Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Your 2011 Toronto Blue Jays: Will Probably Own

This guy and I feel exactly the same way about Blue Jays baseball.
The 2010 Toronto Blue Jays season was awesome.  It was easily the most fun I've had watching a Blue Jays team since 2003, which -- if I may digress briefly -- was about the most fun you can have watching a team that finished fifteen games back: Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells both hit a tonne (respective tonnes, really), Doc won the Cy Young, and the future seemed to hold, you know, genuine possibility. Then came the muck, shit, and despair: 2004's solid run at one hundred losses (so close!); the unforgivable Carloslessness of 2005; a pretty solid 2006 team that for whatever reason I couldn't really manage to care about except for when Gibbons got into an actual fight with Ted Lilly, which was awesome; a 2007 season where everybody got hurt except Dustin McGowan who pitched a one-hitter but who would of course go on to always be hurt forever; a solid 2008 season that was completely overshadowed and shamed by Tampa Bay's ascendence, which made me hate J. P. Ricciardi so very much more than ever before (it's complicated, yet utterly base); and a horrible 2009 that ended in a player mutiny and, gloriously, the end of J. P.'s reign of smug mediocrity.


After all of that, 2010 was awesome, right?  Going into the season, it was like, "you know what? Young arms. That's what.  Young arms." And then, you know what?  Young arms! Everybody did great! Romero, Marcum (oldest of the young arms), Cecil, Morrow, and sure, Rzepcynski, I've got no problem with that guy. And the bullpen was totally OK: I was disappointed in the venerable Jason Frasor kind of falling apart a little there, but Camp and Downs were steady, and Kevin Gregg, who is both contemptible and the worst, held down the back end of the bullpen admirably when he wasn't walking dudes endlessly and then yelling at Cito for having the temerity and utter gall to take him out of the game.  Jose Bautista emerged as the raddest guy ever and hit a million home runs.  Sure, Aaron Hill and Adam Lind were both wretched, but Vernon hit like the Vernon of old, rather than old Vernon, which was a glorious sight to behold, if you are me, and thus kind of silly on the subject of Vernon Wells.  The Blue Jays got exactly zero men on base throughout the entire season (look it up) but hit a ridiculous number of home runs and pitched well, which made for a totally, completely watchable 85-win team.  Thank you, 2010 Toronto Blue Jays.  I really liked you.


But time is an arrow, man, an arrow


THE 2011 TORONTO BLUE JAYS ARE AS FOLLOWS, PROBABLY


Right Field: Jose Bautista. After some deeply odd choices were made, it looks like Jose Bautista will, in the end, be in right, which is great.  His arm is bananas, and in a way where it's actually useful, which is to say, unlike the way Raul Mondesi used to make a big show of gunning it in when there was absolutely no call for it, eliciting oooooos and aaaaaaahs and getting all kinds of attention to for playing the game the right way until somebody said something to that effect to Carlos Delgado in an interview and Carlos indicated (not in so many words) that Mondesi was an asshole and a showboat and a liability.  Carlos being Carlos, though, he classed that up, and probably made an allusion to the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But back to Bautista: fuck yeah!  No, of course he will never hit 54 home runs again, but he'll hit a bunch, and walk, and play a really solid right field, and people will be like mwwaaah his coooontract and I will not like those people.


Centre Field: Rajai Davis.  I am not going to pretend to know any more about Rajai Davis than what I have read in Baseball Prospectus, and I kind of forget what they said, actually, and my Baseball Prospectus is not at hand at the moment. He has played most of his career on the west coast and I don't stay up that late. But I will nevertheless predict two things: (i) Rajai Davis will play a better centre field than the slowing, aging, fattening Vernon Wells did last year, and (ii) he will not hit the 31 home runs Vernon hit last year. Also, have I mentioned previously that I am a guy with Vernon Wells feelings


Left Field: Travis Snider.  For whatever reason, I remain unsold on -- and in fact completely unenthusiastic about -- Travis Snider.  He has long been projected to hit all kinds of home runs, and obviously I hope this turns out to be extremely true. Keith Law picked him to break out last year and he didn't, and if I'm remembering right, Law is expecting Snider to really turn it around this year. I am not one to doubt Keith Law, generally, despite the extent to which he was complicit in the crimes of J. P. Ricciardi. Snider is still really young, so it would be silly to say he's a lost cause, but with my expert scouting eye I have noticed he can't hit a breaking ball to save his life.  Seriously, this is some Pedro Cerrano level shit going on right now. It's not pretty. 


Shortstop: Yunel Escobar.  I know the word on Escobar was that he was a complete asshole and everybody wanted him out of Atlanta even though he's young and pretty good. So far, he hasn't really turned out to be an asshole, so I'm utterly fine with this guy. You could do worse, is my firm position on Yunel Escobar.


Third Base: Edwin Encarnacion.  So this is kind of crazy.  After spending the off-season saying Bautista would play third and Encarnacion would be our budget DH and relieve Lind at first (more on that in a moment), it turns out as of yesterday that Bautista is back in right, Rivera is going to DH, and Encarnacion -- aka E5 -- will be at third again.  I have no real problem with Encarnacion, especially not at the bargain price he's playing for this year.  Decent glove, hits some home runs.  These are things that I, as a man of taste and learning, value.  But he is just awful with the throw to first.  Awful.  Last year he was sailing it over and around Lyle Overbay, who, say what you will about his drop-off since the wrist injury, is a fine defensive first baseman. This year it's Adam Lind he'll be winging it over.  This could be a disaster.  But Brett Lawrie, who had a great spring (yeah yeah I know I know) will probably be up before the end of the year, so whatever.


Second Base: Aaron Hill.  Had an absolutely wretched year with no luck at all: his batting average on balls in play was I believe the lowest in the league, but I'm not going to look it up, so let's just agree that it was bad. That's pretty much got to improve, right?  And as awful as he was, he still managed to hit 26 home runs and play a nice defensive second base. I actually have no real worries about Aaron Hill.  This is perhaps naive of me. Call me a naif if you must, but the thing about calling anyone a naif is that in the end it is you who is saying the word "naif" out loud, so you sort of lose.


First Base: Adam Lind.  Like Hill, Lind sucked last year.  There's just no way he will suck that badly again.  It borders on impossible.  His batting average against lefties was .117, and I mean, shit, that's got to come up a little.  He'll be fine.  And he's been totally acceptable at first base in spring training.  This will be fine.  Right? 


Catcher: J. P. Arencibia. Last year John Buck was awful at blocking balls in the dirt. Alan Ashby -- who is so awesome on the radio that I honestly prefer Howarth/Ashby to Cheek/Howarth, which I know is pretty much blasphemy -- basically wouldn't shut up about it.  But he hit a bunch of home runs, so all was forgiven, and then he went away and signed an amazing contract, so good for him.  And now it is time to find out if J. P. Arencibia is ready to play everyday, and I mean, sure, why wouldn't he be? Most catchers can't hit a lick.  He might.  Let's do this. 


Designated Hitter: Juan Rivera would have been a perfect fit with the 2010 Blue Jays, in that he doesn't really get on base, but he hits some home runs.  Though he is late to the party, it is through no fault of his own, and I for one welcome him.  Apparently he looked so bad in the outfield they decided to completely bail on the plan to have Bautista play third. 


The Bench: It's the AL, who cares.  


The Rotation: I was as surprised as anybody that they traded Marcum, whose changeup was so cool, but I have every confidence that Marcum for Lawrie is going to look like a pretty good deal down the road (if it doesn't already). And it is without question a drag that Brandon Morrow is going to start the year on the DL, but apparently he's probably only going to miss one start, so I shouldn't be worried (and yet I am).  What this leaves, at least for the first time through, is a rotation of Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil, Jo Jo Reyes, and Jesse Litsch.  You can't necessarily expect everyone to build off of last year; maybe Romero takes a step back, or Morrow ends up having more injury trouble than they know right now.  But you've got to see this rotation as a strength, and something to be excited about. I say again: young arms.  


The Bullpen: Everybody got hurt and there haven't even been any real games yet. That's not great. Frank Francisco and Octavio "Don't Ask" Dotel are starting the season on the fifteen-day DL, but I don't know, you throw Jon Rauch and Rzepczynski and Frasor and whoever else in there, and this shouldn't be abysmal, right? And that's all you ask from the bullpen from a non-contending team.     


And I say "a non-contending team" because, as optimistic as I am about the Blue Jays' long-term and even the mid-term prospects, this is of course not The Year. The Red Sox could very well be the best team in baseball, the Rays will take a step back but are still going to win plenty, and the Yankees, despite their obvious flaws, will probably win like ninety games.  I've run all the relevant data through Baseball Feelings' proprietary and deadly accurate Baseball Objectively Nonsensical Emotional Rating System (BONERS) projection system.  And here are the results.


2011 TORONTO BLUE JAYS BONERS PROJECTION: PROBABLY LIKE 84 WINS I GUESS.  


It's going to be awesome, though.


KS

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jonah Keri's Prose is Dogshit: A Baseball Feelings Book Review

If I wrote a book about the Devil Rays, I wouldn't mention it on the cover either.
First off, it must be acknowledged that we here at Baseball Feelings have uncommonly high standards for the exquisiteness of prose.  Prose that would seem at least OK-exquisite to most baseball blogeurs is enough to make us throw up forever.  It is a curse, not a gift, although on the whole we are awfully smug about it.  


Secondly, I have no particular problem with Jonah Keri.  I've read him for years at the various places he has been, and enjoy much of his current work at Fangraphs well enough.  Also, much like baseball itself, he's totally acceptable on the radio.  Had you asked me yesterday what I thought of Jonah Keri, I would have told you in a reflective and measured way that not once has Jonah Keri struck me as awesome, nor has he seemed to me a butt.


But The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First and This Subtitle isn't Doing Anyone Any Favours, on the level of prose -- as in the words that have been grouped together into phrases and sentences and indifferently broken up by punctuation -- is awful.  Just awful.  Would you perhaps enjoy . . . a paragraph?
Baseball's stadium extortion game touched every team at some point, in some way -- not just the sport's lesser lights.  Several of MLB's sacred cows threatened to move to Tampa Bay, and Tampa Bay aggressively courted them all.  Other teams invoked Washington, D.C., or Portland, Oregon, or Charlotte, North Carolina, or San Antonio to scare local governments into cutting a giant check.  For a while, George Steinbrenner even made noise about moving the Yankees to New Jersey, a location still technically in the same metro market but worlds apart for many longtime Bronx Bomber fans.  For all the pageantry and history the game offers on the field, off the field the business of baseball includes shady backroom deals, ruthless money grabs, and harsh threats.  No matter who you root for.
Really stuck the landing on that one, didn't he?  And it just carries on like that, man, it just goes.  


An even more serious issue is a lack of awareness re: what words mean.  "Thompson saw the White Sox as a vital part of Chicago's very self, a valuable institution with a history stretching beyond anyone's living memory."  Beyond anyone's living memory. That is a thing that was written in a book.  Or later, when for no real reason than to justify the subtitle, Keri talks about Dennis Kozlowski, the disgraced former Tyco CEO.  You remember him; he threw awesome parties.  However:
An exorbitant salary and unlimited perks weren't enough to slake his greed. To finance his $18 million New York apartment, $6,000 shower curtain, half the orgy tab, and a lot more, Kozlowski looted his own company with impunity.  Four years after the "Vodka-Shooting Penis Seen Round the World," a jury convicted Kozlowski and fellow Tyco executive Mark Swartz of swindling $600 million from the company's coffers.
Putting aside the matter of greed slaking -- which I am reluctant to do but let's just get through this -- I have real doubts about Jonah Keri's command of the word "impunity."  

It's not really fair to complain that this book isn't Moneyball, because Michael Lewis is the vastly better writer and thinker, and he got to the worst-to-first-with-rad-strategies story first, and you know all that going in.  Keri knows that, too: he has pretty sensibly been very "aw shucks" when people bring up comparisons to Moneyball. This is a story worth telling, and Keri tells it, so good for him. But man: as writing, this is just bad writing. The prose is completely insufficiently exquisite. That's really my issue with it.


KS  

Friday, March 25, 2011

In which I just give in and subscribe to the New Yorker again.

I don't want to get into a whole thing here, but I subscribed to The New Yorker for years, and, as much as we all love Susan Orlean, Roger Angell, and that guy selling those berets, after a while I just couldn't take it. And so I bailed on my subscription, which sent shockwaves through my grad school circle of friends at the time, who were all kind of like, "you'll be back."  Eight years later, they're right, although I only really regularly talk to like three of them anymore and so most of them will never know their triumph. It turns out that it's way, way easier to just give the NYer a bunch of money for complete access to their archives than it is to spend many, many days at the university library tracking down every baseball article Roger Angell ever wrote for them and photocopying (I only made it back about fifteen years before that got pretty old).  "Why didn't you just buy all the Roger Angell collections?" you might well ask, but they're not all in there is the answer to that entirely valid question.  And basically I am at a point in my life that for a variety of reasons I'm pretty sure I need to have access to everything Roger Angell ever wrote.  If A. J. Liebling isn't the best American sports writer ever -- and I guess he might be -- then it's Roger Angell for sure, right?  And, unlike A. J. Liebling, Roger Angell is pretty active on the NYer blog.  I was a little disappointed we didn't get a World Series article out of him last year, and when I mentioned this to Neil, Neil was like, "Kendall, I don't know how to tell you this, but Roger Angell is dead" and only after some frantic googling did I realize that I had been had (note: fuck you, Neil). 

Anyway: there's a really good Ben McGrath article about the Bonds trial in this week's NYer that is totally worth your time, but it's subscription only, and not in a way where I can just copy and paste it for you.  They're totally on to that over at the NYer.  Somebody must have told them people would do that.  So they made it so you can't.  It's quite crafty of them, and the interface is pretty god damn annoying, actually.  But they have the Roger Angell archive, and so they have my money.   

KS

Memories From When The Game Was Pure, Or: The Complete Leave The Memories Alone Series

(Note: Reposted from a strange land populated by poet kings and warriors of light. Oh, and Chinballs. Just kidding, love you Chinballs even though you have abandoned the land of your birth for the last refuge of Nazi degenerates. Wait, where was I . . . oh yeah, I wrote these in a fit of madness. Some of the language is a bit harsh, but it was a different time, a more innocent time when you could throw around racial epithets and homophobic slurs without consequence because General Eisenhower was running things and America was young and innocent and all people, black, white, Jewish, gay, straight, lived together in peace and harmony underneath the comforting shadow of Old Glory. It's true, I heard Ronald Reagan talking about it once, but then again that might have been a dream because it ended with him in his underwear late at night eating cheese out of my refrigerator and leering at me like he knew things. HE KNEW THINGS. Enjoy. Or not. Fuck you.)

I ONCE WATCHED ROGER MARIS HIT SIX HOME RUNS AND THEN BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF AN OLD HOMELESS MAN WHILE WHITEY FORD DRUNKENLY CHEERED HIM ON NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

MY GRANDPA AND I USED TO GO FISHING TOGETHER AND WE WOULD LISTEN TO THE GAMES ON THE OLD RADIO OUR FAVORITE WAS DENNY MCCLAIN ONE DAY WE WERE FISHING AND WHO DO WE SEE BUT DENNY MCCLAIN THROWING WHAT MUST HAVE BEEN A LOG WRAPPED UP IN A BLANKET INTO THE LAKE HE SURE LOOKED SPOOKED LOL NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

GRANDPA ALWAYS USED TO TALK ABOUT HIS FAVORITES WHEN HE WAS A KID HE SAID HE LOVED HANK GREENBERG EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A JEW AND ONCE HIS FATHER CAUGHT HIM WRITING A FAN LETTER TO HANK AND BEAT HIS ASS FOR LIKING A KIKE NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

I ONCE PICKED UP A PACK OF SUNFLOWER SEEDS WHEN I WAS KID BELONGING TO MICKEY MANTLE AND FRAMED IT ON MY WALL BOTH ME AND THE WALL WERE LATER DIAGNOSED WITH HERPES NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

I ONCE CAME HOME FROM SCHOOL ONLY TO FIND MY MOM CRYING AND BILLY MARTIN IN A WIFE BEATER SCREAMING OBSCENITIES AND DRINKING JACK DANIELS STRAIGHT OUT OF THE BOTTLE HE CALLED ME A STUPID LITTLE COCKSUCKER TOOK HIS BELT OFF AND WHIPPED BOTH ME AND MOM BUT HE TOOK ME TO A BALLGAME THE NEXT DAY AND BOUGHT ME MY FIRST BEER NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

WHEN I WAS A BOY I WATCHED ROGER MARIS KILL A HOOKER AND THEN HIT 3 HOME RUNS THE NEXT DAY TO WIN THE PENNANT AND AFTER THE GAME HE THREATENED TO BEAT ME TO DEATH WITH A BASEBALL BAT IF I DIDN'T KEEP QUIET AND I PISSED MY PANTS MICKEY MANTLE JUST LAUGHED AND TOLD ME HE'D BEEN THERE NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

ONCE I CAUGHT WHITEY FORD CLIMBING OUT OF MY MOM'S WINDOW HE GAVE ME A BASEBALL AND TOLD ME TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT LATER I SAW HIM OUTDUEL BOB FELLER AND GET A BLOWJOB IN THE BULLPEN FROM AN OLD LADY WHILE MICKEY MANTLE CHEERED HIM ON THEY GAVE HER A COUPLE OF BUCKS AND SHE TOOK A SHIT IN BILLY MARTIN'S BACKSEAT WHILE THEY LAUGHED WHEN I WENT HOME AND TOLD MOM ABOUT IT SHE JUST SIGHED AND NINE MONTHS LATER I HAD A BABY BROTHER NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

I ONCE WATCHED JIM RICE HIT A HOME RUN DURING A GAME AND WHEN I WAS CELEBRATING I LOOKED TO MY LEFT AND SAW TED WILLIAMS I GAVE HIM A NOD AND HE TOLD ME TO SIT DOWN AND QUIT CHEERING FOR A NIGGER I TOLD HIM THAT I WASN'T A RACIST AND HE SAID THAT NEITHER WAS HE BUT HE DIDN'T KILL A BUNCH OF GODDAMN KRAUTS AND SLOPES JUST SO HE COULD COME HOME AND WATCH SOME SPOOK WEAR THE UNIFORM THAT HE MADE FAMOUS AND GET CHEERED BY A BUNCH OF MICK FAGGOTS NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

MY FATHER ONCE TOLD ME THAT HIS GRANDFATHER WAS TY COBB'S LITTLE LEAGUE COACH AND THAT ONE DAY MANY YEARS LATER TY INVITED HIM TO A GAME AND SPIT ON HIM TELLING HIM THAT HE WAS A KIKE FAGGOT AND THAT IF HE EVER SAW HIM AGAIN HE WOULD STRANGLE HIM TO DEATH WITH A BELT MY GREAT GRANDPA WASN'T EVEN JEWISH AND SO HE FIGURED IT WAS JUST A JOKE BUT TY WASN'T FUCKING AROUND AND TWO DAYS LATER THEY FOUND MY DAD'S GRANDFATHER STUFFED IN A GARBAGE CAN WITH A BELT AROUND HIS NECK IT TURNS OUT TY NEVER FORGAVE HIM FOR TAKING HIM OUT OF A GAME ONCE WHEN HE WAS 11 NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

I WAS AT THE MOVIES WHEN I WAS A BOY WHEN THERE WAS A COMMOTION APPARENTLY JOE DIMAGGIO AND MARILYN MONROE HAD JUST SHOWN UP I WATCHED THE MOVIE FOR A WHILE BUT I KEPT GLANCING BACK AT JOLTIN' JOE ONLY HE WASN'T THERE ONE TIME SO I GOT UP AND WENT OUTSIDE AND SAW HIM SLAPPING MARILYN AROUND IN AN ALLEY I ASKED HIM FOR HIS AUTOGRAPH AND HE SPIT ON ME AND TOLD ME NEVER TO GET MARRIED BECAUSE ALL WOMEN WERE WHORES NO STEROIDS WERE INVOLVED LEAVE THE MEMORIES ALONE

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

If this 1987 Topps baseball card is accurate, Greg Minton had, like, the weirdest ass.


Just a terrible, mournful ass.

KS

Let's Get Pumped About Baseball and/or the Giants


Baseball season is scant [units of time] away and the Giants are tearing ass through the Cactus League like the Juggernaut. Brian Sabean is calling every major league team and some hockey teams trying to find someone, anyone, who will give him a warm body in exchange for the anthropomorphic garbage pile that calls itself "Aaron Rowand."

Marvel with me at Showtime's trailer for an attempt at a 24/7-type show, focusing on my beloved WORLD CHAMPION San Francisco Giants. Please watch the above video and enjoy Andres Torres doing serious MMA-style brick-throwing, Pablo Sandoval revealing his drawn-on-with-Sharpie new Strong Bad-type abs, Freddy Sanchez and Cody Ross being lovable doofuses, Tim Lincecum being generally the best, the completely-awful-thus-far Miguel Tejada being loaded into a space capsule to be fired into orbit, and a heaping helping of MLB's resident Andy Kaufman, Brian Wilson.

- Bill

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Remember how Barry Bonds totally took some stuff and then said he didn't know what it was?

Looks like crazy chest hair at first, but I think he's just standing behind a fuzzy headed person.
You could be forgiven for not realizing that the Barry Bonds perjury trial is underway, but a jury has been selected and everything. This thing is happening. Stephen Brunt has it right in the Globe and Mail, though, when he says (or I guess the headline writer does, but whatever), "Bonds hits court, and the world yawns."  Pretty much!  I mean, make no mistake, I think it would be kind of awesome if he was found guilty -- not because it will have made any of this worthwhile or anything, except for the sake of lolz, which is an end in and of itself I suppose -- but I'm actually way more into the looming Roger Clemens case, just because Clemens has so thoroughly played himself in all of this that it's going to be a much better show. If Bonds perjured himself, he totally did it in his own idiom, which is not caring at all what you or anyone else thought about him, or about anything, really.  Bonds' perjury, if that's what it is, is a perjury of not giving a fuck: "Not that I recall," "No," "No, no," and "Right" are the four counts of perjury.  That's kind of awesome, and way cooler than Roger Clemens' (alleged) perjury, which revealed him to be a total carelord.  Watch again, if you haven't recently, the testimony that got him charged with obstruction of congress (obstruction of congress!), and it's like, well done, your carelordship. 


Anyway, they're both probably going to go down.  Or maybe they'll both get off, who cares?  I don't, really.  But I think it's worth noting that, yeah, the specific ways these guys perjured themselves (allegedly) is revealing of their characters. Bonds: so arrogant that, strangely, you almost admire it. Clemens: such a try-hard that you can't help but feel even worse than you already did for poor Mindy McCready, who Clemens may have had a decade-long affair with, but who he totally didn't statutorily rape, right?


KS

Castillo to the Phillies, reportedly walking without limp

The Greatest Trick the Devil ever played...

 Before he could even let the door hit him where the good lord split him, Castillo has signed up to be the new Wilson Valdez. A quote from earlier in the week now seems to make perfect sense, "Jerry Manuel always said, "I don't believe in God, but I'm afraid of him." Well I believe in God, and the only thing that scares me is Luis Hernandez." 

Castillo reportedly left the Mets spring training facility displaying the blazing speed from his Marlins days. Chazz Palminteri could not be reached for comment.


-Aero aka Greece Lightning aka Pablo Rizzy aka Crazy Swami

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rick Monday - American Hero

I had never seen this before, so if it is old hat to you, then my friend I want you to understand during these trying times when Japan has secretly nuke bombed themselves to poison our West Coast brethren with irradiation in Pearl Harbor 2: The Radioactive Boogaloo, and when dastardly Libyan dictators (who are nothing like the dictators in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, or any of the other places where shit has been going on as well) need to get they asses bombed the fuck back into place, that being a True Patriot should never be "old hat". And I actually have an old hat. It is a mesh baseball hat that was not acquired in ironic trucker hat fashion at a vintage store, but it was my grandfather's. He wore it in the only picture I have of the two of us together, when I was a wee toddler. He got a purple heart for getting blown up by a landmine with his friend in Korea, and his friend was dead, and the Koreans poked my grandfather with a bayonet and left him for dead. Only he lived. And came home and was a drunkard, who loved baseball. Actually I don't know that, but the old hat says "If there's grass on the field, let's play ball!" And it has an American flag pin on it. Because we are proud Americans, and have always been that way, like Rick Monday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Brandon Morrow has ELECTRIC STUFF; A. J. Burnett gets hit in the ass by a line drive. Not a bad little day.

Jose Molina tags out Brett Gardner, who, although a Yankee, is pretty awesome.
6-5 Blue Jays! More importantly, Brandon Morrow looked good, and he's the Blue Jays pitcher I'm most excited about by far. I'm as ready for Kyle Drabek to own as the next guy, but Morrow , man, Morrow.  The 17K one-hitter against Tampa Bay last year was ridiculous ("It will haunt you," Dave Stieb said), and could totally be the best game he ever pitches in his entire career, even if he ends up putting it all together and being a front-line starter for years. He doesn't ever have to do that again. But if he can be just like the slightest bit more consistent he will be so awesome and even if he falls apart completely he'll never, ever be as contemptible as A. J. Burnett or anything.  Go Jays.            


kS

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Instead of nature's cruel wrath and the horrors of a grave nuclear crisis, let's think about the Nippon-Ham Fighters instead

Yu Darvish: Fighter -- NIPPON-HAM Fighter.
Yakyu Baka, your home for all things Japanese baseball, is reporting that the Central League is apparently still planning to start its season on March 25th, which is pretty nuts, while the Pacific League is a little more understandably going to put things off until mid-April.  It would be understandable if both leagues had decided to put things off until you could think about something other than people dying for like even a minute, but they have elected to go another route.

So why not talk about Japanese baseball a little?  I am a Nippon-Ham man, myself.  The Fighters used to play in Tokyo, where nobody liked them at all and nobody came, so they said fuck it and bailed.  They ended up in Hokkaido, where they play most of their games at the Sapporo Dome, but they also play some home games in Hakodate, which is sister-city to Halifax, as both are small, have citadels, and are kind of out of the way but nevertheless really, really awesome.  (I have never been to Hakodate but I went to a Serious Cultural Event at the university a few years ago where some kids from Hakodate did a pretty ballin' squid dance and chanted "IKA IKA IKA" and so my assumption from this is that these are people who know what is important in life.)

The Fighters were awful pretty much every year from 1961 until they won in 2006, which is just after Yu Darvish showed up. You've heard of him: he was the big deal pitcher of the 2009 World Baseball Classic (a tournament I totally love, even though it is obviously a mess), a 23-year-old right hander with a 2.12 ERA in over 1000 innings pitched.  He apparently wants to pitch in MLB starting in 2012, and everybody with any money at all will be after him.  Keith Law tweeted a month ago that he thinks the Blue Jays will be "serious bidders" and maaaaaaaan I hope so: he's a workhorse and he throws smoke and he's got a crazy name so what's not to like?     

Back to real-world horrors for a second, The Independent has a few words from Darvish about starting the season any time soon:

Players also face a moral dilemma, with the baseball season supposed to start on March 25.
"I am asking myself can I just go on playing when a majority of people in Japan are in trouble," Nippon Ham Fighters ace pitcher Yu Darvish told Japanese media.
"I am a baseball player and a human being as well. I cannot think about baseball alone as I normally do," said the 24-year-old Iranian-Japanese who spent three years as a high school student in disaster-stricken Sendai.
Well, sure.  I mean, god damn.  When baseball came back after September 11, 2001, things were still awfully awful, and who knew what was going to happen, but we could at least be pretty sure that we weren't all being slowly poisoned by the air. Fuck.

KS

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hey Neil, did you see what Baseball Prospectus said about Miguel Cabrera this year?

Remember the year they had Josh Phelps on the cover? That sucked.
I like the general Baseball Prospectus approach to projecting player performances every year: nobody is going to be good, and the players who, last year, appeared to be kind of good, will this year be revealed not to be any good at all. And they're not wrong. But every year there are, like, I don't know, maybe six guys who they say totally positive things about.  This year, there's Halladay, Ichiro, and I'm sure a couple others, but this one really jumped out for obvious, Neil-related reasons:
After an offseason featuring alcohol counseling and questions about his commitment, Cabrera let his bat do the talking and put to rest any doubt that he can become one of the game's all-time greats.  Cabrera produced an MVP-caliber season, hitting for power and average, leading the league in on-base percentage and RBI, and setting career highs in home runs, slugging percentage, TAv, and WARP.  Perhaps most importantly for his future, Cabrera improved both his walk and strikeout rates and has become a reliable glove at first base.  Still years shy of his 30th birthday, given continued good health, Cabrera is likely to get top billing in pitchers' nightmares for the foreseeable future. Only two questions remain: How far will he climb up baseball's career leaderboards, and how much gaudier might his statistics be if he spent more time in hitter friendly ballparks?
I don't know, Neil, do you think there's maybe a third question, too? Because I think there sort of could be.


KS

Closer Andrew Bailey is off to visit Dr. James Andrews, I'm off to visit Dr. Jack Daniels

So, there goes any sense of optimism my eternally dreary frame of mind has allowed me to enjoy so far in this hasn't-even-really-started baseball season. A's bullpen hammer Andrew Bailey left today's game clutching his right elbow and is headed to Birmingham to see the guy you never go to see unless there is something really, REALLY wrong with you physically. Bailey has already had Tommy John surgery once, so this is pretty much the worst case scenario. With Joey Devine and Josh Outman both struggling to return from injury, the A's are going to have to get some real production out of Brian Fuentes and the loser of the Rich Harden/Brandon McCarthy battle for the 5th starter spot. Harden will probably come out on the losing end of that one, and relying on Rich Harden for ANYTHING is basically guaranteeing yourself some disappointment. OAKLAND A'S BASEBALL, Y'ALL.

Tim Lincecum, profiled in the New York Times Magazine, owns.

Tim Lincecum, far right, looks at a ladybutt in May 1976
I am the first person ever to suggest that the Tim Lincecum looks like Wiley Wiggins, right? This is new ground and I am the vanguard, right?  WILEY WIGGINS AMIRITE? Anyway, great stuff here:

Lincecum’s father, Chris, who shares his youngest son’s unprepossessing build, was sitting at the dining table with Lincecum’s agent. In front of them was a box of baseballs awaiting Lincecum’s autograph and a stack of the latest issue of GQ, “The 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time.” Lincecum was among them, along with another pitcher, the famously ferocious Bob Gibson, who retired nine years before Lincecum was born. “Was Bob Gibson cool?” he asked innocently. “Or was he just a . . .” — and here Lincecum used a colloquialism that’s synonymous with a part of the male anatomy that is unprintable in this magazine.
I bet he said nutsack. 


lol "nutsack"


KS

You don't have any idea how awesome Jose Bautista has been in Spring Training so far, do you?

He hit that shit A TONNE
I am willing to bet that you were all "lol that Bautista contract is nuts what were they thinking" and now you don't even have the decency to follow how awesome he's been in Spring Training so far, which is the last chance for you to know and understand how wrong you were before the regular season begins, at which point your position will become embarrassing and untenable and ultimately a source of shame for you.  Here is Bautista's slash line through nine games and twenty-four at-bats, which every single statistical analyst will tell you is almost too large a sample size to make a meaningful assessment of a player's value: .458/.483/.833.  By my math that is an OPS of 1.316, and while we all agree that OPS is mathematically invalid because you are adding fractions with different denominators and also that it badly overrates the value of slugging versus the even more important ability to get on base, we also agree that you have been totally wrong about Jose Bautista and this is your last chance to get straight, so that's what we'll focus on here. Note also that he has hit two home runs and he's absolutely tearing into the ball and also that he is a doctor and a lawyer and by reputation a really good kisser.

Finally, I have a theory that he might also be Swizz Beatz:

It's Me, Snitches
Easy to claim, tough to prove, I grant you, but here's Jose Bautista -- oh sorry, Swizz Beatz -- with the woman he left for Alicia Keyes:


You'll note that in the above he's wearing a Toronto hat. You slipped up, friendo is what I want to say to Swizz Bautista right now.  You'll also note in the above that there's Swizz's daughter, too, in addition to his ex, so actually none of this is funny at all and I'm an asshole.  

All I'm saying, though, is (i) think about it; and (ii) do something about it.

Content because he has hit yet another home run, or because his beats are so sick?
Protesting too much?
KS

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Blue Jays beat a Yankees split squad today and I am thinking Wild Card

POJIRA!
10-2! And you will be like "first of all, it is spring training, and secondly, dude, dude, dude: it was a split squad." But I will say to you split squad, shmlit shqlad. Yeah, in fact, I totally will: split squad, shmlit shqlad. Kyle Drabek looked great, Bautista hit a homer, Podzilla tore it up on the base paths, and I am pretty sure this is the year. That's all it took, apparently, and to be honest with you I'm a little surprised I have been such a cheap date on this, but I'm sold. Jeff Blair and Alan Ashby spent ten minutes on the radio today being all, "Man, I don't want to get ahead of myself here, but man, they're looking good so far . . ." and in my brain I am also like man and then I think things very close to what they are saying and then I think man again just to seal off the thought at the other end. 


KS   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

the dilemma of the baseball jersey purchase

From time to time, I decide to switch my whole style up ala Ghostface Killah, and just throw people the fuck off completely. Most of the folks I run with in real life are either 30-something dudes who are a normal mix of hip hop/wacky art/pop culture/indie rock/metal mess, who drink beer out of cans, smoke weed out of pipes, and have more than one stupid tattoo usually. My wife's friends are earth bear types, naturalist folks that can run the gamut from cool new age types who are actually doing good things on the sides of mountains where no one is looking to goofy stereotypical hippies that are thankful for really Portlandia-ish things, to whole packs of non-descript white couples who look like Whole Foods starter families with children named after different species of trees. Some of those couples the earth tones blend together so heavily that I seriously cannot remember who is who. Seriously. It is a source of amazement and amusement for my wife, to the point that when I'm like, "Who is Bill again? Married to Sarah? Who are they?" and she laughs and goes, "They're 'THOSE' people," and we laugh and I know they are one of the indeterminate pack.
Perhaps because of these people, my very recent style switch has been to buy cheap as fuck but pimp as hell stitched jerseys, most likely of a bootleg nature, off of Ebay, to get my swagger on. One of the first things that came to me was an ABA Virginia Squires warm-up jersey in a moment of state pride, with the snaps, in garish blue, red and white, not a fucking thing earth toney about it. First time we had to rendezvous publicly, I threw on my Levi's carpenter jeans with the bottoms cut off because they never have pants the right length for me, always too long, rocked a red t-shirt underneath to match the red trim in the snap shirt, mostly blue, with big stitched VIRGINIA SQUIRES on the back. Walking around, my dick immediately grew 3/4 of an inch longer, plus with more hair around the base of my shaft. (I think this may be how black people do it, so if you have a son, I can't encourage you enough to buy him nice jerseys when he's like 11 and 12. He'll thank you for it later.) Most of the circle we run with do not bother with professional sports at all, because for the spiritually enlightened, I guess sports is a mouth-breather activity. Whatever. I think kids would be a bit healthier if they were running some full court basketball a few months out of the year rather than letting soccer be the only accepted new age sport. But I digress.
Well, obviously, me being a goofy assed whiteboy who likes to stir shit in people's sensibilities, I figure the proper step in assaulting these Whole Foods people's norms was to acquire a few nice ass Negro League jerseys. This also would be an interesting style to rock when I am in the blacker parts of my monthly routines as well, because I also like to fuck with those worlds. One of my favorite things to do lately is when like a burly black dude or bearded older hobo white dude is passing in or out of a store and holds the door or we cross opposite directions on a sidewalk, is to go, "Thanks podna" or "How's it goin' podna?" Oddly enough, there is something about calling these types of people a slurry version of "partner" that automatically makes you comrades. At first I was doing it just to see what would happen, but actually it has generated positive responses, and even one dude I passed again a few days later, and I was in work clothes - khaki pants and button down lavender oxford shirt, and he saw me, recognized the beard and wild eyes, and was like, "Sweet ass day out today, ain't it podna?" I said, "You know it," and as he walked past, he was talking to me and the sky, "I'm 'bout to get me a ice cold double deuce of Budweiser, and sit on the motherfuckin' porch." It was a moment that made my soul more pure, all because I called a random dude "podna". But I'd like to rock this "podna" test while wearing very obvious Negro League jerseys.
I've actually been reading a little bit about Negro Leagues online when I get a chance. There's a ton of great books about the Negro Leagues, because baseball fandom is one of the more nerdy/intellectualized pro sports there is, and is considered the National Past-time, so there's tons of sociology and anthropology professors out there looking to ease into retirement with a tome about the Negro Leagues. Some of it looks good. Some of it looks not so good. But this has helped lead to a ton of information inside the interwebs about the Negro Leagues, and I've had much fun reading through the hundreds and hundreds of team names, and wacky little facts. (I was gonna do a few lists of these for Baseball Feelings, but I do not have the leisure time of an anthropology professor. Plus I are lazy. Like I might not even finish writing this thing.)
Well, the only affordable sewn/stitched jerseys you can find online are usually bootleg. And there are those jersey snob types that would have you believe you should only rock authentic because fuck cheap Chinese knock-offs. I can understand this thinking, but also know it's complete bullshit, because the authentic ones are made by the same Chinese 9-year-olds, and really all you are paying for with that extra $100 is the endorsement of the overlording body, who would rather you feel proud to spend four times as much for the same thing, to be an official part of what is going on, as opposed to supporting illegal and non-designated entities. Well I say fuck that. I am a broke ass man who has a $110 electric bill most months, and to ignore than to buy an $180 jersey, when I could siphon $20 off thru paypal, get me a jersey, still pay the electric bill, and have money left over to rent a couple of Caballero Classics porns from the 1980s to watch on a drunken Friday night with the ol' lady on top of white lambskins stretched across the hardwood living room floor. A much better overall experience for my $180 than being authentic.
The problem with this philosophy of mine though is that the Chinamen only bootleg popular jerseys, or what they think will be popular. This means normal teams, and more famous players. I guess most black people still don't have the parts of the internet that shows them Chinapeople stuff, because you cannot find yourself a good source for affordable bootleg Negro League jerseys. So your next choice, if you are fucking around online, is to just look for legit sources.
This will lead you to Ebbett Field Flannels, a Mitchell & Ness type throwback company where the jerseys are made of actual flannel that slaves used to cry tears of hopelessness into, to make jerseys as authentic as humanly possible. If you had a time machine and wore one into the past, when you walked into the stadium, they would be shocked that there was an albino on the team, until they saw your normal white people hair, and then they'd think you were police. Ebbett Field Flannels are some very nice shirts, there is no doubt, but they are also very expensive. And when it comes to authenticity, at least if you are being MLB authentic, you can pretend to yourself that the player is getting a small cut of his merch sales. I don't think Negro League authentic throwbacks are digging up the crumbled bones of yesteryear's Negro superstars to send them to college.
What this all led to was a decision on my part, as I was perusing bootleg Chinaman baseball jerseys, to consider going all in on my budding Washington Nationals fandom, and get a Nats jersey. I mean, I am brainwashed by hip hop, so I am not above just buying colorful shirts I like with matching t-shirts to go underneath, and probably some dollar store stocking caps in various colors to rock with the ensemble when it gets colder again this fall. And obviously if you go this route, your two obvious first choices are an old Dave Parker Pirates jersey, most likely yellow, and a Rollie Fingers Padres jersey, doo-doo brown naturally. And after that, my first choice when looking through the bootleg choices online, is an all-black, black numbers on black jersey with orange trim, Giants jersey of some sort. That's a nice style. But that also reminds me that I grew up rooting for the Giants but made the conscious decision to go Nats when they moved to D.C. So that always makes me think, "Okay, look at the Nats jerseys, and get one. Let's do this."
That's when the problems begin. The Nats have boring colors - basic red and white. The red is not even an exciting red, but just a dull normal middle of the pack red, with no third color highlights to really set anything off. And curly W, traditional as it may be, definitely leaves something to be desired with my 2011 mind. I fear if I wore a boring ass home white Nationals jersey, I'd lose that 3/4 of an inch of dick-growing that I just copped from the ABA shirt. I'm not operating on enough of a surplus to be throwing dick away like that.
They did show off an alternate jersey in the off-season, but it's a dark blue deal with a stars and stripes in the D.C. letters on the breast deal - kinda iffy. I'm not ever at all into the whole red, white, and blue thing, especially if you are following the color codes of the U.S. flag. Those are some boring ass colors. If they had done an alternate jersey in red, white, and blue, and styled it after an old Expos jersey, that would have been tight, powder blue with a stars and strips bold ass D.C., bubble letters like that old happy fucking M used to be for the Expos. But they didn't, they went boring. But I guess I could talk myself into a red jersey, or an alternate blue one. But it would have to be stitched, buttons on the front, and feel pimp as fuck. Pimp as fuck, because really, the colors are pushing my limits of acceptance.
So as I settle into that, then I am confronted with what jersey do I get? If you have a deep Chinaman catalog to go through, maybe you can find a Nyjer Morgan jersey, which would always be great. But how long is that guy going to remain on any one team? He was flipping out last year, and I'm sure as the team gets whiter and whiter to make things feel safe for Herr Strasburg, they're gonna run off Nyjer Morgan, probably to some middling contender that could use his potential, which probably won't show up.
So if I limit myself to people who are on this team, and will be on this team, and I can not be ashamed of, what does that leave me? Not much. There's Ryan Zimmerman, who was a local boy who played at UVA right down the road from me in college, and has been the face of the Nationals since he was drafted. But that dude is white as fuck, and not very exciting. Plus, let's be honest, if they don't get their shit together, he's gonna go play for the Red Sox or Phillies or Yankees when his next big contract comes up. Fuck losing for less when you could win for more, you know?
I could jump into a Jayson Werth jersey, and really Werth's shaggy-faced good-timey probable stoner attitude fits my personal philosophies fairly well. But being a Redskins fan in football, jumping on board a brand new overpaid free agent signings jock with a new jersey is way too Dan Snyder-ish, and has me thinking Werth is gonna be dead or traded for a fifth racing big-headed President or injured into oblivion before we hit the 2012 election. So that's a no-go.
That brings us to the alleged can't miss phenomenon of last year - Stephen Strasburg, who was everything he was touted as being, blowing strikes by motherfuckers, until he fucked himself up right good and had to get Tommy John surgery. Now since he's the future of baseball in D.C., they are saying everything is going great, and he's building super conditioning right now while he can't throw, so that when he comes back, even after the surgery, he will be a monster of cyborg proportions who will strike out at least 4 of every 5 hitters he faces. This is what Nats people say. Other people say he has mechanical flaws that suggest he is fucked, completely. Historical evidence backs the trajectory that he, as a #1 super-hyped pitching prospect, will not be shit beyond exceptionally mediocre if he is lucky. Now I know he certainly looked awesome as fuck when he was pitching in the bigs last year. But I also know he's already damaged goods, at a tender age. And he's a quiet, studious starting pitcher. Those types are weird, and really untrustable, because they usually end up being salesmen of some sort when they are older, for like John Deere tractors or RVs or something like that that's popular in places like Indiana or South Carolina. And I'm just not comfortable hitching my wagon to the Strasburg train just yet. It seems doomed to fail, especially considering how the Redskins have done, and especially considering how the Washington Wizards have done in similar matters, and especially double especially considering how the Nationals have not exactly showed and proven themselves to be savvy on the management end of things thus far since they came back to America.
All that leaves is Bryce Harper - young and crazy fucking Bryce Harper, confident beyond his years, yet being molded with the fears of a franchise that has not yet showed and proven themselves to not be snake bitten on all matters personnel related. And I could get into a Bryce Harper jersey, if they embraced Bryce Harperness, letting the kid wear the Ultimate Warrior facepaint, and howl at the moon in teenage goofiness, and even rock some alternate black jerseys, get all grimy, with the dark blue starry D.C. on the breast and a dark blue number and name on the back. Or better yet, dark blue number, bright red name, bright red small number on the front, and like red outlines to the white stars in the D.C. letters. Tweak that shit out, make it crazy, embrace the Bryce Harperness. Fuck tradition and safety. You are the fucking Washington Nationals, pretty much engineered thus far to be looking up the divisional standings at Philadelphia and Atlanta, not nearly as prominent in the public's mind as the Mets, with the same social status of the Marlins, but with a few less championship rings, and your first one nowhere in sight on the horizon. Why would you want to hold onto that bottom feeder mentality so strongly? Shake it up.
But they have not. Instead, Bryce Harper is being asked by vets to not wear the crazy face paint. Catchers aren't supposed to last, so he's being switched to outfield. They are doing everything they are supposed to do in such a situation, following time-honored methods of assimilating the young buck into the Big Leagues.
And that's ultimately my problem, not only with getting a Nationals jersey, but in getting on-board wholeheartedly with the Nationals team. I mean, geographically, I'm more tied to them than anyone else, so I'll ride it out, my enthusiasm waxing and waning with their on-field performances, or getting spiked when Nyjer cranks up some new wacky antics and gives me something to amuse myself with. But they're mostly just doing the same shit everybody else thinks you should do, and there's not much to get excited about.
That's why rather than waste the money on a bootleg Chinaman Nationals jersey, I'll just keep stalking Ebay for a nice Ethiopian Clowns or Detroit Stars or oh man a Washington Black Senators jersey to show up. Because a lot of times, it's far more stylish to go the way of what is not accepted to do. And if you're gonna lose fucking 90 games every year, it's more fun to be stylish and crazy than boring and vanilla.

If you feel the need to purchase a Negro League jersey, I officially suggest you do it here where you can also get ancient Chinese medicine, Islamic items, and protection against harmful EMF rays. Really, House of Nubian is your one-stop internet shop for everything you need to be motherfucking righteous in the year of the devil 2012.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Miguel the Magnificent




"After giving a Florida cop the middle finger, Cabrera shouted at police
“Fucking shoot me, kill me” when ordered to drop to his knees so that officers could handcuff him, according to a sheriff’s report.

The 27-year-old athlete, busted last month in Fort Pierce for drunk driving, also stated, “Fuck you. Do you know who I am? I’m Miguel Cabrera, I play for the Detroit Tigers, you don’t know my family.”

A second document--a statement given to cops by a bar manager--recounts an incident shortly before Cabrera was arrested at the wheel of his Range Rover. Fletcher Nail recalled that Cabrera arrived at the bar after last call and refused to leave.

Nail said that Cabrera “leaned down close to my face” and said, “I will kill you.” Nail added that the ballplayer looked around the bar and added, “I know all of you, and I will kill all of you and blow this place up.” Another witness, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation agent, told investigators that Cabrera threatened him and Nail “by saying he had a gun in his bag for us.”


- From The Smoking Gun

So Brian McCann almost killed Luis Salazar

Full story here and more here

Long story short, in the Braves-Cards game today, Brian McCann hit a foul ball that went into the dugout and hit minor league manager Luis Salazar in the face. Salazar went down like a ton of bricks and lost consciousness immediately. The game stopped while paramedics worked on him. Everyone on both teams were sure he was dead. They airlifted him by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center.

One of the Florida State Troopers told the Braves that Salazar regained consciousness during the flight, about fifteen minutes after he was hit. His face is smashed in and he'll probably lose the use of his left eye. Early signs say no brain damage, which was a major concern with him being out of it for so long.

McCann was completely freaked out (understandably) and went to the hospital instead of completing the game. (By the way, the Braves lost 6-1.)

Salazar has played for the Cubs, Padres, Tigers, and White Sox, and coached for just about everybody at every level since he retired in 1992. He is currently the manager of the High Class-A Lynchburg, VA Hillcats for the Braves organization.

Thoughts, no prayers.

Gregg Zaun: Another Guy Who Retired

Man the light is shitty in the Dome when the roof is closed. Also, a bat!
Gregg Zaun retired yesterday, which is fine.  He's been around for kind of a long time.  He was a solid backup catcher -- which means you can start in Toronto -- who got on base a little bit.  But he's also, like, just a little bit of a douche, or at least he played one on TV in his role as Rogers Sportsnet in-studio playoff analyst alongside the ginger menace Jamie Campbell (who used to do Blue Jays play-by-play, and whose home run call sucked, and so he got shitcanned).  People seemed to like Zaun in really dumb pinstriped suits pontificating about whatever, but I generally didn't (who cares, I know, fine). He is partially redeemed by the Flash-intro genius of his personal website, which suggests an IRL Kenny Powers level of self awareness.  "Bring your Z-Game!"  Join the "Zaunbie Nation" fan club!  Etc.! 

The thing I like best about Gregg Zaun, though, is that he was named in the Mitchell Report, and handled it really, really badly. The accusation was that he'd bought steroids and paid for them with a cheque (who wouldn't? cheques are convenient as hell), and then when asked about it, said, first, "If you want to investigate what is going on in the game of baseball right now, fine, but what happened years ago, who cares?" and then, "You're talking about one check of thousands that I've written over the last seven years. I'm supposed to recall why and when and to whom and where?" Ahahahahaha awesome. Eventually he came out with a pretty plausible story, really, and I neither know nor care whether or not Gregg Zaun purchased or used performance enhancing drugs.  If that is something that you care deeply about you should ask yourself if you are spending enough time thinking about foreign policy, or, like, Proust. But that was the career highlight from my perspective, the aftermath of the Mitchell Report.  Zaun himself was probably way more into the 1997 World Series, but whatever.        

KS

Saturday, March 5, 2011

WTF Seasons: John Tudor comes out of nowhere to throw 10 shutouts in 1985



A lot of weird things went down in 1985. Coke debuted New Coke. A bunch of rich and famous people thought recording "We Are the World" would make things not suck so much in Africa. The animated terrorists Calvin and Hobbes began their lengthy reign of atrocities against humor. Yet all these things pale in comparison to career journeyman John Tudor putting up one of the most unexpected seasons in MLB history. Coming into that year Tudor had been more or less an average starting lefty. He was just your average, slightly better than .500 dude who you could rely on to give you about 200 innings, not too many walks and not a lot of strikeouts. Essentially, you could do worse than pre-'85 John Tudor, but you could also do a helluva lot better. After 5 years with the Red Sox and one with the Pirates, Tudor was traded to the Cardinals. This Cards team wasn't exactly loaded offensively. Jack Clark lead the team in homers with 22, but was really their only power hitter as his next closest teammate was Andy Van Slyke with a meager 13 bombs. This team managed to win 101 games with running and pitching. They had 5 starting position players with over 30 steals (Vince Coleman- 110, Willie McGee- 56, Andy Van Slyke- 34, Ozzie Smith & Tommy Herr- 31). They got a 21 win season out of noted ass hat Joaquin Andujar and a career high 18 wins out of the unheralded Danny Cox, but the real story was in how Tudor came out of obscurity and blew away NL hitters. He went 21-8 with an ERA of 1.93. His WHIP was a mere .938, and he lead the league with 10 shutouts. TEN. SHUT OUTS. From a guy who had previously been as mediocre as one can get. The Cards ended up losing the World Series to the Kansas City Royals and Tudor finished second to the cocaine-fueled Dwight Gooden in the Cy Young voting. John didn't even make the All Star team that year. In '86 he went a more believable 13-7. In '87 he started having arm problems, and while he was still a solid pitcher, he was nowhere near the force he was in '85. So how did John Tudor's amazing 1985 season come to be? Steroids? Luck? Deal with devil? My guess is a combination of the 3. This is why I wish there was a way to go back and figure out things like BABIP and FIP for past seasons just to see how lucky he was that season. Here's to you, John Tudor, for having one of the greatest WTF? seasons one can ever imagine.

Fergie Jenkins Stamps: Totally Going on All of My Letters

Above: a thing that is awesome. Above that: Ferguson Jenkins, also awesome.
I am pretty strictly a one-stamp-at-a-time kind of guy, because who needs to tie up six whole dollars in a little packet of stamps to take home from the post office? That's six dollars that could be used in other financial wheelings/dealings. "No thanks," I can be heard to say to the nice girl who works at the post office, or even to the older lady who always seems rushed, "Just the one stamp, please."  But I bought a whole pack of these because, as you can see, they are awesome.  Ferguson Jenkins is, and will remain for some time, the only Canadian inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (yours, not ours, of which he is also a member, but which, quite rightly, nobody really knows anything about).  He is also tied with Robertson Davies as the raddest guy to come out of the Chatham-Kent region. Unlike Davies, Jenkins did not work in the mode of magic realism, but, unlike Jenkins, Davies was not also a member of the Harlem Globetrotters. It really is a tie.  


Also, today I bought MLB Gameday Audio for the year: $20 gets you radio (the most decorous of baseball media in my view), both home and away, for every regular season game, every post-season game, and a whack of spring training, which I am enjoying right now.  It's still pretty snowy outside but there are crocuses and even tulips starting to peak out here and there in my front yard right up against the house which is maybe more a sign of how my house seriously needs to be re-insulated than it is a sign of spring but whatever, man, Jerry Howarth just meandered from the Caspar Wells home run to the fact that when Jerry's son Brent took piano lessons in the fourth grade the first sheet music he wanted was the theme from Ghostbusters.  "Who ya gonna call?" Jerry asked.  "Who?  Casper Wells."  Just, what?  Why?  I don't know but I love it. Like, I get it, but why?


Left: Jerry Howarth, who is the best. Right: Alan Ashby, also the best.
And after the game they're going to talk to Chris Woodward, who you might recall as a player with whom my problem never was.  Oh shit, update: "And there she goes! A three-run blast for Brett Lawrie! The Blue Jays have tied the Detroit Tigers here in the bottom of the eighth inning!"  


YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH BASEBALL ON THE RADIO YEEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHH

KS