Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Bad Old Writing

Figurative language is a dangerous thing when employed by a man named Mark Sheldon. I know the Reds have been pretty bad since the ASG, but I wouldn't wish this sort of writing on any team except maybe the Cubs.

CINCINNATI -- With a day-night doubleheader looming for the Reds on Monday, manager Dusty Baker wanted to protect his bullpen like a lioness and her cubs or a college freshman and the last slice of pizza.


I mean, I guess I understand the similes, but... what?

Unfortunately for Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, quality starts and victories are mixing like oil and water lately.


Oh, I get it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I've Got a Bone to Pick with MSNBC's HR Department.....

Celizic wrote again. I continue to wonder what anyone ever saw in this guy.

Time for Manny, Torre to earn their keep
As the Dodgers struggle, focus should be on star, manager

You could focus on how Raffy Furcal shit the bed this year, or how someone sapped Russell Martin's power. You could focus on the fact that the first baseman can't slug his way out of a paper bag, or the fact that injuries have dilapidated the rotation to the point where knucklejunkit Chuck Haeger made a start (and will make another today) for arguably the best team in baseball. You could look at a little bad luck, or the fact that their "decline" is more rooted in how hot the Colorado Rockies are than how less-than-good the Dodgers are playing.

But you can ABSOLUTELY NOT focus on a guy who doesn't play for the team, or THE FUCKING STAR LEFT FIELDER HITTING .306/.424/.536. Remember these slash stats. You will be seeing them many times in this post.

When the Dodgers opened the vault to hire Joe Torre, it was because of his ability to manage teams under playoff stress. And when they dug deep to sign Manny Ramirez, it was because of his ability to drag a team into the playoffs by his dreadlocks.

Which he is failing miserably at to the tune of .306/.424/.536.

This would be a good time for both to live up to their reputation: Torre as the unflappable leader whose teams never panic, even when they can’t buy a win; Manny as one of baseball’s most reliable RBI machines.

The Dodgers are 6-4 in their last 10....they can't BUY a win.

And Manny sucks too. .306/.424/.536.

Nobody’s blaming Torre for what could be a memorable collapse should the Rockies continue their torrid pace and the Dodgers fail to remember how to win. At least not in Los Angeles, they aren’t.

The Dodgers are 12-14 this month. Vulnerable, but saying that they "forgot how to win", is insane. Most very good teams have at least one month like this.

And so the blame for the Dodger doldrums is falling squarely on the shoulders of Manny.

Ex....cuse me? You're pointing the finger at the best offensive player on the team, (who, might I add, is hitting .306/.424/.536)?

Normally, calling one player on the carpet for a team’s problems is too simplistic. But in this case, it’s not.

Mike Celizic has thoroughly analyzed the performances of everyone on the roster and has come to the conclusion that Manny Ramirez is the problem. He tried several different methods, and all of them output that Manny is the problem. I'm serious.



Naw, I'm kidding. He just figured out his batting average since the All-Star break and cited some freakish RBI stats.

If Manny were even half the player he was last year, the Dodgers would be comfortably in first place

1) The Dodgers are (sort of) comfortably in first place.
2) You're blaming Manny for not repeating one of the best two-month performances of all-time.
3) .306/.424/.536

and I’d probably be writing yet another column about the — groan! — AL East.

At least you recognize what a fuckstick you are about your writing topics.

At this time last year, Manny was as awesome a force as you’ll see. After arriving from Boston, he averaged an RBI a game and dragged L.A. into the playoffs.

Yes. This, Mike Celizic, is not what we in the baseball world called "normal". We call this superhumanly clutch, or fluketasticly spectacular. No one in the world can do that on a monthly basis.

He signed a short but sweet contract in the spring, took nearly two months off early in the season to serve a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy, came back with his signature dreads longer than ever, and then disappeared.

It's true. Ask opposing pitchers whether they noticed the guy hitting .306/.424/.536. Nowhere to be seen.

Brett Favre was better down the stretch for the Jets last year than Manny has been in August for L.A. John Smoltz wasn’t as bad for the Red Sox this year than Manny has been for the Dodgers.

First of all, who the hell is "Brett Favre"?


A guy who had averaged a 55.4 passer rating and a 2/9 TD/INT over the last 5 games of the regular season, and a guy with an 8.32 ERA weren't as bad for their respective teams than the supreme junkiest player in sports, who has been hitting .306/.424./.536.


I give up. If he doesn't get fired for writing that, I don't think he ever will.

He’s been so bad he got booed in Dodgers Stadium the other day when he misplayed a ball into a triple and put another 0-for-4 in the box score in another loss.


Dodgers fans aren’t given to booing — it takes too much energy and demands that the spectators actually pay attention to the game.

Mike Celizic isn't given to facts - they take too much research and demand that the writer actually follow the sport in question.

But even Dodgers fans have their limits, and Manny has found them with one of the worst months he’s probably ever had in his career.

Manny Ramirez, August: .306/.424/.536.

Naw, just kidding. It's .287/.391/.415. Quit dragging down the universe, Manny.

Through Sunday’s games, Manny had played 22 games in August. In two of those games, he performed like Manny, getting a home run and three RBIs in each of them. In the other 20 games, he has zero home runs and a grand total of six RBIs, a hitting pace that a lot of pitchers have little trouble keeping up with. He’s driven in just one run in his last dozen games.

Congratulations. You've found the worst possible way to evaluate a person's month-long performance in history.

He’s hitting .303 on the season, but only .254 since the All-Star break.

I told you there would be some dumb batting average-related thing in here.

The Dodgers are not a bad hitting team.

Uh huh.....

They lead the National League in team batting average and on-base percentage.

Which is "not bad", as you said.

Normally, that’s a sure formula for winning baseball. And when Manny’s driving in runs, it is.

Manny Ramirez is the only player on the Los Angeles Dodgers responsible for driving in runs. It's actually impossible for James Loney and Andre Ethier to do it.

The Dodgers are third in the NL in scoring, with 603 runs. But they’re 10th in slugging percentage

Clearly the fault of that .536-slugging Manny. By the way, Manny's complete line for the season? .306/.424/.536

All other things being equal, when Manny is hitting, they win. When he’s not hitting, they have problems.

When you set all other factors equal in two scenarios, the performance of the one variable factor will pretty much determine the difference in outcome of the two scenarios.

And that's totally how it's worked with the Dodgers this year.

So far, there’s no sign that Torre has done anything to light a fire under Manny.

No need to strike a match to ignite a fully spreading-and-dangerous wildfire.

Right now, nobody’s blaming Torre for that. But if things continue to go badly in Colorado and if that once huge lead continues to erode like a sand castle in a hurricane, somebody’s going to bring it up.

And if they don’t, they should.

Three-oh-six, four-twenty-four, five-thirty-six.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Mixed Bag of Silly Baseball Comments

Dayn Perry's overly stilted introduction to his article on disappointing baseball players and teams:

Great expectations -- so much more than a heavy-handed Dickensian romp! In this case, we're talking great expectations unmet.

What? I guess when you dial up Dayn Perry's articles, you can expect a nickel's worth of baseball insight as well as a nickel's worth of literary criticism.


An article regarding several recent disputes between batterymates:

"The very best pitch a pitcher can throw is the one he throws with his heart," said Brent Mayne, a veteran of 15 seasons and author of the book "The Art of Catching."

I think I know what Mr. Mayne is trying to say here... but (*&^ the heck, Brent, you can't throw baseballs with your heart!


From a pretty pointless article where MLB player Ron Hunt, famous for being hit by a pitch a lot, was asked for his perspective on several recent mound chargings:

"I don't understand what is happening with all of this stuff," said Hunt from his home in Wentzville, Mo. "Maybe it's a case of me being 'old school' but it seems like they don't play the game the right way anymore."

I wish someone would take a poll of retired major leaguers and ask a simple question:
Do players today play the game the right way?

Hunt didn't establish himself as a player noted for being hit by pitches until he was traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers to the San Francisco Giants after the 1967 season.

"It was so cold in that ballpark in San Francisco that we had to wear everything we could under our uniforms to stay warm," recalls Hunt. "We bundled up so much it was hard to get loose and swing the bat. I just decided that I was going to crowd the plate, not give in, and hit the ball up the middle and do whatever it took to get to first base."

Apparently "playing the game the right way" means having such little confidence in one's hitting skill that it requires crowding the plate and hoping to get hit by a pitch.

That's playing the game the right way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Season, Same Dumbassery from Easterbrook

From Easterbrook's AFC Preview:

Touchdowns are pretty good stuff in football; players who produce touchdowns would seem to have value. Yet of the top 10 active NFL touchdown producers, six [were cut] (Terrell Owens,

Who was cut for salary/distraction reasons and quickly signed by The Bills, who were one of many teams competing for Owen's services.

Marvin Harrison

Washed up over a year ago.

Edgerrin James

Hasn't averaged 4 yards per carry since leaving the Colts, expensive.

Joey Galloway

38 years old, played in 9 games last year and caught 13 passes.

Tony Gonzalez

An expensive luxury that a rebuilding team couldn't afford.

Torry Holt


a seventh (LaDainian Tomlinson) was told to take a pay cut or hit the road

Had the worst year of his career last year and is signed to a large salary.

Only three of the top 10 active touchdown producers (Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce and Clinton Portis) were asked back without reservation by their teams.

Moss: Still one of the best 3 WR's in the game, relatively cheap salary.
Bruce: Cheap.
Clinton Portis: Still one of the best RB's in the game.

Of course, aging athletes often lose their ability to gain yards and score points -- though something tells me several mentioned in the above paragraphs will end up with more productive 2009 seasons than the younger players who got their roster slots.

The Rams and Chiefs know that they're probably not going to get better production out of the guys who replace Holt and Gonzo, but they can be assured that they won't be paying them big salaries, and they're not going to compete anyway.

Yet with the prominent exception of Brett Favre, the NFL seems increasingly eager to toss aside highly productive stars and coaches, handing their positions to people you've never heard of.

Just off the top of my head: Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, LT, OchoCinco, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Ben Roethlisburger, Hines Ward. Highly productive stars who have yet to be given the boot.

Could this be economic? In almost every case, the player or coach hired to replace an aging on-field or sideline star is paid less. NFL owners and general managers may increasingly be thinking, "Why pay for big names when we can drag some guy in off the street and no one will know the difference?" If this is what NFL owners and general managers are thinking, it's a slippery slope. As TMQ reminds, there is no law of nature that mandates the NFL must remain super-popular. Any sense that corners are being cut would be terrible for the sport.

See if you can follow Gregg's logic:

1. NFL teams are more and more likely to cut productive players to save money.
2. Despite NFL free agent salaries being determined by a free market, those new free agents inexplicably go unsigned, and therefore, do something besides play in the NFL.
3. The NFL talent pool declines.


I plan to use Twitter strictly to let readers know when the column posts. As soon as a new TMQ is up on Tuesdays, I'll send out a tweet. I don't plan to clog your laptop or cell phone with running commentary

I would pay good money to subscribe to a TMQ stream of consciousness Twitter feed. Here are some examples of the ensuing posts I would enjoy:

the_smartest_man_alive12: PHL punting 4th and 3 their own 45 in 1st q. Avg play = 5 yards. Buck buck bawk!

the_smartest_man_alive12: @the_tastefully_named_spencer_easterbrook: I just wrote 'game over' in my book too!

the_smartest_man_alive12: @the_tastefully_named_spencer_easterbrook: How did you delete your post saying 'game over' for PHL?

the_smartest_man_alive12: @the_tastefully_named_spencer_easterbrook: I TOLD YOU TO KNOCK WHEN I'M WRITING THE CHEERLEADER SECTION OF TMQ!

the_smartest_man_alive12: Ohio State is ahead of Akron by 13 in the 2nd quarter and they're still passing!

the_smartest_man_alive12: Did you see all the factual inaccuracies regarding Texas 4a football in tonight's FNL ep? WTF!?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hey John Kruk, Get Your Head out of Your Ass

Hello there, Tubby. Put down that bacon and have a look at this. It's the National League Wild Card standings, as of last Sunday night.

Team GB
Colorado 0.0
San Francisco 3.0
Atlanta 4.0
Florida 5.0

Guess what you said that night on national TV?

The wild card is the Braves' to lose.

You really said that. You bumblefuck. You imbecile. You fatheaded, knuckle-dragging moron. Back in June, you said you thought the Mets would win the Wild Card. That's fine. I got upset about it, partially because I'm a Rockies fan (meaning I was acting all butthurt), and partially because the reasoning you used to back up your opinion was shoddy at best. But at least it was a reasonable opinion to have, in and of itself. There really was nothing wrong with thinking the Mets were a decent WC contender back then. I'm sure 90% of optimistic Mets fans could have made a more persuasive argument than you did but that's OK. At least your starting point was acceptable.

That's not the case here.

Maybe if the 1927 Yankees were trailing the 1962 Mets and 1998 Marlins in the WC race by three and four games, respectively, on August 24, you could say the playoff berth was "the Yankees' to lose." But here we're dealing with a group of reasonably similar teams. They all have strengths; they all have weaknesses; some are stronger/weaker than others in certain areas. I am of the opinion that the Rockies are the best of the four, but hey, I could be wrong. How might we figure out who's best?

By simple statistics? The Rockies have the best OPS+ of the group and an OPS+ well over 100 (admittedly, the Braves and Giants have better staffs). They also play better defense than any of their WC competitors.

What about by ease of remaining schedule? The Rockies also play 21 of their final 32 at home, with a schedule that is arguably easier than Atlanta's or San Fran's. Food for thought, no pun intended.

What about momentum? Two months ago, the Braves were 5.5 games out of the WC lead. A month ago, they were 3.5 out. After Sunday's games, they were 4 games back. (Now 5.5 back. Oops!) It's not like they've been on some kind of torrid hot streak. Colorado DOES happen to be 52-22 since July 2, 2006 or June 3, 2009, I don't remember which.

What about nerdy stat stuff used for predictions? Baseball Prospectus's playoff odds calculator placed their chances of making the postseason as of Sunday night at just over 10%. It's also not like they've got a great pythagorean record, and are due to go on some kind of hot streak. No, in fact, there is no indication of any sort that the WC is the Braves' to lose.


Look, I'm not saying the Rockies will win the WC. They very well may not. (BP's playoff odds have them at a 61% chance to win it as of now.) I wouldn't say it's "theirs to lose." I wouldn't say it's any team's "to lose" right now. But if you don't think the Rockies have the best shot of this bunch to win it... you are a fucking dunce. If you want to go one step further, and hint that if they're going to win it they'll need to snatch it away (a corollary of it being "the Braves' to lose," I suppose) from someone else, you're a fucking dunce with clown shoes on. There is no hope for you. You have zero credibility. You should be fired and deported to Mongolia so you can't bother anyone with your opinions anymore. Fuck you. Fuck you and fuck your NL East bias. YOU DIDN'T EVEN PLAY FOR THE BRAVES, PIEFACE. FUCK YOU.

Hey, you know, the Rockies are only 2 games back of the Dodgers for the NL West title. I guess it's theirs to lose, huh?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Irony is Awesome

Two days after demonstrating that he has absolutely no conception of what the term "rally-killer" means, Jeff Francoeur decided today to go out and play a game of baseball.

For those of us that appreciate cosmic irony, Jeff Francoeur's performance tonight indicates that he has a deep and unique knowledge of what it means to be a rally killer - so much that he, with a mighty swing, managed to kill a ninth-inning rally better than any other man in baseball history.

Well done, Jeff. We salute you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Get an Education

A tip of the cap to current Mets outfielder and former Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur, who recently said something so stupid that it merited its own post with his picture from the team he used to play for because it's funnier than any picture I could find of him playing for the team he currently plays for.

Regarding last night's Mets-Braves game, in which the Mets kicked around Braves starter Derek Lowe in the 4th inning:

The Mets reeled off 10 hits in the fourth, setting a franchise record for one inning.

Hey, cool, it's not every night you set a franchise record!

"That was a lot of fun,"
Jeff Francoeur said. "You just keep pounding balls into the gap. The one thing you don't want to do is hit a home run. That's a rally-killer."


Also a tip of the cap to the old FJM, which first brought to my attention the fact that some people in baseball actually believe homered runs are undesirable events. And a tip of the cap to A-Dave for passing along this tidbit of foolishness.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Too Soon to Start Posting About Football? Clearly Not. Too Soon to Trivialize Hurricane Katrina's Impact? Probably

Pat Forde has a column out which focuses on NCAA football's 40 all-time greatest villains. It's interesting at parts; Brian Bosworth is #1, which is appropriate considering he was a once-in-a-generation overrated loudmouth roid-using dickwad. Whistle-blowing Phil Fulmer is on the list, as are Ty Willingham (for singlehandedly destroying two very proud programs) and Nick Saban (for being a complete waste of skin who should be shot into deep space). There are also a lot of guys on there who weren't bad people, just guys who broke other teams' hearts with great plays like Matt Davison and Lindsay Scott. Blah blah blah. Then there's this:

38. Kellen Winslow -- Miami tight end, 2001-03

Hated by:
Military veterans.

Claim to Infamy: After contentious game against Tennessee Nov. 8, 2003, two years after 9/11, Winslow declared himself a soldier. Declared college football war. Declared that the Volunteers were out to kill him, so he in turn was out to kill them. Did not declare for military service, not then or ever.

I love that "I'M A FUCKING SOLDIER" soundbite, but yeah, I see where Pat is coming from. Mr. Motorcycle Accident here was trivializing something that's very serious and important, and really can't be compared to anything in sports. So then, anyone want to explain why Chad's article also contains this?

13. Hurricane Katrina -- Act of God, 2005

Hated by:

Claim to Infamy: Massive storm and subsequent flooding turned promising Green Wave season into disaster. Playing away from home all season, Tulane went 2-9 and still hasn't recovered. After winning 18 games from 2002-04, Green Wave have only won 12 games in the four seasons since the storm.

Right. Yeah. Let's discuss cognitive dissonance, and try to figure out why Chad doesn't experience it. Kellen Winslow talking about being a soldier was bad because being a soldier is really a whole lot more serious and (in certain ways) significant than being an athlete. And in that same way, identifying Hurricane Katrina as a "sports villain" is bad because the impact of Katrina was really a whole lot more serious and (in pretty much every way) significant than just ruining an NCAA football season.

Boy, that 9/11 really was a bummer, wasn't it? Totally messed up the end of the 2001 MLB regular season. What a villain!

I'm not actually trying to make a 9/11 joke, just trying to put Pat's idiocy into perspective.

Hmmmm. Should probably just stop writing now.

/stops digging metaphorical hole

/backs away slowly

/sprints to waiting car, peels out and accelerates away

/intentionally runs over Nick Saban

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Just Poor Presentation

In his "Dodds and Ends" (get it?) blog, Dennis Dodd wanted to make the point that USC is an extremely vulnerable team due to inexperience at quarterback. A somewhat valid point, I suppose.

He cleverly catches readers' attentions with the headline:

Ohio State 55, USC 23

Just for grins, I decided to insert Matt Barkley as the starter for USC against Ohio State in NCAA Football 10.

Really, Dennis? This is your job? No wonder our bloggers hate you. You're as smart as us but your employer pays you to screw around all day while the rest of us have real jobs like law student.

Ohio State won by 32. Barkley, the freshman quarterback, was game in the game but his team was lame. He was yanked quickly after his fumble led to a touchdown. Barkley completed only one of two for 23 yards.

I'm glad I got specific stats on a fucking PlayStation game that Dennis Dodd simulated.

This is the kind of shit that made people get pissed off back when blogs were slowly becoming a big deal: they inspire a lot more writing of a lot lower quality.

Some of You May Already Have Seen This, But I Didn't Make The Label For No Reason!

I believe this speaks for itself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Beat All of You to It. Suck It.

This is a big, fucking, flagrant red flag. If you ever want a recipe for how not to write an article, aspiring sports journalists, this is it. Courtesy of everyone's favorite old guy tryin' to relate to the younguns, Gene Wojciechowski.

Jeter the name that matters
If Yankees' captain ever ended up on positive test list, baseball's done

The Essence of Beauty would never!!!! What an unholy thing to even suggest!

But in all honesty, Gene's right. If Jeter comes up dirty, attendance at Marlins games is going to fucking plummet.


Well, what would you do if ESPN interrupted your regularly scheduled programming for that one?

I would laugh, have a beer, call 20 people, say "ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG!!!!! Baseball must be dead now!", and in all honesty, I would probably have to take a week's vacation and do nothing but write on this website. Remember when Eck won the World Series MVP award? Multiply that by 54. It would be an apocalyptic barrage of Wojciechowski-quality writing.

Would it be enough to make you shred your season tickets,

....for a team I root for that has zero players ever linked to steroids.

douse your baseball cards with charcoal fluid

Douse my whatball whats? It's 1991, right?

and delete America's pastime from your Facebook friends list?

I'd log on and do that Gene, except I'm too busy Tweetering while listening to Lady Googoo on my newfangled iPhonical Mobile Music n' SpeakToPeople device. Thanks for keeping with the times!

I am about 60% sure that Gene Wojciechowski thinks it's possible to be friends with "baseball" on Facebook.

If I ever see Jeter's name attached to the hip of performance enhancers, I'm done. I mean it -- I'll never watch another big league game again.

Why not just hold up a gigantic sign that says "I, Gene Wojciechowski, am the worst fan of anything in the history of things and people."

Because if Captain Pinstripes could do the Vitamin S deed, then anybody can.

Huh. You have a point there, Gene. There's no reason to be suspicious of Craig Counsell right now, but boy howdy, if that there Jeter's guilty, we can't trust anyone!

Jeter's name is where I draw the line in the PED sand.

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

Hey, I've got an idea, let's repeat ourselves for 8 straight sentences!

He is the absolute last guy I'd ever suspect of juicing.

Really? What about like, Craig Counsell?

It seems so, well, beneath him.

I trust that Gene personally knows Jeter well enough to make this claim. It can't be that he's just salivating over The Essence of Beauty.

He is the one player who I actually think would walk away from the game if he thought he had to cheat to compete.

The only one. Really. You think that of the 750 guys on Major League rosters, that Derek Jeter is the only one capable of achieving that level of "morality".

You are an idiot.

To me, Jeter is the anti-Barry Bonds, the anti-Roger Clemens and the anti-Alex Rodriguez. He understands that if you compromise the game, you compromise yourself.

It's very easy to make stuff up and then publish it!

Bonds, who didn't need to cheat but did anyway, was undone by an ego the size of Alcatraz.


Clemens, the pathological liar who tries to intimidate people into believing his gum-wrapper-thin explanations, cheated because he was "The Rocket'' and you're not.

Clemens, the [description of Clemens], cheated because [I don't have anything to say about Roger Clemens, nor do I have any clue why he did it, so I'm just going to type "because he was 'The Rocket' and you're not" and hope that people ignore it and keep reading].

And A-Rod, overpowered by the need to please and justify his historic contract, copped to at least three seasons of PED use -- but only after lying about it for years and only after he was cornered by the truth.

See? Nice and factual. He made you forget all about that awful Clemens line. Sneaky little devil......

Not Jeter. I can see him marrying Mariah Carey before I see him squirming in front of a Congressional hearing with the lawyered-up Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

Because he wouldn't be squirming. Imagine him standing in front of Congress, with those calm eyes cutting through the souls of every corrupt politician in the room, saying, "I've never taken steroids." Is there a poor sap in the joint that wouldn't believe him? Of course not. HE'S FUCKING BEAUTIFUL!

Jeter would never put himself in that position. At least, that's what I want to believe.

So at least you admit that this is based purely on your personal conjecture, and not on any real evidence that Jeter is innocent.

Then again, I wanted to believe it with his New York Yankees teammate, A-Rod. More than anything, I wanted to believe in the integrity of Rodriguez's numbers.

You know, that Pujols fellow is being a tad overlooked. It's articles like this that make the man simultaneously the best player in the world and underrated. Why don't you write an article wondering if the best player in baseball is clean?

I'm not a Yankees honk.

A Yankees....what?

In fact, I want to scrape my ears with a steel-haired barbecue grill brush every time I hear play-by-play man John Sterling do that grating, "Thhhhhhhhhhhhe Yankees win!'' thing. But how can you not admire the way Jeter treats his craft? He is the template for baseball professionalism.

What does Derek Jeter do to deserve this label that like, Grady Sizemore does not?

That's why I'd need a year's worth of Dr. Oz therapy sessions if it turns out Jeter did the steroids deed. And I'm not the only one.

You know, the word "hyperbole" is thrown around a lot these days......

Yankees fans would go into permanent mourning if Jeter betrayed them. A-Rod's steroids admission they could handle; he was a free-agent import. Jeter, though, was born and raised by the organization.

Yankees fans would. Padres fans would not. Baseball would survive. I'm getting sick of this.

You think Yankees and you think Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris, Berra, Munson, Reggie and Jeter.

And Brosius, and Spencer, and JETER, and Williams, and JETER and Martinez, and, and David Cone, and JETER JETER JETER ZOMG I LOVE JETER HE GIVES ME TEH BIGGEST JOYGASMS EVERRRRRR!!!!!!!!!

Can you imagine if Albert Pujols, the man who eventually replaced McGwire at first base, was a syringe enthusiast? City officials would have to set up a baseball suicide prevention clinic at Busch Stadium. Cards fans adore Pujols.

There it is.

A Jeter steroids admission would be the deal-breaker for me. Pujols, too. If those guys went pharmaceutical, I couldn't go to a big league game if Bud Selig paid me. don't seem to like baseball.

Ken Griffey Jr.? If The Kid did it, I'm gone.


Chipper Jones? The same.

Are people even aware of Chipper Jones these days? Have they ever been?

Mariano Rivera? I'd think about it.

No calm eyes. That's why he isn't a dealbreaker.

Joe Mauer? The sound of weeping followed by my baseball resignation letter.

Mauer, though an absolutely great player, has barely had an impact on anything in his career (thinking mostly along the lines of what the Twins have done since he's been around...). Why Mauer?

Jim Thome? Baseball's nicest guy wouldn't do that to us, would he?

Don't you fucking dare say that around me.

Tim Lincecum? Sadness if The Freak was a fake.

You're just getting bored and creating verbal puns.

Trevor Hoffman? Hells bells, please not Hoffman.


David Wright? See Mauer response.

That's just your way of saying "David Wright is awesome and uninteresting."

So far the game has survived the depressing revelations. It sort of coagulates, scabs up and then heals as best as it can.

There is an absolute dogfight going on for the NL Wild Card right now, but sure, I guess we should be dwelling on...::sigh::...this.

But there could come a time when the PED damage reaches a tipping point. For me, the magic number is 2.

Wait for it. I mean it. Just wait for it.

Jeter's jersey number.


Honestly Jeter, if you read this article and are guilty, please come clean just to spite this guy.


Ah, July 2009. Those were the good ol' days, when life moved just a little bit slower. When men were men. When a shave and a haircut only cost you two bits. When PNoles made the apt point that a certain 4-letter sports network doesn't seem to understand that "news isn't news if something hasn't actually happened."

So since we're alrady reminiscing about those glorious days gone by and the lessons we learned from them, I'd like to report that Chris "never actually breaks a story, just steals so-called breaking news from other sources" Mortensen is reporting that the AP is reporting that Al-Jazeera is reporting that Jay Glazer is reporting that Tony Dungy said recently that Michael Vick "thinks he may be able to get a tryout with an NFL team sometime in the near future."

We're on the cutting edge here, people. Check back for more thrilling Vick updates every five minutes because we'll have them as soon as they hit the wire. Breathe into a paper bag if you get so excited you start hyperventilating.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tim Keown's Laissez-faire approach to bean balls

Tim Keown from Page 2:

Disband the beanball police

If they want to clean up this part of the game, there's a really easy answer: Stop trying so hard.

If you don't want Fielder to rush the Dodgers' clubhouse, let him rush the mound. Get out of the way, and get the umpires out of the way. And for the sake of all that's right with the world, get the suits out of the way.

Think of it as going organic, letting nature take its course.

That same argument can be made for just about any unsportsmanlike act in baseball or any sport, for that matter. Don't want runners sliding spikes up into 2nd? Let the SS punch the runner in the face if he does go cleats up. Tired of NCAA football powerhouses running up the score on weaker teams? Allow DB's to hit WR's after the whistle if the powerhouse team is still passing in the 4th quarter.

Let them fight. Let them do what they want to do. Let the game police itself the way it did before every game was televised and every highlight dissected.

(And yes, I know who does the dissecting, and I know this is one of those topics bound to have many hitting the reflexive ESPN-caused-this button on the computer. Nice try, but wrong. Let's be honest -- the dissecting isn't going to stop, but Major League Baseball's counterproductive role as hall monitor still can.)

I really don't understand what Keown's deal is. It's not as if Major League Baseball has a hard line stance against bad behavior that the crowd enjoys. It allows (and seemingly encourages) managers to throw embarrassingly childish tantrums on a regular basis. The difference between fights and tantrums though is that only the former has the potential for injury (unless you're Milton Bradley).

The way it works now, the team that strikes first gets a free shot. I can hit you, and the worst I get is a warning. And that warning keeps you from hitting me, unless you and your manager want to be ejected.

The team with the hit batter also gets a runner on first base, and advancement of any forced runners on base before the hit batter. Not a terribly unfair trade for neither team being allowed to hit anyone the rest of the game.

The current system does nothing more than fuel frustration.

And prevent fights and/or injuries.

Take Fielder, the biggest, angriest and easiest example. The baseball world would be a better place if Fielder could have simply charged the mound and settled things with Guillermo Mota right then and there.

Yes, MLB would've been much better off if Fielder had collapsed Mota's orbital bone with his fist. Nothing bad could have come of that.

As it stands, though, Mota knew one thing -- and maybe only one thing -- as soon as he let go of the ball: He was done for the day. The rules dictated his ejection, so Mota threw the ball, watched it hit Fielder and immediately began walking toward the dugout.

I'm not going to try to say this is a perfect/correct solution, but if Mota knew he was going to be suspended for 50 games if he beaned Fielder, he probably wouldn't have hit him with that pitch.

Since there's absolutely no chance Mota is ever going to come to the plate at any time in any game with the Brewers, Fielder had two opportunities to express his displeasure: (1) on the field, an opportunity dashed when Mota immediately headed for the dugout, conveniently on the third-base side; or (2) after the game, which is logistically difficult but obviously not outside the sphere of Fielder's imagination.

Or Fielder could be the bigger man and not vow revenge.

Without the warning, though, Mota would have had nowhere to go. Well, maybe that's not entirely true -- remember his Benny Hill scamper after drilling Mike Piazza?

So in other words: letting Prince Fielder, one of the slowest players in the game, chase after a pitcher who has been known to flee ass kickings would have solved the problem.

Nobody wants a beanball war, but a good bench-clearing incident every once in a while can serve to clean the pipes. And besides, there hasn't been a good bench-clearing incident since Pat Corrales tried to go all Bruce Lee on Dave Stewart.

That's all good and well until you remember that plenty of players have been injured during bench clearing fights. For example, in 1993 Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak was nearly halted by a twisted knee he suffered during an Orioles/Mariners brawl. I, for one, don't think Ripken going on the DL would've been worth the pipe cleaning.

It doesn't have to happen, though. If baseball imposed some sense into this whole beanball situation, if it just stepped away long enough to let the solution play out on its own [things would be better].

No, no they would not. Aside from all the dangers that come from fighting, throwing at a defenseless batter ranks somewhere between flopping in basketball and late hits in football as the chumpiest of chump moves in sports. Advocating any system that promotes more bean balls is lame as hell.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back to the Salt Mines, People

Effective September 1, Jay Mariotti will begin working for the Chicago Tribune.

Wait a minute, what?

"It's been a tremendous experience, but I'm going to be honest with you, the profession is dying,'' Mariotti said, "I don't think either paper [Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune] is going to survive.

Hold on, play it again.

"It's been a tremendous experience, but I'm going to be honest with you, the profession is dying,'' Mariotti said, "I don't think either paper [Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune] is going to survive.

Once more.

"It's been a tremendous experience, but I'm going to be honest with you, the profession is dying,'' Mariotti said, "I don't think either paper [Sun-Times or Chicago Tribune] is going to survive.

Fascinating. So why is he doing this? You don't suppose.... NO. NO WAY. No way is he doing this just to get back at his former employer, the Chicago Sun-Times! That would be silly. After all, we know that Jay is not in favor of holding grudges.

A special fuck you to Sports by Brooks, linked above as the source for this story, for this:

If you live outside of Chicago, there’s a good chance you only know Mariotti from his surprisingly well-reasoned work on ESPN’s Around The Horn.

Well-reasoned? Either the powerful Jay Mariotti lobby has gained control of SBB and is now using it as a mouthpiece for his self-promotion efforts, or no one at SBB actually watches ATH. Those are the only possible explanations for that comment.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Bert Blyleven's writing is one very small step above the quality of that title.

Final stretch: Breaking down the playoff races
Angels look like MLB’s best, but who will join them in postseason?

Gee golly, Bert. We've been over this before. You seem to be the only person in the world who thinks that the Angels are this good.

This is going to be fun.

With the All-Star Game and trade deadline behind us, it’s time to look ahead to the playoffs.

Whew. Thankfully that there All-Star Game is over, so now I can care about which baseball teams will go on to the postseason.

Back in April, I predicted the winners of each division race and the wild card races, then took a leap and chose a World Series winner.

That was a good time. You chose the Angels to win the World Series.

Let’s take a look back at my picks, see if they’ll hold up for the rest of the season.

Yes, let's! Skipping to the flagrant parts, of course.


Preseason pick: Minnesota Twins

I expected the Twins’ deep young rotation to make a big difference this season, but things haven’t quite worked out that way. Kevin Slowey is done for the season and Francisco Liriano has struggled. They’ve needed some young pitchers to step up, and aside from Scott Baker (6-1 over his last 11 starts), that hasn’t happened.

Well Nick Blackburn has a 3.79 ERA, against the odds, but I guess that isn't considered "stepping up", I guess.

The White Sox and Tigers both made big deadline deals, with the Tigers bringing in Jarrod Washburn and the White Sox acquiring injured right-hander Jake Peavy.

Chicago took a big risk in trading for Peavy because they dealt a fine pitcher for him in Clayton Richard. Peavy threw on the side on Sunday and his ankle was ok, now he must build up some arm strength.

I laugh that you think Clayton Richard was the centerpiece of that trade. Hilarious.

For the Tigers, Washburn was a nice pickup who fits in nicely. He’s not the ace


— that’s Justin Verlander —


but he’s a solid veteran who gives them an edge down the stretch.

"Gives them an edge". You see, when the second place team similarly acquires a pitcher who is a solid veteran, you need to say something to compare these pitchers, Bert. What if I told you that Peavy gives the White Sox "the edge"? Gives them the edge over who?

Miguel Cabrera is having an MVP season,

Fair...ish. He shouldn't win.

Magglio Ordonez is starting the swing the bat better

Not really, like at all. Please look at that game log and tell me that he's doing any better now than he has the rest of the season. Oh yeah, and let's not forget that $18M ticking time bomb attached to all this playing time!

(Well....$15M considering the buyout....)

Their question mark is in the bullpen, and I’m surprised they didn’t address that before the trade deadline.

Hmmmmm...that's interesting. I would have argued that their "question mark" would be "How the hell are we going to score runs when we start Gerald Laird, Adam Everett, a broken Brandon Inge, Clete Thomas (in LF??), and Carlos Guillen (at DH?????????) every day?" But that's me, and I tend to think about things before publishing them to a major news website.

Updated pick: Detroit Tigers, as they have fewer questions than the White Sox and Twins. listed by Bert Blyleven. You listed the Tigers' bullpen as a weakness. Could you....could you even name me one pitcher in the Tigers' bullpen?


Preseason pick: Los Angeles Angels

I liked the Angels at the start of the year,

Everyone who has been in a 1,523 glorpulon radius of knows you liked the Angels at the beginning of the year. And always.

based mostly on their pitching,


though I also expected a big season out of Bobby Abreu, and he is delivering.

Bobby gon' win the MVP then sign a fat contract. Just like the plan.

The more the season progresses, the better that pick looks. I got a good look at the Angels against the Twins over the weekend and was impressed as they scored 35 runs on 52 hits in the three-game series. They’re hitting .290 as a club and that’s almost scary.

About as scary as being only 3.5 games in first place and having the 3rd worst ERA in the AL to fall back on.

And Chone Figgins is the catalyst. He gets on base, he steals bases, and he’s a good hitter from both sides of the plate. If the Angels continue this way, you have to look at him as a possible MVP.

No. Shut up. Shut up. Shut the FUCK up. Chone Figgins is very useful. But he doesn't even have a .300 EqA, and he's not even the most valuable hitter on that team.

See people? This is why blogs like this have to live on. Bert Blyleven shouldn't be
allowed to say things like "Chone Figgins is a possible MVP" and get away with it.
He just....shouldn't!

They have a couple of question marks in their rotation,

That's putting it very mildly.

and could really use some improvement out of Ervin Santana and/or Joe Saunders. Jered Weaver is very consistent and John Lackey is pitching some very good baseball. If you have three good starters in the postseason you’re in good shape.

You just listed two good starters.

Updated pick: The Rangers are a great surprise, but I’m sticking with the Angels.

Excuse everyone while we all don't die of shock.


Preseason pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

Manny Ramirez, as popular as ever, has a little “Fernando Mania” thing going on out there, and less well known is the fact that Casey Blake is a very steady player.

Shhhhhh...don't let the secret out.

But you're right....sooooo steady!

Blake is one of the keys to their offense.

Interesting, un-crazy, go on......

He won’t put up MVP numbers

I agree! It's good that you're noticing him......

but three out of five times he’ll get the big hit.

I quit. Game over.

Three out of five times.

Casey Blake is more than just steady. He's the best player in Major League Baseball.

And THAT, friends, is "less well known".

World Series: The Phillies will get past the Dodgers in the NLCS, only to fall to the Angels in the World Series. Los Angeles will rely on its speed and defense to get past Philly for its second title (2002).

I don't want Bert Blyleven to make the Hall of Fame anymore.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Why Was "Moneyball" Written? Among Other Reasons, THIS

Oh my goodness gracious. Oh sweet potato pie with gravy. This one is a motherfucking doozy.

What you're about to read is going to sound an awful lot like a parody- the kind of fictional conversation you might read on The Dugout or Kissing Suzy Kolber. But it's not. It took place during an actual, real broadcast of an actual, real edition of Baseball Tonight which aired last Saturday night and Sunday morning. These ESPN analysts (term "analyst" used loosely in Buck Showalter's case) really said these things. It's perhaps the most hilarious pile of bullshit I've ever heard on TV. I was able to transcribe what was said word-for-word and stutter-for-stutter, as I moved into a new apartment on 8/1 and am now the proud owner of a DVR. It takes forever to do the transcription but in this case it was 100% worth it. You'll see that my commentary is pretty limited, because, let's face it, this segment is funny enough on its own.

One final time, please keep in mind, this is a real segment that ran on BBTN. Seriously. We join it already in progress, as I happened to channel surf into the catastrophe rather than watching it unfold from its beginning. You'll have to imagine how it began. Our topic: what baseball scouts look for in terms of a prospect's body.

Buck Showalter (standing, adjusting his feet from pigeon-toed to parallel to "open," presumably showing different ways players run): I've seen some bow-legged guys, you know, you wanna talk about Deion Sanders or Derek Jeter...

Steve Berthiaume: [Indecipherable] could barely walk, but he could run like a deer!

BS: Well I'll tell you what, he could put it in play, and he could run.

Buck is a folk hero. He's the Boomhauer of baseball analysts. Tell you what, that boy could play a little ball, you know?

SB: Now, "10 to 2," "5 to 1," (referring to ways scouts describe the alignment of feet) I thought scouting was all about average, RBIs, OPS.

You forgot living in your parents' basement, never seeing the sun, not knowing what grass feels like between your toes, not knowing how to talk to a girl, never having sex, never having sexy dreams because you've never had sex and can't even conceptualize what it would be like, etc.

But you're using terminology that they use, and that's what they actually make their recommendations on, right?

BS: The stats are the easy part! Now, you don't get to see a guy play 20, 30 times. But you take your experience you've learned from years and years and years, what Major League players look like, for the most part. With a few exceptions to the rule.

And this is part of the impetus behind Billy Beane's style of GMing, and thus the inspiration for "Moneyball." A bunch of (in my opinion, creepy) old baseball scouts pay a significant amount of attention to how a player looks. Do they pay more attention to looks than ability? Most probably don't. Some probably do. In any case, this segment is about to get all kinds of anecdotal/creepy. Because we're not just talking about a prospect's body in general. We're talking about individual body parts.

SB: Alright, we've done feet. What's a good leg?

One that works? One with muscles and bone in it? One that enables a guy to run fast?

BS: A good leg? Well, it's a, you don't wanna see a guy's thigh wide this way (places hands at sides of upper leg and expands them outwards), you wanna see them wide that way (places hands at front and back of upper leg and expands them outwards).

Thanks for the anecdotal bullshit, Buck. I don't care how many dusty dirt roads in the middle of Wyoming you've driven down to find the next Mickey Mantle playing in a community softball game in a city no one has ever visited. You've got to be fucking kidding me with this. How are you going to be able to tell if a guy has a "wide" side-to-side thigh versus a "thick" front-to-back thigh? You aren't. But don't let any of those stat nerds tell you that. They're too busy not understanding what it's like to feel the foul line chalk between your fingers.

Tim Kirkijuan: Who's got great legs?

BS: Alex Rodriguez. Perfection in his legs, as far as going this way. (He repeats the "good" motion he used above, as a Baseball Tonight graphic which reads "LEGS" flashes across the screen and is immediately followed by a clip of Rodriguez running down the first base line. It freezes at some point, and a spot shadow illuminates A-Rod's gorgeous thigh.) Very strong, can stand up to the toll that Major League players... and uh, stays away from injury for the most part.

He missed most of spring training and all of April with a hip injury this year. Where were his turbothighs on that one? Also, way to pick one of the 10 or so best players of all time to prove your point. You're really crossing the correlation-causation gap there. A-Rod has legs => A-Rod is a great player => A-Rod is a great player because of those legs.

Perfect example, Derek, uh, Alex Rodriguez.

Nice little Freudian slip there. Whose thigh is Buck thinking about again? And yes, I'm sure you already guessed it, but this isn't the last time we'll be hearing about a certain man named Derek.

TK (a little too excited): OK, now let's move up. Butt. What's a good butt?

Slow down, Tim. You've barely met these guys.

BS (defensively): Hey, heyheyheyhey. Well it ain't here, boys, I'm, you know (interrupted by laughter from UA and TK) Well it's common of good, especially good pitchers and guys with a lot of power, that part of the body, and the torso and the stomach, create a lot of arm speed, create a lot of bat speed. And you just don't see a lot of power hitters, or good pitchers that can generate arm speed, who don't have a good high butt on them.

At least here, I can understand that there might be some butt variation from player to player. I can also understand that a high butt helps guys generate power. Despite the inherent weirdness of talking about dudes' asses, this is probably the least objectionable part of this whole segment.

SB: You want a, who's a "high butt" guy?

BS: Uhhhhhhhh... not that I look at them a lot (TK giggles), but uh, Derek Lee.

SB: OK, Derek Lee, I like this guy, he's a "high butt" guy. (Again, we get a Baseball Tonight screen graphic which reads "HIGH BUTT" and are treated to a shot of Lee running the bases, with a spot shadow on his ass and two large yellow arrows on either side of it, pointing up.)

I'm not kidding. They really did that. With the arrows and everything.

BS: And I don't want to say he's got a "perfect butt" but I'll tell you, if you watched this guy as an amateur player you'd go "wow." That's a-

TK: And scouts are saying "He's got a high butt, I like that."

BS: Oh, without a doubt.

Again, I find this creepy.

And you don't see many guys who can't run with a high butt. They usually can run pretty well.

Nice and anecdotal, just how I want my favorite team to scout young players!

SB: So a "low butt" guy would be a catcher, somebody like that.

BS: Yeah, sometimes you- but there's exceptions, like you said, might go behind the plate, might be a relief pitcher.

What he's implying is that he, or perhaps friends of his who are scouts, have in the past (and maybe even still do) looked at a potential prospect unfavorably because the prospect's ass was not "high" enough. These are the guys who, up until maybe 10 years ago, made pretty much every low-level personnel decision for every team in baseball.

TK: What about the back? (awkwardly gestures towards his own back)

Try pointing at your own back. I bet you look like a fucking idiot right now.

BS: Oh, without a doubt, I'll tell you, one thing you look at is a wide shoulder, wide back guy.

SB: A "V" guy. (Make a "V" motion with his hands)

BS: That's why sometimes, smaller pitchers can have long careers and generate arm speed and can withstand the pounding that they take, you look for that wide back.

How is the width of your shoulders/back going to help you generate arm speed? I'll buy the durability argument, I guess. And that's the kind of thing you have to scout for without relying on stats. They won't often tell you whether or not a guy will break down over time. But I will say this- do you think Tim Lincecum would be able to ditch his crazy whiplash delivery and still be able to throw 96 if only he had a wider back?

TK: Who's got a good back?

BS: Oh, I'll tell ya, every time I see Derrek Holland with the Rangers pitch, I go "wow." That's what it looks like. (Cue "BROAD BACK" screen sweep graphic, and spot shadow on Holland's back.)

It looks exactly like every other baseball player's back does through his jersey.

Somewhere along the line a scout wrote, in his narrative, when he's going, "look at the back on this guy." Perfect-shaped back, small waist, wide shoulders, that's a good lookin' back.

Again, mildly creepy. That's not the focus of this post, but you have to admit it's definitely here in spades.

Are you ready for the good stuff? Here comes the good stuff.

TK: I remember when Bobby Cox met Chipper Jones, and I asked him, "Tell me about Chipper Jones." And he said "He's got a great face."

SB (laughing): "He's got a great face?"

Like Bill Simmons!

TK: And I was like, what is that? Give me a guy with a great face, what does that mean?

It means the scouts who started this idea that you can evaluate a player based on what his fucking face looks like (and the ones who have continued it throughout the years) are a bunch of buffoons. Seriously. I tried to cut some slack in my criticism of the "high butt" and the back. I mean, although incredibly difficult to evaluate, I acknowledge that the physical makeup of those body parts can affect a player's performance. The face? The fucking face? The bone with skin stretched over it which gives the eyes, nose, and mouth their shape? Fuck you and die in a tornado, baseball scouts.

BS: Uhhh, probably Orlando Hudson.

Well obviously Orlando Hudson.

Every time I see him, I go "great face."


I guarantee you, somewhere along the line- this is my favorite category. ("GREAT FACE" graphic sweeps by, and we are greeted to a close up of Hudson's mug complete with spot shadow.)

Holy shit. Holy dog balls. Can you imagine being the ESPN junior video production assistant in charge of this segment? How many times would you need to take a break from working on it so you could roll on the floor laughing? This is mind-bogglingly stupid. It's stupid in its baseball context and its even stupider in its BBTN incarnation. Yes, thank you ESPN. Thank you for the spot shadow. Now I know where Orlando Hudson's fucking face is. Better than that, I know that some scout told the Blue Jays to draft him in the 47th round way back in 1997 BECAUSE HE HAD A GOOD FUCKING FACE. I defy any Billy Beane hater out there (read: people who are scared of numbers) to watch this and then say with a straight face "Yes. This is a reasonable way to judge young baseball players." Holy fucking shitballs.

When you tell a scout "tell me what kind of face he's got," everybody knows what he's talking about. It's just a sincerity.

A calmness? A dreaminess?

There's a look in his eyes, there's a competitiveness, there's an alertness about his face. He sees what's going on around him.

Those players with great high school stats but a bad face? No idea what's happening around them. They're oblivious.

Derek Jeter,

There we go.

first time I met him in the dugout at 18, I went "Wow. What a good face."

Over time you and your ilk have probably ruined hundreds of young careers, and tried to jump start several others which had no place being jump started, based on how the players' faces looked. THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES, YOU BLITHERING IDIOTS. JUST BECAUSE HERB "FACELOVER" MCGEE, WHO FOUND WILLIE MAYS HITTING ROCKS 500 FEET WITH A BROOMHANDLE BACK IN 1947, SAID "IT'S IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT A PLAYER'S FACE" DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO KEEP DOING IT. IT'S OK TO STOP AND PAY MORE ATTENTION TO ATTRIBUTES THAT ACTUALLY MATTER ANYTIME NOW.

SB: Now Buck, I know you got a lot of hits, Cape Cod League, minor leagues, I noticed, and I say this with great affection, you've got kind of a square head. (TK giggles) So I'm wondering, I'm going to guess that that's good.

It's not.

BS: Well not because I have it. I've been told it's round, but thanks anyways! (TK giggles) Square heads. I like square heads. A lot of guys, there's a definition of, uh, uh-

TK (finishing his sentence): -character there.

Character. In the shape of your head. One last time, I promise this is the last time- these guys really talked about this on a real BBTN broadcast. And thus it is fair to assume that yes, real scouts really used to (or still do) use this as a way to measure the viability of young prospects.

BS: Yeah. There's a great bloodline there, you see the definition of the jawline.

"Great bloodline?" Is Buck a member of the Aryan Brotherhood?

SB: Pujols, square head guy. (Cue "SQUARE HEAD" graphic, and video of Albert Pujols which freezes with a spot shadow on his allegedly square head)

BS: Oh, perfect! You know, that's the way major league quality hitters look. Same way guys don't like to see hitters, in a perfect world, have anything but brown eyes. There are some great blue and green-eyed hitters, but they talk about that.

Yeah, he's definitely some kind of bizarre iteration of baseball racist. EYE COLOR? FUCKING EYE COLOR?

TK: Now, when a scout shakes hands with a kid. What, what, what's that-

BS (interrupting): Oh, he's getting a lot of info back. He shakes hands (TK and BS reach out and shake each other's hands), he's already said "OK, how long's his fingers, how supple is his wrist, how fat are his palms, and how firm is his handshake?" You've got four tools before they even-

It's funny, now we're back into things which might at least have a tertiary impact on a prospect's ability. They're still patently ridiculous when compared to, you know, how fucking good the prospect is at baseball. But at least you can kind of see them mattering. And that means they are infinitely more worthy of analysis than WHAT A GUY'S FACE LOOKS LIKE.

TK (interrupting, incredulously): He, he, he's got a fat palm, he's-

SB (sarcastically interrupting, perhaps warming up to the idea that this is the most ludicrous 4 minute stretch in television history): Fat palm, he's out.

BS: Ehhhh.... catcher.

But not a first baseman! Or an outfielder, heaven forbid! Can't have all these fat-palmed fatty fat palms running around out there in fair territory.

TK: Alright, supple wrist, what's that?

BS: Well I'll tell ya, great example. Mariano Rivera. Mariano Rivera had a very stiff wrist. That's the reason why they made him a relief pitcher, because he couldn't ever master a breaking ball, couldn't make his wrist go (makes a curveball-type motion with his wrist).

SB: Now hold on, the greatest closer in the history of baseball, and he is, he can't throw a breaking ball, because his hand doesn't go like that? (makes a similar motion)

BS: Oh, he can throw a breaking ball! But it's not pretty. You know, basically, that's why he throws the cutter off-center. He can't do that (makes the curveball motion again) and create a lot of torque, he can't throw the slider, you know, and that's why he throws the cut fastball. Doesn't mean he can't pitch in the big leagues, but his ability to start was not gonna happen because of how stiff his wrist was.

OK, I'll buy this is as a useful attribute by which to judge a player, but I will not buy the idea that you can figure this out from shaking a dude's hand. Aren't having a firm handshake and displaying a supple wrist mutually exclusive? How could you possibly do both?

TK: Well the guy had a full beard at 18.

Aaaaaaaand.... we're back to the absolutely ridiculous stuff.

BS: Well I'll tell ya, you go in and see an 18 year old guy with a full beard, shaving once or twice a day, he's out more than likely. He's flatlining!

Words fail me. Words should fail anyone with a brain who reads this. It's like trying to listen to someone who insists the moon landing was filmed in Hollywood or that the world is going to end in 2012 because the ancient Mayans said so. How do you respond? My advice is to punch anyone from any of these three groups (2012 people, moon landing hoax people, and "don't sign a prospect if he's got a lot of facial hair at age 18" people) directly in the eye socket. Crush that orbital bone nice and good.

That's as good as he's gonna be!

Again, your kind has probably ruined at least a few potential careers over the years... because a teenager had facial hair.

You see a guy who's starting to lose his hair at 18, he's mature! (pronounces it "mah-toor") He's getting ready to go the- that's as good as he's gonna get! You're looking for upside.

And no matter how much of it you see on the field or in the numbers, don't be fooled. If a guy has the genes that cause baldness in his family, he's going to suck at baseball. Just ask that lovable* little bald scamp Dustin Pedroia.

* = I hope Dustin Pedroia gets run over by a cement mixer

Derek Jeter

These kinds of things always happen in 3s.

hadn't shaved in high school, I don't think, when we signed him.

Don't tell that to the find folks at Gillette! He's making them a lot of money these days.

SB (playing devil's advocate): What if he shaves, but he's got a great face?

BS: Ooooh... that's a tough one. That's when you ask the scout, well, what do you think.

So the scout can pull some more random shit out of his ass about how good or not good the players is, based on absolutely nothing.

TK: Right. But if he shaves twice a day and has a low butt... done.

BS (making "you're outta here" motion with his thumb): Done.

The dreaded beard/buttsag combo.

SB (looking towards camera as it pans away, mercifully ending the segment): Well I think you've got three low butt guys here. (TK chuckles)

BS: Speak for yourself!


So, yeah. That's why Billy Beane started GMing the way he did. The fact that anyone out there still tries to take pot shots at him, no matter how bad the A's have been since 2006, makes my brain hurt. What makes it hurt even more is the fact that no one questioned this nonsense earlier. As recently as 20 years ago, most teams were probably signing a large number of their players based in part on analysis like this. Wow.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bitter about the Reds' Recent Past, Immediate Present and Near Future, I Will Disparage A Hard-Working Ballplayer

From today's preview of the Reds-Cubs game tonight:

"Taveras glad to be back in action"

Willy, I'm not glad that you're back in action. Your OPS+ is 47!

CINCINNATI -- Willy Taveras was more than ready to get back to prowling the basepaths for the Reds on Monday.

He doesn't prowl them very much, since his .275 OBP is 70 points below the league average.

Taveras, who had missed the previous five games with a sore left wrist, watched his team struggle to get runners on base and advance into scoring position. He was back in the lineup against the Cubs in the first game of the three-game series.

I wonder how bad he felt that he wasn't in his usual spot at the top of the lineup not helping get on base.

"It was hard," Taveras said. "I just want to be part of the group."

"It wasn't hard," dan-bob said. "I just want you to be part of any group that is not the Cincinnati Reds."

Taveras rejoined that group on Monday and was back in his customary leadoff spot.


"When I'm swinging, it feels better," he said.

When you're swinging, it feels better to the opposing pitcher, since it's probably at a pitch in the dirt... since you've only walked seventeen times in 377 AB.

In Taveras' absence, Drew Sutton filled in at leadoff while playing left field and went 3-for-12. Laynce Nix shifted to center field with Taveras out.

I guess I should complain less. Drew Sutton's OPS+ is 22 and his OBP is .208. But at least he has a small sample size of 23 AB! And he's making about two million dollars less than you, Willy!

Taveras, who was injured after being hit on the wrist with a pitch in his final at-bat on Wednesday against the Padres, is glad to be back.

dan-bob, who has been injured by the Reds losing thirteen of fourteen, is not glad that Taveras is back.

"We've been struggling, so I hope to use my speed and help this team win," he said.

Sometimes old baseball adages are completely wrong - "Tie goes to the runner"- comes to mind.

Sometimes old baseball adages are completely right - "You can't steal first base" comes to mind now.

"I hope to make contributions to help us win the ballgame."

I wish you'd started doing that in April.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Beating a Dead Horse (In Stereo Where Available)

As a prelude to this post, I find it important to note that I have switched from Charter to at&t's u-Verse. It is glorious. It's important to this post because I can now DVR premium channels in HD for later watching. I now present fantastic moments from HBO's Sports of the 20th Century's 1 hour documentary entitled quite simply: Barbaro.

You may remember the 20th century, as it ended a couple of years before Barbaro was born.

For those who do not heed the post below, it is also available On Demand, if you have those services available to you.

Narrator: "For 6000 years, man has celebrated the power, grace, and mystery of the horse. They are trusted to live along side us, honoring our many commands. They have joined us in fields of battle. They have pulled our plows and carried us across the plains. And when we ask them to, they run."

I heard no mention of horse meat or glue factories. And why is Fred Willard not in this? I thought he was in all of the fake documentaries...

Narrator: "Once in a great while, a race horse will emerge with a majesty and spirit that no one can instill or explain."

Shit, this is legit? Are they still talking about a horse? I'll take a shot at explaining it. It's a horse. It doesn't have spirit. It has muscles that have been trained to run, just as mine have been trained to press A, B, X, L2, and "Publish Post."

Owner Gretchen Jackson, first only heard, then seen reading from a handmade card: "Dear Barbaro, the day you hurt your leg, I wish I could have been there. [very rough cut in which her voice changes an octave] Though I may never meet you, you will always have a special place in my heart."

Dear Little Boy or Girl,

The day I hurt my leg, I wish you can have been there, too. I would have trampled you to death as I was in tremendous pain and the crushing of your skull would have been the only thing that would have distracted me from the pain that I was too stupid to block out, thus running on my ankle and making it worse. As for meeting me, ask your whore of a mother where the glue that she bought for you for this shitty card come from. Next time, shell out the extra 50 cents and get me a genuine Hallmark.

Get fucked,


(voice of disembodied, unknown older male) "These animals become like national pets. People feel like he is one of the family."

Many families run for the gambling enjoyment of people around the world until they cannot run anymore and are put down.

Narrator: "Animals can sometimes take us to a place we cannot reach by ourselves."

As a step stool? Around groups if viscous 1950's TV injuns? Olympus Mons? Other things that animals can sometimes do:

Not a thing
Shit in the Living Room instead of the Litter Box
Die already

...And we're a mere 83 seconds into the feature. What a majestic title card. I hate taking pictures of TVs and posting it, but this new DVR is pretty locked down.

A man later identified as Peter Brette, assistant trainer chimes in on Barbaro's first race."He didn't know, basically, what he was doing. He was just far superior to anything else."

It must have been that spirit.

Also, in the first race at Delaware Park, the guy calling the race is calling it bar-BEAR-oh. It's entertaining, but I'm sure that the owners had him shot afterwords.

14 minutes in now, and I've noticed that they have the same 8 seconds of soft, happy music looping over all of the race footage so far. Must have blown all the cash on shooting in HD.

Peter Brette: "He went into Florida a mere boy. And he came out of it a man."

I was trying to get the "horsefucker" flash card from the South Park movie, but instead I learned a very important lesson about what not to search for using Google Images. Looking back on it, I don't know what I was expecting to find. God, even though Barbaro has left us it's still a great teacher.

Owner Gretchen Jackson: "I was walking one day down the farm to bring some horses in in the afternoon and just I was thinking about Barbaro and could he be that good and all that and there was this huge rainbow up in the sky and I thought 'Ohh, there is my sign. You know. I love rainbows. There's my sign that this horse is truly special.'

Rainbows are intrinsically linked to the physical ability of a horse. I would buy this if, say, the rainbow was emanating from Barbaro's newly-trainer-tainted asshole. But it wasn't. Just rain refracting sunlight. But it was a sign!

I remember making jokes about it then, but the 2006 Kentucky Derby was presented by Yum! brands, otherwise known as Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, A&W, and Long John Silver's. The logo was a quotation bubble with "Yum!" in it, making it look like these horses had just eaten their own believing them to be a Pepperoni Personal Pan or Chicken Planks.

Unknown disembodied voice: "He wanted to keep running. It was like he could have run forever."

Dick Jerardi, writer, Philadelphia Daily News: "Now I've been at every Derby for 20 years, I've never seen anything like this. I'm thinking 'What dimension did this horse go into today?'"

It wanted to keep running forever because the horse was on a track where it had been running and hasn't been commanded to stop. Thus, it ran. I don't think it read "FINISH" and just slowed down. And that's how it broke into the fourth dimension - time itself! It somehow corralled the laws that govern this very world and CHANGED THEM TO WIN THE DERBY. We're through the looking glass here, people.

Narrator: "No one could be certain what caused Barbaro to break down. What was certain was that the powerful athlete Michael Matz had trained so carefully was now crippled and helpless on the track."

Athlete? No - still a horse.
Crippled? Yes.
Helpless? No - The horse is surrounded by vets, trainers, and people with walkie-talkies. Helpless would be if the horse ran into the middle of a highway injured. 31 minutes in, they show a group of SIX men... fuck it, here's another cell phone picture. Here's your Barbaro Rescue Crew. I wish I was making this up.

Narrator: "In the midst of a live race, his body coursing with adrenaline, Barbaro displayed a knowing calm."

Knowing that death's sweet embrace was lurking if it stepped on that broken ankle, mabye. What stoic grace this animal showed on that day. It didn't move when 8 other horses ran by. Not because it was in a lot of fucking pain, but because the horse is as tough as nails. Even Tedy Bruschi wouldn't fuck with Barbaro.

We are treated to the knowledge that the Baltimore Police Department gave this fucking horse an escort back to the Pennsylvania state line. 6-8 Harley Davidsons guided this magnificent creature to the University of Pennsylvania.

45 minutes in, and I can see why today's high schools are doomed. Their middle school teachers are FUCKING RETARDED.

Anne Phinney, teacher, Town of Webb School: "We decided for our own healing and therapy that we would make this illustradted children's book about Barbaro's life."

And thus, this class - who have been recorded doing this in HD somehow - makes a children's book based on the life of a horse that was bred to illicit greed and debauchery. If my kid ever came home from school and told me that they got to write the story of a fucking race horse in class, I would be "that" parent who would meet with the principal about why my child is writing about horse racing. It's not a sport, it's gambling. Is there a middle school class somewhere making a book about the 5 reel Press Your Luck slot machine with the Whammy bonus?

So what sort of teacher makes her class do this for their "own" healing and therapy? Well here's her public facebook page... where she's kissing a horse. Yep, that's the sort of person I want teaching my kids about how to move on from such a tragic event.

DISCLAIMER! I have discussed that link at length with the FireJay legal counsel and I need to pass on that I haven't contacted Ms. Phinney and that you shouldn't either. It's just a search result listed on Google. Leave her alone. If your kid goes to Town of Webb School, remove them, but leave her alone. I am not asking you to contact her, but rather the opposite.

Dick Jerardi: "It was all over the news. It was the biggest story in the country. You couldn't help but get attached to him. And people so wanted it to end with a positive ending, so they were following him and there were chat groups and message boards..."

Instead of getting attached to him, the constant press coverage will push people to either talk about it or become apathetically enraged. Nobody wants a horse to die, but that's very far from glowing admiration for it. People talk about a lot of weird shit on message boards and chat groups, too, Mr. Jerardi. Just because they exist doesn't make love for a horse bizarre at best and maddening at it's worst. Even the sort of degenerates who end up blogging would be hard pressed to say they were rooting for a horse to die. But that doesn't excuse the actions of media outlets who took the story of a dying horse and escalated it to the point where I can make a whole post on it and not feel the least bit worried that I have made these jokes.

And so with that, Barbaro is erased from my DVR, just as he was deservedly erased from the minds of many over 3 years ago.