Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 4 (out of 4)

I said I was going to recognize the nice reader who sent us a link to this column several posts ago.  Well, now I'm following through.  Bill B., you rule.  Everyone else--please feel free to send us links and stuff!  I check the blog email every three or four months and it's always a nice surprise when we have non-spam messages.

Four of my favorite wrinkles about the Pyramid Model:

1. I came up with it!
2. Me me me me me me!
3. It's a PYRAMID.  How EXCITING is that
4. Puts fancy-pants Don Sutton in his place

1. People would argue endlessly about which players belong on which levels. 

Yes, this is true, they probably would.  This is not a good thing.  The amount of debate we already have about who is in and who is out and who should get in soon and who should never get in is perfectly adequate.

It would be the "Ginger vs. Mary Ann" of sports debates. 

Boo!  What happened to the Friends references?

Is Koufax an "L4" or an "L5"? Does Ryan even make it past "L1"? 

Jesus, are there really people out there pushing this?  Saying "Nolan Ryan was overrated" is fine.  Saying "The all time leader in strikeouts, with 320 wins and almost 80 WAR to his name, does not belong in the HOF" is grounds for being thrown in a Siberian prison.

Does Yaz crack the "L3"s? 

Still amazed he put Yaz where he did.  YAZ GOT A RAW DEAL.

Should Brooks Robinson, Clemens and Morgan be "L4"s? Should The Eck even be an "L1"? Is Ripken an "L5" because he broke Gehrig's record? 

Should we take a guy who's probably somewhere between the 50th and 75th best player of all time, and now say he's one of the fifteen best, because he had the good fortune to never get hurt? 

2. To institute the Pyramid scheme, a special selection committee would re-assign levels to every existing member. Let's say the committee features 50 members, made up of well-known players, 

And after reading that dollop of stupid, I'm sure you'll agree with me that you don't need to see the rest of that paragraph.

(I mean ... wouldn't that be an immense amount of fun?

What could possibly go wrong???????????

4. The Pyramid structure would look cool. 

You're a child.  A small child with an undeveloped brain.

Besides the aesthetic benefits of a five-story pyramid-shaped building that contains every single nugget of baseball history and resembles a pyramid, can you imagine walking around the Hall of Fame, climbing each level ... and finally reaching The Pantheon? Unbelievable. I'm getting chills just thinking about it.

Holy shit.

Yup ... too bad it will never happen.

That's baseball for you. Instead of moving forward, our national pastime keeps moving backward and sideways. 


That's why the game is controlled by unions, TV money and luxury boxes. That's why big-market teams swallow small-market teams. That's why owners bitch about rising costs and then shell out gigantic, $50 million-plus deals to Darren Dreifort and Chan Ho Park. That's why World Series games start at 8:30 every night. 

All of those things are problematic.  Not one of them has anything to do with baseball "moving backward and sideways."  

That's why Don Sutton was elected to the Hall of Fame and Jim Rice wasn't ... 

Not one of them has anything to do with Jim Rice being rightfully denied admission to the Hall of Fame for 14 ballots.

and that's why few people care in the first place.

And every single one of them is born from a desire to get more fans to care about baseball, because those problems are all related to increasing revenue and more fans means more money. Go fuck yourself.

While we're here, since the Hall of Fame announcements happen today, I decided to fill out my own personal Hall of Fame ballot. 

Woo hoo!

In a perfect world, only players wielding considerable credentials (like Ozzie) would get elected at all. 

I have good news for Bill: with the exception of Jim Rice and a handful of other players, everyone in the current hall wields considerable credentials.

But since the committee has shown astounding leniency over the years, we have to "dumb down" our ballot because so many of these players have Level 1 qualifications. 

Here's my great idea for fixing the Hall of Fame!  Also, my idea lets in a shitload of people who shouldn't get in, so it still needs some tweaking.

That's one reason I love the Pyramid idea so much, because the shaky HOF guys get crammed together on the bottom level, where they belong.

That's one reason I love the pyramid idea so much: it's got huge problems.

Anyway ...

Ozzie Smith: Yes
He was an underrated offensive player during the second part of his career ('85 to '93), 

This is actually true.

as well as a clutch playoff guy for some accomplished Cardinals teams (three pennants, one title). 

Career triple slash: .262/.337/.328.  Career playoff triple slash: .236/.325/.292.  But he did hit that one home run against the Dodgers in the NLCS that one time, and that's all a blockhead like Bill remembers, so he is forever clutch.  Not to say he doesn't belong in the HOF or anything.  He does.  I just enjoy watching Bill stumble over himself even as he gets the ultimate question correct.

And he was durable as hell. You could actually make the case that, in retrospect, Ozzie was the most valuable everyday player of the '80s.

You could, but you'd be really wrong, because Rickey Henderson played during the 80s.

Jim Rice & Dale Murphy: Yes and no

This is great.

You can't vote in Puckett last January, then claim that Rice isn't a Hall of Famer because he lacked longevity. 

Sure you can, because the circumstances of their disappearance from the game were much different.  Puckett is a very fringe guy, and maybe he shouldn't be in, but at least (unlike Rice) he was forced out of the game for medical reasons rather than just because he started sucking at it.  But Bill probably doesn't know that.

Come on. Puckett's career was cut short because of glaucoma; Rice's career was cut short because he lost his bat speed in a mysterious "X-Files"-type accident (even Kathleen Turner didn't slip that fast). 

Oh!  Color me shocked!  He does know that!  I won't copy and paste that again, but you should read it again.  It's breathtaking.  "Not fair that Puckett is in and Rice isn't--Puckett developed a crippling disease that ended his career early, and Rice's career ended at age 35 because he got terrible at baseball.  QED."

What's the difference? Rice was definitely a Level 1 guy.

Which, as we learned last post, means he was a fringe HOFer, but not as good as a level 2 guy, who were not as good as level 3 guys, for various reasons like "they weren't as good as level 3 guys."

As for Murphy, his numbers were awesome during that eight-year run from '80 to '87, but I don't remember him ever reaching that vaunted "Holy Crap" level that Rice reached from '77 to '79. His numbers (398 homers, four seasons with an OPS above .900) make him intriguing, but I can't recall the last time I said to myself, "Man, I miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball."

This is just too good.  Murphy's and Rice's resumes are astoundingly similar.  They're, like, within a single percent of each other. They are separated by a mere 17 PAs, 16 HR (advantage Murphy), and 1.7 WAR (advantage Rice).  Rice had about 300 more hits, but Murphy had about 300 more walks.  Rice wins handily in OPS+ (128 to 121), but Murphy stole 103 more bases and won 5 Gold Gloves at a premium defensive position.  It's a very close race--you can make a case for either being better than the other and not be wrong.  But Bill misses seeing Jim Rice play baseball and doesn't miss seeing Dale Murphy play baseball.  Wonder why?  Could it be related to the fact that, as someone pointed out in the comments to the last post, Murphy played in the boring and irrelevant National League?  I have an even nuttier theory--maybe it has something to do with the fact that Rice played for Bill's favorite team!  Anyways, maybe Bill can make a better case for Rice over Murphy.

I mean, Jim Rice broke his bat once on a checked swing. A checked swing!

Nope, he can't.

(Note: Don't underestimate the post-Murphy era bitterness on my part. With four of Murphy's rookie cards in my possession from the thousands and thousands of baseball cards I purchased in 1978, it was like holding four winning lottery tickets as Murphy's career bloomed in the mid-'80s. Now those cards are used as coasters in the Sports Guy Mansion. Damn it all.)

You're a fucking moron.

Don Mattingly, Steve Garvey and Keith Hernandez: No, no and no
[Mattingly]'s not even remotely close, and that's before we even mention the obvious Ewing Theory ramifications here -- the Yanks promptly rolled off four championships after he retired).

IT'S REAL!  THIS PROVES IT!  RENAME IT THE RONDO/MATTINGLY THEORY!  (Brief update on that: the Celtics are 17-12 since the injury, which is nice but not spectacular, and have lost 7 of their last 10.)

(Of course, every Yankees fan believes that Mattingly was a Level 4 Hall of Famer. You haven't really lived until you argued about the Hit Man's Hall of Fame credentials at a bar with a bunch of Yankees fans. It's like arguing about the existence of dinosaurs with Carl Everett -- relevant facts, statistics and evidence simply don't matter. 

Yes, but did Mattingly ever make you want to buy a ticket?  Do you miss seeing him play baseball?  Did he ever break a bat on a checked swing? 

As for Garvey, his credentials look pretty good, but I was alive during that time, and trust me ... we weren't hanging out on the playground flipping for Steve Garvey cards every day. 

Most likely because Garvey spent his whole career playing for teams 3,000 miles from Boston, but yeah, sure.

Hernandez almost gets my vote because of his defense and his watershed "Seinfeld" cameo ("I'm Keith Hernandez. ... I won the MVP in '79"), but his power numbers just weren't there in the mid-'80s. 

Hernandez was much better than Rice.  Shouldn't be in, but he was very good.

Does a first baseman who only cracked 100 RBI once and never seemed to get his OPS over the .800-to-.850 range 

Putting Bill's lack of knowledge of park factors aside, it's pretty great that Hernandez did get his OPS over .850 five times where as Rice did so six times.  Bringing Bill's lack of knowledge of park factors back into the discussion, it's pretty great that Hernandez and Rice finished with the same career OPS+, and Hernandez played great defense.

qualify as a Hall of Famer? I can't see it. How can you only average 89 RBI from '84 to '87 on those Mets teams when you're batting third?

Why should we penalize him for being told by his manager to bat third when he had the skillset of a great second hitter?  (I typed "#2 hole hitter" first but that looked awkward so I changed the wording lololololol)

Mike Henneman, Davey Concepcion, Jeff Russell, Scott Sanderson, Tim Wallach, Lenny Dykstra, Mike Greenwell, Robby Thompson: No, no, no, no, no, no, no and no
How did these guys even sneak on the ballot? 

You could always just look it up and learn that anyone who plays in at least part of ten seasons makes the ballot.  They had search engines in 2002, Bill.  I know they did.  I was there!  I saw Altavista break a bat with a checked swing once!

I love the fact that Mike Greenwell made the cut. High comedy. Apparently, Carlos Quintana was knocked off at the last minute.

Carlos Quintana only played in parts of five seasons.  Poor fella.

Bert Blyleven and Tommy John: No and no
Blyleven seems to be gaining steam because of the Sutton Factor (22 years, 287 wins, 3.34 ERA and a startling 3702 K's), 

"Blyleven seems to be gaining steam because he has an impressive resume, including a shitload of strikeouts"

his infamous Uncle Charlie, one of the memorable beards of the '80s, and one of Chris Berman's best nicknames (Bert "Be Home" Blyleven). I wouldn't be outraged if he made the cut. On the other hand, I can't remember coming home from school and having my father say to me, "Let's go to Fenway and scalp tickets -- Bert Blyleven's in town!" He's out.

You should be thrown off of a cruise ship.

John's résumé was pretty similar to Blyleven (26 seasons, 288 wins, 3.31 ERA, not nearly as many K's), and he was a Red Sox killer who personified the term "crafty southpaw." Frankly, I was terrified of him. But he wasn't quite a Hall of Famer -- like Blyleven, he was never a clear-cut "This guy's one of the best pitchers alive right now" guy. Plus, he played for the Yankees. He's out.

Both of these guys were way better than Jack Morris.  Blyleven was so much better it almost makes me feel bad for Morris when I explain the gap between their resumes.

Frank Viola, Jim Kaat, Ron Guidry: No, no and no

Viola and Guidry both fell short of 200 wins, but in terms of ERA+ and WAR, were better than Morris.  Kaat has basically the same resume as Morris.  BUT HOW MANY OPENING DAY STARTS DID HE MAKE????

Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter: Yes and no
If you needed six outs from 1977-1984, Gossage was The Guy. 

Canadians everywhere eagerly anticipate Eric Gagne's eventual inclusion.

Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker: No and no

Both of these guys should be in, especially Whitaker.  Also: Trammell had more WAR in the 80s that "arguably most valuable player of the 80s" Ozzie Smith.

Both of them made me at least say, "Hmmmmmmmm." Trammell anchored some nice Tigers teams in the mid-'80s and was a fantasy draft staple at short -- let the record show that he went ahead of Cal Ripken in my draft just about every year in the '80s and early-'90s (and he was just as good defensively). 

That's possible Level 5 of the Pyramid Inductee Cal Ripken to you, bub!

Dave Parker: No
And it's his own damned fault. If it's any consolation, he makes my All-Cocaine team, which is not to be confused with the '86 Mets.

Ah, the early 00s, a time when "people used coke a lot during the 80s" jokes were still (ostensibly) fresh.

Gary Carter: Yes
I loved Carlton Fisk as much as anyone, but for an entire decade (1977 to 1986), Gary Carter was the best catcher in baseball. It's not even up for discussion. And given that he anchored those Mets staffs in the mid-'80s and started the game-winning rally against Calvin Schiraldi in That Game (ugh), 

Good thing Carter did that one thing that one time in a game against the Most Important Team in Baseball!  Otherwise, he'd probably be out.

Andre Dawson: No
The Hawk! Sixteen quality seasons in a 20-year career, 438 homers, one Rookie of the Year, eight Gold Gloves, one MVP, consistently a .285/30/95 guy, one of the two best right fielders of his era (along with Dave Winfield), a guy who battled knee problems during the majority of his career and still produced every season, and he even had a cup of coffee with the Red Sox.

Good thing Dawson did that one thing that one time in a game against the Most Important Team in Baseball!  Unfortunately, he's still out, even though he was way better than Jim Rice.

But other than his '87 season with the Cubs, I can't remember ever thinking to myself, "Man, it doesn't get any better than Andre Dawson!" 


Jack Morris, Luis Tiant: Yes and yes

254 W
2500 Ks
ERA+ 105
40 WAR

287 W
3700 Ks
ERA+ 118

While Morris's ALL CAPS thingy was a great moment, I'm pretty sure Blyleven's ALL CAPS thingy beats it.  The only one of those two guys who belongs in the hall is the one who's already there.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 3

Finally, we step inside the pyramid of stupid.  (Note: the commentary I provide about certain players here is far from comprehensive, when it comes to addressing how much of a dope Bill is.  I'm sure that as you read you'll notice dozens of problems in Bill's analysis that I didn't address--feel free to talk about them in the comments.  Trying to address all of the stupid here is a task too large for one dude.)

Level 1
Ground floor of The Pyramid ...

Thank you for clarifying. I figured it would be the 14th floor.

designated for marginal guys who were considered "Borderline Hall of Famers,"

Aside from how dumb an idea this whole pyramid thing is (and just as subjective as the stupid voting process we have now, obviously), this is also middle school essay level writing. "Let me tell you about the first level of my imaginary Hall of Fame that will be located on the first level of the building that has the Hall of Fame in it."

either because of the Rice Factor

The factor that gets unworthy candidates in?

(great career, not long enough)

Oh, you mean the Bill Terry factor. Got it.

or the Sutton Factor (very good for a long time, rarely great)

Really not fair to name it after a pitcher, no matter how bitter you are that a guy with 63 career WAR and five top five Cy finishes beat out Rice in the previous year's election. Due to health issues, it's much harder for pitchers to be "compilers" than it is for hitters. Let's call what you're referring to here the Dawson Factor.

... anyone voted in simply because they reached a benchmark (400 homers, 300 wins, etc.)

Yeah, if only Rice had gotten to... well, any meaningful counting stat benchmark, maybe he wouldn't have waited until the 15th ballot before being wrongfully elected.

would be thrown in here ... you could even include players who broke significant individual records (Don Larsen, Roger Maris, Johnny Vander Meer,

Yes, if you were completely fucking stupid, that's something you could do.

etc. -- though, personally, I say no).

A controversial stance!  Most people say Fernando Tatis belongs in for hitting two grand slams in the same inning from opposite sides of the plate, but a brave and vocal minority opposes them.

Modern "L1" examples: Carter, Sutton, Phil Niekro,

Funny thing about Niekro--sure, his counting totals are assisted by the fact that he pitched until he was like 60, but he had DOUBLE Jim Rice's rWAR, and the year Rice won the MVP, Niekro led MLB in rWAR. It took him 42 starts to do it, but even if you discount his starts back to the number most other top line pitchers had that year (about 35), he probably deserved the NL Cy. Naturally, because he won 19 games instead of 20 (and lost 18... thanks, Braves offense), he finished 6th in the Cy voting.

Gaylord Perry,

Another guy so much better than Rice that memorials to their careers shouldn't be in the same city, let alone same building. Mind you, I don't want to take the anti-Rice thing too far--the point of this post is to dump on Simmons's writing and analytical abilities, not Rice, but the two are pretty closely linked in this case. I can't help myself.

Gossage, Rice, Morris,


Catfish Hunter, Wade Boggs,

Another guy, this time a hitter, who was abundantly better than Jim Rice. In no way are Wade Boggs and his 79 rWAR and .328/.415/.443 triple slash a fringe HOFer. The only reason he barely cleared 3000 hits was because he was so fucking good at walking--26th all time. If he wanted to swing at everything and eschew BBs, he probably could have had 3500 hits. With the incredible contact skills and eye but lack of HR power, he was basically a better version of Tony Gwynn. Now just wait until you see where Gwynn ends up.

Tony Perez, Lee Smith,


Rollie Fingers, Tom Glavine (if he keeps going strong). You get the idea.

Glavine is by no means a fringe guy, he should get in pretty quickly after joining the ballot, but I can't blame Bill for thinking that's where he would end up at the time this article was written. Glavine had 224 W and 51.5 rWAR through his age 35 season. He picked up 81 more W and almost 19 more WAR from that point on. Dude had longevity.

Level 2
Second floor of The Pyramid ... not quite as cluttered, not as much space ...

Is it above level 1? Thank you for continuing to explain how multistory buildings work.

reserved for guys who were definitely Hall of Famers, but didn't quite possess a Level 3 résumé for one or more of the following reasons:

Their team never won a World Series.
Something was missing from their career totals.
They never enjoyed an outrageously good single season.
Somebody else played their position during their time who was better.
Their career was shortened by injury and/or rapidly declining skills.

These criteria get a lot funnier when you see who made the cut for level 3. Also, I feel like "something was missing from their career totals" is a little too specific (hyper-specific, if you ask Gregggggg). Can we maybe dull that down, make it a little more generalized?  Something like "they wasn't always teh best."

Modern "L2" examples: Robin Yount, Carlton Fisk, Dave Winfield, Willie Stargell, Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, Ryne Sandberg, Kirby Puckett, Carl Yastrzemski, Paul Molitor.

There are a dozen snarky comments I could make here, including the fact that each and every one of those guys exceeds all of the above criteria (except in some cases the WS win, which is a fucking idiotic thing to consider when voting for the HOF), but I want to finish this post in under four hours, so I just want to dial in on one name on that list. Which one? Well, I'll give you a hint: Bill really is defying the stereotype of the homerific Bostonian here. Because FACKIN' YAZ is one of the 25 or so best hitters of all time. To put him on the second level of this asinine HOF reboot is idiotic. 90 career rWAR, 3400+ hits, 450+ HR, good defense. You can count the number of outfielders better than him to ever play the game on your two hands. He ruled. But yeah, he didn't win a WS (neither did Ted Williams, but he isn't stuck on this level for some reason), so apparently Bill can't possibly elevate him to match the likes of this next group of players, which includes many guys who never won a WS who were vastly inferior to Yastrzemski.

Level 3
Reserved for the "No-Doubt-About-It" Hall of Famers ...

Wait, is it on the third floor of the pyramid?

these guys were undoubtedly the best at their position for years and years, with all the requisite "résumé" stats to match ... unfortunately, there's a distinct, crucial difference between Level 3 and Level 4 (explanation coming).

Let's recap Bill's explanations for his stratification plan. Level 1: fringe HOFers (also--located on the first floor of the HOF). Level 2: better than level 1, but not as good as level 3. Level 3: these guys were awesome, but not as good as level 4 guys for reasons that will soon be apparent. How fucking far forward is he going to push the fucking buck?  You know an idea is terrible when the person who came up with it can't even make a coherent pitch regarding its most important specifics.

Modern "L3" examples: Joe Morgan, Ozzie Smith (more on him later), George Brett,

Brett and Yastrzemski are actually pretty comparable to one another, except that Yastrzemski was better.

Roberto Clemente, Brooks Robinson, Rickey Henderson,

Henderson is one of the 20 best players ever.  He does not belong on this level.

Tony Gwynn,

No.  Not on this level, anyways.

Robbie Alomar, Eddie Murray,

Murray was good and all, one of only (I think) five guys with 3000 hits and 500 HR, but his rate stats and career WAR (63.4 rWAR) are so-so.

Greg Maddux (assuming he keeps cruising along), Randy Johnson (ditto),

These two were so fucking good. I wish I appreciated them more when they were still playing. Totally uninteresting story: Johnson recorded his 300th career win in a game against the Nationals during 2009 that was a makeup of a game that got rained out the night before. I was at the night game that got rained out. I was this close to seeing history! Like I said, completely uninteresting to the rest of you.

Dennis Eckersley (a unique case, but definitely).

That's the worst parenthetical I've ever seen. Evidently Bill's documented refusal to let his work be edited goes back to before he became a big swinging dick.

Level 4
These are basically "L3" guys, only there's something just inherently "greater" about them.

Jesus Jumproping Christ.  Fucking worthless.

Some possible indications:

Do you have to consider them in any "best of all-time" discussions?

Henderson, Maddux, Yastrzemski, Morgan...

Did they have transcendent games or memorable moments?

Yeah, none of those kinds of games/moments for the guys on levels 1-3.  

Did they hit 500 homers, get 3,000 hits or win 300 games?

Almost every single one of those level 3 guys did one of those things.

Were they just dominant at times?

Always good for your credibility when you explain excellence in the same way Tedy Bruschi or Trent Dilfer or some other mouthbreathing former player turned talking head does.  THE THING I LIKE ABOUT FOOTBALL PLAYER J.J. WATT IS THAT HE IS JUST DOMINANT OUT THERE ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD.

Will you always remember watching them play, even when you're 80 years old and peeing on yourself?

As you can see, there is a very distinct line drawn between the third level guys and the fourth level guys.

Modern "L4" examples: Reggie Jackson,

I know that because this was written before the 2004 Red Sox title, Bill probably harbored a pretty nasty inferiority complex with regard to the Yankees, but Jackson really wasn't that great.  He's a lot like Eddie Murray, and not in the same area code as the rest of these level 4 guys, with one hilarious exception.

Steve Carlton, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan (a great argument here -- some don't even consider him a Hall of Famer),

Those people are fucking idiots. I'm surprised Bill isn't one of them.

Mark McGwire,

Hahahahahahahahahah--like I said, Jackson isn't as good as these guys with one hilarious exception.  Yes, Big Mac and his 58 career rWAR definitely belong in the company of guys like Seaver.

Barry Bonds (maybe even a little low for him, as scary as that sounds),

You'll notice I haven't had the opportunity to make any Boston racist jokes in this post. Bill won't let me.  He's shilling for Rice while claiming Yaz wasn't as good as Tony Gwynn, and now he acknowledges Bonds's greatness.

Roger Clemens (it hurts, but it's true).


(Note: Pete Rose should be an "L4 guy,"

No. Even with his insane longevity and kajillion hits, he didn't crack 80 WAR. Also: how fucking dumb is Rose? Guy is just a moron.  I want him to get into the HOF, but every time he opens his mouth, something mind-bogglingly stupid tumbles out.

Dwight Gooden should have been an "L4 guy," and Darryl Strawberry could have been an "L4 guy." None of them make it ... although Rose should be here eventually because Ty Cobb's in here, and Rose couldn't have been more of a jerk then Cobb. Also, other than Clemens and Bonds, out of the veterans playing right now, Junior Griffey, Maddux and maybe Randy Johnson have the best shots at Level Four. It's too early to tell about anyone else.)

I get why he's using "It's too early to tell" here, and it makes sense, but it also sounds like something Joe Morgan would say to avoid giving an answer in a chat.  "Who do I think will win the World Series this year?  It's too early to tell, and I haven't seen anyone play any games, so I really can't say."

Level 5
Take a deep breath. Level 5 is the top of the pyramid, literally and figuratively. 


You can rattle the L5 guys off the top of your head: 

EVERYONE AGREES ON THIS!  NO ONE DENIES THIS!  That's the best part about this whole article--he's operating under the premise that the current way election to the HOF goes is all fucked up and needs to be revamped to make sure the hall more accurately reflects reality.  Given how oblivious he is to, well, pretty much everything, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he doesn't see how much subjectivity is involved here.  If you asked 100 very seriously baseball fans to choose their top sixteen players of all time, how many lists would be completely identical?

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Joe DiMaggio, Grover Alexander, Ted Williams, Mickey Mantle, Jackie Robinson, 

Obviously a very important figure in MLB (and American) history, and no doubt a HOF-caliber player, but he really doesn't belong with these other guys.

Rogers Hornsby, Stan Musial, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson and Honus Wagner.

Sixteen in all. That's it. That's Level 5. The best of the best. The Pantheon.


Hey, maybe it wouldn't work. 

It wouldn't.  It's a horrible idea.

Maybe it's too complicated. 

Yes, that's part of the reason it's horrible.  

Maybe it's too far-fetched. 

I mean, it's simpler and more accurate to say it's just a super shitty idea.

But you have to admit, it makes the process infinitely more interesting.

Real life HOF process: voters choose whether players get in or not.  Bill's process: voters choose whether players get in or not AND what level they go on (note: the delineations between the levels will be very unclear).  SO INTERESTING.  WATCH YOUR BACK, NFL.  YOUR STRANGLEHOLD ON THE AMERICAN POPULACE'S ATTENTION IS AS GOOD AS FINISHED.

Part 4 later this week.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

I've seen some embarrassing shit written about the NFL and Roger Goodell

But this takes the cake. I'm not going to break this down, but if you want to see NFL shilling at its most embarrassing level, this would be it.

Michael Silver: is a huge piece of shit.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Severely, severely embarrassing

I'm definitely going to finish the Simmons "Let's turn the Hall of Fame into a novelty structure celebrating the careers of Jim Rice and Jack Morris" article later, probably Friday, but this particular dumpster fire could not wait.  Holy fucking cat shit.  Even for Rick Reilly, this is indescribably bad.  I've never seen a journalist lower themselves to shill for a franchise or league like this before.  Not even immediately before and during the NFL lockout, when mouthbreathers like Peter King stepped up to defend the league and (try to) give credence to the claim that its then-current revenue sharing model was unsustainable.  Not even then.  This is worse.

For the 98th straight season, the Chicago Cubs will attempt baseball this season in Wrigley Field. It's historic, magical and covered in vegetation. Then again, so is Machu Picchu and nobody's trying to win baseball games there.

We start off with a dip into the bottomless well of comedy that is Machu Picchu.

I love Wrigley Field. 

I used to live in Chicago and have attended many games at Wrigley.  If you have any experience with that decrepit (but profitable!) place, you'll agree with me that Rick serves as an excellent proxy for every fat, loud 50something business tripper/midlife crisis haver getting drunk in the bars around Wrigley on game day, sloppily hitting on reluctant 20somethings, and boasting about his plans to head down to the Viagra Triangle to crush some steaks at Morton's after the game.

But I'm not a Cubs fan. 

Perhaps your most redeeming quality.

If I were a Cubs fan, I would despise Wrigley. I'd want Wrigley laid flatter than Wrigley gum.

Gum is flat!

There's a reason the Cubs have never won a World Series at Wrigley. There's a reason they're 0-for-the-last-67 pennant races at Wrigley.

Yes.  Really, it's a confluence of factors, but it can be summed up in not too many words.  First, in the very long term, part of it is just bad luck, because fuck, you'd think they would have stumbled ass-backwards into a title at least once in the last century, right?  The Marlins have two in in the last sixteen years for crisesakes.  A few bounces go differently in 2003, and they at least win the pennant that year.  But anyways, that's just part of it.  The rest is that for years, the Cubs have had incompetent management and ownership, and have fielded subpar teams while making money hand over fist.  It's a pretty common story in the wide world of professional sports, although many teams run in a similarly terrible manner break through and manage to secure a title at least once every half century or so.  Anyways, the reason the Cubs haven't won a pennant since 1945 or a World Series since 1908 has barely a fucking thing to do with Wrigley.

The reason IS Wrigley.


Wrigley isn't just the old family dog that needs to be put down. It's an old family dog that probably costs the Cubs about $73 million a year.

I know what you're thinking.  Just wait until he gets there.

That's three Prince Fielders!

The EXACT kind of player teams like the Cubs should avoid signing, because he's not going to get them from where they are to a championship.  See: Soriano, Alfonso, a man currently signed to the worst contract in baseball not involving a Phillies first baseman.

Where do I get $73 million?

My guess: by sitting down to a nice dinner with a member of the Ricketts ownership group, or someone employed by them, and asking "How much do you want me to say you're losing as a result of playing in Wrigley?  You name the dollar amount, pick up the tab for this food, and I'll write the story.  Also: can we talk about how exciting golf is during the meal?"

Start from the outside-in -- with the money-sucking rooftop mini-stadiums that metastasize outside the ballpark.

Ah yes, the mini-stadiums that, per a 2004 agreement with the Cubs (which has a twenty year term, because the Cubs are fucking idiots--more on that later), give the team 17% of their gross revenue in exchange for the team agreeing not to block the rooftop views.  Or in other words, 17% of their gross revenue in exchange for the Cubs doing exactly nothing.

The owners of these annoying watchtowers sell tickets as though they were the Cubs themselves.

The correct way to state that is that they sell tickets as though they are people who own property next to the stadium, which... they are.

They even sell season tickets! 

Even if the presence of the rooftops seats were something outrageous, I'm not sure how this would contribute to the outrageousness.

The city continues to protect these leeches, who pass themselves off as mom and pop entrepreneurs, but actually rake in an estimated $24 million a year, according to the club.

Where to begin: first of all, I hope you believed me when I said the Cubs probably paid Rick to write this column, because by this point in the article, he's practically admitting it.  Second of all, the city is not protecting the rooftop owners.  The deal the rooftop owners struck with the Cubs, which runs through 2023, is protecting the rooftop owners.  Guess who was at the bargaining table for those negotiations, undoubtedly represented by very expensive lawyers and with full knowledge of what they were and were not agreeing to?  THE FUCKING CUBS, WHO HAVE NO ONE TO BLAME BUT THEMSELVES.  Third of all, let's assume the rooftops do make $24 million (combined, not each) every year.  The Cubs have what is considered to be a very bad TV deal in the current climate for sports broadcasting rights.  It expires after 2014, and at that point they will undoubtedly work to get an deal in place that dwarfs it, possibly similar to the gargantuan deal the Dodgers just signed which will pay the team about $250-$300 million a year for the next 25 years.  Do you know what this current bad deal (split between WGN and Comcast) pays the Cubs per year?  $45 million.  So yeah, I think bitching about a dozen or so rooftops making a couple million a year is pretty fucking pathetic.

Of that, the Cubs get a paltry 17 percent, or $4 million a year.

Which they themselves agreed to in an arm's length negotiation, in exchange for doing nothing.  It may well have been a bad deal, and given that the Cubs agreed to it, it probably is.  But they sure as shit can't blame the city and they can't blame the rooftop owners.

Any fair deal would give them at least half.

Perhaps.  Guess Rick should have led those negotiations.  No worries, Rick: in ten years, when the deal is up, you'll get your chance to make sure those poor destitute owners get the deal they deserve!

(There's $8 million they don't get.)

And here begins Rick's political campaign-worth math exercise.  Try to stay with him, now: the Cubs play at Wrigley Field ==> the Cubs agreed to not obstruct the views of the rooftop owners around Wrigley Field in exchange for $4 million a year ==> Wrigley Field is costing the Cubs $8 million per year.

Inside, the Cubs are prohibited from putting up advertising signs that could make them up to $30 million more a year (that would be $38 million) because the signs would block the views of the precious rooftop oglers and the city can't have that.

We have already been over this like four times.  The Cubs are "prohibited" from doing so because in exchange for that $4 million per year they're getting, they agreed not to build any signs.  This is called a legally enforceable contract.  Each side offers consideration to the other.  If they fail to deliver what they have promised, the other side can bring suit against them to remedy the breach.  To complain that the Cubs aren't getting enough from the rooftops and simultaneously lament that the Cubs are "prohibited" from building signs that block the rooftops is the height of disingenuous bullshit.

You talk about a business being in your business. Can you imagine this happening to any other business?

I can!

Hey, H&R Block! We're not going to pay you for your tax advice, but we ARE going to pocket the cash people give us to sit outside your window and listen to it!

Just wait until Rick finds out that people sell beer, hot dogs, and (often) unlicensed Cubs apparel MERE BLOCKS from the stadium!  What a bunch of leeches!

If all this seems insane to you, you should talk to Bruce Springsteen.

Ah yes, Bruce Springsteen, that champion of big business who hates it when the little guy makes a buck here and there.

In the middle of a recent concert at Wrigley, he stopped, turned toward the rooftops and said, with a smirk, "Everybody up on the roof! Who'd you pay?"

Well first of all, they paid the Cubs with 17% of their ticket price.  Second of all, it's sad to hear he said that, and I hope he didn't, but if so it's because the Cubs got to him like they got to Reilly.  Give the Ricketts credit for trying to win the PR war--the Tribune Co. (owners of the team until the Ricketts bought it in 2009) would have been far too stupid to even realize that was something they should attempt.

You say, "Well, the Cubs aren't really a business. They're a city treasure, a kind of living museum."

No one says this.  This is the worst straw man ever.  Everyone knows that pro sports teams are enormous businesses.  It just so happens that to some people, the Cubs are also a charming local institution with a lot of cool history.  Most of those people will die of heart disease before the age of 45, but there are a lot of them in the greater Chicagoland area, and even they know the Cubs are "really a business."

Fine, if they're a city treasure, then the city should help support them, the way it did for this summer's 30th anniversary of the Chicago Blues Festival, which received a $15,000 grant.

I hope you didn't have any liquid in your mouth when you read that, because you probably just ruined your laptop.  WHERE IS THE $15,000 GRANT FOR THE CUBS, MAYOR EMANUEL?  SHAME ON YOU.  THEY'RE STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET UP THERE AT CLARK AND ADDISON.

The Cubs pay 12 percent city "amusement" tax on every ticket (about $17 million a year -- we're up to $55 million), and yet the city doesn't give them a dime. Very unamusing.

My angle in this post so far has mostly focused on his gross mischaracterization of the 2004 rooftop deal, but let's not neglect his embarrassingly pathetic overarching message that a team with nine figure annual income, valued by Forbes as the 36th most valuable pro sports franchise in the world in 2012, is in some kind of financial quagmire.  I don't mean to turn this into #OccupyWrigley, but holy fucking shit on a stick, the Cubs shouldn't be paying taxes on their tickets?  What the fuck is wrong with you?  Also, that $17 million, to the extent it's even worth acknowledging the argument, has nothing to do with Wrigley itself.  Obviously any stadium in any part of Chicago, rooftop LEECHES or not, would be paying that tax.

There's more. You can open the doors of your business pretty much whenever you want, but the Cubs can't. They're allowed to play only 30 night games a year. And they can't even pick the nights. When owner Tom Ricketts inquired if they might play a few Saturday night games this season, the local restaurants fumed, "It'll kill our dinner business!"

This is the only part of the article that is not buttfuckery of the highest order.  In short: until 1988, the Cubs did not play any night games.  That year they finally began doing so after installing lights, but they had to make a deal with the city restricting the number of night games they could play per season to get the lights approved in the first place.  Part of the city's justification was the high degree to which Wrigley is integrated with its surrounding neighborhood, making night games a pain in the ass for local resident.  These regulations remain in place today, and really, I think the Cubs probably have a legitimate gripe in wanting them relaxed.  The area directly bordering Wrigley is all businesses at this point anyways.  And anyone who moves to the neighborhood certainly knows what they're getting themselves into (unless they do so during winter and have the least informative real estate agent ever): Cubs fans are going to piss on your house.  They're going to.  They might be slightly less inclined to do so after a day game than after a night game, but it's going to happen.  If the Cubs want to play a normal "every game is a night game except for getaway day" schedule, fuck it, I say let them.

Now back to the buttfuckery.

Got it. Everybody gets to compete for customers except the Cubs.

The degree to which he's shilling for the team is exactly as embarrassing as I promised it would be, right?

Any idea how much more the Cubs could get for a TV package with 55 night games, which is what many teams play and when most fans watch? Me neither, but let's guess $5 million. (We're up to $60 million.)

Regardless of their day/night game balance, starting in 2015 they're going to have a deal that's worth a fuck of a lot more than $45 million per year.  Let's try not to weep too hard for them.

God forbid they'd want to put up a decent video replay board, which is ad gold for most teams and, by the way, a place where Cubs fans could actually tell the score of the game without having to do the inning-by-inning math themselves, as they do now on the old hand-lettered relic in center. ($7 million? Total so far: $67 million.)

They can do this anytime they want.  This is one of the few complaints raised that actually directly relates to Wrigley (as opposed to if they played in a different, modernized stadium in a different location) but unfortunately for Rick it's still fucking idiotic.

Plus, can you imagine the frogs that would rain down if they tried to sell the name of the stadium? They could never do what the White Sox did, which is to sell Comiskey to U.S. Cellular for $68 million over 20 years. The Cubs could probably get $100 million. There's another $5 million a year. (That's $72 million.)

Again, they are welcome to do this anytime they want.  Not even those nefarious robber baron rooftop owners would be able to stop them.

And forget about how long it takes you to get up and get a hot dog at Wrigley (two innings sometimes), or get to the restroom and back (often three). Hell, by the third inning, the Cubs are on their third reliever. No wonder so many people sneak food in. What's that total in lost concessions? A million? (We're at $73 million.)

Who cares, but yeah, Wrigley is a fucking trashhole for a lot of reasons and this is one of them.  They can't really remedy this until they move to a new stadium.  Too bad for them.

And that's just the money they don't get.

You say this as if you have made arguments so far in this article that would be convincing to anyone other than the Ricketts family.

Imagine the players they don't get -- because of their weird start times, their rotting training facilities, their wimpy weight room, their nonexistent in-game batting cage, their backachingly small clubhouse and their 104-year ringless streak.

To the extent this is even an issue, which, who the fuck knows if it is unless you hook a bunch of MLB players up to lie detectors and then ask them if these things actually make the Cubs an unattractive destination, it can and has been remedied by money many times in the past.  See: Soriano, Alfonso, and many many others.

Can you imagine what a genius like Cubs GM Theo Epstein could do with another $73 million a year? He'd be Theo, Unchained. He'd have the fourth-highest payroll in MLB instead of the 15th (2012). One of the biggest draws in sports shouldn't be 15th in anything.

Prior to 2012, they had not been outside of the top 10 in payroll since 2003.  They were 3rd as recently as 2010.

The Red Sox finally stopped treating their little neighborhood park like it was a Faberge egg. They started putting up signs everywhere at Fenway, maxed out revenue anywhere they could, and won two of the past 9 World Series. You hear Boston fans complaining?

Again, with the fucking signs.  Good thing the Red Sox were able to put up those signs after reneging on their deal to not do so with the rooftop owners around Fenway!

And yet Ricketts doesn't want to raze Wrigley.


He was practically raised on Wrigley. He lives close enough that he takes the "L" to most games.

MLB owners: they're just like us!

And because he loves it, he has offered to pour $500 million of the family's money into renovating Wrigley -- $300 million for fixing the joint and the rest into a proposed hotel/fitness club across the street.

And what does Ricketts want for plowing no government cheese into the Wrigley rat trap? Not a dime. 

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA nice try.  There is a sizable difference between "not wanting any city funding" and "being told to fuck off after asking for city funding."

He just wants the city to relax some of the restrictions that make the Cubs a kind of crippled Carnival cruise ship with foul poles.

There's your trademark Rick Reilly Topical Joke.  I think I liked the Machu Picchu one better.

And STILL aldermen such as Thomas Tunney are gumming it all up. Tunney wants more parking, more cops 

What business is it of the city that the city not be turned into a fucking mess after a business does a huge construction project to expand their operation?  The nerve!

and to extend the sleazy rooftops deal, 


all of which he doesn't want to pay for.

Why the fuck should he, or more accurately, should the city?  Make a good argument, Rick.

"You're talking about one of the richest families in America," Tunney told reporters the other day.


Not at this rate.

Do you have douchechills yet?

Epstein really didn't want any part of this column, but he did email to say, "We're focused on doing everything we can with what we have available to us now to make the baseball operation as healthy and successful as possible."

Too bad there's so little available.

Oh my God.  Oh my God oh my God oh my God oh my God

It's simple, Chicago. You can either have your creaky, quaint, vine-covered crypt, or you can win. But you can't have both.

Let's recap: first of all, the Cubs, like every single other MLB team, are not hurting for money and will not be anytime soon.  Second of all, the team is about to get a gigantic TV contract that will gives it more revenue than it'll know what to do with.  Third of all, Wrigley has one unfixable revenue problem (concessions line lengths), several revenue problems that are difficult but not overly burdensome and could be fixed with some clever negotiating (number of night games, amount of advertising in the stadium, rooftop deal), and several revenue problems that the team simply has chosen not to fix because they like the history of the stadium (no fancy scoreboard, no naming rights).  Together, those problems are probably 1% of the reason the Cubs suck and have sucked for some time.  The other 99% is attributable to incompetence, something that Epstein might be able to do something about, but that Ricketts seems to be contributing to.  Fourth of all, anytime the Cubs want to build a new stadium, they'd have financiers lined up around the block, and said new stadium would undoubtedly be one of the best revenue generators in sports, but it won't happen because Ricketts himself doesn't want to do it.

For those reasons, dear reader, you should feel sorry for the Cubs.

Do the math. You're used to it.

Is that supposed to be a taunt?  Is there a reference to Chicagoans being good at math that I'm not getting, other than the fact that everyone knows it's been 100+ years since the Cubs won a World Series, which, let's face it, doesn't really involve much math?

Rick Reilly is the worst sportswriter on the planet.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 2

When we last left Bill, he was lecturing us about how Jim Rice was the best power hitter of the 20th century, and possibly the best point guard and free safety as well.  Don Sutton was just some nobody who just happened to pitch at a very high level for 20+ seasons, and really, why the hell should that qualify him for the Hall of Fame?  Are you ready for the worst argument anyone ever makes when discussing a player's HOF worthiness?  Here it comes.

There's a reason I take this so personally: I was there.


Carter, Rice, Morris and Gossage were the best players at their respective positions


(or at least among the best) when I was growing up.

Maybe, but not everyone who fits into your flimsy "among the best" definition deserves to be the Hall. This should be brutally obvious, but I do like the implication in that parenthetical that he's willing to walk back his absurd claim that Rice was the best power hitter in the game for a 12 year stretch.

Shouldn't that be what the Hall of Fame represents?

You think that's rhetorical, but it's not. The Hall of Fame should represent the very best baseball players of all time, and by very best, I mean players who were really good and they stayed really good for a long time. I almost hesitate to include that clarification--it should be obvious that being the best of all time doesn't mean being really awesome for a short period of time. It means being really awesome for a long period of time.  Lots of players have been really awesome for a short or medium period of time.  They don't belong in the hall, because there are a pretty good number of other players who have been really awesome for a long period of time.  Holy shit, why do I even think I have to explain that to any of you people?  Embarrassing.  Suffice it to say, if you're not a fucking idiot, you know generally what the HOF "should represent."

Excellence over a reasonably long period of time?

Yes, but "while Billy was growing up" is clearly not a long enough window if you think that Rice belongs in. Having four 5+ WAR seasons (and another one at 4.9), and then having seven or eight other seasons in which you had around 25 HR and 2 WAR (because he didn't get on base enough and couldn't play decent defense or run the bases) is not excellence over a reasonably long period of time. Reverse the number of seasons Rice fell into each of those two categories--seven or eight awesome 5+ WAR seasons, and then four or five "eh he hit home runs but generally wasn't that good" and he's probably in the Hall, or at least a much better candidate.

The problems don't end there. Remember how your grandparents refused to use the TV remote control and insisted on getting up and changing the channels manually?

No. My grandparents loved the piss out of using the remote.

If there were a sports equivalent of that phenomenon, it would be the Baseball Hall of Fame, where the prevailing theme is, "That's the way they did it back then, so that's the way we'll do it now."

Oh brother. The HOF sure as shit needs to make some changes, but letting in more Jim Rices, or doing what he's about to propose, aren't any of them.

Not to turn into Chandler Bing here,

And in case you weren't already aware, there's your evidence that this column is from 2002.

but could the entire process be more dumb?

That Matthew Perry--he is just too much!  Anyways, the process definitely could be dumber. As bad as the BWAA is, they could hand the vote over to current members of the HOF, or to current players. That would be really, really dumb.

Could it be less fan-friendly?

How are you going to make it more fan friendly? By letting fans themselves vote for the players? Jesus H. Christ, what a disaster that would be. These last two rhetorical questions have really deepened my appreciation for the BWAA.

Could it be any less thought-provoking?

It's very thought provoking. See: the insane number of articles written and amount of debate that takes place every single year regarding who should get in and who should not. But I like that you wanted to add a third thing to your list of Chandler Bing rhetorical question complaints, even if you came up with something that is completely out of place.

Ask yourself this question: Did you argue about the Hall of Fame selections with anyone this week?

Yes, I either directly argue about them or read articles/comments in which people argue about them every single January.

Of course not ... you probably don't care.

You can see where he's going. This is not an article written for baseball fans, but an article written for people who say DURR HURR BASEBALL IS BORRRRING BUT I WOULD WATCH IF THE HALL OF FAME ADMISSION PROCESS WAS BASED ON 40 TIMES AND BENCH REPS.  Or something.  What baseball fan doesn't care about the HOF?

And why should you?

Because I like baseball?

It's like arguing about the Grammy Awards: You know they don't accurately reflect excellence in music.

Wow, that is mean. Comparing the HOF to the Grammys--I didn't realize he had anything that dark in him. But really, that's a wholly inaccurate comparison made by a person who has no fucking idea what he's talking about. (I mean with regard to the HOF. He obviously knows that the Grammys are a joke, because everyone knows that the Grammys are a joke.)

If they did, Toto wouldn't have won four Grammys in 1982.


And that's why none of us really care about the Baseball Hall of Fame,

Every baseball fan cares about the HOF. Some non-baseball fans do too. I'm not sure if things were way different eleven years ago, or if Bill just has his head in his ass again. I am leaning towards the latter.

and the only people who do care -- ancient baseball writers -- will be dead soon, anyway.

If we're lucky. I'd still rather they be voting than fans, HOF inductees or current players though.

It's almost a lost cause. Almost. Of course, I still think the whole thing can be salvaged.

Wait! Tell us, Mr. Genius! Tell us how to save this thing that does not need to be saved! I'm sure your idea, like the rest of your ideas, is not horrid at all. THE HALL OF FAME NEEDS A VP OF CAWMON SENSE!

While driving to Shea Stadium five summers ago with my buddy Gus and his father, Wally, we came up with a brainstorm to save the Hall of Fame.

If only Billy Joel could have been driving on that same Queens highway at that same time.

We were inadvertently borrowing Bill James' plan to redefine Hall of Famers and "weigh them" for importance depending on their qualifications, a process James explained in his "Historical Abstract" (none of us were aware of this at the time).

I know I said last post that the next article any of us reads about reorganizing the HOF that didn't suck would be the first. My dismissal of such ideas does not apply to Bill James. I have not read "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame?" and I don't know the specifics of his weighing plan, but he's Bill James, so I'm sure it's very unterrible. In contrast, Bill Simmons is about to offer us a reorganization plan that deserves all the careful consideration given to someone who asks you to pull their finger.

Regardless, I'm positive that Wally invented the "Pyramid Concept."

As you'll see in my next post about this article, this is not something anyone should willingly take credit for. This is like saying "Wally invented parking tickets."

Here's the premise: In an ideal world, the Hall of Fame should be a place where someone could stroll in, spend weeks walking around, absorb everything about the game ...

I've never been, but I'm pretty sure that's more or less what the HOF is already.

by the time they departed, they would know everything there is to know about professional baseball.

And now you've taken it too far. That should not be the purpose of the HOF. That is what books and the internet are for. The HOF is for preserving all of the very very best and most interesting things about baseball. Much as Jonah Keri and Jeff Pearlman would like it to have an entire wing dedicated to utility infielders from the 80s, that kind of thing does not belong in Cooperstown.

Well, the way the place is presently constructed, all the Hall of Famers are sort of lumped together.

Right, the plaques are, but there's lots of other shit too. I've seen pictures. It's a big building.

It's like having a Hall of Fame for models and putting Cindy Crawford's plaque next to the girl who modeled as the "Before" picture in the original "Weight Watchers" ad.

I've never claimed to be some masterful writer with a deft touch when it comes to analogies, but I'm sure as hell better than Bill.  What an asshole.

So why couldn't we transform it into a five-level pyramid


-- seriously, an actual pyramid, like a replica of the Luxor casino in Las Vegas --

This is a terrible idea and whoever thought of it should be kicked squarely in the balls.

where elected players are assigned to different levels?


More over the weekend. Just wait until you see which players he wants to put on various levels of his awesome pyramid-shaped HOF. Hooooo doggy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fruit does not hang lower than this, part 1

So last week I checked the blog email account.  I do this every few months just in case we have any non-spam email.  This time, we did!  We had one lonely little message from a person who really wanted to talk to us about bad sportswriting, as opposed to all our other messages, written by people who wanted to congratulate us on winning a lottery in the UK or offer us penis pills.  This dude (sorry dude, forgot your name, I'll log back into the account and post it in part 2 of this series) provided a link to a Simmons column from 2002 and requested that we write about it.  Well, I'm here to help.  This column is horrifyingly stupid.  And part of that is the subject matter:

Before we get to my plan to save the Baseball Hall of Fame --

The next article any of us reads about saving/restructuring the HOF that isn't a total pile of dog shit will be the first.

a plan that includes a replica of an Egyptian pyramid, no less -- 

/wanking motion

allow me to explain why I'm writing this column in the first place:

You know what's coming from when a Boston fan starts down this road.  IT'S NAWT FAY-UH!!!  Say what you will about assholes who write "restructuring the HOF" columns, but at least most of them tend not to be doing it simply because a player from their favorite team was rightfully excluded for a number of years.  It's usually because they hate the fact that guys like Jim Rice are in.

The Baseball Hall of Fame officially "jumped the shark" 

I'd rip on him for that reference, but... my last post... so...  Hmmm.  This is humbling.

for me in 1998, the year Don Sutton and Jim Rice headed the ballot. 

Just to get it out of the way now: Sutton had a 23 year career (and managed to be a 207 IP pitcher with a 110 ERA+ at age 41) during which he racked up 324 wins and 63 rWAR.  He had a 7 year peak during which he top 5 in Cy Young voting 5 times, averaged about 18 wins a season, and pulled down 28 WAR.  He had a 6 WAR season at age 35, a year during which he won the ERA title and probably deserved the Cy, but he only had 13 wins so he was disqualified from being able to do so.  He had a very productive very long career, but also a very respectable peak.  He was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers of his pitcher-friendly era, and deserves to be in the HOF.

Jim Rice was a very good hitter who burned out early.  At the end of his age 30 season, he had 276 HR and had racked up 35 rWAR.  He looked like a great bet to be a legitimate HOFer.  Just 6 seasons later he'd be retired, having hit only 106 more HR and piled up just 9 more rWAR.  He could certainly mash, but his .352 OBP is pretty low for a corner OF/DH.  He couldn't run the bases well and he was a butcher on defense.  He did not play long enough to accumulate HOF worthy counting stats, and while his peak was impressive, it serves as his entire resume.  That's not good enough.  He does not belong in the HOF and his inclusion is a blight upon it.  He's also a hypocritical piece of whining trash.  Baseball would be better off if he would just shut his mouth and go away.

Had the Dodgers offered to trade Sutton straight-up for Rice during their respective athletic primes, Red Sox management would have giggled and hung up on them.

It begins.  The stupidity begins in earnest now.  Putting aside that the Red Sox certainly would have at least pondered swapping 25 year old Rice (7.4 WAR, MVP that he did not deserve, 46 HR) for 28 year old Sutton (back to back seasons of 250+ IP, 200+ Ks, WHIP under 1.00, two 5th place Cy finishes that should have been a 3rd and a 2nd), holy leaping fuckballs, let's try to keep in mind that a player's absolute athletic peak constitutes a small portion of their overall HOF resume.

So who was voted in that year? You guessed it ... 

Frank Stallone!

Don Sutton.


It didn't matter that Rice was the finest power hitter in baseball for an entire decade, averaging .305 with 33 home runs and 106 RBI from 1975 to 1986 (gaudy numbers for that era). 

Mike Schmidt was a better power hitter during that entire era, Bill.  Other guys like Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, Dave Parker, Pedro Guerrero and George Foster were better power hitters during parts of it.  Guys like George Brett and Joe Morgan weren't "power hitters" like Rice was, but they were hitters with power who were way better than he was.  

Nope. Voters were much more impressed by the ageless Sutton, who hung around for 23 years and finished with 324 wins. Who cared if Sutton only finished with one 20-win season, 

That's amazing, read it again.

the ageless Sutton, who hung around for 23 years and finished with 324 wins. Who cared if Sutton only finished with one 20-win season, 


or that he only topped 15 wins once over his final 12 years? 

(Wins are a stupid stat blah blah blah)  It would have been way better for Sutton's resume if he just got fat and ineffective and retired at 36, like Rice did!  THAT'S how you make the Hall!  Let's compare.  Sutton at age 36: 11-9, 2.61 ERA, only 2.6 WAR but that was because he got hurt a strike shortened that season [holy smokes Larry, wake the fuck up] (only season prior to age 40 in his whole career during which he didn't get to 30 starts or 200 IP).  Rice at age 36: .234/.276/.344, 3 HR in 228 PA, -0.8 WAR, most likely relentlessly booed by Boston fans every time he came to bat.  Sutton at age 37: 17-9, 3.06 ERA, 3.3 WAR, traded at the deadline to Milwaukee and helped get them to their only WS berth in franchise history.  Rice at age 37: sitting on a couch somewhere, 0 WAR, actually making the Red Sox one game better off than they were the season before.  BUT HE WAS THE BEST POWER HITTER IN BASEBALL FOR A DECADE!  Oh wait a tick, no, no he wasn't.

If you're very good -- not great, very good -- for an extended period of time, that's enough to make the Baseball Hall of Fame. So Sutton made the cut.

If we define "great" by seasons with 6+ WAR, Sutton and Rice were equally great.  If we define it by seasons with 7+ WAR, Rice leads Sutton 1-0.  If we define it by whether the guy played for the Red Sox when Bill was a kid, Rice also leads 1-0.  All of these measures are pretty arbitrary and stupid, really, and the important thing is that when you look at their entire careers, Don Sutton deserves to be in the HOF and Jim Rice doesn't.

As for Rice, he excelled for a shorter period of time -- just 12 seasons -- 

He excelled for like six seasons.  He spent another six during his prime hitting middling numbers of HRs and doing nothing else to help his team win (and plenty else to hurt it).

failing to notch 2,500 hits and 400 home runs for his career. 

I don't have time to look it up, but he's got to either have the fewest total bases of any corner/DH guy elected to the HOF in the last 50 years, or be close to having that distinction.  It's pathetic.

And since he was renowned for being unfriendly to reporters during his career, the choice was easy.  

It would have been (or should have been, if we're talking in 2009 terms) easy even if he had Stan Musial's personality.

Jim Rice was out. 

There's definitely a spot for him in the proverbial "Hall of Very Good," for what that's worth.

That's baseball. They even have a screwed-up Hall of Fame.

This means nothing.  You're spitting into the wind.  Shut up, get your head out of your colon, and do some fucking research.

And it's not just Rice. Gary Carter's stats are nearly identical to Johnny Bench's stats, save for the fact that Bench hit about 60 more homers and was considered a better defensive catcher (although Carter was no slouch). 

Chris W went on a great rant about this part when I sent him this.  Look, Gary Carter was a great player and I'm glad he's in the HOF.  But saying "Bench ONLY had 60 more HR" is fucking silly.  That's a shitload of HR.  Do you have 60 MLB HR?  No?  Neither do I.  Especially for a catcher, and especially for a guy who had 500 fewer PA than the guy with 60 fewer HR, that's a big deal.  Second, Bench was a way better hitter than Carter in a lot of ways other than his piddling little extra 60 bombs.  Beyond all that, how is whining about Rice from the "he was ZOMG SO FEARED for a shorter period of time, and Sutton was just a compiler!" angle supported by saying Johnny Bench is in but Gary Carter (at the time of this writing) is not?  Zuh?

Jack Morris was the dominant pitcher of the '80s 

LOLOLOLOL I'm not going into that tonight.  Simply not going to touch it.  Maybe next post.

and served as the ace for three championship teams. 


Goose Gossage was the most unhittable reliever of my childhood, ending up with two rings, 310 saves


and a memorable three-inning save in the transcendent '78 playoff game between the Red Sox and Yankees. 


And yet those guys are still sitting on the Hall of Fame ballot.

The voters correctly voted in Carter a year after this was published.  They (probably) incorrectly voted in Gossage in 2008, and (definitely) incorrectly voted in Rice the following year.  Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, may they not make the same mistake with Jack "14 opening day starts and the most wins in MLB during seasons that happened when the tens place of the year on the calendar was an 8" Morris next year.  

As you can probably guess, this has been exhausting.  More later in the week.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

[Insert photo of Fonzie jumping the shark here]

From ESPN's Daily Dime (usually a great read, but not this time) from Wednesday morning, summarizing OKC's dismantling of the Lakers on Tuesday night:

Westbrook always plays with a certain pace, a noticeable fury. It's like anger mixed with hyperactivity. But with his hometown Lakers here and a matchup with Bryant standing in his way of a win, Westbrook was at a different level of frenzy. It was like all of the Harlem Shake videos put into one. 

I'm pretty sure referencing an amalgamation of "all of the Harlem Shake videos" is actually stupider than yet another team/school/group of unfunny 15 year olds posting a Harlem Shake video of their own.  Hats off to you, TrueHoop writer Royce Young.  OOH OOH DO A SEQUESTER JOKE NEXT

Sunday, March 3, 2013

ESPN's wretched baseball coverage

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you've probably noticed that it has devolved into pretty much just me posting about Simmons, Easterbrook, and the occasional generic rant against ESPN.  And since Easterbrook only writes about the NFL (and the pathetic lack of realism in TV's most watched show, Last Resort) and Simmons only writes about the NFL and the NBA, posts about those two leagues end up making up about 80% of what goes on around here. Things weren't always this way.  Back when we launched we were focused mainly on baseball, because that's Chris's, Dan's, PNoles's and my favorite sport.  Nothing has changed in that department--it's still certainly my favorite sport to read about/watch--I've just blogged about it a lot less.  Maybe that will change this summer.  Earlier tonight Chris sent me a screenshot of's main MLB page and broke down how worthless their online coverage is.  (Not that it needs to be said, but their televised MLB coverage is also utterly worthless.)  I'm lazy, so I'm going to steal his idea and in some cases more or less steal his exact words.  He'll deal with it.  But enough context/introduction: just look at this fucking mess.

Let's run through all the content here, keeping in mind that there are only about five thousand other places you can find baseball news and analysis online.  It's really too bad that the articles I'm about to summarize/mock are so terrible, because as I'll indicate in a number of parentheticals, I really genuinely like many of ESPN's baseball writers.  They're not exactly producing top notch content, though.

These are the featured stories, the ones with corresponding slides below the main video box:

1.) A saccharine-sweet article by Jayson Stark (who is not a bad writer, but also not exactly known for producing hard hitting analysis) about how Max Scherzer could be great if absolutely everything possible goes right for him, and then given that Justin Verlander is good, those two together could give the Tigers good pitching, which, yeah, no fucking dogshit.

2.) A substance-free puff piece by Tim Kurkjian (again, a writer who I generally approve of, but who also is not really known for coming up with interesting analysis) about how unfair it is that people are skeptical about RA Dickey's chances for repeating his 2012 season.  The chosen angle: people are so darn mean to knuckleballers!

3.) Another substance-free article/video, this time about Chase Headley.  I've actually got to give them props for actually doing an article about Chase Headley, a guy 75% of baseball fans only know of as "that guy who plays for some west coast them that we should have traded for at the deadline last season."  No further snark here.

4.) A slide about the WBC that seems like it might have some decent and available content. Nope, nevermind, it's just a photo gallery and three ESPN Insider articles (who the hell is going to buy Insider to read about the WBC?).

5.) Horseshit "future rankings," a totally worthless exercise in trying to rank all franchises based on the votes of smart genius baseball minds like Jim Bowden (yes, I know, lol Jim Bowden).  When you're borrowing ideas from the fuckheads over at FanGraphs and somehow executing their ideas worse than they execute them, you truly are out of ideas.

Next, we have the news in brief items from the right sidebar:

1.) A lie about Mike Trout taking the high road in negotiations--since apparently Trout and his agent are dumb enough to think fans will believe that the agent popped off at the mouth without being directed to by Trout.  Buster Olney provides Insider analysis on this already excruciating "story."
2.) Generic sensationalist news that is certainly scary but also certainly uninteresting if you came to this page hoping to read about baseball
3.) Actual baseball news peppered with absolutely unnecessary video (fantasy related, since many people only care about baseball because they play fantasy baseball, a symptom of the fact that ESPN's baseball coverage blows)
4.) Actual baseball news (fantasy related)
5.) Actual baseball news (fantasy related)
6.) Actual baseball news
7.) Actual baseball news
8.) More or less actual baseball news, sort of (fantasy related)
9.) Non-news, but baseball related
10.) Actual baseball news
11.) Another Buster Olney Insider article that may or may not be actual baseball news, but is definitely not worth paying for

Finally, the featured columns, from the bottom of the page, running from left to right:

1.) Jason Giambi is giving out life lessons Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
2.) Human interest piece on Brian McCann Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
3.) Sportsnation article (puke)
4.) Insider article about the realigned AL West from the biggest asshole in the world of baseball analysis (to his credit, at least when he writes he's usually actually trying to provide insight, which makes him woefully out of place at ESPN)
5.) Article on analytics I might actually consider clicking on but probably won't
6.) Endless talk about the Mike Trout non-issue, which is essentially tabloid shit, but yes, please, let 's keep breaking down all the nothingness
7.) Puff piece on an Iraq veteran who got to try out for the Dodgers, certainly heartwarming but also tabloid
8.) The same Olney Insider article as referenced in #1 on the sidebar stories, about a story that should have died 15 seconds after it hit the wire

So yeah, what a fucking wasteland.  Especially the news and featured columns.  I'll say it again because part of me feels bad ripping on them here--Stark, Crasnick and Kurkjian are all enjoyable writers who don't take themselves too seriously.  But they shouldn't be anchoring the baseball coverage of the world's largest sports network with this dreck.  Here's hoping they find a way to step their game up as the season goes along.  Nothing would make me happier than to do an apology post in a few months that says "Well, ESPN is still a tabloid tub of elephant shit, but at least they've got their main columnists covering interesting and worthwhile subjects!"