Postgame Spread
You guys hangin' out? I'll hang out.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Exactly how is this a good idea?    

Alan Embree, who has shit the bed in Boston all season, signs with the Yankees... and shits on Andy Pettitte his first day.

Embree, who got the last out for Boston in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium last October, took Andy Pettitte's old No. 46 and was available for Saturday's game against the Angels. He stayed sharp after he was cut by throwing off a mound and running.
Embree knows he could be called upon to get one of his ex-teammates out in a key spot down the stretch -- especially lefty slugger David Ortiz.

All I know is, come playoff time, if Embree is facing Ortiz, I'm going to shit myself. Then mail my drawers to Brian Cashman, COD.

Oh, It Gets Better...    

Now I hear from Jayson Stark (he gave me a shout on the celly) that the Sox were ready to send Pawtucket C Kelly Shoppach and backup OF Adam Stern to Colorado for developing-at-glacial-speed OF Larry Bigbie, before Theo came to his senses.  Thank God for that.  Precisely how in the hell was this ever a good idea???  Stern may be underdone, as many Rule V guys tend to be, but Shoppach is a commodity, and they need to get more than this in exchange for him.  Bigbie has had all kinds of chances over the last few seasons to establish himself in Baltimore, and he hasn't.  I mean, who was in his way?  Luis Matos?  Come on!!!  He's a classic case of a physical specimen who tempts scouts with his potential, but never lives up to it.  Even if he does make good, what's his projected ceiling?  Trot Nixon?  We already have one of him, and he's more than enough, thanks.  That's all we net for our primo catching prospect?!?  Yet another low-power lefthanded bat who needs to sit against lefties?  I may be wrong about him, but I'll take my chances, and mea-culpify in the unlikely event of his selection for the All-Star team.

Ummmmm.... this Manny Ramirez trade proposal asinine, or what?  Nothing against the package they'd get in return (Mike Cameron, Aubrey Huff, Aaron Heilman) but I'd rather have Manny.  As unwise as that would be, though, what blows my mind is that the Red Sox were offering up super-prospect Hanley Ramirez as well!  I mean, anyone can see that the American League RBI leader and reigning World Series MVP isn't enough to land two decent OFs and a middle reliever.  It's the smart play to toss in the most talented prospect in the system... you know, to sweeten the pot.  What a bunch of morons.

(That reaction, by the way, is contingent on the deal being serious.  I have more than an inkling that they are being somewhat insincere about their intentions... just another public attempt to show Manny how laughable his demands are.  It all smacks of politics, because there's no way in hell they could think trading Manny is good business.)

Lest I forget to further qualify my remarks, I have not forgotten a little sum'n-sum'n that happened last October.  As such, I have little right to make assertions concerning the mental acumen of the Red Sox front office.  Nor do I get to wallow in depression over the team's playoff chances, should the deal be finalized.  Those are no longer options for those of us who root for the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox.  That does not, however, mean I need to support a dumb trade.  I believe that if this trade actually happens, they absolutely have to win another World Series, either this year or next, to live it down.  Anyone can see the Sox are getting the ass end in terms of talent.  They may save buttloads of cash, but what do we care about that?  It's not our job, as fans, to congratulate or celebrate financial maneuvers; it's our job to appreciate talent, and this deal reeks in that regard.  Theo the Pimp had better be prepared to go from local hero to leaguewide laughingstock if he wants to save $20 million.

Related to the trade, the booing last night sickened me.  Yeah, Manny really deserved that, cause what has he ever done for us?  I was embarrassed to be a Sox fan when I watched the video.  All of the miserable, sorry bastards who booed him should be ashamed of themselves.  It's people like them that give Sox fans a deservedly bad name, as opposed to the unjustified bad name that we've been given in the past.

Friday, July 29, 2005

More HOF Fun    

I think yesterday's and today's Page 2 columns, while generally on the mark regarding the whys and why-nots of near-future HOF elections, are giving a little too much credit to young players.  Things happen to young players far too easily.  After all, fifteen years ago Rafael Palmeiro was a singles hitter, while Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry were among the most feared players in the National League.  So discussing the Cooperstown potential of young-to-youngish players like Miguel Cabrera, Vlad Guerrero, Miguel Tejada and Albert Pujols is irrelevant.  Today's additions to the discussion (including David Wright, Hank Blalock, Mark Prior, Roy Oswalt, Andruw Jones, Johan Santana and Joe Mauer) are equally unproductive, and that's without having any idea who picks 33 through 36 are as of this writing, thanks to a Page 2 goof.  I mean, come on... there's no need to pick 40 if you're gonna include more than 10 guys who haven't even approached the point where you can talk about it.  Not even Mr. Pooholes comes close, so why bother?

Anyway, armchair editing aside, I'm somewhat undecided about three of the older candidates:

1. John Smoltz
Great pitcher, not a HOFer.  You can say he played in Glavine and Maddux's shadows, but that's as accurate a summary of his Hall credentials as anything: he was never a true peer of theirs.  Between injuries and flakiness, he has far too many minuses on his record to warrant real discussion.  If you haven't got numbers, or health, or an extended period of utter dominance to look back upon, you're in trouble.  He didn't close for a long-enough period, and he didn't have enough 20-win seasons as a starter.  His numbers may compare favorably to Dennis Eckersley's, but Eck changed the game... Smoltz just plays it.

2. Curt Schilling
I think he's one of the great borderline cases of all-time.  He tests the reputation-over-numbers theory more than anyone else... even more than Raffy, after some reflection.  Schilling has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since 1993, and certainly has his share of memorabilia to contribute to the Hall, but he has been healthy, start to finish, for seven of his sixteen full seasons.  However, if you look at his numbers for those seven seasons, you will find that the lowest IP total is 226.1 (only 26 starts out of 42 games), and the highest is a gaudy 268.2!  He broke down so frequently because he was pitching his guts out, and for crappy Phillies teams no less.  He deserves some credit for that, and if he gets in I wouldn't complain too much... after all, he won Boston a You Know What, and there's plenty of less-deserving pitchers in the Hall.  But when you do the John Wayne tough-guy thing, putting your health on the line to win ballgames out of principle, Cooperstown is one of the things that you sacrifice.  Besides, if Schilling got elected, his speech would go on for three weeks.  So I'm kinda undecided on him, but I lean towards leaving him to the Veterans Committee.

3. Manny Ramirez
Manny will be the weirdest addition to Cooperstown ever.  He's definitely in... the only thing left to discuss is which hat he wears, Indians or Red Sox.  But boy... it doesn't seem right, does it?  In many ways he's a more dominant version of Raffy, where you don't really think about him as being great until you notice he's hit 418 home runs at age 33.  But in other ways, he's the player that Jose Canseco could have been.  Baseball was so miraculously easy for Canseco (for several reasons) that he became the most self-indulgent superstar since Mickey Mantle (pretty much).  But he took it too far, and lost his place in history as a result.   Manny has that same impish spirit in him, as well as the same ease with baseball, and has never taken anything baseball-related that serious.  Yet because he never fell into the same traps and addictions that Canseco and Mantle suffered from, he has managed to play his entire career the way he wanted to play, having fun and taking it easy.  There's something to admire about how dominant he has been, without ever really trying.  Isn't that an odd legacy?  How hard he didn't play?  What an impression to leave behind.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sabermetric Skeet    

Beisbol Prospectus is making all it's articles and stat sorting tools free until Wednesday.
Jesse would be skeeting himself if he were in country (he's not, right?)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Re: Palmeiro/HOF (again)    

Just to clarify my original argument, since I muddled it a little in my last post on the topic...

I'd still take Raffy, all things being equal.  My objection is not to Raffy in particular, but to longevity being a required factor in the HOF equation.  Raffy just happens to be the personification of my objection.  I don't disagree that longevity goes a long way... but I'm saying that it shouldn't be a requirement.

I think if you have a set of equivalent ballplayers, you don't give one guy a plaque for staying healthy in his old age and then tell the rest to screw off.  If there's no compelling argument for Palmeiro over Bagwell as a baseball player, and you elect Palmeiro, then you gotta elect Bags too.  If we have a situation where Palmeiro's in, but Bagwell is out, calling Shenanigans will be in order.  Or how about Frank Thomas... his prime overlapped with Palmeiro's, he absolutely terrorized the American League for a few seasons, and was an unquestionably huge star.  But due largely to injury, his stats haven't held up in his old age.  Does that really invalidate his career?  I don't think so.  If you pay tribute to Palmeiro (and I do think we should) then you should pay tribute to all those who are of equal of greater value.  Big Hurt qualifies, and Bags qualifies.

Baseball is the only sport where your spot in history depends on how healthy you kept yourself, instead of how well you played when you were healthy.  That's stupid.  It's meaningful to a degree... you don't give someone a spot because of one good season.  But the Hall standards are set up so that having an era of complete dominance (as Griffey, Bagwell, Palmeiro and Thomas have) is not enough... you also need to close your career with a bunch of mediocre seasons so your stats are padded.  What sense does that make?

Here's an interesting example: Albert "Joey" Belle.  Has anyone gone back and looked at his stats lately?  In the 10 seasons between 1991 and 2000, he hit 373 home runs and drove in 1199 runs.  That's 37/120 per year.  And then he never played again.  He may have been a Bonds-caliber prick, but how do you deny a guy who put up an average season of .298/37/120 (OPS .944) over 10 years???  Apparently that wasn't long enough to prove he could hit a baseball.  I don't understand that.  Apparently baseball is saying that if you don't finish your career by hitting .240 and smacking a big fat 13 home runs in a lefty/righty platoon, you aren't a Hall of Famer.  Why should that be a deciding factor?  Belle's entire career was prime, just like Jim Brown.  As such, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Albert Belle would have ever slowed down if he'd stayed healthy.  Isn't that more impressive than taking a stupid victory lap when you probably should've just quit?  Apparently not.  So because Belle's hip freakishly wore down, he doesn't have a case.

There's hope for those with short careers, but not much.  Ryne Sandberg got in without any difficulty, despite a somewhat premature career-ending injury.  I always figured that he'd never make it because of that, but gladly I was wrong.  Ryno got in based on how good he was when he played, and how he played the position.  That's a luxury that players at the offensive positions (1B, 3B, OF) don't have.  But he stands as a reminder that sportswriters will occasionally use their judgment... which is what I'm saying they should do, instead of using stats as a crutch.  Stop looking only at stats!  Take responsibility!  Use your brain!  Etc. etc. etc.

When people talk about greatness, the best ballplayers they ever saw, how many of them are talking about guys who played 25 years and amassed ridiculous stats?  My dad swears that if he could take any pitcher in Red Sox history, he'd take Luis Tiant.  Best pitcher he ever saw, says someone who has watched the entire careers of Clemens and Martinez.  Not that Tiant was a hell of a pitcher, or that he had some great years for the Sox... he was the best pitcher he ever saw.  And is Tiant in the Hall?  Nowhere close, because he didn't have the numbers.  And yet a merely "good" pitcher like Don Sutton is in, just because he won 300 games.  He wins 299, and he gets lost to time.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  I'd take Luis Tiant over Don Sutton in a Game 7... or Jack Morris... or Jose Rijo... or even Dave Stewart... the choices are endless.  The point is not that my dad is a shrewd evaluator of talent; the point is that the kind of greatness we remember has little to do with longevity, and everything to do with performance.  Setting up a system that does not reward greatness, without what I consider unreasonable longevity, is misguided and wrong.

Jim Brown, you will notice, is in the Football Hall of Fame, and is one of the unquestionable giants of football history.  He wouldn't have made it into baseball's Hall.  So is Earl Campbell, whose thighs are still a conversation topic, despite having burnt himself out early in his career.  Barry Sanders, who like Brown wasn't hurt when he quit prematurely, will join them soon.  None of them had particularly long careers, but we remember, honor, and celebrate them.  That's how it should be.  Baseball's system is not how it should be.

That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



I'm shaken. The video of the play made me sick to my stomach. I really hope he's OK, but having seen Bryce Florie's career end (essentially) on a similar play, I'm not holding my breath for him to pitch again this year. I hope he comes back healthy at some point, let alone anytime soon.

Another Textbook Example    

Returning to the Palmeiro/HOF discussion from a little while back...

Jeff Bagwell is contemplating retirement.  There's a guy from the modern era who clearly fits into the Jim Rice Wing of Cooperstown.  He was one of the premier power hitters in the NL for most of his career, and yet he's only got 449 home runs in 14 seasons and change.  Like Ken Griffey Jr., his best season would have been 1994, had it reached completion... he was at .368/39/144 when the strike hit (with a projectile-eyeball-inducing 1201 OPS).

Here's the tie-in: I would take Jeff Bagwell over Rafael Palmeiro.  Now, we're talking about two guys whose career primes overlapped, and who play the exact same position... this isn't like picking between Griffey and Raffy.  These two guys should line up pretty nicely. Indeed, according to, Bagwell's average 162-game season is significantly better than Palmeiro's in runs scored, walks, steals, AVG, SLG, and OPS, while Palmeiro's is better in... strikeouts, which is meaningless given that Palmeiro made more outs per season than did Bagwell.  This is convincing evidence that the superior player will not make it to the Hall of Fame.  Please tell me why this is a good way to operate a Hall of Fame.

I was OK with Raffy getting in, with reservations, until looking at the stats.  Now I'm downright horrified.  Bags is 51 HR away from having a strong case, and he may not even play again.  What's worse is that Bags will retire as an Astro instead of moving to a DH team, thus giving up the chance to chase milestones like Raffy.  It will probably cost him a shot at the Hall.  Say it with me... that ain't right!

Larger object hurtling toward NYC    

Shawn Kemp wants back in the NBA.
Is there any chance in the world that Mr. Thomas might not find him 20 minutes a game?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Abort! Abort!    

The subject refers not only to what Mrs. Ponson should have done, but also to the D.O.A. Sir Sidney/Phil Nevin trade.  I have to say, as a Sox fan I rejoice over Ponson staying in the division.  As a Maryland resident, however, I continue to be concerned about whether the state food supply will last the year.  Sidney!  Your suspension... continues!

just an idea    

Randy Winn and Everyday Eddie for Sheffield.
Sign the deal!

Of course, Sheff would NEVER ok this. Don't ever try to sell a doctor.

Sid Delicious    

Ok, I love the Randa trade, but would someone please tell me why the hell the Padres would want Sidney Ponson?

I mean, granted Nevin's having a terrible year, and is just old enough to wonder if he's entering the Tino-phase of his career, but I refuse to believe they couldn't have gotten something else in return. Something under 300 lbs, perhaps? What was their thinking, "Well, we didn't feel comfortable with Paul Quantrill as our worst pitcher."

The big winner in all this? The fish taco vendor at Petco.

That said, deep down I'm fearing that they really want to make this move to parlay it into a trade w/the Yankees. Pinstripes are slimming, after all. Would I trade having to see Ponson on the hill every 5 days than seeing Womack (YPOS!) on the field ever again? Hmm....


Sarunas Jasikevicus, three-time reigning Euroleague champion, to the Pacers.  Hmm.  I guess this means Jamaal "Don't Call Me Jamal" Tinsley is available.  If you think about it, Tinsley isn't lagging that far behind in his development as a point guard... if you follow the Chauncey Billups schedule, he's not due to be any good until 2009, but he's not half-bad right now.  The Pacers ought to get something good for him when they do trade him (whether that's now, or mid-season, depending on how confident they are in Jasikevicus' abilities).  But seriously, this is good for lots of folks... the Pacers, the NBA, the Maryland Terrapins (Jasikevicus' alma mater, sort of), and especially Chad Ford, who will walk around his office with a boner for the next three days.  From now on, this space will make its best effort to refer to European draft prospects as "Chad Ford Viagra."

Saturday, July 23, 2005

First Chink In The Armor    

It's been a puckhead lovefest since the NHL deal was struck, but I finally found something to be pissed about again: Bobby Clarke is back in my life. Let me just say right now that I would never dare to suggest that someone ought to release a pack of rabid, starving wolves on his property, especially if those wolves had been known to tear humans limb from limb and feast on the armless, legless carcass that remained. I would never put an idea like that out into the open, because I'm not that kind of person.

Large Object Hurtling Towards San Diego    

The city of San Diego is about to double in size, because they just acquired Sidney Ponson.  The end of an era!  Phil Nevin is a great addition though for the O's, much better than Mike Lowell would have been.  Nevin is an intelligent contact hitter who will play a decent defensive 1B and complement the other hitters in the lineup nicely.  And they were getting absolutely nothing out of Ponson, so to get a productive (enough) bat at first and be bailed out of the contract is an enormous coup.

But the Orioles are not the only benefactors; the state will be reaping a financial benefit also.  Sure, Maryland's chicken farmers will take a big hit, but because the state has risen 20 feet since Sidney left town, we have gained another 500 acres in valuable beachfront real estate.  Sure, Ocean City's boardwalk is now two miles from the water, but the price of a new home along brand new Sidney Beach should be as high as Sidney's annual salary.

Nats Nicked    

Looks like the All-Star Break took the wind out of the Nats' sails.  My first instinct was to think that the return of Jose Vidro and the addition of Preston Wilson in exchange for spare parts had altered the lineup's chemistry... and then I realized that Nick Johson had been on the DL all month.  I think once he returns, we'll see the much-improved Nats lineup that we've been waiting for.

Then again, his return also means diminished playing time for all-around ass-kicking rookie Ryan Church, which is a real shame.  Church has earned a spot in the everyday lineup, and it's not everyday that you take a guy with a 900 OPS out of the lineup.  His numbers, with the exception of HR, are clearly superior to Wilson's.  There are only a handful of reasons I can think of for leaving Wilson in the lineup... either a) Frank Robinson prefers Wilson's HR power in the lineup over Church's contact bat, b) Wilson's performance against lefties is superior to Church's, or c) the Nats want to spin Wilson elsewhere for pitching or a situational backup bat.  The first reason is misguided, and the second is foolish given how few lefty starters one faces, but the third is legit.

And yet the strange thing about the Nats is that they haven't got a lot of holes to fill:
  1. They have four starting OFs (Church, Guillen, Wilkerson and Wilson) and a super-talented 5th guy in Marlon Byrd
  2. The infield is solid (except, of course, Guzman)
  3. Jamey Carroll, Carlos Baerga and Tony Blanco are ideal utility guys (Blanco plays OF as well)
  4. Brian Schneider is emerging as a classic defense-only catcher, and Gary Bennett is a solid backup
  5. The rotation (Hernandez/Loaiza/Patterson/Drese/Armas) is perfectly fine, though Drese and Armas are a little shaky
  6. The bullpen is stacked at the short end with Chad Cordero, Luis Ayala, Gary Majewski, Hector Carrasco and Joey Eischen
  7. Sunny Kim has been far better than I would have imagined as the 11th man in the pen (until last night, anyway)
Pretty much everyone on this list could be improved upon, but noone with the exception of Guzman is killing the team, exactly.  And honestly, even the underperforming pair of Guzman and Vinny Castilla are playing stellar defense.  So it would appear that the Nats haven't got anywhere to put new talent unless they give someone up.  It's actually kind of disappointing that Junior Spivey got hurt when he did, because he and Wilson could have been packaged together to improve the package they get in return.  Now it appears the 2005 Nats will have traded Tomo Ohka for a few weeks' decent play at 2B from Spivey.  Too bad.

What would I do with this roster?  I'd try to spin Armas and Wilson to the Yankees for Carl Pavano.  If Pavano's struggles continue after his return (this weekend?) I'd take advantage of the Yanks' trademark inability to suffer their free agent busts.  Maybe they'd look at Armas, a former Yankee prospect himself, as a nice consolation prize after Pavano's pinstriped implosion.  And they get the center fielder they've bene missing since 2003.  Furthermore, Armas' injury history would be irrelevant, since the Yankees traditionally think in the short-term (he's healthy now) instead of the long-term (he's only thrown 100 innings twice in his career).

Would that be smart for the Nats?  Who knows, but you'd have to think the fly-ball cemetery that is RFK will help Pavano's confidence tremendously.  If they were able to add 2003/2004 Pavano to that rotation, they'd be sitting pretty for the rest of the year.  They'd have a legit playoff ace in Livan, with two #2s in Loaiza and Pavano, and the emergent Patterson (2.69 ERA) as their fourth starter.  Plus Drese as the #5 guy... he only won 16 games last year.  That would be the best rotation in the division (Atlanta can suck it).

The problem with that, apart from underestimating the intelligence of the Yankees' front office, is that they'd be back to square one with the lineup.  Wilson, the bargaining chip, would ultimately be better used to improve the offense.  But even if they added a bat, it would require moving someone else out besides Wilson, which isn't going to happen.  The two guys who need to be improved upon the most are Guzman and Castilla, but nobody's taking that Guzman contract and acquiring a better 3B than Castilla would be a waste given that they want Ryan Zimmerman ('05 #4 overall) to be the 2006 starter.  I'm extremely interested to see what Jim Bowden actually does, because I'm stumped.

Friday, July 22, 2005

NHL Rules Changes    

For the most part, I'm in enormous favor of the incoming rules changes for this season.  But there are a couple that irritate me.  To summarize, the rumored changes will be as follows:
  1. No more red line (i.e. two-line pass eliminated)
  2. Tag-up offsides (no immediate whistle to break up play)
  3. 4-on-4 OT will now be followed by 3-on-3 OT, which will then be followed by a shootout
  4. No points for an overtime loss (more unlikely than the others)
  5. Enormous-ass goalie pads illegal
  6. No-touch icing (once it's past the goal line, it's whistled, hence less of the clock is spent on meaningless touch-ups)
  7. Icing to be called on the penalty kill
  8. No-tolerance policy (coughBULLSHITcough) on obstruction (coughBULLSHITcoughcough) and holding (coughBULLSHIT)
  9. Instigators in the final minutes get an automatic match penalty
I like that they've promised to crack down on obstruction, but I'll believe thaht when me shit toarns poarpull, ahn smells like rainbow shaerbaert.  Ain't gonna happen.  Especially come playoff-time, also known as the obstructionist's breeding period.

The thing that gets me, though, is the shootout.  I like the addition of 3-on-3 to the existing 4-on-4, but enough with the shootout crapola.  Ties are a part of hockey.  They're a critical part of the most popular sport on the goddamn planet.  When will people stop giving us Americans preferential treatment, as if we're incapable of getting with the program?  This is precisely the kind of lesson that most Americans need to learn... it's not just about winning and losing.  Just because people haven't accepted it doesn't mean they're right.  There's a beauty to hockey (and soccer, for that matter) that rises above the game's outcome, and people should recognize that.  But abandoning my romantic interest in hockey, we can look at the obvious: if two teams play equally magnificently, and it's not the playoffs, why should one team come away with more points than the other?  They played to a draw, they are equals, so let it be.  Is it such a terrible outcome that we need to avoid it by staging some phoney-baloney skills contest?  It's not like it'd be in any way related to the quality of the game that preceded it, so you're only screwing over one of the teams this way.  It's no different than having a field goal contest to decide a hockey game, a home run derby to decide a baseball game, or allowing a game of HORSE to decide a basketball game.  It's just embarrassing.

But that doesn't mean I won't suck it up... if the Caps lower their ticket prices.  The players I want to see just took a 24% pay cut... shouldn't ticket prices be reduced in line with that?  If they don't reach out to the DC fan base, who are already fairly indifferent towards them, they're in deep caca.

Livangate: Thankfully Over    

Livan, as reported in this space yesterday (based on psychic research), is not having surgery.  He is indeed hurt, but will play through it like a good soldier.  His GM and manager both attributed his outburst to frustration.  Everyone who thought he'd have surgery owes me a beer.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's Official: T.O. Sucks    

He's an unbelievable football player.  What he did in the Super Bowl is right up there with Schilling in the World Series, except without bringing his city a championship.  Now... would it have been too difficult for him to suck in his pride and play for the defending NFC champions one more year?  SportsCenter just ran footage of him demanding a trade... to Atlanta.  The balls on this guy are unreal.  His behavior is almost enough to make me feel just a teeeeeeeeny tiiiiiiiiiiiiiny bit of empathy for the sports fans of Philadelphia.  Wait... I think I feel the empathy coming... right there, it's moving... nope, false alarm, it was just gas.

The Eagles should pull a Keyshawn on him.  I mean, it's not like they have any obligation to trade him, which is what TO seems to think.  Think about it... he's the league's top offensive player, he has size, he plays tough, and he's big-game clutch.  How, precisely, in God's name would the Eagles benefit from trading him to someone else?  With a gun to their heads, they'll get 75 cents on the dollar, tops.  But as long as he remains Eagle property, the Eagles have the upper hand on the rest of the NFL.  I see no good reason to trade him, and I see plenty of good reasons to teach him how legally binding contracts work.

On The Other Hand, Another Reason To Miss Boston    

I miss being plugged into the scene sometimes.  For example, look what I missed out on:

"I'm more embarrassed to walk into this locker room and look at the faces of my teammates than I am to walk out and see Johnny from Burger King booing me." -- Keith Foulke

The papers tried to turn this into a controversy, but given that I had no idea the quote existed, methinks they failed.  Good thing too, because this is some funny shit.  Johnny from Burger King!  How about Jeff from Taco Bell?  Daaaah, I need one tacoh, mediam Coke, two tacohs, mediam sodah, two moah tacohs, anna smoall Doactah Peppah.

Livan In America... Dun, Dunna-dunna    

Got to have an operation! [DONE-DONE-DONE-DA-DONE] Feel so oooooooooold... HEH!(Apologies to Weird Al and James Brown.)

Livan Hernandez made news last night by threatening to have season-ending surgery on his knee... except his knee feels fine. He failed to specify what it was that had him so pissed off, saying "After the season, I'm going to tell you something. Don't worry about it." Sounds like something or someone really got his goat and he's threatening to quit, right? Sure, except that a few moments later he said, "I love my teammates. I love this team. You know I would never quit. Never. Because I am not a quitter. Everybody knows me. I go over there and do my best." Okay... so what's going on?

ESPN did their usual tabloid-level job with the crisis. They conveniently excluded the team-love comments that, to me, are at the heart of the matter. Of course, this is no surprise coming from an organization whose journalistic integrity is so thin you can see through it. Fortunately, both the Washington Post and offered informative news articles on the controversy, so huzzah to them. Seeing that Livan was lucid enough to think about his teammates, and that he at least acknowledged what his comments might sound like, changes the situation pretty substantially for me. After ESPN's piece I merely suspected that he was overreacting... now I'm convinced.

Unless the organization has been covering up a much more serious knee problem than we suspect (which as a Pats fan would not surprise me at all), he will probably come out today and apologize, recommit himself to the team and so forth, and deflate everything he said last night. Only those of us who care to empathize with humans will acknowledge his apology, though... everyone else will just figure he's another primadonna. That's not right. People have a right to vent. They have a need to vent. Livan didn't verbally attack anybody in specific... he didn't throw his teammates under the bus, and he didn't attack or embarrass his superiors in any way. He just expressed how frustrated he was, in the aftermath of losing 2 of 3 games to the worst team in baseball. What's the problem? People will give him grief, like he's a whiny quitter or whatever, but in actuality I think his comments display the exact opposite... we now know just how much he does care.

Cryptic anti-organization comments aside, and ignoring for a moment the 99.9% figure he threw around last night, he seems genuinely conflicted about whether to have the surgery or give his team a push into the playoffs. It's not as simple as saying yes or no, quitting versus giving yourself to your team... do you protect yourself (and your team's investment in you, by the way) for the future, or do you sacrifice future health and success in order to win in the present? Is DC's situation urgent enough to justify it? Do they need to win this season more than they need to be competitive over the next three? It's all unclear. But the fact that Livan is struggling with this is exactly what we should want out of our athletes. This season I've watched Curt Schilling, who won us a World Series last year despite a seriously injured ankle, pay the price for playing through injury... he rushed back from surgery, and his performance has been appropriately horrendous. Schilling may not recover from this, we don't know. This, depending on the injury's severity, is the decision Livan faces. I don't envy him.

This is way more thought than the issue deserves, especially given that the story has barely unfolded yet. But it pisses me off when little stuff like this gets turned into anti-player fuel by the dominant corporations (MLB, ESPN, publishers et al) in baseball. And I certainly resent it when said corporations tell me what I should be thinking. And I definitely hate that so many people obey them. So that's enough for a while on this one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


OK, show of hands... who thinks LeBron is leaving the Cavs?

[hand raised]

I figure he's a goner unless Cleveland makes a big playoff run.  Larry Hughes/Donyell Marshall makes them formidable, and Eastern Conference contenders, but if they don't catch fire, and their coach doesn't make much of an impression on him (or his entourage) then he's bolting.  I think he's too smart to not know how important it is, on a personal level, to be in a marquee city.  If the Cavs don't make a huge leap, he's not gonna bolt himself down to their franchise.

They still need a point guard.  Maybe they sign Damon Jones or something.  That would, I think, push them over the edge.  I have serious problems with Jones (I don't think he's anywhere near as big-time as he thinks he is) but he's gotta be better than Jeff McInnis, and with that kind of talent at the other starting positions it doesn't matter that Jones isn't that good.  If his two jobs are a) feed LeBron, Larry and Donyell and b) shoot the 3, he'll do the job.  They should land a home playoff series with that lineup.  But if they don't address the PG situation somehow, they're not that much better off.


Does this exempt Mr. Rosenhaus from the collective hatred of the city of brotherly love? Not sure, but given the gold standard of player-hating this city has minted for itself, my magic 8 ball says, "All signs point to T.O."

Monday, July 18, 2005


Possible correction to previous rants and comments... Mark Bellhorn hurt his thumb last night.  which is why Alex Cora came in; NOT because Terry Francona wanted to crack up the guys with his Grady Little impression.  So there's no reason to blame Tito, and I feel a little more sympathy for Cora.  I do think you bring in ANYBODY else to hit for Cora, then deal cross the lack-of-infielders-for-extra-innings bridge when you get to it.  Seriously, what's the worst that could happen... Ortiz moves from DH to 1B, Mueller to 2B, Millar to 3B, and the pitcher has to bat in extra innings.  That's worse than the game riding on a featherweight like Cora?  I think not.

Gutpunch Survived... Condition Stable    

Last night at Fenway was the most insane baseball experience I've ever had.  Having never witnessed playoff games in person, I can safely say it was the loudest sporting event I've ever seen.  It started out fine, but unremarkable... we cheered Wakie for finishing the game, we gave Millar a standing O when he went out of his way to snowplow Cano and break up a DP, and we went absolutely bananas for a mere bases-empty double from Damon in the 8th.  Run of the mill so far.  But after the double, we stood for the rest of the game, and everything changed.  We all screamed our nuts off and propelled the team to succeed.  When Manny went deep, it was SO on.  When Cano blew that double play, the place exploded.  We all knew we were going to win.  Doubt never entered my mind.  Until Cora managed to double himself up, which from my vantage point (right down the line in RF, albeit 350 ft from 1B) he did not.  But still, of all the things he could have done in his position, Cora did the single, solitary thing that could have killed the rally.  (I daresay he should never have entered the game; I'm really sick of Bellhorn getting pulled for his defense when he's so dangerous offensively, even while struggling.)

Regardless of having lost the game, the great thing was that after having bases loaded w/ nobody out, and not scoring a single run off of that, nobody left the park whining about the Same Old Red Sox.  We were too busy chanting SECOND PLACE! at the snarky Yankee fans.  We were hurt, but losing 3 of 4 to the Yankees wasn't the end of the world.  So despite being a second-degree gut-punch game, it was a great time nonetheless.

One last note.  New favorite t-shirt seen at Fenway: "Bukkake Matsui", with white splatters all over Matsui's name.  Faaaantastic.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Raff At You    

As much as it nauseates me to side with Bayless (sort of), I'm more of the mind that longevity should not be what makes you great. He's had good seasons in the Steroid Era, certainly good enough to warrant a Hall spot, but that's not why people will elect him. He will get in for his major accomplishment, which was to never go on the DL. He amassed excellent career stats due to surviving for this long and never being hurt. That's fine, but imagine if he had gone to war, and survived the whole war without being injured... how does that tell us what kind of soldier he was? It's irrelevant. Adding Palmeiro to the Hall because of his career numbers, while snubbing a best-in-baseball type like Jim Rice, is precisely what's wrong with the process.

Let's look at Jim Ed for a second. At every moment of his 1977-1984 peak, Rice was better than the best Palmeiro has ever been. He was one of the two or three best hitters in the AL for that entire period. He was hands-down the best from 77 to 79. He frightened pitchers, which we know Raffy has never done. He is the only player since Hank Aaron in 1959 to accumulate 400 total bases in a season without the aid of Coors Field (Walker/Helton) or buttock injections (Sosa). And what has Raffy done? Well, uh, he never went on the DL.

Speaking of the DL, here's another angle: if baseball ended forever right now, I'd put Ken Griffey Jr. into the Hall over Palmeiro. Wouldn't you rather remember how incredibly awesome Griffey was from 1990 to 2000 than how effective Palmeiro was over that same period? The best power hitter in baseball over that time. People already forget that he had 40 HR in 111 games in the '94 strike season, which would have put him in striking distance of 61* by game 162. But will that be his legacy? No, because of his injury-riddled down years in Cincinnati. Despite reaching 500 HR last season, and despite being the purest baseball talent to play in the league in our time, he may not have his ticket punched yet. He'll have to reach 600 for people to say "oh, right, he was pretty good, wasn't he. Now we can wash his balls." That's a crock.

I'm not arguing against Palmeiro in isolation. I'd probably include him in my personal, all-inclusive Hall. I just don't think it's right for lonegvity and milestones to be the ONLY way into Cooperstown. Guys like Rice and Griffey (or hey, why not Don Mattingly?) have 20 or 30 different edges over Palmeiro, but because Palmeiro has longevity, and therefore numbers, he gets in, and the others sweat it out. I think that's horseshit.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Iron Raffy Hairy Palmeiro    

I've been musing the past few days about Rafael Palmeiro's worthiness of Cooperstown.
Apart from having maybe the best moustache of my lifetime, he also has 550+ dingers and will soon have 3000 hits, both traditional shoe-in benchmarks for enshrinement next to Schilling's AIDS-infested sock and Katie Brownell's A-cup jersey.

Now that you're sitting next to me on the fast train to Hell, I'll tell you a secret:
Raffy's in the Hall. He's a no-doubter.

Need some evidence? Here's the best evidence you could ever ask for.

Still don't believe me? Then take the little blue pill, and wake up safe and sound, back in your bed, with this man's condom stuck in your...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The hits just keep on coming    

Hmmm. Jerome James... as an INSURANCE POLICY against Channing Frye sucking?!? We all figured Isiah would use the one-time cap amnesty on Allan Houston and his $20M salary, but apparently he's gonna use it on a guy he just signed. Boy, he sure outsmarted us! When Bill Laimbeer turns you down, you suck.

Hey, would you guys mind if I work on my comedy chops for a moment? I'd like to work on finding funny word combinations. Oh, here's one:

NBA Executive Of The Year Isiah Thomas

Here's another one:

Isiah Thomas Is Not A Total Moron


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Puttin' On The Foils...    

Get the puck back on the ice!!!

Normally, news of the agreement between NHL players and owners on a six-year player-hosted Anal Foreign Body (they're calling it a CBA, but we all know better) would have made me livid. I'm generally a pro-union pinko, especially when it comes to stupid shit like pro sports, so I don't like watching large organizations set out to break a union. But this time the NHLPA leadership was about as inept as I've seen in my life, so screw 'em all. I'm definitely not on the owners' side on this, as this was clearly the most irresponsible ownership position of all the post-1980 sports labor stoppages. But the NHLPA knew the owners wouldn't cave on the salary cap issue. There was absolutely nothing they could do about it, so they should have just settled it a year ago without losing a single game or a single dollar. Instead, they did what I would have done in their shoes, which is stand by their principles, and ultimately get screwed in the end. Honorable, justifiable, and utterly futile. So now the players have to concede not only a salary cap, but a 24% rollback of their salaries as well! It's pretty sickening when you look at it, that you can totally mismanage your finances, and then have everyone but you bail you out. Justice could not have been served out any more innacurately. But as I said, they knew it was coming, so I'm not about to hold any grudges against the owners... well, I'm not about to hold my pre-existing ones any tighter. I'm good at grudges.

Which returns me to my original point... I'm happy!!! This is awesome news. I'll withhold certain levels of joy until I see how low the MCI Center's prices drop, but for now I'm just glad to be able to think about what the hell the Bruins are gonna do about their roster again. In case you haven't looked in the last, ohhhh, 18 months... it is in complete shambles. They have a whopping FOUR players under contract. Marty "What Stupid Penalty Can I Take To Clinch This Playoff Game For Montreal?" Lapointe is their first-line right wing. AAAAAAAAAAA!!!! But hey, they're under the cap, right? I'm a little worried about what kind of product we're going to end up seeing, since pretty much everyone who's any good (Sergei Gonchar, Glen Murray, Mike Knuble, Andrew Raycroft, Joey Bananas, Brian Rolston) either signed elsewhere before the lockout or is about to sign elsewhere. Joey Bananas wants out of town, and I don't blame him. I don't much care whether he comes back (under the Bledsoe Act of 2001, I have the right to tell him to screw himself) so bon voyage. They have lots of young talent that they can hold onto affordably (Nick Boynton, Patrice Bergeron) but I have no idea how they're going to sign all of those other guys and stay under the cap. Especially when they need to sign at least another 20 people in the next two months. Whatever happens, it's gonna be interesting.

As an aside, one huge problem for me right now is that I filled the work stoppage with video game hockey. So I'm way more connected to my Playstation roster (which is in the 2010-2011 season and has won six Cups in a row) than the actual roster. Naturally I had to break some eggs to make a six-Cup omelette, so I jettisoned some of the underwhelming Bruins to make room for talented draftees. As a result, I only just now remembered that P.J. Axelsson existed. This is actually gonna be a fun year, to be reunited with all these players that I totally forgot about. Just like a class reunion. Yes.

Ooooooh, I just realized something else... I get to go back to hating the Canadiens and Rangers! KOVALEV IS TEH SUCK. Oh, and Mike Ribeiro, that whiny diving motherf@&*#r. Screw that guy. He's gonna pay in blood for that shit he pulled in the playoffs last year. "Ohhh, my face! Oh God (pfft, snicker), oh I'm in such pain!" What a pussy. He's gonna get crushed by somebody... real bad.

All this got me looking into NHL suckerpunch history, reminding me of two delicious incidents found here during a discussion of the infamously overblown Todd Bertuzzi fiasco:

In 1999, Tie Domi received an eight game suspension for sucker punching Ulf Samuelsson, which knocked him out and gave him a concussion. Now I've never liked Samuelsson after what he did to Cam Neely, but still — eight games. In 1998, Matt Johnson received a 12 game suspension for punching Jeff Beukeboom in the back of the head in a retaliatory move, giving him a concussion and ending his career.

...You know Eddie Shore? Toe Blake? God did those two pricks deserve those concussions. And God, I love hockey.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Minor League Prospect of the daaaayy    

"Thirty-two hundred dollars he gave me. Thirty-two hundred dollars for a lifetime. It wasn't even enough to pay for the coffin."

Gentlemen, may I present Henry Hill.

How perfect is it that he plays for a team called "The Intimidators"?
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get my shinebox.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The ESPN report    

Won't you help Alan Henderson feed his family?

Jesse- how bad does it feel to have your team complete one of the most incredible cinderella story seasons in recent history only to have your coach split town... to the f-ing Blazers??!! The Blazers!!! As in, pass me that shnit, I'm a Blazer my brains out, fool! I demand a 1000 word column on this, STAT. Unfortunately, you're off God knows where for a while, so in the meantime... to quote Jeff... HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Most inessential page, 2005 edition:

Yao who?    

Watch out, Timmy D... ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next great NBA center.