Archive for the 'Hall of Fame' Category
Not to belittle the accomplishments of our venerated commissioner of baseball, but the news from Milwaukee –the Brewers are planning to erect a statue of Selig– is really disturbing.
First off, is there anyone who doubts that this idea could only have come from the team’s “owner,” who just happens to be his daughter. I mean, who else is gonna come up with a horrible idea like this? It certainly isn’t the fans, who have watched as the Selig family has gotten rich beyond their wildest dreams –mostly due to the tens of millions of dollars the team receives through revenue sharing, money that Selig has refused to spend on the team for as long as revenue sharing has been going on– and the increase in revenue due to a taxpayer-funded new ballpark.
Now there’s an accomplishment worthy of a statue, mooch millions upon millions of dollars off of the other teams in baseball, and off your fans and your local community, and then refuse invest in the team for decades.
But, besides some of these obvious issues, you put up statues for the great players in your franchise’s history, as opposed to filthy rich guys who charge ten dollars for a Miller Lite; the idea is off-putting for a variety of lesser concerns.
Selig’s legacy is stained by his complicity in the steroids issue. He cannot distance himself from what happened on his watch, whether you think it was a true scandal, or simply an overblown media creation. He was there, as commissioner, when Sosa and McGwire “saved” baseball, and there were people in his office that were whispering in his ear that there was a problem. He knew, and he did nothing, well, if by nothing, you mean, ignore the issue.
He’s handled several other issues rather poorly as well, don’t you think?
He tried to contract teams out of existence. That didn’t go so well, you might remember.
You could say I’m being unkind. OK, forget, for a moment, all of the things he did poorly. What has he done well?
Really, what has he accomplished that you could say is remarkable? What would you say is Bud Selig’s legacy?
Owners and players making lots of money?
The Pete Rose fiasco? Yeah, he handled that one well.
How about shunning Bonds and McGwire for alleged PED use while standing behind David Ortiz? Yeah, very well though-out.
You do remember that he was the commissioner when the players went on strike, just about killing the game.
Oh, and he was commissioner when the owners colluded against the players, resulting in a hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit that the league lost.
These are just a few of the reasons the idea is terrible. The most obvious one I haven’t even mentioned:
He’s still alive. His “legacy” could hardly be a known commodity, even now, towards the end of his career. You wanna honor the guy when he retires, throw a parade. Have a big dinner, and give him a car. A bronze statue? When he finally brings the team a championship you might want to consider a statue, maybe. It’s quite a bit early in the story of his life to build him a bronze statue.
Only in a sports town so bereft of real baseball heroes and champions could the idea of a statue of Seligula be given consideration.
Grant over at McCovey Chronicles wrote a simply outstanding article about the McGwire situation, and the whole steroids and baseball issue, and comes away with a doozy of a piece:
…. This isn’t to imply that it was just fine that a large percentage of the players were using. It’s not something that’s inconsequential, and it isn’t something that can be laughed off because a lot of players were using. But, good gravy, please stop the good vs. evil, hobbits vs. orcs, black and white discussion. Stop the false dichotomy of players from THE STEROID ERA vs. the OLD-TIMERS who did things the right way and who, if offered a way to extend their careers and improve their numbers with some chemicals, would have said “No way! I’m an old-timer who does things the right way!” I’m not sure if Rod Carew, Robin Yount, or Paul Molitor would have used steroids if they played in an era saturated in chemical enhancements, but the odds are that one of them would have. I say we kick them all out using the “Fallibility of Man” clause, just to be sure.
So when I hear or read that McGwire shouldn’t get in the Hall of Fame because he didn’t apologize the right way, it makes me stabby. Apologize to whom? To me? I had an idea he was using at the time, and I didn’t really care.
Makes me stabby? Nice. Very nice.
Go over there, and read the whole thing.
Super-duper busy around my place this time of year, so I haven’t even had the desire to sit down and write, let alone the time. However, I have been reading. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a lot of hand-wringing about the fact that Lincecum beat out the two St. Louis players, especially around the voting of two of the newest BBWAA members (Will Carroll and Keith Law). Now, while it seems to me that what happened was obvious, that the two players from the same team split the vote, it appears clear that nothing about what happened was obvious to everyone. I just read Bill James’s terrific analysis of the Cy Young Award voting, and he and I are in complete agreement (very convenient, no?), and he’s much more eloquent and detailed than I will ever be:
…. (Brian) Burwell, writing for a St. Louis audience, is trying to smear sabermetrics by saying, in essence, that we were responsible for taking the award away from St. Louis pitchers. Setting aside the position that it may be better not to personalize the debate, is that even what happened? Isn’t what happened here more like two St. Louis pitchers split the vote and allowed the San Francisco pitcher to win it?
…. exactly like the American League MVP Award in 1954, when two Cleveland Indians split the vote (Larry Doby and Bobby Avila), and allowed a Yankee to win, or 1965, when two Dodgers split the vote and allowed Willie Mays to win, or the Cy Young vote in 1970, when three Baltimore Orioles split twelve first-place votes and allowed a Minnesota Twin to win with six. Et cetera.
Well, yes, exactly.
He then expounds, as he is wont to do, for about 15000 words, and finally comes to this:
…. here’s what I would say. In the National League, the vote was split three ways, it was a very close vote, and it’s been a controversial vote. In the American League Greinke won easily, and this vote has been uncontroversial, and this vote has been celebrated by the analytical community as a victory for reason and logic.
But actually it seems pretty clear to me, under the most careful analysis that I can do, that Lincecum was the best pitcher in the National League and deserved the award—whereas in the American League, under the most careful analysis that I can do, it is unclear to me whether Greinke or Hernandez is more deserving.
I love Bill James.
UPDATE: Rob Neyer gives us even more thoughtful analysis:
…. I’m not going to run through every basic statistic (and yes, K/BB is a basic statistic), nor will I run through every advanced metric. I will say that according to FanGraphs, the most valuable pitcher in the league was Lincecum, the second most valuable was Vazquez, and the third most valuable was Haren.
Which isn’t necessarily how I would have voted. Value-wise — as theoretically measured by dollars — there’s virtually no difference between Haren, Wainwright, Carpenter, or (gulp) Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson. My point is that among the five candidates who wound up on at least one voter’s ballot, only Lincecum’s fundamental performance truly stands out.
Lincecum edges Wainwright and Carpenter in the closest vote ever. Makes history as first to win Cy in first two full seasons.
More this weekend…..
History made tonight. Matsui becomes the first Japanese-born player to win a World Series MVP, and a World Series, period.
Congratulations to the Yankees.
UPDATE: As I said yesterday, today’s game was all about Pettitte commanding the strike zone, and even though he walked five tonight, in the actual game situations, he was putting the ball exactly where he wanted to. Joe West was a bit inconsistent with his ball and strike calls, but Pettite refused to give in, and, in the end, with the early three-run lead, he was able to make sure that the pitches the Phillies swung at, the pitches that the Phillies hit, were the pitches he wanted them to swing at, the pitches he wanted them to hit. The pitches he wanted to them to hit, were thrown to the hitters he wanted to allow to have a chance to hit. All in all, the difference in the game was that Andy Pettitte commanded the strike zone, and by doing so, he won his 18th postseason game.
By the way, any talk about the Hall of Fame for Andy Pettitte (229-135 regular season record) must now consider the 40 postseason starts ( a whole extra seasons worth of work), and the 18-9 postseason record –which would raise his overall record to 257-144– was compiled at the highest, most demanding, pressure-filled level. Andy Pettitte has now won 5 postseason series clinching games. He’s now won 3 World Series clinching games. To suggest that he is the same pitcher as Jack Morris, as I read several times this week, is absurd. He’s had more than three times as many postseason wins as Morris, and he’s now won five –FIVE– World Series Championships.
Andy Pettitte did, in fact, command the strike zone, and, as I predicted, the Yankees did get to Pedro Martinez; and, as I predicted, if a Yankee hitter had an otherwordly game, he would steal the MVP from Mariano Rivera; and, as I predicted, if those things happened, the Yankees would be World Champions. And, they are.
Just the penultimate moment of the World Series, and Fox immediately cuts to a commercial instead of staying with the Sandman moment as Mariano comes in. Disgraceful.
Two recent articles involving steroids caught my eye, my attention, and drew my ire. The first one was in the NY Times, having to do with the attorneys in the Bonds case:
…. Barry Bonds is at home, awaiting trial and hoping that a major league team will ask him to play again. The prosecutors overseeing his case have gone back to working on other investigations. And one of Bonds’s lead defense lawyers has spent time helping to determine who the prosecutors’ next boss will be.
…. Whoever eventually becomes the United States attorney — the highest law-enforcement official in the Bay Area — will have an important decision to make in the Bonds case.
…. “I can see the concern that it looks worrisome,” he said, “but there are many layers in this decision, there are a lot of people on the committee — there is no direct decision-maker — it’s Boxer’s call, it’s Obama’s call and it’s subject to review of the Department of Justice and Congressional approval.”
Expressing more concern than the legal experts was Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, which oversees the testing of all Olympic athletes and promotes clean competition in all sports.
“Right or wrong, perception can become reality and the perception here is not good,” Tygart said. “Hopefully, this will not have anything to do with the truth of Barry Bonds’s doping from coming to light and his tainted home run record being expunged.”
…. Since prosecutors began scrutinizing Bonds in 2003, there have been three United States attorneys for the Northern District of California. The current United States attorney, Joseph P. Russoniello, said in an interview Wednesday that he wanted to remain in the post after his term expired in December 2011.
…. Russoniello declined to say whether the government would move forward with the case if the appeals court does not let them use the disputed evidence. But he took issue with those people who have criticized his prosecutors for going after professional athletes.
“With all people we expect that when we put them in front of the grand jury they will be truthful,” Russoniello said. “It would be wrong to impose different standards because they were celebrities; we prosecute regardless of who the people are. We prosecute what is in front of us.”
ello said that since he took over as United States attorney, in 2007, he has developed a greater appreciation for the Balco investigation and how the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes can influence teenagers.
“Stan Musial was my hero when I was a kid, and he smoked cigarettes,” Russoniello said. “I smoked cigarettes. Did I smoke cigarettes because of him? Well, there was not anything that he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.”
That's two people charged with important decisions, being in important jobs, who are either lying or idiots. If Tygart really thinks that way, he's not an executive running an organization. he's a crusader wit a vendetta, who cares more about image than facts, and he should be fired.
As for Russoniello, he's a disgrace to Italians everywhere. I can't even believe a grown man would allow himself to think something so absurd, and to allow himself to say it aloud, in front of a reporter is embarrassing. “There was not anything he did to deter me from smoking cigarettes.” I'm sorry that Stan Musial never told him not to smoke. Wow.
I'll get to the second one in a day or so. I just had to point put the absurdity.
UPDATE: Speaking of Bonds and absurdity, here's the headline to this article about Bengie Molina:
Giants’ Cleanup Hitter Is No Bonds (That’s a Good Thing)
…. Is there a more improbable full-time cleanup hitter in the major leagues? In his first 80 games, Molina batted .259 with 11 homers and 50 runs batted in. He was on a pace to hit 20 homers and drive in 91 runs.
Those projected numbers would be decent, but Molina, 34, is hardly a fearsome or dependable slugger. He was hitting .239 with runners in scoring position and had walked a shockingly low three times. Molina had a .432 slugging percentage and a .267 on-base percentage, which was worst in the National League.
Yeah, who needs a guy who gets on base half the time, has the highest slugging percentage in the league, and is generally the best hitter alive?
That piece was written by Jack Curry, just one more slam job by a cadre of reporters and mass media idiots who are obviously under some obligation to relentlessly continue their attacks on Barry, even when there's no reason whatsoever. Disgraceful.
Jonathan Sanchez, fresh off the scrap heap, the rumor mill, and possibly the bullpen; took his spot start and just missed a perfect game. Between his 2-6 record, his Dad seeing him pitch live for the first time ever, and Lincecum's near miss last night, that was some performance.
…. Among his many talents, Tim Lincecum also is a prophet. On Friday afternoon he said, “Someone might throw a no-hitter and it might not be the ace of the squad. It might be an unsung hero kind of guy. Anybody can do anything.”
A few hours later, anybody did something, and it was remarkable.
On a slightly cool but comfortable night for baseball at China Basin, Jonathan Sanchez pitched the Giants' first no-hitter in 33 years, beating the San Diego Padres 8-0. Only a Juan Uribe error stood between Sanchez and a perfect game.
…. So good was Sanchez that he nearly threw the 16th perfect game in the history of modern baseball. He was five outs shy when Uribe muffed an eighth-inning chopper by Chase Headley and could not pick up the ball. Headley was the only Padre to reach base against Sanchez, who struck out 11 to set a career high.
UPDATE: Peter G (Peter Gammons?) mentioned that I called the no-hitter:
…. As one might expect from a team with so little offense, the Giants came within a hair’s breath of being no-hit today. Not for nothing, but this team is pretty much a no-hitter waiting to happen.
I'm assuming that was tongue-in-cheek.
I am, however, on record as saying that Lincecum is a no-hitter waiting to happen. Not in writing, but out loud, with my loud mouth.
Nonetheless, this team is starting to seem a little bit special, or should I say, it seems that maybe, just maybe, this team is coming to be more than the sum of its parts. At this point, Sabe
an cannot trade Sanchez anymore –obviously– and perhaps he shouldn't trade anyone.
Uribe puts a pretty good swing on it, Sandoval is a terrific hitter, Molina is back from the grave, Rowand is having a solid season…. Hmmmmm, let me look at something….
The Giants scored 118 runs in June, in 27 games. That's 4.37 runs per game, better than the NL average, and almost a half run better than they had been scoring heading into June. In July, they've scored 43 runs in 9 games, that's 4.7 runs per game. Another way of looking at it is to say the Giants are scoring 4.5 runs per game since the start of June, 161 runs in 36 games. During that span of 36 games, the pitchers have allowed 108 earned runs, 117 runs in total. That's 2.75 runs per game. (read that sentence a few times) That's an expected winning percentage of .721. (read that sentence a few times) A team scoring and allowing that many runs should have gone 25-11 since the start of June. They've been just a bit below that, 23-14 according to ESPN's standings page, but that's still an outstanding run of over .600 ball, for almost a quarter of a season.
They have the second best record in the NL, a two game lead in the Wild Card, have a league-leading 13(!) shutouts, twice as many as any other team. Perhaps they have found just enough offense. The defense is suspect, (although they seem to have committed a lot of errors recently, including the loss of the perfect game last night, in reality, they have only 46 this season, which is one of the lowest totals in the league); but since they are also leading all of baseball in strikeouts, their pitching makes up for a lot.
That's the good.
Renteria moves so slow, he looks like he's wearing a suit of armor. Uribe is a bit less than sure-handed. We still are at the bottom of baseball in home runs, Randy Johnson is still old, and Barry Zito is still expensive.
That's the bad.
Not quite as much as there used to be, no?
In an ugly, error-filled game, Tim Lincecum failed to beat the worst team in baseball, as the Giants lost to the Nationals to fall back to .500. After 50 games, the team has scored and allowed almost the exact same number of runs, and without a major trade, will be lucky to maintain their current pace for much longer. No pitcher can carry the load of having to be perfect every game, just ask Johan Santana, who has been given the worst run support imaginable the last season and a half. The Giants pitching staff has been dealing with this kind of pressure for a couple of seasons now, and there's not much real hope for the rest of '09.
By the way, for everyone who keeps insisting that the Dodgers can be had, they've allowed almost the exact same number of runs the Giants have. Of course, they've also scored 100 more runs. Not to belabor the obvious, but that means they are outscoring the Giants by 2 full runs per game. Just in case you haven't had your coffee yet, let me elaborate…. if the Giants traded Travis Ishikawa straight up for Albert Pujols, they wouldn't make up that difference. If they traded Ishikawa for the 2003-05 version of Bonds they wouldn't score two more runs per game, although they'd probably come close.
My point is that the real contenders are the teams that are outscoring their opponents. Forget about won loss records, just look at ESPN's upgraded standings page, and check out the runs differential column. That'll tell you everything you need to know. 50 games in, we know who we are. 50 games is a large enough sample. I just read Verducci explaining that the number of teams who've made the playoff after being five games below .500 at the start of June is three:
…. Here are the facts. There have been 104 teams to make the playoffs in the 13 full seasons of the wild-card era. Exactly three of them, or 2.9 percent, were worse than five games below .500 when June began. Here are the three outliers:
1. 2005 Astros (19-32 start; 89-73 final record).
2. 2007 Cubs (22-29; 85-77).
3. 2007 Yankees (22-29; 94-68).
That's just another way of saying the same thing. Over the course of a season, the teams that outscore their opponents by the largest margins will be the ones that –with the occasional exception–make the playoffs. So here's a different way of looking at those three teams, looking at where they were on the morning of June 1st of those seasons:
2005 Astros 18-32 -48 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 18-32
2007 Cubs 22-29 +11 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 27-24
2007 Yankees 22-29 +24 runs differential Expected Won-Loss 29-22
You wanna know how Houston made up that deficit? They outscored their opponents by 132 runs over the last 112 games of the season, which is normally a full seasons' worth of extra runs for a contending team. In fact, only one team in the NL outscored their opponents by more than 132 runs that year, the St. Louis Cardinals, who didn't make the Series in what was widely considered an upset. But, from June 1st on, the Astros were the better team. Over those last 112 games, the Cardinals runs differential was only 116. The Astros won 5 more games than the Cards over that stretch, and then won the NL pennant before falling to the White Sox in the Serious.
As of today, no team is significantly outperforming their expected winning percentage, a couple should have a few more wins, notably, the Nationals, who should have about four more, and the Tampa Bay Rays, who are also about four or five wins worse than they should be. Most teams are right where they should be, which is another way of saying this:
The Giants have no chance of competing for a championship this season.
The minor league system has been restocked, and there should be help, in the form of real hitters, coming up next season, and hopefully we will see the Giants become a team that has a steady supply of good, young talent in the future. It's important that Brain Sabean remembers that championships are built, not bought. He knows that the Yankees recent dynasty –contrary to
popular belief– was built upon the nucleus of home grown talent, by the maturation of Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Bernie WIlliams, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera, who all came up through the Yankees system. That Yankee team was built upon that core group of All Stars, who were then surrounded by key free agents and savvy veterans; think along the lines of David Wells, David Cone, Wade Boggs, Paul O'Neil, Scott Brosius…. those kinds of guys. In fact, it was only when the Yankees began to swing for the fences, signing the best free agents out there, when they began to look like an All Star team, that the dynasty started to falter.
The Giants should be sellers, not buyers. They should be looking to unload the collection of overpaid mediocrities masquerading as middle of the order talent. They should be looking to trade Winn, and Rowand and Molina, and Renteria, and collect even more minor league talent, young talent. They should wash their hands of these money sucking role players, and start looking to 2010, because none of these players will be around when Giants players are pouring champagne on each other.
The Giants have two studs right now, two. Cain and Lincecum. Pablo Sandoval looks pretty good, albeit a little rough around the edges. Perhaps Burriss grows into an everyday second baseman. Fred Lewis will be 29 years old at the start of 2010, and he's done exactly, what? Maybe Jonathan Sanchez will be part of a contending Giants team. Maybe. Who else in yesterday's lineup will be?
The Giants need three or four elite players to come up through the system in the next two seasons. A first baseman, Posey, and an outfielder or two would be perfect. Then the players that Sabean is so fond of would actually have real worth. Signing the Aaron Rowands and the Randy Winns of the baseball world would be a fine strategy if the Giants got 90 home runs and 250 runs batted in from their first baseman, left fielder and their catcher.
Trading anybody younger than 28 years old in an effort to make the playoffs this season would be a huge mistake, because you'd be betting half your stack knowing that you're a 10-1 underdog. Trading a player as valuable as Matt Cain would be catastrophic.
UPDATE: I just have to….
Many major media outlets continue to insist that the Yankees surge to the best record in baseball is somehow tied to A-Rod's return, or to the terrific defense they've been getting from Melky Cabrera and Mark Texeira, or from their pitching staff finally coming together. Here's none other than OBM supporter Peter Gammons:
…. Recently, the Yankees have gone on a big-time roll and taken first place in the AL East, all after the return of Alex Rodriguez. However, the key difference hasn't been offense, although the tandem of A-Rod and Mark Teixeira is similar to what David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez once were with Boston. With A-Rod and Teixeira in the order, the Yankees' runs per game have only risen slightly. The Yankees' ERA, though, has dropped by more than two runs, as CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Joba Chamberlain and Co. have come together as a power rotation.
The Yankees' rotation is made up of hard throwers who get minimal hard contact, and put little pressure on the defense. Teixeira, the owner of two Gold Gloves, has made the infield much better, and Melky Cabrera's defensive matrix is the best of any major league center fielder.
None of that is true. Well, it's not that that's not true, it just overstates the case. The Yankees were 14-15 on May 8th, the day A-Rod hit the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer. In those 29 games, they had a run differential of -16, having allowed a staggering 178 runs in those 29 games, over 6 per game. But they'd allowed 44 of those runs in just three games, the three games Chien-Ming Wang started before they put him on the DL. Take those games out, and the Yankees gave up 134 runs in 26 games, or just over 5 runs per game. Over their last 23 games, they've allowed 91 runs, around 4 runs per game. This improvement, in fact, can and should be attributed to better defense, and the pitchers starting to reach mid-season form.
This is why Brian Cashman signed Burnett, Sabathia and Texiera. Those players are delivering.
The latest steroid scandal involving Lou Merloni is old news. I wrote about teams bringing in doctors to talk to players about the positive aspects of using steroids years ago, and the Mitchell Report mentions it as well. Nonetheless, it is refreshing to hear a player, even one who is out of the game, talking candidly about the issue:
…. Merloni’s exact quotes, according to The Boston Globe, were: “I’m in Spring Training, and I got an 8:30-9:00 meeting in the morning. I walk into that office, and this happened while I was with the Boston Red Sox before this last regime, I’m sitting in the meeting. There’s a doctor up there and he’s talking about steroids, and everyone was like, ‘Here we go, we’re going to sit here and get the whole thing — they’re bad for you.’
“No. He spins it and says, ‘You know what? If you take steroids and sit on the couch all winter long, you can actually get stronger than someone who works out clean. If you’re going to take steroids, one cycle won’t hurt you; abusing steroids it will.’
“He sat there for one hour and told us how to properly use steroids while I’m with the Boston Red Sox, sitting there with the rest of the organization, and after this I said, ‘What the heck was that?’ And everybody on the team was like, ‘What was that?’ And the response we got was, ‘Well, we know guys are taking it, so we want to make sure they’re taking it the right way.’ … Where did that come from? That didn’t come from the Players Association.”
Steroid Nation’s piece goes on:
…. In fact, there were occasions when physicians presented steroids in a favorable light, in particular Dr. Robert Millman, of Cornell. Here is what John Rocker said about a presentation:
The loudmouth former reliever said he and then-Rangers teammate Alex Rodriguez, among others, were advised in spring training of 2002 by management and players’ union doctors on how to use steroids in a way that is “not going to hurt you.”
Rocker said a doctor hired by the Players’ Association pulled aside himself, A-Rod, Ivan Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro following a spring training lecture and candidly told them how to use steroids.
“Look guys, if you take one kind of steroid, you don’t triple stack them and take them 10 months out of the year like Lyle Alzado did,” the doctor told him, Rocker said yesterday during an interview on the Buck and Kincade Show on WCNN-680 The Fan in Atlanta. “If you do it responsibly, it’s not going to hurt you.” (italics, mine)
My steroids category link is taking too long, but I’ll find the piece I wrote back in ’03 or ’04. Old news, but still good news. I’m all for transparency. The people who profited from the home run explosion, the owners, GM’s, and baseball officials who are pointing fingers need to be put to the same scrutiny players have been. About time.