Baseball Toaster The Juice Blog
Monthly archives: September 2004


Who Was that Guy On Stage Tonight
2004-09-30 23:51
by Scott Long

I've been a critic of John Kerry, even when running in Iowa, as I felt he was a poor candidate for the Democrats to choose. Many Democrats had felt he was the best person the party had to stand on the stage with Dubya, as Kerry's past war experiences and Presidential look, would serve him well.

After watching tonight's debate, I will have to admit I was wrong about my doubts, as Kerry was excellent in style and presentation, always seeming in command. I would really like to hear from some of the Bush supporters explaining to me how they felt watching their guy stumble and bumble his way through the debate. Only on a couple of points, did I find Bush having a positive two minutes. If we were scoring this like a fight, I would have given 10 rounds to Kerry, 2 to Bush.

Kerry did so well, that I'm going to have pull back from my point of view that TFD had been too optimistic in thinking the Dems would win the Presidency. I still think Bush is the favorite, but if doesn't acquit himself better in the next couple of debates, it's not going to matter how great Bush's attack ad's on Kerry are, the majority of undecided or leaning Bush voters will swing Kerry's way.

(Author's note: There is no truth to the conspiracy theory that I'm supporting Kerry because as one of his first acts as President he would demand that his fellow Bostonites, The Cars, would be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Just What I Needed
2004-09-30 14:59
by Will Carroll

Mark Prior is stone cold dealin'.

Sammy Sosa just conjured up the spirit of '98.

Where's Joe Borowski when you need him? (Yeah, it's that bad.)

Chizum Checks In, Choke Edition
2004-09-29 15:11
by Will Carroll

Researcher extraordinaire and elitist Brandon Chizum checks in with his take on the last week of the season:

With Diet Coke in hand and my MLB.TV subscription in full effect, I have begun the task of watching as much baseball as possible this final week, and hence, have placed an understandable emphasis on viewing those integral “pre-playoff” games.

If one were to glance at the current league standings, in particular the A.L. West and N.L. Wild Card battles, it would become apparent that the game of baseball can be dangerous for those with high blood pressure (unless you’re Larry Bowa). So please, relax these next few days, find a comfortable chair, unplug the phone, and imbibe that frosty beverage so near to your heart, because the end of this season is certain to provide a nail-biting experience.

And sure, the old-timers (i.e., LaRussa, Cox, Torre) are already at “dinner,” their seats reserved near the buffet line, but Baker, Alou, Scioscia, Showalter, et al., are engaged in dogfights, each determined to gain the upper hand, and in turn, secure a seat on baseball’s greatest stage where anything is possible; just ask Jack McKeon.

This season has been filled with many wonderful games and terrific athletic feats, at times surpassing even our own expectations for baseball greatness. So here’s looking forward to MLB’s postseason -- a time when America gathers to celebrate the beautiful game with which we are all enamored. And to reflect upon what a wonderful season we have witnessed.

So my question for you is: What team will provide the most fireworks, and hence, will be the most dangerous team in the playoffs this year?

And by the way, Jeff Buckley’s “Live at Sin-ê” is beyond description; I’m disappointed with myself for not learning of his musical existence earlier. Also, another soon-to-be-gem, Elliott Smith’s “from a basement on the hill,” will be released on October 19. I’m not sure if “Only the Good Die Young” can be labeled a maxim, but that statement is certainly worth a bit of reflection.

2004-09-28 22:59
by Will Carroll

I could say that I've been waiting for Brian Wilson's "SMiLE" for thirty-seven years, but I'm not that old. I tried to remember when I first heard the Beach Boys. I'm sure it was early, but I surely didn't recognize it for what it was. Fun beach music, maybe, but the most influential American band? Probably not. It took years for me to be mature enough to understand "Pet Sounds" in context. Even then, I can't grasp the zeitgeist.

SMiLE isn't a remake of an album that never was or a "lost recording" suddenly found. It's a complete redo that seems not timeless, but actually out of time. Wilson's voice isn't as facile, though technology covers for him well. The Van Dyke Parks lyrics are as inscrutable now as they might have been then without the benefit of free love and cheap drugs.

What SMiLE is not is much less than what it is. It is not greater than "Pet Sounds." That album is the pinnacle of a career that took a long, slow decline once Brian Wilson had stepped into the sandbox, some notable exceptions like "Sail On Sailor" and "Carl and The Passions" aside. "Pet Sounds" remains a crowning achievement. Some may not put it on the same pedestal as "Sgt. Pepper's" but it should be. There is no more direct influence then that of Brian Wilson on Lennon/McCartney. The echoes of the Beach Boys are heard in everything from today's harmony-based boy bands (don't hold it against them) to Van Halen's Wilson-esque choruses. Brian was the original tortured genius singer-songwriter, heard in everyone from Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley to some of Radiohead's more cryptic studio work.

It's difficult to listen to SMiLE because it is unlike anything, yet it resonates with the familiar. The opening contrapuntals of "Our Prayer" recalls "One for the Boys" from Wilson's 1988 solo album, but are pitch perfect creations of a modern digital studio. "Heroes and Villians" stands as both a great pop song and a folksy classic. "Surf's Up" is not so much a call to hit the beach like so many Beach Boys tunes, but seems elegaic.

Sure, there's plenty of self-indulgent sounds. Brian brings back pet sounds for "Barnyard" and brings out the kitchen sink - literally - for "Vega-Tables". He even has the audacity to re-create "Good Vibrations." For Beach Boys fans, this borders on heresy. Once past the initial shock of hearing the greatest American rock n' roll song redone by its creator, the song continues to shine, swooping theramin and all.

The album is not an album. It's a symphony or a soundtrack to a movie that Brian Wilson has in his head. It opens amazingly, closes strong, and bogs down in the middle, much like Brian's life. I can only hope that when he hears it through his one good ear and drug-addled brain, Brian feels like he's finally released his masterpiece. I hope he smiles.

Whatever Bubbles Bubbles Up
2004-09-28 18:19
by Will Carroll
Biggest Omission at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
2004-09-28 00:58
by Scott Long

Looking at the members list at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Ron Santo of music who's looking in would be the group, The Cars.

Starting with their superior debut, The Cars melded Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, with Kraftwerk type music. In the late 70's and early 80's, when radio was dominated by the Journey/REO/Styx world, The Cars brought some alternative sound to AOR.

Every song on their debut is excellent and amazingly holds up well. The greatest music video of all-time came from this album. (Cameron Crow's direction of "Moving in Stereo" starring the moist charms of Phoebe Cates. OK, it was just a scene from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", but the song created a perfect hypnotic sound to the visuals.)

Their second release, "Candy-O", wasn't as consistent as their debut, but it contains their two best songs, "Let's Go", "It's All I Can Do". Overall it's still a great album, which sounds like nothing else out at the time.

"Panorama" is one of the most challenging albums a major rock group has ever released, as it is as experimental as Bowie was at the time. Next up came "Shake it Up", which is their weakest album, but still contains a classic in "Since You're Gone".

Finally, we come to "Heartbeat City", which was a huge commercial smash, but is flawed by the overproduced sound of Mutt Lange. Much like how in the late 70's most music had a disco element (see Kiss, Rolling Stones, etc.) the music scene in the mid-80's all had that Phil Collins' drum machine sound, which took a lot of edge from the music. Still, there are some excellent songs on the album and the Cars were the only band whose songs could be played next to Duran Duran or Boston and still not seem out of place.

Ric Ocasek has produced a lot of great alternative records, since leaving the Cars (Weezer, Nada Surf, Bad Brains, No Doubt) and I wonder if him not getting his musical due has anything to do with looking like Spock, but marrying Paulina Porizkova. (an overachievement of Lyle Lovett-proportions.)

Many of today's alternative groups like Fountains of Wayne, The Strokes, The New Pornographers, etc. have a debt owed to the Cars, not to mention New Wave bands of the 80's like Oingo Boingo, Wang Chung, and the Fixx.

I will admit that the first person I would put in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be Elvis Costello, but if we are going to go on their accomplishments to the masses, The Cars should be the top on the list, as they were innovative, commercially and critically successful and have been a major influence on other bands that followed.

mobile blogging
2004-09-27 04:32
by Will Carroll

Sure it may not seem like much, but this post is coming from my Sidekick. Yep, fully mobile blogging. Dangerous. I'll have a full review of the Sidekick in a couple days - once I get a bit more used to it.

Just heard Time is saying the CIA got caught planning to fix the Iraqi elections. Kerry may have just got a big gift. The CIA is still a big scary to many and the parallels to Nixon just got easy.

Thanks for all the suggestions on "awards." I'll collect the best ones in a post soon. We'll also start the Issues discussions ina few days.

Award Time
2004-09-24 04:15
by Will Carroll

I do a lot of talk radio. A lot.

It's an often banal form, filled with short answers, lack of thought, and a bandwagon/lynch mob mentality. It's just the format and the cravings for ratings mostly, playing to the lowest common denominator in a world full of people for whom deep analysis is "Whoo-hoo, love that #88 car!"

(Oh, there I go again, sounding elitist ...)

So, again, I turn to you, the non-LCDs to help me out. In the next week, I'm going to get a lot of questions about the basic categories, but Greg Rakestraw suggested coming up with some fun categories as well. Here are my picks for the awards, some fun categories, and I'd like both your arguments AGAINST my picks and fun categories of your own.

(Offered with only short explanations):
AL MVP: Gary Sheffield (Jay Jaffe, here's your cue)
NL MVP: Barry Bonds (There Is No Substitute.)
AL Cy: Johan Santana (Aaron, here's your cue)
NL Cy: Randy Johnson (Clemens probably will, but Unit deserves it.)
AL RoY: Bobby Crosby (umm, none of the above?)
NL RoY: Jason Bay (if he's eligible. If not, Khalil Greene.)
AL MoY: Buck Showalter (because I need some explanation for the Rangers.)
NL MoY: Tony La Russa (give him some credit.)
Best FA Signing: Miguel Tejada (Squeaker over Maddux.)
Worst FA Signing: Andy Pettitte (and it gets worse next year.)
Breakout Player: Johan Santana (Pedro, Part II?)
Most Overrated: Lance Berkman
Most Underrated: Melvin Mora (his team holds him back.)
Alien Invasion: Mark Loretta (I mean, come on!)
Young Guy I Want On My Team: Zack Greinke (filthy, mature.)
FA I wouldn't want to risk signing: Carlos Delgado (just a hunch.)
Team Stepping Up in '05: Detroit
Team Falling Down in '05: Houston

Your turn, in comments ...

7 Steps
2004-09-22 02:25
by Will Carroll

I play in this cool online game called Predictatron with a bunch of names you'd know (Jim Baker runs it, so that gives you some idea) and some you probably don't know you know.

I completely suck at this game. I'm one point out of last.

Still, it's the coolest game because it's filled with people that I can say I 'know' without having met them. I want to buy them beers and pick their brains.

Chris Marcil is one of those guys. He has a piece in the NY Times, which, to me, is the pinnacle. I know, I know, but it's still one of those things on my lifetime fantasy list. Like Angelina Jolie, it's probably nothing like you imagined, but you'd probably put it near the top of your resume.

Of course, if I had Chris' resume, I'm not sure what would go at the top. And I probably wouldn't want to have a beer with me.

Taking It To The Next Level
2004-09-21 23:20
by Will Carroll

Blogs are big.

That's no secret. With the CBS scandal spearheaded by conservative bloggers that pushed a story (and agenda), bloggers are going around patting themselves, saying mainstream media is dead or dying, and generally, making asses of themselves.

You broke a story ... or did you?

Someone did. I'm not sure who was first. Honestly, it doesn't matter because I don't want to discuss this case as more than a symptom. Blogs - and many web sites, but I'll stick with the blog term for ease - work at the second level. They find news, they comment on it, end of story. Beyond a few interesting examples, most blogs operate at this level and even at the third and fourth level. As TBogg said in a recent piece, bloggers are not reporters, they're electronic op-ed pieces or letters to the editors.

Baseball blogs are guilty of this as well. There are whole sites that do nothing but link to things and comment on them. Fine. Good. It doesn't TEACH us anything. It doesn't expand the pool of knowledge at all. Many are essentially assassins - looking for the plethora of stupidity in the mainstream baseball media and poking it with a sharp stick. BP did this with an early column focused on fact-checking Peter Gammons.

There's plenty of room and interest for this type of content, but where does it lead? Is Peter Gammons less respected now because some web site jabbed at his grammar? Is Joe Morgan smarter because so many anonymous surfers stare longingly at his ignorance?

I've been guilty of this - and I think there's always a place for reasonable criticism - but I'm starting to think that, in the end, we may show productive outs are bad, but we're not very productive ourselves. There are great minds and great writers out there -- and for several of them recently, my advice (as if I'm in any place to give it) is simple:

"Quit blogging. Start writing."

There's a lot of talk on the 'net in every space, every niche, every possible subject. There's not a lot of real content, real talent, or real value. If blogs are going to take it to the next level, they need to follow the examples of someone like Jay Jaffe with his great series on Gary Sheffield or Rich Lederer's series on the Abstracts.

Bloggers, become writers. Writers, we can do better.

Explain It To Me
2004-09-21 07:02
by Will Carroll

I was sitting here mulling some ideas to write about, but realized that I'm more interested in the discussions we have. Think of it as a test case for a couple ideas I'm having behind the scenes.

So explain to me ...

... why anyone would consider voting for Ralph Nader, or any third party candidate? There's no representation, such as in a Parliamentary situation. I'll buy the principle argument, but shouldn't that end at the ballot box in the face of certain losses?

... why "singles" last forever, yet no one really buys singles. They're coming back a bit with iTunes, but come on. Who really buys some of this dreck? Even the good stuff gets overplayed into dust. I remember listening to the new Outkast album driving up to see the Cubs in the playoffs last year. There's been TWO singles off "The Love Below" - "Hey Ya" and "Roses" - that have been in massively heavy rotation since then. Good songs, sure, but come on! The Beatles put out a new single every nine minutes.

... how people afford to buy cars. I love leasing. I'm always looking at new cars and have had my eye on the Mini Convertible for a while. It's probably not going to be the car I get, sadly, but with a lease, it's close. Buy it?

... is the poker craze the final nail in the coffin of opponents of legal gambling? I think a smart promoter could set up nationwide satellite tourneys putting people through to the World Series and make a killing. Of course, I think Streetball could be a legitimate NBA competitor.

... why I hate ESPN Motion, but am still glad that they made a Mac version finally.

... why no one gives me any credit for saying Keane would be huge months ago?

... what the hell got into David Weathers?

... why no one is taking bets about the facial hair Joe Sheehan will be sporting Sunday when he goes on Outside the Lines this Sunday? Goatee at 3 to 1, clean at 5 to 1, scruffy Don Johnson look is 20 to 1, but don't overlook the Rollie Fingers look at 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 to 1.

... how I missed this. Technology always follows porn and I just read an article about the shift to HD porn going on.

... why I can't find a good online review of the Dyson vacuum cleaner or the Sidekick II?

2004-09-20 20:06
by Will Carroll

The Democrats don't seem to know how to play dirty. The CBS documents are forgeries - not breaking news. What is are allegations of Kerry campaign involvement.

While I think the campaign is closer than most think and that GOTV is by far the most important issue come November, if there's the slightest hint that Kerry or his top advisers were involved in the forgeries, they've lost my vote and support. Part of the failings of the Bush administration is that I do not trust their choices for top positions. If I can't do that with Kerry, I'd rather wait four years and let Bush stew in his own juices.

Baseball Confession PART 2
2004-09-20 19:28
by Scott Long

(see prior entry, before reading this)

From looking at my post on Vin Scully, most of the comments pro-Scully were from people who grew up listening to him. I can respect that as an announcer you listen to from your youth they can become like a member of the family, so I can't tell you you're wrong. There are college sports announcers who truly stink, but if they're your guy, they seem almost like listening to your Grandpa and you want to defend them with your life.

As brought up in the comments, one thing that bothers me about Scully is that he does the whole game by himself. I like the conversational element of baseball broadcasting.

No broadcaster in today's game seems to be more of a divisive force than Hawk Harrelson. I would say that as a White Sox fan, he has his positives and negatives. I hate how he bashes Sabremetrics. I can see how his catch-phrases could grate on casual fans, but if you listen to him on a regular basis, I find that they become part of the game for you. The nickname element brought up in the comments section is a real plus to me, as it gives modern baseball a link to the past history of the game. The best thing Hawk does is tell stories about players from the 60's and 70's he played with, giving some great info on that time period.
Once again, though, I think it's hard to be objective about your favorite teams broadcaster, if he has been there for a long time.

Another person brought up a great exchange between White Sox announcers Ed Farmer and John Rooney. If you haven't listened to these guys before, they really bring an intellectual style to the game. I believe Farmer is the best radio color man I've ever heard, as he gives a lot of great info, as he used to be a scout, plus really breaks down the art of pitching, as he was a former Big League hurler. Farmer has a Dennis Miller style of dry wit that I appreciate most of all.

The two announcers I would love to see paired together is Joe Buck and Rick Sutcliffe.
Buck is smart and very funny, while still knowing how to pull back and let the moment happen. (I personally think he's way better than his dad, who I actually liked doing MNFootball on radio, better than when he did KMOX baseball)
Sutcliffe is sensational, providing great insight and at the same time, not being afraid to call out players who are not producing.

A Baseball Confession
2004-09-20 10:33
by Scott Long

I'm fully aware that I about to offer something that is considered blasphemy in baseball circles, but I can't stand listening to a game by Vin Scully. Since I didn't grow up in LA, my experience with Vin is when he was announcing play-off games for NBC. I recently was in LA and heard him again, just reminding me how much I can't stand his voice or style.

I realize that he is probably the most influential broadcaster in baseball history, as his style is mimicked by most team play by play men. To me this is just another reason I don't like Scully, as that Scully-style has been franchised across the country.

I'm sorry, but I like a real voice, not voice trained in inflection. Radio has picked up on this recently, with the radio broadcasting school voice, being heard on less stations, generally ones with older listeners or in smaller markets. Time for baseball to have the same evolution.

I've put on my hard hat, so let the slam's begin. I would be interested on comments on other broadcasters who annoy the SSSSSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHH................... out of you.

no title
2004-09-19 15:50
by Will Carroll

Wait, that's her REAL name?

I swear, the best story out there is one about sports groupies. I've been trying to figure out how to do it for two years, but no one will talk. Not players, not coaches, not anyone.

2004-09-18 18:05
by Will Carroll

Funny, yet so sad, all at once.

(Tho I don't even want to KNOW how this blog got it's name ...)

Memory Walk
2004-09-18 17:44
by Will Carroll

Some of you will remember Rachael Reid from her days as my fill-in for UTK 1.0. You might know her from her online trivia mailings (contact her for more details). But she's always doing nice things for people. Most recently, she's doing the Memory Walk for Alzheimer's. It should be a big year for this, with Reagan and all, so help Rach raise some money.

Ending Apathy
2004-09-18 03:58
by Will Carroll

Fifty days from the Presidential election, it's clear that one major issue is going to be GOTV (get out the vote.) Campaigns and state/local organizations will be fighting to get people to the ballots, spending insane amounts of time and money to do something I think should be required.

Yes, required.

I've long thought that the solution to most of our problems is not new laws, new regulations, or new controls, but education. Want a gun? Good, you can go take a course (public or private), pass a test that you have the basic knowledge to do so safely, and there's your license. It's the same model we have in place for driving and while not perfect, it limits the number of absolute incompetents on the road.

There's plenty more items like this: Want to own an assault rifle? Fine, you're in the National Guard. Want to have a kid? Fine, take some basic parenting classes and get a license. Dont want to take the classes? Fine, no aid for you. But I've finally decided that there's an even better one. What I can't decide is which idea is better:

1. Vote or you get no government assistance. Period. You become ineligible to get any Federal assistance in any way, shape, or form beyond that of the common without voting every four years. Want state assistance? Vote for governor. Local? Mayor.

2. Vote and you get one percent off your taxes. Maybe one percent isn't enough. I'm not sure, but let's start small.

I'm not sure it really ends apathy, but it creates an opportunity. People will probably walk into the booth, flick any lever, get their receipt and go on with life. It becomes incumbent upon the candidates, parties, and interested outsiders to educate, while it increases the value of name recognition and ballot construction.

Perfect? Hardly, but it's a start. Required voting or rewarded voting - what's YOUR vote?

Saving Me Time: Expos On The Move?
2004-09-17 01:46
by Will Carroll

I was prepping to write about the Expos situation when I realized Neil deMause has it all over me. His latest posting on the situation is so much better than I was going to do that I'm reminded why I should link more often.

So, it looks like it's D.C., if Bud can get the team there before Marion Berry takes office, it may be "conditional", and there's still the whole RICO thing going on. Typical Commissioner M.O.

I guess NoVa's rock quarry wasn't such a big draw.

The "Magical 100"
2004-09-17 01:40
by Will Carroll

Give credit to Rany Jazayerli and Keith Woolner, they've changed baseball.

Their Pitcher Abuse Point (PAP) system is near-gospel, but not in the way they expected. Maybe it was the math or the big words that scared off some baseball men. While the smart people were finding the truth in the research or helping close some of the holes in the system (you have to note the fixes in PAP3 and I don't think I'm speaking out of school to say that Rany may have another big adjustment to the system soon), it seems that others found the arbitrary round number and grabbed hold.

I've argued for going on three years that pitch counts tell us nothing without context. PAP was the first real attempt - at least publicly - to provide that context. V-Loss (my still-in-the-works system of using velocity as proxy for fatigue) and some other research is making strides, but PAP remains the 'gold standard.'

All that said, I find myself agreeing with this Hal Bodley piece. My feelings on Bodley are pretty well known, but this one seems reasonably well done. Mazzone, Roberts, and others do a good, logical job of showing that there needs to be context, observation, and some gut feel. We saw this with the Jason Schmidt "144" start.

I worry slightly because Bodley went to "the usual suspects." Mazzone and McKeon are both Sain disciples, while Roberts plays the part of grizzled veteran wondering why these young whippersnappers don't do things like we did. Bodley didn't ask Tom House or Rick Peterson what their thoughts were, but it's also a tough criticism.

At some point, people become entrenched and some reporters do the same. Bodley's certainly in one crowd, but I'm just as guilty. Why? Access, pure and simple. I can't pick up the phone and call Leo Mazzone or Dave Duncan because we disagree on pitching philosophy. They have no vested interest in speaking to me. It's something I realize is a hole in my game and one I'll look to correct.

I can only hope the other side is willing to be open-minded as well. Beer and tacoes, baby. Let's eat in the middle.

*N.B.: PAP and PAP3 are two seperate systems, one being an improvement on the first. I use the terms somewhat interchangeably here, so try to keep up.

White Sox Fans Hell- Also Known as the Blog I Contribute to
2004-09-16 23:01
by Scott Long

After reading TFD''s gloating post about how the Twins are everything right in the world and the White Sox are baseball's version of the Taliban, I wanted to refute and slam TFD's post, but I have to admit, a lot of TFD's comments are true. Have you ever been a long-term fan of a team, only to realize one day that there's not much in the whole organization that you like? Well, I'm coming to that place.

If that wasn't bad enough, the only thing a White Sox fan has left in 2004, rooting for the Cubs to choke, has been taken away from me by Will's sad and mentally disturbed post. Now I can't even root against the Cubs, as I know my buddy needs a lift. I can't say I will root for the Cubs, but I will try to stay neutral. Well, at least I can still feel unrestrained for some kind of doom for the Yankees.

You Da Man!
2004-09-16 21:39
by Will Carroll

The MVP vote is seldom done off, you know, logic or facts, but let's ignore that for a moment.

In the NL, Barry Bonds is so much better than everyone that it's simply .. well, it's nearly criminal. His current 130 VORP/15 WARP is well above anyone else. The second place player, Albert Pujols, is at 92. Where it gets interesting is that Pujols has two teammates right behind him. If there's a "anyone but Barry" movement, Pujols and Jim Edmonds (91.5 VORP) could get some attention. Also, Scott Rolen (73) will likely get votes, though his injury doesn't help.

There's going to be a lot of discussion that having three MVP candidates will work against all three, but it's really not as close as it appears. The split vote argument shouldn't work if the voters do a little homework (or read the guys doing their homework for them!)

WARP3 is a better tool for the discussion among the three great Cards, since it takes defense into account. The argument for Rolen and to a lesser extent Edmonds is defense. So, does Rolen (11.9, a career high) look better than Edmonds (13.0, a career high) or Pujols (10.6)? Certainly defense helps Edmonds more than most would expect and may remove the best argument for Rolen.

Edmonds is not only setting a career high in WARP and VORP, he's also, at age 34 and injury prone, on track to set a career high in Rate, a great defensive stat available on the great DT cards at BP. (Before you start arguing DT vs. UZR vs. anything, DT Defensive Stats are available now and updated daily. There's value in that.)

I'm hardly going to argue Edmonds over Bonds or even Edmonds over Pujols, but the three Cards aren't nearly as tightly bunched as many would make you think. Also interesting, J.D. Drew is in the mix (though it was still a smart trade.)

Also interesting is the AL race. The NL has the top TEN by VORP, but then the AL has nine out of the next ten. At the top of the charts are two names that will likely get little consideration from the voters, Melvin Mora and Travis Hafner.

Ichiro will get more consideration than he should, putting up only a 5.0 WARP. I think the award may come down to who puts his team solidly in the playoffs or, rather, who gets the image of beast. Manny Ramirez (8.3 WARP) and Gary Sheffield (8.6 - and I think we should all adopt Alex Belth's nickname for him, "The Punisher") will get plenty of media attention with Vladimir Guerrero as the wildcard ... if he gets his team the wild card. Should Mora (8.1) and Hafner (7.6) deserve more consideration? You decide.

No, I'm not considering pitchers in this discussion, but this quick and dirty analysis shows that there is room for discussion as these players take their teams into the last few weeks.

Except in the NL. Just go ahead and give that award - and pretty much all of them - to Bonds.

It All Makes Sense Now
2004-09-16 18:05
by Will Carroll

This year has been ... interesting. I don't want to sound like some dark cloud, but here's been my year -

- My mom gets diagnosed with a form of cancer that has a 0% survival rate. (She's doing well, in radiation now.)

- My grandmother has a mild heart attack. (She's doing well, home just days later.)

- My dad lives where the eye of Hurricane Ivan passed. It's unclear now whether his house was damaged.

So I've figured it out ... the Cubs are going to win the World Series. It all balances out, right?

Figures, somehow, that the Cubs team I least enjoy watching in years will be the one that wins.

Get Out
2004-09-15 03:02
by Will Carroll

I know no one comes here for the weather coverage, but after friends and family went through Charley and Frances, now Ivan is coming after my family again. I think I convinced my dad to leave the Mobile area, but he's as stubborn as a hog on ice sometimes. (My line about needing all the anti-Bush votes we could get may have worked!)

I also talked briefly with friend and baseball writer Keith Scherer, stationed with his family near Biloxi. (Keith is in the USAF.) He's evacuating and gave some indication that the USAF isn't taking chances. Remember, the hurricane hunting planes fly out of Biloxi, so they'd know.

This satellite shot shows us a nasty storm with a defined eye. I'm thinking it might be more like Andrew than Camille (210 mph winds and a massive storm surge), but it's all location. A direct hit is bad, but the location matters significantly for storm surge. Being west of the eye is much better than east. The old saw I heard in my meteorology class was "west you get wet; east you go swimming."

A direct hit or western landing of Ivan would put a massive hurting on New Orleans. News stories are talking about body bags, chemical spills, and biblical plagues like floating balls of fire ants (ick!).

So, if you're reading this and you're on the Gulf Coast, get the hell out of the way. The rest of us ... we'll just hope and pray.

Comments and Blogs
2004-09-14 21:24
by Will Carroll

I like blogging, but I'm still not sure "what it is." Look, I'm just a guy that won't shut up, so it's the perfect medium for me, but it also gives me opportunities to say things that are ... well, let's say they don't help my career. It has, therefore, dubious value to me.

This post at Kos quoting Dave Winer is interesting. As blogs move towards a broadcast model, comments become an interesting dilemma. The boys over at Cub Reporter are already seeing this. There's an inflection point where sheer volume, not to mention signal:noise, makes "community" a negative.

Kos is one of few blogs effectively managing community. His effective management of both content and community make him *the* blogger to watch. It's probably not the only model, but it's the only one I've seen that works.

And yes, you read the first paragraph right.

Professor Hershiser
2004-09-14 18:15
by Will Carroll

Great article on pitching philosophy. I'm hoping Hershiser gets better students to work with to see just how good he is.

Or does it take making crap good (see: Mazzone; Gullett; Duncan) to be recognized as a great pitching coach? Interesting conundrum.

Told Ya So!
2004-09-14 18:01
by Will Carroll

An Open Letter to the Media


Your pal, Will.

Operation Truth
2004-09-14 16:55
by Will Carroll

Reader Rich Tomlinson points us to a site that is highlighting the letters of our troops in Iraq. Some of them are heartbreaking and (as far as I can tell) all real. Worth checking out.

By the way, I heard there's a place donating Gmail invites to troops to help keep them in touch with their families. If you have info on this, I would love more info.


You'll notice that Ken Arneson has been MIA for a while and sadly, that hiatus is going to continue. Luckily, it was nothing I did this time. Ken's working on some behind the scenes projects that are very exciting. If you think A-B is cool now, just wait. Ken may pop up from time to time and he remains my favorite baseball p --- wait, can I say that, Ken?

Happy Trails ... and remember: God Hates Sweden. :)

2004-09-14 16:48
by Will Carroll

Look, everyone knows that stealing signs is part of the game, but I'm not sure it's something that should be celebrated either. It's a fine article and interesting, but nothing is mentioned about the consequences. Is a guy getting one in the ear just part of the game?

With all the unwritten rules of baseball and discussion of the Frankie Francisco incident - including some of the most idiotic commentary ever from John Kruk - it seems that baseball should once again be focusing on the great races, the great players, and the great game rather than something that is technically illegal.

I'm not faulting the author. Writing about baseball gets drudgerous at times and this was certainly different. I'm just not sure it's not the same as writing an article on ways to hide vaseline and emory boards.

Quote Happy
2004-09-14 11:37
by Ken Arneson

My friends—… I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail.

--President-elect Abraham Lincoln, farewell address at Springfield, Illinois, February 11, 1861.

Now I shall return to my village and there will remain at the disposition of the nation.

Charles de Gaulle, President of France, Press conference, May 19, 1958

I am currently juggling about six different big projects, and I am finding it very difficult to keep all the balls in the air. So I have to let a ball drop, and that ball is writing.

Consider it a tactical retreat. Blogging is the Phillippines, and I am MacArthur. You know the quote.

A Quote, For The Texas Bullpen
2004-09-14 11:08
by Ken Arneson

A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause, and death ensued, the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun, and might, if the latter were of an aggravated character, return a verdict of justifiable homicide.

--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–1894)

Killing The Middle Class
2004-09-14 04:02
by Will Carroll

Bet you thought this was going to be politics or economics.

Looking at the standings and the state of the AL in light of the Yankees recent collapses and the holes poked squarely through the vaunted mystique, there's an interesting pattern. Let's break teams down in broad categories: are they spenders or cheap? Are they performance or scout focused? Then, with both, let's add a "middle ground" category.

Yanks: Spend, Performance
Red Sox: Spend, Performance
Twins: Cheap, Scout
A's: Cheap, Performance
Angels: Spend, Scout
Rangers: Middle, Scout

Only one "middle" on either side of the equation. That seems odd. Is it an AL phenomenon?

Braves: Middle, Scout
Phillies: Spend, Scout
Marlins: Cheap, Scout
Cards: Spend, Middle
Cubs: Spend, Scout
Dodgers: Spend, Middle
Giants: Middle, Middle
Padres: Cheap, Middle

There's certainly a lot more room for the middle class in the NL. Two organizations get "middle" ratings despite evidence that the organization is shifting to a more performance standing. Why does the NL have "middle" teams among the playoff contenders?

It's merely a guess, but the "Moneyball Revolution" hasn't really hit the NL yet. The Dodgers and Cardinals are certainly leaning that way, but neither has had time to fully implement yet. In the AL, the cash of the Yanks and Red Sox forced a reaction to the opposite direction, tearing those trying to straddle a fault apart.

The Dodgers could force the shift, if DePodesta follows more of the A's model than the Red Sox. The Sox model seems to make more sense, at least in the short term. The Sox, like the Dodgers, have a number of contracts from a previous regime and previous era that only unwind beginning next season. Given hard shifts to either side - say the Cubs deciding to spend some Tribune cash or a massive shift in Arizona - it would, I think, leave those middling teams flailing.

Brian Sabean, of course, is the outlier. He's been successful hacking his own path through the baseball jungles. It's tough to judge him outside the Bonds era; Bonds covers a lot of problems.

One of the more interesting story lines to me is the possibility of several GM jobs being open after the season. How those jobs are filled will show the state of the art's penetration into the industry. I think it's deeper than many think.

For our Conservative Friends
2004-09-12 20:09
by Will Carroll

And yes, I do mean friends. I like having a vociferous but civil debate about issues.

The latest Fontgate stuff has been interesting to some, but I think that it has been less interesting than the things we already knew. Bush was no "Top Gun" and there's still no explanation for where he was during his Alabama campaign. (I wish I could find the stuff that connected him to Mountain Brook Country Club again.) Did he miss his physical because he didn't care and thought himself above the rules or because he knew he'd fail the drug test portion?

But, pal Edw. asks us to address Fontgate, so I'll offer this quote from Time:

So far, forensic and typewriter experts consulted by TIME and other major media organizations have not reached a consensus on the authenticity of the memos. Some insist it would have been nearly impossible for a 1970s-era typewriter to produce the memos because of the letter spacing in the documents and the use of a raised and compact th symbol. But Bill Glennon, a technology consultant in New York City who worked for IBM repairing typewriters from 1973 to 1985, says those experts "are full of crap. They just don't know." Glennon says there were IBM machines capable of producing the spacing, and a customized key — the likes of which he says were not unusual — could have created the superscript th.

I don't know jack about typewriters, fonts, or superscripts. I can't do most of that stuff on Word, so I'll take the word of Glennon, who Time calls an expert over the bloggers at Powerline et al. I wasn't silent; I was just waiting for the facts.

So, I'll ask again, "Mr. Bush, where were you when the nation called?"

A Baseball Challenge for Will, Ken, and TFD
2004-09-11 00:43
by Scott Long

Since my favorite team, the White Sox have been dead for weeks, I thought it would be interesting for the 3 of you to share what you think the Cubs, A's, and Twins, respectively, will do the rest of the season. Maybe a little breakdown from a fan's perspective on why or why not the playoffs will be achieved and in TFD's case, what the Twins will do in the playoffs.

More from Mixmaster A-B
2004-09-10 15:10
by Will Carroll

    Here's Alex Belth's list of "The Greatest Singles from Hip Hop's Golden Era (1986-94)."
Hip Hop’s “Golden Age” is generally considered to be from 1986-92, give or take a year in either direction.  I’ll go so far to say it was ’86-94.  Of course, there were great records before 1986 and since 1994.  But this was the genre’s greatest period.  The work was eclectic, innovative and I don’t know, just flat-out dope.  Records were plentiful, constantly surprising and energizing.  With the essential Ego Trip’s “Book of Rap Lists” by my side, I’ve compiled a listing of the greatest rap singles from the “Golden Era.”  You’ll be able to make some arguments here and there—for instance, I left off “OPP” by Naughty by Nature, “Mama Said Knock You Out” by Uncle L, “It Takes Two” by Robe Base and DJ E-Z, and other important records that were huge when they came out—but that’s what makes this kind of list fun, right?  To make this more manageable to read, I’ll break the list up into segments.  Enjoy. 
Continue reading...

2004-09-10 10:59
by Ken Arneson

Eisner has plans to leave Mickey
In 2006, which is tricky.
Some have chosen that year
To let go their career
But found that their job is too sticky.

Bad Good OBP
2004-09-10 10:48
by Ken Arneson

Erubiel Durazo has the hardest name to type in MLB history. I think the correct spelling actually contains backspaces.

Susan Slusser has an interesting article about him in today's SF Chronicle. Last year, he was the perfect example of taking the walks-are-good philosophy too far. He was

drawing a tremendous number of walks, but doing little else and leading A's statistics expert David Feldman to coin the terms "good on-base percentage and bad good on-base percentage.''

This year Dra^H^Hurza^H^Hazo is actually doing what Billy Beane expected when he traded for him. He's hitting. Money quote:

"It kind of works together,'' A's hitting coach Dave Hudgens said. "Sometimes last year, guys were working for a walk, when what you want to do is work for your pitch (to hit). You want to be aggressive, and walks come as a byproduct. That's why I think Ruby's walk total will be up next year, because on-base percentage comes from respect.''
It's an amazingly fine line that batters have to balance between aggression and patience, isn't it?

The same goes for typists.

Our Pre-Post-Modernist Age
2004-09-09 17:11
by Ken Arneson

NOTE: the first two versions of this sucked. So,
[Cntl-X]*n (where 5<n<30), and thereby
text-- == postmodern++;

Baseball Prospectus threw me into postmodernism

without flaws
I lacked

aggressive reactions have relied on
devolvement into incremental deconstruction

   twisting baseball around

often so weird
   that no one in their right mind

can make a n y sen
se o
f i

let's skip

to whatever comes next

A Note From The Boogie Down
2004-09-09 13:50
by Will Carroll

Since the music talk seems to be one of the more popular things around here, my pal Alex Belth drops a note on what he considers the best Hip Hop albums:

I’ve never been much good at making top ten lists, but I love reading them.  I prefer to cop out and change it to "my favorite" ten movies, or actors or baseball players instead of "the greatest" or "the best."  It's a cop-out, I know, but so be it.  I’ve really enjoyed the top ten music lists here so I thought I’d add my own.  The jazz critic Gary Giddens recently noted in The New Yorker that Rap music has been around longer than Swing music ever was.  That's a long time, man.  I’ve been kicking around a top ten list of the best Hip Hop records and to be honest, I just can’t boil it down to ten.  It’s too difficult.  It’s hard enough to reduce the best rap records to twenty.

Some of the most important Hip Hop records aren’t on it.  Great, landmark joints like "Would You Like More Scratchin" (1984) by Malcom McLaren, “Critical Beatdown” (1988) by Ultramagnetic,  “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” (1988) by Public Enemy, “Straight Outta Compton” (1988) by NWA, and “Paid In Full” (1987) by Eric B and Rakim.  Not to mention, “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” (1990) by Ice Cube, “The Chronic” (1992), by Dr. Dre, “Ready to Die” (1994) by Biggie Smalls, “Reasonable Doubt” (1996) by Jaz Z, or “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik” (1994) by Outkast.  I don’t have any records on the list by greats like Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Ice-T, Ghetto Boys, Too $hort, or 2Pac.   Even records that have meant a great deal to me like “Paul’s Boutique” (1989) by the Beastie Boys, “Raising Hell” (1986) by Run DMC,  “By All Means Necessary” (1988) by BDP, “Bigger and Deffer” (1987) by L.L. Cool J, and “People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm” (1990) by a Tribe Called Quest just missed the cut. 

Hell, that’s a ill list right there.  So what is on my favorite list?   Here it is:

20 Favorites (No Particular Order)

“De La Soul is Dead” (1991) De La Soul. 

This is a close call.  It could easily be their first record, “Three Feet High and Rising” (1989) or their third, “Buloone Mindstate” (1993).  I flip-flop back-and-forth myself, depending on my mood.  Essentially, you can’t go wrong with any of ‘em.

“The Great Adventures of Slick Rick” (1988) Slick Rick

One of the great lyricists of them all.  I never get tired of this record.

"Strictly Business" (1988) EPMD

Just about as good as it gets.  Their second album, "Unfinished Business" is equally as good.

“Illmatic” (1994) Nas 

Ridiculous debut record.  With production from some of hip hop’s finest, like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip and the Large Professor.  There aren’t many tracks, which helps elevate its status as a classic album.  Nas spit tons of new slang on this album. 

“Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)” (1993) Wu Tang Clan

A complete original, both lyrically and sonically.  Fearsome and hilarious.
“Daily Operation” (1992) Gangstarr

I could easily pick their second record “Step Into The Arena” too.  This was the third collaboration between DJ Premier and Guru. 

“Bizzare Ride II the Pharcyde” (1993) The Pharcyde

Great party record.  Perfect for college.  Funny and hyper.

“Stress: The Exinction Agenda” (1994) Organized Konfusion. 
“Mecca and the Soul Brother” (1992)  Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth

The epitome of the smooth sound of hip hop’s “Golden Era.”

“Straight Out the Jungle” (1988) The Jungle Brothers.

Can’t mess with a classic.  Stripped-down beats, it has a real New York sound, while the lyrics kicked off the left-of-center Native Tongues vibe that De La and Tribe made so popular.

“Low End Theory” (1991) A Tribe Called Quest.  As with De La, you can’t really go wrong with any of Tribe’s first three records.  ("Midnight Marauders" (1993) has the slickest production.) This was the second, and it brought a distinct street/jazz sound to Tribe, whose first album was really a “head” record.  Everyone loved this record.  White kids who listened to Grunge, and black kids who listened to the Ghetto Boys.

“Return of the Boom Bap” (1993) KRS-ONE

I was a big BDP fan so I tend to like all of KRS’ early stuff.  But this album holds up because of the great production, much of it by Premier (there’s that name again).

“One For All” (1990)  Brand Nubian

This album might come off as dated today, but it was just huge when it dropped.  It had a major buzz on the streets of New York and was widely bootlegged.  Grand Puba was one of the hottest emcee’s of the early ninties—he had formerly been in a group called Masters of Ceremonies—but Sadat X stands out as one of the true originals on the mic.  Their styles and flows complement each other beautifully.

“Coast II Coast” (1995) Tha Alkaholiks

True blue, party record.  No bullshit.  Funny rhymes about getting drunk, smoking weed, getting laid, playing sports and being cool.  Not an ounce of pretension to be found here.  Plus, the beats are the illest.  Their first record, “21 and Over” is dope too.

“Breaking Atoms” (1991) Main Source. 

The Large Professor has always been a personal favorite.  He produced the tracks and did the rhymes on this record which is best known for classics like “Looking out the Front Door,” and “Live at the Barbeque,” which was the first record Nas ever rapped on. 

“Resurrection” (1994) Common Sense. 

The second lp from Common is his best.  Lyrically, he’s still immature, but the beats are second-to-none.

"Whut? Thee Album" (1992)

Redman's debut lp.  Produced by Eric Sermon (EPMD).  This is a funkadelic record and Redman is the Red Foxx of Rap.  General rule: Don't play this around women.

"The Beatnuts" (1994)  Beatnuts.

Same comment.  Ignorant rhymes galore--not girlfriend friendly--but that's not why you want to have this one.  The beats are killing: a real head-nodding classic.

"Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop" (1992) Diamond D

"The best producer on the mic," may be a reach, but I always liked Diamond's simple-ass rhyme style.  ("Sing a simple song like Slyvester Stone/Catch you out there like Rick Cerrone."  Again, this album is all about the beats, the beats, the beats.

"I Need a Haircut" (1991?)  Come on, you know I had to have a Biz joint on the list.  This may not be as famous as his first record, "Going Off, The Biz Never Sleeps," which was produced by Marley Marl, but I think this record is slammin.  Biz knows his records and has some great beats on this one.

The Next Ten

"Illadelph Halflife" (1996)  The Roots
"Wrath of the Math" (1996) Jeru tha Damaja
"The Unseen" (2000)  Quasimoto (aka Madlib)
"Only Built 4 Cuban Linx" (1995) Raekwon
"Kill at Will" (1990) Ice Cube
"Soul Clap EP" (1991) Showbiz and AG
"The Cactus Album" (1989) 3rd Base
"The Best Part" (2000)/ "All of the Above" (2002) J-Live
"A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing" (1991) Black Sheep
"Funky Technition" (1990) Lord Finesse

Five You May Have Slept On

"A Future Without a Past" (1991) Leaders of the New School
"Mr Hood" (1991) KMD
"Word/Life" (1994) OC
"A Constipated Monkey" (1994) Kurious Jorge
"Soundpieces: Da Antidote" (1998) Lootpack

Alex will have a singles and remix line soon. Be sure to read his stuff - like you don't already - over at Bronx Banter.

P.S. - I wish there was a way to link up some of Alex's own music. It's on the "most played" list on my iPod.

NFL Preview
2004-09-08 23:34
by Scott Long

The best division in football this year is the AFC South. Jacksonville and Houston are the most improved teams in the AFC, but face Indy and Tennessee twice a year. Overall, I see the Patriots, Colts, and Chiefs as the best 3 teams again this year, with Baltimore, Cincinnati, Denver, Jacksonville, and Tennessee all around 10-6 or 9-7, struggling for the other 3 Playoff spots. I will take the Ravens, Bengals, and Broncos to be the other playoff teams, as the AFC South will eat itself.

I like the Colts to win the AFC this year, as I expect the increased policing of defensive pass interference to effect the Patriots greatly, even though their offense should be better, with Corey Dillion at running back.

The NFC East will have 2 teams come out of it, as both Philadelphia and Washington's schedules are really easy. Carolina and surprising New Orleans will come out of the NFC South. The best balanced (most mediocre) division in football is the NFC North. I expect the whole division to be between 9-7 and 7-9, with the Packers winning it's last division title for a while, with it once again coming down to the last week of the season. (Detroit is the most improved team in the NFC.) In the most lopsided division, take the Seahawks, as they get to beat up on two of the worst teams in the NFL, Arizona and San Francisco, plus a St. Louis team on the decline.

Whoever gets home field between the Eagles, Seahawks, and Panthers will go to the Super Bowl. Philly's regular season schedule is one-game easier, so I'm going with them to break their jinx.

The most underrated coach in the NFL is Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson and I expect he will create a tricky enough scheme to confuse Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl. Eagles win it all, as Terrell Owens exposes the Colts small defensive backs.

Your turn.

Blog Power
2004-09-08 17:39
by Will Carroll

There's power in the blogroots. Kos managed to change the plans of two CBS affiliates blocking tonight's 60 Minutes II. It's the one where Bush will get blasted about his National Guard "service."

One email to Kos and results. I'm proud.

Sad, yet Hilarious
2004-09-08 02:47
by Will Carroll

Bush's ... well, are they malapropisms? I'm sure Ken will correct me. ... anyway, Bush's latest verbal oddity actually rendered Keith Olbermann speechless.

Keith, I feel the same way.

"Come here, baby. Let me practice my love," is gonna be heard somewhere on a college campus this weekend, guaran-damned-teed.

Explosions in Cupertino
2004-09-08 02:22
by Will Carroll

I just got a receipt from Apple for the three tunes I bought yesterday -

Roger Waters "Leaving Beirut"
The Flaming Lips "Fight Test"
Zell Miller's RNC Speech (a free download)

Somewhere, a recommendations engine just exploded.

20 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums
2004-09-08 01:00
by Scott Long

Since my first few music discussions have been a bit high-falutin', I thought I would list my favorite metal albums. The rule here is that it has to be metal, so grunge bands like Nirvana or psychedelic acts like Jimi Hendrix are not included. No greatest hits and no multiple albums by the same acts, just to have a more diverse list. In alphabetical order.

AC/DC- Back in Black
AC/DC Highway to Hell (Different singers, so I've included both)
Aerosmith- Rocks
Alice In Chains- Dirt
Black Sabbath- Paranoid
Deep Purple- Machine Head
Dio- Holy Diver
Faith No More- The Real Thing
Guns and Roses- Appetite for Destruction
Iron Maiden- Piece of Mind
Judas Priest- British Steel
Kiss- Love Gun
Led Zeppelin - Physical Graffiti
Metallica- And Justice For All
Monster Magnet- Powertrip
Motley Crue- Shout at the Devil
Ozzy Osbourne- Blizzard of Oz
Scorpions- Blackout
Soundgarden- Badmotorfinger
Van Halen- Van Halen

As you can tell, I don't like death metal. I will be glad to explain my choices, when challenged.

2004-09-07 20:21
by Will Carroll

As BPR moves back to the hour format, I'm hoping to do more long-form interviews in the off-season. Anyone have a clue how to get in touch with Frank Deford? I ask because you guys rule and every time I think you can't get cooler, well, you do.

My dream guests:
1. Frank Deford
2. Pat Jordan (working on this ...)
3. Max Kellerman (working on this ...)
4. Bush and Kerry, on baseball only
5. Johnny Sain
6. Sandy Koufax (wake up, Will, you're dreaming again!)
7. Bud Selig (face to face only)
8. Eric Walker
9. Nolan Ryan
10. Yogi Berra

Hey, I dream big. Feel free to add your own suggestions in comments.

Paranoid Much?
2004-09-07 20:13
by Will Carroll

Hey Yankees fans ... this doesn't look so good.

On the radio today, Greg Rakestraw asked me about the mood of Boston and New York. I don't really know what the "mood" is, nor do I really care, but it's a standard radio question. My answer was that it seems like this season seems set up to be very close. We knew it would be close back in March, but seemed to forget that the season equals things out in various patterns. I also said that I wondered if it wouldn't come down to a Bucky Dent or Aaron Boone situation.

While saying it, I searched through the dusty archives of my brain for a similar but converse situation. Is there one where the Red Sox triumphed?

And does it matter much who wins the division and who the wild card is?

Congrats NRA
2004-09-07 18:42
by Will Carroll

Charlton Heston wins. I'm conflicted on the whole Second Amendment debate. I don't want to pick and choose which parts of the Constitution I like and which I don't, but I've never seen the need for military style armament. It's a slippery slope on both sides - do we restrict rights or do we have the right to Stinger missles?

My solution has always been that if you want a gun like this, you join the National Guard. You get training, you make yourself available for national defense, and we keep track of who has what. It's not perfect, but feel free to convince me why I'm wrong.

Not that anyone cares, but the gun control issue is one of the biggest reasons I'm not a pure Libertarian.

A Stats-Free Analysis
2004-09-07 13:21
by Ken Arneson

Last year, the A's went into Florida for three games in June. In the first game, the Marlins blasted Mark Mulder, 13-2. The A's managed to win the second game, but only after Florida had knocked Tim Hudson around first. In the third game, the A's couldn't touch Dontrelle Willis, and were shut out.

The A's weren't swept, but Florida made a statement. It seemed so bizarre, because the Marlins were under .500 at the time, but the impression I got out of that series was that Florida had kicked Oakland's butt, and they were clearly the better team.

So this year, I've been watching for that type of butt-whippin', where just watching the opposition it felt like the A's were clearly inferior. Where you know that even if you play well, you're still at a disadvantage. I got that feeling against two teams this year: the Cardinals and the Red Sox.

The Yankees have beaten the A's pretty good this year, too, but their wins felt more like a function of the A's playing poorly than the Yankees being superior. I feel like the A's can stay with the Yankees. Perhaps if the A's had played well and still lost, I'd be more impressed with the Bronx Bombers.

Last night, the A's and Red Sox played a great, tense ballgame. Then the third base umpire made a horrible call in the eighth inning, ruling Manny Ramirez had caught a ball he clearly trapped, and the A's were toast. One break went against them, and the A's fell apart. The Red Sox got their break, and they stomped all over Oakland with a kind of killer instinct I've never, ever seen in the Red Sox before. A close game ended up 8-3.

Color me impressed. Traditionally, Boston falls apart at the slightest provocation. This post-Nomar team is different. I think this is their year, and the only thing that can stop them is Albert Pujols, star of the equally impressive Cardinals, shooting bullets through the Green Monster. Either that, or some weird ghost showing up.

I'd love to see the A's win it all, but if justice is served, we'll see St. Louis and Boston face off in the World Series this year.

2004-09-06 22:44
by Will Carroll

I know I said I was going to talk baseball, but ... man, nothings happening today.

Michael Moore is saying that he's not going for the Best Documentary award so that he can put Fahrenheit 9/11 on TV. Good, but he might want to drop it in his email that he'll still be eligible for Best Picture (and that the Weinstein Machine is focused on this.) Moore is a lightning rod and for as much "good" (I know it's a relative term) he does for the Dems, doing something like that doesn't help next time someone calls something a lie.

I want to have a substantive discussion over the next couple weeks, so I need your help, fair readers. Inspired a bit by Andrew Sullivan - someone outgrowing the Cohnian tag TFD laid on him - I am curious what everyone's take on the issues are. To do this, I need to know what the important issues are to you. So please, in comments, do something simple: List the THREE top issues that define you politically. Nothing more. Just three, in order. We'll discuss them later.

I once had a religion prof who would attack any position. He'd tear into people who operated on faith, who couldn't defend the position, even if they were right. I saw him reduce guys to tears and girls to sobbing heaps only to turn around and build them right back up in the space of a 50-minute hour. Let's use that as our goal.

2004-09-06 21:22
by Will Carroll

I wish I knew html. This Freeway Blogger sign just rakes. Somewhere in America, Bush's balls ache.

2004-09-06 14:18
by Will Carroll

There's a documentary airing on PBS tomorrow about the fight over what will be built at the WTC site in downtown New York. It looks interesting, though I'll probably not watch. I'm not a big documentary fan and honestly, don't want to see the bickering over something that should be above that.

The article did tell me something I didn't know. Frankly, I'm disturbed that the "Freedom Tower" has been cut to 70 stories. There was something elegant about being the tallest, perhaps in just the symbolism. Maybe I missed the coverage, but I was still under the assumption that it was to be that. I even caught the cornerstone ceremony by accident last month.

Then again, like many, I'm not very rational about the WTC.

Here's a Different Election Viewpoint
2004-09-06 01:37
by Scott Long

Winning the 2004 election might not be the best thing in the long run. As much as I believe Bush is a complete idiot, being President of the US the next 4 years will be a lousy job for anyone, as the war and the deficits 43 has run up will make it nearly impossible to govern successfully.

I truly believe that 4 more years of right-wing control will push the country back towards the center by 2008. I expect the economy to continue to falter and the war in Iraq will become more of a quagmire. The American people will wake up to what right-wingers have done to it. I suspect that even the Republican party will have some major dissension in it's ranks, as moderates will expect more economic accountablity, instead of just being pushed to the side by Count Rove (Prince of Darkness).

I would expect the mid-term elections in 2006 will go the Democrats way, if Bush is still in office and we would see the Senate and maybe even the House swing away from Republican control. Many disenchanted Republican house members will tire of the iron-fist of Tom Delay and try hard to push him out of being the Don.

My biggest problem with John Kerry from way back in the primaries is that he doesn't wear well. Now if he becomes President, I can't forsee him being more than a one-term President and the Democratic party will most likely be saddled with a combination of cleaning up the Shrub's mess and having a guy (kerry) at the top of the ticket who doesn't relate well to the American people. This would create an atmosphere where the Democrats would be blamed for the messes Kerry inherited.

Yes, I understand there's a lot at stake during this election: Supreme Court Justices, unfixable deficits, greater diplomatic isolation from the rest of the world, etc., but 4 more years of Bush, Cheney, DeLay and Count Rove running the country will be a deathnell for the current Republican party.

I have just braced myself for the Venom that both sides of the Political fence are going to slam me for this time. Well to that I have just 3 words, BRING.......................IT..................................................ON!
(A phrase Kerry needs to dump. It just magnifies his robotic speech pattern and comes off as cold. Worked for a few weeks, but then so did the phrase "Been there, done that" but now it makes me want to punch someone in the face.)

What Counts
2004-09-05 23:08
by Will Carroll

Polls suck - we know this - but electoral votes are what counts.

This looks a bit better.

Still behind, but one state (Pennsylvania? Missouri?) flip-flops the whole thing. I don't like the idea of another close election, but it seems fate. Better, Bush doesn't look likely to have enough of a mandate to have big coattails.

Ok ... unless something breaks big, that's my politics for the week. Focusing on baseball through September. At least, that's the plan.

Attack Ads
2004-09-04 16:53
by Will Carroll

With the Republicans doing so well with attack ads and an attack convention - and let's face it, as much as we say we want 'substantive discussion' in a presidential race, America still loves its Jerry Springer moments - Oliver Willis tosses out some chum for attack ads on Bush.

I'll toss in my own: google "Robin Lowman."

Fantasy Football Opening
2004-09-04 13:47
by Scott Long

One of the teams dropped out, so we need one more person to join. See posts below to access the Will Carroll Presents league.

2004-09-04 00:28
by Will Carroll
Injury Report
2004-09-04 00:04
by Ken Arneson

Ken Arneson will miss 2-4 weeks of the soccer season, after suffering a sprained ankle three minutes into Friday's game.

Owowowowowow. My foot got stepped on, my ankle turned over, and I could hear the ligaments rip. That hurt. So this old fart is now stuck sitting in front of the TV, practicing RICE, and there's nothing on TV to watch except this godawful Diamondbacks-Giants game.

I'm a fair-weather Giants fan, but I find this year's Giants team darn near unwatchable, except for Jason Schmidt and Barry Bonds. How good is Bonds? The Giants are right in the middle of the playoff hunt, and they have Deivi Cruz batting third tonight. Deivi Cruz!

Dave Burba entered the game in the fourth inning. My sister-in-law walked into the room and said, "Oh my God, is that Dave Burba? Are you watching ESPN Classic?"

I wish. I don't get ESPN Classic. This game is almost three hours old now, it's 18-5 Giants, and we're still in the sixth inning. It won't be good enough to be a classic, but by the time this game is over, it will have aged enough to qualify. And I might be ready for my AARP card.

2004-09-03 14:38
by Will Carroll

The story finally came out regarding Jason Giambi and his benign tumor. This story, broken by the NY Daily News' T.J. Quinn, is one of a couple versions of the story that had been circulating over the past weeks. I chose not to pursue the story vigorously due to a couple reasons:

1. I had reasonable concerns about both HIPAA and Giambi's right to privacy. These aren't new; I have them on every story. For this one, due to the sensitive nature of the tumor and my sensitivity to cancer, I elected to err on the side of caution. There was a chance that the privacy concerns were a smokescreen for steroid usage, but again, with such serious charges, I err on the side of caution. Without strong evidence from multiple sources, I wasn't running with it.

2. I didn't want the heat. Simple choice.

T. J. Quinn is a regular recipient of leaksinformation from the MLB offices, so signs point to this coming out of there. The story points to this, saying league approval was needed for the cortisol-replacement therapy. The story looks accurate and the "no comments" work as a confirmation.

So, what does this tell us? Not much, really. Giambi has a tumor, he's getting treatment, there's leaks, and the Daily News ran a story that has some ethical questions. All we know now is a location. I'm not faulting Quinn; I struggle with what to go with and what not to almost daily. What this doesn't tell us is how a pituitary tumor will affect his comeback. That's what I feel is missing.

Fantasy Football League Filled
2004-09-03 13:13
by Scott Long

Good luck to everyone who has a team. Now, back to baseball. It is the main focus here, right?

Positively 5th Street
2004-09-03 10:38
by Scott Long

Just finished the book of the above title by James McManus and I recommend it highly.
Not a big fan like most of America of the ESPN Poker shows, but this book really captures the excitement and luck of poker.

Harpers Magazine hires writer McManus to go out to the World Series of Poker and write a magazine piece on it. McManus, who discusses the "Bad Jim" in himself, decides to spend the advance Harpers' gives him to get into the tourney. (Don't we all have a Bad Jim lurking inside.)

A parallel story is about Ted Binion, one of the owners of the casino where the World Series of Poker is held and how Binion is violently snuffed out by his "buddy" and his stripper girlfriend. Parts of the book have a real James Ellroy feel to it, which is sleazy and fun. Highly recommended.

Fantasy Football League for You
2004-09-02 23:29
by Scott Long

I have created a Fantasy Football League for people who frequent this blog.
It's free and will be done on a first come basis. The live draft will be this Sunday at 10:00 AM EST. To access the league, click on this link.
The ID number: 542509 Password: stats.

After clicking on the link, go to the free fantasy football link at the bottom right of the page. After clicking on this and filling out your info, put in the id no. and password. The League is called Will Carroll Presents.

It's free through NFL fantasy leagues and there will be later announced prizes for the winning team. Sorry about the early draft time, but that was the best I could do, considering I put together the league kind of late.
Any other questions just send to my email.

Coming Out Swinging
2004-09-02 22:25
by Will Carroll

Now THIS I like. From Kerry's speech tonight:

We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change. I believe it's time to move America in a new direction; I believe it's time to set a new course for America.

Yes, it's really weird to have the text of speeches beforehand, but I still like that Kerry's finally sounding like ... well, something.

What's that I just jumped?
2004-09-02 22:03
by Will Carroll

Blogs. They just jumped the shark.

From CNN's "Convention Blog":

Larry King blogs

Posted: 10:00 p.m. ET
From Larry King, host, "Larry King Live"

It's a new thrill to me to blog ... and I may become a permanent blogger. In fact, blogging could become my life.

2004-09-02 22:01
by Will Carroll

Wow. I really am surprised by this CNN story on al Qaeda's financing. Like many, I'd assumed that bin Laden and the bin Laden construction fortune was the linchpin. Guess not, though I'm going to want more facts. That aside, the donations that fund terrorism come from the entire swath of fundamentalist Islam, especially the orthodox Wahabbi and Salafi.

Please note that this doesn't mean all Muslims are bad or that a donation was made to fund terrorism directly. One of the great misunderstandings of the Palestinian struggle for many is grasping that Hamas can be a terrorist organization and a community outreach all at once.

Here's another tangent for you ... if it was right to remove Saddam because of all his heinous acts, why haven't we had more of an accounting of the governments of Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia? Why have we ignored Darfur, Rwanda, and Timor? In for a penny, in for a pound when it comes to being world police.


The Fred Thompson video presentation was pretty good. The Pataki speech reminds me why I mistakenly thought he'd be a good replacement for Cheney - he comes off as sincere, well-spoken without being slick, and has a McLain Stevenson regular-guyness. I don't think he could win in an election against Guiliani, but if Giuliani's negatives are enough to keep him out, Pataki would have a pretty good chance against the run of other governors likely in '08.


The Zell Miller freakout on Chris Matthews was great TV. I only wish some producer had figured out a way to get them together. I didn't see the Miller-Blitzer talk, but it reads that Miller didn't do much better there.

Can someone get thrown out of a party? I know Miller says he won't leave the party, but couldn't they just lock him out or something?


Yes, I know it's been a LOT of politics lately. I try to stay balanced, but sometimes that balance gets off. I'm sure come playoff time, I'll barely glance at politics. For those of you that just want to talk baseball, I'll virtually point to the great list of links at the top or the right side. For those of you that disagree and debate in comments, thank you. For the thousands that simply read, thank you. For Scott, Ken, and TFD, a thousand thank yous for your tolerance of my often indefensible positions. For George, -

- heh. You thought I was gonna get nasty, didn't you? :)

2004-09-02 09:16
by Will Carroll

Genius Loves Company

An amazing album that I don't have the words to give it justice. It's something approaching a masterpiece without being pure tribute. There's certainly something to going out on top. With the upcoming bio-pic giving Jamie Foxx some Oscar buzz, this album's a good start rather than an end - a good place to rediscover Ray Charles.

Sneaking In Some Baseball
2004-09-02 09:07
by Will Carroll

Our good friend Edw Cosette has been as on his game as the team he follows lately. The Red Sox chemistry is famously turning as they gain on the Yankees, who look increasingly desperate. Some, I'm sure, will blame Nomar, but I credit winning, whatever the cause. I've looked at the numbers and don't see anything different. I look at the lineups and don't see much jumping out at me. The bats seem to be following the pitching, crushing out hits when the pitching is Arroyo-esque (and I don't mean Luis Arroyo!), then resting when Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling takes the hill.

BP's new Playoff Odds Report, Clay Davenport's new toy, puts some perspective on the whole thing, but this is one where I don't think numbers tell the whole story. The more I think about it, trading Nomar did nothing to help the team on the field, but it made this Sox squad look at themselves differently in the mirror, much in the same way Buck Showalter credits losing Alex Rodriguez as making every other player step up in Texas.

Kicking the Angels in two with another to go is big. Really big. Pivotal, shaping, NFL Films with John Fascenda's voice booming big. Sweeping this series would make them a prohibitive favorite early in the month for the Wild Card, but talking with Boston folk makes me think that slot might be failure. They want the AL East, no diggity, no doubt.

Edw may be channelling our own fair Ken Arneson with the poetry breaks, but Murderer's Row has moved to Beantown for the summer. Someone in the Bronx needs to break out a bard.

(Writing that, I get this feeling. I've got nothing else to base this on, but I have this amazingly clear vision of Alex Rodriguez as the modern Bucky Dent.)

Go To Zell
2004-09-02 08:45
by Will Carroll

Zell Miller blew it. His hard-on of hate boiled over into "Hardball," where he came off like a raging moron and, I think, challenged Chris Matthews to a duel. Everything from the oh-so-subtle cross on the rostrum to the oh-so-subtle disinvitation of Mary Cheney in the family portrait standup to Romney's "look at OUR young leader" speech came off as the politics of fear and hate.

As politics, it worked. Miller showed that the gloves are off and his Apocalyptic delivery made Dick Cheney look light. The sky is falling doom dynamic of everyone not named Schwarzengger (his speech had a Hollywood sheen to the free-range lies) might serve to make King George II look optimistic in comparison.

My dark moment of the soul is over, fired by Miller's speech. I didn't see a call to action in his speech; I saw the face of someone so filled by hate that he might as well be the modern Bull Connor; a man I'm sure thought he was well-intentioned, but ended up the personification of evil for many. I won't stand quietly.

Edited from earlier version, removing one metaphor for hate and replacing it with another.

2004-09-01 20:23
by Will Carroll

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Tom DeLay went WAY too far.


Nice touch on the Reagan video, getting the same voice over as the classic "Morning in America" ad. Too bad Reagan has nothing to do with this election, other than being where I want George W. Bush to be.

Uh Oh
2004-09-01 20:13
by Will Carroll Veterans For The Truth.

Nice timing ...

... I'm still trying to figure out a load of hints to "watch Mitt Romney."

Echoing TFD, Echoing Me
2004-09-01 12:04
by Scott Long

Just wanted to reiterate how great the David Cay Johnston book, "Perfectly Legal" is, which TFD posted about. As I wrote in the comment section of the piece, Cheney Finally Does An Interview". (June 5)
"I'm currently reading a fabulous book called "Perfectly Legal" by David Cay Johnston. If you want to learn the truth about our tax system, READ THIS BOOK!
Posted by scott at June 5, 2004 02:43 AM

There is more discussion of the book later on in the comment section of this piece.

I saw the same episode of Six Feet Under where George is reading the book.

Johnston's daughter happened to come up to me after one of my stand-up shows in Charlotte and said that I must have read her dad's book, since some of my material seems to have been influenced. I told her how much I liked the book. Truly a small world sometimes.,

Rock the Kazmir
2004-09-01 12:03
by Ken Arneson

As Bryan Smith points out on Wait Til Next Year, the A's knocked Scott Kazmir around in his second major league start on Sunday.

I was at the game, so I decided to give Kazmir a close look to see what all the fuss was about. I watched him warm up in the bullpen. From the side, his delivery reminded me of Ted Lilly. But when I saw him from behind the plate, it looked different. From that angle, I could see why so many people are worried about his delivery. I'm no expert or anything, but it looked very effortful, not smooth at all.

Kazmir is the second heralded rookie I've seen this year. I've seen Zack Greinke twice. Greinke is much more impressive, changing speeds like he's been pitching in the majors for fifteen years. Kazmir throws harder, of course, but it didn't look like he changed speeds very well at all. Everything was hard: hard fastball, hard slider.

The A's spat on the slider, sat fastball and, being the patient team that they are, eventually got it. If Kazmir doesn't want to end up as just a LOOGY, I think he has some learning to do.

2004-09-01 09:45
by Ken Arneson

I woke up this morning have just dreamed this:

There's a rustling coming from my attic. As I approach to investigate, I notice the attic is dripping.

I climb up the ladder to the attic, and discover that Arnold Schwarzenegger has just finished installing a new toilet for me.

Arnie smiles, but says nothing. He demonstrates: the toilet works now, no leaks! As the flush completes, Richard Nixon begins speaking on radio, telling me about all the great features of this new toilet.

That's weird, I say to myself. I thought Nixon was dead.

I have no idea what this means. I've dreamed about sports before, but never politics. This blog is doing strange things to me.

All Of One Thing
2004-09-01 02:20
by Will Carroll

This post is my darkest, blackest fear.

It's also something that has been bubbling up to the surface more in my soul lately. Kerry's campaign is a mess, Kerry himself is much less the candidate I want or need than the best available option, and then there was this feeling that America needs something like Bush.

It doesn't want thinking in movies, in TV, in books, in print, so why would it want thinking in government? We want action and soundbites and poses. We want John Wayne and Arnold Schwarzenegger. We want caricatures rather than fully drawn portraits.

Marceau, and Jesse if you link through, see this election as a true turning point. It may well be the last gasps of the two-party system, something I saw for myself in the Perot '92 campaign. The more I think about that time in my life, the more I think Ross was simply ahead of his time. (Yes, yes ... wrong messenger, I know.)

I'm not enough of a student of history to know what the downfall was of the Whigs, the whatevers that once were the opposition then faded. It just feels that way, when a party can't inspire from the top, when its best leaders seem like such pale comparisons to those of the past. Even sparks like Obama or Edwards seem like echoes of Clinton's traits in a different package.

I'm ready to be inspired. I'm ready to work for something. I want to believe. I really want to believe. I really want to ...

Please, John, I want to believe.

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