Monthly archives: January 2005
Check-a-check-check it out
In a new feature to WCP, I will share the best stuff from the print media I've read over the past week.
Business Week reported in a recent issue that the word blog is now in the Oxford English Dictionary. They also mentioned that in a recent survey, 62 percent of Americans have never heard the word and don't even know what a blog is.
The one issue that I've always respected the Republican party on was fiscal responsibility. But then came the current administration that likes to spend money like a teenage girl with a credit card. In this LA Times story, discover how the "U.S.-led provisional government in charge of Iraq until last summer was unable to properly account for nearly $9 billion in Iraqi funds it was charged with safeguarding."
Sports Illustrated's Steve Rushin has written a great column titled The Best Medicine which focuses on a boy named Tyler Kessler who has had one health problem after another, but through NFL football and steak dinners has found some joy in his life. This story should put in perspective whatever problems you may have.
With a hat tip to Peter King - the best football writer around and someone I hope to run into at Spring Training - here's ten things I think I think:
10. Jamey Newberg finally convinced me to listen to the band Jellyfish. He's been touting them for years and while I've occasionally looked for it, it was a random email from him that made me look for it on allofmp3.com. He's right - it's one of the best albums I'd never heard. I love finding bands like that, all the way back to when people asked me what that crazy stuff I was listening to was back in '83. You know, unknowns like U2, Depeche Mode, and R.E.M.
9. Sammy's nearly an Oriole. What's the next shoe to drop? The Cubs can't possibly head into next season with the offense they have now, can they?
8. What would you change about the Team Health Reports? I'm messing with the format a little bit, but there's still time for suggestions.
7. "Numb3rs" did a 17 share on a Friday night. That's CSI numbers, exactly what CBS was hoping for. Will this show make math sexier and help BP become the "baseball numb3rs" site? I'd feel better about the show if it didn't have the lame l33t spelling. Woot otherwise.
6. How many of you will actually read Jose Canseco's book? He's picked up a publisher, so I'm hoping for an advance copy and a BPR interview.
5. Target now has a Jamaican Blue Mountain Blend at $5.99 for a pound. It's not nearly as good as a real JMB, but for the price, it's a pretty good coffee.
4. I really like Gmail, but I don't use it. I have 20,000 unfiltered messages on a computer less than a year old, but its my mail paradigm that makes it tough for me to switch. I don't use folders or sorting much, which is of course why I have a tendency to 'lose' things or rather, not be able to find them. How are people using Gmail and does it really change how you work? I would be interested in a Gbrowser, though it would be hard to get me to switch from Safari.
3. I've avoided politics like the plague since November, even avoiding The Daily Show. I'm not going to start now, especially here, but it's made me think about a new possibility - politics by proxy. Groups like Move On or Club For Growth have members, but it's only a small percentage that are active. The rest are likely to vote as a block, giving the group a near proxy and forcing politics around these machines. AARP has been doing this for years and points to organization as one of the key political needs for the coming decade.
2. The Amazing Race has been kind of lame this year, but still very watchable. There was no villain, no real underdog, and Jonathon was just cringeworthy at almost every turn. The biggest mystery for me is what Rebecca ever saw in Adam. Someone tell me the kid is rich or something.
1. 17 days to pitchers and catchers? Not soon enough, baby.
Changing A FAQ
Like many, I came to look at baseball different because of Rob Neyer. His folksy style and knack for explanation made it comfortable for me to question everything I knew about baseball. I've called Rob the 'gateway drug' for performance analysis. If you like his stuff, you'll probably like what he recommends and he does a great job of handing his readers new material, giving back to the community and giving writers like me a shot.
Rob probably gets a lot more email than me, but one of his FAQs is one of the same I get. I remember reading his response to "You have a great job. How do I do what you do?" and taking it to heart. Rob's is a populist answer and one I closely approximated for the past few years.
I'm changing my answer, not because I've gotten more elitist or think I'm some great stylist. I've just decided that maybe I shouldn't be so encouraging. Looking around at the online arena, there's very few jobs that pay. Even among hobbyists, few stay around and that ones that are good seem to burn brightly and then fade away.
If you're ready to sit at a keyboard for eight to ten hours a day and never run out of things to say, try it. If you stare thirty teams in the face and don't draw a blank on the twelfth Molina brother, try it. If you think you're better than someone that's doing this, try it - you need that kind of ego. Can you put together a column every day - every day - for the next ten years without rehashing or crutching? Will you be the one to step up with 1000 words on the Tigers at two in the morning? Does it bother you when people reject you, publicly, and try to poke holes in everything from your personality to your competence? Go ahead, try it.
At best, my Isherwoodian style helps me run through obstacles because what I do is describe, not create. I've got my next three books after this one written in my head, twenty-seven Team Health Reports (that's right, three are already done), and 150 UTK's locked and loaded while I'm typing away on "The Juice." As Steven Goldman once said "Writers block? I had it once - worst twenty minutes of my life."
Go ahead, try it.
I'm about to try to straddle the third rail. (Wow, that sounds dirty.) More than politics or Sammy Hagar, nothing incurs the wrath of statheads like my admittedly thoughtless rejection of DIPS. I can hear Jay Jaffe now, his carotid pounding like his fingers on the keys. Voros McCracken, who won't return my calls, thinks my first name is "the guy who doesn't like my stuff."
David Pinto, of Baseball Info Solutions and Baseball Musings, has an interesting take on pitchers and defense, one that I think takes another step forward towards explaining what Voros saw.
I was a bad pitcher, but one of the few skills I had was keeping the ball down and locating. I couldn't do it consistently, but I could make a guy ground out when I really needed to, most of the time. Derek Lowe, when presented with DIPS, said much the same thing. I've never disagreed with the math or the thinking behind DIPS, just the feel. If I could do it, I know major league pitchers with exponents more talent should be able to do it and more.
I think the 'holy grail' will be MLB.com's Range Project, though I'm interested in what people think of David's data.
One of my collaborators on "The Juice" (coming this spring) is looking for a bit of assistance. What storylines have been presented with the BALCO case?
The biggest, of course, is that there's some government plot to get Barry Bonds. This was most convincingly put forward in last year's Playboy article. (Not online that I can find; if anyone has a link, let me know.)
Put whatever else you have in comments. Thanks!
Moneyball (the sequel): Starring......Kenny Williams?
After many years of being focused on high slugging percentage baseball, the Chicago White Sox will definitely have a different look. It could be argued that no team over the off-season has changed the makeup of their team more than on the South Side of Chicago. Many in the SABR community slammed Kenny Williams for his trade of Carlos Lee, but it was about money redistribution. I've been discussing this for some time here and the Chicago Tribune picked up on the topic, recently.
As someone who was reading Baseball Abstracts as far back as 1982, I'm a strong believer in the sabremetrical approach to the game, but one place I feel many of my breathren fail is in combining this approach with team salary caps.
What would the response of the SABR community been, if Williams would have signed Jason Kendall? Oh I can hear the uproar over 34 million dollars going out over the next 3 years, with the trickle down causing the Sox to trade Mark Beurhle (see Hudson and Mulder) to cut some salary. Instead, Williams smartly signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski at 2.2 million for 2005. I realize this is a bit of a simplification, but not enough credit has been dished out to Ken Williams.
Besides the re-signing of (I don't want on my) Timo Perez, the rest of the signings look pretty good. I would argue that Pierzynski, Orlando Hernandez, and Tadahito Iguchi are 3 of the best of the off-season. It's time for KWilliams-haters to take a deep breath (I'm doing it as I write) and admit that there does seem to be a plan in place for 2005.
One other note: The Pecota for the Sox starting staff, which has all 5 starters posting ERA's between 4.35 and 5.05 is a load. Yeah, US Cellular is unkind to pitchers, but these numbers would be career worst for almost each pitcher in the rotation. Pecota is generally a beautiful thing, but occasionally it misses the mark and I just don't see the staff putting up those huge ERA's.
Your Mission (Part II)
Now that I've started the debate ... and yes, I have a plan for where this is going, let's focus on the type of people that we have in place. Let's look at GM's of YOUR team - who are they, how did they get there, and what qualities have made them successful. Let's operate under the assumption that merely being a GM is success, rather than on-field success.
For instance, the Cubs current GM is Jim Hendry. Hendry's 50, never played professional baseball, starting as a high school coach. Became a college coach at Creighton, where he took his team to the CWS. He joined the Marlins as a minor league scout and manager. He joined the Cubs in 94 as player development director, scouting director 95-00, then AGM from 00-02. He took over mid-season for Andy MacPhail in '02.
So - nonplayer, 13 years from first hire to job. Scouting focus with a bias towards laissez faire.
Your turn for your team and yes, I expect that kind of detail.
Responding without Responding
Alan Schwarz did a short followup to his "Scouts vs. Stats Roundtable" at Baseball America today. He even went as far as quoting from this blog's discussion of this article, which I think is a first.
I'm not sure how I feel about the line of BP being nasty as a matter of policy. I mean, I can tell you there's not a policy of being anything, so if nasty, snarky, or whatever adjective you want to attach, there's not really so much a conscious editorial decision ("Hey, we were far too nice to this team!" has never been uttered to my knowledge.) but more a function of what works. Works, of course, is in terms of audience and reaction.
Ever seen someone trying to speak to someone who doesn't speak their language well? For some reason, many people will speak louder and slower. Slower makes sense; louder I've never understood. Analysts locked out of baseball have spoken louder and louder over the years, hoping someone would listen. Admittedly, some scream.
I'll try to keep the volume and the discussion at the appropriate levels this week on BPR when I continue this endless debate - Alan Schwarz, Eddie Bane, and (I hope) Voros McCracken will join me.
Your mission ...
This one's interactive, so don't just read and move on. Many in the press and even more in the blogosphere think they can do a better job of being the GM or manager. I doubt many could do the job, but in some cases, maybe.
Would you put a writer or blogger in charge of YOUR team? Who and why? Make your case. I'll select the best one for a prize.
Some Morning Links
Just some interesting links on the dangers of steroids and their effects on musculotendinous junctions .... and one to make you go hmmm.
Roundtable discussion. Pay special attn to Dr. Satterwhite.
and then this. The list of his injuries are pretty amazing. Ken Griffey Jr.is one that I don't think anyone suspects of steroid usage. I'd like to see a photo-array of 1990 Griffey and now Griffey, much like we've seen for Bonds. At one point, absolute comparables. Again, I don't mean to suggest anything - I just want to show that you can't jump to conclusions.
2003 Music Countdown
Scott: Before the best of 2004 list, I made the comment that it was an unimpressive year for music. Well, looking more closely at 2003, I can?t say it was much better. I?m guessing that the new world of downloading has made the quality Album/CD, an endangered specie, as musical acts realize that a good portion of consumers are focused on singles.
The early days of rock and roll had this same business model, as it was not until the concept albums of the 1960?s that this changed. I don?t think it?s any coincidence that the best musical period occurred over the next 10 years. When disco hit, the single became king once again and by the time MTV exploded onto the scene, trying to make a classic LP was an afterthought. Led by Nirvana, the early 90?s were a true rock and roll renaissance, as even radio played bands who were interested in more than the demographic appeal, but unfortunately that was short-lived.
After the masses decided they were tired of wearing flannel and having to think while listening to music, out came a slew of boy bands and teen queens selling image more than ever before. While the beginning of this decade showed promise with a bunch of new bands taking musical risks, the mix of downloading and radio station monopolies strictly guiding play-lists have created a paucity of quality releases. Hopefully something will shake this up.
Will: I disagree that the downloading based paradigm has affected music negatively. What it's done is give a measure of control to the consumer. Most albums are two or three good songs and filler. It's always been like this - I can think of albums without filler, but not enough to need more than one hand to count them. The downloading should be giving us more music and better music. The music industry has gotten to the point where singles last six months, get pounded in heavy rotation until we can no longer stand them, and two or three years between albums make it difficult to build momentum. The Beatles, The Stones, Prince ... how many acts released an album a year or more? Now, unencumbered by distribution costs and the album format, couldn't artists put out music on a whim? Couldn't an artist say "I have four songs I like. I'll put those on iTunes." Boom, we have four new songs - package them as an EP or don't. Buy 'em if you like or don't - there's more where those came from.
The industry -- or rather, the artists -- now have more freedom, more opportunity, and that should be better for everyone.
Scott:Now, having said all this, check out the music listed below, as it's all quality stuff.
Asked and Answered
Dear Mr. Verducci:
Your recent article in Sports Illustrated reads well, taking what appears to be a reasoned view of the steroid and performance-enhancing drug issue. At closer look, it's the same drivel you rail against. At one point, you show that players will take anything, even not knowing what they're taking. Later, you say that players are taking them for a purpose.
The ghost of Ken Caminiti is an effective technique, conjuring up the one MVP season and the tragic breakdown that led to his death. Last I checked, Caminiti had a cocktail of drugs in his system when he died. Sadly, he was an addictive personality that was doomed to his self-destruction despite everyone trying to help him. Caminiti surely took steroids - and likely anything else he could get his hands on. If they worked the one season, what happened the rest? If he felt so strong and fast, what changed? It certainly wasn't testing and he certainly didn't stop.
The story is built around quotes from players, those you argue don't know enough to handle the responsibility for their own body. The players are people I would ask if I wanted to know about hitting or pitching, not about complex political or pharmacological matters. For the most part, they neither know nor care. They never let that get in the way of a good quote.
Marvin Miller is the only one that has it right. We don't know enough, but we know enough to ban them. All we're learning is that MLB hasn't sold the media on this policy yet.
Do you think Peyton Manning has the consistent nightmare of being awakened on a January morning by an alarm clock blaring the song "I Got You Babe?" He then procedes to go into Foxboro Stadium, slush is thrown all over him and he fails to suceed time after time. I swear Manning must look at Belichek and see the Coach as his own personal Ned Ryerson.
Last year there were excuses to be made, but this year the Patriots were dominant and possibly the greatest statistical offense in NFL history, looked confused and played with little spark or emotion. If you took away the Patriots and the Florida Gators, Manning might be discussed as one of the Top 5 QB's of all-time, but the NFL is not like MLB, because greatness is determined much more on team success. There is a reason that Otto Graham, Bart Starr, and Terry Bradshaw are considered with the greats of all-time and it's not based on career statistics.
It appears once again that the only way a dome team can win the Super Bowl is by playing in a dome to get there. The Colts are very similar to some of the great Vikings and Oilers teams of the past, who also couldn't survive when facing the elements.
Baseball News Flashes
The North Dakota state legislature must have been having a slow day recently, as I guess the important business of snow removal and keeping the fish under ice in Devil's Lake had to take a backseat to getting Roger Maris into the Hall of Fame. The resolution orders Secretary of State Al Jaeger to send a copy of the resolution to the members of the baseball veterans' committee. Now the people of North Dakota are some of my favorite in the US (shout out to all my peeps in Fargo, Minot, Grand Forks, and Dickinson), but Roger (854 career RBI's) Maris in the Hall? Not even this guy could talk me into voting for him.
Sure Maris is the greatest athlete in North Dakota history, but Phil Jackson is 2 and Darin Erstad is 3 on the Sports Illustrated countdown, so not too lofty. I'm sure we're not too far from the next edict passed down on high from the state house in Bismarck. And it shall be written that Rick Helling (Fargo native) should be chosen the next Cy Young winner.
One interesting thing I learned about Maris was that he was born in Hibbing, Minnesota. If you're not familiar, this is also the birthplace of two legitimate Hall of Famers, Bob Dylan and Kevin McHale. Is there any other town even close to the size of Hibbing that have produced such a group of famous alumni?
In what must be Kenny Williams greatest nightmare, Todd Ritchie has been resigned by the Pittsburgh Pirates to compete for their 5th starter spot. If Ritchie was to make some kind of comeback and join Kip Wells and Josh Fogg on the Pirates rotation, it just might be too much to handle. This is why I'm starting a fund to provide psychological services to Williams, if this nightmare scenario comes to fruition. If nothing else, we can spring for tickets to the Oprah show for Kenny, since she tapes her show just down the street. (figure of speech, Harpos studios are not in Bridgeport) Get him tickets on a day when Oprah has one of her pop psychologists who focuses on how bad decisions don't have to haunt you the rest of your life. (or do they?)
NFL Playoff Preview
Oops, I didn't list my picks for the first round, but just so you know, I went 3-1, with my loss on the Jets. The second round is a great time for the dogs, as all of them, but the Colts, are getting at least 7 points.
When the Packers lost, the Rams must have rejoiced, as they are a team which thrives in a dome, while Atlanta has never had much of a home field advantage. I like the Rams straight up in the game. The Eagles are the biggest mystery going into the playoffs, but I suspect they will pull out a victory against the Vikings, though not cover the points. Despite what happened at Lambeau, the Vikings are generally worse outdoors than the Boy in the Bubble. (Just plagiarizing a line I wrote in a sketch earlier this year. Kind of like when John Fogerty stole his old riff from "Run Through the Jungle" for his first solo release. "Old Man Down the Road".)
I think the one dog that has no chance of winning is the Jets. I expect the Steelers will win by around 10 points. In the best game of the day, look for the Colts to finally snap their Foxboro jinx. Can't see how the Pats will have enough pass defense to cover the 5 top-notch receivers Indy throws at you. Last year, there was not one holding call in the AFC championship game, despite Ty Law grabbing and holding like Mike Tyson at a beauty contest. New laws against holding, while no Law for the Pats=a great offense has an advantage.
In the conference championship I like the Eagles to keep the NFL from a complete embarassment, which the 8-8 Rams would inflict on the Super Bowl. In the AFC, I just can't see a rookie QB playing in the Super Bowl, no matter how good Rothlisberger is. So whoever wins betweens the Colts and Patriots I like to play in Jacksonville.
As I mentioned in my baseball playoff preview, feel free to rip me, but I only will take you seriously if you put your picks on the line.
* Great article on football injuries, passed to me by pal Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders. It's a brutal sport.
* Play nice in comments. I don't like policing them - and won't for long - so let's keep it civil.
* Carlos Delgado should be signed by next week. The Marlins have the best offer on the table money-wise, Baltimore wants to make a free agent splash, and Texas is the best fit. Baltimore's also optimistic that they can pry Aubrey Huff loose from Tampa.
* Texas wants Delgado but won't go near the public asking price. There's room for compromise. It's unclear just how connected a Delgado signing and Alfonso Soriano trade (to the Astros?) would be.
* The Astros will be players for Mike Cameron. They could, in effect, be trading Carlos Beltran and prospects for Cameron, certainly not an ideal scenario. The Tigers will also be players for the ex-Met, ex-Mariner while the D-Backs will go another direction.
* Lew Wolff, the probably new owner of the A's, will be in Scottsdale this week for the owners meetings. He'll meet with the ownership committee and likely get the nod to start the purchase process. Mark Attanasio is expected to get fiinal approval on the Brewers sale finally. Expect Oakland to make a brief intense push to move to San Jose. If that fails, there may be a race to Las Vegas between the A's and Marlins. Oscar, start building.
* If Lew, or anyone, is going to be in Scottsdale this week and wants to talk some baseball, drop me an email.
Leaks, Skills, and Access
One of the great things about being part of BP or A-B is the internal email list. Imagine being part of some of the smartest, timely baseball discussion. I'm lucky enough to get both and oddly, there's not much overlap in topic or tone. Ken Arneson sent an email today asking about a blog post on the BALCO leaks and it got me thinking enough to put together three disparate loose threads I've had in my head since the middle of last week.
The BALCO leaks, to me, are very odd. I disagree with them, but when I was given the opportunity to read some of the leaked transcripts, I jumped at it. Yes, it's hypocritical, but this journalism education I recieve seems to be filled with that. I wonder, had I taken journalism classes in college, would it have taught me the things I needed to succeed and deal with the dilemmas I've faced in my writing 'career'? I've learned from mistakes, avoiding some and stepping in big ones.
After the Rose story in 2003, I've learned not to take people at their word, to get the documentation in hand. I did that with the BALCO leaks out of reaction, rather than thinking about whether or not I agreed with this person leaking the information. Things like this, the near-daily ethical dilemmas about what information I should have and what information I should pass on is the hardest part about my job. I've had both sides of a trade call me asking for my opinion - am I bound to disclose this to the other party? I've had teams ask me not to print something or delay it - and I've done this - but is that some mild betrayal of my readership?
What's saved me is having a group to bounce things off and in the case of BP, an editor to catch my most egregious errors. Still, its a constant challenge to "get things right." For me, most of my work is based on my ability to get people to respond to phone calls, emails, and other communication. I translate that information into a readable format, filtering things for the readers. Call me a noise filter, if you will. If I'm wrong about my filtering, my readers will cease being readers pretty quickly. If I can't get people to talk to me, my information quality will drop and once again, fickle readers will move on.
Maybe the Twins Don't Have the Central Locked Up
For the past 4 years, the White Sox have finished behind the Twins, despite being a pre-season favorite by a majority of prognosticators each season. My guess is that the Twins will be the biggest pre-season favorite to win their division of any team in MLB. Can't argue with that logic, but under the radar the White Sox have remade their team over the past year and it will be interesting, if nothing else, how it all comes together.
The latest signing of A.J. Pierzynski was a great move by Kenny Williams. (try to find those words used together in a Google search) Pierzynski was signed for one year at 2.25 million, not too bad for a catcher with a career OPS of .773. Considering that Jason Varitek is making 10 million annually for a career .798 OPS and is 3 and a half years older than AJ, this looks even better. Sure Pierzynski left San Fran with a reputation of being an irritant on the level of Simon Cowell, but bringing a solid left-handed bat behind the plate for this price is something the White Sox are willing to risk. Plus, the guy knows the Twins hitter's better than anyone else they could sign, so maybe his poor study habits won't be such an issue.
Malcolm Gladwell is back with a new book that, like his last, "The Tipping Point", is not only interesting but has some baseball application. This newest book, "Blink" may give some credence to the scouting side of the ledger.
I'll have a more full review later, but I'm highly recommending this.
Cubs Fans Rejoice
With Carlos Beltran electing not to take the Astros "last, best offer" of reportedly $16 million a season, it leaves the division's most well-rounded team significantly weaker. Not only have they lost an elite level player, they may have a harder time convincing Roger Clemens to come back. I do think Clemens will pitch again, but let's look at what this does to the Astros roster.
Beltran NOT An Astro
As if you come here for your breaking news ...
Carlos Beltran was not able to reach a deal with the Astros by the deadline. There are reports that the Astros were given an extension of fifteen minutes, but at about 12:10, two sources told me that there was no deal.
No indication if Beltran will sign elsewhere soon, but he will not be an Astro.
Proof that stupid people shouldn't breed.
Proof that this guy really needs a hobby. Really.
Both of these courtesy a blog that ... well, it scares me.
Piling On The Cards
Call me a Cards hater if you must, but it's simply not true. I *am* a Cubs fan despite their best efforts, so it wouldn't be a surprise if I dogged the Cards. Still, I think I do it no more and no less than they deserve. I'm the same with credit and with every other team. At least I try.
That said, I think their offseason has been a massive bust. Walt Jocketty, who's clearly been one of the top GM's in the business over the past decade, seemed lost this off-season. His biggest move was bringing in Mark Mulder, a pitcher with a bad wing, questionable back, and entering his expensive arb years. To get this guy, he gave up a good young pitcher (Dan Haren), a solid pen guy (Kiko Calero), and a guy who'll be on a lot of Top Ten lists this spring (Daric Barton.)
Shallow Thoughts: A little Insight on Enzyte and other matters
PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAVE SHUT DOWN THE COMMENT SECTION ON THIS PATICULAR POST, AS IT'S GOTTEN OUT OF CONTROL. I'M NOT CONDEMNING ANYONE WHO POSTED ANYTHING ON THE SUBJECT OF CLAY AIKEN, AS I WAS THE ONE WHO STARTED THE FIRESTORM.
I HOPE IF YOU DISCOVERED THIS BLOG AND ENJOY THE MIXTURE OF BASEBALL AND POP CULTURE YOU WILL STAY, BUT IF YOU'RE HERE JUST TO RANT ABOUT CLAY AIKEN, I ASK YOU GO TO OTHER SITES THAT ARE MORE SPECIFIC TO THAT TOPIC. ONCE AGAIN, I'M FULLY AWARE THAT I STARTED THIS THREAD, BUT I CAN HONESTLY SAY I HAD NO IDEA THE MONSTER IT WOULD BECOME. I AM TAKING A HIATUS ON POSTING ON CLAY, AS THIS SITE STRIVES TO BE A LITTLE MORE THAN THAT. WE ALL HAVE OUR OWN FANATICAL PASSIONS THAT MOST THINK ARE A BIT STRANGE, SO I WISH THE CLAY NATION NOTHING BUT THE BEST.
You know what bothers me about myself is that the ads for Levitra are so ridiculous, but the woman in the commercials does such a good job of acting like she's in complete heat that I can't turn away.
On a similar subject, how is it that ESPN can continue to sell ads to this company that markets a product called Enzyte "the once a day product for male enhancement." Enzyte has even sponsored a car in the (not making this up) Busch series. Could someone with a medical background come on here and explain how there is no way to make your penis bigger. Obviously, a lot of men are still falling for this, as the ad has run for over a year now. Just the other day, I received an email from Clay Aiken complaining about being ripped off by this product. (I'm sorry, I can't help myself.)
I'm not a scotch drinker, but I can guarantee you that I will never consume a drop of Glenfiddich, as their beyond pretentious print ads star some bizarre character named Brock Savage who annoys me beyond belief.
It's the oddest things that influence us. I did all the research, looking at features, cost, and value. I found a reputable local dealer. Then, when I needed a car stereo, I found myself having one phrase echoing in my head:
"I ain't pissing nothing away. I got a quadraphonic Blaupunkt."
I don't have much of a curveball, but now, I do have a Blaupunkt.
Hall of Fame Thoughts
So the big question after Wade Boggs' election to the Hall is will he wear a Yankees or Red Sox hat? On ESPNews with Brian Kenney, Boggs laid it on the HOF to decide, coyly acting like he didn't care. He did clear up the idea that he had promised the Devil Rays that he would wear their hat in the Hall, as he said that was Jose Canseco's deal. (Hope the D-Rays didn't pay Jose too much for that honor.)
Besides Boggs and Ryne Sandberg, I would have put Goose Gossage and Alan Trammell on my list. Yes, Trammel was often only the 4th or 5th best shortstop in the game during his career, but he's still one of the 10 best in baseball history. He shouldn't be penalized just because he played in the time of Ripken, Yount, Ozzie, and Larkin. Whenever Trammell is mentioned, Lou Whitaker is brought up also. I would say the difference between the two is that Whitaker was just below HOF level, as Trammell's stats, leadership, and position are slightly better.
Sorry for the slow blog posts lately. As warned, my writing has been cranked up with the deadlines and travel schedule coming to a head. If you need some reading - non-baseball version - I'll suggest this roundtable/draft over at Football Outsiders. They asked me in to their playoff fantasy league and, well, like I said, it's a no lose situation for me.
Anyone from Phoenix/Scottsdale? Looking for restaurant recommendations for my upcoming trips there.
The HoF results? Surprisingly, Ryne Sandberg being voted in was anticlimax. My boyhood hero isn't someone that would get emotional and I'm surprisingly dull about it. It makes me feel a bit old, while my emotion is more locked up in hopes for Ron Santo. Wade Boggs was a no-brainer and the debate on closers has bordered on interesting. I like that Cooperstown isn't watered down and that it engenders debate and passion, like with Rich Lederer's support of Bert Blyleven.
Wasn't the Orange Bowl supposed to be close? Man, I'm glad I didn't watch it. The Amazing Race was much more competitive!
Carlos Beltran should make his decision late this week. The Mets haven't made a firm offer, instead trading parameters with Scott Boras. With a little tweaking, they'll have something in place today, giving Houston some time to up it's offer a bit more and for the few remaining teams (Cubs and Tigers, some outside sniffing from Baltimore) to bid if they want to.
Anyone noticed that Milwaukee's paperwork still hasn't been finalized? I haven't seen any coverage of this at all. With the Nationals sale upcoming - I'm told that bids will be taken in early February in hopes that the announcement could be made near Opening Day - MLB needs to get this one taken care of quickly.
Baseball Free Agent Signings: A Confederacy of Dunces?
What looked to be an interesting off-season for free agent signings has been a wet dream for agents, with available players being coveted like fat blonde chicks at closing time. Why would anyone show any pretext of feeling sorry for owners and their bottom line struggles, after what has transpired so far on the free agency scene. The pursuit of starting pitching the last 2 months has reminded me of being in a fantasy baseball draft where there's a run on one position, you know, when all sanity leaves and you are running around more desperate than Donald Trump's hair on a really windy day.
What a market it was for damaged goods pitchers like Carl Pavano, Eric Milton, Pedro Martinez, David Wells, Jaret Wright, and Kris Benson. This list looks like a best of roster from Under the Knife. (UTK is an injury column written by an obscure and obtuse writer named William.) Add Russ Ortiz and Matt Clement to this list and you have a bunch of pitchers who are No. 2 starters (at best), all making over 7 million a year.
The Week Ahead
Wow, 2005. Doesn't it seem like just a few moments ago we were all panicking the lights would go out and that we didn't have enough canned goods to make it through Y2K? This opening week of the new year should be pretty eventful for baseball as the last remaining free agents will get serious about where they end up.
Carlos Beltran is the obvious prize and much like Ivan Rodriguez last season, he'll be about the last credible free agent to sign. The Astros only have until Saturday to sign him, forcing them to lay it all on the table early. The Yankees and Mets will be charging hard with the Cubs and a few other teams hanging back in the weeds, hopeful that a few things break their way. Boras' 10/200 looks optimistic, but I think the final numbers will be closer to that than most think right now.
The Randy Johnson trade will be finalized later this week, allowing the D-Backs to get serious about getting Shawn Green. Vazquez will have to be convinced to stay in L.A., far from his family, and that won't be an easy sell. (Did anyone else notice that J.D. Drew signed for exactly what Darren Dreifort did a few years back? Bad omen.)
College Football Part 1: The Bowls and the Coaching Carousel
As another New Year’s Day Bowl Season goes by, a few thoughts need to be shared.
Many college football traditionalists decry the idea of a playoff system, but let’s be honest, the Bowl Championship Series has already destroyed tradition. New Year’s Day now is a shell of it’s past, as the three top teams this year aren’t even playing on January 1st.
This year’s bowl games further exposed the weakness of the BCS, as conference tie-ins have created lousy match-ups, like Utah/Pittsburgh and Auburn/Virginia Tech. Watching Utah, I’m still not sure if they’re a Top 10 team, as Pittsburgh would have had a hard time attaining a winning record in a quality conference and the only other decent opponent the Utes played in 2004 were the up and down Aggies of A&M.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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