Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Alfonso Soriano: Selfish, Solo-Home-Run-Hitting Asshole

The Cubs are 16-10, and have fared slightly better over the last 14 games, during which Alfonso Soriano has not played. So naturally, it's time to freak out about him, and bring up curses and hexes and jinxes and dippity-doos. Now appearing for the first time on this site ever, Jay Mariotti.

Fukudome/SI jinx? Nah, the issue is Soriano

I totally agree, Jay. The concern of a player starting off the season slow is way more important to the team than the cover of a magazine. But isn't it fun that Jay is entertaining the thought that the opposite might have a legitimate argument?

The Sports Illustrated cover doesn't bother me. That's because the Japanese phrase above Kosuke Fukudome's steely-faced photo -- translation: "It's Gonna Happen" -- is from an inaccurate sign waved by one of his bandana-wrapped fans in right field.

Inaccurate? Gee, Jay, it's April! Isn't it a little bit early to write off a first place team?

Briefly there, I thought he was trying to one-up Ryan Dempster, Sam Zell and Ronny Cedeno in their inane game to create World Series fever in April.

I am so sick and tired of hearing about this. I read Jay's columns every day. Literally the only thing he's written about baseball this season (presumably because the Sox and Cubs have played well) have been complaints that Dempster, Zell, and Cedeno are trying to arouse excitement in the fans. Boo fuckity hoo.

But it turns out The Fukudomer wasn't even aware of the 100-year spell when he signed with the Cubs, meaning he has no interest in burying it with boasts.

Let's throw out the fact that nothing in this sentence is irrelevant to everything. That doesn't even follow by cause and effect. Observe.

Step 1: "The Fukudomer" signs with the team, unaware of the 100-year spell.
Step 2: Mark DeRosa, apparently fluent in Japanese, tells Fuck You, Do Me! that the team hasn't won the World Series in 100 years.
Step 3: The Fuck-You Dome thereby increases his motivation to end said curse.
Step 4: Riding the wave of the team's and his own early successes, Fukudome is now interested in predicting a World Series win to fire up the city.

Contrived? Yes. Impossible? No.

Yet when Fukudome himself has interpreted the so-called "It's Gonna Happen" banner to mean "It's An Accident," just how seriously should we treat any of this stuff?

Not seriously enough to even print it in a newspaper.

If John Madden ever expands his video-game empire to include baseball and places him on the cover, then you can fret about a Fukudome jinx.

Got it. SI cover = pseudo-jinx. Madden cover = MEGAJINX.

Until then, the biggest worry on the perpetually paranoiac planet known as Cubdom is Alfonso Soriano. During his most recent two-week stay on the disabled list, this time for a right calf strain, the Cubs missed him about as much as, well, the San Francisco Giants miss Barry Zito in the rotation.


It isn't fair, I realize, to compare a slow-starting, $136-million Soriano to the $126-million pitching bust that is Zito, who might represent the most disastrous signing in professional sports history.

Why is this not fair? Those two signings are so similar it's sick. Both were above average, if unspectacular players at the time of the signing. Both were severely overrated by the teams who signed them. Both contracts are too long and ridiculously expensive. For the record, Zito also has a bit of a history of being a slow starter. And after 6 starts in 2008, you're calling it the most disastrous signing in professional sports history?

But successive stumbles out of the gate, along with lingering injuries and his playoff stinker against Arizona last fall, are prompting media and fans to ask if the Cubs -- and no one is even whispering it -- are better off without Soriano.

Which further prompted me to ask, "could the media and fans offer up any better proof that they lack the ability to think?"

Why are we talking about a "playoff stinker"? Yeah, he was 2-for-14. That's also 14 at-bats. I'm just sayin', I've seen larger sample sizes. Aramis Ramirez didn't have a hit in the series. You want him gone too?

This as they stumble through a rough stretch, with a 10-7 loss Tuesday night to Milwaukee giving them four losses in five games.

This is evidence against your point, Jay. Not for it. You should have written this column a week ago.

At the very least, why risk clogging up a potent lineup by keeping him in the leadoff hole,

Clogging up the....lineup? I've never heard of this phrase before. You sure you didn't mean...bases? No, can't be, Soriano's fast and never walks. We'd better fly Humperdink McBuggins down from Toronto to use his lineuplunger.

where he has slugged an extraordinary number of solo home runs

Sooooooo selfish.

but performed few of the job's fundamental functions?

This is a very valid shot at Soriano's OBP abilities. But it's almost as if Jay thinks that there is some better outcome to Soriano's at bat than a solo home run when no one is on base.

In one mighty span during his absence, the offense scored 65 runs in eight games, including seven or more runs six times.

Oh my God! I think Jay discovered "variance" for the first time ever!

Hey Jay, what happened the next 5 games, hmmm? Oh wait. Those don't prove your point. So they're irrelevant. My bad.

It gave Cubdom a chance to fall deeply in love with Reed Johnson, who successfuly led off and cemented his place in cult lore last week with a catch so spectacular, the YouTube mechanism paused in shock.

If they like winning, they'd better not get used to Johnson. Johnson is great for a 4th outfielder. Probably top 5 or so in baseball (only better ones I can think of off the top of my head are Coco Crisp and Ryan Spilborghs). But he does not belong in the lineup every day.

Wrigley folk always love the Reed Johnsons, Ryan Theriots and Mike Fontenots of the world

Wrigley folk love bad players. And they wonder where they get their stereotype for being stupid.

knowing them as underdogs who define the Cub existence better than a free-swinging, selfish outfielder who signed the sport's fifth-richest financial package ever.

What the hell has Soriano done to earn this "selfish" label? I'm sorry, that's bullshit. Soriano is who he is. He has a lot of power and little walking skills. Why does that make him selfish? You don't make sense.

So, when Soriano returns as the leadoff man and left fielder Thursday, Cubdom will have its first official crisis of 2008.


If he no longer is a unique force capable of 40 homers and 40 stolen bases -- the reason general manager Jim Hendry spent so much coin on him -- why not bat him fifth or sixth in the order and maximize his power abilities?

This is actually a very legitimate point. Too bad Jay's probably cheating off of his neighbor's paper. And by his neighbor I mean "everyone in Chicago."

How many steals do his fragile legs have left in them?

Who cares? Soriano gets caught enough to the point where his steals barely help the team.

How often is he not uncoiling that rubber-band-man swing and trying to launch a pitch over the fence?

Home selfish. Home runs don't help the team win. They only help Fonz.

Isn't he just a solo artist playing as a warm-up act for a superband?

Well hey there Jay, it isn't his fault that there aren't people on base when he hits them. You can thank 7-8-9 for that. Or Lou Piniella, for batting him 1st. That's the problem I have with all of this. If Soriano was batting 5th, he'd probably have the same fucking approach, and you wouldn't deem any of it selfish, just because you expect that kind of stuff from a 5-hole hitter.

Is any of this selfishness really conducive to winning?

Home runs are very, VERY conducive to winning. Soriano's selfish .278 career EqA is far more conducive to winning than Reed Johnson's .254.

Wouldn't he be an explosive complement to the monstrous Derrek Lee, who now has eight homers, and the likes of Fukudome and Aramis Ramirez in the crunch of the order?


As yet, Lou Piniella isn't budging. He has no desire to use Soriano anywhere but atop the order, even though he's known as an innovatator open to any option.

If Piniella really does have this reputation, people need to wake up and realize this isn't the case. He pulled Mike Fontenot from shortstop after ONE INNING in which he made an error. If Soriano moves to the 5-hole, my guess is that a strikeout in his first at-bat results in him not going out into the field the next inning.

It suggests that Soriano, whose statistics are appreciably better as a leadoff hitter, has a verbal understanding with Hendry dating back to his signing that he prefers leading off. Or, perhaps closer to the truth, Hendry is trying to force-feed the continuing 40-40 fantasy as a way of justifying Soriano's staggering price at a time when Zell and Tribune Co. are reeling.

Interesting, interesting. Let's see how you fuck this up.

When a shift in the lineup makes this much sense -- based on Soriano's inconsistent first season, bad postseason and a second season in which he's batting .175 with two homers and two steals -- it's curious to see Piniella so adamant when his expertise is rooted in flexibility.

No, no, no, no, NO! First of all, I have absolutely had it with using the word "inconsistent" as a knock against a hitter. It's not like a pitcher. If a hitter has a bad game, it doesn't completely fuck over your team. If you've got one hitter that has a .275 EqA and then a wildly "inconsistent" hitter that has a .275 EqA, it doesn't fucking matter. With the second guy, your team simply wins DIFFERENT games than it otherwise would have. Not necessarily more or less.

Second, we've been over the fucking postseason. Why are you justifying a lineup move based on 14 fucking at-bats? This is senseless. Why does David Ortiz still get to hit 3rd? He had an AWFUL first 20 games.

And third, you're absolutely flipping about about this year's stats, which are not only a small sample, but so wildly out of line with his career performance that even you, Jay Mariotti, have to understand that the guy's gonna bounce back. People like you make me want to explode.

"If we hadn't been winning, they'd say, `Boy, these guys really miss Soriano.' It was unfair," Piniella said. "These guys have all done a nice job here, but if Soriano had been in there, we'd be playing the same way or a little better.

::gasp:: Whew. Thanks Lou Piniella. I really needed that non-dumbassedness.

"He gives us more power. He can put runs on the board with a swing of the bat. He brings speed to the equation, plus he has fun. That can be infectious for us. He can carry you when he's hitting the ball the way he can."

But Lou, he's selfish! He makes a lot of money!

We saw as much last September, when he earned his money with 14 homers, 27 RBIs and a .320 average.

Stupid, unclutch, selfish asshole. I'm really doubting the Cubs make the playoffs without Soriano in September.

We saw as much last June, too, when he hit .336 with 11 homers. But between a strained right quad last August and the calf strain this month, Soriano seems vulnerable to injuries at all times. "If I play the rest of the season healthy, I can steal 30 bases," he said. "My speed is there."

At $136 million, no one is in the mood to hear disclaimers.

That isn't a disclaimer. You know for a fact that this is not how Soriano meant it.

What's maddening is that Soriano told the media that he'll accept anything Pineilla wants. "I'm like the military. Whatever he wants, I'm open," he said.

Selfish fucking asshole.

He also expects to be batting in the middle of the lineup in a couple of years. So if he's amenable to a dramatic change, why aren't Piniella and Hendry?

Selfishly selfish of him to be amenable to that dramatic change. You're basically pointing the finger at Piniella and Hendry, so where, where do you get the conclusion that Soriano is so me-first?

I really don't like Alfonso Soriano that much, but Jay's got me rooting for him, just so Jay can be wrong. Again.

1 comment:

Tonus said...

Jay says that Lou Piniella is an innovator who is open to all options. His example? Lou's unwillingness to move Soriano from the leadoff spot, even though he's better suited to a spot in the middle of the order.

Also, why is it that when Tony LaRussa spews something idiotic about baseball, it's the gospel truth, but Pinella's perfectly reasonable explanation about Soriano's contributions are in an article telling us that the team is better off without him in the lineup?

Jay Mariotto needs to be fired, and have his typewriter taken away.