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

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My, What A Lovely Tea Party    

Way better than the one where they dressed up like Cleveland fans and wasted all those precious resources.  (Rule #1 of colonial terrorism: don't throw your bargaining chips into the harbor, you dumb shits!)

So, the parade [video] was awesome.  Maybe not quite as perfect, cathartic, and once-in-a-lifetime as 2004... but who cares?  It was the fucking World Series parade!  You cheer.  You connect.  You show your appreciation.  You make eye contact with your heroes, for a moment both instantaneous and neverending.  And you join in with your fellow fans, none of whom have a good excuse to be away from their schools and jobs, to see them do likewise.  When a city ties its fate to that of its team so closely, an event like this can't be missed.

I was lucky enough to be pretty much up at the railings on Boylston St. near Exeter.  Got a great view of everything, though without a camera I can't really share that.  Highlights:

* Theo holding up the trophy for us, like the pimp that he is.
* El Tiante!  That was a nice surprise.
* Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose appearance also snuck up on me.  It's so easy to forget about our newest and coolest toy, since he ended up flying under the radar.  And then suddenly he's looking right at you.  Pretty cool.
* The Dropkicks/Papelbon/Timlin flatbed stopped right in front of us and finished up "Tessie."

Not much else to say.  Except for the following, which I've been thinking over since the series ended:

The Post-Game Celebration
The image of J.D. Drew in a World Series Champion t-shirt has gotta be pissing off an awful lot of National League fans right now.

This year's playoffs had surprisingly few bad (er, "beneficial") calls.  The most contentious calls tended to involve Manny, which means they didn't make any difference in the long run.

The only noteworthy, fate-changing goof was Tim McClelland's safe call in the tiebreaker, giving Colorado the win.  And even then, although Holliday never tagged the plate, he also was never tagged with the ball... so it's not like there was a "correct" call to make there.

The cheapest thing that happened all through the Sox' run was the kid who caught the foul ball in the photographers' pit against the Angels... and that was entirely within the ground rules.

That's part of what makes the Sox' titles feel so pure: they didn't need a Tuck Rule to get it all done.  It's meaningful.

Matt Holliday

Chris and I had the exact same reaction to Holliday's defense: why was even the most minor Manny mistake made into a major malady, when Holliday was given a pass on two more critical game-changing blunders than Manny has on his entire resume (0)?

Well, we know why: habit and laze.  After all, these are announcers and columnists we're talking about.

But the fact remains, Holliday cost his team a chance to tie Game 2 by getting picked off, and his defensive goof in Game 4 allowed Sox baserunners to advance further than they should have, leading to a decisive run.  (They were all decisive, as it turns out.)  Holliday is Colorado's best player, and the likely NL MVP, and he directly took his team out of two one-run games.  Nobody else thinks this is more of a story?

For all that Manny gets crap, he outplayed Holliday both defensively and on the basepaths.  Read that statement again, and consider how awful Holliday would have to be to accomplish that.  He did.  His mental errors didn't cost the Sox a single game.  Not so for Mr. Holliday.  Warrants mentioning.

I'm not saying light the guy up.  But as Joe Morgan would say, the announcers' consistency needs to be more consistent.

Offseasons Are When They Pretend To Try To Trade Manny
And the same question arises again, as it always does: we know Manny's gone next winter, so do we try to get something for him?  Or have we finally reached a mutual admiration stage, where Manny's okay being in Boston, where Boston actually appreciates the most invincible right-handed hitter of his era, and where we finally realize that he cannot be replaced?  I sure hope it's the latter.

Other Likely Changes
We've probably seen the last of Mike Lowell, Curt Schilling and Coco Crisp.  They're welcome back, in my eyes, but given that I currently have nothing against any of them, I'd be just fine keeping it that way.

Count me amongst those who wouldn't resign Lowell to anything but a two-year deal.  Much as I like him, and much as he deserves an exception to the organizational rule against signing old farts, I don't want Lowell's age 37 season to happen here.  Not so much because of the money, but because of the planning.  It takes a job away from a younger, potentially more effective player at that point.  This is as good a time to move on as any, both for the Sox and for Lowell.  I wish he'd stay, but on the team's terms.  If not, I wish him the best.

Curt?  Thanks, bye.  I'll take my chances with the kids.  If he ends up staying, again, fine by me, but they sure don't need him.  I'd be fine going to war with Beckett, Buchholz, Lester and Future Dice (the one who can get past the 6th) next season.

Same with Coco.  No complaints here, nothing but appreciation and thanks.  But he deserves to go somewhere and start.  Heck, Colorado needs an upgrade in center field over Sullivan and Spilborghs, their set of several stiffs.  And the Rocks even have a young 3B to send us in Garrett Atkins, should Lowell be out.  Hmmmm.  (Actually, Curt would go nicely in Colorado as well... they could use some veteran leadership beyond Helton, and he'd get along with the Jesus freaks in the clubhouse.  Francis, Jimenez, Morales, Schilling, and Fogg/Cook plus that offense would make them prohibitive favorites to get back to the Series next fall.)

But we'll see.  Hopefully, Theo will see that the time to sign his next overrated free agent is a long, long way away.  A reliever or two, and replacing the hole at 3B one way or another.  I think that's all that needs to happen.

That's It
And with that, the season is over.  There's nothing left to do now but wait for the best part of any championship offseason: the barrage of Sports Illustrated commercials.  L'chaim!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The One Downer About The Series    

Today, as I sip my soda that I'm sure nobody spit in, I feel bad for Eric Gagne.  Well, as bad as you can feel for a multi-millionaire who just landed himself a World Series ring.

Gagne may have his ring, but you gotta wonder just how much he can enjoy it.  He barely pitched in the series, making a single appearance in Game 1 garbage time.  If he hadn't blown up in Game 2 of the Cleveland series, he might have played a bigger role.  Tito wouldn't have shied away from using him last night.  Gagne would have had a chance to actually help the team when he was needed.  Hideki Okajima would have gotten some rest, or could have come in to face Brad Hawpe or something as the emergency set-up guy or whatever.

Instead, Tito worked Okajima to the bone, essentially signing the poor bastard up for a 2008 that will look an awful lot like Keith Foulke's 2005.  And Gagne got to watch it all from the drum circle in the outfield.

Based on what did happen with Okajima in Games 3 and 4, would a Gagne goof or two have been any worse?  I say no.

I don't fault Tito for leaning on Okajima as he did, but I would still have liked to see Gagne redeem himself.  With a 3-0 series lead, and a 3-1 lead in the game, Tito still didn't think Gagne had a better chance to retire the side than his exhausted workhorse?  I think Tito had enough rope to take a crack at it... besides, Lugo and Drew had their moments, so why not Gagne?

Maybe there's a good reason for his disappearing act, especially when set next to the copious opportunities given to a worthless stiff like Javier Lopez.  Maybe Tito saw something on a personal level that led him to believe Gagne sucked.  Maybe Gagne's a dick.  Who knows.  But I doubt it was anything like that, and even if I didn't there would be no grounds for assuming so.  We have no choice but to assume his seat in the doghouse was based on anything but a lack of confidence in Gagne's ability to get results.

Still, I think he got a bum rap.  He leaves his stint in Boston with a reputation as a Lidge-style closer who folds under the pressure, but that is not at all consistent with the nature of his struggles.  Striking out the side between scorching line drive doubles, with fairly impeccable command and a willingness to pitch to contact, is not what you get from a garden-variety walk-the-bases-loaded choke-artist reliever.  The guy wasn't a headcase.  If he were, you'd have seen walks.  I don't think his problems were mental.

I think they were physical.  Given that there's no other viable explanation besides atrociously horrible luck (which, frankly, reflects even better on Gagne than an injury does), I have no choice but to assume that he is quite seriously injured, and was trying to pitch nonetheless.  It's not that hard to imagine another elbow injury that makes itself known intermittently during an outing, causing Gagne to be uncomfortable throwing the baseball at certain moments but not at others.  With his contract up, and a rep for being easily injured, he has plenty of motive to tough out an injury without telling anyone about it.

In that light, I consider the booing and the Gag-Me crap to be particularly unjust.  His struggles are more heroic than they are gutless.  I appreciate that he stuck it out instead of packing it in.  Remember, he had every right to reject the trade and stay in Texas, preparing himself both physically and statistically for free agency.  He didn't do that.  He shot himself in the foot, time and again, trying to win us a World Series.  The results may not have been there for him personally, but I still tip my cap to what he was up to, even if I'm alone in doing so.

But with no redemption moment, the Fenway crowd has no reason to join me.  They will boo his ass loudly and proudly upon each and every return he makes.  And that's a crying shame, especially considering that none of his mistakes cost them... anything!  They won the division despite those blown games!  They won the ALCS despite his Game 2 meltdown!  They won the World Series without him!  Why be mad?  He doesn't deserve it.  And if you think he does, you also imply that Gagne should never have accepted the trade, and should have instead played it safe in Texas, piling up garbage saves and shooting for his checkbook.  To say nothing of flipping off the rest of the Red Sox.  What kind of message is that?

To me, this is the one sour note to come out of the World Series.  Gagne should have our gratitude.  And he should have had his moment.  Instead, he'll probably look at his championship ring the same way Drew Bledsoe looks at his.

See You Next Trainingcamp    

A tradition unlike any other... Papelbon making a joyous ass of himself.

Now that we've served the hot dog, time for some relish.

In short... this is just as good as 2004, but also nothing at all like 2004. They're opposite halves of the same coin: one year they did it when nobody thought they would, and one year they did it when everyone thought they should.

This championship was so exceedingly normal that there is no excuse, period, for further reference to collapses and whatnot. The Red Sox franchise is for real, and they're not going anywhere for quite a while.

So who else is coming to the parade? Lehr, you in?

One last thought: fuck you, Scott Boras, for ruining the 8th inning. Die in a fire. (Hey, there was already a DIAF tag! Wonder what's in there...)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Fan Geneology, Dipshits, and Bandwagoneers    

Just read Shanoff's good piece on his becoming a Gators fan through courting his wife, and it got me thinking about all kinds of stuff. He presents a couple ideas:

1) Actively becoming a fan of a given team is different (and he implies better) than passively doing so.

Active meaning that as an adult, you survey all the teams, and pick one that suits your personal values. By this logic, Winslow would be the biggest Calgary fan in the world. For example, sabermetrician-in-training Jesse Willard might decide that no matter how much he's been through with the M's over the year, he's goddamn sick of watching Sexson strike out, and hop over to the A's, or the Sox, or any other more sabermetrically-driven team. And while it's shitting on his childhood, it does represent mature moral thinking.

Passive meaning that if you're a Sox fan who grew up in New England, you never really had a choice, and your allegiance to Red Sox Nation is an accident of birth. Much like surviving the Holocaust. Hey-O!

Likewise, if you root for your Dad's team, it was a result of that, and while it may have made for great bonding experiences, again, you never really chose that team on its merits alone.

Finally, if you root for your alma mater, its cause by chance you went there, and you could just as easily have wound up somewhere else.

I like how he breaks down the major reasons people choose their fan loyalties. That said, he missed at least one - choosing a team cause it has one or more players that you like, and may have come to like through mature reasoning. So while rooting for the Bulls cause they had Jordan is maybe bandwagoneering, rooting for Jordan cause he was the best, most competitive, and hardest working man in the business isn't. And thus, the argument can be made that rooting for the Bulls wasn't simple bandwagoneering, but rather a reflection of your personal values.
In addition, I really think that he sells short the notion of loyalty to your alma mater. For most people, the college sports fan experience is the closest you'll ever get to the game, and that, coupled with the timing of college in most folks' emotional and moral development makes for a powerful force, that goes WAY beyond where you happened to get accepted.

2) Judging each other's reasoning behind their fan loyalties is gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

I agree for the most part with this point, but do think that being judgemental is understandable, given the deep sense of ownership fans have over their team. Someone hopping aboard the ship for a reason other than yours is threatening.

Let's apply his framework and analyze one man's fan loyalties, and see if it helps figure out: 1) why I root for the teams I do; and 2) whether I am indeed a pussy.

NBA - Knicks: Applying the Jordan reasoning above, that "the argument can be made that rooting for the Bulls wasn't simple bandwagoneering, but rather a reflection of your personal values", we can see that, in rooting for the 1990s Knicks, I valued cheap shot thugs (Oakley, my all-time favorite player), uppity little bitches (John Starks), whiny self-important fans (Spike Lee), and nothing less than the destruction of watchable basketball (Riley/Van Gundy). Yikes. I have some serious negative Karma for this one. At the same time, my allegiance was definitely rooted in sense of place - the Knicks are so central to New York city, and Madison Square Garden is a physical representation of their centrality to NYC, and of NYC's centrality in the world. As a kid from the burbs, traveling into the city was fascinating, magical, and, yes, a bit threatening, in a very good way. Everything was writ large, everything giant, and entering Madison Square to watch giants do battle will always be my primary memory of youth spent in the city - whether those giants were on skates, in the ring, or on the court.

MLB - Yankees: This one fits pretty clearly into the category of geography, and was facilitated by their history of winning. Two of my first words apparently were "Reggie Jackson", which, as with the Oakman above, doesn't really speak well for my personal values. But rather than have my fan loyalty buttressed by constant winning, the way that the younger generation of Yankees fans have, my youth was marked by perennial second place, perennial hope, perennial expectation (yes, reinforced by the tales of their past glory), and perennial disappointment. I waited my whole childhood to see Donnie Baseball in the playoffs, enduring countless preening asshat Mets fans along the way, and by the time he got there, in 1995, he was a shell of his former self: broken, hobbled, yet still magnificent, even in defeat (fuck you Edgar). Which leads us to...

NFL - Broncos: This one began because I really, really like Ed McCaffery, and John Elway. I liked McCaffery for his toughness, and lack of ego, and I suppose I liked Elway for three reasons: 1) Like Donnie Baseball, he had never won the big one; 2) he was an awesome videogame QB, and cause the Broncs never won the super bowl, you could take them and not be called a pussy; and 3) his awesome horse face. The more I watched them, the more I also fell in love with Elam and young Ian Gold. I'll be the first to point out that I never would have come to adopt them were it not for the influences of friends (namely, Andrew and Lawler). Those frienships made watching football fun for the first time in my life, having spent my childhood HATING weekend TV cause all there was was stupid football. Having fun is a powerful motivator. I kept watching, and found more in the team to like. Of course, then they won two superbowls, which was fucking awesome, and while it forever brands me a bandwagoneer due to the timing of the thing, I really do think that I would have stuck with them regardless.

NHL - Rangers: Two words: Mark Messier. Two more: Brian Leetch.

NCAA BBall - Duke: I have no excuse, and it haunts me. If you'll excuse me, I have to go cut myself. "I focus on the pain/The only thing that's real/The needle tears a hold/The old familiar sting". (slightly NSFW).

Side note - I find myself being drawn into fan-in-lawship, as the fiance is a fierce Eagles and Phillies fan. I justify this consciously by saying that they are NFC and NL teams, so don't directly conflict with my primary teams. Aside from loving my mate, and wanting to see her happy, I think these emerging loyalties are due to loving Citizen's Bank Ballpark, and loving the parking lot tailgate scene at Eagles games. I wonder how this will evolve.

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The Other Thing You Missed    

BC ftw, defending their suspect #2 national ranking.

I'll admit I didn't see the good part of tonight's game. (It's the World Series!!! For a team with BC's history in big games, this was a no-brainer. Would've been anyway.) I did see a whole ton of the bad parts, however.

They looked terrible. BC was shut out and shut down for nearly the entire game. Matt Ryan turned in 57 minutes of strictly non-Heismanesque quarterbacking. Given the weather, and the location, it's no surprise. Not that Tech didn't look lousy too, but Blacksburg is hard enough without the rain, and without forgetting to bring your A game.

Anyway, I checked in regularly until roughly the 3:40 mark of the fourth quarter, saw no progress, and retired to baseball... just in time to miss BC's first touchdown, their onside recovery, and the mini-Flutie touchdown from Matt Ryan to Andre Callender.

When I checked back in on a lark, and saw BC up four with eight seconds left, I jumped out of my socks.

I may not be a big BC fan, and I'm not claiming to be one now. But understand something: this is the ONLY game of this magnitude that BC has won since the Flutie Game, which preceded my earliest interest in football by a good 3-4 years. They've been in position to either defend or gain a top 10 ranking many times, and blown it every time. To pull out a road win in fucking Blacksburg is nothing short of stunning. Bra-vo.

(Of course, in classic BC form, their biggest win in almost 25 years will have gone virtually unseen in the Boston area. They could win the national championship, and even THEN I'm not sure anyone would really care. Boston's either really weird or really wise.)

So, does this win meant BC is legit? Hell naw! The announcers were selling "yes" in the postgame, and this was indeed a rough environment to play through, but BC is still a "no" proposition until they prove otherwise time and again. Getting lucky against a VT team that had packed it in for the evening is great, but it's not a win that answers any questions. I won't trust them until they beat the rest of the ACC's few quality teams.

Then again, they could run the table and I'd still be nervous about them going into BCS championship situation. In the [cough] absence of a [coughYOUCOCKBAGScough] playoff system, running the table does not imply, even partially, that you're a superior team. It just means you won the games to which you were assigned. Even this year's subpar Ohio State team would turn them into a soggy puddle of that frothy mixture.

But that's all hypothetical, and highly unlikely given the source. So for now... bra-vo, Eagles.

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The First Of Many Counter-Intuitive Blog Posts    

Hockey time!

Prior to Eagles/Hokies and Red Sox/Rockies, I treated myself to a couple periods of Bruins/Blackhawks, featuring the leading candidates for the Calder trophy, Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. I was actually very excited to see Toews and Kane, especially after watching Toews' jaw-dropping goal the other night:

HOLY SHIT. Goal of the year. No more entries accepted, thanks for playing. I hope you can understand why I'd consider Toews' arrival to be appointment TV.

Unsurprisingly, he scored Chicago's lone goal tonight, popping a nonchalant snapshot past Tim Thomas on the power play. I'd say he generally held up his end of the bargain. Kane looked impressive too, though he didn't make as much of an impression, and is thus far having the statistically superior season. The Wirtz is dead, long live the Blackhawks!

I'll tell you who didn't look impressive: David Koci. He wanted to take a bite out of Shawn Thornton... but ended up with a mouthful of Zdeno Chara. RUH-ROH!

I saw that live, in stunning high-definition. If it looked gruesome on YouTube, imagine how nasty it looked when you could see the details... when you could see the point at which Koci's nose became re-broken. Bleech.

Then again, that's what he gets for having a RACIST MASCOT!!!

You know, for a guy who doesn't fight, Chara sure knows how to connect. He connected with Koci's chops or his nose pretty much every swing he took. Nice to see the 6'9" stud finally getting physical.

Aaaanyway, Bruins win 3-1, earning #2 on tonight's What You Missed While Watching An Awesome Baseball Game Countdown. More to come...

[h/t on the beatdown vid to Mirtle]

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Monday, October 22, 2007


The whole "good to be a Boston fan" thing is shooting past the "f-ing ridiculous" level this week.  Just to recap:

  • Papelbon riverdances his way to the World Series
  • Pats playing as if someone's controlling them in Madden with all the attribs pumped up
  • Eagles football has put the BC in BCS (for now), and have a monster game vs. VT this weekend
  • Celtics bench looking fairly solid in preseason... and that's all they need
  • Joe Torre just told the Yankees where to stick their rolled-up contract
  • Even the lowly shitball Bruins just shut out the Rangers

Look at what's slipping through the cracks while the Pats and Sox are playing so well.

The Bruins actually look competent!!!  They could actually be okay!  If a bunch of bums win a bunch of hockey games in the woods, does anyone care?

Or look at BC football!  What if BC runs the table and lands in the championship game?  They won't, and the winning streak probably ends on Saturday... but what if it doesn't?  Will that even be enough to get anyone to give a shit about BC football?  Probably not.  But it's fun to imagine how many college football diehard morons would see their teams fall by the wayside, only to watch BC win with no fans at all.

The point is, it doesn't get much better than this without actual trophies being handed out.  I'm floating.  And the insanity of this planetary alignment has not been lost on me in the least.  This is gonna be a good, good month.

Karma Is A Bitch    

Yeah... and she's MY bitch.

And as for you, Boss Hogg:

Hope you enjoyed your week out of the house, Cleveland. Now go back to being miserable losers. Sit down and watch some Mind of Mencia reruns. I'm sure that's up your alley. And I'm sure they'll be on until April.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Finally, Everything Becomes So Much Simpler    

Time to break the radio silence.

I've been taking the ALCS in stride.  I know, as Manny does, that life will go on if they lose.  It's not life or death.  So I'm not worried about it.

But I'm now a slobbering, unshaven, and above all else angry, pissed-off motherfucker about this series.  You bastards awoke the sleeping giant... Crazy Playoff Jeff.

This was not the case yesterday.  Way back then, I had nothing against the Indians.  I bore no ill will towards Cleveland as they tore apart the Sox the last few games.  Despite the treasonous nature of the thought, I felt the league would be better off with them winning the Series, should it come to that.  The big picture showed no reason to prolong the city of Cleveland's agony any further.  And having rooted so long for the Sox, I felt a tremendous amount of sympathy for the fate of the Cleveland fan.  (I hate to see suffering take place beyond the confines of the Philadelphia metro area.)  I could see the silver lining on a loss.

In fact, I even told my mom recently that Sox fans didn't deserve a parade, because of their shabby treatment of Eric Gagne.  I believe he's injured, and will be cut open (again) before a single Thanksgiving turkey gets carved.  As such, the booing is both ignorant and undeserved.  Further, he's not showing a single characteristic of classic "gag" jobs (i.e. walks) so the "gag me" business just seems infantile.  Kinda like obsessing over the "poo" in Albert Pujols.  (OK, I'll cop to that one.)  So there's been plenty of Sox-hate going on in my mind lately.

And amazingly, I've calmed down with regard to the appallingly poor judgment shown by the redface wearers.  I don't like it, but it's at least understandable on one level.  It's still the team's logo.  That's the core of the problem just as much as the staggering and impossible-to-miss-by-any-intelligent-person similarity between redface and blackface.  The logo wasn't their idea.  At least there's one defense, albeit a poor one.

So.  What's the defense for this?

There went all my sympathy.  I now hope the Indians make it to the next ten World Series.  And I hope they lose every single one of them by giving up runs in the 9th inning of the 7th game.  On errors.

Yes, Jesse, I'm now with you.  Fuck the Indians.

But more directly, fuck their fans.  Not all of them... just the miserable ones.  The ones who really get angry after the Indians lose.  I hope they keep watching the Indians lose for the rest of their pathetic, worthless lives.

I'm not going to claim that this is isolated behavior.  Most fan bases have engaged in this sort of thing at some point.  And while that may lessen the global impact of this particular instance, the fact that it feels like a fair representation of rabid fandom is saddening, just on a basic human level.  It makes me like sports less and less.  Heck, I thought the Gagne abuse was enough of a reality check.  This just makes me want to turn the television off.  That, or write a book: You Are A Complete Fucking Idiot: Twelve Essays About You And Your Favorite Sports Team Eating A Big, Fat Bag by Jeff Doucette.

If anything, this makes me appalled and ashamed for Sox fans' behavior all the more.  Because you know some Sox fan pissed those neanderthal fuckheads off at some point, right?  Which in turn entitled them (says they) to return fire.  Listen, Sox fans are detested like no other fan base, and dseervedly so.  We (not me) have definitely earned that newfound reputation by invading every stadium in America and starting "Yankees Suck" cheers at totally Sox-neutral games (say, Diamondbacks-Padres).  It sucks.  It's obnoxious, and it's rude, and it sucks.  So guess what... go after us when we act up.  Yell, scream, curse, knock yourself out.  We probably deserve it on some level.  And it's to be expected... again, on some level.

Physically contacting women is not that level.  Neither are "Rice-K" jokes and slanty-eye gestures.  Nor the guy who responded to "go Youk" with "SHUT THE FUCK UP!"  There's a line, and all those things crossed it.

For God's sake, at least get your retribution on the right person.  The girls who got abused so viciously weren't the perpetrators of those people's anger, but they received all the retribution.  That ain't right.

Anyway, as I was saying, yesterday I thought it'd be OK if Beckett lost tonight.  I could have dealt.  Life would have continued.  Not anymore.

And if he does lose, it's made my choice of allegiance for the World Series way, way easier.

It's game time now.  Go Sox.  If not Sox... go Rocks.  If not Rocks... then nothing.

(This goes without saying, but reading what people felt compelled to leave in the comments made me feel even worse.  That was my mistake, but still, the idea that someone not only thought those things but felt compelled to share his thoughts in such a cowardly fashion... I mean, it's repulsive in every way.  And definitely don't read the comments here.  Awful even by Fanhouse standards.)

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Ace-timist Report    

Interesting that all eight teams managed to set their rotations such that their best pitcher took the mound in Game 1 of the playoffs.  Usually there's at least one guy of Doug Davis's caliber who gets a Game 1 start, but not this year.  Even with the extra time between Sunday/Monday and the beginning of the round, you'd think with so many teams' playoff fates undecided until late that they wouldn't have the chance to set up their rotations.  And yet they were all set.  Even the Rockies.

Anyway, since we had four opportunities to compare aces, I thought I'd line them all up and see how they performed:

Josh Beckett
John Lackey
Chien-Ming Wang
C.C. Sabathia
Brandon Webb
Carlos Zambrano
Cole Hamels
Jeff Francis (WTFBBQ????)

Apart from the heinous (but not unsurprisingly so, to those of us in the know) performance of alleged Cy Young candidate Wang, this actually isn't a bad set of lines.  Those are some big K numbers.

Even Jeff Francis got in on the act.  Again and again the same question passes across my mind: WTFBBQ??!?!?1!?  I didn't see any of the game, so I can't say, but that's an awfully impressive line for the shakiest of the eight pitchers on that list.  Was it a case of Rollins/Victorino/Utley/Howard striking themselves out, or did Francis legitimately own them?

Even the guys who struggled (Hamels, Sabathia, Lackey) acquitted themselves nicely in terms of the stats.  Lackey in particular was surprisingly good... his effectiveness last night was about on a par with Wang tonight, but Lackey still kept the Angels close and got them through six full innings.  Refusing to fold was critical to the Angels' chances going forward, even with the extra rest.

In the same vein, that's a downright rotten line for Sabathia, but he pitched a hell of a game in spite of having such dreadful control.  Good for him to gut it out.  That is what an ace does.

Compare those two performances to that of 19-game winner Wang.  His incompetence forced Torre into using Ross Ohlendorf, which in turn put the game out of reach a few moments ago.  Wang just isn't gonna gut out games like that.  The Sox lit him up big-time last month at Fenway, and the Indians lit him up even worse tonight.  (But hey, Cy Young candidate, right?  19 winses!!!!)

Amazing... Actual Baseball Discussion On TV    

Has anyone else noticed that the games yesterday were shown without anyone harping on storylines... with no fighting amongst booth personalities to see who can make the most outrageous claim... and with an actual focus on analysis of the game action? In other words, have you noticed how thoroughly ESPN's pants are being pulled down by the folks at TBS?

Even the unending promos for The John Madden Impression Show Starring Frank Caliendo are easy to stomach when compared to the "news" coverage (steroids, soap operas, etc) and "analysis" (Rick Sutcliffe pimping Roy Halladay for the Cy Young? This year???) that ESPN forces into the game coverage. Hey, at least Caliendo can do a good impression of an announcer, which is more than can be said for anyone at ESPN.

So first TNT blows away the competitors with its NBA coverage, and now TBS blows away the competitors with its MLB coverage. How quickly can we get the Turner people an NFL game? Can we give them the hockey contract for free?

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So that happened.

Phillies looked like they had opening night jitters, with Chase and Howard ridiculously overaggressive at the plate, culminating in a combined 0-8, 7K line. Yikes.

Meanwhile, the Rockies boast two legititmate, professional hitters in Holliday and Helton. I've always loved watching Helton hit - so patient, so relaxed, he seems to see the ball better than most, and rarely gets totally fooled. Reminds me of Manny that way.

Cole had his usual early jitters, then settled in as the stud he is. On a normal night, the Phillies would have scored enough against this Rockies staff to pick him up. With so many starters playing like they were stressed, it just didn't happen. Manuel left Flash Gordon in for one batter too many, and then it was all over.

Hopefully they turn it around fast, and win this afternoon.

In other news, good god, I forgot how pathetic the Angels lineup is against any team not named the Yankees. Despite the AAAA lineup they trotted out, yes, I'm officially scared shitless of Beckett. He's piling up enough postseason dominance to make me a believer.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Sox in 5 (lose the Daisuke game and one crazy 13-12 type game)
Yanks in 4 (lose to Fausto, ARod series MVP)
Phillies in 5 (Mesa blows one game, starter blows another, Hamels pitches a gem this afternoon while I get toasted at Ludwig's)
Cubs in 4 (lose to Webb)

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007


in an attempt to defray the utter lollification of this site, and still get my lolfix, i've set this up. I'll save only the best for posting to this forum, shunting the rest over there. Enjoy!

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Another one for Pooperstown    

The Entitled Little Shitbag Hall of Fame has another member. Enjoy!

Ok, I'm officially over my mid-season baseball malaise, and ready to talk some playoffs! PLAYOFFS???!!!

Issue #1: Was Matt Holliday safe at home last night?
No fucking way on earth. Let me make clear that I hate Mike Barrett's guts, but the play he made to block the plate, curb-stomping Holliday's hand, was totally sweet. And the ump blew the call. Horrible. I'd feel really bad for San Diego, if they actually had any baseball fans there. You wanna feel better, Padres fans? Roll to the beach, roll a spliff, and watch the waves roll in. Baseball won't seem so important anymore. Leave it for those of us who need something to do in Fall.

Side issues:
a) should instant replay be brought to beisbol?
Absofuckinglutely not. We can rehash this argument forever, and it's really sort of a useless exercise - it's like arguing between Jeebus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster: it comes down to personal preference. Suffice it to say that I hate replay in football, and think it's a reflection of the uglier side of American culture's litigiousness and sense of entitlement as equalling justice.

b) is Holliday the MVP?
It's pretty close - he leads the league in hitting and RBI, and that's a pretty solid case. Add to that the monster game he played last night, scoring the winning run, and he'd seem like a shoe-in. Plus, the HR kings have two factors against them: Prince didn't make the dance, and Big Baby Howard set the all-time K record. Now, there's two things in Holliday's way: 1) the botched catch against Giles last night, which in my opinion negates the magic bonus clutch points he gets from scoring the winning run; and 2) Jimmy Fucking Rollins.

Quick backstory - I didn't used to like Rollins. I always thought of him as a shittier, less clutch Jeter without the ability to push his teammates to be better. I thought him overpaid, and his permanent smile seemed to confirm that he was just out there having fun, getting paid. Last season I changed my mind - he's a better fielder than Jeet, and is pretty clearly a better hitter. He was the spark this year on the best offensive team in the league, and got the magic 20-20-20-20 Quadfecta. Plus, he entered Sunday's must-win game, and proceeded to dominate from the first inning on. One of the best single-game performances I've ever seen, and he did it all with that signature smile on his face. I've realized through him (and Howard last year) that you can have fun and be professional at the same time, and that it a big game, pressure situation, that attitude can be VERY valuable. So, MVP for Rollins. Sorry, Hanley.

Issue#2: MLB scheduling of games
Very ALEast centric, but really, who can blame them, since that's what people wanna watch. Still, the Phillies getting bumped to the 3PM slot for their first two games, Wed. and Thurs., is pretty weak. In sum, there will be 0 Phillies games on local, non-cable TV unless they reach the WS. Then again, Philadelphians love nothing more (other than throwing racist slurs and batteries) than ditching work early to hit up a pub. Ludwig's, here I come!

Side note: Ran into the Gov yesterday outside his office as I exited the elevator to deliver a grant proposal to a private foundation that lives next door. Cap'n Orange was in a great mood, just beaming, having just come I assume from the pep rally at city hall. I shouted "Go Phils!" and he paused and smiled. Is it too late for him to declare candidacy for 2008?

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