Monday, February 28, 2011
In his time, he hit .295 and whalloped 407 home runs for his career with the Dodgers (East and West Coast versions). Through the years, he was an 8-time all star.
He was up there with Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle in a cheesey and overplayed song (that still waxed nostalgic to all that was good in the game) as sung by Terry Cashman. He wasn't either of them in popularity or ability, but by 1980, he eventually made it to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown in his 11th try. Talk about the pain of being overshadowed.
In this, he's the forgotten center fielder in what Ken Burns referred to as an era that was the Capitol of Baseball... a time when New York City had 3 teams. A time before baseball truly went national as 2 owners abandoned the city to take in the new attitude of California that was rapidly becoming hip to a new beat. If you need proof, he's not on the front of ESPN today and he's not even the featured picture in the section on baseball.
For a man that never was the MVP, he was the most powerful of all hitters in the 1950s crashing 326 homers and 1,031 RBIs. Of course, this was before Stanzanol and Deca Durabolin, so the numbers mean a little more.
The Duke was the teammate of Jackie Robinson. He played with Sandy Koufax, Roy Campanella, Maury Wills, and Don Drysdale. He played with Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Pee Wee Reese, Carl Furillo, Frank Howard, Johnny Podres, Carl Erskine, and Tommy Lasorda.
He came of age with Jackie Robinson's 3rd game in the majors. From that point on, he was a key element in the drive to move from Dem Bums to World Series champions to Los Angeles.
As many of us come of age in baseball in 2011, we have to wonder what has become of the greats of the game past. I knew who Duke Snider was, but I didn't really ever feel for his stats because they were largely a star player instead of a great of the game. Even the stars of the game that I grew up with - Paul Molitor, Dale Murphy, Robin Yount, Fred Lynn, Steve Garvey, Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammel, and Harold Baines - are forgotten as we only hang onto the best of the show, and even then, their accomplishments are made nothing in the light of shorter ball parks and PEDs. Of course, there are nutritionist, trainers, and other modern treatments like Tommy John Surgery that keeps our heroes' numbers improving, but alas...
A once great man has died today.
Our fathers and grandfathers will remember.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
The thing is that Jimmy Fallon is really annoying. I'm sure that he's only a fair weather Yankees fan (just like his convenient switch to Boston for the movie), but yeah... that's a big part of it.
Then there's the unlikeable factor of Drew Barrymore in the movie. I mean, who would take her to a baseball game, much less want to sell his season tickets to get back with her? Is there nobody else out there who is any better than her? Is Fallon's Red Sox obsession that problematic that he can't get another woman other than her (OK, this is probably true, but still... there are more tolerable women who would put up with him for a shot at those seats, I'm sure).
In addition, there's something about the whole Curse of Babe Ruth that permeated this Farrelly Brothers movie based on a book about soccer by Nick Hornby that really wanted to have another losing season and when the Red Sox surprisingly won it all, it was like... how can we get the reality that is going on in late October 2004 to be current in the movie.
So they went and let Fallon and Barrymore celebrate in St. Louis as if they were real fans who had been dying for this moment since the last time that the Red Sox were there in 1918. This really wasn't cool, but yeah...
Maybe I'm just nitpicking. There are good parts in the movie, but they aren't the ones that center around King Idiot Johnny Damon, who did his damnedest to leave Boston for a larger contract elsewhere when he was beloved in New England. While he wanted another year, he didn't have to sell his soul to do it.
And look what happened? The Yankees NEVER embraced him. He left for the Tigers and he left again for Tampa Bay. He's not exactly a spring chicken after all of those years in Kansas City (his rookie year was 95).
Now, he's hitting the apex of a career where he was never more loved than he was for the long hair and the Jesus beard. I remember what I did with the shirt I used to wear (picture to the left). He was Benedict Arnold, and now he's an afterthought looking for a place in an AL East wanna be transitional year team (and maybe they can be again, but it will never be like 2008 with the Crawford-less Rays).
But surely I digress into Johnny Damon's recent transgressions, which could easily apply to Manny Ramirez as well, but alas...
The point is that there are good parts to the movie. There is a love of baseball that makes one block out the world and want to watch games over being with other human beings at parties and the like. There are good things to it and those center around its enjoyable goodness, but it's not Bull Durham when it comes to movies.
But that's just me.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
We know that Ruth hit 60 home runs, and eventually, in 1961, he was passed by Roger Maris who hit 61 in 162 games instead of 154. We thank Ford Frick for reminding us of that distinction. Then, in 1998, Mark McGwire hit 70 and 3 years later, Barry Bonds hit 73. He would eventually go on to hit 762 though we seem to forget about his records in light of BALCO and look for a suitable replacement at the top of the numbers that are remembered.
We know that in 1968, Denny McClain won 31 and within a few years, he was made useless in baseball despite leading the league with 24 wins the next year. Nobody has come close since then. We know that same year that McClain was phenomenal, Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA despite only winning only winning 22 (he lost 9, but was named the MVP and Cy Young winner for 28 complete games and 268 whiffs). His movement was nasty and violent, a combination that comes out in the money shot porn of MLBTV's baseball history, but doesn't show up in the sheer numbers of baseball.
Thus, it becomes necessary that someone develops statistics that truly represent the power and effectiveness of a player as a whole. For the 31 wins that McClain got in that season, he had a 1.96 ERA and 280 strikeouts. Bob Gibson had 12 less Ks, .84 less ERA, and 9 less wins. Only one category is better, but somehow, his WAR (wins above replacement) is 11.9 compared to McClain's 5.9.
Who would you rather have? I know who I would rather have on my team. Watching him interviewed on MLBTV with Tim McCarver at his side and Bob Costas wearing the bib to catch drool (I'd be salivating to hear the story of Gibson plunking Pete LaCock in an old timers' game NEARLY A QUARTER OF A CENTURY after he drilled Gibson's final pitch for a grand slam as well).
But in the end, we need numbers to show us what season is better, and when we need those, we go back to Bill James, the stat guru of all stat gurus, whose contributions showed us how to create different statistics in baseball, which went on to show us how to create the definitive stats in baseball. And that's what the beauty of this game is. Frankly, it's a new revolution in sports and statistics. Hell, now we have Fan Graphs so amateur stats geniuses can make their own stats.
And it's all beautiful.
And it's the numbers that make the game fantastic.
Where would we be without them?
Friday, February 25, 2011
But yes, there is Robert Downey Jr. and his years spent looking to be a valuable actor again. Then again we all want to be worth more than $30million a year. It's not quite what Wolf Boy Taylor Lautner is worth, but it does dwarf his pasty vampire sidekick.
Perhaps Okkervil River said it best:
"These several years out on the sea have made me empty, cold, and clear. Pour yourself into me."
But since there were those who believed and poured themselves into making him valuable again, he is whole again while nearly 20% of American remains unemployed (we're not even talking underemployed, but we are adding those who gave up looking for jobs to the unemployment rate). In this, Robert Downey Jr. never seemed at a loss for works as he had a lot of small roles that came consistently until he finally hit pay dirt in Iron Man. Then again, he was the son of an actor, and it didn't matter that he had arrests, problems with drug and alcohol use and abuse, and more arrests.
The same can be said for Britney and Lindsey and the youthful train wreck culture of entertainment, hip hop, and Hollywood. If there's potential, there's a second chance.
We see the same in football with Michael Vick. If one can throw a football, there's a second chance - even if he's putting canines in the rape stand to breed them for vicious dog fighting matches that sadistic pigs bet on. But alas, that's just me.
Baseball is also right there. Miguel Cabrera coming to camp is a sign that everything has possibility in his world again and there is a third chance in store. It could be the triple crown potential that's giving him the next opportunity, but it's there and the American system is good.
Milton Bradley goes out with emotional stress and announces that the years of being angry were pretty much just the Albert Belle adage about being an angry black man. He has potential to be above average, and he gets another chance because the American system allows for it.
And Nyjer Morgan misses a catch and throws a hissy fit, but he's back this year with the Nationals after an undisclosed fine and an 8-game suspension.
Nevertheless, the rest of us look for stability and redemption in light of what we think we're worth in the world. It's not baseball salaries, but a living wage that can't be exported to other countries when the VORP and WAR of Indian, Chinese, and Mexican workers is comparable to that of us - just at a lower salary with less requests for additional help.
A mouth to feed doesn't reject a $200million+ 8 year salary as insufficient (even if in the world of baseball money, Albert Pujols is worth it). But alas, when concern for the athletes and entertainers stops being what it is - beautiful distraction to make life worth living in the hours that we aren't selling our time and energy to the company - and it becomes something more delusional - the desire to live in the cribs and the exotic lives of those players at the cost of making our now better - then we just have to wonder and hope for a state of normalcy again because this fake cushioned reality has destroyed us.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
But that right elbow... the throwing arm that can make or break a player. Tommy John Surgery to follow, and stick a fork in him, he's done for 12-18 months.
That would probably stick a fork in the Cardinals' season, too, since the NL Central is no longer Comedy Central past them. Unless the Cardinals find a way to ignite Colby Rasmus at something more offense-oriented as opposed to offensive to Tony Larussa (something I totally understand since I don't like Larussa either, but fortunately, I don't have to deal with him for 162 games + spring training) and get career years out of Matt Holliday and John Jay and better than last year stats out of Pujols (because Punto, Theriot, and Berkman just aren't the answers), this is going to be a long 2011.
Since 2006's relief pitcher introduction to the non-Missouri world in the World Series, Wainwright has been pretty reliable. Other than a shortened, 2008, he's had 200 strikeouts in each of the past 2 seasons and 19+20 wins to combine with Chris Carpenter for a sweet little 1-2 punch to keep Albert in playoff hopes.
Now, he's on the shelf and destined to be an afterthought in next year's campaign too - at least unless Michael Kaplan can do some James Andrews wonder to the arm of this young ace.
This isn't good. The Cardinals need a number 1/2 starter and they need the 230+ innings the young Wainwright is good for (5 complete games last year as well).
This really isn't good because the entire Cardinals pitching rotation has been rebuilt. We may have the technology to rebuild them, but when we rebuild them, there's always the potential for more troubles - even if we're led to believe that all is well because there's a 75% recovery rate for those who undergo the most extreme of pitching injuries - i.e. the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
But Edinson Volquez believes. He's already number one out of the gate for the Reds on opening day. I want to believe for Stephen Strasburg in 2012. I really do. He's the last player I really got excited to watch in this modern game of baseball that just isn't the good ol' days.
In other injury news that matters (Vicente Padilla is a loss, but is he the team anchor?), the Phillies are catching their collective breaths as well as Cliff Lee has a side muscle strain that means that all is not well in the greatest rotation ever (registered trademark only in Philadelphia - offer does not apply in Atlanta or Baltimore). Another chance for more injury or just a hiccup on the way to greatness in 2011?
Only time will tell -35 days to be exact.
Let the games begin.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
We have gone from the days of teams being worried about fielding an all black outfield to teams that can't field African American players (Houston's 2005 World Series team is a perfect example). And while there is color on the skin, it's from darker skinned players that hail from the countries that lie south of the American border. And while Martin Dihigo represents a somewhat similar and somewhat different experience, his Cuban heritage lacks resonance with the African American world of today.
For that, we go to the dramatic works of August Wilson to find Fences, the tale of Troy Maxson, a former Negro Leaguer who hit home runs like nobody other than Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson, but who was unable to play because of his skin color. Where Buck O' Neil felt that he was right on time, Maxson is spiteful for coming along way too early. He has gone so far as to push his son Cody out of a football scholarship so that sports can never do to him what they did to Troy, and for that and many other misguided things that he did, he's a larger than life idiot. He cheats on his wife and knocks up his mistress, who later dies in childbirth, leaving Troy's 2nd wife Rose to care for the baby and live in a loveless marriage. He fights for the right to drive a garbage truck despite not having a license and figures that nothing will ever become of it because it's so easy.
And for this, it's impossible to like him as a person. I felt the same way about Satchel Paige after reading the tales of his womanizing. The man could pitch like a machine, but I don't have to like the man off the field (in fact, his kids came to hate him as well). But alas, such is the biography that Mark Ribowsky wrote and that I came to sluggishly move my way through (Don't Look Back).
But with the August Wilson experience, the pain is all eventually gone and the mother makes the son go to the funeral, thus paying his last respects to his father and hopefully burying him instead of carrying him on his back forever.
And for that, perhaps there is meaning, but I can't say that it moved me the way that I hoped it would save a few lines such as:
She asked me when I met her if I had gotten all that foolishness out of my system. And I told her "Baby, it's you and baseball all what count with me." You hear me, Bono? I meant it too. She say, "Which one comes first?" I told her, "Baby, ain't no doubt it's baseball... but you stick and get old with me and we'll both outlive this baseball."
And with that, I think of my wife and how she "puts up with" my baseball infatuation and how lucky I am to have her, and it makes me realize that there are good things in life and they're more than just a game, but the game is nice.
I think about what it means to be a hero or a role model and I realize that if we don't have the ability to care for other people and treat them well, then we might be a good enterainer, but we're not much else.
It's just a shame that so many people, historically in reality and in fiction, can't do the same. Perhaps, it's time to focus more on the real than on the fake and get in the real game.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
It's just sometimes that the world does.
Earlier today, Scott and Jean Adam + Phyllis Mackay and Bob Riggle were gunned down by Somali pirates.
As baseball fans, we often reflect on things as meaningless as what will happen to our teams in the season that is. When we think of pirates, we think of the Pittsburgh Pirates and how lowly they've been for 2 decades (thanks Barry Bonds), but it's not often that we think of these real life pirates until they're holding Americans like they did two years ago when they ended up dead and the American captain (Richard Phillips) was released safely because Navy SEALs are excellent marksmen.
Maybe we think of pirates when we think of Johnny Depp, but not any pirate that is hijacking vessels off of Somalia and Oman. If we as Americans do think of pirates in a way that isn't gunning them down quickly, we often play pretend with some ethical high road that sees us wonder what creates the need to take vessels hostage and ransom them for big bucks - as if we could find a way that would justify this and allow us to feel pity on a group of people that are made to do this to make ends meet. But in the end, other than the fact that people will pay big money to return oil tankers and yachts, is there really a reason? The aforementioned bleeding hearts will cry that the poverty of the nations make this a possibility, and perhaps, in some alternate reality that is so, but frankly, I'll take the Navy SEALs option any day.
But the thought of the haves and the have nots do strange things to people. It's as if we all sit around wondering what could make us all have at least enough, and while that's kind and wonderful, it's just not so. Wealth isn't divided equally in the baseball world or the real world. And we don't even have to be talking about a person who gets $64million for 5 years instead of a person who gets $51million for 3 years although it's safe to say that the comparative wealth of some versus that of others plays into things (hell, I'd be content signing for 1 year and $40,000+). In the nastiest parts of the world, we're speaking of living wages and the idea of being safely entrenched in life in a way that there are no more worries about the bad things that could be in a rough and tough lawless land that is governed by marauding gangs of thugs. And perhaps the warlords of the world eradicate the talent and opportunities of these modern day "swashbucklers" so that all they can think to do is become gun toting renegades instead of eventually becoming as potentially great at something as Andrew McCutchen is said to be for a more likable or rational group of Pirates.
That said, I'm not offering tryouts in warm weather locales for these thugs. I'm glad that they were shot up and arrested by our Navy - even if they weren't able to act quickly enough before these 4 innocent Americans were gunned down in cold blood.
I'm just sad that we have to live in a world that can't be civil enough to exist without trying to take from others while threatening with death and mayhem. I don't care if it's in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, or Compton, California. There are good things in life and that's what we should be focusing on - not stating rest in peace to 4 brave Americans who were murdered for no reason at all.
Monday, February 21, 2011
But even after that, there was still a hatred for New York until the midges swarmed to Joba. Sure, 2007 felt good, but the fact that the curse was truly reversed showed up in Cleveland loud and clear and killed the future of New York.
Now, there's no need to wear the Yankee hater shirts like we used to. There is venom, but it's not the same. Hell, even the good folks at Urban Dictionary aren't getting attempts to coin attacks on Derek Jeter since 2006. It's like the world has gone upside down since he went into the stands to rob Boston of an out.
It's plays like that, which make baseball fans feel good about the game - even if he's robbing your team of an at bat.
And now, I own a Jeter card - the one with Bush and Mickey Mantle in the card as well. It's a classic card and it took the good folks at Topps to come up with it.
If you gave me his rookie card or a SAM bobblehead with his likeness on, I wouldn't spit on it.
A-Rod, yes, but not Jeter. And it's not because I think Cameron Diaz is hot. Maybe in There's Something About Mary, but any woman who touches Justin Timberlake is just... I don't know. We'll stop there because I'm feeling nice today.
But when Derek Jeter doesn't suck, the world is truly upside down.
And perhaps many things are happening in the universe to make things upside down. Maybe it's the fact that Colonel Gadhafi and the myriad of ways to spell his name is now looked at in some circles as being worth protecting as his people riot and take over Libyan cities and military bases. Yes, the world is truly upside down. That said, it's not long for Gadhafi. We expect that he'll be with his son very soon.
But really... Derek Jeter doesn't suck - even after an off season.
Time to go kill myself or at least wash my mouth out with soap for even muttering such a thing.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
But Daytona is everything baseball could be if it didn't invite the Counting Crows to the All Star Game as the representative music of the game (sure, August and Everything After is great, but it's not rockin' or anything). Daytona got it right for their audience. Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. Now, I'm not a country music fan in that I wear a cowboy hat and boots, but I know that this is what their fans like. Hell, Chris Daughtry would work, too. The point is that you please the fans.
Opening day is great for baseball, but it's not the tone for the season. It's 1 game and done. It's not a once and done chance for a rookie. It's not all or nothing. It's the beginning of a 162-game marathon. Sure, all games matter to stats, but you can recover in baseball. In NASCAR, it's about being sponsored and given a chance to ride constantly. Case in point - Trevor Bayne.
It's not quite a home run in the first at bat. Sure, that's a great starting point, but alas, this wasn't a first at bat. The first and only at bat before this was a single 17th place run (out of 43 drivers) at some point in the end of the last season by a 19 year old up for a cup of coffee.
Here's a man who never won in the NASCAR minor leagues (Nationwide series).
Here's a man on a team who hasn't won in 10 years.
Here's a man on a team with history - a history that many fans who are under 30 never got to see.
Here's a man on a team that hasn't won the Daytona since 1976. My wife was still in diapers at the time David Pearson won the race at 30mph after a crash.
Their last 3 winners are gone from racing altogether (Morgan Shepherd, Dale Jarrett, and Elliot Sadler).
And then a guy who is 20 years old and a day comes to race. He doesn't have a full season ride. He looks to be pre-pubescent. Nobody knows who he is, but he runs strongly all day.
In the end, a crash takes out Dale Jr. on the 10th anniversary of his father's death race. The front is lined up for 2 and done. A young kid who hasn't restarted well all day is in the lead and he gets a push from Bobby Labonte, a grizzled veteran who doesn't even belong at the race, but who is still up front because he's running well and because he was a past NASCAR champion. He's bump drafting Bayne and pushing him to be as great as he once was. He's in the lead. He's going for gold. It's like Tom Berenger as Jake Taylor in Major League... he's willing the youngsters to win by forcing his legs to make it to first on an improbable bunt (he'll finish 4th) and somehow, improbably, Carl Edwards who is getting pushed by David Gilliland can't get around him in the final stretch of the race and the kid wins.
He has to be told that he wins.
"I just feel unworthy …"
But it's not the humble young guy who won...
"they gave me a rocket ship."
He's thanking God and completely overwhelmed.
He has to be told how to get to Victory Lane.
Something in the moment is geared towards the end of a movie. It's fantastic. It's the start of something good... hopefully, it's a sequel that's better than Major League 2 (and much better than 3).
Baseball doesn't seem to offer up stories like that unless you watch really closely. When they do happen, they have to be in the playoffs or result in some degree of perfection (Dallas Braden's gem on Mother's Day), but we don't watch that live. We see the highlights - unless we have MLBTV and we're somehow fatefully there (like I was).
If only it could be that way again.
Here's to 2011 - 38 days.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Nevertheless, he became a face for baseball because he went on to be a baseball guy for ESPN Baseball Tonight, and in that, he was always knowledgeable and interesting. However, after nearly a decade, he was canned from ESPN for hugging a female intern, which was considered offensive and sexual harassment when 3 weeks later, she said something about the hug and the dinner afterward. Maybe it was because she was white and he was black. Maybe he didn't return her further advances or maybe she just didn't hit it off with him. Either way, ESPN was not happy.
Later that year, he filed suit and won against his former network in that they settled the money he had asked for, and eventually, he went his way until MLBTV picked him up, which is unlike Steve Phillips, also an ESPN guy canned for issues that he had while being in a bizarre love triangle (cue New Order). There began the 3rd chance for Mr. Reynolds.
Now, Reynolds is on the air daily with Billy Ripken (the least of the Ripkens), Dan Plesac, and Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams (getting another second chance for himself after becoming Joe Carter's monkey boy and the most hated figure in Philadelphia history this side of JD Drew and Santa Claus). Together, they're disseminating what can only be described as "porn" since the constant baseball images on MLBTV are not only addictive and a guilty pleasure when I should be working or being productive on my days off, but a constant opportunity to gawk at the money shot home runs and defensive gems. I get to skip to the best parts of the greatest arguments, relive the memories past of glory that is missing from my life in this cold, nasty winter as I wait for life to come back to a former glory. Somehow, the images of the past and a past never seen have become my substitute for a daily life.
Not that I'm complaining. The countdowns are incredible and the Bob Costas interviews are enlightening me to all that is the grandeur of baseball. While they play the old Ken Burns Baseball stuff (I have this on DVD - it's the Vivid Entertainment of baseball), they haven't gotten to the new stuff yet. Someday, I'm sure they will, and I'll be able to record it rather than having to pay for the DVD just yet. On really good days, there are things on there like the entire game of Bill Mazeroski's home run to beat the Yankees and make Mickey and Roger cry.
If only MLBTV reached out to the world with their history (through Youtube), there would be a generation of baseball converts, but unfortunately, the already converted will be the only ones to relish in this greatness of a past world that can no longer be - at least until baseball becomes a game instead of a business.
Nevertheless, the hot stove is always burning - at least until my wife gets home and we watch "acceptable" television together.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado, and Roger Clemens leave the team to get bigger money elsewhere. In some small way, not paying any of of these guys was a good decision. Sure, Clemens had many great years, but they were all ALLEGEDLY steroid enhanced, so...
Why now? Why pay Jose Bautista out on a long contract? Is it because he had his swing together last year and connected for 54 round trippers? Since 2004, he has hit 113 home runs. That means that in the past, there 5 more home runs that twice his last year total in 6 years. Year 7, he gets it together and excels. Now, he gets rewarded big time.
In his career, he has been rejected by Tampa Bay in the bad old days, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. Do you think that if he had promise and upside, someone would have noticed it on one of those sucky teams and say, hmm... let's keep him around for a while or trade him to someone good for their sort of prospects that can be billed as larger than life (because teams like the Yankees never give that good of prospects).
Last year, Bautista got his 54 dingers for a .260 batting average. He whiffed 116 times. In his career, he has whiffed 550 times in 2,323 at bats. That's pretty much once a game. We'll assume his RBIs aren't worth mentioning due to his poor teams, but still... 54 home runs and 124 RBIs in a show off season... hmm...
Does this remind people of Luis Gonzalez and his meteoric rise to fame in the midst of the steroid era? Sure, we love the hit I never saw live in 2001, but other than that... he was forgotten when baseball cleared out its past offenders.
Andruw Jones once cleared 50 as well. Where is he now? Oh, that's right. The Yankees signed him and every other player who hasn't been good since the early 2000s. While he could really rake home runs, he hasn't been solid at the plate in his last 4 years, and now, he's only getting older and older and older. Hell, the dude seems older than Helen Hunt looks these days. And perhaps it's not all about age, but girth and range were a problem for him. In short, he may be trying to get it together again, but is he worth the possibility of greatness when paid big time?
Sure, Bautista doesn't seem like he'll be loading up on Dunkin Donuts, but still... possibility for one good season?
And lest we not forget Greg Vaughn's 50 in 1998 (when everyone hit yard because chicks dig the long ball) and Brady Anderson's 50 in 1996 (when that still seemed like an accomplishment).
Are they worth 5 years and $65million?
If so, please let me know because I'll stop teaching and start weight training because a 39 year old rookie who never played baseball past B ball in little league really wants a shot at some real money. Heaven knows, the "real money" is not in teaching - unless you're a union guy in Wisconsin and you think you can strong arm the tax payers and the law to keep all of your pay when everyone else is making sacrifices in a bad economy - just because you "educate the youth of America" (some better than others - both students and teachers' faults).
But alas... I digress.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Yes, that's what one says when he or she is providing tough love to a person who got into an alcohol-related incident with his wife in 2009 and then claimed that it wasn't a problem with alcohol ONLY to end up getting a DUI less than a year and a half later.
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Dumb.
That's what one says when the player has pretty much been labeled a candidate for MVP in 2011 because he's all that and a bag of potato chips, too. He was the man that kept the Tigers alive in 2009 until he had that DUMB incident with his wife while consuming lots of alcohol, and then the team went downhill as his manager, Dave Dombroski, got him released from jail.
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Dumb.
And while many people suffer from problems with alcohol, it's more the fact that the last time didn't wake him up to his potential as a baseball player, his position on the Tigers, and the legal ramifications that a person can have because of alcohol. Then again, Cabrera isn't your everyday person. He's a 27 year old man in the middle of a $153.3million deal. Last year, he hit .328 with 38 home runs and 126 RBIs. In less at bats, he was better in all 3 categories, but this is about average for him short of 2008's .292 batting average, which was his first time under .300 since 2004 - his first full season in the majors, which still saw him hit .294.
In short, he has 247 in about 7.5 seasons, averages .313 at the plate, and is still only 27. Buster Olney swoons over him and says he's the second best right handed hitter in baseball behind only Albert Pujols.
Then he wants to go and spoil it all by doing something stupid like swigging scotch in front of his arresting officer?
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Dumb.
Josh Hamilton figured it out, and the worlds of baseball, Christianity, and second chances done right love him for it. Sure, he slipped that one night in the bar where he was photographed in all of those stupid pictures, and he's not perfect. In short, that incident was
Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb,dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Dumb.
However, Josh is on the right track. Is Cabrera who just scored in at .26 BAC? I don't know, and it's not really my concern. My life is pointed towards (hopefully) good things. I'd like to wish the same for Cabrera, but in a world where athletes are hated enough to end up on sites devoted to their public drunken binges, or more simply, just being seen drinking and assumed to be a lush, isn't behaving something good? When people want to talk smack on people for whatever they do - to include recovering from a shark bite that rips off the arm of a young surfer girl named Bethany Hamilton - what does that say for where Cabrera will end up as a result of this? I'm sure his rookie card value isn't soaring today.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
That said, I have to blame someone, so let's blame the guy who signed first baseman Ryan Howard to 5 years and $139million. As soon as the deal was inked out, Albert Pujols became worth twice that much money. Is it any wonder that Tony Larussa would see the baseball union as having the chance to drive up the maximum salary in baseball as it fairly sees Pujols as a $30million+ man? The reality is that Pujols is great. He is St. Louis (the team and the city). He is the greatest and most consistent player in baseball. While we had injury worries a few years ago, it was a blip in the radar from a man who has hit .300 every year. He has 30 home runs and 100 RBIs every year. In 2007, he had a "crappy" year since he didn't get 100 runs (only 99). Every other year of his career, he did. Not including his rookie season of 93 Ks (in almost 700 at bats), he has only had 1 season of over 70 strikeouts (76), which was last year. The man is a machine and he wants $300 million for 10 years - not $200million+ for 8.
Is he worth it? If we had baseball money to pay for it, we'd pay. After all, David Montgomery gave $25million to a guy with 1 season of more home runs (58) than Pujols best total (49). Sure, Pujols has only 3 seasons over 130 RBIs (and never more than 140). Ryan Howard has 4 and 3 of these were league leading totals in the 140s. Is this as much Ryan Howard as batting around Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jason Werth, and Pat Burrell batting in front of him or because he's just a big bopper?
The reality is that Howard's stats aren't that INCREDIBLE other than the magical 2006. He has not hit and totaled 180 strikeouts or more in 4 strikeouts. Last year, he missed this due to injury. He has 1 .300 season in 2006. I'm not saying he's a chump, but I am saying that he's not worth the money he got, but Philadelphia needs a hero, and I guess he'll work if you're so inclined to like the team.
But that said, on a day where Cardinals fans wonder if this will be a triple crown year as Albert walks to Anaheim, New York (either team), Boston, or some other magical team that feels $300 million is chump change... and there will be suitors. This guy for a solid team means division victory and October surprises.
For all of the money given to Matt Holliday (7 years, $120million), not paying Albert... dumb, dumb, dumb. If this is the 1st .400 season since Ted Williams, won't the Cardinals being crying in their Busch beer as Pujols packs his one man show up for a contender? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I'd probably start with Cap Anson since he was responsible for the gentleman's agreement. However, he's not a fat ass. He has 3,435 hit and over 2,000 RBIs, so he's an accomplished athlete, it's just that he has some serious racist issues with including all people. If Dale Carnegie sat down with him and told him how to win friends and influence people, he might be OK, but we'll never know since he's dead.
Now, there are a lot of people that dislike George Steinbrenner as well, but see, here's the things: 1) he made for good humor on Seinfeld as George Costanza's boss, and 2) he may have tried to get the Yankees to win at all costs (ask Dave Winfield and ask those who benefited from Yankee revenue sharing), but he did bring Roger Maris back to the game. To a lot of Boston Red Sox fans, he might be the Evil Empire, but he rescued Maris from Baseball Purgatory, so that's not a fat ass douche bag action.
Albert Belle really was a jerk, but he was a self-admitted "angry black man." Does this sound like an apology, a realization, or a call to be instated in Cooperstown? Steroids accusations, stalking his ex-girlfriend after placing a tracking device on her car and threatening her, chasing kids that were egging his house off his property in an SUV, corked bats, almost ending Fernando Vina with a hard slide, and just being an all purpose thug. In short, he was the talented version of the Devil Rays and Nationals' Elijah Dukes. With that said, are they and guys like Gary Sheffield really jerks or just a product of their environment? That said, if we're name calling, should we stick with fat ass douche bags or is there a more proper name to use? After all, it should be the responsibility of the person doing the name calling to at least accurately describe said person.
For Tolbolski, fat ass douche bag was simply a tag for someone who gave too much homework. Was that really accurate or fair? Just because his teacher could have a weight problem, is that reason enough to hone in on his obesity? Shouldn't we be focusing on people first language?
Sure, we hammer Ryan Howard and King Whiff Mark Reynolds for their frequent strikeouts, but that is addressing a problem with their job performance, something that is objective and something that they get paid a lot of money not to do. We may feel that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are soon going to be getting their prostates examined in the pokey, but was that their doing or ours? In some respects, we blame this as much on a reckless federal government that chooses to prosecute for former players for steroids instead of going after terrorists. And on the subject of terrorists, we may find a picture of Osama Bin Laden wearing a Yankee symbol on his turban as fun (thus equating that many unsavory characters like the Yankees), but let's be honest... it's a proven fact that people should run if they see a person in Yankees attire coming up to them in the dark, but don't believe me... believe the New York Times article!
Nevertheless, it's easy in Blog Land to get caught up in dishing hate on specific people by name. We have that privilege as bloggers, and we have a responsibility to make sure that we're objective and not ranting on real life things that can hurt our lives because we stopped being the professionals we are supposed to be in our real lives. In the end, that's what it's really about - even if athletes, entertainers, and politicians give us such fodder to attack them for (and New York Times v. Sullivan gives us the right), there is still a feeling that there are lines we should be able to protect ourselves from if people cross them. Just ask Tony Larussa. Whether it would have won in a court of law before Twitter made nice, one wonders, but alas... it's a brave new world of hatred and vile comments we can make.
In this, let's hope that we can always stay as professional as we need to.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Yesterday, my wife and I were out taking a walk since the weather was starting to break and amidst the sounds of a kid hammering out the drum, it seemed like spring was getting here quickly. And with that, what better way to start the baseball season than to look out back and see the green (well, ok, it's brown) grass on my own lawn and to figure out how to get the rest of this snow melted so that I can sit out in the Siesta Zone on Friday afternoon after another week is over (hopefully, with gainful employment on the horizon as a warm almost 60 degree day basks the winter blues and cabin fever away.
Nevertheless, everything is born again except for Albert Pujols' future with the Cardinals as he rejected the Cardinals offer a few weeks ago. However, since Albert isn't paying my bills, I'll reflect on how my wife’s flowers are blossoming. Well, at least the snow drops are. Someday soon, I look forward to seeing the cherry tree that I bought her last year as an early birthday present getting brough back to life in brilliant pinks and lights reds. The magnolia tree is incredible when it opens as well. The whites go well with the yellows of other bushes that I haven’t learned the names of, and the tulips, hyacinths, and daffodils are poking through the former owner’s less than manicured “gardens.” It's not Longwood Gardens, but we can dream that someday, it will be.
Last year, the Giants won the whole show by beating up on a surprising Texas in a World Series that someone had to win for the first time (while the New York Giants won before, the San Francisco Giants never did). After that, it was all over. The city by the bay made the Freak and Matt Cain their heroes. Cody Ross and Brian Wilson were the knights in shining armor. This year, I really want to have aspirations for Boston’s hitters. I do see them getting better with Carmeron and Gonzalez, but they still have JD Drew and an aging Ortiz that saw better seasons prior to 2008. Kevin Youkilis is fine, but I still wonder who they're kidding with a well-aged Jason Varitek who made have leadership and game calling, but other than that... However, with John Lackey and Josh Beckett being high salary question marks, it’s time to believe in offense again because Theo's grand defensive plans of last year and a ton of injuries equaled third place. And I'm not even getting into how we STILL haven’t solved shortstop since Orlando Cabrerra was allowed to pack his bags for elsewhere.
As for the Yankees, I'm sure they'll make a play for Pujols next year since their signings were ancient has beens and never weres from the early 2000s and an overpaid set up man from Tampa Bay. Eric Chavez. Garbage. Mark Prior. The Cubs killed his career before he had a chance to prove it. Bartolo Colon? Are we going to pair him with CC to see who the biggest loser is? Freddy Garcia? Didn't we learn anything from signing Kerry Wood and Lance Berkman at the break last year?
Yep. It’s baseball season. Break out the Yuengling and the pretzels. Life is good. I’m ready to see them all play. It’s going to be a great 2011 with the Phillies taking on the Red Sox in the World Series, which I happily admit will be a good series for the Red Sox unless the Phillies decide to make a play for offense - i.e. Michael Young. All the same, it’s one of those years where potential looms, but more than ever, it seems to be a year where the youth of the game establishes itself for a rebalancing of power as the old guard (Atlanta, Anaheim, and both New York teams) slip further away from contention.
Nevertheless, Despite not playing and having spent my little league career watching from the bench, I became a master of card collecting for those eighties pre-steroid years. My heroes either saw their stats eclipsed or lost due to asterisks. The heroes of the past were all bent up and tattered at the edges and worth slightly less. As time went by, I took to APBA Baseball, but lost the 1980 and 1982 sets to a 1999 fire. Now, I’ve been reading the previews magazines religiously since I took Derek Jeter’s face to California in 1997 with the mission that I would get back into baseball, which would allow me to reacquaint myself with America after living in England from December 27, 1990, to July 8, 1996. And it worked. I found Mark McGwire, Larry Walker, Randy Johnson, and Kevin Brown and a guy named Renteria who hit one through to beat the Indians. I found Willie, Ty Cobb, and Joltin’ Joe Dimaggio. By 1998, the time was now, and while it’s not like it’s a year where records are predicted to fall, it still feels like now. The time is T-minus 8 hours and 20 minutes.
The veterans and the rookies are still there. The old haggard faces with their gloves of steel that they’ve worn for many years, and memories of a pair of hot rookies named Strasburg and Heyward trying to create some glory in their respective towns. Alongside of him, a guy named Jurrjens wants to come back from some rough times with injuries and be Maddux at the center of a greate Braves rotation. It could very well happen.
Will Jose Bautista be the first homerun of the year, or will it be Joey Votto? Will Jeter or Jacoby give the ball a ride to the bullpen in right field? Will Big Papi start a campaign to not go off into the sunset by hitting the Dunkin Donuts sign? I eagerly anticipate it all.
Here’s to 2011. Let John Fogerty sound and let the Cactus and Grapefrut League games begin!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Nomar Garciaparra in the offeseason before 2004 was a perfect example. Turning down 4 years at $15million per wasn't a wise business move. He was already the victim of losing nearly ALL of 2001 to injuries and his rejection of solid money contributed a lot to the multi-team deal that took him to the Cubs at the trade deadline and brought Orlando Cabrera into the Red Sox championship fold. Nomar was never the same.
Of course, 2004 started out rough and he finished the year with 321 at bats. The most at bats he ever had after this were 469 in his first year with LA, which netted 20 home runs. That was the only year after 2004 that he hit .300 again. In the end, whether it was tragic pride, Mia Hamm, a bum body, or ancient aliens coming back to intervene with his career, Garciaparra was never the same again.
Turning down 4 and $60million saw him never again make $10million a year again. His final year in Oakland, which was in the words of the Germans, "nicht so gut," saw him step to the plate 169 times to bat .281 with 3 round trippers. The next year, the Red Sox allowed him to sign a 1-day deal to come back and retire from the game with Boston colors on his body and an invitation to ESPN as an announcer.
The moral of the story is simple. A player can be rookie of the year. He can be solid every year down the pike and feel he is worth tons of cash, but there comes a point where a player has to be thankful and make the deal with Howie Mandel before the wrong case is picked. A player can take the odds and go for more, but the reality is that the banker has gotten stingy and there aren't as many good cases as bad cases.
Sometimes, the answer is to walk out of the room ahead instead of King of the Hill.
Somehow, the Yankees paid tons for A-Rod when he opted out early, and let's be honest... 2 years not hitting .300 (but hooking up with Cameron Diaz and Kate Hudson and a lot of love for Madonna despite divorcing his wife) and only hitting 30 home runs each year when he's being paid to hit 150 more than the 613 he has at the end of the season aren't good. Let's be honest, his injuries are getting more frequent as well. He's not the high 600s and low 700 at bats guy that he was. It would be safe to say that he doesn't get 700 homers. I'd even put money on not passing Willie Mays, but I wouldn't put a lot on it.
The reality is that Babe Ruth is safe from him. So is Hank Aaron.
Barry Bonds has nothing to worry about.
And looking back, Ken Griffey Jr. was the answer to beating Hank Aaron before injuries (to both him and McGwire) and BALCO changed the landscape of baseball forever. A-Rod was supposed to be the boy anointed, but steroids and starlets changed his world, too. For Griffey, his first 10 years saw him hit 2/3 of his home runs. The last over half of his career was 1/3 of his production. A-Rod put up some sick numbers for his first 10 years, and so has Albert Pujols (408), but 10 years isn't a career though it puts a person in the Hall of Fame.
Now, it's down to Albert and Albert alone to rescue the home run record from its taint. It will be the career numbers and the effect of them that will make or break the sport I love.
Let's hope that St. Louis comes to realize this sooner than later and doesn't get worried about the burn that could happen. And let's hope equally that Pujols realizes that sometimes, hometown discounts go further than an extra $100 million.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Well, here we go... the perjury trial is for real. The man with 73 home runs in a season and 762 for his career is officially facing 5 counts against him (instead of 11).
He still says that he's innocent, but so does Roger Clemens, and we all know how that's working out for him. So for Bonds, the big day is March 1st, which is when he gets arraigned for perjury. Greg Anderson, his former trainer and bestest buddy who never testified against him, will most likely get more contempt of court charges for continued refusal to talk (we have to wonder how much money that is translating to in thank yous from Barry). That said, Jason Giambi and more unknown former major leaguers are going to state that Anderson hooked them up with steroids in the same way it's alleged that Anderson gave Bonds the Clear and the Cream.
For Clemens, his next date with destiny is March 14th when his subpoena for the notes from the House committee that investigated Andy Pettite, Brian McNamee, Chuck Knoblauch, and Jose Canseco (because where there is juice, there is the Typhoid Mary of Steroids) is analyzed for whether they'll give up the documents or not.
Nevertheless, the issue here isn't whether these guys are guilty. Let's be honest, guilty or not, their entire careers are trash. Neither guy is taking his accumulation of some of the greatest numbers ever into Cooperstown. Neither guy is ever going to truly accrue fans or love - despite the fact that Roger was still able to find time to joke about throwing a broken bat at Mike Piazza when he performed for charity. In this, I'm just curious who thinks that inviting Roger to raise money is really the way they want to go with an event of this status, but with that said, I'm sure it got a couple of chuckles and guffaws.
So alas, the 2 biggest names in the Mitchell Commission hearing are going to be facing justice - even if it's only to show them that they can't fight authority because as John Cougar Mellencamp once sang, "Authority always wins." In the end, the 2 of them will go down like the Titanic and without the chance of getting saved that rescued Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle from their baseball exorcisms. There is no life preserver like the one that was thrown to Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, and Smoky Joe Wood. It's over.
There's no nostalgic love like that for Pete Rose and Joe Jackson. It's done.
And that's what's at issue here. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have done nothing to make people love them. Jeff Pearlman's Love Me Hate Me Barry Bonds and American Icon by Teri Thompson and others truly sum up how ugly and loath-able these once great athletes are. The lies and deceptions of Barry Bonds and his myriad of lives that don't remember what each other did while quietly countering his villainy with charity. The betrayal of Roger's wife and best friend to save his records in light of the accusations that were leveled at him.
And while these guys fight for their lives and their backsides not to be made entertainment in the federal prison system, there is something out there that wonders what will became of baseball and the rest of the accused steroids users in baseball. Who else is on the list of anonymous players from 2004? Who else will be named when the witch hunt continues? Who will the next test failure be? Do we really want to know?
I really have to say that I don't.
There needs to be at least a few good memories left of all that is good and pure of the game that I love.
Friday, February 11, 2011
OK, so there was Obama calling to congratulate Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie because he gave Vick a second chance (as opposed to calling the mother of a slain U.S. soldier named Sean Collins whose death notice letter was botched up). Now, we're not calling for the death penalty for Vick (we'll leave that to Tucker Carlson), but let's just say that if it wasn't for the karma effects, we'd be wishing constant ill to Michael Vick.
The issue of animal rights is a touchy one, and we're not vegetarian as some would claim one would need to be to defend animal rights and not be hypocritical, but in looking at brutal thug like behavior, even people who hunt, ranch, or shop in the meat department at Wal Mart can pretty much all get together and say that what they see is wrong and vicious blood lust is just uncalled for.
Now, I'm not quite sure why the Buehrle's statement is news. Perhaps, the media seeks to paint their whiteness as racist and wanting to go against the second chance atmosphere of America that is opening up to wanting to pay big time cash for Vick's autograph again (not me; I passed on that stuff when I went to my last baseball card show in December). Perhaps, they want this architect of a perfect game a few short years ago to be seen as vindictive above and beyond the call of duty. No matter what, let's just say that what they do for injured dogs shows their kindness and generosity while Vick remains, Vick... released from prison, shown that he can't do whatever he wants, and humbled a little bit as his whole financial world was crumbled as a result of his thinking he owned the world.
And perhaps this is another key difference in baseball and football. Sure, there's a sense of entitlement to hoochies and strippers in all fields of endeavor that cater to male star power. So it goes. However, the unchecked aggression that exists in football tends to permeate out of the game and into real life. This isn't about a sport where Pete Rose slides into home to win a game; this is a sport that created OJ Simpson.
And this isn't meant to knock football, but rather it is written to say that as humans, we have a certain responsibility. We'd say the same thing if Chipper Jones was impregnating a Hooters girl despite being "happily" married, which he did. Uncool. Don't be an asshole. Don't needlessly hurt anything. That's just part of being a human. And when you're done, do your part to make up for being a scumbag. Expect people to dis you for what you did. Don't ever expect people to forget - even if you've gotten better. Roberto Alomar and Juan Marichal would agree that this happens.
I know it's not fair, but it is what it is. You were given millions to be a hero and a role model - no matter what Willie Wilson thinks the job should entail. Act like one.
As George Orwell would say, "A sahib has to act like a sahib."
Thursday, February 10, 2011
So the great white hope pulled a .298, 31, 101 line last year knowing that what he did was going to help both the Padres win the division (of course, they imploded in the last few weeks, which was still a feat considering that other than Gonzalez and pitching, they really didn't have much last year) and help himself win a contract with another team.
So let's be honest with that line... there are 2 years in his career with more home runs (he did hit 40 once) and he did bat 300 once (304), but we're looking at good value (under $5million) for what seems to be about $15million of production in baseball money (which is less real than the leprechauns dancing under rainbows, Sasquatch sightings, and Loch Ness Monster pictures).
His whiffs are down a little bit, but he's not getting 600 at bats (almost, but not quite) either like he was in those 140 K years.
In his year in the playoffs, he was 5 for 14, so that bears well, but can he handle the Boston media? San Diego is a friendly town that isn't quite so media "intense" as Boston. How will he react to the big games against the Yankees? Can he meet expectations?
Gonzalez now stands on first base and moves Youkilis to third, which moves Mike Lowell to improving his golf game. Back in the day, Mike Lowell was a hero (as recently as the 2007 World Series), but then he got old, and the Red Sox wanted to jettison him to anyone who would have his memories as modern hopes, but the physicals that he took to reveal the damage of a career in baseball kept him and his salary in Boston. He hobbled through, a warrior to the end in spite of Theo Epstein's business approach to baseball in Boston (the same thing that sent famed Idiot Kevin Millar packing instead of making him a bench coach). The same approach that allows Jason Varitek's memories to stay at a discount for another year instead of making him a bench coach. The same approach that broke Dave Roberts' heart when it brought it to Boston just long enough to steal the base that made him as heroic as Paul Revere only to spit on it by sending him away the next year. If there's not enough hate for Theo Epstein here, give me some time. I'll get to all of the reasons why he and Francona need to go - in spite of what they did for 2004 and 2007. There's a year; it will all come out in the wash.
Baseball in Boston (and St. Louis, for that matter) is a beautiful thing; however, I don't have to like the whole team, and I especially don't have to like the team's management.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
To think that a pitcher who is 1-11 can get a nearly $2million raise from roughly league minimum ($435,000) to just over $2million is quite a dream and it would definitely make Horatio Alger proud. However, in a celebration of getting one over on Pittsburgh with a little help from the arbitration team, we take a look at some other great losers who got to hang out a little longer due to the tangible things that aren't told by a win loss record.
Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in 1973 went 13-20 for the Phillies. Phil Neikro fared a little better in 1979 as he won 21 for Atlanta while losing 20.
Mike Maroth may have lost 20 for the 2003 Tigers, but his 9 wins were more than 20% of his teams 43 TOTAL wins. This does a lot to stop the bleeding (or at least provide a healthy dose of morphine) for a team that pretty much stank up the whole place until they convinced Ivan Rodriguez that a lot of money can rebuild a team, which is true because it took the Tigers from last in 03 to the World Series losers in 06.
Prior to that, in 1980, Brian Kingman was 8-20 for an Oakland team that wasn't that bad (they had a winning record), but they just couldn't win for Kingman who posted a sub 4 ERA in spite of the lack of love he was shown from his teammates.
Denny McClain was the last 30 game winner (31) in 1968 and led the league in wins the following year, but by 1971, he was washed up when he got his 20 losses.
Louis Tiant was a 20 game loser in 1969, but he became a dominant force for Boston a few years later. Everyone forgot that Mel Stottlemyre was a 20 game loser as he became a Yankee pitching coach. Hall of Famer Robin Roberts also lost 20, but he still won nearly 300 for his career.
And if misery loves company, let us not forget that 2 of the 5 greatest pitchers in baseball history (Walter Johnson and Cy Young) have 20 stapled to their otherwise incredible records. Then again, this was a time where losing 20 seemed to be all but expected.
So perhaps if the Pittsburgh fire sale comes around this year, maybe bright lights will beam down and escort Ohlendorf to a team that can get him at least 5 runs a game. Who knows? He could be a 10-game winner!
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The week rolls on and Michael Young lays the smack down on the team that he kept afloat for years after the owners did the team completely wrong with that inflated A-Rod contract that could only go one way (to the Big Apple after the financial hardships imploded the team once and for all), but then someone had to rebuild the team completely to get to the World Series via their first playoff victory EVER after years of trying and years of Yankees slam dunks. That was Michael Young who rose to solid status and showed he was a leader, but then there was Adrian Beltre, an opportunist who is known to do well in contract years, and he was getting 6 years for the potential that he might do OK, and perhaps he will, but where is the love as the Black Eyed Peas sang on Sunday night?
Where is it?
This is a man who now feels "misled and manipulated" by his team - not once, but multiple times.
Where is the love in that?
Sure, there's 3 years at $16million per for a 34 year old journeyman who moved positions every time that he was asked to. He mastered his position and played hard to bring glory to the Lone Star state. But when it all comes down to it, 2nd best makes a team assess what it can do to get it all. If you ask us, they screwed the pooch by choosing Beltre. Tons of money for a sometimes really good, sometimes OK player and the money that will have to be absorbed when Young gets shuttled elsewhere.
And perhaps the team will be back. They've got some youthful pitchers and they're in a weak division, but can they take the Sox or the Rays? Methinks, no, but alas, that's just me being careful with the money I wouldn't bet on the Rangers' options this October.
In the end, there are a lot of options for waiving that no trade contract, but the reporters seem to be talking about moving from the AL West to the NL West and helping the rebuilding youth movement in Denver that is the Rockies. That would be nice, but until then...
The divorce continues with lots of bad blood to follow.
Is this a sign for St. Louis and Albert? One week and counting.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The race to the finish at the end of the Superbowl sucks for one reason... it's sudden death against a clock NOT a powerful defensive line that stops a team cold and dead.
Mind you, I've always hated the clock. I'm not here to defend Ben Roethlisberger from a loss that he deserved (though I deserved the $25 that was on the line for a Steelers win). I'm just saying that if he wasn't trying to preserve time outs and had a chance to set up, it might have been a different game.
Baseball gets it right. Each team has 9 innings of 3 outs an inning to record 27 outs in combination of ground outs, fly outs, strike outs, or tagging out a runner trying to move ahead to the next base. It's not over until the singing starts. That's life on the diamond of baseball.
If you don't believe it, perhaps there is nowhere more readily exemplifiable as Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Boston is up 5-3 on a home run by Dave Henderson and a Marty Barrett single that scores Wade Boggs. It's now the bottom of the 10th and we have just witnessed 2 fly balls to the outfield. Two down. Gary Carter is up with the Mets down by 2, and he comes through with a 2-1 count single. Kevin Mitchell steps up and he singles on an 0-1 count. Carter is on second and it's 3 pitches from the end. The Mets are still down by 2, and now we see Ray Knight go to 0-2 and he singles! Carter to third, but we've still got a 1 run lead for the Red Sox who have the wheels falling off, so out comes Bob Stanley to get 1 runner. A wild pitch later on a 3-2 count to Mookie Wilson, and we have Carter over the plate and Knight on second base.
To protect the already defamed, we all know what happens next. A poor unfortunate once great first baseman with leg problems who wasn't relieved for a better defensive second baseeman lets the ball go through his legs, the Red Sox lose, and then they blow Game 7, too.
Once again, they had the chance to win it all. They even had the lead in Game 7. But for those people that can't close the deal, why should there be a win? Mariano Rivera saved a ton of games when it counted, but in Game 7 of 2001, he couldn't seal the deal. He never took a knee. He lost like a man in the same way he won like a man when it counted all of those other times.
Unfortunately, the big game of the year is a one and done football game, which is just how their sport works. There's too much to lose if we force players to play more games than they do. The crush and contact makes it necessary because as we all know players are property, or at the very least, they're investments meant to be coddled like an adorable little Muppet baby of a child that must be protected from the world or a former ALCS hero third baseman that gets injured in a basketball pickup game that he wasn't allowed (by contract) to play in...
Unless they're a big time thug NFL quarterback with no helmet and no permit crashing out his motorcycle because that's the cool thing to do, which brings us back to jump where we look at how football players differ from baseball players: the sense of entitlement that thinks being the guy with the ball and the guy with the rings makes all the difference.
Sure, it takes a man to wear a boot when he's injured and risk further injury while leading his team to victory (though it's better if your sock shows blood and you beat your hated opponents - props to you, Curt Schilling). However, that doesn't change that the game and the culture of the NFL is flawed.
This is just one man's opinion... that's all.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Somewhere in the game is a minor league carnival of whatever. While there aren't T-shirt cannons and crazy ostrich riders / hot dog vendors, there is still enough "other stuff" that people who don't care about football can enjoy the jubilation of Rah Rah America Kicks Ass Day (if Obama really wants to impress me, he'll rename Superbowl Sunday as such and make the next day an official half day like they did when I was in the Air Force (at least in the early 1990s at the European clinic I worked at with regards to all un-necessary personell since the game was televised VERY late at night on AFN)).
But the Superbowl is the epitome of America. Baseball really can't compete with the "general public" though George Carlin was right about it. Baseball's spectacles just aren't the same since the death of Bill Veeck. The World Series is 7 games and it's not do or die. The All-Star Game (in baseball as in all sports) is a series of spectacles and some applause for who was announced with no Pete Rose / Ray Fosse moment since it's all about being owned by the team and to play one's heart out in a game that doesn't count towards the standings... anathema! Well, at least it is for modern players.
Back in the day, athletes could be great and play 2 sports. Danny Ainge was a Blue Jay, but he chose the Celtics instead, which was a good choice because the Celtics were dominant in the Larry Bird era. Bo Jackson bled his heart out on two fields and made Buck O' Neil salivate over the sound of his bat (unfortunately, I never heard this because I was young and in England and totally un-concerned with the sports whose trading cards I grew up with).
Jim Thorpe who became the new namesake for the town of Mauch Chunk (the best place to spend a weekend in eastern PA HANDS DOWN as it offers fine dining, cultural entertainment, river adventure, waterfalls, ghosts, and antiques all in one cozy 19th century Swiss styled town) was also a 2-sport athlete after getting hosed out of his gold medals in the 1912 Olympics because he played baseball. Nevertheless, this half Native American went on to be gushed over by the Associated Press as the greatest male athlete of the first part of the 20th century (1950) in much the same way King Gustav drooled over him way back when he was still getting ready to dominate in the Olympics. ABC did them all one better by declaring him the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
Johnny Come Latelies aside, the rectifying of his gold medals in 1982 restored the memory of this great athlete to where it should have always been.
However, more people remember 2-sport athletes like Deion Sanders and his flashy personality than do Jim Thorpe, which is a shame as it shows our tunnel vision for the now instead of the past. It's kind of like looking at the Black Eyed Peas halftime show as an example of great music. Sure, Will I Am and Usher's "OMG" is a great pop song. So is "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night." However, their live show... nicht so gut. Seeing Slash playing with Fergie, who is perhaps the WORST performer in the history of performances (she's not attractive, she can't sing, she can't dance - it's the trifecta of uselessness) was a sad state of mainstream music in 2011. I know that the last couple of performances were largely white rock since the Wardrobe Malfunction, but c'mon...
It's bad enough that the Superbowl didn't even try to get glitzy until they used George Burns and Mickey Rooney in 1987. In 1991, they switched it up with New Kids on the Block, and in 1993, the self-proclaimed King of Pop, who we just look at as a permanent scumbag, but alas, I digress... and half time shows were now even more important than the game (just not the commericals that now cost around $3million for 30 seconds). But one again, c'mon. Can we not do better than Fergie? Can Will I Am not kick her to curb once and for all?
One can only hope (not that baseball's choice of musicians to raise the roof is that great since they used Counting Crows who despite having one of the greatest CDs ever (August and Everything After) were 12 years removed from being good, and even then, they weren't in their element, which is whiney introspective pop.
But yes... here's to the joy of the Superbowl- even if it's a spectacle where we get sucked into rooting for Thug Ben because we draw a $25 chance to win if the Steelers win (and we end up hating him EVEN more).
And here's to minor league baseball - because it's still baseball - the greatest sport in the world.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
I'm going to say that I know where my money is.
All the same, for as unreal as baseball money is, it's great to see players get rewarded for success.
Even more than that, it's great to see players bounce back from Tommy John surgery and get some cash for their pains. I can't wait to see Stephen Strasburg come back and kick ass with an indestructible arm and youthful enthusiasm as he makes the Nationals the dominant team in the N.L. East. More than anything, I just want to see Ryan Howard sitting at home all October and dreaming about the wasted opportunities he had while he was whiffing away in the big games, but alas, I digress.
Last year, Francisco Liriano went 14-10 for a rather pitiful Twins team (pitiful in that A) they incite pity and B) they aren't destined to EVER succeed in the post Kirby Puckett team except in winning a division that is essentially whoever makes the biggest move out of the Twins, Tigers, and White Sox). His first half was better than his second half, and he returned to 2006 form after not healing quickly enough and pretty much sucking 2009 up. Sure, we can blame that on Minnesota as well. After the end of July, he came back for a game in August and a game in September. He didn't do well in either of them, and they cost him 3 years if you include surgery.
Now, he's back with a new contract, and we have to feel good about that gesture. Hopefully, he can return to the form that saw him 12-2.
It's never a good thing to waste a young pitcher, and let's be honest, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Michael Cuddyer aren't getting any younger. Neither is Jim Thome who has 600 home runs and a return to the fall classic on his mind. However, the Twins aren't necessarily built to compete into mid October. Pavano, Baker, Slowey, and the rest don't inspire fear in hitters, no matter how kind the resigning of Pavano was. Liriano is the answer and the question mark, and we can only hope the $4.3 million gesture from the Twin Cities will energize him to play hard and to see if they can take out the AL West champion or the AL Wild Card team and bring the Twins back to glory.
Heaven knows that Joe "I really can't stop ANYTHING that the Yankees throw at me" Nathan isn't the answer at the end or middle of ball games.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Not to justify Chris Brown hitting her, but I've always felt that a career that had exactly one good song ("Umbrella") has been drug out to infinity as the music world feels that it has to feature her everywhere that it possibly can because abusive relationships are big business in music and the world of reality TV. But like "Umbrella," which was good for the first 200 or so times, it got old. The same can be said for her duet with Eminem ("Love the Way You Lie"). If the radio stations play it enough (once every hour or two), it becomes infectious, and when it hits that level, it works, but to hear her and Drake singing... it's like listening to some idiotic eighth grader going off with asinine sexual innuendo and jokes. Completely unendurable.
One wonders if Rihanna would be anywhere without Jay Z. Seeing images of her alongside Taylor Swift on TRL back in the day, they were both overly made up and "sexified" in their younger days in the hopes that videos could propel them to stardom, and they truly did.
Rihanna became a darling of the rap and rock world crossing barriers because of ultra wise promotion and Taylor Swift simultaneously became a country and pop darling. Neither could do any wrong for the longest time - Kanye West be damned. However, Rihanna got smacked up before the MTV awards and Taylor Swift dated Bubble Boy, and yeah... it's a brave new world for each of them.
Hopefully, the future holds good men for each of them. Just because Rihanna sings terrible songs like "Rude Boy" (actually tolerable when mixed with Fugazi's "Waiting Room" on Girl Talk's All Day) and "Take a Bow" while resurrecting the self-promoted King of Pop for "Don't Stop the Music" to cash in on the nostalgia trip that was Michael Jackson, a move that paid off as he got relevant in overdosing to those of us not smart enough to know better.
For a while, Rihanna was the "Only Girl in the World" for Matt Kemp, and that was nice because baseball players in 2011 have a reputation to live up to and we all know that none of them are ever wife beaters - maybe father in law beaters like Francisco Rodriguez, but yeah...
However, his career suffered as hers sky rocketed. Sure, he got 28 home runs last year, but he had his lowest batting average and his whiffs increased to 170. From a guy that was supposed to be first round fantasy, he was now average. Fortunately, even if he didn't get the rihannas (a severe gastro-intestinal disorder, or so it sounds), she got tired of him and pushed forward to her extended 15 minutes of fame and went to her schedule instead of her ballplayer.
And both will romantically do better than each other. That's just the nature of their business. The question is whether Matt Kemp can rebound in 2011. Perhaps, he'll need some antibiotics to get rid of the rihannas. Hopefully, we can just push fluids. Either way, he'll need to show some reliability before anyone touts him that highly again.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
This is a period that I often refer to as the dead era of American pop culture. For my last years of high school and the time afterward when I was in the Air Force in Europe, I missed a lot of popular shows like Quantum Leap and the Wonder Years. I've seen the latter, but never the former, and for some reason, the stations don't syndicate Fred Savage the way that they do other shows that have been on for WAY too long.
Somehow, that period of time still seems to leave a lot of things in our lives in 2011. Most of them aren't as good as the original Die Hard, which was truly a classic movie of our lives, or even the grand daddy baseball movie of them all (Bull Durham) and its twin (Field of Dreams), but at least we're not constantly bombarded with Steel Magnolias, Sister Act or Ghost. Sure, we get Roadhouse, but that's different since who doesn't want to watch Patrick Swayze kicking ass (dancing, not so much, but beating the crap out of thugs - oh, hell yeah).
From the completely opposite end of the spectrum, The Cosby Show is even better in reruns than it was when it first came out. That's the thing about great reruns... you can watch them over and over and over from the start and just flow with it. I've gone through periods of time in the last 15 years where I saw every episode of The Simpsons, Home Improvement, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Scrubs. Reruns seem to work better as comedic half hour shows. Most of these shows weren't hits FOR ME right away in prime time, or at least I wasn't watching them in prime time slots. That's the joy of reruns... you can get addicted to something and watch it over and over again every night of the week. Good shows survive and we get to see them and enjoy them for all times sake.
In the eighties, there was Different Strokes, Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, and classic fare like Gilligan's Island, What's Happening, Leave it to Beaver, and The Brady Bunch. They all served a purpose in making the time go by and connecting us to different times throughout history. Besides, who can forget Rerun asking, "Which Doobie do you be?" However, now it's a world different. Now, we're stuck with hours and hours a day of Two and a Half Men because television has been reduced to a world of crappy reality TV that doesn't play well in syndication. Things aren't going to get better, so we just get more crap like TMZ or multiple episodes of bad comedies (to include the last 12 years of the Simpsons, which can be funny, but mostly is just a special guest or a "Treehouse of Horror" episode). Thus, I get Two and a Half Men, and every time it comes on, I can't help but think the same thing...
I HATE CHARLIE SHEEN.
He's just a piece of crap. Let's be honest. Somewhere in all of the repeated life problems and porn star obsession, he makes the same mistake over and over, and with it, he just inspires serious amounts of loathing and hatred. It's gotten to the point where I can't even watch Major League because he's in it, and that's a shame because some of the other actors make the movie as enjoyable as it is.
For example, Dennis Haysbert is a great actor. Whether it's as Pedro Cerrano or as President Palmer or even the All State guy, he's just charismatic and entertaining. Even middle aged dead wood like Corbin Bernson work well. Tom Berenger plays a good lead role, which works well as he always plays solid in stuff like Betrayed and Born on the Fourth of July. I've never been a Rene Russo fan, but she's ok. Wesley Snipes may be a tax cheat, but he's not keeping me from watching that movie. Hell, if he gets annoying, I can imagine Ice-T saying that he wants to kick the tar out of him so badly that his "dick is getting hard." If you haven't seen that, you really need to re-watch that other classic early nineties movie New Jack City.
And throughout it all, there's Bob Uecker... how can you go wrong with Bob Uecker?
But all the same, there's Charlie Sheen, and I hate Charlie Sheen. I really do. I wish he would just vanish and take his stupid show with Duckie and vanish into the Bermuda Triangle, I really do.
And I haven't even started to get into how much they ruined the little kid from the Rookie, which may be the ultimate crime in all of that show's many transgressions against humanity.
Charlie Sheen... I hate you. Phillies fans should hate you. Your nickname became the name of Mitch Williams who imploded in 1993. Defense attorneys hate you.
Only prostitutes, high class drug dealers, and porn stars like you.
That's not good company.
Just take your sorry ass and leave.
Yeah... Charlie... I'm hating on you.