Baseball history, analysis, and commentary from John J Perricone; born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Oh, and Barry Bonds. Lots of Barry Bonds.

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.... What's happening

As many of you know, David Pinto is my blogfather. He is also one of the very best writers out there, offering all of us baseball junkies a terrific place to read, for free, things most knuckleheads have to pay for. He is currently running a string of posts on two subjects, the Yankees vs. the Red Sox; and our personal favorite, Peter Edward Rose. Hit him up here, and then scroll up.

Bob Klapish also has something to say about the Yankees vs. Red Sox, in a special to ESPN.

And Travis Nelson may not be my blogbrother, but that's how I view him. He is funny, insightful, and articulate, weaving current topics, culture and pop history into one big baseball laugh. Check out his take on the Yankees starting rotation for 2003.

When was the last time I mentioned my good friend John Bonnes? Go, now.

And for those of you looking to see a more detailed analysis of how Japanese players do in North America, read this from Jim Albright, the Baseball Guru. For those of you who don't want to do all of the dirty work, you're looking at about a 90% simple production, (hits, walks), and about 60-70% power production, (home runs, doubles). Both Albright and John Sickles say they expect Matsui to run a .300/.400/.500 for the Yankees next season, which would be terrific.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 28, 2002

.... Compare and save

A loyal reader has asked me to look at the difference between Ramon Martinez and Neifi Perez, to see why Brian Sabean decided to flush four million dollars down the toilet.

Looking at the two players side by side isn't simple, because Perez was a regular for several seasons while Martinez has not been able to make the starting lineup on merit. At the same time, Perez's numbers as a starter were accumulated in the jet stream called Coors Field, so while they may appear superficially impressive; in reality, they are just as weak there as they were in KC. On the surface, I'd say it's likely that Perez would have had just as tough a time cracking the Giants lineup these last four years as Martinez has.

Ramon is 30 years old, hits and throws right-handed, can play any infield position, and even played a little outfield in 2002, and he made just under $800,000.00 last season. Neifi is 29 years old, is a switch hitter and throws right-handed, can play any infield position other than first base, and he stole $4.1 million from the Royals last season.

Looking at the last three seasons for each player is probably the best way to compare the two, because Perez played about half of his games at sea level during that period of time:

Ramon .269/.296/.378 .674 OPS 63 X-base hits in 761 AB's

Neifi .269/.333/.401 .734 OPS 140 X-base hits in 1786 AB's

Perez is a switch hitter, here are his OBM TC splits:

RH .282/.299/.431 .730 OPS 490 AB's

LH .264/.294/.359 .653 OPS 1296 AB's

For all of the talk about his speed, Perez is only 20 for 41 as a base stealer during that span, while Martinez is 6 for 10. Perez does have 24 triples the last three seasons, but 14 of them came during his time at Coors in 2000 and 2001, before he became a Royal. Surprisingly, Martinez has 7 triples, as PacBell's Death Valley has added several triples to all of the Giants stat totals. Looking at these numbers, these two players look pretty much the same, you'd be right to wonder why one of these players was penciled into the starting lineup every day without question, while the other couldn't fight his way off the bench.

You all know how much I value road production, as I believe it is the simplest way to figure out a players value. The two players home and away stats follow, side by side:


Ramon .267/.336/.406 .742 OPS

Neifi .302/.320/.453 .773 OPS


Ramon .271/.331/.395 .726 OPS

Neifi .234/.271/.301 .572 OPS

And here we see the end of the discussion. It is clear that outside the confines of Coors Field, Neifi Perez is not a major league hitter. His career has been propped up on the bloated statistics he was able to accumulate while he was a Rockie, but when he's been anywhere else, he has been woeful. In the Giants case, he is going to one of the toughest places to hit in the world. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be the most expensive pinch runner in San Francisco Giants history by the time the All Star break rolls around.

Meanwhile, the Giants have let Martinez go away, even though he has demonstrated that he can hit at PacBell, play anywhere they've asked him to (he has filled in for Bell, Aurilia, Kent, Snow and Bonds over the last three seasons), and he's cost them less over the length of his entire career than Perez earned last season. Now, I'm not saying that the Giants need to give Martinez the third base job, but this is a deal that appears to be based simply on the perception that Perez can add speed to the lineup. Well, you need to be able to get on base by yourself for that speed to be of use. Perez will struggle mightily to do so at PacBell, and will likely play himself out of the league by the time this contract is up. Here's hoping someone gives Ramon a job, as he is a genuine good guy, and he just may be able to post an .800 OPS in the right circumstances.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 27, 2002

.... News and notes

David Pinto has a suggestion for the Red Sox, in regards their recent whining about the Yankees being the evil empire. The Elephants in Oakland are covering all the bases as Billy Beane gets his charges ready for Opening Day. Edward Cossete has redesigned Bambino's Curse, and one, it looks fantastic, and two, he's got a lot to say about the Contreras signing, the possible Colon signing, and pretty much everything Boston. Mattew T. Durham is flat out hysterical in these Southpaw rants about the Giants.

And ESPN has an article on the slow down in the free agent market this season.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 27, 2002

.... Something

Murray Chass has a column on the Yankees signing of Jose' Contreras, the Cuban superstar. Chass says, rightly, that the luxury tax seems to be having no discernible effect on Steinbrenner, particularly when it comes to paying for front-line talent.

And here's Lupica at his best, reminding us why we are sports fans in the first place. It's all New York, but still, it's awesome.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 25, 2002

.... Merry Christmas

In the spirit of the holidays, I won't rip Brian Sabean for this ridiculous statement, at least not too much ;-)

"Neifi is an accomplished major-league middle infielder who can hit for average, run well and play on either side of second base," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said in a statement. "Like a lot of the players we've signed this winter, he'll provide (manager) Felipe (Alou) with a lot of versatility. Neifi has the advantage of being a switch hitter and can steal a base when called upon. He adds depth to our infield."

I mean, come on Brian, what the hell are you talking about? Hit for average? This is a guy with an on base percentage of .296 over the last three full seasons!?! Steal a base when called upon? Please. I know you aren't a fan of sabermetrics, but you do look at stats, don't you? This is the kind of deal that hurts a team, the kind of cash thrown at a problem deal that restricts you just enough to matter. The $4 plus million Perez will steal from the Giants over the next two seasons could be used for any number of things, not the least of which could have been Joe Randa for this season.

The way I see it, this type of signing is Sabean's Achilles. For the most part, he should be commended for rarely over-paying for top talent. In the past, he has figured out ways to keep players like Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, Rich Aurilia, and a few key pitchers in a Giants uniform for very economically sound deals. However, he has a minor tendency to overpay for mediocrity, players like Dunston, Benard, Snow, this deal with Perez; they're all the same. Big bucks for a known commodity, regardless of the fact that the known commodity is known to be not very good. It's too bad, because right now, at a tremendous savings, he could replace Benard, Snow and Perez, sign a player like Randa, and still be able to make that mid-season move he's so famous for.

Anyway, I still think Brian's a terrific general manager. Everybody has their Kryptonite.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 24, 2002

.... I just can't get e-Neif

Glenn Reynolds says they should build a baseball stadium at ground zero. Interesting idea, I'd like to see an architect look at it.

The SF Chronicle reports that the SF Giants have agreed to terms with infielder Neifi Perez after all, coming to terms on a two year deal worth $4.25 million dollars. Perez's agent is under the impression that Ray Durham will be playing in the outfield and Perez is slated to be the second baseman. I hope he is mistaken, because that would be, quite frankly, a horrible decision by Felipe Alou. The Giants already trade a bat for a glove at first base, to make that trade at two spots means that they will be running a six man batting order out there most days.

I was going to write that I had mixed feelings about this deal, but their not mixed at all. Perez is one of those guys who impress their managers with their hustle and supposed baseball pedigree, (not unlike, say, Shawon Dunston). But when you stop and look at what they produce while they are 'hustling' around, slapping their gloves and acting like a real ballplayer, you find little or nothing in the way of meaningful results.

From a strictly numbers standpoint, Neifi Perez is one of the very worst hitters in all of baseball, posting an ungodly .236/.260/.303 last season in 554 at bats. His last three seasons combined are almost as bad, at .269/.296/.378, so we can assume we're talking about an established level of performance, (or lack thereof). In over 1700 at bats (1700 at bats?!? How could any team give this guy close to 600 at bats per season, three years in a row?), he has more than twice as many strikeouts as walks (184 to 76) For a supposed base-stealer, he has been caught stealing more often than he's been succesful (21 to 20), and come on, twenty steals in three seasons? Bonds has more than that. For crying out loud, Jeff Kent has stolen 24 bases the last three seasons, and he's only been caught 16 times. Perez has virtually no power at all, and he has no apparent ability to produce in any situation, as he has no stat split that is appreciably better than his overall horrible performance, not with a man on, not with runners in scoring position, not with the bases empty, late and close, nothing.

Basically, we're talking about a guy who makes Shawon Dunston look like Ernie Banks. And not for nothing, but two million per is criminal, especially when you consider that the Giants, as thin as they are at the infield, could call up just about any Triple AAA second baseman and get that kind of production.

However, veteran depth is and always has been important to Sabean and company, and Perez, while doing a damn good job of playing his way out of the majors, has been here for a while. Regardless of what his agent thinks, one of two scenarios seem likely. He will come out of the gate hot, forcing Alou to keep him in the lineup until it becomes apparent that his production is a fluke; or he will start the season with ten hits in his first one hundred at bats. Either way, I hope Alou doesn't follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and let Perez kill the first half like Baker did with Benard in 2001, and Shinjo in 2002.

Oh, and one more thing. You'll know what kind of season we're looking at if we see Perez anywhere above the seventh or eighth slot in the lineup. Perez has almost 1000 at bats in the number two slot over the last three seasons, where he has posted a scintillating .272/.295/.380 OBM TC line. With Durham, Grissom, Aurilia, Alfonzo, and really, just about any other hitters on the team being far better options to bat ahead of Superman, Perez simply cannot be allowed to bat in the first two innings of any game.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 23, 2002

.... Hot Fudge Sunday

John Harper of the NY Daily News has an inside look at the Edgardo Alfonzo deal, from the breakdown with the Mets brass, all the way to the surprise signing with the SF Giants. It's a terrific piece of reporting, and it offers a peek at how Sabean and Coletti are among the best negotiators in baseball.

It also reveals how these potentially devastating extra years can get tacked on to a deal. Not unlike JT Snow's agent three years ago, pushing to get a guaranteed fourth year out of the Giants, Edgardo's agent did the same thing. The pressure of not having the player for the time frame you want him causes a GM to decide to give him the guarantee of a year that may or may not be worthwhile.

Michael O'Keefe and TJ Quinn have a "Life of Reilly" piece on Pete Rose. Interesting.

Peter Gammons has a must read news and notes column.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 22, 2002

.... Hot and spicy

The NY Times reports that Japanese third baseman Norihiro Nakamura has decided to remain in Japan with his team the Kinetsu Buffaloes.

In this NY Daily News article, we can see the reasons why Nakamura may have decided to stay in Japan. First, he turned down the Mets offer of two years and $7 million to accept a probable five year, $30 million dollar deal with his original team. More importantly, as the Yankees will soon find out, the Japanese culture is very different from the one here in the US. Respect, loyalty, honor, in many ways the Japanese man views these aspects of life like a Marine. These principals are much more important, more rigorously observed and constant, than anything we know here. Nakamura couldn't tell his team he was leaving. They wanted him, they let him know he was important, and that was the end of it. He couldn't let them down. That would have been dishonorable, something a Japanese man simply cannot live with.

Mike Lupica looks at the Mets off-season moves. He says you gotta prove it, especially since last off-season the Mets looked like World Series champs, and they turned into one of the most disappointing teams in NY sports history.

The SF Chronicle reports that the Giants failed to tender contracts to five players, Manny Aybar and Jay Witasick, lefty Aaron Fultz and infielders Ramon Martinez and Neifi Perez. This means they are free agents, able to sign with any team that wants them. The Giants appear to have serious interest in Neifi Perez:

Assistant general manager Ned Colletti said the Giants have had many conversations with Perez. "We are hopeful we can get something done with him," Colletti said. "Our first choice is Perez right now. It doesn't mean we wouldn't have interest in any of the other four. They have all contributed to our success here, especially in a pennant year. If we can figure something out that both parties can live with, it's not out of the realm of possibility."

That's something I could live with as well. Perez is a woeful everyday player, but his skill set, a little speed, a little hustle, and an occasionally effective bat, make him a better backup infielder than Martinez, who never really developed into a major league hitter. The article also touches on the teams interest in Jose Cruz Jr., a free agent outfielder who played for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. Cruz, 28, hit .245 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI, essentially a younger Reggie Sanders. Whether he can be signed for as little as Sanders last season remains to be seen.

Sports Illustrated has a list of non-tender free agents. A quick look shows just how much JT Snow has been and is hurting the Giants. Many of you know how little I think of JT, particularly given his bloated salary. Here are the free agent first basemen available right now; Brad Fullmer, Brian Daubach, Travis Lee, Tony Clark, Lee Stevens, Mark Grace, and Dave Hollins. Fred McGriff just signed with the LA Dodgers for one year at $3.75 million. How many of the players above will get more than that? Snow will make $6.85 million this year.

Comment on this   [1]  »  December 21, 2002

.... News and notes

Rob Neyer agrees that Braves GM John Schuerholz did a pretty bad job in all his wheeling and dealing that resulted in the Millwood deal. And reports that the NY Mets have come to terms with free agent slugger Cliff Floyd. The deal is reportedly for four years and $26 million dollars.

It will be interesting to see if the balance of power has shifted from the NL West to the NL East next season. It sure seems like it.

And on the Pete Rose trial.... ESPN also reports that Bud Selig wants to arrange a meeting with all 58 living members of the Hall of Fame to discuss the possible reinstatement of Rose. Many of the members, most prominently pitcher Bob Feller, have stated that they would never return to the Hall if Rose were elected. What are the odds that Selig does the right thing?

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 20, 2002

.... Friends and family

John Bonnes, the Twinsgeek, is running a series of interviews with members of the Minnesota Twins front office. Needless to say, this is spectacular work for someone who, like me, does his site out of sheer love of the game. I will, of course, steal his idea and see if I can do the same with the San Francisco Giants.

Mike Carminati is ranting less and writing sharp, detailed columns more. Check him out today as he looks at the possible Cliff Floyd to the Baltimore Orioles reports, as well as the details and links on the two Japanese sluggers who will be playing in NY next season.

Meanwhile, Aaron Gleeman took the time to run out the actual production of the two Japanese stars, as well as their expected production here in the states. Remember, Aaron is single, 19 years old, and he has a five week break from school. Best to stop by his site frequently these next couple of weeks.

And don't forget to hit Alex Belth's Bronx Banter to keep abreast of all things Yankee and NY.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 20, 2002

.... On a long, lonesome highway, East of Omaha

The NY Times has one article on the Hideki Matsui signing with the Yanks, and another saying that the Yankees are close to a deal with Roger Clemens that will keep him in pinstripes as he goes for his 300th win.

And the Atlanta Braves have suddenly found themselves with a glut of starting pitching, as Greg Maddux filed for arbitration. With six starting pitchers in the fold being one too many, and ESPN reports that the Braves immediately sent arbitration-eligible Kevin Millwood to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Johnny Estrada. Who? Kevin Millwood has almost as many career wins (75) as Estrada has career games played (99). Schuerholz couldn't get more for Millwood than that? Talk about a salary dump, Millwood finished third in the NL Cy Young voting last season, and he just got traded for a delivery guy and some pizza. Jeez.

The NY Daily News also reports that the Mets are the front-runner for Cliff Floyd, who rejected the Boston Red Sox offer of arbitration yesterday. Contingent on them making a move for the 30 year old would be the completion of deals involving Roger Cedeno, who is perhaps the last burdensome contract on Steve Phillips' club, at least the last one he can realistically move. Meanwhile, in a "anything you can do, I can do better" move, another Daily News report says the Mets have agreed to a two year contract with the other Japanese slugger, third baseman Norihiro Nakamura. The deal is for $7 million over two years, with an option for a third year.

.... Go West, young man

In the SF Chronicle, Bruce Jenkins has a quick review of the work Sabean Colletti and Dick Tidrow have done so far this off-season. Suffice to say, he is complimentary, and frankly, even though there is more to do, so am I.

Mark Kreidler of the Sacramento Bee, in a Special to, has a rebuilt from the ground up Giants piece. A separate report in the Chron says that, amazingly, Dusty Baker will be reunited with Shawn Estes in Chicago this season, as Estes and the club have agreed to a one-year deal for $3 million dollars.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 20, 2002

.... Woke up. Got out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head.

Just finished a 24 hour ordeal from the West Coast to the East. Settling in, so come back in a little while, 'cause I've been reading.... a lot, and there's a lot to talk about. Matsui signig with the Yankees, Mondesi to the Giants rumors, Kent on the decline questions. Give me a couple of hours......

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 20, 2002

.... Friends and family, Part II

When was the last time you stopped by to read Jay Jaffe's work on the NY Yankees? Don't forget to check out the Cleveland Indians Report. You can bet that Edward Cossette is happy about his new baby GM in Beantown.

No matter what happens, the number one link to see daily is David Pinto, who, as many of you know, is my Blogfather.

And as many of you are looking at the recent Hall of Fame nominees, check out Lee Sinins' Baseball Immortals, the alternative to the HoF.

If that's not enough for you to do, well, scroll down my blog roll and see some of the best writing out there, and most of it's free. Free from editorial pressure, big business influence, advertising pressures, deadlines and word counts.... Man, it's a great time to be a baseball fan.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... The National Review Online

Off-Wing Opinion links us to a couple of NRO authors arguing about the Pete Rose situation. James Robbins of NRO says let Rose in, while Geoffrey Norman says keep him out. You know what I say about it, so there.

By the way, I managed to get about five minutes of air time about Pete Rose on 680 KNBR with Ted Robinson (filling in for Gary Radnich) and I even got in a plug for OBM. If you heard me, let me know what you thought.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... Jeff and Jeffer has the low down on the two year, $18.2 milion dollar contract they finalized with Jeff Kent today. Good luck Jeff.

There is also an ESPN Insider link (Of which I refuse to pony up the cash for) to a rumor that the Giants are looking at NY Yankee Raul Mondesi. Hmmm... Maybe Sabean can get the Yankees to take some young pitchers and eat some of Mondesi's cash.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... New guys too

For those of you new to OBM, here's a couple of things to remember to do:

1. Download Papyrus there on the left. It's the base font for the site, and it will look a lot better with it.

2. Visit the guest map, and pin yourself. It's fun.

3. email me, whenever the mood strikes.

4. Check out all my archives, some of the stuff I wrote back in the day is pretty good too.

5. And visit my bookstore, the place for all of your online shopping needs.... Well, for most of your online shopping needs.... OK, the place for some of your online shopping needs.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... Third base?

Our good friend Mattew Durham has an excellent post on the possibility that the Giants could still have their cake (Joe Randa), and eat it too (Livan Hernandez). Good work.

Although KC Star writer Joe Posnanski's take on the Paul Byrd defection seems to suggest that the Royals may be able to afford to keep Randa after all.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... More Rose? Ahhhh!!!!!

Sorry, but I must pay the piper here, and his name is Mike. Over at Mike's Baseball Rants, there is a continuation of the dialogue that has been ongoing between Aaron Haspel, Mike, myself, and silently, Derek Zumsteg. A consensus has emerged, albeit, loosely formed, that while there may be a lot of evidence that Rose bet on baseball and the Reds, it is not compelling nor convicting evidence to the degree we would look for if you are going to permanently ban someone. It's more along the lines of the old, "there's so much dirt here, the dirt we need must be in there somewhere." Mike and I don't buy it, and it seems we've argued pretty effectively with Aaron, becasue he too has admitted to seeing some of the cracks in the armor:

I agree with a great [deal] of what you argue here. However, I am actually in favor of Rose's reinstatement because I don't feel that MLB made a good case proving Rose bet on baseball or the Reds. I find the evidence to be contradictory and not the least bit compelling. Oh, and I have read the Dowd Report (actually more than once).

And then in another email, he questions how we might define a standard of proof:

I must take issue with John's implication that, because Rose is the all-time hit leader, an especially high standard of proof is required. Does he mean that ordinary players can be barred on less evidence than superstars? More generally, I am curious what both of you think the standard of proof ought to be. I don't think "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies here; this is not, so far as baseball is concerned, a criminal matter. I should think "preponderance of evidence" would suffice, which is another way of saying that belief, not knowledge, is enough. Whether the evidence indicates that Rose bet on the Reds is of course another question.

That's not exactly what I meant, but it's close. What I was trying to say is that if you are going to permanently end your relationship with the all-time hits king, then your burden of proof must be extremely high. So, yes, I would say "beyond a reasonable doubt" applies here, simply because it is an established standard of proof that most people in our country have a modicum of faith in, and as that standard, it is powerful and effective. It is the line in the sand that pretty much everyone recognizes. Again, if you want to talk about using a "preponderance of evidence" for a one year ban, OK. But a pile of stuff that is loosely put together and based on a bunch a ne'er do wells is not enough for permanent ineligibility. In my book.

And let me say one more time, that if Pete Rose admits that he bet on baseball, he should be re-instated immediately, because Rule 21(d) clearly outlines a one-year ban for that. If he admits he bet on the Reds, he absolutely has to remain on the permanently ineligible list, no questions asked. No apology, no retribution, no nothing.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... News and notes reports that Kent has agreed to a two year deal with the Houston Astros.

Here in San Francisco, we have several local writers commenting on the end of the Russ Ortiz era. Here's Henry Schulman's take. Ray Ratto says the Ortiz trade is an indication that the Giants are pocketing the profits from PacBell. His premise, that if the Giants cannot make a profit when they play all the way to the seventh game of the World Series, then maybe this privately financed ball park isn't such a great idea after all. And Ann Killion seems sad as she reminisces about Russ.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 18, 2002

.... Zumsteg counterpoint

After reading Aaron Haspel's critique of the Pete Rose situation, and in particular, his assertion that perhaps I would be better served by explaining what parts of Derek Zumsteg's Pete Rose analysis I take exception with; I thought I would.

Derek uses the famous Bill James' defense of Rose as the starting point of his piece, and although I am certain that Mr. James does not need my help, to keep it simple, I'll work with it as a starting point. At the heart of our discord, Zumsteg asserts that Rose is banned from baseball because he broke Rule 21(d), which is posted in every clubhouse. As many of you may or may not know, Rule 21 has many sections dealing with misconduct, so let's look at the whole shebang:



Any player or person connected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.

(b) GIFT FOR DEFEATING COMPETING CLUB. Any player or person connected with a club who shall offer or give any gift or reward to a player or person connected with another club for services rendered or supposed to be or to have been rendered in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing club, and any player or person connected with a club who shall solicit or accept from a player connected with another club any gifts or reward for any such services rendered, or supposed to have been rendered, or who having been offered any such gift or reward, shall fail to inform his League President or the Commissioner immediately of such offer, and of all facts and circumstances therewith, shall be declared ineligible for not less than three (3) years.

(c) GIFTS TO UMPIRES Any player or person connected with a club, who shall give, or offer to give, any gift or reward to an umpire for services rendered, or supposed to be or to have been rendered, in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing club, or for the umpire's decision on anything connected with the playing of a baseball game; and any umpire who shall render, or promise or agree to render, any such decision otherwise than on its merits, or who shall solicit or accept such gifts or reward, or having been solicited to render any such decision otherwise than on its merits, shall fail to inform the League President or the Commissioner immediately of such offer or solicitation, and all facts and circumstances therewith, shall be declared permanently ineligible.

(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

(e) VIOLENCE OR MISCONDUCT IN INTERLEAGUE GAMES. In case of any physical attack or other violence upon an umpire by a player, or by an umpire upon a player, or of other misconduct by an umpire or a player, during or in connection with any interleague Major League game or any exhibition game of a Major League Club with a club or team not a member of the same league, the Commissioner shall impose upon the offender or offenders such fine, suspension, ineligibility or other penalty, as the facts may warrant in the judgment of the Commissioner.

(f) OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.

(g) RULE TO BE KEPT POSTED. A printed copy of this Rule shall be kept posted in each clubhouse.

Thanks to the Baseball Archive

So, we see that there are other sections of Rule 21 that could have resulted in Rose's permanent ineligibility. In section (f), we see that he could have been declared permanently ineligible because of conduct not to be in the best interests of baseball, conduct that is not limited to any of the previous definitions. The entire agreement is available at OBM, but for the purposes of this conversation, I'll just mention that the agreement states that it is serving the best of interests of baseball three separate times. It never mentions section (d) or betting on baseball at all, except when it states that nothing in the agreement shall be deemed an admission or denial that Pete Rose bet on baseball. Derek would have you assume that this conduct must be betting on games, and specifically, betting on Cincinnati Reds' games. But why assume that? The agreement signed by Giamatti and Rose says nothing of the sort. Doesn't that address the issue adequately? Isn't that clear enough? In my mind it is. Rose was consorting with gamblers and drug dealers, he was gambling himself, heavily, he was being prosecuted by the IRS for tax evasion; in short, he was doing many things that an active manager should know were not in the best interests of the game. The section of Rule 21 that resulted in Rose being banned had to have been section (f). Any other conclusion flies in the face of the very agreement the Dowd Report produced.

From that point forward, Derek does an admirable job of poking holes in the different arguments James put forth, including doing a very good job of showing the many inaccuracies represented by Bill. It's a strong, solid argument. But what's missing is this: If the report is so damning and conclusive, why have an agreement at all? Why include in the agreement an out for Rose? To get it over with? That should hardly matter, what when we're talking about the integrity of the game as a whole. Why not just ban him, and let him do what he wants? We know that the commissioners office has that power, why not use it? Again, I believe that the reason there is still so much debate on the subject, and so much public support for Rose is because they failed to adequately win their point. If the evidence was and is so overwhelming, what stopped then from simply banning Rose and getting it over with?

And that's really where I've landed in this argument. Bud Selig, along with Fay Vincent and John Dowd, is asking me to do something that Giamatti and company apparently couldn't do themselves, come to a concrete conclusion that Pete Rose bet on baseball and the Cincinatti Reds. I didn't write the agreement, and neither did Pete Rose. Dowd and Giamatti and Vincent did, and they did a piss-poor job of it. So now, thirteen years later, people still don't believe Rose bet on baseball, many people want him to apologize and let back in, many people want to see him in the Hall of Fame.... It's a travesty.

The evidence wasn't and isn't overwhelming. It requires a careful reading of all of the testimony, and a pretty sympathetic view of all the people who have turned on Rose, to come to the conclusion that there is little doubt that he bet on baseball, and that he bet on the Reds. One must come down on the side of his accusers on almost every point of disagreement or contention or just plain confusion. Everywhere there is more than one possible conclusion, one must come down on the side that says he did bet on baseball. Is there an argument in there that holds that Rose did do it? Absolutely. But when I look at who wrote the report, what was happening in baseball at the time, and the people who ultimately form the foundation of the case, well, it's just not as strong an argument as I'd want to see, especially when you're talking about such an important figure in baseball history.

You want to go for the one year ban, we're on the same page. Lifetime? Sorry. There are too many people who profit at Rose's expense in that report. There is too much circumstantial evidence, too much he said, she said.

Comment on this   [1]  »  December 17, 2002

.... A Rosy tale

One of the more difficult aspects of arguing about Pete Rose is that so many people declare that they know that he did bet on baseball. Yet whenever I ask someone if they've read the Dowd Report, so many of them readily admit that they haven't. So how could so many people be so sure about something they know so little about? Well, I'd say it's more than likely that they've either read the original Sports Illustrated cover story or a summary or a report on it. Originally published on July 3rd, 1989, the article is now an important part of baseball history. Thanks to SI for making it available online.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 17, 2002

.... In the news

In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an article on the Ortiz-Moss trade includes a poll asking which team got the better of the deal. Mind you, this is a trade of one of the top young pitchers in the National League for a guy who needed five plus years to get out of the minors. The results so far? Over 4,000 votes, 51% say better for the Giants, 46% say better for the Braves. That's interesting, don't you think?

I like Leo Mazzone's chances with Ortiz, if you ask me, but I also like Moss' chances with PacBell Park. I guess I'm right in line with the poll results then.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 17, 2002

.... Out there

Skip Bayless has a column in which he explains how great it could be if Jeff Kent accepts arbitration and comes back next season. That's fine, and he's right, Kent added to the lineup as it currently looks would turn the Giants into a juggernaut.

But he is wrong to worry about the Giants pitching staff. They'll be as good or better without Russ Ortiz. Look, I liked Ortiz, he's in his twenties, never injured, and he is a solid, middle of the rotation guy, and I know that you can never have enough pitching.... But you can have too much over-priced pitching. Ortiz at $4.4 million, (and Livan with $3 million due in 2003) are replacable talent at that price range, and in fact, at less than that much.

As I noted earlier, Moss earned under $250,000 dollars last season, so Sabean can offer him a two years at a million per and still come out way ahead. Kurt Ainsworth has got to be able to win 12 games in 30 starts, no? Jeez, Ortiz only managed 14, and it took a six start in a row, end of season winning streak to get him there. Ortiz won just 5 of fifteen starts at home this season, pitching in the best pitchers park in baseball. His strikeout per nine innings pitched rate has declined, and it was always pretty low to begin with. Last season, Ortiz managed just 137 strikeouts in 214 innings pitched, just over 5.7 per 9IP. That's not too bad, but it isn't exactly burning them up either. Kirk Rueter, known for his ability to get guys out without striking out many hitters, has averaged 4.2 K per 9IP over his career.

Anyway, I'm not trying to write a bash Russ Ortiz column. All I'm saying is that they were able to get a younger, established, left-handed, major league pitcher for him, along with another minor league arm, and they saved themselves a nice chunk of change. The success of this deal is contingent upon them being able to ditch one or more of the horrible threesome (Snow, Benard and Livan), who are hurting the team to the tune of $13 million next season, for essentially minor league replacement level production.

That is another reason to relax, because as Bayless says, the Giants may be a much improved team next season if Kent decides to force their hand, and if there is anything that makes me happy, it's seeing a team that won it all (or at least came close) going for it the next season. Nothing clouds your judgement like winning, but Sabean and Colletti have been clear-eyed, ruthless and aggressive, something I hoped for but couldn't believe until I saw it with my own eyes.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 17, 2002

.... Friends and family

Travis Nelson, the Boy of Summer, has a hilarious take on the Mets losing the left side of their infield in the last four days.

Mike Carminati, who rants and raves, has an eloquent and well-written column responding to Fay Vincent's plea to Bud Selig regards Pete Rose. It is required reading for all OBM visitors. Go now.

Both John Bonnes and Aaron Gleeman write about the pain and anguish of being a Minnesota Twins fan. While other teams sign free agents and make trades, the Twins release a mid-level first baseman who might hurt them in arbitration by forcing them to pay him $2.5 million dollars.

Our friends across the Bay, at Elephants in Oakland, seem to think money grows on trees, as they suggest that Sabean may be trying to free up the cash to make a run at Maddux. First of all, if they can, great. But they can't. They are dumping salary in an effort to stabilize their payroll at or near $75 million per. So they saved $4 million on Ortiz. That just takes care of the extra cash they are spending on Durham and Alfonzo. Now, if they can get rid of JT Snow, then we can talk.

Christian Ruzich has expanded and updated his Cub Reporter, so take a peek at what's up over at his house when you have a second. (But buy your books and stuff at my bookstore) ;-)

And smart guy Dan Lewis has just gotten his 50,000th hit, which is almost twice as many as I have, so go visit him, but come right back, since he obviously doesn't need any of my help.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 17, 2002

.... What's going on?

The SF Chronicle has an AP Report that says the Giants have dealt Russ Ortiz to the Atlanta Braves for left hander Damian Moss, and minor leaguer Manuel Mateo. Moss, 26, went 12-6 with 4.11 ERA for the Eastern Division winners in '02.

Major League Baseball Contracts shows Moss as earning $215,000 last season, which means the Giants will save over $4 million on the deal. He is also younger, and he is a lefty. All in all, not too bad a trade for Sabean, who needs to continue to seek out takers for some of the Giants other albatrosses (Snow, Benard and Livan).

.... Can anybody find me.... somebody to love?

Anyone wondering why Jeff Kent can't find a team? Look no further than the influence of Bill James and other baseball analysts, who have argued so effectively against using RBI as an indicator of production, particularly over the last decade. More teams understand that Kent's outrageous production at second base has more to do with hitting behind Barry Bonds, with his stupendous ability to get on base more than 300 times a year, than with Kent being an amazing clutch RBI man. Add in the current economic climate, Kent's fairly well-documented run-ins with the team and his teammates, and you have one of the most productive second basemen in history walking around with a hat in his hand.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 17, 2002

.... I'm back

Apologies to anyone who has sent me an email or come here looking for baseball fun and games. I have just returned from a mountain trip, and the phones went out about 40 hours ago. Sorry if I was missed.

While I was out, the Giants went out and did the impossible. The NY Daily News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the San Jose Mercury offer different viewpoints on the Giants landing Edgardo Alfonzo. The view that matters most are the details of the deal, which reportedly will pay Alfonzo a $4 million signing bonus, a $3-million salary next year, $5.5 million in 2004, $6.5 million in 2005 and $7 million in 2006. $3 million in 2003?!? Alfonzo turned down a two year, $22 million dollar deal with the Mets earlier this off-season. What a great signing by Sabean and Colletti.

And let me offer a few links to the latest Pete Rose stories. Michael O'Keefe has an informative Q & A on Rose, while over at the NY Times, Fay Vincent continues to protest against Rose's reinstatement. Here's a little taste:

The Rose case is not about what is best or fair for Peter Edward Rose. The vital issue is what is best for baseball. The commissioner must act in the best interests of the game.

Hmmmm.... I think that what's best for baseball includes doing a better job of presenting the evidence that Rose bet on baseball. If you read the full op-ed, you'll hear Vincent confirm that he and Giammati were completely convinced that Rose bet on baseball. Again, if that is so, then why the hell have an agreement at all? Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Black Sox have no agreement with baseball regards their expulsion. Why does Rose? And why allow it to include such a damning caveat? Why give Rose anything? Anyone?

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 16, 2002

.... Outside looking in

Aaron Haspel, the God of the Machine, has a powerfully written Rose piece in which he suggests that I might do a better job of presenting my side of the argument if I took a shot at refuting Derek Zumsteg's fine article from several weeks ago.

I will try to do so, probably tomorrow, since I will be back from the mountains.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 15, 2002

.... Things that make you go hmmmm

Our good friend Dan Lewis agrees to disagree with us regards the Pete Rose issue. He has a strong opinion piece here, and I think it's worth it to go through his ideas one by one:

First off, I'm on the "keep him banned" side. My arguments are for sale, in case any editors want to write me a check for them. Until then, I'll keep them to myself. Got bills to pay, ya know? But John J Perricone and others say some things that remind me of why I'm always frustrated by the other side. In short: There's no anti-Rose conspiracy out there. MLB, at the time, wasn't looking to ban him from the game, but Rose's transgressions forced their hand. To believe otherwise means requires that one holds a very curious belive: that Bart Giamatti and MLB had some other reason to ban Rose from the game. I would ask you to consider the following:

1) Rose had pretty much retired, even if not by choice. He was managing, yes, but he was going to be going to prison for tax evasion anyway. All MLB gained by removing him was that they kept him out of the Hall, and perhaps out of managing -- even though rumors of gambling would have probably done that anyway. He even says in his book, My Story, that what he admitted to doing (gambling on other sports) would have gotten him a significant suspension -- up to six months.

Yes, yes and yes. Dan and I are both cognizant of history and of rule 21, which has seven separate articles, and clearly outlines that consorting with gamblers and betting on other sports would have resulted in a likely one-year ban. The question isn't whether Rose did wrong, or whether Giamatti knew he did wrong. The question is whether the Dowd Report proves that he bet on baseball. If you believe that it does, he has to be permanently banned. If you believe that it doesn't, you have to let him back in. That's it.

2) Pete Rose, if un-banned, would be elected on either his first or second ballot. (Some voters would be symbolic in one direction, others in the other, and in the end, he'd get in -- and quickly.) Let's assume that, indeed, Rose's gambling is overstated to the point that it's probably unworthy of a lifetime ban. Why is MLB keeping him banned? To save PR face? Hardly -- the vast majority of people (see Jimmy Carter's 1995 op-ed) think Rose should be enshrined. There has to be something else, some nefarious reason why baseball is keeping Rose out.

Here is the gist of our disagreement. A nefarious conspiracy is never needed in situations where misinformation is so prevalent. People have been writing that Rose bet on baseball for so long that no one cares to know whether he did or not anymore. I spoke to syndicated columnist Skip Bayless of the San Jose Mercury on Thursday while he was covering for Rick Barry on 680 KNBR. Skip stated that he was 100% convinced that Pete Rose bet on baseball. When I asked him if he read the Dowd Report, he said no, but he had read a book by some guy in Cincinatti that had convinced him. A short while later, Ralph Barbieri, who runs the Razor and Mr. T show during the 3-7 drive time, also chimed in to say the he too, had never read the Dowd Report. I know that Gary Radnich hasn't read the report. Tony Bruno hasn't.

I find that to be a consistent truth, that everyone says they know he bet on baseball, but no one seems to have done anything resembling research to discover whether he did or not. These are members of the media I am speaking about, men whose opinions are coloring thousands of people's thoughts, talking about a subject that they know nothing other than what other people said or wrote. Talk to any fan, and you will see that the majority have not even taken ten minutes to study a report on the Dowd Report.

Did Giamatti think or even believe that Rose bet on baseball? I am certain that he did, and that he did so prior to the start of the investigation. All he wanted was for Dowd to put together a strong enough paper trail to justify his belief that Rose bet on baseball. The problem is that it was incumbent on baseball to prove that Rose bet on baseball, not to just reinforce their belief that he did. And therein lies the rub. As time has gone by, more and more people like me have said, wait a minute, are you trying to tell me that all you've got is the testimony of one or two or three guys who were out to get Rose? Who exchanged their cooperation for mercy regards their own run ins with the law? That's it? A couple of scraps of paper? Un-recorded phone calls that happen to coincide with days when games are being played? (How many days of the year are there no sporting events to bet on?) And you want me to support a permanent, lifetime ban of the player with the most hits of all time with that? Because you believe he bet on baseball? Well, I don't know if he did or didn't, but the Dowd Report doesn't answer nearly enough of the questions I would ask, it doesn't have even one credible witness in 225 pages of testimony and information and accusations.

Conspiracy? Who needs a conspiracy? Giammati was willing to push forward on his belief that Rose bet on baseball; but he was too ill to go the long road towards actually proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Rose did bet on baseball. So he made his move as soon as he thought he was able, as soon as the bully Dowd was able to corner Rose, and they made him the proverbial offer he couldn't refuse. And let me also say that many people have written in to say that he didn't have to, that baseball was completely within their rights to act without following any of America's rules of litigation and law. That's right, and that's fine; when you are talking about general everyday decisions. In this case, they permanently suspended the all-time hits leader of their sport. Before they came to that conclusion, they should have, in fact, the situation demanded that they produce a document so damning and conclusive that it would hold up under the most rigorous scrutiny.

They didn't even come close. For crying out loud, they even allowed a line in their saying that nothing in their report concluded that Rose did or didn't bet on baseball. Then why the hell ban him?!? They failed to produce that document, they cut a corner, and now baseball finds itself defending its decision with a document that legal scholars throughout the country have decried as a sham, a document that would be virtually completely in-admissable in a court of law.

3) John floats a pretty common perception that "those who aren't perfect should be expelled," and, in fact, how gentlemanly a player is shouldn't really matter. That's true -- but it's double-edged. It shows that baseball doesn't ban people for being asses. Unless you believe that Jose Canseco was explicitly denied DH jobs and Al Belle was slipped some weird hip problems in his apple sauce, you can't hold that Rose's attitude (before the gambling allegations surfaced, especially) was reason enough for baseball to railroad him. There was that one incident where he shoved an ump, yes, but it wasn't like he was considered a bad boy. If anything, he was (and is) a hero.

The real problem here is motive. Baseball only has a reason to ban Rose if a preponderance of the evidence against him points toward his guilt. In absence of that, there is little to no reason why Rose would have been banned in the first place.

Dan is right to say that my argument that Rose is no worse than any other bad guys in the hall is crap, and I have stopped using it.

As for motive, there is no longer any need for a motive. All that is left is Bud Selig (one of the least impressive leaders of any organization in the world today) defending a decision he didn't make, with a document that is hardly worth the paper it is written on, so that he can be saved from having to make a tough and controversial change to the way things are now. That's all that is needed for baseball to continue their efforts to keep Rose out.

In the meantime, Selig has already outlined how he (and baseball) can once again make the wrong move, by stating that he would reinstate Rose only after he admits he bet on baseball and apologizes. What?!? If Rose admits he bet on baseball, he has to be permanently banned, end of story. The reason you have people coming up with this ridiculous and contradictory idea has to be because of how poorly baseball has presented their case. If they had put together a document that convinced people more adequately, there would be no pressure to reinstate, their would be no story. They blew it then, and now they are between a rock and hard place, with the man who cancelled a World Series and an All Star game having to make a decision that he is clearly not qualified to do.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 14, 2002

.... Under the Gun

Many of you know that I am collaborating with Will Carroll while he is running around in Nashville at the winter meetings. Well, keep stopping by, because he has nothing to report as of Saturday 11:45am, PST. As soon as I hear something, I'll get it up.

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers for sending new readers to OBM. To everyone visiting for the first time, check out my archives, my bookstore, put a pin on my guest map, or send me an email telling me what a big fat idiot I am.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 14, 2002

.... News and notes

While all of baseball is in the midst of a feeding frenzy courtesy of Omar Minaya, the Giants brain trust is confident that they will either have or lose 2000 NL MVP before Thursday, next week, which is Kent's deadline for accepting their offer of arbitration. Ned Colletti and Brian Sabean both sounded optimistic as the winter meetings got underway.

Sabean's assistant, Ned Colletti, had a productive conversation with Klein on Thursday, and one of his priorities after he arrived here late Friday -- he was delayed because of bad weather -- was meeting personally with Klein, either Friday night or today.

"It's better (for) both of us to do something sooner rather than later," Colletti said. "My conversations with Jeff Klein in the last week have been good."

All information courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 14, 2002

.... Agree to disagree

Derek Zumsteg, one of the guys over at the Baseball Prospectus, feels very strongly about Pete Rose.

Pete Rose is scum. His actions threatened the integrity of the game that he professed to love. He betrayed the trust of every fan who appreciated him, and he especially betrayed those still in denial, those now fighting his battles for him and voting in goofy online polls. Baseball should have continued the investigations, forced him to cough up more bank records, more checks, and refused to let him plea out. They should have banned him from baseball, sued him into bankruptcy, bought his house for pennies, burned it to the ground and salted the earth so nothing could grow there. Instead of trying to play the issue down, they should have made it entirely public, showing everyone that baseball takes gambling seriously, that it would aggressively pursue those who did it, and would grant them no quarter.

Fans should spit at Rose when they see him on the street, and boo him when he hangs around stadiums. His autographed items should repel people in shock and horror. When Rose walks the street in shame, we should shake our heads and say "what kind of man would do that?"

Not to belabor the obvious, but I couldn't agree more. If it is true that Rose did bet on baseball, then everything Derek is saying is dead on. I, for one, do not hold that he should apologize, admit his past transgressions, be forgiven and then welcomed back into the fold. If he admits he bet on baseball, he should be banned forever, regardless of contrition. Those who believe he bet on baseball say this is why he will never admit it, because he knows his chances for the Hall would end immediately.

The question for me, that we have been arguing so much about for so long, is whether baseball has proven that he bet on baseball, or whether they've proven that he is a low-life, who gambled, cheated on his taxes, and got himself involved with some very questionable people. I'd say they have done a terrific job on proving the latter, while they have done a much less impressive job proving the former. Until they can do a better job of that, I feel that they are doing baseball and its fans a disservice, because they seem to think, (Bud Selig, John Dowd, and other baseball officials) that because they believe he bet on baseball, then all of us should as well.

Let me ask one simple question. Who is the one person in the world with something to lose who has come forward to say that they know Rose bet on baseball? Which Reds employee, clubhouse man, teammate, coach, parking lot attendant, phone operator, busboy, baseball official, player, bat boy.... Who is the one person who has testified that they saw him call a bookie, place a bet on baseball, right there in front of them? Am I supposed to believe that the only people who knew about Rose's hundreds of bets on baseball, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, over months and months, are the low-lifes who have sold him down the river? Not one single person with a job and a family and something to risk saw anything, ever? It's been over thirteen years, and not one person in all that time has come forward and said, "I can't live with myself anymore, I know.... about Pete Rose." With all the publicity and notoriety and everything else, not one person?

I'm sorry, I just find that a little hard to believe. Sure, I could be wrong. More than likely, I am. But you're talking about a lifetime ban on one of the singular baseball players of the last fifty years. I need a better case. I need more than what Dowd and now Fay Vincent are trying to force me to accept.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 13, 2002

.... Sleeping in the guest room

Will Carroll, who runs the outstanding Under the Knife, is in Nashville attending the winter meetings of baseball. Should he uncover a blockbuster trade rumor, or just find out wht Brian Sabean had for dinner last night, he'll be using OBM as his scoop du' jour broadcasting site. In his weekly newlsetter, he addresses some of the Pete Rose hoo ha that's flying around:

I don't want to talk about Pete Rose, but I think I must. I'll give you three quick bullet points on this.

1. This isn't as big a deal as people are making out. There's some truth, some hyperbole, but mostly this is the same old thing. Its an easy topic to argue - we don't have all the facts, people are passionate on both sides - but it's really meaningless. Rose was a very good player and likely would be in the Hall of Fame, but the honor - as Lee Sinins and others have shown, is relatively meaningless. I'll continue to offer up my solution, which is to enforce the "lifetime" ban. Tell Rose that the second he passes from this world, he will be made eligible for voting. Rose has enough of an ego that I think he wouldn't agree somehow - he really wants to stand in front of people and walk into Cooperstown and say "see, I showed you."

2. The whole thing is a smokescreen. The timing is dubious as best and was leaked to cover the impending "everything must go" sale in Montreal and whispers of a rejected sale for Red Sox like prices to a DC investor. What we didnt see when MLB took over the Expos was how the team could be FUDded (fear, uncertainty and doubt - a verb popularized by how Microsoft dominates the software market) in order to depress and alter the free agent market. The problem - if this is the plan - is that unless the farm system is a prospect machine, there will eventually be no one worth trading. I expect one big trade - likely Colon - in Nashville.

3. Just put him in. I know most people want to see Rose in the HoF, facts be damned. I know most people don't care that Rule 21 is ironclad and that Rose's admission of guilt should be a ticket out of baseball rather than in. I'm beginning to think as callers continue to pour into the radio show that the simplest, best solution is to go ahead and put him in the Hall and hope that he just vanishes. There's lots of guys in the Hall of Fame who we might see once or twice a year and for me, that would be once or twice too much of Rose.

Thanks Will, and we're looking forward to hearing from you over the weekend.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 13, 2002

.... What's happening?

Reader (and writer) Jon Maples has a Rose piece on his blog, Brushback. He's a reasonable man, that Mr. Maples.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 13, 2002

.... emails and details

Reader Craig Biddle chimes in with a lengthy opinion:

I enjoy your blog, but I think you're way too concerned about Pete Rose. I have read much of the Dowd report, and doubt that they could use the "evidence" presented in it to convict Pete of anything other than idiocy in his choice of friends in a courtroom. I also agree wholeheartedly with the column you linked a couple of days ago, that unless it can be proven that Pete bet on a Reds' game, the standard one-year suspension (which has long since been served) would be appropriate.

Rose was active during my teens and beyond, and I grew up a Pirate fan, so I was familiar with his career. He's not the best example of a human being. Several people in the Hall of Fame (including Cobb) are also people I would not want to associate with, but the fact that at times unsavory characters have been inducted into an honorable institution does not mean that we should continue to err in that direction. Pete's achievements as a player clearly merit induction into the HOF, but there are comparable players from the same era (including Ron Santo) who have not been accorded that honor.

But professional baseball players, or umpires of professional games, cannot be allowed to even be suspected of betting on baseball. Gambling was far more prevalent in society in 1915 than it was today, and baseball games were fixed frequently, culminating in the Black Sox scandal. This raised all kinds of hell in the public perception of baseball at the time, and attendance was not strong during those years. This culminated in the Black Sox scandal, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, and Babe Ruth. Two of those three things were very good for baseball.

Today, there's the possibility that a public scandal would destroy the industry for a period of time. One consequence of this might be to drastically reduce the amount of money bet on baseball, requiring lots of bookies and other unsavory characters to resume productive vocations. That would be good, too. But professional sports are used as a metaphor to teach children about the value of hard work, and following the rules, and other good things. Allowing something like that to happen would destroy that opportunity. We already have enough crooks in our society. Do Enron, Worldcom, Global Crossing, and others ring a bell? We should make some effort to avoid publicly honoring another one, however trivial time and an inept investigation have made his misconduct seem from a distance of 13 years.

Finally, you should consider in your equation that Pete's all-time hits record is one of the more bogus career records in professional sports. For the last five years of his career, Pete was playing on the strength of his reputation. He was a first baseman with OPS's under the league average (most of them under .700) for all players in his league for each of those five years. He engineered a trade from a contending team to a perennial doormat (the Expos) solely to be able to play for a franchise that didn't care how well he could play, but only about how many tickets they could sell with him in the lineup. Then, he managed to get himself named manager of his next team, so that he could be sure to play as often as possible. In those 5 years, he had 559 hits, and he was hurting the team he played for in virtually every game he played.

Pete's career hits record was all about the money, not about his love for the game. Little that Pete did in that era suggested that he loved anything at all better than he loved himself. His continued denial that he has ever had a gambling problem is clearly self-delusional; he at times owed his bookie more than a year's salary. He has been convicted of tax fraud that pundits of the time attributed to his need to divert money to cover his gambling losses.

For comparison, Cobb's OPS in his last season in the majors was .819, against a league average of .773. In Cobb's second to last season, he scored 104 runs and drove in 93. Rose never drove in 93 runs in a season (although he was a leadoff man most of his career) and didn't score more than 104 runs in a season after age 35. I think anything that would erase Cobb from the history of baseball would be, in general, a good thing, but erasing Ty for Pete would not.

Pete did accumulate more hits than, Cobb, of that there can be no doubt. Pete was one of the best players in baseball from about 1966 to 1976. If he had confined his misconduct to venues that risked only his own well-being and reputation, such as alcohol, drugs, and saying offensive things in public, he would be in the Hall of Fame by now. But, he chose to associate with the one segment of society that has the potential to destroy his entire industry. For that I, at least, can never forgive him.

Well, thanks for taking so much time to contribute to the discussion. I think we are in agreement on many points, other than to say that I am uncomfortable with the idea that suspicion is enough. Yes, gambling and baseball cannot co-exist. But it's a slippery slope you are descending on when you start to make decisions based on suspicion.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 12, 2002

.... A Rosy future

Things are heating up in the world of sports journalists, as let's get to work. Mike Freeman, writing for the NY Times, has this opinion of Charlie Hustle:

Rose is a shark. He's quite capable of signing a document saying he did bet on baseball, thus satisfying the needs of Selig and the sport, then stabbing baseball in the back later, the minute his big toe steps through the Hall of Fame's front door, claiming he signed the statement only to gain the honor.

Wow, you mean just like Giamatti and Dowd and Major League Baseball did in 1989? Signing a document that specifically stated that they were not allowed to contradict what was in it and then doing just that, at the press conference announcing the agreement?! By golly, if Rose did that, he'd be a scoundrel, wouldn't he? Freeman, who apparently limits his memory to things like how to spell his name, also called Selig a "fierce protector of baseball's integrity," and suggested he would never allow Rose back without a full confession. Fierce protector of baseball's integrity? Or sleazy, whiny, sloppy, backroom-dealing liar.

The NY Daily News' Michael O'Keefe reports that John Dowd and Fay Vincent are worried that Rose's reinstatement will lead to cats and dogs living together in the streets:

Selig could unwittingly expose baseball to future gambling scandals if he lifts the game's 13-year ban on Rose and makes the all-time hit king eligible for Cooperstown, former commissioner Fay Vincent told the Daily News yesterday. "If there is an epidemic of gambling in baseball five years from now, it would be Selig's responsibility for removing that deterrent. People say players get paid too much to get involved with gamblers," adds Vincent. "But what about the home-plate umpire, who has far more ability to influence the outcome of a game?"

The Daily News reported earlier this year that Vincent secretly placed umpires Frank Pulli and Richie Garcia on two years' probation in 1989 for gambling. The penalty was not more severe, Vincent says, because there was no evidence the umpires bet on baseball. Pulli now works in baseball as an umpire supervisor.

Could these guys be more ridiculous? Tell you what, I'm gonna stop worrying about right and wrong from now on. I'll just check with Dowd and Vincent when I face a moral dilemma, since they have the incisive ability to determine what's really wrong and what's only sort of wrong. Good thing we have people like this running the country, because I have no idea why an umpire being involved with gamblers is a much smaller problem than a manager doing the same.

Hey Fay, if you're so worried about any connection whatsoever between anyone in MLB and gamblers is problematic, why the hell didn't you throw Pulli and Garcia out? And what the hell does Rose have to do with umpires? Oh, and one more thing, there already is an epidemic of gambling in this country, which is one more reason why nobody thinks you and your cronies are right to so hypocritically hold Rose to a higher standard of behavior than almost anyone else in America.

An ESPN report allows Dowd another opportunity to explain to all of us idiots how Rose should live his life:

'Among his litany of problems with Rose, Dowd told the (NY) Post, is that he has seen no evidence over the past 13 years that Rose "reconfigured his life" as Giamatti asked the baseball great to do at the time of his banishment. Thus, Dowd sees no reason to make Rose the first player ever allowed back from the permanently ineligible list. "It sends a powerful, powerful, powerful message that if you cross the Rule 21 (gambling on baseball) line, you're not getting back in, baby," Dowd was quoted as saying about keeping Rose out.

Yeah, another powerful message being sent is that gambling isn't such a big deal when virtually every single magazine, newspaper and television show related to sports in any way receives money from gambling related revenues, baby.

The NY Daily News' Mike Lupica has another "high and mighty" take on Rose's efforts at absolution. And here's an AP Report that explains why Rose is getting his shot now.

.... Back to the future

Let's talk baseball for a minute. For Giants fans, a couple of different sources came out today with a Jeff Kent wants to come back storyline. The SF Chronicle reports that Sabean won't wait for him, but he's happy to work on a deal, while the San Jose Mercury reports that Sabean will hold off on signing another big bat while he tries to work out a deal with the free agent. Hmmm.....

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 12, 2002

.... emails and details, the last word

Mike Carminati, who rants and raves about Pete Rose over at Mike's Baseball Rants, sent me this email, which indicates that I was right in concluding that I am neither humble nor intelligent. Mike, however, is:

John, I have to point out some issues related to the upbraiding letter from John Corcoran.

1) Yes, there is evidence. I'll even concede "tons" of it. But it boils down to the testimony of two individuals and their coteries and some creatively acquired so-called "betting slips" which are allegedly in Pete Rose's handwriting. I have no problem that it comes from less than savory characters, aren't we all? I have a problem with the way that the Dowd report took everything that these individuals said at face value even though it was highly self-contradictory and inconsistent overall; and it came from individuals who clearly had a motive to cast aspersions on Rose's less than savory character. The slips were acquired by one of these individuals, and they too were accepted as credible evidence even though baseball only saw copies of them.

Corcoran concedes that the slips refer to NBA games (though Cincinnati has been out of the NBA since Big Os days). So whats wrong with that from MLBs point of view.

"Would the Dowd Report be enough to convict Rose in a criminal court?" Of course not. As Bill James said, MLB's lawyers would be laughed out of court. I know that baseball doesn't have to hold itself to a 'reasonable doubt' standard, but it does owe it to its fans to conduct a proper investigation. One riddled with holes is not sufficient to ban one of its most popular players for life.

2) If Rose confesses to gambling on baseball in general but not on the Reds, then Rule 21 would dictate that Rose be suspended for one year. However, if he did admit to betting on the Reds, he would present MLB with the most compelling piece of evidence as to his guilt in the matter. If this were the case, Rose would have to be suspended for life. The media in general fails to see the distinction between betting on baseball in general and on the Reds specifically. The former is a "minor" offense; the latter would be the kiss of death for Rose.

I believe that they are brokering a deal in which Rose admits to gambling on baseball but not on the Reds. He gets sentenced either to an additional year (probably) of exile or the sentence is commuted for time served. And then like Tony Soprano and Carmine Lupertazzi, Bud and Pete kiss and make up.

I couldn't have said it better myself. No, really, I couldn't.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 11, 2002

.... emails and details, Part II

John Corcoran replies:

I think MLB let Rose go because it did not want to deal with the Ohio lawsuit and some of the additional unsavory things that such a lawsuit may have unearthed about the game. Just a guess on my part, I've never read about any explanation by Giamatti before his death. I think Rose agreed to the deal because he did bet on baseball and he saw the deal, specifically paragraph 5(b) which grants him the right to apply for reinstatement, as a way to do his punishment and find his way back to the game.

Now, I agree with Rob Neyer about the "if he apologized, he should be let in" contradiction, but to my mind, the spirit of the deal which MLB and Rose entered (and Giamatti violated) puts us in a different situation here. It isn't so much Selig dropping the ball now as it was Giamatti dropping the ball back then. He made a deal which, to my mind, prevents MLB from ever making the kind of finding it would need to in order to ban Rose forever. Similarly, I don't think an apology from Rose will include the words "I bet on baseball" in it. (I also think that he will promise never to deny same.)

I, for one, would be happy with a deal which would put Rose in the Hall of Fame but would prevent him from ever wearing a MLB uniform or work for a club again. Is that a black and white solution? No. But this situation ceased being clear when Giamatti opted for the easy way out. I just hope this is resolved soon so we can get back to the issues of the day. Jeff Kent. Pedro Feliz. Russ Ortiz for Jose Cruz Jr. (no thanks). You get the idea.

Good points John. I agree, whatever Rose says will not include the words, "I bet on baseball." Giamatti did drop the ball, and we'll never know why. Rose has intimated that he thought that what was going to happen to him fits the description you mention, that he would be out for a while and then would be allowed back in. That explains why he would sign the agreement, but we are left to speculate as to why baseball (Giamatti and Dowd, primarily) would say they had him dead to rights but then let him off with such a poorly put together solution. And if their intention was to avoid the seeminess surrounding Rose, well, that sure worked out the way they planned it.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 11, 2002

.... emails and details

Reader John Corcoran took all of twenty seconds to nail me with this Rose rebuttal:

John, I'm not sure that there will be quite the outrage that some think if Rose is admitted. Don't know if you caught Pardon The Interruption last night on ESPN, but Hal Bodley, whose article you quote on the site, indicated that any settlement with Rose will likely involve an admission on Rose's part of wrongful conduct. (Bodley also indicated that Rose was the best man at his wedding - interesting fact). Bodley thinks it's going to happen because of the folks who are brokering the deal - Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt. I think that such an admission will go a long way towards paving the way for most of the objectors, especially if it's a deal that Morgan, a guy who seems to carry a lot of weight with other Hall of Famers, backs.

I do have to say that you really should take a look at some of the "scholarship" on the Dowd Report. When you say that there is no "real" evidence supporting the ban, it's just not true. There is plenty of evidence. Tons. Now you and I would agree that some of it comes from less than savory characters. Hell, some of them have been convicted. But, what do you expect? To find saints engaged in a enterprise which is itself illegal? By definition, anybody involved in sports gambling in Ohio is a criminal, Rose included. Pete Rose is himself a convicted felon for tax evasion. Does that mean that I shouldn't believe his protestations of innocence?

I've read Bill James' criticisms of the Dowd report and most of them don't hold water. Most notably, James seems to claim that the betting slips in Rose's handwriting (admittedly a dubious science - my problem with this evidence) were manufactured because some of the games don't appear to correspond to MLB games played that day, while James continues to ignore that those games do correspond to NBA games played that day. I could go on. When I evaluate witnesses (which is part of what I do for a living), I look not so much to someone's general character (or flaws) but more to whether they have an incentive to lie about the particular issues they are testifying about. And a lot of the evidence Dowd unearthed is not tainted by this sort of self-interest.

Would the Dowd Report be enough to convict Rose in a criminal court? Who knows? Who cares? Baseball, or any business, doesn't have to hold itself to a "reasonable doubt" standard when it comes to issues which go to the heart of credibility in the eyes of the customer. Even the appearance of impropriety is too much, and no one in baseball can seriously claim that they didn't know that when they became involved with the sport. It's been a hot button issue since the Black Sox. The truth is that baseball went a hell of a lot farther than any business, public or private sector, would go to determine the nature of Rose's conduct while manager of the Reds.

I have a feeling that Pete Rose is going to end up admitting what many of us believe, that he bet on baseball games. And he will be "forgiven." Which is how I believe it should be.

Thanks John. I have read some of the scholarship on the Dowd Report, and as I said yesterday, I am continuing my own research into the issue so I can present a truly informed opinion. However, at this stage of my research, having read several books, the report, the agreement, and literally dozens of articles and columns by interested parties, journalists and other writers, I don't see tons of eveidence. The "betting slips" represent some of the most impressive evidence in the Dowd Report, and I think they are worthless. The phone records suggest a lot, but are far from conclusive. The testimony, as it reads verbatim, not how it is presented in Dowd's selective argument; is wafer thin at best. At worst, the witnesses are being led during the entire interview. Again, I have not finished my research, but as it stands, I am unconvinced.

As for baseball having the right to handle their own business as they feel necessary, that's fine. In this instance, however, they blew it. They made a deal, broke their word immediately, and then they failed to present their position with anything resembling concrete finality. That's why the issue won't go away. If they had Rose by the short hairs, they never should have allowed the agreement to say that it was neither an admission or a denial, and they never should have broken their own agreement so casually. They did, because they were standing on sand, and they knew it.

But I fail to see how an apology merits forgiveness. If gambling in baseball is so bad, why let him back in if he apologizes? If Shoeless Joe had apologized and begged to be re-instated, would that have made a difference? In my opinion, you can't have it both ways, and when I hear everyone saying that they'll forgive him if he admits his crime and apologizes, it makes me think they know, consciously or otherwise, that they are standing on shaky ground.

It's Negotiating 101 that you never offer a compromise position unless the hard-line is unavailable to you. I think that everyone knows the hard-line is unavailable, they know that Dowd and Giamatti screwed Rose, and that the evidence is as thin as I say it is. That's why they are offering Rose a way out. If he is guilty, then he should be out, forever. If you can't prove he's guilty, then you gotta let him back in. There is no grey area here, as John Dowd has said over and over.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 11, 2002

.... Rose and more Rose

Rob Neyer, who I read and like and respect, has a column in which he chastises pretty much everyone for their opinions on Rose, baseball, cheating etc.

I don't agree with Neyer on the Rose issue, but unlike so many others, Rob has the humility and intelligence to openly suggest that he might not be right. I too realize that I may not be right, (but unlike Rob, I am neither humble nor intelligent) and I am open to hearing and discussing and even publishing other people's views here at OBM, because I believe that nobody knows everything, most things, or even much more than a little bit about anything. You've heard it before, but as I get older, the more I realize I don't know. I think Rob feels the same way, and I have that much more respect for him for it.

Rob also is one of the few writers who have addressed this mea culpa bullshit with anything resembling logic, stating that should Rose admit he bet on baseball, he should be suspended permamently.

By the way, listen to John Dowd the next time you get a chance, and tell me that guy doesn't think he knows the answer to everything. I have an innate distrust for anyone that sure about anything, because that much certainty has to come with a set of blinders the size of a building.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 11, 2002

.... A Rose by any other name

Let's get started....

The meeting between Rose and Selig has obviously been the story these last twenty-four hours. I want to start with the two page column written by Murray Chass of the NY Times. In it, Murray reminds us that Rose was betrayed before the ink was dry on the agreement between him and MLB.

.... at a news conference announcing Rose's "banishment for life," Giamatti, in reply to a question, said: "In the absence of a hearing and therefore in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I am confronted by the factual record of the Dowd report, and on the basis of that, yes, I have concluded that he bet on baseball." And, he was asked, on the Reds? "Yes."

If that's not evidence enough that Giamatti was rail-roading Rose, then keep in mind that more than a decade later, even though almost everyone believes that he did bet on baseball, Chass still accurately describes the Dowd Report as a sham, although he still wrongly characterizes the "betting slips" as concrete evidence.

Dowd was hired after that meeting to investigate Rose, and he produced a 225-page report supported by seven volumes of exhibits that contained testimony chronicling Rose's gambling activities. Much of the evidence came from convicted felons, prompting Rose's supporters to question their testimony, but Dowd produced concrete evidence, too, such as betting records that showed a series of bets on Reds games during one season.

None of the evidence showed that Rose ever bet against the Reds, but baseball officials said that when he did not bet on a game, it was tantamount to Rose's telling the bookies he did not think the Reds would win. There were also two betting books that United States postal inspectors seized in the arrest of a one-time business partner of Rose, but the books were held as evidence in that case and never released to baseball or anyone else.

Oh, so that's it. Baseball officials said that when he didn't bet on Reds games, he was helping other people bet. Yeah, I could see how you would come to that conclusion. Sheesh! By the way, if you have the time, go to the Dowd Report and read it yourself. Anyway, I'm starting to repeat myself, so let's move on.

There's a second NY Times piece that says Selig intends to make him admit he did it before allowing him to be reinstated. Mike Lupica says that's the way to go, and that he's served his time. So does Ray Ratto and Jim Litke.

Finally, the NY Daily News did their own poll of baseball writers to see whether Rose would get Hall of Fame support should he be reinstated, and they came up with 22 out 26 saying yes. Here are the writers they found that weren't already in the ESPN poll.

Dave Andriesen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Mel Antonen, USA Today

Ron Blum, Associated Press

Hal Bodley, USA Today

Dan Castellano, Newark Star-Ledger

Jerry Crasnick, Bloomberg Sports

Bob Elliot, Toronto Sun

Joe Henderson, Tampa Tribune

Chuck Johnson, USA Today

Bill Madden, Daily News

Scott Miller, CBS

Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times

Bob Nightengale, Baseball Weekly

John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle

That brings the total to 35 out of 39 members of the BBBWAA polled saying they would put him in the Hall if he were reinstated. I'd say that is pretty strong support at this early juncture.

Still and all, I am continually amazed at the arrogance of so many people. I cannot get over how many people have decided that there is absolutely no doubt that Rose bet on baseball. There is nothing but doubt in my mind. And not only have so many people taken the position that he is guilty without question, they add insult to injury and demand that he acknowledge his wrongdoing as some part of a mea culpa needed for absolution. Unbelievable.

I hope he doesn't apologize. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he didn't bet on baseball, and the whole thing is a house of straw. And I wouldn't be surprised if he did bet on baseball, and he does apologize. But I will always be surprised by how many people get in line to throw the first stone.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 11, 2002

.... Things that make you go hmmmm

Darren Rovell of ESPN did an informal survey of some twenty writers and 100% said they would vote for Pete Rose's induction into the Hall of Fame if he were reinstated.

Here's the list of writers:

Jim Caple,

Ken Daley, Dallas Morning News

Peter Gammons, ESPN

Pedro Gomez, Arizona Republic

Paul Hagen, Phila. Daily News

Jon Heyman, Newsday

Richard Justice, Houston Chronicle

Tom Keegan, ESPN Radio, N.Y.

Bob Klapisch, The Record/

Michael Knisley, Sports Weekly

Leonard Koppett, Seattle P-I

Jack O'Connell, Hartford Courant

Ross Newhan, Los Angeles Times

Marty Noble, Newsday

Tracy Ringolsby, Rocky Moun. News

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune/

Peter Schmuck, Baltimore Sun

Joel Sherman, New York Post

Jayson Stark,

Larry Stone, Seattle Times

Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times

I am impressed, to say the least.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... More on Pete Rose

USA Today's Hal Bodley has the most comprehensive article yet on the meeting between Selig and Rose. Of particular importance are these details:

Pete Rose, banned from baseball since 1989 for illegal gambling, could be reinstated by next summer if ongoing negotiations with Commissioner Bud Selig are successful. If reinstated, the all-time hits leader would be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame and be free to take any job within baseball, including managing.

Negotiations for reinstatement began shortly after Selig met with a group of Hall of Famers at the July 28 induction ceremonies at Cooperstown, NY. Joe Morgan a former Cincinnati Reds teammate and Hall of Fame vice chairman, discussed the issues involving Rose's reinstatement with the commissioner. Dayton (Ohio) attorney Roger Makely and Rose agent Warren H. Greene have been negotiating with MLB president and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy.

For Selig, frequently criticized this summer by Vincent over his handling of the labor situation and all-Star Game tie, bringing Rose back would be a popular move. Numerous fan polls overwhelmingly favor him being reinstated.

Rose has always denied he bet on the game. Having him sign a document stating that he did apparently is the major hangup in his reinstatement. In addition to signing a document, Rose would be on probation for an undetermined period of time before the reinstatement takes effect. If all goes well, he conceivably could be on the Hall of Fame ballot next December.

Progress was made in negotiations last week. Sources told USA TODAY they've reached a very sensitive stage and if successful could not be completed for a month.

The disappointing fact is that although there is no real evidence supporting Rose's ban, if he is reinstated, there will be an open revolt at the Hall of Fame. Many of the living members have stated their intention to never return should Rose be elected. This is just one more of the sad results of a person being denied due process, which, of course, Rose was unable to forsee given he thought he was signing a binding document that protected him against the types of damning comments made by Dowd and Giammatti. No matter what happens for Rose, he will forever be judged guilty of betting on baseball and the Reds simply because so many people have said that he did so many times.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... Ad infinitum

I'll keep updating you as I find more info. Apparently, this report filed by Chris Haft has just a little bit more on the Rose situation. It mentions a possible twelve month probation period prior to Rose being re-instated.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... More more more

Mike Carminati has an interesting take on the Rose situation. Read and wonder.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... Pete Rose, Part II

This AP article mentions that Mike Schmidt apparently attended the meeting between Rose and Selig. I could imagine many possibilities....

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... Class is in session

Glenn Dickey has a column today, and in it he plugs San Francisco State's Professor Jules Tygiel's theory that PacBell hurts lefties, particularly JT Snow. Professor Tygiel holds that the cavernous dimensions of right center are robbing JT of his natural power, and that only a hitter of Bonds ability can overcome the disadvantage. Professor Tygiel is right, of course. I am not convinced that the reason why is as simple as the dimensions. Several ballparks have 400 plus foot outfields, and they don't do to hitters what PacBell does.

PacBell hurts all hitters, but it hurts lefties the most, and it does so because of the fact that it has such a deep right-center and and center field,and also because of the unusual configuration of right center. In fact, although PacBell's dimensions aren't particularly large by major league standards, it plays like a much larger park. At 307 feet down the line, it has one of the shortest routes for a left-handed pull hitter to get a home run in all of baseball. So why is Pacbell such a tough ball park on lefties? Glad you asked.

First of all, how many home runs does PacBell take out of the league. Well, I did a little post back in September, and in it, I looked at the home and away splits for the Giants over the last three seasons. Here's what I found:

2000 Home .283/.362/.482 110 HR

2000 Away .273/.361/.463 116 HR

2001 Home .256/.338/.437 97 HR

2001 Away .276/.345/.482 138 HR

2002 Home .259/.339/.410 72 HR

2002 Away .273/.340/.471 126 HR

As I said then, that's a big drop. If the Giants as a team lost about 40 home runs, you'd have to assume the whole league lost about 80. That's pretty substantial. But the big question is why? Why did PacBell give up home runs in 2000, and then slowly take them away? It's not just the loss of Burks either. Pretty much every player on the team has seen a drop. Between 2000 and 2002, Kent hit three fewer home runs, Snow hit nine fewer, Bonds hit six fewer, Aurilia hit eight fewer. This is in two seasons. Twenty points in batting, thirty points in on base percentage, and almost eighty points in slugging lost in two seasons. How did this happen?

I think the hidden answer lies in the unusual configuration of left-center field. As more and more games were played at PacBell, the Giants began to figure out that they could slide their right fielder further and further towards center field, figuring that the number of hits they took away moving in that direction more than made up for the relatively few that might drop just over the first baseman's head. And as 2001 went on, they moved him even further, as they began to realize that very few of the hits to right field would be singles, meaning that it didn't really matter if he had to chase them down.

This past season, Reggie Sanders sometimes played so far from the left field line that it appeared that the Giants had two center fielders. This shift also allowed the Giants to move the speedy Shinjo a bit right, which probably also took a couple of gappers away from left-handed hitters. As the Giants have figured this out, so has the rest of the league. Now everyone plays their right-fielder away from the line. But I still haven't addressed the missing home runs, have I?

The drop in home runs is the result of a combination of factors. One, National League pitchers have figured out how to pitch here, especially to lefties. They understand that they can work out over the plate and allow Death Valley to keep home runs in the park. Two, it's common baseball knowledge that left handed hitters are not normally dead pull hitters. I don't know all of the reasons why this is so, but it is. JT Snow is a good example. His power is to right-center. So by pitching lefties away, hitters who would normally not pull a pitch unless they happened to guess right, pitchers have essentially eliminated home runs by left handed hitters.

The Giants as a team hit 23 left handed home runs at PacBell. Bonds hit 19 of them, Minor hit three, and Snow hit one. The rest of the National League's lefties hit just 10 home runs there. That's right. Barry Bonds hit 19 home runs at PacBell, and the all of the other left handers in the National League hit 14 home runs in 81 games at PacBell. Read that sentence twice. So, of the 114 home runs hit at PacBell in 2002, 33 were by lefties, and 81 were by righties. Essentially, all of the "missing" home runs were from left handed hitters.

Right handers see a drop in power at PacBell, but nothing like lefties. Why? Because more right handed hitters are dead pull hitters, and they can avoid Death Valley a bit more effectively than lefties can. And because lefties aren't naturally pull hitters, they can't really take advantage of the short porch without significantly altering their approach at the plate. When they ignore the fact that they can't hit home runs, they then find that the shifted outfielders are also causing problems. Right fielders are playing where many of their singles would normally fall, and some of those power alleys hits (mostly extra base hits, I might add) to right center are being taken away by the center fielders shift. This has to affect the way lefties approach hitting at PacBell; it just has to. It affects how pitchers approach them.

JT Snow has been injured most of the last two seasons, so it's hard to blame all of his hitting woes on PacBell. However, it would appear that he will be little more than a $7 million dollar a year singles hitter if he remains a Giant, regardless of his health. If Sabean has designs on moving Snow and putting Kent at first, it may work out much better than he thinks.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... Every Rose has it's thorn

ESPN has an article that says Pete Rose and Bud Selig have met to discuss Rose's bid for re-instatement. Included in this link are the results from their spot poll, which shows that 65% of repsondents feel Rose should be re-instated, and another 26% say he should apologize and then be re-instated. Together, that's 90% of the people reading the article said he should be allowed back in.

I have failed to put my final thoughts on the subject together, primarily because I have been unable to dedicate the time needed to really do the research. Let me say this, with the caveat that I reserve the right to change my mind should that research lead me down a different path:

There is nothing in the Dowd Report or any of the subsequent letters, interviews and published articles presented by baseball that convinces me that they could ever come close to proving that Pete Rose bet on baseball. Nothing. The Dowd Report is 275 pages based on the testimony of a bunch of lying rat bastards that he had surrounded himself with; who were willing to say whatever Dowd wanted them to say in an effort to have a good word put in for them as they attempted to weasel out of their own legal troubles.

One more thing. I have repeatedly mentioned that John Dowd violated the agreement by stating that he believed that Rose bet on baseball during the press conference that was arranged to announce the signing of the agreement. Many of my readers have noted that Dowd didn't sign the agreement, so for all intents and purposes, he was exempt from any of the obligations held within. Whether you buy that reasoning or not, (and I don't) here's what Commissioner Bart Giammatti had to say at that same press conference.

"I have concluded that he bet on baseball."

That's right. At the press conference announcing the signing of an agreement that specifically stated that neither party could publicly contradict the findings within; the person who was most responsible for the creation of the agreement violated it immediately. Think about that next time you here someone saying Rose had a fair hearing, or that he has violated the agreement, or whatever else you here from these guardians of our moral fiber.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... emails and details

Let's wrap up this Don Mattingly conversation with a few quotes from back in 1986, the year after Donnie Baseball won the MVP, courtesy of Alex Belth, who runs Bronx Banter:

"By the time his career is over, he could be one of the best who ever played this game. He may not turn out to be quite what Lou Gehrig was, but he'll be closer than anybody else." Ron Guidry

"He's the best in the league, he hits for average, he hits for power, he plays defense. The best." Carlton Fisk

"I love to watch him practice. "He's very serious during infield, never wastes a swing in the batting cage. From there on I don't want to look at him." Gene Mauch

"Day game after a night game. Mattingly's still out there taking his hundred ground balls." Jeff Torborg

'If Mattingly has a flaw, it's probably ineradicable because it runs to the core. Will he, like Buckner, be too tough to stay in one piece? Last spring, arthroscopic knee surgery. This spring, a bone bruise to the thumb that has him benched. So far, not much. But will it add up? Come back in 2001 for that. Then we'll really see how well he stacks up with Musial." Thomas Boswell

"I'm not flashy. I still don't think of myself as a great player. I think of myself as an everyday player. A worker type. Consistent. On time. You have to see my game over a long time to appreciate it. I'd compare myself more to Bill Buckner. He's consistent, hard-nosed, good in the clutch. I love the way he plays. If it's biting it takes, then it's biting; if it's scratching, then scratch... I'll take a ground ball off the chest, get my uniform dirty."

"I'll tell you, the athlete I admire as much as anyone is Julius Erving. That's who I want to be like. I remember a few years ago watching a playoff game between Philadelphia and Portland [it was the 1977 finals], and there was a fight between Maurice Lucas and Darryl Dawkins and things were getting crazy on the court. Everbody's pushing and jumping around. Then the camera pans over and shows a picture of Dr. J. He was watching from the bench, totally composed and within himself. That picture goes through my mind whenever I feel myself losing control." Don Mattingly

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 10, 2002

.... emails and details

Christian Ruzich of the Cub Reporter disagrees with me regards Don Mattingly:

John, I think you're letting your emotional attachment to Mattingly cloud your analytical abilities. There's nothing wrong with having an emotional attachment to a player (it's how I feel about Dawson, for example), but when one tries to shoehorn that emotion into some sort of rational analysis, one ends up with bad analysis. Sure, Mattingly was great for four years and very good for a number of years after that. But that's not a Hall of Fame career. Baseball history is littered with players who had a great beginning to their career and, for whatever reason, didn't follow through on that promise and continue to play at that same level.

But you can't elect someone to the Hall of Fame based on what they might have or could have done. You have to look at what they actually did. Hell, when he was 26 people were inscribing Darryl Strawberry's plaque, and we all know how that worked out. Well, you say, Strawberry wrecked his career with drugs, and Mattingly just got hurt. Well, look at Tony Conigliaro's baseball-reference page: his "most similar by age" players, through age 22, include Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson. That's after his first four seasons.

You mention Sandy Koufax as a guy whose career was cut short by injury but who still made the Hall. I don't think he's a valid comparison for a couple of reasons. First, Koufax's brilliant run lasted 6 seasons, during which he outpaced the league to an extent far beyond what Mattingly did during his run; second, sabermetrical analysis of his career has recently shown that he benefitted greatly from pitching half his games in Chavez Ravine. If we knew then what we know now, I don't think Koufax would be considered a mortal lock for the Hall.

If Mattingly makes the Hall, it won't be a travesty. He's one of the better players in major league history. I just don't think, looking at his career as it was, a convincing argument can be made for him one of the best players in major league history.

Isn't this fun? Christian, Mattingly wasn't a great player for four years, he was the best player in baseball, for four years in a row. Brett, Boggs, Henderson, Puckett, whoever; none of Mattingly's contemporaries were at the highest level of their production or abilities for four straight years. Boggs could hit with Donnie, but he was considered a mediocre fielder for most of his career. Brett couldn't match his power. Strawberry? Please. Conigliaro? Conigliaro had over 100 RBI once. The list of players who have had a first three or four years like Conigliaro is virtually endless. The list of players who have had a first four full seasons like Mattingly is a list filled with Hall of Famers.

Here's Mattingly after his four full seasons, he had played in 713 games. At that point in his career, he was 26 years old. For comparison, I've included the statistics for another first baseman after his first four full seasons, he had played a total of 613 games:



Know who that is, at age 25, after his first four full seasons? That's Lou Gehrig. You want to talk about most similar? Donnie looks pretty good next to the Iron Horse, don't you think? I sure do.

I've already detailed how Mattingly was in the top three or four in virtually every category (Again, just like Lou). I'd ask you to consider where Mattingly would rank in your book if he had been able to stay healthy, entering his prime, with that kind of previous production? Even if he didn't improve at all entering his prime four or five years, and all he was able to do was maintain that pace, he would have had close to 2000 hits, 1000 runs scored, 400 doubles, 250 home runs, and over 1000 RBI. Instead, Mattingly struggled for the rest of his career. Here's what the two of them looked like after the end of the season in which each player turned 30:



I don't know, but you think Mattingly could have stayed close to Gehrig for the next five years, if he hadn't been injured? It wouldn't have surprised me, or anyone else who followed baseball back in the eighties. He didn't, he got hurt, there it is. Your argument regards Koufax only seems to hurt Sandy, it doesn't really apply to Mattingly, and really, all I was saying is that allowances have been made for truly great players before, and I think they should, under certain conditions. Players need to accumulate marginal Hall of Fame statistics, they need to have been demonstrably excellent for a while prior to suffering an injury, these are just two of the things I think about when I consider whether to argue that Mattingly or say, Ivan Rodriguez should be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

One final point. Bill James, who colors all of my work in one way or another, ranks Mattingly as the 12th best first baseman of all time in his The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, and in his "Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame," he suggests that Donnie Baseball is likely to be inducted in 2014. Marginal? Certainly. Many players have accumulated more of this and more of that. Few players who have ever had such a sustained level of excellence aren't in the Hall of Fame.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 9, 2002

.... Mattingly, ad infinitum

Coincidentally, I just voted at the Internet Hall of Fame voting page at Baseball Prospectus. I voted for Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Eddie murray, and of course, Don Mattingly. I'll let everyone know how the vote came out when they post the results.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 9, 2002

.... Mattingly redux

Of course I've already gotten some replies to my Don Mattingly piece. In response, I suggest we look at what Donnie Baseball accomplished in just his first four full seasons, 1984-87.

He won four Gold Gloves (9 overall), one MVP, a fifth place finish, a seventh place finish, and a second place finish (to Roger Clemens) in which he was better than the year he won. He finished first, third, second and fifth in batting average, top ten in OBP twice, second, second, first and seventh in slugging, third, second, first and seventh in OPS, top six in runs scored twice, first, second, first and seventh in hits, fourth, first, first and sixth in total bases, first, first, first and third in doubles, finshed in the top six in home runs twice, finished fifth, first, third and fifth in RBI, was fourth, first, first and fourth in extra base hits, and finished in the top five in times on base twice.

There is no doubt that the argument for best player in baseball during these three seasons was between Mattingly and perhaps one or two other players, Rickey Henderson and Roger Clemens, and most likely Wade Boggs. That's it. None of those players were among the very best hitters and the best defensive players at their positions; and none of them did either over a four seasons in a row span. Given that, I don't see how you could conclude that any player was better. Tell you what, go to the page for 1984 and look at the leaderboards. Look at 1985, and 1986, and 1987. You know whose name dominated the leaderboards for all four seasons? Donnie Baseball, that's who.

In his first four seasons, he was among the top three or four in virtually every statistical category of production that matters except bases on balls. He was recognized by the national media, for what that's worth, as the best player in the league in just his second full season. He suffered a debilitating back injury in between his fourth and fifth season, and played through the pain for the remainder of his career. Bill James argues that consideration for what a player might have accomplished shouldn't be considered when looking at possible induction in to the Hall of Fame. However, he states that consideration for what someone did accomplish, or would have accomplished barring circumstances outside his control, there needs to be some adjustment made for this.

Don Mattingly didn't lose his skills because he was a poorly conditioned player. He didn't suffer an injury while out drag racing under the influence. He didn't demonstrate that his top level production was clearly a fluke due to the conditions of his era, or the park in which he played. On the contrary, even after suffering an injury that would adversely affect anyone, let alone a professional athlete, he continued to produce at a level comparable to some of the better players in baseball, certainly at a level that enabled him to keep a job for eight more seasons. Had he not suffered that back injury, he would have ceratinly accumulated some of the milestone levels of production that make these decisions easier.

Minus the milestone accomplishments, he still established a level of peak performance (Not unlike, say, Sandy Koufax) that I believe merits his inclusion, and will eventually result in his induction.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 9, 2002

.... what's your point?

Our good friend Aaron Gleeman has a terrific column on the list of Hall of Fame candidates on this years' ballot.

He says that Don Mattingly fits the profile of a "close, but no cigar" player in the HOF debate. I disagree, pretty strongly. I understand how much of the debate centers on hard numbers, but if you consider the fact that Mattingly suffered a debilitating back injury midway through his fourth full season, there can be no doubt that his greatness prior to the injury must be given more weight.

And prior to the injury, he was quite simply the best hitter, and as a nine-time Gold Glove first baseman, probably the best player in baseball, for several years in a row. I wrote about Mattingly several times, you can read the first, second and final piece yourself. The gist of my argument can be found in my concluding argument regards the Mattingly vs. Puckett debate which got me started.

In my opinion, blinded by favoritism or not, Don Mattingly absolutely belongs in the Hall of Fame. The comparison to Puckett is appropriate because in both instances, greatness was interrupted by injury. I would ask you to consider this: If Mattingly had avoided injury, and had a natural decline from the average level of offense he established in his first three years; that is, 219 hits, 48 doubles, 30 home runs, 123 RBI's, .340 batting average, .560 slugging %, .396 on base average, would he be a Hall of Famer? Without his injury, I believe he would have over 600 doubles, 350 home runs, 2600 plus hits, a lifetime BA around .320, and he would have over 1500 RBI's and runs scored. Is that a Hall of Famer? I think so.

In fact, looking at the issue again, I feel even more strongly that Mattingly deserves a place in the Hall. He more than likely will need to wait several years for the honor, but that shouldn't be too bad. Aaron's right, he is a marginal candidate whose induction will necessarily rest on the consideration of extenuating circumstances.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 9, 2002

.... Excitement Galore

Brian Sabean continues to prove that he, indeed, is not an idiot. With the details surrounding yesterday's signings available, it's clear that he has once again proved his worth. The stunning news is that the team offered Jeff Kent arbitration. The thinking was that the team couldn't take the risk that he would accept, because he would certainly receive a budget busting $10-12 million dollars. By offering him arbitration, Sabean is revealing that they believe that they not only have a chance to get him, but that the odds are he'll get the long-term deal he's seeking, either from the Giants or someone else. Here's what Sabean had to say:

"Over the last 24 hours we've gotten to the light at the end of the tunnel, because Jeff's willing to look at and address what our short-term needs are, and our short-term needs are going to be a flat payroll," Sabean said.

The San Jose Mercury has a couple of articles following up on the activity. This one and this one talk about the possible salary driven trade moves, including JT Snow, Ortiz, and Lvan Hernandez.

Giants fans, (including me), are ecstatic, as the team has gotten younger, faster, addressed the leadoff problem that has plagued the team for the last several seasons, and made steps to insure that the second best hitter in the National League will stay in the lienup with the best hitter in the National League. All without trading anyone we would prefer to keep. Exciting stuff.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 8, 2002

.... Say goodbye to Hollywood

Jeff Kent's days at PacBell have apparently come to an end, as the San Francisco Giants have signed free agent second baseman Ray Durham to a three year contract, as reported by Josh Rawitch of

Durham, 31, gives the Giants a second baseman and a proven high on-base percentage lead off hitter. Suddenly, the team appears fairly set, and Sabean will be able to continue through the off-season intent on improving rather than fixing the team. Looking ahead, here's a possible lineup card for Opening Day:

Durham 2B

Grissom CF

Aurilia SS

Bonds LF

Santiago C

Snow 1B

Feliz 3B

Benard RF

Schmidt P

The team still lacks outfield depth, and could use a proven third baseman, but there's still plenty of time to put it all together.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 7, 2002

.... Details

The Marquis Grissom signing is detailed in the San Jose Mercury AP article.

Grissom gets a $250,000 signing bonus, $1.75 million in 2003 and $2 million in 2004. The Giants have a $2.5 million option for 2005 with a $250,000 buyout.

That's not too bad. It's essentially the same deal they had with Shinjo, with an added year. Grissom gives them some depth in the outfield, and by spending so little, he allows Brian Sabean the opportunity to take his time and watch the free agents falling out, as detailed in this Peter Gammons column. Gammons predicts there will be almost 150 decent players looking for work come January 18th, in which case it behooves the Giants to take their time filling their shopping cart.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 7, 2002

.... Will you be my friend?

Check out the new link on the left, Sports Central. Big and bad-ass, with a ton of sports coverage. Hmmmm... do I really want you going there? ;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 7, 2002

.... Follow up

The LA Times has a confirming report on the Grissom signing which seems to say that he was signed for two years at $4.5 million, not $4.5 million per season, which is how the ESPN report reads. If that's the case, it's not so bad. He would be a reasonably inexpensive fourth outfielder, with his speed and arm, he could play anywhere, and if he wasn't being signed to be a starter, you would be less worried about him spending significant time nursing his many minor injuries.

I'm not linking to the article, because the LA Times has perhaps the worst online newspaper in the country. To get to the Dodgers page, you have to a register with the LA Times page, and then go through the LA Times home page, the LA Times sports page and finally you get to the the LA Times Dodgers page. And this happens to everyone, every time you go there. They don't have a remember me box or identifying cookie set into their site, so every single time you go there, it treats you like you've never been there before. Stupid stupid people. If anyone knows of another LA newspaper that covers the Dodgers online, let me know.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 7, 2002

.... Around the horn

ESPN reports that the Giants have agreed to a two year, $9 million dollar deal with Marquis Grissom, who fits the Giants and Felipe Alou mold of a free swinging, low on-base hitter.

I hope this is inaccurate, because this is a terrible signing. Marquis Grissom is essentially a crappier version of Reggie Sanders, minus the home runs. They are about the same age, both prone to nagging injuries, both in their mid-thirties. Grissom has only managed to play 246 of the Dodgers 324 games the last two seasons, a ratio that would be devastating to the already thin outfield of San Francisco.

Murray Chass of the NY Times reports that Edgardo Alfonzo turned down a three year, $18 million dollar extension offer from the NY Mets earlier this year. Now Alfonzo says he is sad that it appears that his Mets days are over. Here's what his agent, Chris Leible, had to say:

"Edgardo is very disappointed, he loves New York, loves playing in the city. Deep down, he thought he'd end up here, but he's ready to move on. It's similar to the situation with Tom Glavine and the Braves."

Similar to the Tom Glavine situation? Excuse me? Glavine is a Hall of Fame pitcher, has played all sixteen years of his career with the Braves, was offered a two year deal, is 37 years old, and has never been on the disabled list. Alfonzo has been a regular for all of half that, eight seasons, is 30 years old, was offered a three year deal, is as likely to be out of baseball in three years as he is on his way to the Hall of Fame, and has spent the last two full seasons recuperating from a debilitating back injury.

Hmmm.... Unless Webster's has completely changed the definition of similar, I'd say his situation is... what's that word again? Oh yeah, that's it, different. Hey Edgardo, you need a new agent. Your current one clearly has no idea what he's talking about, has spectacularly misjudged your value, and has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the new baseball economy. Three years at six million per? That would have been the third best deal signed this off-season the minute the ink was dry.

Henry Schulman has a report in this mornings SF Chronicle. He says, in no particular order, that the SF Giants are involved in substantive last minute negotiations with Jeff Kent in an effort to avoid the arbitration deadline, (9pm today), and Steve Finley has apparently played his last game as a Diamondback. He also went over the many trade rumors involving Russ Ortiz that we have been covering for several days now, including a new one involving Montreal Expos second baseman Jose Vidro.

Let me say this as strongly as possible. Jose Vidro would be the best possible deal for the team if they are serious about trading Russ Ortiz. He is a young second baseman and a devastating hitter with a powerful swing and a great on-base percentage. He would immediatley upgrade the Giants lineup, especially if they inserted him in the leadoff slot. He's averaged 174 hits, 44 doubles, and 88 runs over the last four seasons. His on-base percentage during that time? .346, .379, .371, .378. The Giants regular with the highest OBP not named Bonds or Kent last season? JT Snow at .344. 'nuff said.

Joe Roderick has a slightly different take on the Giants situation. He says the team is close to a multi-year deal in the range of $5 million per seasons with the 37 year old Steve Finley that should solve their centerfield worries. Of course, signing a 37 year old to a multi-year deal is a new problem, but rather than go hard for some youth, the Giants seem content to continue leaning heavily on veterans and Stan Conte.

Joe also says the team is hard at work on a multi-year deal with second baseman Ray Durham. Both players are mid to high on-base percentage hitters, something that should bode well for an offense that hit a lot of solo home runs last season.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 7, 2002

.... Homer

The Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers will be moving in their fence in left field next season. Hey, whatever you gotta do.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... Things that make you go hmmmmm....

I reported earlier that all signs pointed to a Montreal Expos fire-sale. This report says otherwise. Hmmm....

And San Francisco Giants playoff stud Russ Ortiz isn't worried about all the trade rumors, according to Josh Rawitz. Here's some of what Ortiz had to say:

"You never think that [a trade] would actually be a possibility," said the right-hander. "For me, this is the only organization I have known, so to think that by trade or even when I become a free agent, to go someplace else, that would be weird. I quickly understand that for one, everything is business, and two, I can't control it and.... I don't worry about things I can't control. I don't really even think about it until someone brings it up. It's never bothered me one bit, just because I know it's a business move and it's not a personal thing."

PS.... Thanks to everyone for posting a pin at my guest map. I think the map is awesome, and apparently, I've even got a reader from Australia. Cool.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... Wow!

Yeah, I know that this is supposed to be Only Baseball Matters, a strictly baseball site. But I just watched the Dallas Mavericks closed out the first half with a 33 to 6 run against the three-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers, in Los Angeles. The run included a finishing punch of 15 to 0 final 1:30 or so. Wow.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... Something's wrong here, something's very wrong

Am I the only person who is astonished that a writer at Sports Illustrated would have the audacity to interview himself? I mean, yeah, Tom Verducci's opinion on the Jim Thome signing should be featured in the magazine, but, should he be interviewing himself? Could he be any more full of himself? What the hell is that about? Here is the actual byline: spoke to Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci about the impact of Thome's move to the City of Brotherly Love.

You do understand that CNNSI is CNN Sports Illustrated, right? Is it just me, or is somebody sitting in the back seat of Rasheed Wallace's Cadillac? Unbelievable.

Many of you may not know this, but I started this blog a short while after Verducci's bombshell (read, bullshit) steroids expose'. I sent him a long email challenging his completely unsubstantiated accusations, saying that I expected a higher standard of journalistic integrity from a magazine like SI, (of which I was a subscriber for over a decade at the time). I even went through the entire rosters of the SF Giants and the NY Yankees asking him to tell me who of those players he knew were using steroids. His response was infuriating. After I sat down and wrote him a 500 word email, he sent me a reply that read:

John, yes. All of them. Yes.

Needless to say, I was livid. I cancelled my subscription to the magazine, sent him an email telling him that his response was the reason why, and after sending about a dozen emails (all of which were completely ignored) to the writers at the Sporting News, NY Times, NY Daily News, ESPN and anyone else I could find; I happened upon David Pinto's Musings.

I asked David if he would be interested in publishing my thoughts and writings, and he suggested I start my own blog. The rest is history. So, next time you're pulling your hair out reading an idiotic piece like Verducci being interviewed by himself, remember that if it weren't for idiots like that, you wouldn't have Only Baseball Matters;-)

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... New friends

Check out some of the new links I've added on the left. The Cleveland Indians Report, Four Aces, and Off-Wing Opinions are all brand new, must see TV. Oh yeah, this isn't TV. Oh well.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... What?

Reader Jeff Vance went and put his two cents in at my visitor map. Thanks Jeff. Now, who the hell is Mike Sadek?

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... I saw it first

Our friend and colleaue Matthew T. Durham, over at The Southpaw, has once again scooped me on a SF Giants rumor/deal. He links us to this article by Spencer Fordin that quotes the Toronto Blue Jay's GM JP Ricciardi saying that the Giants have asked if he was interested in right-hander Russ Ortiz.

Matt rightly mentions that the scary part is the fact that the Giants appear to be shopping the better of their two beefy right-handers. I am amazed that no one out there is interested in Livan Hernandez, who is inexpensive and could be a tremendous, inning (and burrito) eating anchor for a team's rotation.

The bottom line is that the Giants appear to be willing to envision virtually any lineup imaginable, outside of Bonds, Santiago and Aurilia. Which isn't the worst thing in the world, actually.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... Where are you from?

If you look on the left there, you'll see a new Visitor Map. Do me a favor and click on the little box, say hello and let me and everyone else know where you're from. It's fun, really.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... You make me so mad!

Our friends over at Elephants in Oakland are furious over the unprofessional, disorganized, and quite frankly, dishonest treatment they are receiving from the Oakland A's this off-season. If Billy Beane and his pals want to know why the A's get such poor turnout at the Coliseum, they ought to be talking to these guys, because they are flat out missing the boat.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... News and notes

The NY Times reports that Tom Glavine has decided to become a NY Met. Over at the NY Daily News, Mike Lupica says that the Mets have finally made the kind of move that makes them a professional organization.

Also reported in the NY Times, the Montreal Expos have announced their budget for next season, and it appears the fire-sale is on.

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that although tomorrow could signal the end of Jeff Kent's tenure as a Giant, his agent says not so fast:

Amid speculation that Kent won't return to the Giants, for whom he won the 2000 National League MVP and topped 100 RBIs six straight seasons, his agent is keeping hope alive. "People would be remiss to write off the Giants," Kent's agent Jeff Klein said. "The only people who are ruling it out are (newspaper) writers. There's no question he'd consider coming back. Otherwise, I wouldn't waste my time talking to the Giants."

Meanwhile, the Chronicle also reports that the Giants apparently won't offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Kenny Lofton, who believes he can get far more than the million dollars the Giants are offering him.

Over at ESPN, Jayson Stark has a whole passel of rumors and innuendo for the interested. Among the many tidbits; Ken Griffey Jr. is apparently available, the Phillies have approached the Diamondbacks regarding Curt Schilling (no chance), Ivan Rodriguez is working out like a fiend. Interestingly, very few Giants rumors are to be found anywhere.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 6, 2002

.... There you are

I finally found the source of the Russ Ortiz for Fernando Vina trade rumors. It's the almost comically mis-informed Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News. He too ignores the obvious, that Ortiz is 28 and makes less money than Vina, who is 35. Again, a trade like this is the kind of move that gets a general manager fired. Brian Sabean is far too savvy and experienced to make this blunder, although Livan Hernandez for Vina has a better ring to it.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 5, 2002

.... Are we clear?

John Donovan's SI column today regurgitates the "It's about winning for Thome" line in more agonizing detail. Here's what he says:

The fact is, though some might say the whole Thome-to-Cleveland thing was just another example of a player shucking loyalty and diving for the biggest paycheck, this was one of the rare ones that was not about the money.

This was about the Indians rebuilding, with no chance to challenge -- even in the mediocre American League Central -- for a couple of years, at the earliest. This was about the Phillies, the most aggressive team in baseball this offseason, signing free-agent third baseman David Bell and going after free-agent lefty Tom Glavine (hard) and wanting Thome so badly they clearly overpaid for him.

What Donovan fails to recognize is that no one knows whether the Indians really have no chance at all, or whether the Phillies are favorites, or whatever. Yeah, lots of prognosticators have their opinions, but as Gregg Easterbrook, Aaron Gleeman and many others have pointed out recently, predicting who will win or lose each season is pretty much a crap shoot. Who's to say the young guys in Cleveland don't jell, or the Twins and White Sox don't fade, or somebody important doesn't break a leg, or whatever? One writer after another going out of their way to make sure everyone knows what a sweetheart Thome is... I mean, come on guys! Who cares?

$24 million dollars are reason enough for him to sign with Philadelphia, and he shouldn't have to apologize for taking it. If you weren't so busy telling us how greedy all the so-called bad guys are, (i.e., Barry Bonds, who was villified for signing for essentially the same amount per season last year), you wouldn't have to waste our time pointing out who the good guys are.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 5, 2002

.... emails and details

Reader John Corcoran writes:

John, I beg to differ on Alfonzo. With the Yanks signing Ventura and the Mets dumping him, this puts Alfonzo squarely in the Giants lap. And with 3 big money teams out of the bidding (The two NY clubs and the Phillies, who are spending like the Montgomery Burns All-Star softball team), the price may be more right than people think. I understand that there are injury concerns on this guy, but he's worth looking into. As for Nakamura, I like your HR translation. In my mind, a guy who could hit .280 and 25 dingers is worth investigating for sure.

What do you think about this "wait for the free agents in 2003 and 2004" trend we're hearing more and more about? I've heard it before in the NBA and other sports and don't you think it has a down side? That being that the flood of free agents might not materialize? Good clubs will try and get extensions for their guys and prevent them from hitting the market. And after this off-season, players may think twice before playing the market.

For Bay Area examples, I find it hard to believe that either Chavez or Tejada will not sign an extension with Oakland. Same with Aurilia and San Francisco. As for a guy like Guerrero, I see him being traded to a team who will have the same opportunity to pull out all stops and offer an extension as Scott Rolen was this year. There were those who said that this off-season would be all about Rolen and I wouldn't be surprised if the Mets or Yankees were counting on taking a run at him at this point last year.

I'm certainly not against clearing salary room by dumping dead weight. It makes sense on its own. I would, however, be careful of being a club that sends fans a message that there is a free agent light at the end of the tunnel "if we can just get through next season."

John, Alfonzo's asking price is a ridiculous $10 million per. There's just no way the Giants give that to him, and in fact, he's so high, I just don't see him being an option. Let me ask you, do you think he's gonna drop his demands in half? I don't. If they're gonna spend that kind of money, they'll offer Kent arbitration, because that's what he'll get.

And Nakamura's translation might be more along the lines of .240 with 25 home runs, with a lot of strikeouts.

I posted this column on the free agent status of many of the Giants as of 2003 and 2004. I am as ambivalent about it as you are, and I imagine Barry Bonds feels the same way. The Giants have these next two or three seasons to ride Superman's cape to a title. I would guess/hope that any plans to rebuild or dismantle and go young wouldn't happen prior to the end of Barry's career.

And again, I would tend to agree with you on the issue of free agency in general. Players who are either in their thirties or "B" level free agents will probably be more likely to sign extensions than opt for free agency, especially if this season is the start of a new era. However, Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada, (unlike Rich Aurilia, by the way, who will be 32 years old at the end of next season) are almost certainly exceptions to that rule. Tejada will be 28 and Chavez will be 27 at the end of next season, they have already established themselves at an All-Star level, and they will be entering the absolute prime of their careers. Those types of players will almost always be able to find the big money, regardless of the economic conditions.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 5, 2002

.... What's going on?

The NY Daily News is reporting that the Mets don't want Edgardo Alfonzo, they want Joe Randa. That's bad news for the Giants, who have been reportedly looking (albeit very little) at Randa as a possible replacement for David Bell.

Over at the Giants page, Josh Rawitch reports that the Giants have until Saturday to offer arbitration to their free agents, or they wouldn't be able to negotiate with them until May 1st. He also notes that negotiations with second baseman Ray Durham are heating up, while indications are that Jeff Kent is in the LA Dodgers plans.

In a second report, Rawitch says the Giants are negotiating with Japanese League third baseman Norihiro Nakamura. Nakamura, 29 years old, hit .292 with 42 home runs and 115 RBI in 140 games for the Kinetsu Buffaloes. What those numbers translate to here, no one knows. If Alex Cabrera can pound 50 plus in Japan, without running any numbers or calculations, I'd guess 42 is equivalent to about 25, give or take.

And although Glenn Dickey of the SF Chronicle pooh poohs any trade rumors involving the Pittsburgh Pirates Brian Giles, here's what Pirates GM Dave Littlefield had to say about it in that same article:

"I'm open-minded about all of our players. We've got a lot of holes to fill, " Littlefield told the paper. "Some players are harder to trade than others, and Brian would be the hardest to trade. We've seen in history that Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have all been traded. If someone came in and overwhelmed me, I'd have to listen."

.... These guys are friends of ours

Aaron Gleeman obviously has more time on his hands than anyone else in creation, as he has written about 3,000 words on all of the recent trades, posted some beefcake photos, and details his online dating possibilities. Check him out, he's got a lot on his mind, and he's a hell of a writer.

Dan Lewis has a BCS-style ranking of NFL teams. I know it's not about baseball, but it's really a cool idea.

Mike Lupica says the Mets are playing the Glavine deal perfectly.

Jay Jaffe has a detailed free agent third basemen analysis.

Matthew T. Durham is hard at work over at The Southpaw.

And David Pinto has reached the promised land. He has been added to the ranks of bloggers listed on the monstrously huge Instapundit. Congratulations to David, who everyone knows is my Blogfather.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 5, 2002

.... Just a little something for the biddies

Derek Zumsteg explains why Billy Beane has once again gotten the better of another team in today's Daily Prospectus. Summarizing, Koch is arbitration eligible, Foulke is not. Foulke makes more, but the White Sox have to pay the difference; and finally, Beane could use the rookie Joe Valentine and friends to close and make Foulke his number four starter, at $4 million dollars for 2003, would be cheap as all get out. If he were to do this, (and Foulke has wanted to start again for a while now), all Foulke has to do is continue the success he's had as one of the most effective pitchers in baseball since 1999, and the A's would most likley have the best four starters in baseball. By a lot.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 4, 2002

.... Wednesday morning blues

I just received my first newsletter from Will Carroll, who runs Under the Knife. He's pissed, because so many of the sports publications are reporting the Keith Foulke/Billy Koch trade as a salary dump.

I, on the other hand, am not. First of all, not all of the stories are that slanted. In this NY Times piece, they explained pretty clearly that the trade was a wash financially. On the left coast, the SF Chronicle also has an article that treats the story fairly. And David Steele of the Chron has a column in which he quite eloquently explains that closers are a dime a dozen, and that the Foulke deal allows Billy Beane to plan for the future while playing for today.

The other reason I'm not too disturbed by the lack of reason, thought, understanding, and honesty prevalent in the mainstream media is that it drives the intelligent fans to me and Will and David Pinto and Travis Nelson, etc.. I believe that one of the reasons people like to come here is that these opinions are mine. They are based on what I think, feel, care about and know. I am beholden to no corporation, entity or editor. I'm not saying that I'll have all the answers. But I have no agenda, nobody looking over my shoulder, and I care enough about the facts that I'll do the legwork.

OK, step away from the soapbox, and let's get back to baseball. Our friend the Betting Fool touches a nerve here....

While the A's make a serious move and get rid of a closer (Billy Koch) who let them down late in the season, Giants fans wait and wonder and get to consider the possibility that Livan Hernandez might be back. Of course, with an infield of J.T. Snow, Neifi Perez, Rich Aurilia and Bill Mueller, the presence of Livan might not make much difference.

Beane has sent a clear message: Screw up when we need you, and you might end up on the next plane out of Oakland.

What message is Sabean sending? All I hear are rumors that the Giants are shopping Russ Ortiz for JD Drew, Brian Giles or the one that really makes me sick, Ortiz for Fernando Vina. That one comes courtesy of Ralph Barbieri, who brought it up yesterday on the Razor & Mr. T Show. Ralph actually suggetsted that it was a good idea, because Vina is a terrific lead-off hitter and second baseman.

Hey Ralph, Vina is 35 years old, Ortiz is 28. Ray Durham, who is a younger, faster, and better lead-off hitter is a free agent, wants to play for the Giants, and could be had for less money. Trading Russ Ortiz for a player like Vina, who is almost certainly at the end of his career, is the kind of move that gets GM's fired.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 4, 2002

.... A Giant among men

Joe Roderick talks about second base in today's San Jose Mercury.

While the Giants debate whether they should offer Jeff Kent arbitration, Ray Durham's agent says he has spent more time on the phone with the Giants than with the A's. That's good news, since Durham represents the one thing the Giants offense has been missing, a true hign on-base percentage lead off man. As for Kent, the issue is whether the team truly believes Kent won't come back under any circumstances. If that's the case, then they would offer him arbitration in order to insure they would receive the compensatory draft choices from the team that signs him.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 3, 2002

.... Hot Fudge Sunday

The NY Times has a piece on the impact of insurance premiums on all player contracts. Of particular note is the fact that insurance coverage is now limited to the first three years of a contract. Interesting.

The NY Daily News' Bill Madden highlights ten baseball turkeys. His number nine would be my number one:

9. Howard Lincoln

The Mariners chairman effectively torpedoed his team's season when, at the trading deadline, he refused to allow any acquisition that would raise the payroll. He later went on to say that making the World Series wasn't his goal, making a profit was. When Lou Piniella questioned this, Lincoln sent him a letter of insubordination. Lincoln then got his full measure of revenge by denying Piniella the opportunity to talk to the Mets about their managerial vacancy.

Peter Gammons has a piece on the free agents of 2003 and 2004. From the Giants perspective, there are some very interesting players entering the market, over the next two seasons, and with the current economic conditions in the game, it might be wise for the team to sacrifice a season (figuratively, of course), go young; and save up for a run at some real players at the end of this season and next. The common perception is that with the $16 million per they are on the hook for with Bonds, they would have to really dump salary in a lot of places at the end of the season to do so; but take a look at this:

Marvin Benard, ($4 million)

JT Snow ($6.8 million)

Livan Hernandez ($3.5 million)

Russ Ortiz ($4.4 million)

Kirk Rueter (5.75 million)

Rich Aurilia ($5.25 million)

All of these players are free agents after this season. Add in the $6 million they're saving by letting Kent go this year, and the combined $6 million or so they saved with Bell, Sanders and Shinjo gone, that's over $40 million cleared after the end of 2003. With the team on the hook for a combined $33 million to Bonds, Nen, and Jason Schmidt, that's $50 million or so available to go after these guys. Giants fans could see a completely different team just two seasons from the World Series.

No matter how you slice it, if Sabean and Colletti do feel that the team is a bit young, here's a few free agents that will be available at the end of this, and next season.

After 2003:

Luis Castillo, Fla., 2B, 29 years old

Vladimir Guerrero, Mon., OF, 28 years old

Miguel Tejada, Oak., 28 years old

After 2004:

Paul Konerko, ChW, 1B, 29 years old

Derrek Lee, Fla., 1B, 30 years old

Richie Sexson, Mil., 1B, 30 years old

Mike Lowell, Fla., 3B, 31 years old

Eric Chavez, Oak., 3B, 27 years old

Adrian Beltre, L.A., 3B, 26 years old

Troy Glaus, Ana., 3B, 28 years old

Good stuff, no? Stay tuned.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 1, 2002

.... What's up?

I've noticed that the last several hits I've gotten have come through search engine requests using only+baseball+matters. If you have recently come to this site via a non-linked referral, could you please send me an email indicating how and/or where you heard about Only Baseball Matters? I'd appreciate the info, as I try to stay on top of my presence in the blogosphere. Thanks in advance to anyone who just came for the first time, and I sincerely hope you'll come back.

Comment on this   [0]  »  December 1, 2002

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