Archive for July, 2008
Yep. Read this Bill James piece on forgiveness. It’s subscription only, $3 bucks a month, by the way, (if you haven’t already signed up, what are you waiting for?) Anyway, here’s a small taste:
…. I’m not any better than Bill Singer, and I’m not any better than Al Campanis, and I’m not any better than Marge Schott.
That, it seems to me, is what is missing from the Barry Bonds debate: Forgiveness. I’m not any better than Barry Bonds, and I’m not any better than Mark McGwire, and I’m not any better than Roger Clemens, and I’m not any better than Pete Rose, either. You give me the opportunity to earn $22 million a year by taking steroids, I’ll shoot the pharmacist if I have to. I’m not saying it’s right.
I wasn’t writing about forgiveness when I wrote back three years ago, but reading Bill this morning made me think of it:
…. Virtually any athlete in any sport will do just about anything to be the best of the best, and a manager or coach will push them to do so. Some athletes will push the envelope only so far, while others will throw it away, and risk their very lives, if they truly believed it would make a difference, the difference between winning and losing. We, as fans, not only ask this of them, we demand it. Their coaches demand it, their teammates demand it, the game demands it. Be the best, win at all costs, do whatever it takes; these are the credo of virtually every championship-caliber player, coach, or team.
And now, hysterical media-types are fanning the flames of controversy; “Oh no, it looks like so and so really did do whatever it takes. Shame on him!” Please. Don’t insult my inteligence. Of course he or she did, what did you expect? The only difference between what one athlete will risk as opposed to another is based on their own personal decision-making values. As for their choice, I’d ask you; is it appropriate for one person to decide what another should be willing to risk? Is it OK for you to tell me what I should be willing to do to improve my life, my career, my earning potential? Not in my book, it isn’t, not as long as my actions don’t harm anyone else, or take from anyone else.
In the five years prior to 1997, Mark McGwire played 139, 27, 47, 104, and 130 games. Was it his use of andro (or steroids) that allowed him to play 156, 155 and 153 over the next three, hitting 58, 70 and 65 home runs? During those five injury-riddled seasons, he hit a home run every 9.44 AB’s. In the next three, in which he played almost every game, he hit a home run every 8.17 at bats, not a tremendous difference. He stopped using andro sometime during the end of the 1998 season, right? Only one full season later, he was back on the injured list, and his career was over by 2001. If his use of andro enabled him to stay healthy enough and strong enough to get enough at bats to break Roger Maris’ record, how exactly was that wrong? Why should Mark McGwire give up his right to do whatever he can to help his body heal itself and stay strong enough to endure the rigors of baseball, his chosen profession? If there are risks involved, why shouldn’t he be the one to decide if they are worth it? It’s his life!
I think the parallels between the two trains of thought are there. Personal choice, forgiveness, self-righteousness, moralizing….
Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, any and all of our superstars are often found wanting by an increasingly vigilant media, one that is never satisfied, always hungry for more scandal. No one can understand what it’s truly like to be a superstar of the highest order, sportswriters try and try to find ways to describe it, but in the end, are still wanting.
And in the end, they focus on what they can understand, flaws. Railing about how A-Rod cheats on his wife is one way to make him seem more normal, more like us. Attacking Bonds for being such an asshole is an easy way to make it seem like he’s no better than anybody else, or even worse. It’s lazy, it’s wrong, and it adds nothing to anyone’s understanding, and any kind of editor should put a stop to it, but not anymore.
In today’s media, everyone takes the low road, moralizing and posturing instead of offering understanding, instead of investigating. Well, almost everyone.
Finally, a trade that makes sense. Trading Ray Durham, only two years too late, is perhaps the sign we’ve all been waiting for, a sign that the Giants brass, and Brian Sabean, in particular, are beginning to understand that a team full of players closer to forty than they are to twenty, is a team that will lose a lot of games.
…. The Giants get Steve Hammond, who has excellent strikeout and walk numbers in the minors. At 26 he’s mature, and his path to the majors should be short. They also receive Darren Ford, a non-slugging outfielder.
Seems like Barry Bonds might be swinging a bat again:
Embattled former Giants slugger Barry Bonds has entered into formal contract negotiations with the Yankees, and a consummation of the deal is anticipated forthwith, a confidential clubhouse source told MLBNewsOnline.com.
I’ve read nothing significant about this in the NY paper…. well, by nothing, I mean, nothing but reporters asking Cashman if he’s considering signing Bonds, and Cashman saying something like, “We’re considering all possibilities to improve our club….” blah, blah, blah. Oh, and then there’s this:
When Internet reports about the Yankees negotiating with Barry Bonds kicked in Thursday, phones buzzed in the Yankees’ corridors of power.
But there’s no truth to a pinstriped pursuit of Bonds, according to a Yankee official, who said, “It’s all nonsense.”
Hmmmm…. I’ll say one thing, for a team that has the cash, the need, and the strong “character” guys needed to handle Bonds and his sideshow; the only thing that’s nonsense is that they haven’t signed him. He only fits every single fucking need they have.
Could you imagine the immediate impact of having Bonds batting behind A-Rod?
Hat tip to Pinto, as usual.
UPDATE: And now we’ve got a rumor that the Giant might be shopping Matt Cain:
The latest has the Phils hoping San Francisco, an NL West pretender, will shop 23-year-old right-hander Matt Cain. Word is the Giants might part with Cain, who is 5-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 20 starts, if offered an intriguing package of young talent.
Now that the Yankees –with about six guys who can either play first base or DH– are seriously looking into signing Richie Sexson, can somebody explain to me how the Giants haven’t already signed him? Let’s see….
We haven’t had a true, power-hitting first baseman in about twenty years.
Sexson, bad enough to be released, actually has more home runs (11) than anyone on the Giants, who are last in MLB in home runs, with just 57.
He’ll only cost the team about $400,000.
Even if he isn’t in the team’s plans for next year, how in Jesus Christ Almighty can Sabean not have already called his agent? How can this team not make a move this obvious?
For that matter….
How can Sabean ignore Rick Peterson, and continue to DO NOTHING while Barry Zito’s career collapses to the tune of a $126 million dollar loss?
Or more importantly….
How can Bochy continue to bury our young players, the only players the team actually needs to see play every day?
How can Sabean and company allow themselves to think this team can contend for anything?
…. Despite this horrendous trip, the Giants still view themselves as contenders for the National League West. Despite a 39-55 record, they are eight games out. Players still talk in terms of “getting back in this thing.”
Yeah, well, that’s ridiculous. The team is 16 games under .500, 12.5 games out of the wild card, and currently behind ten teams.
UPDATE: Ok, I don’t know why, but I thought Sexson was younger than 33 years old. I stand corrected.
William Rhoden thinks the time for Bonds has come:
How does Bonds get back in baseball? How do we end the owners’ apparent unholy conspiracy to keep Bonds out of uniform?
Which team will have the courage to step up to the plate?
In 2004, Bonds told reporters that he could see himself ending his career in the American League as a designated hitter.
The time has come. Bonds belongs in the American League; he belongs in Boston.
Boston has a great legacy of hitters: Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, David Ortiz. Bonds is the greatest of them all.
Unholy conspiracy? Nice.
As bad as Zito’s been –and that’s pretty damn near the worst pitcher in all of baseball bad– Tim Lincecum has thrust himself directly into the conversation for the NL Cy Young Award. He’s certainly making a terrific case for starting the All Star Game.
He’s second in ERA (2.49), first in strikeouts (122), first in winning percentage (10-1, 91%), first in quality starts percentage (88%), tied for third in wins (10), 10th in WHIP (1.24), second in average game score among everyday starters, second in K/9IP, 3rd in OPS against (.621), and has posted all of these great stats while pitching for a team that is 28-47 (37%) without him and his 10-1 record. The team is 12-5 on the days that he pitches, and 26-43 when he doesn’t.
For a pitcher to be 10-1 for a team that is 13th in the league in runs scored is simply astounding. Lincecum is conjuring memories of Steve Carlton’s amazing 1972 season, when he won 27 games for a team that lost 100.
I’d also recommend you take the time to read Tom Verducci’s nice cover in this week’s SI.
…. The skittish Baltimore Orioles, picking ninth in the ’06 draft, basically took him off their board — though by then Lincecum, a junior at Washington, was a two-time Pac-10 pitcher of the year who had struck out more batters than any other pitcher in conference history, including Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Mark Prior.
“We took a high school hitter,” recalls then-Baltimore general manager Jim Duquette, referring to Bill Rowell, a third baseman who is hitting .225 in high A ball. “There was a feeling that [Lincecum] was short, not a real physical kid, and mechanically he was going to break down, that there was enough stress on his arm, elbow and shoulder. Our scouting department kind of pushed him down because of the medical aspect.”
Six of the first seven teams to pick in that draft selected pitchers. All of them passed on Lincecum, even the Seattle Mariners, who played it safe in choosing the strapping 6′ 3″ righthander Brandon Morrow — a guy they use in relief at that — rather than the Freak in their own backyard. The Giants took Lincecum at No. 10. He pitched only 13 times in the minors, allowing seven earned runs and whiffing 104 batters in 62 2/3 innings, before it became obvious to San Francisco that it had a prodigy who was wasting his time down there.
Since his May 2007 call-up Lincecum has been only slightly more challenged by major league hitters. In 40 starts through Sunday, he was 16-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 264 strikeouts in 256 innings. Only one starting pitcher in baseball history, Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets in the mid-’80s, has won 70% of his decisions over his first two seasons while logging more strikeouts than innings.
UPDATE: According to this article, Brandon Webb will be the All Star starter for the NL. Webb, the 2006 NL Cy Young Award winner, is 12-4 with a 3.43 ERA, and certainly is the safe choice; given his terrific start, but, as of now, the best pitcher in the NL is Lincecum. I’m glad he’ll be there, but he should’ve gotten the start.
Sorry for the lack of posts. Very busy times, what with the local fires and all….
What are the Giants supposed to do with Barry Zito? I think the time has come to think about shutting him down for the rest of the season. He’s gonna lose 20 games, and is doing nothing to help the team. In fact, he’s hurting the team in every way, between his inability to throw strikes, or keep his team in the game; his complete destruction of the season has reached epic proportions.
The Giants are 11 games under .500, and Barry Zito (3-12) is fully nine games of that eleven. Even worse, with his 0-8 home record, (the team has lost all 9 of his home starts), he is the entire reason the Giants (14-25 at home) are a sub .500 team at home.
I understand that the Giants are a poor offensive team, and that playing at PacBell limits them even more, but, come on. In 43 innings at home, Zito has given up 42 runs. Seriously, how can the team ignore this? How can Sabean not consider calling Rick Peterson, under whom Zito enjoyed his greatest success? How much longer can they allow him to be the anti-Carlton?
The simple fact is this; the Giants can now lay claim to two major free agent accomplishments, the best free agent signing ever, and the worst.