I wish that there were explanations for things like these! Let's attribute it to a "mental quagmire". Yes, that's it, the Yankees busted out of their "mental quagmire".

And despite the fact that the Red Sox had won five straight before falling on Wednesday against Cleveland, the omens are present.

Oh boy, this is going to be a tough one to explain. "Despite winning 5 out of their last 6, the Red Sox look like they're about to collapse". Bring it.

For instance, on Wednesday night Boston lost to Fausto Carmona and the Indians, 1-0. Nothing to be ashamed of, yet it was unsettling that Josh Beckett threw an outstanding game but lost on one measly mistake to Franklin Gutierrez, which turned into a solo shot. And it was Beckett’s first road loss since last September.

Losing a 1-0 game to a pitcher who has thrown well pretty much all year = sign of imminent collapse. Got it.

Not a problem. Nothing to panic over. Sometimes a black cat crosses your path, and most of the time it means nothing. Most of the time.

You feeling okay there, Mike? They lost one game here, by one run, after winning the last five.....

Meanwhile, the Yankees, a team some consider the luckiest men on the planet — usually the people who believe that live in, or hail from, the New England area — have managed to avert a complete oil spill of a season and are making a run.

Some people consider them the luckiest men on the planet. Other, more informed men, look at the fact that they have been consistently 6 or so wins behind their Pythagenport for a long time and say "wow, they're very unlucky to not be only a game or two behind Boston right now!"

Much of New York’s recent thrust can be credited to white-hot Alex Rodriguez, who is having the kind of season that will enable him to opt out of his contract and will prompt his agent Scott Boras to ask for a new deal worth $35 million per season. A-Rod turns 32 on Friday and is approaching 500 career home runs.

Good. A little love for A-Rod. Finally.

The Yankees trailed by 14.5 games in late May, but they’ve won 11 of their last 13. Probably nothing to fret over. I’m sure the Red Sox will be cool. Historically, they’re known for their composure down the stretch, especially with the numeral “14” involved. They had a 14-game lead in 1978, but it disappeared down the stretch, and Bucky Dent put an exclamation mark on the disaster with a game-winning home run over the Green Monster in a playoff game.

I quote this just to cite that awful, awful connection and transition. I mean, look at it. "Some random date in May, the Red Sox were up by 14.5 games. Speaking of numbers involving '14', remember when...?"

But it’s silly to toss and turn over what might happen in the future. After all, what are the chances that the Boston Red Sox will somehow fail to live up to their promise? They have legions of devoted fans who live and die with their exploits. Why in the world would a team disappoint their fans like that?

pnoles: Hey Mike, will the Red Sox collapse this year?

Michael Ventre: Of course not. Why would they choose to do that? That would disappoint the fans!

David Ortiz has 16 home runs this season. Last year he finished with 54. I’m sure that if he bears down and goes on a tear he can match that total. I wouldn’t worry about it.

The team signed Drew to a five-year contract in the offseason worth $70 million. Lately he’s been limping a lot. So far he’s batting .247, with six home runs and 38 RBI. But he’ll catch fire soon, I’m sure.

In the past, Curt Schilling has been great at two things: popping off, and pitching baseballs. Recently he took a few shots at Barry Bonds during an interview with Bob Costas. That shows that Schilling is at the top of his craft in one area.

But this season he is just 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA in 15 starts, and he hasn’t pitched since June 18. Yet I feel certain that the 40-year-old veteran of 21 major-league seasons will spring to life soon and power the Red Sox to victory like he did in the days when he was pitching in Arizona alongside another invincible war horse, Randy Johnson.


J.D. Drew was playing at his worst when the Red Sox were playing at their best this year. He's improved slightly since the start of the season, and was never the reason for their success in the first place. And Ortiz is by no means having a bad season. .431 OBP, .560 SLG. And yeah, Schilling isn't what he used to be, but there's nothing wrong with a 4.20 ERA, especially when you aren't the number one or number two guy in the rotation.

Folks who follow the Red Sox don’t stress when they see a sizeable lead in the AL East disappear like Whitey Bulger, and notice that the Yankees are making a move. That’s because they’re used to stress. They live with stress 24/7. They’ve had a lot of practice coping with stress. Compared to them, air traffic controllers at our busiest airports are Zen bunnies.

And..."hyperbolic crap"? Yep, that's another one of our labels. Perfect.

The PGA Championship is scheduled to take place in two weeks at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. The best thing that could happen to the Red Sox would be for Mickelson to snap out of his funk and win another major. That would illustrate to them that negative habits can be broken.

Wow. That would be pretty damn good for them. I had an idea too, but yours is better. So here's what I think is the second best thing that could happen to the Red Sox: they don't lose another game this season.

Estimated number of Red Sox players who give a crap how Phil Mickelson golfs: 1.5

A generous 1.5

But if he doesn’t win? No big deal. The Red Sox will cope. They’re used to this. Really.

Phil Mickelson, the fate of the A.L. East is in your hands. Just know that if you mess this up, the Boston Red Sox will forever look to you as the reason they didn't make it this year, because you didn't lead them by example. Why is that your problem? Ventre said so.

5 comments:

pnoles said...

Fuck that, Fire Joe Morgan did a writeup of the same article just before me. Ah well....

larry b said...

good find and all (how many morons try to combine golf with baseball? at least one i guess) but i'm 99% sure the stuff about ortiz and jd drew and schilling breaking out is sarcasm. note the transition from the sarcasm in the "the red sox never ever choke down the stretch" section right before.

m said...

Pythagenport?

pnoles said...

pythagenport expected won-loss record.

yeah....upon reading that again, i suppose it is....i'll edit this

larry b said...

m- it's a rough formula that (supposedly) indicates what a team's record should be based on how good they are at scoring runs and not allowing runs. google it to get a full explanation. the basic idea behind it is: if you win 2 games 10-0, and lose 4 games 2-1, you're not really that bad of a team. not team that should be winning only a third of its games anyways. you're very good at scoring runs (in general, no, it doesn't take situational ability into account or anything) and not that bad at allowing runs. so if you keep scoring and allowing runs at that pace, you should end up winning a lot more games than you lose despite your current 2-4 record. conversely, if you win 4 games 2-1 and lose 2 game 10-0, your run totals indicate you're probably not going to keep up your .667 pace. its a very curde tool, but can offer some very useful information from time to time. this season the yankees "should" have a much better record than they do, and the diamondbacks "should" have a much worse record. it's no coincidence that the former has a terrible bullpen (theoretically causing them to lose a lot of close games) and the latter has an amazing bullpen. but right now it's a safe bet to assume the yankees will make a good run at the red sox and the d-backs will fade out of the NL west race. probably. maybe.