Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Your AL MVP



They never like giving the award to a pitcher. They say it’s because the pitcher has their own award, the Cy Young, and that the MVP is reserved for players who play everyday. Well, screw this! That’s like saying a rookie can’t win the MVP award because they also have their own award. So far this year, the American League MVP crosses both those boundaries—being both a rookie and a pitcher. That’s right, you may have guessed it from my clues and/or that giant picture—Francisco Liriano is my MVP candidate.

Like I said, the real people who vote don’t like giving it to pitchers. The last time a pitcher won was Dennis Eckersley back in 1992. I was all for giving the award to Pedro Martinez in 1999 when he had a 23-4 record, a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts. These are amazing numbers period, despite the fact that Pedro did it during the “juiced” era. Instead, Pudge Rodriguez got the award. Yet, odds are Liriano has no shot in hell of winning, given whose voting. I mean, the guy barely made the All-Star game after posting a 1.84 ERA at the break.

By my definition, the other candidates are David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter, Vernon Wells, Jim Thome, Joe Mauer, and…though he won’t be considered because he plays for a “losing” team, Travis Hafner. First of all, I think a DH should have an opportunity to win the MVP. That being said, they need to put up Bonds-on-steroids numbers to win. This immediately discounts Thome, Ortiz, and Hafner. Not to say these guys aren’t having monster years, but, if you can’t contribute at all on defense it sets you back. Plus, like I said, Hafner won’t even be in this discussion because the Indians aren’t playing very well, despite the fact he’s been the best hitter in baseball. Offensively, Manny is having another great year at .312/.430/.616. But his defense is so piss poor in left that I almost want to count him as a DH. His numbers are also a grade lower than Mauer’s, Jeter’s and Wells’. So let’s get rid of Manny.

Derek Jeter is having one of his best years as a Yankee, and hasn’t taken the award home in his career. He also never lacks in media attention. Jeter is doing a lot of good for his team batting .346, albeit, he’s only hitting singles, having one of the worst power hitting years of his career. That, coupled with his overrated defense at short and the lineup around him—A-Rod, Giambi, Damon, Posado--make Derek seem like less value to his franchise than some others.

A very strong case could be made for Joe Mauer and Vernon Wells this year. Both play premium defensive positions where usually even a little bit of offense is helpful. Wells is hitting .322/.385/.624, is playing nasty in centerfield and the Blue Jays are 55-44. Mauer is batting .380 with a little bit of power and playing adequately behind the plate. The Twins sit at 57-41.

So how could I possibly justify giving the award to a 22-year-old pitcher who didn’t even start the year in the rotation over one of these guys? Since becoming a starter on May 19th, the Twins are 40-17. He is averaging 10.51 strikeouts/9 innings pitched—better than any pitcher in baseball. He also has a 1.93 ERA, a .97 WHIP, and rarely gives up a home run. But what it really comes down to is that pitchers these days are just more valuable than hitters. When Estaban Loaiza can get $7,000,000 from the Billy Beane, you know something is up. When Franciso Liriano has been more valuble than 2004 Cy Young teammate Johan Santana in 37 less innings pitched, you also know you have something special. There are plenty of great hitters—and I’ve mentioned all the candidates—but there are only a couple special pitchers. Francisco Liriano won’t win the award this year, but he should.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Alternative Drugs? Yes Please



There have been many surprises in Major League Baseball this year. The Tigers are in first place, the Reds are making a run at the NL Central and the Mets are beating expectations in the East. Yet, these are not among the biggest shockers. Even more compelling are the years apparent junkies Ron Villone, Gary Matthews JR., Garrett Atkins and Chien-Ming Wang are having. These players are having good years because they either took tai style kick boxing in the off-season, spent hours in the gym, and many more hours watching tapes, OR took tai style kick boxing, spent hours in the gym and many hours watching tapes on DRUGS. There is no way that these talentless athletes could possibly be having good years, unless it was for something unnatural, right?

Ron Villone



In case you don’t know Villone, he is a left-handed reliever for the Yankees. He is the “go-to” guy, when the Yanks need a lefty to get more than one out (see Mike Myers for a more thorough explanation). A wandering mendicant, Villone has seen the cities of Seattle, San Diego, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Cincinatti, Houston, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Florida and now New York. Never one to perform “well” in the past, Villone currently has a 2.14 ERA, and is avererging about 7 strikeouts per 9 innings of work. That, coupled with his age, 36, lead me to believe that he is on something performance enhancing. Possible drug choice: Boost nutrition for the elderly, Viagra.

Chien-Ming Wang



Another Yankee pitching surprisingly well. Wang, or “Wong,” as he likes to be called, is the only Major League player with ties to Taipai Ti Wu University. And it was maybe at this school where he scored, “big.” Yet could Wang, like another Asian athlete Yao Ming, be the product of, dare I say it, eugenics. At 6’3”, is Wang clearly Taipai’s failed attempt at making a basketball star, and instead, Taipai forced Wang to make something of himself as a mediocre baseball player? Only time will tell, but for the moment, I’ll be watching Wang, if this indeed is his real name, and his sinking fastball for the rest of the year with questionable uncertainty. Possible drug of choice: Eugenically forced upbringing/Yao Ming’s failed bizzaro twin.

Darren Oliver



See Ron Villone.


Garrett Atkins, Brandon Hawpe, and that Holliday fellow



And then God said, “Give Atkins, Hawpe, and that Holliday fellow who no ones heard of some hitting ability, for they hath found faith not through playboy, loud, youthful music, or the rocky mountain refreshment which happens to sponsor the stadium they play in, but instead, in ME.” I’ve mentioned this before, but the story is too good to leave alone. The Rockies are being called a, “Christian” team, and they are not allowed to have Playboy, or even Maxim in their locker room. But then again, if I was Atkins, Hawpe or that Holliday fellow, I would probably become a believer too. All three are having career years with over .300 averages and plus-power. Drug of choice: GOD. But who will they blame when they suck next year?

Gary Matthews Jr.



Another nomad turned star, Matthews is having a career year batting .326/.371/.520. This has been rather uncharacteristic of Matthews who in the past was more of a “last possible option.” So what happened, what has gotten into Matthews this year? Why is he hitting well? In other words, what is he on? He started his career in San Diego and has since played for the Cubs, Pirates, Mets and Orioles. Yet, he has only played decently well since joining the Rangers three years ago. Hence, Matthews is benefiting from Texas—the lone star state. Or, the friendly confines of the Ballpark at Arlington. I don’t have the exact numbers, nor want to explain the “sabermetrics,” of the Rangers home field compared to that of a normal stadium, but let’s just say, it helps to play in a park that turns Shrek, or Kevin Mench and his size 8 head into a bonefide everyday player. Drug of choice: Sweet Texas Puneta. YEEHAAAA!!!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Greatest Job on Earth



It’s a question many people ponder. If I could have done it differently, what would I have done? What would I have majored in at college? What would I have worked harder at to put me in a better position now? Some say being an actuary is solid because you make lots of money and it’s largely merit based. Others say real estate appraising is nice. Who doesn’t like spending half their day checking out elaborate properties? Financial planner, restaurant manager, aspiring porn star, college professor—these are all great professions, but they’re not even close to the greatest one of all…Bullpen specialist.

That’s right, the greatest job on earth currently belongs to Mike Myers and to some extent Chad Bradford. These guys live very comfortably off a “special skill.” Myers is a left-handed sidearm whiz. He often times comes into the game to face one batter, and regardless of how he fares, he leaves the game after facing that batter. In the last two ballgames, Myers only needed to make one pitch. Let’s check this out: Between the time it takes for Myers to warm up, jog to the mound, pitch, then jog to the dugout is all of about fifteen minutes and then his day is done.

But before Myers, there were other skilled professional athletes who barely worked for their money. Men like retiree Steve Reed, who to me, embodies the American dream. OK, that’s taking it a bit far, but his playing career was still pretty fucking cool.



Steven Vincent Reed is a 6’2”, 209 lb un-athletic, sidearm legend. He played college ball at Lewis-Clark State College where I am sure he gained his drinking and baseball prowess. His scouting report from STATS INC. reads: “Reed can help a contending team, but in a seventh/eighth-inning role. He has not shown an ability to close out games at the big league level. However, he isn't afraid of coming into a mid-inning jam and will throw strikes. He's a luxury on a non-contender because of the limited role.” STATS inc. also explains how Reed’s unique sidearm/submarine delivery often times puzzled right-handers, but that lefties have a career .288 average against him. So what does all this mean?

It means Steve Reed was a major league baseball player, without being a Major League Baseball Player. He was a luxury item, who got paid $900,000/year to pitch in select instances, to a couple batters (maximum) at a time. In 2004, he pitched a total of 66 innings in 65 appearances. Let me do the math for you: in a 162 game season Steve Reed can expect to pitch in about 1/3 of the games for one inning. That is like two games/two innings a week, or, in other words, plenty of free time. He was also never in the game when it really counted—he is not good enough to be. Although one could argue that Steve has a very respectable career ERA of 3.67, and 6.5 SO/9 IP, who are we kidding? He is not nearly as good as these numbers suggest because he is so bad against left-handers that he can’t be left in the game if someone even as unrespectable as Aaron Guile comes to the plate. So there go the pressures of playing. And the working out question is laughable. Although I can’t say it is a fact, I am willing to bet that Steve did a lot more 12-ounce elbow extensions, than 35 lb curling.



But the luxuries do not stop there for Reed, or Mike Myers. Games, excluding weekends, are usually played at night, which means you can easily sleep till at least noon, and if you had one too many after the game the night before why not just sleep till one, two, or even three—I mean if you play the numbers, you are probably not going to play that day anyways. And trust me, if you’re Reed or Myers you can go to the supermarket or anywhere else for that matter and not worry about anyone taking photos.

Mike Myers has made 303 total pitches so far this year, and we’ll say barring injury, that he should end up with about 600 pitches total. Randy Johnson, on the other hand, has 1972 pitches. We’ll double that, and say he’ll end up with 3944. This year, Myers makes $1,150,000, while Johnson makes $15,661,427. Per pitch, Myers makes about $1,916 and Johnson makes about $3,970. Sure, Johnson makes twice as much money for his work, but also has the pressures of being in the spotlight of the New York City media, pitching against hitters regardless if they’re right or left-handed, and can’t be seen in a public place without being harassed about his performance the night before. I’ll take Myers job over Johnson’s, over a financial planner’s, and even over an actuary’s. After all, you can’t beat these perks.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The All-Shit Team



Yes sports fans—the midway point in baseball is not only reserved for All-Stars. For stars wouldn’t be stars if there weren’t horribly shitty players to compare them too, right? Hmm…Anyway, I was going to simply insert the Cubs starting lineup minus Derek Lee and call the article quits, but after visiting Chicago and having a swash buckling good time, I’ve decided to go ahead and write the whole thing, with or without Cubbies. The premise for making the All-Shit team is pretty self-explanatory. Naturally, if you have been the worst starting player at your position in the first half, you’ve made it. The only catch here is the word starting…I’m not going to pick on a guy who only got twenty major league at bats, batted .120, and then got sent back down to Tulsa. No, you have to be a player having a shit year and getting paid enough to force the team into playing you. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the All-Shit team.

1B: Richie Sexson

Just when you thought Bavasi made a good move in Seattle. After having a standout 2005 with 39 ding dongs, Sexson either hates the people of Seattle, has re-injured his back, or wants to give up baseball and try playing the “3” for the Supersonics. So far, Sexson is batting .218, with a whopping .418 slugging percentage. These numbers would barely be acceptable for a wizard of a shortstop, nonetheless, a lumbering goon at first base.

2B: Kazuo Matsui


Kaz has the rare honor of not only making my “Guys Who Should Have Done Steroids Team,” but also the All-Shit team. Though I guess it makes sense. The Mets got sick of Matsui’s 8-plus millon dollar/year contract, and finally offloaded him to the Rockies for a box of condoms and a couple cases of insulted Coors light. Maybe management should reconsider humidifying the balls. Even after going to Colorado, Matsui is only batting .200, with 1 home run, though I’m sure his bible studies are rolling along just fine.

3B: Vinny Castilla

Maybe Castilla corked his bat with diarrhea, I don’t know. What I do know is Castilla is clearly having one of the worst years in baseball--Period. His .232/.261/.321 line makes me want to vomit, and I don’t even care that he plays in a pitchers park. Towers should go down as one of the most overrated GM’s in the business. Though he gave away a pitcher who threw out his arm for Castilla, he should have found someone better than a 38-year-old ex-Rockies star. Better = anyone from the bat girl to Bruce Bochy’s mustache.

SS: Clint Barmes

He’s hitting .208 in Coors. That about says it all. O ya, quite a double play combo going on in Denver.

LF: Garret Anderson



Where have you gone my sweet little Rally Monkey?!?!? It seems that my instincts were correct to never trust a team propelled to World Series victory by a fucking monkey. The Angels have a losing record, and their left fielder has a lot to do with it. The Orange County outfielder has been on the decline since his 2003 season. At age 34, a .713 OPS, and with plenty of minor league depth waiting in the reigns to take his job, it would be wise of the Angels to unload the deteriorating face of the franchise. As agent Smith says to Neo: “You hear that Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability... Goodbye, Mr. Anderson...”

CF: Brian Anderson

I was praying Juan Pierre’s shitty season would continue, but he’s picked it up of late, and consequently, his cross-town rival, has easily jumped onto the first team. A former stud-prospect, Anderson is now hitting a paraplegic .192, while slugging .324. Perhaps the White Sox would be in better shape if they didn’t trade an even better prospect Chris Young for Javier Vazquez in the off season. But then again, Anderson can’t be hurting the team too bad when you have 57 wins at the All-Star break.

RF: Jeromy Burnitz

I made fun of the Pirates in my last article, but Christ, I guess I just can’t leave Burnitz alone. A wandering power hitting mendicant of sorts, Burnitz seems to close his eyes and swing as hard as he can every time he steps up to the plate. Sometimes it works out, and he hits a home run, and other times, like in 2006, he makes outs. This year, Burnitz has 56 hits, 57 strikeouts, and 12 home runs. I guess a fair percentage of his hits are for home runs, but when you don’t walk, and you only hit home runs, then that .277 OBP doesn’t take you very far. Nevertheless, I’m sure someone will trade for Burnitz by the end of the year. He’s a veteran, after all.

C: Jason Kendall



Well…I don’t really have anything positive to say about Kendall, except that he should’ve stayed with his former ball club, strapped on an eye patch and declared himself the newest addition to PNC park’s mascot battalion. For now, however, Kendall will have to keep playing poorly in Oakland. His OBP for a catcher isn’t terrible, at .339, but his .319 slugging percentage is pre-1920. Even “geniuses” like Beane make mistakes…big 11 million dollar mistakes. But not to worry A’s fans, Kurt Suzuki looks pretty fresh.

PITCHER: Chris Mabeus

I didn’t want to do this to anyone, and I know I said I would only include starters for the All-Shit team, but poor Mabeus is probably going to end the year with the funniest line in baseball. Like Freddy Sanchez before him, Chris Mabeus attended some of my college’s practices to offer his pitching advice. Perhaps my college jinxed his career. Mabeus didn’t get a fair shot at the big league level. Pitching in just 1 game, for 1 1/3 innings, Mabeus gave up four runs, on four hits and 3 walks, while striking out 2. This was his only shot to pitch and he didn’t do very well. Currently, his ERA sits at 21.60. That being said, I wish him the best of luck and hope he gets another shot at the big league level. Until then, I’m sorry to say, he will remain on the shit list.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Contemplations on All-Star Game 2006



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Home to one of, if not the most aesthetically pleasing ballparks in all of baseball. Pittsburgherians are most deserving for such an occasion as the All-Star game. According to MLB.com, locals are known for their friendly nature and community pride. They also have an array of delicious bars and restaurants inside and within a few miles of PNC park. Try the Market Street Ale House for a great happy hour (21 Market Square), or, if you’re into live music and go to Carnegie Mellon on a fine arts scholarship, the Lava Lounge (2204 E. Carson Street), which apparently has molten and coral covered booths. The Pirates website reads, “Perhaps the strongest inspiration for PNC Park's design is the legacy of the Pirates themselves. Few cities can boast of a 115-year relationship with the same Major League ballclub. Pittsburgh deserves nothing less than a ballpark classic that will enthrall fans for generations to come.” And if they wish to have another 115 years in Pittsburgh they should probably stop putting poo in right field, first base, center field, catcher, and in the entire bullpen. Yes, Pittsburghers deserve to see some real players. Take a day off Sean Casey, Jeremy Burnitz, and Nate McClouth, you have taken too many victims in your career already. Make way for some real baseball stars. The Chicago White and the New York Mets are coming to town—get excited. (The White Sox and Mets have a combined thirteen players in this years game.)

But besides the festivities and the lounging, what does the All-Star game really mean? Does anybody really care who wins or loses? Does Bud Selig’s home field advantage rule change make any sense? Should Ozzie Guillen be banned permanently from the All-Star game for leaving off Travis Hafner and Francisco Liriano, in favor of Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle? Not to say that these two haven’t had quality years, but you’re talking about the best hitter and best pitcher in baseball so far this year, not on the All-Star roster. Naughty Baseball explores.

I don’t think I’ve watched the All-Star game in its entirety since I was twelve, and judging by baseball’s recently passed rule changes, not many other people care either. At one point, apparently, back when men were men, and played their hearts out every game for the simple glory of playing, the All-Star game was really popular. The year was 1933. Now, I’m not saying I blame the players for not trying harder, I’m just criticizing the recently passed rule changes by Bud Selig. The winner of the All-Star game gets home field advantage for their league in that years World Series. Now, maybe Ozzie’s “own” selections make more sense. Perhaps, he thinks that if he puts more White Sox on the team than they will try harder because they are actually playing for an extra game in the World Series. For instance, if I’m Mark Redman, maybe I wouldn’t throw my injury prone arm out for the ultimate glory of the White Sox, Tigers, Yankees or Red Sox. Not to mention that in a grueling 162 game season, three-days rest in mid-July is nothing short of paradise. Drinking beers on my porch or playing baseball another day? The choice is easy.

The much hyped home run derby is kind of cool, but still nothing to brag about. An endless amount of “towering” home runs kind of loses steam after the first batter. Sure, It’ll be fun to see Ryan Howard, David Ortiz and Miguel Cabrera smash baseballs, but Lance Berkman and Jermaine Dye? I could do without. Now, if there was a legends of home run derby, where roided ex-celebrities like Jose Canseco, Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa could try their luck against Berkman and co., this would be worth my precious time. Yet, somehow I don’t think this is the message MLB wants to send.



While I have filed many complaints about the All-Star game, I don’t have many solutions on how to solve it. My advice: take a few days off from baseball. Unless of course you live in Pittsburgh. In that case, hit the Ale House for a couple brews, and pray Kevin McClatchy learns something from the game. Maybe Pittsburgh will stop torturing their fans, and actually sign one of these “stars.”

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Blabitty Bla




Random Findings From The Week in Sports And Music And….

• I detest Adam Morrison. Can someone please tell me why it’s cool to cry after a sporting event? Win or lose. He’s getting promotional packages and they even let him keep his little mustache. Is this the role model we want for the youth? A gangly trash talking white kid from Washington State who cries and, apparently, wants to make the rest of the NBA cry.

• Jim Callis of Baseball America found a hilarious misquote by the LA Times. It is about number one baseball draft pick Luke Hochevar, whose super agent is the infamous Scott Boras. It reads: "Scott had a plan in this, and his master plan definitely worked. It was tough through it—you go through it and you fight it—but when it all comes down to it, Scott has a plan for you, and he definitely worked a miracle in my case." Now, replace Scott with the word God and this was what Hochevar actually said. But remember readers—when times are tough, Scott Boras has a plan for you…

• I guess I was slightly amiss when I said a month ago that the Reds and Rockies weren’t for real and would fall from their perches high in the mountains. Though their records have substantially decreased, the Reds are two games out of first place in a weak central and half a game behind the wild card, while the Rockies are tied for first in the West. Nevertheless, I will predict once again, that neither of these teams will make it into the playoffs. HAHAHA—silly Reds fans…

• Congratulations Feddy Sanchez. I have no real good reason for liking Sanchez, except that he came to a couple of my college practices. He prophetically promised that our college would win more than five games—we won three that year. Sanchez was a journeyman minor leaguer at the time, yet now he’s an All–Star: currently batting .358 with a .521 slugging percentage.

• Italy V. France in the World Cup. Being Italian, I have to root for Italy. But after living with real Italians (in Italy) for some time last year, I almost feel obligated to root for their arch-nemesis—France. I’ll ultimately cheer for the overtly dramatic Italians with “fab” hairdos, but I believe France will win. Thierry Henry is too much.

• This isn’t a music site, but why the fuck not? I saw the Futureheads on Friday and last night, saw the Rakes. The Futureheads had a solid act, but I can’t stand when rock bands, including “angular” bands, try to do things like sing a capella back and forth to each other. It was strange and awkward. The Rakes on the other hand, had an Andy Dick look-a-like as their lead singer, except he was talented. The Rakes just started their tour (last night was their first stop), and if they come through your city I highly advise you give them a gander.



I’m out to Chicago for the weekend, but I'll be back Monday to start All-Star coverage.