Thursday, December 26, 2013

Jonah Keri does not show us the funny

Jonah's annual MLB trade value column came out a couple weeks ago (ZOMG SIMMONS IS A GENIUS THIS IS THE BEST LISTICLE OF ALL TIME).  I give his analysis a B-plus, it's fine.  I give his ability to write coherently a C-minus, it is slipshod at best.  And most importantly, I give his sense of humor an F-minus, because it's fucking terrible.  Let's dive right in to his rundown of guys who were in the top 50 last year but fell out this year.

Meanwhile, it's time to retire Keith Law's brilliant "Sliced bread is actually the best thing since Matt Wieters" (41) meme … 

Keith Law is a gaping asshole, and there is nothing brilliant about anything he has ever done, perhaps other than convince people that he's an amazing baseball analyst.  That joke is terrible, Keith is terrible, and I hope he loses every writing gig he has before the year is out.  (Check the comments for PNoles's obligatory defense of Keith, because... well, I have no idea why PNoles defends Keith.  Keith fucking sucks.)

Desmond Jennings (39) improved his power, batting eye, and contact skills in 2013 and offers four more years of team control, so leaving him off this (stacked) list could wind up looking really stupid … 

Classic Simmonism: make arbitrary list.  Question own decisions in crafting said list, as if something is at stake, or worse, as if it wasn't possible to put an extra 15 seconds into re-ordering said list before publishing if desired.  Collect enormous paycheck.

Justin Upton (38) might have already delivered his best season, 

Almost certainly.  Fuck Justin Upton and fuck anyone who gave him serious MVP consideration in 2011.  No, I am not ready to let that go.

and his brother was the worst outfielder in the NL last season, ruining another excellent meme … 

That's not a meme.  It's a bit.  The Weithers thing was not a meme either, but at least this Upton one isn't horribly unclever.

Brett Lawrie (21) and Dylan Bundy (20) are Exhibits A and B for why we shouldn't overrate prospects until they actually start producing; and yes, I'm a terrible, Canadian-loving homer 

I mean, admitting it is nice and all, but the other option is to stop journalistically tonguing Alex Anthopoulos's balls and realize that the Blue Jays continue to be a mediocre team with mediocre management, no matter how many SUPER ULTRA GENIUS moves they make.  Anthopoulos is the AL's answer to Jack Zduriencik (Remember him?  He's the guy who invented RUN PREVENTION and took the 2010 Mariners to the Super Bowl!).

Also, all fans of all teams in all sports overrate prospects, but baseball fans are undoubtedly the worst about it.  The reasons are obvious (takes much longer for prospects to develop relative to other sports, takes longer for teams to go for bad to good relative to other sports), but that doesn't mean every fan who lights up a message board with a comment to the effect of "[My favorite team] would never trade [name of prospect who is at least two years from MLB and will probably never make it] for [established and available above average player].  [Name is prospect] is a sure thing." shouldn't be shot out of a circus cannon into an alligator pit.

[Shelby Miller] faded in the second half, which isn't that unusual for a pitcher tossing more innings than ever before. Then the Curious Case of the Disappearing Shelby happened, 

Is that a joke?  If so, no points awarded.

with the Cardinals opting to use Bob Forsch, Dane Iorg, 

Hooray for unremarkable players from the 80s!  Hope Jonah paid Pearlman his royalty fees for using that bit.

and a plate of toasted ravioli rather than put Miller in a postseason game.


44. Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers (NR): The Brewers owe Lucroy a total of $9 million over the next three years, or $14.25 million over the next four assuming they pick up his option in 2017. Here's a list of the things Lucroy would have to do to fail to earn that contract:

1. Hit .024 with 400 strikeouts and 968 errors

2. Suffer a career-ending stubbed toe tomorrow

3. Say the word "Smaug" 17,227 times in a row until someone stabs him

I'm not saying I've never used hyperbole to sell a joke.  But come on, what Jonah just wrote is terrible.  It's fucking horrible.  Especially the last part.  Jesus H. Christ-that line is Easterbrookian.

Given the flashier names around Lucroy on this list, he might seem out of place at first glance. But if anything, this ranking feels a little low.

More patented Simmons second guessing your own arbitrary ranking cow shit.  Infuriating.  YOU KNOW I THINK I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING HERE, BUT ON SECOND THOUGHT, MAYBE I'M ACTUALLY SMARTER THAN MYSELF AND THUS AM MAKING ERRORS THAT MYSELF IS UNABLE TO CATCH.  Fucking barf.

He delivered offense 5 percent better than the league average, excellent defense, and the health and stamina to play 138 games. After that campaign, [Salvador] Perez's contract looks even more unbelievable. Like, it's actually impossible to believe. The Royals owe Perez $1.5 million in 2014, $1.75 million in 2015, and $2 million in 2016. KC then has a $3.75 million club option for 2017, followed by a $5 million option for 2018 and a $6 million option for 2019, which would normally be Perez's first two years of free agency. That's $20 million for his next six seasons, for a four-win player.


I mean, of course that contract is very team friendly.  The Royals are getting a great deal.  But to call it "actually impossible to believe" is actually really fucking dumb.

32. Jurickson Profar, SS, Texas Rangers (18); 31. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox (NR):

Remember how Brett Lawrie and Dylan Bundy were high on last year's list?  This time around, Jonah promises to stop overrating prospects.

18. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies (23): I live in Denver. I'm at Coors Field a lot. Last fall, I spent two hours talking to de facto Rockies general manager Bill Geivett about … everything, really. And I still have no idea what the Rockies are doing, other than making arguably the best party atmosphere in and around any ballpark even better. This winter's Tulowitzki dance continues that theme. Tulo's name came up in trade rumors with the Cardinals, a team with enough talent to revitalize the Rockies' stockpile of good, young players and potentially set Colorado up with its best starting rotation ever. Instead, the Rockies more or less came out and said Tulo isn't going anywhere under any circumstances. 

A) Tulowitzki's extension, signed in 2011 and good through 2021, is fairly team friendly.  Even with his injury problems, which are overstated most of the time because most baseball fans are mouth breathers, he's a pretty safe bet to provide more value than it pays him over the duration.  In 2010 he put up 6.7 rWAR in 122 games.  Last year he put up 5.3 rWAR in 128 games.  I'll pay that guy $20MM a year (as he'll be paid from 2015 through 2019), even if I expect him to miss time, no problem.  He will have to move away from SS eventually, which will hurt his value, but that doesn't change the overall likelihood that the extension works out well for the Rockies.  

2) Just because the Cardinals were sniffing around doesn't mean there was any kind of a decent deal to be had.  If the Cardinals' management has a mentality anything like any of the Best Fans In Baseball who provided internet insight on the possibility of their team scooping up Tulo, it would be the worst trade in history if they offered any of their 10 best prospects, because LOLCOORZ (Tulo career on the road: .276/.348/.471) and INJUREEZ (see above).  I don't think any rational Rockies fan gave even a passing thought to the idea of trading him for future assets. And as far as current assets goes, he's one of the best in the game, and is locked up for the rest of his career to a good contract.  

D) Describing a passing and unsubstantiated rumor that the SS-needy Cardinals had interest in the best SS in baseball, who happens to play for a non-playoff team, as "this winter's Tulowitzki dance" is embarrassingly terrible analysis.

So, OK, they see an open window over the next two or three years, with Tulo and CarGo in their primes. But then why did they just trade Dexter Fowler for a bucket of beans?

Who knows, it was probably a bad trade, but the Rockies have had success recently in converting some "plenty of potential but no real results" young arms into decent SPs in recent years (Jorge de la Rosa, Tyler Chatwood).  Fowler has the same injury problems Tulowitzki does, and is of course not nearly the player Tulowitzki is.  He's also streaky, getting hot for a few weeks and then disappearing for a few weeks, which isn't the end of the world when the end of year results are above average, but hurts a little more when it's your leadoff hitter doing it as opposed to someone lower in the lineup.  

Further, Gonzalez is a natural CF who is ready to take over, and corner OFs (to replace Gonzalez in LF) aren't exactly hard to find.  They're probably going to run a platoon of Corey Dickerson (.819 OPS against righties last year as a rookie) and Drew Stubbs (never quite blossomed fully, but career .796 OPS against lefties) out there, and they used the money they would have owed Fowler to sign Justin Morneau to play 1B (which was a tire fire last year).  THAT move could also blow up, but if you give the situation more than just a cursory look, it's easy to see how all the moves fit together.  Sheesh.

Yes, I know you can tell that I'm a Rockies fan, and that you don't give a fuck about that fact or the Rockies themselves.  Let me have my moment tearing Jonah down.  It's the least you can do for me.

None of those moves or non-moves is that bad in isolation; Tulo is a superstar who, even when he plays only 130 games a year, is still the best shortstop in baseball and one of the 20 best players in the majors, and Fowler is a perfectly fine player who also has gigantic home/road splits. The bigger issue is that management doesn't seem to have much of a tangible plan, other than keeping its biggest star in town so fans will keep lining up to buy $12 microbrews on sunny afternoons and the club can keep raking in gigantic gobs of money that it pretends not to have.

That's the most cynical, retarded viewpoint on how an MLB team should manage its assets I've ever read.  Jonah is apparently one of those IF YOU DON'T MAKE THE PLAYOFFS BLOW IT ALL UP AND START OVER PROSPECTS ARE AWESOME guys.  What a dope.

15. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals (8): Strasburg falls a few spots from last year, since there's now at least a little doubt over his ability to take over the world. There's the still-tough-to-fathom innings-limit gambit of 2012, which sparks doubt over whether there was something else at play aside from a shot-in-the-dark guess at his appropriate workload in the thick of a pennant race.

What?  What the hell else could have been at play?  Someone in the Nationals front office ordering a shutdown so he could profit from betting against the team's postseason chances?  That decision was astonishingly dumb, but I'm 100% certain it was motivated solely by a shot-in-the-dark guess at Strasburg's appropriate workload.

13. Madison Bumgarner, SP, San Francisco Giants (27): Bumgarner should have ranked higher last year, so we're correcting matters this time.

Pretty much every player should have been ranked differently than they were on last year's list.  Please stop trying to sound like you've finally cracked the trade value code and are providing 100% accurate information, as opposed to last year when you were only providing barely-educated guesses.

12. Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals (44): Wins Above Replacement underrates Molina, maybe severely.

CHECK OUT HIS CATCHER ERA!  ALSO HE FRAMES PITCHES A LOT!  Fucking gag me.  Not saying there's no value to pitch framing or "handling the staff," but to say Molina is "severely underrated" by any metric is laughable.  He's been a 6ish rWAR player these last two years.  I'm pretty sure he's not really actually a 10 rWAR player or something ridiculous like that.  He's not Barry fucking Bonds.

For now, though, Molina just might be the best player in the NL.

No.  He's not, and he's not in the top 5.  He might not be in the top 10.

5. Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants (4); 4. Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays (5): There are always what-ifs in baseball, especially when it comes to the draft. But given the success the Rays had with their top picks in 2006 (Longoria) and 2007 (Price), we might need to give a team of scientists 100 years to figure out how Tampa Bay chose Tim Beckham over Buster Posey with its top pick in 2008.

No team has ever had mixed success with high draft picks!  It's impossible to believe it happened to the Rays!  Like, literally impossible to believe!

When SI's Tom Verducci wrote about Harper back in 2009, he called the Las Vegas–based teenager "Baseball's LeBron," adding: "Golf has Tiger Woods, basketball has LeBron James, hockey had Wayne Gretzky and military history had Alexander the Great, but baseball, like jazz, is a discipline that does not easily engender prodigies … So good and so young is Bryce Harper, however, that he explodes baseball convention." Those words weren't just hosannas from a seasoned and well-respected writer; they reflected the opinion of every talent evaluator in baseball. When Verducci revisited Harper in May of last year, right after Harper's major league debut, it was impossible to overlook the irony involved. "Harper's debut was the most anticipated debut in baseball history," Verducci wrote, "if only because of the volume, scope, and speed of coverage we give professional sports." Basically, Harper is megahyped because Verducci and I and everyone else who writes about the sport drools over Harper's ability.

IRONIC IRONY!  Good job by Jonah of 1) misusing that, 2) not grasping that there's nothing weird (let alone ironic) about a writer doing a profile of a megaprospect and then three years later noting that lots of people were eager to see said megaprospect reach MLB, and 3) incorrectly crystalizing his own point, awkwardly flailing and ultimately failing to give any insight into the feedback loop of hype he's trying to describe.  Good effort, Jonah.  Better luck next year.  At least you put Mike Trout at #1 on the list.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Well, shit. I haven't done that Jonah Keri post.


In the meantime, here's an extremely short post about Bill Barnwell.  Besides the fact that he's a little smarmy (not funny smarmy--more like pretentious smarmy) and he's also constantly trying to emulate Simmons (I would know a little something about that don't you think lolololololol), Barnwell is really good.  I have no problem with 97% of what he writes.  These come from that other 3%.  Re: Josh McCown.

After completing 58 percent of his passes, averaging 6.3 yards per attempt, and throwing interceptions once every 25 attempts before this year as a pro, McCown's run as the Chicago starter saw him complete 66.8 percent of his passes while averaging 8.2 yards per attempt and throwing a lone interception in 220 attempts. It's likely the hottest stretch of his life — the proverbial pinch hitter who hits .400 in 150 at-bats after the starter gets hurt —

Ah yes.  That old, well-known proverb.  That old chestnut.  "That's as surprising as a pinch hitter who hits .400 in 150 at bats after the starter gets hurt."  Barnwell's misuse of "proverbial" is making my head literally explode with rage.

Re: Rashad Jennings

Oakland's goal as a team right now should be to try to find players who can contribute to their next great football team;

ARRRRRRRRRRRGH SMASH SMASH SMASH SMASH.  Really?  The Raiders are a FOOTBALL team with FOOTBALL players on the FOOTBALL field?  I had no idea.  I thought they played squash.

Re: Anthony Collins

Collins has the athleticism to protect quarterbacks on the left side; the only thing he lacks is experience, as he has been stuck behind Whitworth. With Whitworth (say that five times fast)


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Rick Reilly gets OHsofuckingclose to writing a good article; ruins it in the last five sentences

Been working on a post about Jonah Keri's MLB trade value rankings, but it's not done, so I thought I'd share this tonight.  Holy ballsack, there is no way Rick Reilly wrote the first 95% of this.  You can bet your bottom dollar he wrote the last 5% though--particularly the last sentence.  You'll see.  Most of this is so inoffensive (and at times, even dryly funny) that I can present it with very minimal comment.  The subject matter: while HOF voters are taking idiotic (and often completely unfounded; Bagwell, Biggio, and more to come) stances regarding players who are allegedly tied to PEDs, the expansion era committee voters happily sent in three managers who managed several of STEROID HISTORY'S GREATEST MONSTERS for extended periods of time.  Although the two voting bodies consist of different people, that's fucking dumb, no?

I'm so pumped up for next July in Cooperstown!

I can't wait to see who's going to be in the crowd at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for new members Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre.

Maybe Mark McGwire will show up? It might be as close as he'll ever get. La Russa managed him for 15 seasons in both Oakland and St. Louis and says he never saw McGwire do a single steroid. Imagine that.

Simple unadorned sarcasm that doesn't have a cringe-inducing pun or play on words.  Like I said, if you're like me, you'll have a hard time believing Rick wrote this.

Maybe Alex Rodriguez will attend? He probably won't get in, either. Former New York Yankees skipper Torre says he didn't even notice A-Roid's alleged PED use in the four years he managed him. A-Roid's got plenty of time to go to Cooperstown. He's appealing a 211-game suspension for PEDs. Torre? No ban for him. In fact, he's an executive vice president of Major League Baseball now.

Maybe former Atlanta Braves manager Cox will look out in the crowd to see his old star Gary Sheffield. Probably not. Cox says he never saw all the PEDs Sheffield was taking when he had him right under his nose in the Atlanta clubhouse.

To be fair, Cox was probably legally blind by the mid 90s.

In all, the three managers being inducted oversaw at least 34 players who've been implicated as PED users and never noticed a thing wrong.

Now this isn't entirely fair.  It's not like any of these managers have (to my knowledge) gone on record and swore that they never once ever suspected any of their players ever took any steroids ever ever cross my heart and hope to die on a stack of Bibles.  But the general point here is 100% fair--the national media and a good chunk of baseball's fanbase have spent the last 15 years getting preachy and angry about steroid use.  It's escalated during the course of the last 5 or so years to a fever pitch.  It's probably not going away anytime soon.  So given that the role of a manager is to know his players inside and out so he can put them in the best possible position to succeed on the field, how is there zero outrage directed at these guys?  I'm not saying that steroidmongers should treat managers exactly the same as they treat players.  I'm saying, given that there are dozens of writers and hundreds of thousands of fans bursting with moral indignation at the idea of guys like Clemens and Bonds getting into the HOF, why hasn't there been ANY discussion at all on the national level about the role managers played in enabling steroid use?

Sorry.  Rick, you're doing a good job.  Back to you.

You could build a wing with the admitted and suspected drug cheats they won with: A-Rod, Roger Clemens (Torre), Jason Giambi (Torre and La Russa), McGwire, Jose Canseco (La Russa), Melky Cabrera (Torre and Cox), David Justice (Torre and Cox), Andy Pettite (Torre), Manny Ramirez (Torre with the Dodgers) and Sheffield (Torre and Cox.)

What the fuck is Melky Cabrera doing with the rest of these guys?  Other than that, great point.

If we get really lucky, maybe disgraced HGH pitcher Darren Holmes will show up. He played under all three of them!

I'm sure Rick didn't do that research himself, but the fact that he thought to ask someone else to do it represents a level of effort miles beyond what he usually puts out.

It's just another year in the Hall of Farce, 

Dumb, but not as dumb as his usual "jokes."  I'm just thrilled he DIDN'T go with "Hall of Shame."

where the codes of conduct shift like beach sand; where the rules for one set of men are ignored for another; where PED poppers can never enter, but the men who turned their backs to the cheating get gleaming, bronze plaques.

Hail The Great Enablers!

Holy crap, it's a little melodramatic (it's not like the managers were buying the steroids for the players or anything), but wow, that's borderline good writing.

La Russa's slipping on the Hall of Fame jersey Monday is the sight that really tested my gag reflex. He did more for juicers than Jack LaLanne. 

A dated reference, to be sure, but again not nearly as dumb as his usual fare.  I expected a joke about Orange Julius or something.

He managed McGwire and Canseco -- the Wright Brothers of the Druggie Era -- for 21 combined seasons. He made millions on their pimpled backs, won his first World Series title on their syringes and built his 33-year managing career on their artificially carved biceps.

Under La Russa, the Oakland clubhouse became a kind of leather-upholstered showroom for creams, rubs and injections that allowed players to work out harder, recover quicker and attack the game like a wolf in a hen house. It didn't change much in St. Louis, either, where he says he didn't notice what McGwire, Troy Glaus, Fernando Vina and Ryan Franklin were doing.

Score another victory for Baseball's Best Fans, who trip over their dicks telling you about how their team always Plays The Game The Right Way.  I hope Will Leitch falls out of a hot air balloon.

He spent eight hours a day around these guys, eight months a year, and yet he never saw a thing. Maybe he dressed in a different clubhouse?

Who knows whether and how many of these players were openly using in the clubhouse, but the managers aren't idiots.  You know they knew.  Sorry to acknowledge Canseco, because the last thing he deserves (besides attention) is acknowledgement, but I pretty firmly believe him (and Ken Caminiti, and the rest of the long list of players who have said that everyone in baseball knew everyone was using).

But he goes into the HOF and those players never will. Maybe he can send them some Instagrams.

A pretty bad cultural reference without any meaningful context other than "this is one-uh them apps them kids like to use these days," but still, this is an A+ relative to everything Reilly has done since like 2004.

Hey, you think any of the three skips will mention how PEDS helped them get to that sunny afternoon in Cooperstown?

Oh, and I can't forget to thank Katalina at Tijuana Pharmacy for all her help. Like my players always said, "We can't get cut without Kat!"

You won't even have to be in Cooperstown to smell the hypocrisy. Even the faintest scent of a rumor of PED use is enough to sink a player now.

Managers? Odorless.

Take Houston Astros great Craig Biggio. He had more than enough career to get in, and even though there isn't a stitch of evidence against him, the writers have kept him out because they have a niggling hunch he might've used.

Again, the BBWAA is not responsible for the election of these managers, but the broader point is absolutely worth talking about.  Currently, the discussion about steroid use by subtopic is split up as follows: 90% players, 5% MLB itself, 5% owners.  Managers need a chunk of that pie.  A pretty big one.  (Obviously the owners and league could also stand to gain at least twenty percentage points as well.)

Remember, kids: If you play the game under even a single cloud of suspicion, you're out. Manage it under one? Come on in and pull up a plaque!

Can you imagine this in any other sport? Do you think for a second Johan Bruyneel, the manager of all of Lance Armstrong's cheating, champion Tour de France teams, didn't know what was going on? You figure Bonnie and Clyde's driver just thought they were always running late?

As I think I've made pretty clear around here, I dislike steroid users but do not hate them with the flaming passion of a thousand burning suns.  I especially dislike guys like Bonds and Clemens, who were gigantic assholes in addition to using steroids, but what are you gonna do?  They were great players, as were McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, etc.  I don't want to be in the business of being the morality police and punishing players for conduct that wasn't against the rules when they were doing it.  I also don't want to be in the business of deciding who would or would not have gotten in anyways absent steroid use.  And I sure as fucking fuck especially don't want to be in the business of deciding whether a guy who's never been formally connected to steroids "looked like a user," or some horrendous garbage like that.  

So you know what?  If I were voting, I'd pretty much just vote without factoring it in.  That might allow for the admission of a guy like McGwire or Sosa who may not have made it in without roids, but that's a far lesser evil in my mind than the exclusion of guys like Bagwell or Biggio.  I don't like steroid use, but Jesus, can we please unbundle the national panties?  It happened.  There are now good measures in place to curb its use.  Anyways, this has been a great and thoughtful article by Rick, and I'm happy to see what he may be in the process of turning over a new leaf, so why don't we---

Next month, the writers are expected to vote down McGwire for the eighth time and Clemens for the second time. 

Oh no.  Rick, please don't.  Please stop while you're ahead.  We don't need to delve into this.  You've done a great job here--

They're right to do it. 

Noooooooooooooooo.  Even if you disagree with my steroids stance and agree with his, I hope you can agree that he didn't need to go into this.  The article would have been just fine without it.

Those guys are tainted beyond any reasonable doubt, though Clemens still maintains innocence. But for the expansion error 

Rick, please!  That's the kind of joke we're used to seeing from you!  The wheels are coming off!

committee to let these three managers in -- unanimously, no less -- after winning hundreds of games with better chemistry is the gold standard of double standards.

Jesus.  That's so disappointing.  Just please don't finish with one of your signature horrendous one liners--

If you believe they didn't know, then you'll fit perfectly in Dupers Town.

And the collapse is complete.  Jean van de Velde, Rick.  Rick, Jean van de Velde.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Bill Simmons started watching the 2013 Red Sox in August, and hey, what do you know, a championship! Time to write about them like he had been paying attention all season (Part 3 of 3)

It's sad it has taken me this long to wade through this.  I have missed about twenty great opportunities to comment on Bill's weekly NFL point spreads picks articles, where he is 25 games under .500 (and God knows how many aggregate games under .500 in the last however many years) and keeps saying things like "As for this Chiefs-Broncos game: I'm grabbing the points only because the line should be "Broncos by 3" and I'm getting an extra 1.5 points." (Actual quote.)  Oh yeah Bill, are ya?  Is it really the case that someone who is now 80-105-6 against the spread this season has the ability to discern 1.5 point errors in the spreads created by Vegas insiders?  Or are you just a fucking idiot?  This guy is a world class horse's ass.  Let's finish out his attempt to pretend to care about baseball at any time other than when the Red Sox are throwing a parade.

I am old enough to remember every Red Sox season since 1975. Baseball is long. Baseball takes forever. It's day in, day out, for six solid months — seven if you're lucky.

Insert joke about Chris W and the NBA playoffs here.

Winning is always fun. But this team? This team was REALLY fun.

Because they won a LOT.  Had they won only a medium amount, this team would have been a REALLY big disappointment.

They weren't the most talented 25 guys we've ever had,

Yeah, I don't have time to do a full breakdown of their roster, but what with them only winning 97 games and having like seven All-Star caliber players on the team (granted, only four made the team, but you can make the case for Lester, Lackey, Ellsbury and Uehara being in the neighborhood), I agree.  This is only one of the fifteen or so most talented Red Sox teams in their 100+ year history.  NO ONE BELIEVED IN US!

but they had a way of lifting each other up and making each other better in ways that — for an individual sport disguised as a team sport, one in which you're on your own just about all the time — make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Terrible writing.

For the first three months, I thought we'd remember them as a likable group that helped the city heal after the marathon bombings. We didn't have that one lights-out starter,

Clay Buchholz, as of his injury on June 8: 9-0, 1.71 ERA.

or that second big bopper in the lineup.

Yeah, all they had was a lineup with very good hitters at nearly every position.  Other than Will Middlebrooks, every guy who received significant ABs ended up with and OPS+ of at least 111.  I'm not going to track down their OPS+ as of June, but suffice it to say, it wasn't exactly David Ortiz and a bunch of all glove no bat guys.  This team could hit.  Anyone who actually watched them, rather than ignored them because they hadn't won a World Series since 2007, would know that.

You can only go so far with the "everyone lifting everyone else up" thing, right?

Throw yourself in front of a train.

A team with A-list starters — maybe Detroit, maybe Tampa —

Or maybe Boston, with Buchholz (ERA+ of 234), Lackey (116) and Lester (109)

would rip through us in October and that would be that.


I never thought they had a higher ceiling until August, right around the time Koji Uehara turned into Dennis Eckersley circa 1989. 

Which, as the commenter from like a month ago pointed out, was probably the first time all season Bill watched a game.

You need weird shit to happen during the season to win a World Series; this season certainly qualified. In mid-August, they outplayed a scorching-hot Dodgers team in Dodger Stadium; that's the first time I remember thinking they had a chance. 


They protected home-field advantage in September, rolled through Tampa in the ALDS, then everything crashed in the ALCS. Their bats died for 16 solid innings. Sanchez and Scherzer 

When he first wrote this, he said "Verlander and Scherzer" (they published a correction later), because, you know, he totally is a big Red Sox fan who watches every game, even when they're not playing well.

weren't just shutting them down; they were eviscerating them.

They weren't just pitching well.  They were pitching REALLY well!  Pulitzer please!

And then the eighth inning happened … and this happened.


[Ortiz grand slam video goes here; apologies to all readers in Michigan]

He came through. Again.

So here we are, about 3000 words into this piece: we're finally ready to hear about David Ortiz.  DID YOU KNOW HE PLAYED SMALL FORWARD ON HIS MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL TEAM?  HIS FAVORITE PLAYER WAS A CERTAIN 6'8" GUY FROM FRENCH LICK INDIANA (MAYBE YOU'VE HEARD OF HIM)?!?!?!?!?!

The playoffs were never the same. 

Horrendous, terrible, horrible, gut-wrenching writing.

The Beards ripped off eight wins in 11 games, more than enough for Boston's third World Series title in my lifetime.  My friend Sully summed it up best via text: "Aidan's (his 12-year-old son's) 


reaction was like, 'Cool, another championship.' They have no idea that this doesn't happen." They really don't. I never thought I'd see one … and I've seen three in 10 years. Huh????

Die die die die die die.  The only reason I didn't put that in ALL CAPS was to distinguish it from the mean things I'm saying as Bill's proxy.  Trust me, I meant DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.

We'll remember 2004 for all the obvious reasons. 


We'll remember 2007 as proof that 2004 wasn't lightning in a bottle that could never be replicated. 

Fucking Cleveland.  Thanks, Ryan Garko.  Colorado-Cleveland would have been the least watched World Series of the 21st century (and who gives a shit about that, really?) and also would have produced a WS champion that wasn't patently obnoxious about everything.

We'll remember 2013 for Boston Strong and the beards, and over everything else, for David Ortiz. And that's the case for three reasons.

Let's start a list for no reason!  People like lists!  Bill is the Buzzfeed of sportwriters.

1. We thought he was done. 

Steroid joke here.  Honestly, I don't even hate Ortiz, so I don't really want to get into bitter specifics on my own.  But after the way 2009 was his worst season ever (.238/.332/.462 as a 33 year old) and he way he started 2010 (.185/.267/.407 through mid-May) it's kind of hard to believe he became a 4.4 WAR .309/.395/.564 player as a 37 year old in 2013.  I'm not some rosary-clutching loser who thinks steroid users are worse than war criminals.  I'm just saying, do I think David Ortiz uses steroids?  Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm no comment.

This has to be mentioned. I wrote Papi's baseball eulogy in June of 2009, when his body was (seemingly) breaking down and he couldn't get around on 89 mph fastballs anymore. Boston fans loved him so much that they never booed him


 — every Ortiz failure was greeted with an awkward silence, the ultimate respect for everything he meant. I can't remember another sound quite like it. 

You mean, like silence?  The same sound you can get pretty much anywhere on Earth at any time?

You almost wanted to hear a few boos, 

No you didn't, this is just awful writing.

if only to temper the collective discomfort. But no Boston fan could boo that guy, just like we could have never jeered at Bird or Orr. My final takeaway in that column: "Barring a miraculous return of bat speed, he'll be benched or released soon. It'll hurt, and I'm going to feel bad. I already do."


But wait! His bat speed eventually returned. That same season, Ortiz's name got "released" in connection with a positive result from a 2003 MLB drug test that was supposed to be anonymous, a stigma that trails him to this day. The details of that report were so murky, nobody can fully explain what happened — more than 100 players apparently tested positive for something, only they weren't breaking any baseball rules because there were no rules in place, and they could have triggered a positive test for amphetamines or some now-illegal supplement that wasn't illegal in 2003. Ortiz professed his innocence, although Boston fans would have preferred that he did it a little more belligerently. The moment passed and he hasn't failed a test since. He's never been involved in a Biogenesis-type scandal, outed by a clubhouse attendant, tied to some shady Victor Conte character, anything. He looks exactly like he looked in 2003; if anything, he's a few pounds skinnier.

But he's also 37 years old (he will be 38 on November 18), and he's cranking 98 mph fastballs, and he looked finished four years ago. So I get it. After everything that happened these past two decades, we're always going to be a little suspicious. Of everybody. 

You know what, that's way more than I'd expect Bill to acknowledge.  That's actually only 75% biased and idiotic.  But yeah, Ortiz is probably on steroids.  Peter King says MAYBE.  THAT'S A LEGIT 75% CHANCE.

But if you examine his 11-year Boston run as a whole, it makes a little more sense: His first Boston season in 2003 (31 homers, 101 RBIs, .288/.369/.592) doesn't look much different than his 11th Boston season in 2013 (30 homers, 103 RBIs, .309/.395/.564).

If you compare his numbers from when he was in his athletic prime to his numbers from when he was at the age that most professional athletes get put out to pasture, they're basically the same!  That PROVES that he's clean!

Bill Simmons is a fucking jackass.

Even if his 2013 World Series numbers look supernatural — 25 plate appearances, 11 hits, eight walks, two homers — really, he just caught fire for five games after slumping the previous series (2-for-25), then they smartly pitched around him in Game 6. Did you know his regular-season OPS in Boston is the exact same number as his playoff career OPS (including his trip with the 2002 Twins)? 

Fascinating!  Who gives a flying violent fuck, in the context of a discussion as to his value to the 2013 team, his likelihood of steroid use, and his relationship to Bill Russell?

It's true — .962 for both. Big Papi has looked the same for 11 years, barring a couple of peaks (2004 through 2006) and valleys (the homestretch in 2008, the first three months of 2009 and 2010). I don't know what else to tell you. 

You could tell us it's suspicious as fuck that a 33 year old cratered, and then was back to being a superstar at 37.  That's one option.  In fact you DID tell us that, you just failed to draw the world's most obvious conclusion from it.

In a vacuum, this goes down as the second-greatest career comeback in Boston sports history behind everything Ted Williams did after Korea. Ortiz was finished, then suddenly he wasn't.

/Larry B has head in hands

2. Five days after the Tsarnaev brothers blew up Boston's most sacred event, and just 24 hours after one brother was killed and the other was caught, everyone decided that it was OK to play baseball at Fenway again. 

MLB and John Henry decided it was OK to play baseball at Fenway again, because 1) the bombers were killed/caught, and 2) there was money to be made.

The game happened on a Saturday afternoon, preceded by an emotional ceremony and many prayers. You always hear that tragedies put sports in perspective, that they prove we shouldn't care this much about the successes and failures of a bunch of wealthy strangers. I'm going the other way — sometimes, sports put everything else in perspective. 

Horrible, terrible, head banging against wall god awful writing.  Klosterman would be proud though.  SECRETLY IT'S ACTUALLY PERSPECTIVE THAT PUTS EVERYTHING ELSE IN SPORTS!  THINK ABOUT IT!

Our favorite teams bring people together, keep family members close, bond people from different generations. 

Other thing that brings people together, keeps family members close, and bonds people from different generations: being close to people, being family with them, and interacting with them.

Some of the happiest moments of my life involve something that happened with one of my teams. Some of the best relationships I ever had were with Boston athletes that I never even met. That's a bad thing?

Yes.  The happiest moment thing, I won't lie, I actually agree with.  Some of my happiest moments do non-sarcastically involve sports.  The relationship thing?  This guy is a huge fucking loser.

Of course, we always worry that these guys don't care about us. 

Only if we're insecure and are desperate to think that OW-UH GUYS play the game the right way BETTAH THAN YO-AH GUYS.  Any of us who are rational just want to see our team win because we like our team, and we don't really care very much about whether the players are deeply invested in the team or just there to make a buck.  Because we're not fucking stupid.

That they're just passing through, throwing on some laundry, cashing some checks and pretending they care. We've all been burned by favorite players. 


You start throwing your guard up after awhile, 

Holy Jesus, melodramatic much?

and eventually you stop caring quite as much … 

When your team goes a few years without winning a title...

even if you don't want to admit it. I am 44 years old now, a million years away from being the kid who lugged his autographed, framed Clemens/20 K's photo to six different apartments before breaking it into pieces in the seventh. 

Terrible writing; were these apartments he lived in, or apartments he visited in an effort to track down Clemens to get him to autograph it again?

It's really hard to rope me in at this point. But when Ortiz grabbed the mic on that Saturday and screamed, "THIS IS OUR FUCKIN' CITY!!!!!," I don't think I've ever been prouder of an athlete. 

Non-sarcastically, I kind of agree.  I love profanity on TV.  Although I find it annoying that the FCC didn't fine FOX, or whoever televised the game, because the director was a Red Sox fan.  You'd better believe that if the bombing happened in Phoenix and Paul Goldschmidt swore on TV, there would have been fines galore.  America is full of retards.

3. He's been the life of the World Series party three times now — 2004, 2007 and 2013 — and over everything else, that's when the David Ortiz era becomes historically fascinating. 

No. Lots of players have won three rings with the same team in non-consecutive years.

By the time I graduated college, Bird, Russell, Orr and Williams were the big four. All discussions started and ended with them. 

He's 44, born in or around 1969.  Graduated college in or around 1992 (because he went to prep school, the spoiled fuck).  WHAT ABOUT THE GREATRIOTS, BILL?  WHY WASN'T TONY EASON IN THE DISCUSSION?  Oh that's right, the Patriots weren't good yet.  I'm obviously trolling because there is no Patriot from the 1960s through 1990s who compares to Bird, Russell, Orr or Williams.  But I can happily say that although I would sooner throw myself into a volcano than become Bill Simmons, if I am still writing about sports when I'm 44, I'll have no qualms with talking about my favorite Rockies and Nuggets from days gone by.  That's because I'm not a frrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrontrunner (Do we have a label for that?  We should).

In the 2000s, Tom Brady made his run … and if the 2007 Pats had finished 19-0, he would have joined them. 


Right now, he's still standing outside the front door waiting for the bouncer to let him in. To be continued.


But Ortiz? We thought the bouncer shooed him away a while ago. Now he's back. He just cemented his reputation as one of the greatest clutch Boston athletes ever, and one of the greatest clutch baseball players, too. He came through time and time and time and time and time again. So many times that I can't even keep track, actually.

Evidently you haven't been, because as you said yourself, Ortiz's regular season OPS in Boston is the same as his playoff OPS (.962).  It's higher than his career OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position (.945), in "late and close" (as defined by situations (.875), and "high leverage" (also bbr) situations (.936).  Basically, he's always been really good; no better, and perhaps a bit worse, when it was 6-0 in the 4th inning of a game in May than when it was 2-2 in the 8th inning of a playoff game.

Throw in his personality, throw in the iconic "our city" moment, and throw in the stakes — nothing from 1919 through 2003, with people living entire lives and dying without seeing a Red Sox title — and I think the bouncer just let him in. 

Bill Russell and Bobby Orr and Ted Williams > Larry Bird >>>>> Tom Brady >>>>>> David Ortiz.

And you know what else? It's a great place. It's the best place. You get to live forever in there. People tell stories about you to their kids, and their grandkids, and they can always say they saw you play. You might even get your own statue downtown someday. Tomorrow, it happens for the great Bill Russell. Someday, it will happen for David Ortiz. It will.

Worst.  Callback.  Ever.  Fuck this guy.