Man oh man, does it give me douchechills to type that fucking word.
Ok--here's the thing. As you may or may not (you probably are more likely to may) know there was a huge blowout on some Bob Costas special last night between Will Leitch and Buzz "Benry" Bissinger.
As any of you who may know may know, Bissinger threw a hissy fit at Leitch for "ruining America with your rock and roll music and your bloggerations" whilst Braylon Edwards looked on with an eyebrow dazily arched.
The consensus--i.e. what has been taken away from this--is that Bissinger, by virtue of being a moron, is wrong and that Leitch, by virtue of not being the moron in this exchange, is right.
As Lee Corso would say (prior to being excoriated on the BLOGOSPHERE)--not so fast my friends.
Here's the thing: Bissinger is without a doubt unhinged (and also very wrong, as we've seen today at firejoemorgan.blogspot.com, and will no doubt see in greater detail as the blogoverse strikes back at him). But does that make Leitch right?
I want to start by saying that I read Deadspin quite a bit. I find it often hilarious and of a similar mind as me. I have very little problem with Will Leitch (though I can't help but be reminded of former Kids in the Hall geek Dave Foley every time I watch that clip of him and Bissinger). Larry B, it seems, does not like him one bit, but that ain't me.
But here's the thing: many of the problems brought up by Bissinger and by Edwards ARE VALID POINTS. There has been a huge deterioration in the quality of sports journalism--whether it be in print, online, or on television and radio--and it DOES seem to have a lot to do with the internet.
Here's the facts--sports journalism seems to consist of the following things:
1.) reporting of the results of sports contests (about 5% of all stories and television coverage)
2.) interviews, insight, and speculation regarding the players' opinions and reactions about the games, their team, and their league
5.) scandals and lawsuits
6.) predictions and speculation, be it about injuries, results of future sporting events, trades, strikes, scandals and lawsuits, what have you
The problem is, if you watch, read, or listen to sports coverage you'll notice that the vast majority of pundits and analysts, AT THE VERY LEAST take a very authoritarian absolutist position toward these things, particularly items 3-6. There is also a lot of moral grandstanding and finger pointing. Now: these are things that exist as much in the print and television (to say nothing of the cesspool that is Sports Talk Radio) as on the internet--hell, just check out the name of this "blog" to see the prime example of an authoritarian, morally high-handed, always "right", ignorant king of all dirtballs ever to walk the earth.
But here IS the problem--blogging makes this attitude contagious. It would be foolish to point to the advent and proliferation of the yelling/arguing genre of shows on television as coinciding perfectly with the internet. That would be false and anachronous--PTI was already on when I was in high school. However, the blogosphere IS a significant breeding ground for this. It's the perfect environment for sports bleating to fester. Look--opinions are like assholes. But while it does seem silly to hear Michael Wilbon saying "If I don't know your credentials as a sportswriter why should I listen to you?" it does raise a good point.
Even 15 years ago, a sportswriter's opinions superseded your opinions as the casual fan. That didn't mean you just got on your knees and took his thought-juice all over your face. But it did mean that in order for a bleating voice to be heard, it had to have a forum. And though there will still some jackasses morally highhanding the players and fans alike (particularly around time of the 94 strike), it did mean that sportswriters didn't have to be on the offensive all the time--their opinion "mattered" more because they had "the floor".
Now, anyone has the potential to be heard. Obviously, not everyone is going to be Will Leitch or Ken Tremendous or even Larry B, but fact of the matter is, everyone thinks they COULD be and without much effort. Nowadays everyone has an opinion and everyone will be heard. That's not a BAD thing but what it does is turn sportstalk into an argument. Now, that's nothing new PER SE, but it's new that that it is the full extent to how we communicate in the realm of sports.
Were the Bears winners or losers in the draft? Will Indy win the Super Bowl? Is Lebron the next MJ?
These are all questions we might have wondered aloud 15 years ago, given the opportunity, but there wasn't the implication that we NEEDED AN ANSWER NOW nor that I MUST BE RIGHT AT ALL COSTS. The instant access to past statements and statistical data makes discussion in the internet forum a very objective and coldly rational forum--but the item of discussion is not a cold, mechanical object. It is a living thing. Now I don't mean to say "numbers don't play games" but the fact is, anything can happen over the course of a season. If you and I are arguing about who will win the AL Central, you can make the most airtight argument that the Indians are a far better team than the White Sox in every relevant area, but the fact is, the White Sox could very well win. At that point, you lick your wounds with a defensive argument about why that happened.
THAT IS NOT A BAD THING. However, because of the success in this realm, people demand that in other realms (i.e. Television) and what we get is Around the Horn (the most asinine yet infinitely watchable show on at 6:30 ET). Arguments, purported to be founded under the premise of being "RIGHT" about something that one can not be right about. And so, in this "society" of argumentation and absolutism, we also get a meanspiritedness that I enjoy (as long as it's not morally superior meanspiritedness, Jay, you shithead) but that others might take offense at.
Look: Rich Garces has tits. That's funny. But how do you honestly defend making fun of Rich Garces tits to someone who's offended by that? You can't. It's not nice to make fun of Rich Garces tits and it's not something to be proud of if called on. And yet, that's where we're at. And I'm fine with it--but it doesn't mean that those who aren't fine with it are wrong.
Also it's important not to overlook Braylon Edwards's very valid point--athletes can't go out in public anymore. Ever. Not now, not for the rest of their lives (if they're at all noteworthy) for fear of being NeckBearded.
I loved the Neckbeard pictures. I loved the Rexy Morgan pictures. I loved the Peyton's Sweet 16 Pictures. But shit, that's got to suck for those dudes. What can be done about it? Nothing. What should be done about it? Nothing. But here's the thing: it's a problem.
And ESPN is a problem. And Jay Mariotti is a problem. And the fact that the blogosphere has helped to make ESPN and Mariotti who they are is also a problem.
End of rant.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Man oh man, does it give me douchechills to type that fucking word.
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
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.
CODE BLUE! CODE BLUE! OUR ABOVE-AVERAGE STARTING LF IS BACK!
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 runs.....so 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?
Yes, he would. BUT HOW DOES THIS NEGATE HIS SUPPOSED SELFISHNESS???????
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.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
I'm working on a Gregg Easterbrook "WMTMQR" column, but I got sidetracked by the topic you're seconds away from reading about, so the Easterbrook thing will have to become a "TMTMQR." Look for that, of course, on TM. Having just watched the final seconds of the Spurs closing out the Suns, I decided it would be fitting to talk about this guy named Bill Simmons who writes for ESPN.com. He's actually one of their most popular columnists. Who knew? Yeah, that's what I'm saying, too- whatever happened to Hunter S. Thompson?
Anyways, one of Simmons' more well-known columns from the past couple years is this, from February 2007, in which he lambasted nearly every team in the NBA for not making some kind of risky, roster-altering, hype-generating trade before that season's deadline. In his criticism, he very cleverly re-christened the league the "No Balls Association" in a brilliant turn of acronym. Oh, the audacity! His point was basically that although nearly every team in the league was flawed at the time in some obvious way, their GMs were too afraid to make a big deal lest they take the fall or get fired should the move either not produce good postseason results or further delay a rebuilding effort. It was an interesting concept for a column. Certainly gave a lot of fans something to discuss and complain about.
But I didn't at all agree with him at the time. (This blog didn't exist so I could voice that opinion, which is a convenient excuse for me to use revisionist history in my favor now.) Basically, the whole premise seemed less about teams trying to make the best possible decisions and more about teams doing things that Bill found exciting. New faces in new places! New matchups! New columns to write, about potential impacts and ramifications! What's not to like, if you're employed as Bill is? Unfortunately, nearly all of the trades he talked about didn't make sense for at least one of the teams involved. And some didn't make sense for either/any of said teams. Of course, as with anything Simmons writes, it was basically a chance for him to pop off at the mouth and act like his opinion is unadulterated fact. (Yes, you asshole anonymous Simmons-defending commenters, every columnist does this to some extent. But Simmons does it constantly, and with a nearly unparalleled level of abrasiveness.) And just because he gets on his high horse, and cracks wise while acting like he's smarter than at least 20-25 of the 30 GMs in the league, doesn't mean he's right.
So fast forward to February 2008. It's the "No Balls Association" no more. The Mavericks work overtime and jump through several hoops in order to land Jason Kidd, and the Suns surprise a lot of people by rolling the dice on Shaq. Hooray, says Bill. Finally- a group of executives not afraid to go boom or bust! Well, fittingly, tonight both of those moves more or less busted. Neither team even came close to sniffing the second round. Although it's arguable that their results would have been no different had they not made their trades, my point is that big deadline deals rarely happen for a lot of very real (and non-"ball lacking") reasons. For the teams scuttling their season and acting as sellers- unless the star they're probably giving away is in the final year of a deal, there's an incentive to wait until the summer to field offers because that gives them more time to maneuver and often allows them to drum up interest from more potential trade partners. For the teams acting as buyers- there's no other way to put this; the enormous risk such deals usually carry is just flat out debilitating. Laugh all you want, question whether or not people have nuts in their sacks; but the risks often outweigh the rewards. And what happened to the Suns and Mavs speaks to that. Neither team got noticeably better after acquiring their star. (Dallas probably got a little worse, and almost missed the playoffs.) Both, especially the Suns, are financially worse off than they were before the deals.
Now, let me put all the caveats out there to make sure I don't sound like an idiot. Yes, I know the Lakers also traded for Pau Gasol in a "big deal" and that that move is working out swimmingly. Good for LA. But that was an extremely rare case of a team looking to deal a superstar actually not asking nearly what their guy was worth. Opportunities like that don't come along often. The Lakers basically paid the Grizzlies peanuts, so they don't get credit for showing balls. Yes, I know Simmons actually stated that he thought Kidd was a bad fit for the Mavs. But in the column in which he voiced that opinion, he still said he approved of the trade. Why? Among other things, the Mavs "needed a transfusion" and this trade made them "more interesting." He also gushed all over the Shaq trade. Oops. And finally, yes, I know that Simmons has never said that making risky deals guarantees teams success. But he still violently advocates doing so anyways, and that's reason enough for me to make fun of him.
In conclusion- (I love using that, because my high school English teachers always discouraged it, and now they're not around to stop me from having my fun and writing poorly) I'm not writing this from the stance of "Haha! Dallas and Phoenix didn't both win four NBA titles each this summer after making big deadline moves, so everything Bill Simmons has ever written is wrong and he should be fired!" Well, he should be fired. But not for this. I'm writing it to point out something a little subtler. Taking an ultra-abrasive stance as a writer, the way Bill did in his original "No Balls" column, can blow up in your face. Even if you feel really passionately about something, you're probably better off writing about it without resorting to too much hyperbole and histrionics. Is that a rule the writers of this site, myself included, ever follow? Absolutely not. Go fuck yourself. It's still a good rule. I know, it's really tempting to act like every GM in every league is a dummy. After all, only a handful of them win championships every year, and only about half of them field teams with winning records. But the vast majority of them are smart enough to run a team. Their moves/non-moves are made for perfectly legitimate reasons. Grading the performance of a group of them at a particular time, and giving three quarters of them Fs, F-minuses, F-minus-minuses, Z-minues, etc., is over the top and stupid. Stop it. You're somehow making yourself look worse. Just go back to writing your dumb mailbag and flaunting the fact that you know a lot about Vegas. Vegas? Really? Wow, cool. Where else could I possibly find information about that place? Do you think they have a tourism board or anything? You know, I'm too lazy to do any actual research about one of the country's top 5 vacation destinations. I guess I'll just take what this prick says as gospel.
Speaking of that mailbag, I checked it out. Not a ton of material I felt like covering. Basically he's become a Boston blogger who has his work published on ESPN. The kind of analysis he gives about the Celtics/Patriots/Red Sox is more or less similar to the type of stuff I read about my favorite teams on their respective SBNation blogs. You want to ask him about anyone else? If it's one of a handful of NBA teams (Suns, Pistons, Lakers, Cavaliers), he might be able to offer something coherent. If it's any other NBA team, he's clueless. If it's an NFL team, he doesn't know it, but he's clueless. If it's the Yankees, he'll just talk more about the Red Sox or make a joke about how A-Rod is actually Choke-Rod. If it's another AL team, he'll mention a player from that team on his fantasy team. If it's an NL team, he'll act like the fact he doesn't follow the NL makes him cool or something. In essence, he's running CeltsCornerSawksTawkPatsPrattle.blogspot.com off of the world's most popular sports site. Sure, I'm bothered by it, but at the same time, it's like... it's so boring that I can't really get that worked up. Oh my God- does this mean I'm losing my edge? Hopefully not. This basement is still as comfy as ever.
Hello! This is Jerry Crasnick, and I'm making a guest post here on Fire Jay Mariotti to present my weekly Starting 9!
Doubles. Home runs. Hits. Everything-but-sacrifices-walks-and-beanballs. What do all of these things have in common? You need to have an at-bat to accumulate ANY of them! It's a little-known fact that Jimmy Rollins set the MLB record for at-bats last season with 716, and propelled by his ability to get up to that plate and log at-bats at a tremendous pace, he won an MVP award. Also, when you go to MLB.com and go to the "Sortable Player Stats" page, how are all the players sorted by default? That's right. At-bats. No question they're important.
This week's edition of "Starting 9" takes a position-by-position look at the players who are the current frontrunners to take the at-bat crown by storm. In addition, we're going to assign a rating to each player on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being, "Hey, this guy's totally overachieving at-bat-wise, he has no prayer of keeping this up" nand 10 being, "Don't look now, Rollins, your record's in severe jeopardy!"
1. Ivan Rodriguez, Tigers C
(89 ABs, 1 triple)
Okay, so there were actually 3 guys who were worthy of the catcher's slot on this list. Brian McCann of Atlanta and Kurt Suzuki of Oakland both had the same number of at-bats. So why choose Rodriguez? Well, Rodriguez has logged his impressive 89 ABs in the fewest plate appearances of the three, needing only 98 (ouch, Brian McCann's 99). Rodriguez is simply one of the most effective players in the game at logging an at-bat when he gets up to that dish. However, his decline in effectiveness is concerning. He's already drawn 5 walks this year (he drew 9 all of last season), and he's even gotten hit by a pitch twice.
At-Bat Rating: 4 I-Rod has impressed the world by getting more than 500 ABs in each of his last 5 seasons. But he's a catcher, and while he's durable, he won't be able to log enough at-bats to be among the league leaders at season's end. Plus, he's batted near the top of the order plenty due to Curtis Granderson's early injury. That won't keep now that Granderson is back.
2. Derrek Lee, Cubs 1B
(103 ABs, 1 intentional walk)
You've gotta feel uneasy about this one. Lee seems to have it all. He bats 3rd in a lineup that scores a lot of runs. He has all the job security in the world. He draws an above-average, but not insane amount of those at-bat killing walks. So why worry? Well, as we know, Lee is fairly injury prone. You can't rack up at-bats from a stretcher. Plus, the steady Mark Teixeira is right on his heels, needing only one more at-bat to pull even with Lee. And Teixeira gets like 4 or 5 of those every game! Best of luck, Derrek.
At-Bat Rating: 2. If he's leading first basemen in at-bats when this season is done, I'll eat my hat. Luckily my hat is made out of candy.
3. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox 2B
(111 ABs, 44 Total Bases)
Another one of those plate-appearance tiebreakers. Mark Ellis also has 111, but he's got one fewer plate appearance. Plus, there's something else that Pedroia has going for him. He's a leadoff hitter in a potent lineup. He's going to get a lot of At-Bat opportunities. Mark Ellis is only batting 2nd, and Oakland's lineup is more in a state of flux than that of the Red Sox. The fans love him, and he has all the job security in the world.
"Pedroia keeps himself in the best shape possible to avail himself to at-bat opportunities in every game," said one MLB scout. "You don't find that kind of determination in just anybody."
At-Bat Rating: 8.5. Good health + good lineup + best lineup spot for at-bats = Pedroia's got something special working for him in this category.
4. Cristian Guzman, Nationals SS
(110 ABs, 38 Groundouts)
Cristian Guzman being talked about for leading an offensive category? You betcha. Guzman has logged 4 more at-bats than the next closest shortstop in two less games. There's no question that this has been what has enabled Guzman to be 4th in the majors among shortstops in the "hits" category. What's the secret? Well for starters, he's a 2-hole hitter. Also, his at-bat efficiency is startlingly good. Guzman has logged 110 at-bats in 116 plate appearances. That's nearly a 95% clip, and it's his absolute refusal to draw a walk that helps him. Take a free pass? No sir! This guy's going to earn his way on!
At-Bat Rating: 6.5. Guzman, despite his awesome at-bat propelled start, has historically not been very good at baseball, and job security is all I'm worrying about here. He could tank. But MLB pitchers are just not afraid of him, and will rarely walk him with Zimmerman and Johnson right behind him.
5. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Padres 3B
(113 ABs, .327 SLG)
Ladies and gentlemen, your current 2008 at-bat champion of the world! Kouz leads fellow 3rd basemen Garrett Atkins by one at-bat, despite drawing one more walk (3) than Atkins (2). Kouzmanoff has not had less than 4 at-bats in a game since April 7th, and that stretch includes a stunning 9-at-bat performance in the seemingly endless game against Colorado on April 17th.
"His ability," commented teammate Jake Peavy, "to stay in the lineup that day was remarkable. He never got pinch ran for, never got double-switched. It was almost as if he was willing [Bud Black] to keep running him out there. And what did he do? Led the team in hits."
At-Bat Rating: 1.5. There's no way that Kouz can continue to avoid the base-on-balls. He's always been good at that, but never THIS good. Also, if he continues to perform this poorly, Chase Headley may threaten his starting job. And let's not forget, 22 inning games are a fluke.
6. Carl Crawford, Rays LF
(110 AB, 1 Caught Stealing)
Crawford leads all outfielders in at-bats despite trailing his closest competitors for that title in games played. He's a very exciting player who hasn't had less than 584 at-bats in the past 5 years. Crawford is also younger than you might think (26) and doesn't seem to have the off-field problems of other Rays (a bar fight, Al Reyes? Really?) and former Rays. Being the face of the franchise won't hurt his playing time. Oh and lets not forget the best part: 2 walks this year. Crawford has only been to the plate 113 times. That's the highest efficiency on this list.
At-Bat Rating: 8. Crawford has had a history of walkophobia, and as a fan-favorite who finds himself in the 3-hole, there's reason to believe he'll shatter his personal single-season games played record of 156. Keep your eyes on this one, America.
7. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners CF
(109 ABs, 434 pitches seen)
Absolutely no suprise here. Suzuki has only missed 3 games over the last 4 seasons. His single-season at-bat record is 704, which only falls 12 shy of Rollins's monstrous seven-one-six. He has never logged less than 647 in a season. He'd be in the At-Bat Hall of Fame had he not joined the majors at the relatively old age of 27. Suzuki is a Mariners icon, and can pretty much be cemented in that leadoff hole for every game of the season. If the Mariners' offense can keep the line moving (I'm looking at YOU, Sexson), this guy has the best chance in baseball to record 717 at-bats.
At-Bat Rating: 10. There is absolutely nothing not to like here.
8. Jeff Francoeur, Braves RF
(102 ABs, 0.0 SB%)
Okay, right field must be some sort of at-bat void. Francoeur is 7th in the league among outfielders, and first among the starboard variety. Little known fact about Francoeur: he appeared in every Braves game in 2006 and 2007. However, the fact that his spot is further down in the batting order than most of the others on this list has crippled him. Despite a superbly low amount of walks, Frenchy's brief career high in at-bats is 651. He's as good a bet as any to land over 630 at-bats this season, but his odds at coming anywhere near the league lead are almost nil.
At-Bat Rating: 5. He's consistently good at racking up the at-bats, but until they start putting him higher in the batting order, this guy's got no shot at the crown.
9. Micah Owings, Diamondbacks P
(18 AB .865 OPS)
Man, can this guy flat out HIT! If there's one thing Owings has shown, it's that his bat might belong in the lineup more than once every five games. He's the best hitting pitcher of this generation, and for that reason, it's clear that he's the frontrunner for the at-bat crown amongst pitchers. There's simply little reason to pinch hit for him. However, as you may have guessed, his ability to keep getting at-bats is reliant on his ability to get hitters out on the mound. Not getting pinch-hit for is one thing, avoiding getting the hook on the other side of the ball is quite another.
At-Bat Rating: 1. So long as he's a pitcher and only a pitcher, he'll be among the best hurlers at raking up at-bats, but when's the last time a pitcher has been even close to the league lead?
BONUS SUPER AWESOME TENTH GUY YOU GET TO READ ABOUT.
David Ortiz, Red Sox DH
(96 AB, 6 doubles)
Even I can learn something new and uninteresting. Apparently, DHs aren't high at-bat guys. Ortiz has struggled with his offense overall thus far, but those at-bats are sure to come rolling in, as Boston refuses to lose faith in him. Boston needing to play games at National League parks further prevent him from coming close to the record.
At-Bat Rating: 1.5. Far, far too many walks, there David.
Well that's all from me, FireJay! Thanks for letting me stop on by!
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com. He swears he has said something interesting in his life. His book "License To Deal" was published by Rodale. He is the 2-time winner of the Paul DePodesta Trophy, given to the person working at ESPN who looks up a lot of stats, but doesn't have much else to say. He was featured on the cover of "Useless Weekly Column" magazine. Jerry can be reached via e-mail
I can't remember for the life of me why I thought that was worth my time.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Did you guess puppies? Maybe impressionist paintings? A certain Southern gentleman who's been known to endorse inexpensive jeans? Hmmmmmm......
Quote of the Week V
"I'm retired ... Something's bound to happen.''
--Brett Favre, on The David Letterman Show on Thursday night.Remember Chauncey Gardner, the Peter Sellers-played savant in Being There who made plain pronouncements that somehow world leaders began taking as life-altering parables? (You had to see it. Too complicated to explain if you haven't.)
Sounds like it probably wouldn't need to be explained if you had seen the movie. But thanks. Excellent journalism here.
Sometimes we try to turn things into Favreisms.
I don't remember ever doing that.
Too many things. The best thing we all can do -- and this comes from someone who has majored in Favre-ology --
With a minor in Romo-nomics!
I would like to immediately apologize for that.
is just sit back and see what happens. Favre doesn't know what his future holds, only that he's 85 or 90 percent sure he'll never play another snap of football.
Look at Peter, offering estimates and numbers and odds. I love it. Where did he get that? What was that number at back in March? Where will it be in August? I hope we get updates on it. Personally, I give Favre a 50%-ish chance of coming back. But I wouldn't say that to King's face, particularly if he were holding a hot beverage.
Ten Things I Think I Think
3b. Why is the lead item on the ESPN scroll during the first hour of the predraft show about Brett Favre appearing on the cover of the Madden video game? Other than pimping a sponsor, what remote news value does that have?
Why is he upset about this? Maybe because it reminds him that Brett theoretically won't be playing next fall? What a double edged sword any visage of #4 must be to King.
9. I think I've got two sporting bets on whether Brett Favre plays again. I say no. He'd better not play. I've got $3 at stake here.
Said with all the intentional insincerity of a guy who's like "Boy, I sure hope I don't end up dating a Victoria's Secret model at any point- she'd be making more money than me, and that would be awkward!"
This is officially the worst post in FJayM history, but I felt obligated to point out that Peter King mentioned Brett Favre three separate times in a column that came out the day after the NFL Draft. Now, to be fair, he also included a fair amount of draft coverage as well. And most of it was inoffensively mediocre. But shouldn't that have been enough subject matter for a column? Do we really need the Favre stuff, too? I would humbly argue that we do not. And by "humbly argue," I mean, write very poorly on an irrelevant blog that has four regular readers.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Pregame, Tigers/Angels, Joe Morgan
Curtis Granderson's return has been huge for the Tigers. In the first 21 games of this season, the Tigers' leadoff man has scored 3 runs. In the 4 games since Granderson's been back, he's scored 8 runs.
I'm not going to argue with you. I'm just going to give you completely irrelevant statistics right now, you know, just in an attempt to change the subject.
Placido Polanco OBP, through Apr 22: .292
Tigers' 2-hole hitter OBP, Apr 23-26: .526
Okay, back on topic now.....it's crazy what a difference Granderson makes, isn't it?
Saturday, April 26, 2008
It's the NFL Draft! Oh my God, it's here! Everyone put your entire life on hold and obsess over it for the next 36 hours or you're not a real NFL fan. This is more important than a million Yankees/Red Sox games, a million UNC/Duke games, and a million fake Kobe Bryant trade requests put together. It's not like, you know, 75% of these players will be out of the league in five years or anything. (Check out the first three rounds of the 2003 draft.)
Seriously, ESPN, tone it down a little bit.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I almost wasn't going to write anything tonight, but then I stumbled onto this hilarious piece by Jayson Stark in which he polls a combination of managers, execs, and scouts and asks them who the "scariest" hitter in the game today is. For starters, it's probably an article that didn't need to be written. Even if the interviewees actually had really poignant and insightful things to say about the subjects (they don't, but if), it still just comes down to the fact that Pujols/Guerrero/Ramirez are really good hitters.
But as bad as that concept is, its awfulness completely overshadowed by horrific execution. Check out these quotes Stark managed to pick up; I'm surprised I didn't need an Insider subscription to gain access to this incredibly valuable information.
"He's the total package," said the Mets' Willie Randolph. "He's capable of adjusting to any pitch and any pitcher. You come inside, he'll pull it. You pitch him away, he'll take you the other way."
Is... is that allowed? Are you allowed to pull inside pitches? And take outside pitches the other way? Does the commissioner's office know about this? No wonder he's so good- he's cheating!
"Vlad's the answer," said one AL executive, "because there's no one else in that lineup I fear. Torii Hunter is a really good all-around player. But the difference between him and Vlad is, Vlad's a guy who makes you feel like you can't breathe the whole time he's at the plate."
The actual difference between the two of them is that one is a pretty good (if overhyped) hitter, while the other is fucking incredible and will probably merit HOF consideration one day.
"I'd go with Vlad because the plate isn't 17 inches wide with him," laughed a long-time advance scout. "It's more like 25 inches. He's an amazing guy. He's not a guy with a swing you'd put in an instructional video. But, somehow, he puts that bat on the ball no matter where the pitch is."
Man, if I want to become a better beer league softball player, I'm going to have to consider altering my approach at the plate to mimic what these guys are doing. (Larry B writes vigorously in marble notebook labeled "Stuff To Do" on front) Put... bat... on... ball.
"He has the ability to change the game with one swing," said one manager who requested anonymity.
Unlike most players, who usually need between ten and fifteen swings to change a game.
"He's like Pujols," said a scout. "There's no way to pitch him."
Hilariously, that's not even the most useless quote Stark will credit to an anonymous scout before this column is over. Wait for it- it's a doozy.
Re: a package deal of Ramirez/Ortiz
Pitch to Manny or pitch to Big Papi? Or neither? Or both? That turned into the big debate within the debate.
The term "debate" being used loosely given the divisive quality of the analysis being given.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he prefers not to mess with Ortiz. "He has a propensity for hitting in the clutch situations," Maddon said. "He just lives for the moment."
Ramirez, on the other hand, is miserable in the clutch and prefers to live for three weeks ago.
But Joe Torre picked Ramirez, even though the former Bronxian is now safe from both of them out in L.A. "He's always been one of the top five hitters in the game," Torre said of Manny. "But when gets in that 'determined' mode, he's really, really difficult to deal with."
So I guess if you're an opposing team, the key to getting through the Red Sox lineup is to try to make Ramirez hit in the moment and then force Ortiz into being determined. If you accidentally get those two backwards, the results will be disastrous.
And Toronto's John Gibbons sounded like a man who has decided you can't win either way. "The tough part of saying the guy you fear the most is Manny is, you've got Ortiz, too," Gibbons said. "When Ortiz is on, there's no point in pitching around him because then you have to face Manny."
Take notes, kids. If you want to be a big league manager one day, you have to be able to identify subtle nuances of lineup construction like Gibbons has here.
"What the hell," muttered one scout. "It's pick your poison."
Sounds like that scout has been out in the sun too long, or is maybe getting up there in years and has become disenchanted with the world around him. Anything else to offer? No? Just damned if you do, damned if you don't? Great. Be sure to forward that hot tip straight to your general manager's office the next time the Red Sox come to town. I'm sure there's something the team can do with it.
"The guy that we probably end up walking the most is Ichiro because you can't set him up," said Boston's Terry Francona. "He has a way of dictating things, depending on how he feels. Left-handers don't bother him, either. And you can't double him up. Lots of ways to beat you."
Among the top two examples Francona can come up with to explain why Ichiro is good: his ability to hit into fielders' choices.
"He hits for average, hits for power, has a great idea of the strike zone," said an NL manager who preferred not to be named.
The manager must've been afraid that if Utley found out who was saying this kind of stuff about him, he'd hit for even more average and power against the manager's team while developing an even greater idea of the strike zone.
Re: Chipper Jones
"Still the best pure hitter in the league, from both sides of the plate," said Washington's Manny Acta.
Wow, that's a little bold. But give Acta credit for not saying something like "He's really good. He'll get hits against you when your pitchers throw him the ball."
Re: Derrek Lee
"He can hit the ball out of the park," said one scout.
Remember when I said look for that fantastically useless quote from an anonymous scout?
Thanks Jayson. Don't sleep on Prince Fielder, though- there are so many ways he can beat you. And don't forget the fact that Hanley Ramirez does some great stuff when he's in the batter's box. Oh- and Miguel Cabrera really likes food.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Even when he picks a very defensible angle on a topic he still comes out sounding like a dummy.
This is that special time of the year when the nation's best freshman basketball players appear in front of the TV cameras, say that deep in their hearts they'll always be a Bruin-Wildcat-Trojan-Tiger-blah, blah, blah, and then announce their decision to leave school for "the next level."
I like how that's in quotes. As if it's worth questioning whether or not the NBA is the next level above the NCAA.
That's what UCLA's Kevin Love said: "I'm in the right spot to take my game to the next level."
That's what Kansas State's Michael Beasley said: "It's time for me to take my game to the next level."
That's what Memphis' Derrick Rose sort of said: "… I feel that it is the right time for me to take this step."
That's what Arizona's Jerryd Bayless sort of said: "It's the right time to move on."
That's what they all say: Love, Beasley, Rose, Bayless, USC's O.J. Mayo, Indiana's Eric Gordon, maybe even Beasley's K-State freshman teammate, Bill Walker. The basketball Class of 2011 just became the One and Dones.
Well, ten or so of them, anyways. The other several hundred are remaining in school, well aware that they don't have the necessary talent to compete in the NBA.
First of all, if the NCAA and the NBA really want to improve our lives, they'll outlaw the use of "the next level."
Because the NBA is really "the previous level?" Because it would be better for kids to come up with a different, untrue reason for leaving school? Sure, it's a cliche, but it's one that has enough truth to it to not bug even someone as critical as myself.
While we're at it, no athlete is allowed to say, "It's not about the money," because, dude, we know it's about the money.
Sometimes. In many cases because the athlete in question grew up with almost no money at all, and has a family they want to provide for. This cliche is worthy of being complained about when it's said by a pro athlete choosing $50 million over $30 million, but I don't see any problem when it's a college athlete choosing $15 million over $0 million.
And on a more general note, no airline pilot is allowed to say, "Well, folks, we're just waiting on some paperwork and then we'll be on our way." There is no paperwork. You're stalling. Just go ahead and tell us the flight's been delayed 40 minutes.
OK, Peter King. Thanks for the Annoying Travel Note of the Week. Tell us about how nice the concierge at the Best Western in Saskatoon was while you're at it.
Anyway, technically speaking, the "next level" for these guys is the National Basketball Developmental League. The next level after that is the NBA.
Oh, yeah, I bet you'll be seeing all of those guys you just mentioned suiting up in the D-League come this fall. No doubt about it. I'd be shocked if Gordon cracks an NBA roster before 2010. What, you think Kevin Durant just came straight out of college and started contributing for the Sonics? Poppycock.
The NBA isn't kidding when it says its league is where Amazing Happens. Amazing because the NBA forces the very best high school players to wait until they're 19 (or one year removed from their high school graduation) before they can declare for the NBA draft.
That's not amazing. It's a (kind of) well intentioned rule. If that's amazing, lots of stuff is amazing. I won't even make a list. OK, maybe just one example- cardboard boxes.
That's the only reason why Love spent a season at Westwood, Mayo at L.A., Beasley at Manhattan, Rose at Memphis, Gordon at Bloomington. What a deal. The NBA gets a free minor league system, and the college programs rent a star player for nothing more than the price of room, tuition and books.
Whether it's working out this way or not, the NBA is merely trying to improve the overall talent level in the league and prevent guys like Lenny Cooke and Taj McDavid from ruining their careers before they have a chance to get off the ground. It's not really exploitation from that angle. The NCAA is a different story, but it's not like they made the rule. They've been exploiting athletes for years, but this doesn't do much to change that. It just means they get to exploit some super-talented athletes that otherwise would have never passed through their system.
And, as usual, the player is used as a commodity. He becomes -- what's the term? -- "product."
Agreed, but I don't think the NBA sees them that way. The NCAA does, but still- not their policy, not their fault. The one-and-done rule has nothing to do with them.
USC coach Tim Floyd didn't attend Mayo's farewell news conference. But he did issue a statement thanking Mayo, who wore NBA logo socks in his final game, for "everything O.J. did for all of us the year he was with us."
What Mayo did was increase average attendance at USC's Galen Center from 5,798 a year ago to 9,647. Cha-ching.
I'm sure Floyd sees Mayo as nothing else. Just an ATM in sneakers.
Anyway, Floyd will soon welcome USC signee DeMar DeRozan, "… probably the best NBA prospect on the West Coast and maybe in the country," Floyd told the Los Angeles Times. In other words, another one and done.
Whom Floyd hopes will help him win, but only because Floyd wants more money. His motives are entirely financially motivated and have nothing to do with putting the best team possible on the floor except inasmuch as it helps him get a new contract.
Meanwhile, K-State coach Frank Martin told reporters at Beasley's recent news conference that "Mike has put our brand out there again, let people know Kansas State basketball is back, and he's put us on national television."
Branding. Television exposure. Revitalized K-State hoops. That's super.
Now then, what exactly did Kansas State do for Beasley?
What exactly does any school do for a student athlete who doesn't graduate? What's the difference between being a superstar like Beasley and leaving after a year with no diploma, or being one of the hundreds of role players every year (particularly among the ranks of men's basketball) who finish out their eligibility and have to leave school without earning a diploma? Gene has correctly identified the problem- unfortunately, he's still working on figuring out the fact that the NBA's age policy has nothing to do with it.
Sorry, but I'm not seeing the upside for the players here. Everybody conveniently benefits from this mandatory, one-year sentence except the actual freshmen. K-State gets its precious brand and TV games. USC gets its attendance spike. UCLA gets to the Final Four. Memphis does too, and coach John Calipari gets a new contract.
As for NBA teams, their scouts get a whole year to evaluate the freshman talent against college, not high school players. And here's the best part: The NCAA provides the talent free of charge!
Just like they always have! And yes, the NBA does want to give teams an extra year to evaluate talent. They're protecting their league from unnecessary dilution, and protecting unprepared players from themselves. For a year anyways. It's not much, but it's something.
In return, the players are deprived of the opportunity to go directly from high school to the NBA, even if their games are ready or near-ready.
That's the idea, yes, because many players in the past have proven to be horribly poor judges as to how ready or near-ready their games were. If they're really that good, that draft pick and those dollars will be waiting for them just a short year down the line.
They also risk injury. IU's Gordon and his left wrist can tell you all about it.
Take out an insurance policy. If they're really that good, they can afford to pay it because they'll be making big money 12 months later. This isn't that complicated.
Did I mention how academic integrity takes it in the shorts?
I'm getting very frustrated at this piece, because I know I'm not being funny or saying anything new. But really, Gene? Seriously? A buttsex joke? Academic integrity has been "taking it in the shorts" from the NCAA for decades now.
These freshman stars are only required to attend at least one semester's worth of school. Once the season is finished and they declare for the pros, anything goes. They can phone it in, skip classes or quit altogether.
Of course, the downside to that is something called the Academic Progress Rating. If a program's APR is too low, the NCAA can take away future scholarships. So if, say, Mayo, decides to quit going to classes this spring semester, USC pays the price.
OK, good. So you realize that. While it's an imperfect system, it's still a system. The NCAA has a long ways to go but they're at least trying to look like they're coming close to making an effort.
The entire arrangement needs a bar of soap and a shower. Worse yet, there's talk of the NBA possibly adding another year to the draft ban. Dumb. The NBA ought to get out of the minimum age requirement business.
After all, amazing happened when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted an 18-year-old King James, and when the Charlotte Hornets drafted a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant.
Sure, let's let the exceptions dictate the rules. Have fun pretending like there aren't dozens of high-school-to-the-NBA failures for every Kobe or LeBron. I'll be here in the real world, realizing that some promising careers might have been saved had the kids been forced to go to school and grow up a little bit before entering the league.
And the NCAA ought to get out of the enabling business. Being at school isn't the same thing as being in school. Rationalize it any way you want, but one and done is mercenary sports, nothing more.
OK Gene, I'm going to stop you right there. This is it, we're done. The NBA's fucking age rule has essentially nothing to do with the massive academic problems faced by the NCAA in revenue sports.
And no, Jermaine O'Neal, it also has nothing to do with racism. Go back to being injured and cashing enormous paychecks.
I'm sure some people out there will disagree with me or want to point out something stupid I said. I'm not around during the day to check comments and defend myself, so feel free to carry out the blogopages equivalent of suckerpunching me or kneeing me in the balls. It's fine, I won't notice. My favorite baseball team has now lost four straight games which they were leading in the 8th inning. The world of sports can't get much worse for me right now. Life is just so damn tough.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Rob Dibble, on XM's "The Show" today, speculating as to why C.C. Sabathia is having a horrific season so far:
"And on top of all that other stuff, he saw a lot of his teammates getting big extensions this offseason, and maybe that messed with him a little."
Well, Bobby, if you made your living by talking about baseball, I'd expect you to know that C.C. turned down a four year extension rumored to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 million this offseason. Is that Barry Zito or Johan Santana money? No. Is it as much (or as many years) as he can expect to command on the open market this coming winter if his 2008 numbers end up resembling his 2007 numbers? No. But if Sabathia really wanted the kind of security his teammates were being given, is it a reasonable amount of money to accept? Definitely. So, uh, as the title implies: this is definitely not anywhere close to a good excuse for C.C.'s miserable performance in 2008. Rob Dibble, just say "fuck" on the air and get fired already. Wait, XM isn't regulated by the FCC? OK, just get fired a different way then. Pull a Harold Reynolds or something. I don't care.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about whether or not Joba Chamberlain should move from the Yankee bullpen into their rotation. So let me give you mine: this is the stupidest, most worthless, most ridiculous, most rage-inducing sports story of the past five years. I cannot think of a single "talking point" - not one - that is more of a waste of the public's time than this. The first time I heard it brought up (probably immediately following New York's loss to Cleveland in the ALDS) absolutely needed to be the last. I don't care how popular the Yankees are; until he steps onto a mound to actually make his first start, this is the very definition of a non-story. Holy fucking balls, media. Stop it. Now. Stop stop stop. Fucking stop it before you make another generation of America's youth think that no matter where they live, they're required to be either Yankees or Red Sox fans. (Watch the Little League World Series this August and take notice of the kids' profiles if you don't know what I'm referring to.)
As an aside, another thing that needs to stop is the national media referring to players (or execs, for that matter) strictly by their first name. I'm tired of hearing about "Joba," "Hank," "Manny," or "Pedro." Well, the last two I might be able to stomach, since those are kind of those dudes' nicknames. But headlines like "Hank Starts Storm Over Joba's Role" are flagrantly tabloidish. The reason trashy celebrity magazines refer to "Britney" and "Angelina" in the way that they do is to try to bring the stars closer to their audience and make them feel like they actually know famous people on some level. That kind of imaginary friendship is intended to add fun, by way of drama and sensationalism, to the lives of those readers. But sports are already fun and sensational enough on their own. Fans don't need empty stories presented in a tabloidish format to stay interested.
I'm off to write another post that will contain significantly less bitching!
But sadly, it's not my job to make fun of them. It's my job to make fun of people who support them and give really awful reasons. We're talking Richard Griffin here, friends. Griff thinks that Frank Thomas was the recipient of the worst Blue Jays contract of all time.
Of 82 major-league free-agent signings in the Jays' 32-year history, the contract given to Frank Thomas on November 17, 2006, now ranks as the team's worst free-agent signing ever. Rounding out the Top-5 free-agent disasters are Erik Hanson (1996), Randy Myers (1999), Corey Koskie (2004) and A.J. Burnett (2005).
You're talking about bad Blue Jays contracts and avoiding talking about Vernon Wells's 7 year, $126M fiasco? The dude has a .268 career EqA, a solid 20 ticks below what Frank Thomas did last year. Granted, Wells signed an extension, so he wasn't technically a free agent, but come on.
With yesterday's release of Thomas, the Jays effectively gave him $18.12 million (all figures U.S.) for 696 plate appearances that produced 157 hits, 29 homers and 106 RBIs, with a .266 average.
What's wrong with that kind of production? Solid power....that batting average is a little sketchy, so you may have a point there unless Frank Thomas is really, really good at drawing walks or something....
Yes, he reached base 100 times on walks and hit-by-pitch,
See, but that's useful! You can't just shrug stuff like that off! That more than makes up for his low batting average! Oh no....unless.....
but most times that was just clogging the basepaths.
...which caused the Blue Jays to call their local basepath plumber, Humperdink McBuggins, who watched a tape of every time Frank Thomas was on base last year and came up with a estimate and told the Blue Jays, "Yo, J.P. I can fix this shiz, but it's gonna cost you 4.2 runs over the course of the season". And J.P. Ricciardi agreed in a second, because he takes his advice from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star, who estimated the unclogging cost at about 10 times that much, rendering every walk (but not single, hey why aren't singles "clogging up the basepaths" too?) pretty much useless.
And lo, McBuggins brought over his gigantic baseplunger and baseplunged away the cloggity cloggage, reduced Thomas's WARP by a mere 0.4, and then everyone lived happily ever after. The End.
The question was always where to bat the Hurt. With Thomas in the five-hole, that was a fifth right-handed bat in a row.
Oh NO! Now the opposition has a slightly easier time using situational relievers against the Blue Jays! Hey, isn't there a such thing as pinch-hitting anyone on your bench? Oh right, my bad, not everyone in baseball has the defensive skill to be a DH. I've really gotta think these things through in advance.
Plus, he forever clogged the bases with his lack of mobility ... and that is not something that has changed since GM J.P. Ricciardi reached agreement with Thomas just three days into the '06 free-agent signing period. Another thing: in that abbreviated negotiating time frame, whom was he bidding against?
Are you telling me that paying someone $9M a year to hit .277/.377/.480 is stupid?
With Thomas gone, flexibility has returned to the batting order. With Lind on his way back, there is now room for him and Stairs to both play.
Yay! We get to play a disappointing young player and a dinosaur that had a mysterious breakout at age 39!
Plus, when they go on the road for interleague games with no DH, they have 13 men that can play a position.
You hear that, White Sox? Dump Jim Thome while you still can!
Wait, there's more. Griffin wrote something on this just before Thomas was released too.
A revised DH combo of Stairs and either Rod Barajas or Marco Scutaro could be easier to slot into the batting order than was the slumping one-man roadblock that is the Hurt.
How is that "easier"? Barajas and Scutaro are way tougher to spell correctly than "Thomas". Oh...you meant better for the team. Yes, lets have a backup catcher who's career line is .239/.288/.409 be our designated hitter. No wait....how about the most .257/.321/.381 utility infielder in the history of baseball, that would be real EASY to slot into the batting order at a position DESIGNATED for the player to only be able to contribute to the team by HITTING.
Caveat: The utility infielder has the ability to make the entire crowd chant "MARCO!! ::clap clap:: SCUTARO!!" as seen in the 2006 ALCS, thereby firing up the team with his having-the-same-first-name-as-some-explorer-after-whom-a-really-annoying-childrens-pool-game-was-named-ness.
And where do you get off calling Frank Thomas a roadblock??? A "roadblock" in a lineup is someone who doesn't keep the line moving by making outs. A man who just OBPed .377 and has a career .420 OBP does NOT fall in that category.
Last season, his first with the Jays, Thomas also stumbled out of the gate. After 60 at-bats in 2007, he had 12 hits (a .200 average), two homers and five RBIs. Yet, further to his point, Frank remained in the lineup until finally righting the ship and finding his groove. This year, with three homers and 11 RBIs, he will not receive that same chance.
Let me rephrase that.
Here's a recent and insanely relevant example of a long term trend that Frank Thomas starts slow then gets his act together later. Frank Thomas started off slow this year. Therefore, cut him. Logic is great. I'm Richard Griffin. I get blazed and fornicate with donkeys every night and can no longer think clearly.
There is a bigger picture here for the Jays.
Really? Well they aren't paying any attention to it. They are taking a 10 game sample size and saying, "Our DH can't hit anymore! He sucks! He's a backup! Bench him! Don't like it? FINE! GET OUTTA MY OFFICE! GET ROD BARAJAS IN THE STARTING LINEUP ASAP!"
What's best for the team, in this case, is also best for the organization. A $10 million Thomas deal in '09 would become untradeable, the worst-case scenario for a largest-ever Toronto payroll that has scraped the $100 million mark.
Paying $10M for a pretty useful player? Horrendous! Hey, isn't this the team that wants to start Shannon Stewart in LF every day and release Reed Johnson? Vernon Wells is worth 7 years, right? B.J. Ryan and A.J. Burnett....they have awesome health records....don't they? But ZOMG! WHAT IF WE CAN'T TRADE FRANK THOMAS????
Thomas as a bench player can't play a position.
He can't do that as a starter either.
I can't wait for you to print your mailbag. I want to discuss how retarded this decision is some more. I didn't think the Blue Jays offense could get worse this year, but wow....just wow. Congratulations Toronto. Way to completely waste the success of a very promising pitching staff by sinking your offensive production into a wide, wide, Barajas-shaped hole. Watch out, David Ortiz.....your team might suddenly decide that Sean Casey and Kevin Cash need at-bats more than you do.
(I want to clarify the source of my -4.2 runs for Thomas's baserunning. The stat is Equivalent Baserunning Runs, which are calculated by Dan Fox in his excellent essay in Baseball Prospectus 2008 entitled "The Tortoise, The Hare, and Juan Pierre." The calculations are easy to follow and make a ton of sense. As it turns out, in a typical year like 2007, the difference between the best baserunner in the league (Juan Pierre, +11.6 EqBRR) and the worst (Ryan Garko, -8.8 EqBRR) is about two wins. And yet Pierre still isn't better than Garko. When taken in a team sense, the best baserunning team in baseball (Phillies) was between 3 and 3.5 wins better than the worst (Astros). So yeah. Baserunning. Not that big a deal. Just thought I'd share....it was a pretty interesting analysis.)
Sunday, April 20, 2008
During tonight's Mets/Phillies game, Joe had this to offer re: a video of Jose Reyes nearly sustaining an injury the night before when his head collided with Chase Utley's knee during an attempted steal:
"You see, he slides headfirst, which is the most dangerous way to slide because all kinds of things can happen."
1. Sliding feet first is probably less dangerous, but still puts you at risk for a plethora of potential injuries. "All kinds of things" can happen to your lower body just as easily as they can to your upper body. It's just the fragility of your head and hands that make going headfirst the riskier option.
2. I think Joe means more, rather than most, dangerous. Unless you count the "spread eagle flop," which hasn't been attempted in a game by anyone since Cappy "No Nuts" Williams in 1934, there are only two ways to slide.
I know that second point involves placing an awfully high level of scrutiny on someone as dumb as Joe, but how else was I going to get a dick joke into the post?
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Marty Brennaman's perspective on Cubs fans: [per chris w]
Here's the thing:
This debate is essentially a question of elitism.
I've realized that my problems with Cubs fans are rooted in their unabashed lack of baseball knowledge and general boorish behavior [both at Wrigley and in Cincinnati]. That's what I was getting at in my last post, when I criticized Paul Daughtery for suggesting that the Reds ought to embrace the Cubs' ability to draw fans.
Considering two of the comments on my most recent post, I realized that it boils down to a larger question about professional sports:
Is the purpose of a baseball team [or any other sports team] to provide entertainment, play good baseball, profit the owners, or something else?
In my somewhat-elitist point of view, the priority is to play good baseball. This is also because I believe that well-played baseball provides entertainment and can generate profit.
However, considering there are quite a number of people in society who don't have an appreciation for well-played baseball as I do, baseball is often an entertainment-provider. It's true that when people go to sit in the bleachers at Wrigley, it's for Take Me Out To the Ballgame, Right Field Sucks and Old Style. The Anonymous commenter properly suggested that a good model might be the Red Sox, who have hordes of annoying fans (perhaps even worse than the Cubs and Yankees) but still manage to play good baseball.
Obviously, if I were a Red Sox fan, I would be pleased at the quality of baseball in Fenway Park - but I still might be more than a little pissed at the quality of fans in Fenway Park. I'd hope that most franchises aspire to cultivate a fan base who appreciate good baseball. For my money, actually, the franchise that best approximates this is the Cardinals - reasonably informed fans and reasonably successful teams.
To conclude: I'm with the elitists here. I'm willing to castigate Cubs fans for being morons. I think it should be a franchise's goal to win games - and it can surely help you win games if you draw a lot of fans and generate a lot of income. But I think it's antithetical to the goal of winning games if you pursue entertainment over baseball, as the Cubs have done. So, maybe I'm an elitist, but I've never had a problem with that anyways.
Here's a guy who ascertains the real problems: [pretty bad language. nsfw. or kids. but it's still hilarious].
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A recent article from the Cincinnati Enquirer: Wrigley has Reds green with ivy
This is not going to stand. I will not go quietly into that blogged night.
On a 50-degree Tuesday night with the wind blowing 20 miles an hour, the Chicago Cubs played baseball in front of a full house at Wrigley Field. On a 60-degree Thursday afternoon in the full sunshine two weeks ago, the Cincinnati Reds worked before a crowd of 12,000.Well, that sucks. It's too bad that Daughtery will not mention that 2.8 million people live in the incorporated areas of Chicago, while 332,000 live in Cincinnati. Even if you divide the Chicago fans evenly between the two teams [and that's a generous split for the Sox], that's 1.4 million per; approximately four times the number of sheer people available to go to the game.
Thursday afternoon, the finale for the Reds in Chicago, the bleachers at Wrigley will fill like a suitcase on a trip overseas. Half the people packing the seats won’t know who wins. Or care.
Paul- get a clue. This is a bad thing. This is the reason that the Cubs have lost for a century: their fan base does not hold them accountable for winning.
The following night in Cincinnati, the Reds will host the Milwaukee Brewers. If 25,000 show up, we’ll throw a parade.
This is not true. Paul is exaggerating.
Cubs ownership might have lucked into mastering the biggest factor in drawing big baseball crowds now.
There is no "might". It happens that the "relatively undeveloped area" around the ballpark when it was built in 1914 is now a relatively developed neighborhood with a fair amount of affluent people around it.
Or they might have drawn up a detailed plan and executed it like an around-the-horn double play.
They didn't. Cub ownership is, to put it frankly, stupid. Ernie Broglio.
Beats me. It doesn’t matter.Yes, it does. You're about to argue that the Reds need to mimic the Cubs' model. It does matter.
The Reds are at an interesting crossroads. They have an engaged ownership that wants to win. Ownership has hired bright, enthusiastic people to push the product. But winning takes money and money means ticket sales and these days, ticket sales means attracting people who wouldn't know Johnny Cueto from Johnny Appleseed. It's what they do at Wrigley Field.If this was true, the Cubs and Yankees would win a lot more World Series. But, as we know, winning doesn't take money. Ask those asshole Marlins who flaunt their rings around to the seventeen fans who came to their games.
Where does baseball rank on a trip to Wrigley? In front of a pilgrimage to Murphy's Bleachers, or behind? Ahead of a Ferris Bueller afternoon, or a distant second? The Cubs could finish out of the money every year for a century and still fill The Friendly Confines. In fact, they've done exactly that.
THIS IS A BAD THING. THIS SUGGESTS THAT CUB FANS DON'T CARE ABOUT BASEBALL.
Going to Wrigley is about seeing your Cubbies win, but only tangentially. It's more about the neighborhood, the Old Style, the ivy, the bleachers, Waveland, Sheffield, celebs singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," day games, sunshine, the lake, Harry Caray's ghost, memories of Sammy and The Hawk and Ernie Banks. Let's drink two. At least.
Ugh. This is making me ill. I'm proud to say the Cubs have gotten their shit kicked in every time I've gone to Wrigley and I've enjoyed the schadenfreude thoroughly. Going to Wrigley, for me, is about seeing the myth of Cubs-fans'-fun die a miserable death at the hands of real baseball teams. And I'm not the only one:
This is exactly the atmosphere the Reds have to cultivate to succeed.
Not true. Not true at all. It's simply not true that you have to cultivate a culture of ignorant-but-disposably0-wealthy fans to win games.
Because here is a hard truth in Baseball Town: The game's not enough anymore.
I like the name Baseball town. I'd rather have my city called Baseball Town than Crumbling Stadium With Generally Losing Team That's Fun To Go Watch Town.
It must kill the Reds' marketers to see the Bengals sell out entire seasons when the football team generally stinks and its marketing plan consists of printing schedule cards and opening the gates. In the midst of yet another unsuccessful season, the Bengals last season drew the two largest crowds in the history of Paul Brown Stadium.
The NFL has eight games and a salary-cap. Not a useful comparison at all in this situation. I am getting pissed off. This is a terrible article.
But unless the Reds succeed at making GABP a destination for entertainment first and baseball second, they will lag. This is why vetoing the Broadway Commons site always will be the biggest sports mistake the team and town have ever made. With its proximity to a then-thriving Main Street bar district, Broadway offered a vision of a Wrigleyville South: Come for the party, stay for the game. Return to the party.
Now, Daughtery goes back to the 1996 vote where Hamilton County taxpayers selected a Riverfront site over a slightly-uptown site. He has a point about developing a sustainable neighborhood around a ballpark. That is a good thing. This could have been a reasonable article about creating sustainable development around GABP.
But no, it was an ode to ignorance. The Cubs have built a culture of losing, Paul. The Reds need to avoid that. At all costs. I'd like to see another World Series title in Cincinnati. I don't want to wait eighty-two more years.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The number of posts I'm able to make is a bit limited these days. As for which writers I should cover in the process of formulating these posts, there's a part of me that says I should use this opportunity to diversify and find real pieces of garbage from lesser-known sources. With two or three days to find something before taking the time to write about it, after all, I should have some sort of "pick" of some sort of "litter" compared to back when I was putting up something new every night. On the other hand, though, there's a part of me that just wants to continue my mindless bitching about Bill Simmons. Let's just say that internal debate was settled easily.
This is the conclusion to a two part column in which Bill ranked a large handful of NBA players in terms of value this season, all the way from Stephon Marbury at No. 450 to, holy fucking shitballs this is a surprise, Kevin Garnett at No. 1. I don't really have huge problems with 90% of the column(s). I know there are plenty of NBA fans out there that are tortured by his often-shitty analysis, but I can't help but consider most of what he says about "The League" to be not that bad when you compare it to his NFL and (particularly) MLB work. So in general, the whole rankings thing comes off OK. Until, of course, we arrive at KG and Bill's reasoning for choosing him as MVP.
This is not journalism. This is horrid, pathetic, and embarrassing. This is an insult to Mike Celzic and anything he could ever write about Derek Jeter. It's an insult to Bill Plaschke and anything he could ever write about Juan Pierre. It's an insult to anything that has ever been written about David Eckstein or Darin Erstad. This is so bad, I honestly don't know how to begin picking it apart. Fortunately, Simmons breaks the ice for me with a hilarious opening clause.
1. Kevin Garnett
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way so you don't think this is a homer vote:
Oh. Ahhhhh. OK, so it's not a homer vote. Say no more. I was thinking to myself, "During a year in which pretty much everyone and his parole officer has agreed that Kobe is the MVP pick, if a huge Celtics fan makes a case for Garnett it's probably because he's being a homer." But then you come along and tell me that that's not the case at all! I really appreciate the clarification.
This is like your friend trying to convince you that his bitch of a girlfriend is actually a nice person. "Dude, I know you're going to think I'm only saying this because I'm dating her, but hear me out." Of course, when you're in a situation like that, your friend eventually breaks up with the girl and admits she was a cunt. Bill will take his blind and clueless homerism to his grave.
I don't think Garnett is the most talented player in the league;
No one has thought this since 2005.
I don't trust him at the end of games because he gets too wound up; it drives me crazy that he relies on his fall-away so much (especially in fourth quarters);
and I'd rather have Tim Duncan for a playoff series if my life depended on it.
I like how this is phrased as a reluctant concession to Duncan fans. One of those players has four motherfucking rings (all but one obtained as the best player on his team). The other has one has two motherfucking playoff series wins. If your life really depended on it, and you racked your brain for hours over the decision, you might decide that Duncan is the better bet? Good.
Of course, none of that stuff matters in an MVP discussion.
The first and last items on that list do not. The second and third though, about late game performance? Well, two of Bill's own criteria for picking an MVP (which I don't necessarily agree with, but I'm willing to consider as starting points) are:
Question No. 2: In a giant pickup game with every NBA player waiting to play, and two fans forced to pick sides with their lives depending on the outcome of the game (I think this is how the annual Rucker League tournament works, by the way), who would be the first player picked based on the way everyone played that season? Question No. 3: If you replaced every MVP candidate with a decent player at their position for the entire season, what would be the effect on their teams' records?
If only Bill weren't so popular, and such a catastrophic pile of asshole, I bet he would take the time to answer an email inquiring as to how this list and the above claim about late game performance are compatible. Alas, since he'd obviously never reply to that email, you'll have to try to quilt an answer together on your own. Good luck. I got nothin'.
He's the one guy everyone will remember from this regular season (sorry, Kobe);
"Everyone" in this case meaning, of course, Celtics fans. Don't get me wrong; plenty of people will remember Garnett changing teams, because that's a cool and relevant story. But the actual performance on the court is a different story, in this non-Celtic non-Laker fan's opinion. There's a chance it's only because my favorite team is in the West, but I would definitely say that Kobe's overall performance was more "rememberable" this year.
and he was worth a 30-win swing to the Celtics this season.
Interesting. My paperwork here says he was only worth 26 wins, but I guess you could be right. That would mean the combined sum of adding Ray Allen and James Posey and having several young contributors (Rondo, Perkins, Powe) get another season under their belts was worth 11 wins. As in, this Celtics team minus Garnett and plus Al Jefferson wins 35 games and misses the playoffs. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmbullshit.
In other words, he's the first choice for two of my three MVP questions.
In other words, he's the choice for your first MVP question (not listed by me, but it's about that remembrance bullshit) and you offer absolutely no evidence as to how he fulfills the other two.
But that's not why I'm picking him. On May 22, professional basketball was effectively murdered in Boston.
Christ on a crutch. Holy fish sticks. You. Fucking. Crybaby. Someone call the whaaaaaaaaaaaambulance for Bill, because he's got his ovaries all twisted up. The history of the NBA draft is fucking littered with teams that expected to get a top 3 pick and were denied by some cruel bounce of a ping pong ball. It happens all the stinking time. Guess what? It happened to Boston last year. Guess what else? That doesn't mean you can write a sentence like that. Ray Lewis didn't drive up to Boston, find a physical manifestation of the nebulous concept of basketball, and murder it like a Super Bowl partier. A professional sport is "effectively murdered" in a town when a team moves away, a one-of-a-kind-once-in-a-generation superstar leaves as a free agent, or someone prominently involved with a team actually dies. Losing the lottery and picking 5th when your record indicated you should be picking 2nd IS NOT ON THAT LIST OR ANYWHERE NEAR IT.
Sorry about that. Here comes the Ecksteiny part.
Garnett transformed every single facet of the franchise upon his arrival, from playing for the Celtics to coaching them to following them to owning them to working for them. What he did can't be measured by statistics; it can't even be measured in a few paragraphs like the section you're reading right now. It would belittle what he did.
He transformed the culture of the team. He taught everyone to care about defense, to care about practice, to care about being a professional, to care about leaving everything they had on the court, to stop caring about stats and start caring about wins.
He single-handedly transformed the careers of three young players (Rajon Rondo, Leon Powe, and Kendrick Perkins), one veteran (Pierce) and one coach (Doc Rivers), all five of whom could have gone the other way. He played every exhibition game like it was the seventh game of the Finals. During blowouts, he stood on the sidelines and cheered on his teammates like it was a tight game; because of that, the bench guys did the same thing for the starters and basically turned into a bunch of giddy scrubs on a 14-seed in a March Madness upset during every game.
Most offensive. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone: this was not a homer pick. OK? Got it? None of this is being written because Bill loves the Celtics. The analysis is all 100% objective. Just thought I'd keep that in your brain as you wade through this.
The best word for him would either be "contagious" or "selfless." By Thanksgiving, the entire team was emulating him. Every time a young player got carried away with himself during a game -- like the time Perkins started going for his own stats, or the time Rondo snapped at his coach --
Who could forget!
KG was there to set him straight and scare the living hell out him. Every time one of his teammates was intimidated, KG had his back. Every time one of his teammates got knocked down, KG rushed over to pick him up; eventually, four teammates were rushing over to help that fifth guy up, and that's just the way it goes with the team now. Every time an opponent kept going for a shot after a whistle, KG defiantly blocked the shot just out of principle, and eventually, everyone started doing it. No shots after the whistle against the Celtics. That was the rule.
Boy, sounds frightening. They're so badass that they don't let you take shots that don't count. I bet that saves them zero points a game! If I captained a baseball team and wanted to develop a similar rule about how my guys would intimidate opponents, it would be: no running through first base on a groundout. You will be hit by the right fielder, and hit hard.
A couple of umbrella statements, really quickly: first, remember again that this opinion has nothing to do with Bill's Celtic fandom. And also keep in mind that we are being asked to believe that an aircraft carrier full of anecdotal bullshit is why Garnett a) would be picked first if two fans had every player available and wanted to draft teams to get a game going and b) is more irreplaceable than Kobe or LeBron.
It was a series of little things, baby steps if you will, but they added up to something much bigger.
Stolen from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch piece about Eckstein, 10/30/2006. Also, time for another reminder- Bill is not saying any of this because he's a Celtics fan.
You can't measure Garnett's impact with individual statistics, but these numbers seem pretty relevant: 24 (number of '07 Celtics wins); 16 (number of '08 Celtics losses); four (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston after the KG trade);
Apparently P.J. Brown and Scot Pollard are now considered "useful." Also, clearly, those guys (plus Posey and Sam Cassell) came to the Celtics strictly because of KG's "contagious" and "selfless" personality and specifically not because they wanted to be a part of one of the best overall teams in the league. If KG had the same talent but the disposition of Shaq? Forget about it. No Scot Pollard and his 1.8 points per game for you, Boston.
0 (number of useful free agents who signed with Boston in the 15 years before that);
I don't know or care enough about the Celtics to research that, but I'm going to guess that it's patently false. Particularly if Pollard and Brown are "useful." (He is talking about those two, right? If he's not, feel free to punch me in the face for being an ass next time we see each other in person.)
10.2 (Boston's point differential this season, and by the way, that's a historic number);
Historic how? I guess we'll just have to leave that unqualified. It's just... historic. Hey, Atlanta's differential was a historic -1.8. They've never recorded it before. Therefore, historic.
three (number of Texas teams they beat on the road in a four-day span, as well as their total number of double-digit defeats this season);
Whoop-de-fuck on both counts, especially when trying to determine an MVP.
4,753 (estimated number of Teammate Hugs during games this season, shattering the record of the '84 Lakers); 42 (field-goal percentage for Boston opponents this season); 41 (number of home sellouts this season); and 3-to-2 (their odds to win the 2008 title).
Also consider: sine July 2, 2007, more than 150,000 Garnett jerseys have been sold in Boston.
OK, I made that up.
Look at the Celtics last year and look at them this year. Does any of the good stuff happen without Garnett? Any of it?
Is.... is that rhetorical? You mean, like, if they still traded for Ray Allen, still kept the same core of young players, and added Al Jefferson back into the mix in place of Garnett? Unless "the good stuff" is defined as having a guy that looks like a space alien sign late in the season as a backup point guard and winning 65 games instead of 61, the answer is: yes. All of it.
Maybe his MVP campaign lost some stream when he missed 10 games earlier in the season, and I have to admit, even I shifted my attention toward Kobe, Paul and LeBron these past two months.
Thanks for bringing that up- not only did he miss those games, but he wasn't at 100% for at least 5 games after he made his comeback. So he missed 20% of the season, basically. But hey- he made people care, man. He made them care. He hustled and gristled and scooted and gritted. You can't put a value on that, unless it's a made-up value related to winning an MVP bestowed on a player by a huge fan of his team.
During a conversation with my father last weekend, I mentioned the MVP "argument" and he quickly responded with a fired-up rant that was very unlike my Pops. I'll do my best to paraphrase it:
Here we go. This will finally settle the MVP debate, once and for all. I won't lie- even though Bill promised at the beginning of this segment that he wasn't picking Garnett for homerish reasons, I've been a little unsure as to whether or not that was really the case. But I'm confident that as soon as we add his father's objective opinion to the mix, the doubt will finally leave my mind and I will be sure that these gentlemen are expressing their opinions on this matter without any regard to personal bias. I can't wait.
"Argument? There's no argument, it's Garnett.
Sold. You had me from "no." As in, "no way do this man and his son hold this opinion because they're Celtics fans! That's being a homer, and this choice (it said so at the beginning!) is not a homer choice."
I went to almost every home game. He's standing on the bench screaming for his teammates when we're up 30 points. He's a maniac! A few weeks ago, I couldn't go to a Wednesday night game so I put my tickets online and they sold in four minutes. Four minutes!
Who says the buyer wasn't actually going to see someone else, like Brian Scalabrine? These are Boston fans we're talking about here. What are the odds a black player was directly responsible for their desire to shell out big bucks to attend a sporting event? In other words, how about that Wes Welkah? Fachkin' amazin' what that guy dahs on the fayuld.
Last year, I would have been walking around my office asking if anyone wanted to go, and I would have probably ended up eating the tickets.
Because the Celtics blew last year, stupid. Obviously Garnett is partially responsible for their turnaround and deserves credit for that, but really? All 41 games worth? Or even 30? Dubious.
This year? Four minutes. Who did more for a team in one year? We lost 18 straight games last season. We were nothing. Didn't you watch the games? How could anyone be more valuable than KG was this season?"
Well, if you ask Bill, by 1) being more rememberable, 2) being the first overall pick in an imaginary pick-up game draft, and 3) being less replaceable. For item 1, I'll call it a toss up between Kobe and Garnett. For item 2, I'm going Kobe, then LeBron, then Garnett. For item 3, I'll go LeBron, then Kobe, then Garnett. So although that's a bunch of bullshit, it's based on your son's bullshit and answers your question.
It's a great question, and since I couldn't answer it without sounding like a fool, Kevin Garnett gets my MVP vote for 2008. Just remember, the "V" stands for "valuable."
Yes. It does. Good. There's nothing clever about that, and everyone already knows it. Being reminded of it does nothing for anyone because it's an incredibly nebulous concept. Thanks for ending your column with something that resembles a poorly conceptualized corporate slogan. ESPN: Just remember, the "P" stands for "programming."
I would like to add that Matt Holliday was fucking robbed of the NL MVP last year, and I'm not at all saying that because I'm a Rockies fan.