Saturday, June 30, 2007

Well, at least I got that bathroom remodel done...

I turned on today's Fox Game of the Week and had my eyes assaulted by the Milwaukee Brewers against the Cubs.

Assaulting my ears was the non-harmonious nasal intonations of Matt Vasgerian (of the Padres).

Ah, the Cubs and Vasgerian. The Perfect Storm of Suck. I turned it off and painted my bathroom.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Opinions, BBWAA, and hypocrites

Normally Fridays at work are slow, so there's plenty of time to flip through the myriad of sports-related websites that I monitor from time to time. Including ESPN (the WWL in the left-hand margin site list).

Where I stumble across this puff piece discussing Sammy Sosa's candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Apparently, now that Sosa has hit 600 HR, whether or not he did steroids is irrelevant. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer!

So if Mark McGwire had hung around to hit another 17 home runs, would he get a free pass too?

Let's see: Sosa hadn't hit more than 40 HR in a season in his life until 1998, the first of his 4 consecutive seasons with at least 50. Odd that such a power surge would start when the hitter is 30. And let's not forget, Ol' Slammin' Sammy was suspended for using a corked bat. There is no evidence corking a bat makes any difference in one's ability to hit a ball for distance. However, it does prove that Sammy was willing to do anything to gain a competitive edge.

There are those defenders of Sosa who point to his Congressional testimony, where he declared on the record he didn't due steroids, as proof of his innocence. Funny - isn't that what Rafael Palmerio did as well? That worked out well for him.

And I won't even start discussing Barry "Incoming Message from the Big Giant Head" Bonds.

Whether or not Sosa gets into the Hall is not up to me. What really irritates me is members of the BBWAA who have taken it upon themselves to crucify Mark McGwire for ALLEGED steroid abuse (alleged in a fruitcake's book, and based on a can of androstenedione that was in his locker during the 1998 season - never mind that substance was completely legal at the time) now have deemed Sosa above such scrutiny.

Talk about a bunch of hypocrites.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The (Not So) Game of the Week

Before we get too far from the weekend, I'd like to comment on our national game viewing options, courtesy of Fox Sports and ESPN, for 23 and 24 June.

23 June: Yankees visited Pac Bell Park to play the Giants.
24 June: Indians visited the Ted to play Atlanta.

On the day of the games, here is their respective positions in their respective divisions:

Yankees - second in AL East, 10.5 games behind Boston.
Giants - Last in NL West, 11 games behind Arizona. Oh, and on an 8-game losing streak.
Indians - second in AL Central, 1 game behind Detroit.
Braves - third in AL East, 3.5 games behind the Mets.

In the meantime, Boston is playing San Diego. The best team in the AL against the second best team in the NL by percentage points. NONE of these games were seen on prime TV.

When Boston plays New York, the powers that be have no problem shoving THAT smarm-fest down our throat. God forbid when, a possible world series preview is in progress, those games be shown nationally.

Saturday's game in San Diego should have been on FOX at 1:05p. Not on local TV at 7:05. Sunday's game should have been at night on ESPN.

Did I mention that Sunday's game was 9-1 Jake Peavy against 10-1 Josh Beckett. Last time two pitchers with W-L records that good faced each other was 1997 (11-1 Clemens against 9-1 Denny Neagle; also an interleague game, coincidentally). Time before that? 19-friggin-hundred.
And the two are only the front-runners in their respective leagues for this year's Cy Young.

That doesn't happen very often, does it? Think that game would merit a national telecast?


The other thing I don't get is, Bos/SD was a West Coast game. It could have shifted to an afternooon start and still fit the regional telecast business model blindly practiced by today's sports programmers.

I'm sure there's a perfectly infuriating explanation for this, like the TV contract MLB signed with their broadcast partners doesn't allow changing games/start times until August. Or some such crap.

All I know is, one of the marquis series of the regular season (based on how the teams have played so far) was trumped by games involving the barely relevant Braves and the completely irrelevant Giants.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Strangers in an unholy land?

My wife's family is from Fall River Mass - which makes her a Red Sox fan. To drive this point home, we only bought tickets for 2 baseball games this season; May 11 against the Cardinals (when the athlete masquerading as a ML pitcher named Kip Wells lost 6-0) and today against the Red Sox. So we take you live to PETCO Park in Downtown San Diego!

Yep that's the AL's best warming up. Note, again, the outstanding seat location - Section 114. Eat THAT,!

It's 'Padres Trading Cards and Storage Cubes for Kids (presented by Upper Deck)' day at the ballpark. My wife asks if she can have one. Dude tells her they're for kids. She points to her belly (6 months pregnant). Dude smiles and hands it over. Moral: If you don't ask, you never know.

Game synopsis:

- SD Lineup: Against the AL's best, Padre manager Bud Black decides to sit the Giles brothers and Josh Bard, his first stringers in RF, 2B, and C. In hindsight, not a good move.
- BOS Lineup: Francona, not messing around, plays all his regulars, except Dustin Pedroia, thereby saving me an 0-4 on my fantasy team. Thanks Terry!

- First Inning: Jake Peavy hits Alex Cora, a harbinger (as it turned out) of his afternoon. Beckett looks sharp, retiring the side in order.

- Second Inning: Peavy gets JD Drew to ground meekly to 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who underhands to Peavy for the out. Peavy falls down as he gets to first, probably because Drew yelled "I suck!" as he got to the bag. Check that - Drew would have to give a shit first.
- Jason Varitek bloops a ball down the third base line. Khalil Greene gives a half-ass effort until he realizes LF Russell "Frankenstein" Branyan has no play, then kicks it into gear. Result: Ball falls harmlessly fair, Branyan and Greene collide. Varitek ends up at third, as Peavy hits the deck again (trying to tag him out). Padre 3B Kouzmanoff, apparently, decided to get a beer as the play started, making no effort to catch the ball and then making no effort to cover third. The hit is charitably scored a Triple. This will also be a recurring theme. Peavy strands the BoSox Captain at third. Beckett gives up a two-out single to Frankenstein but works around it.

- Third Inning: Peavy is betrayed by his defense (and some good hitting by Boston), giving up 3 runs. Boston goes with the pitch, hitting to the opposite field to get 5 hits in the inning. Could have been a lot less, if the following things hadn't happened. (a) If CF Mike Cameron hadn't been playing Coco Crisp like he was the second coming of Babe Ruth. (b) If RF Jose Cruz JR had attempted to throw out Alex Cora at home. He's playing Right - best arm in the OF, right? Instead, he caught Ramirez's fly ball.... crow hop.....crow hop....throws to second. What the hell was that? (c) If 2B Geoff Blum hadn't kicked JD Drew's slow roller to second. There were 2 out at the time, would have ended the inning. CHARITABLY scored an infield single (pretty sure the official scorer is a Boston Ex-Pat. Or was taking booooooong hits between pitches). (d) Cruz had tried to get to Lowell's soft liner RBI single. A little effort (perhaps a slide/dive?) and he can catch that ball. Wow. Varitek hits the hardest ball in the inning and lines out to Frankenstein (who made a nice running catch). Beckett gives up a leadoff single to Blum, who advances to third with 2 out and is left.

- Fourth Inning: Beckett singles and Cora walks, but Big Papi flies to RF to end the threat. Greene doubles to left with two out, but is stranded.
- Why is it that the 'MAKE NOISE' sign comes on everytime Peavy gets 2 strikes on a hitter? Are Padres fans that slow they can't think for themselves?
- Marine Corps hymn is played in the middle of the 4th. This pisses off the guy next to me. Why? He's a Marine (quote: "those guys are recruits! Not real Marines!") High comedy.

- Fifth Inning:
Peavy gives up 2 singles to start the inning, but gets out of it. Beckett, still with a 3-0 lead, has his 'I'm Keith Hernandez!' moment for this game, giving up a 2-run double to Termel Sledge. Sledge eventually gets to third with one out, but is left.
- My wife gets drilled with a novelty ball, courtesy of the Pad Squad.

- Sixth through eighth inning: Peavy's gone after 5. Beckett sets down 9 of 10 after Sledge's double. In the top of eight, Linebrink comes in and grooves a 3-0 fastball to Varitek, who launches it 422 feet into the sandbox. 4-2 Red Sox. PETCO erupts. Beckett pitches the eighth even though Hideki Okajima is ready. Gets a Standing Ovation from the Red Sox faithful at the end of the inning.
- Conservatively, there were 25,000 Sox fans in the park out of 44,449 paid customers. And they were loud at the right times.

- Ninth Inning: Trevor Hoffman comes in to pitch. No one at PETCO notices (except your correspondent, of course) until he's announced. Then there's a cheer. I officially think all Padres fans are dead from the neck up. Hoffman introduces himself to David Ortiz: 87 MPH fastball (strike 1), 72 MPH change (strike 2), 72 MPH change (sit down). Ortiz never took the bat off his shoulder. Beautiful.

That's Papi with the 'what the hell just happened' look?

- Paplebon runs in from the pen. PETCO again erupts. Grudging respect for Boston fans: they pay attention, and know the game. This will be the last complement paid during this post. Frankenstein works the count 3-2 before striking out. Kouzmanoff is overmatched. Blum grounds weakly to second.

4-2 is the final.

We adjourn to Ghiradelli's chocolate store so the wife can celebrate her win, and then TGIF's for copious amounts of beer to mourn another NL team losing to an AL team. Crap.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cards trade for Mike Maroth

Hey Look! A timely post! WOW!

Just saw the story on ESPN. Viva El Birdos has also commented on it, as well as supplied a link to the SB nation Tigers page.

Maroth was a member of my fantasy team this year. I took him immediately after we completed our draft mostly because I did a crappy job of drafting pitching, but he actually was a solid guy for me. He had 3 wins when my other 8 pitchers combined had 3 wins. I eventually released him because his ERA was over 5.00 and I had obtained some better pitching (CC Sabathia, Fausto Carmona) to replace him.

Maroth is a gamer. He pitched in a Sunday night game on ESPN against Carmona and went 8, giving up 5 ER. This was after he gave up 4 of those runs in the first before he got the second out. Maroth righted himself and pitched very well against the potent Indian lineup. This start was especially noteworthy because the Tiger bullpen had been mauled over the previous 2 games and Leyland really needed his starter to get deep into the game. Maroth did. I like that kind of toughness in my pitchers.

Mike's a stop gap for a rotation in disarray. He's a lefty coming off arm surgery, his fastball tops out at 81 MPH, and he nibbles now (which is why his walks per 9 inn is up this year). That said, he's CERTAINLY a better option in the rotation than F-in Wells. Or Tomo Ohka. And I'd expect he'll get a shot to stick in the rotation as Mulder and (hopefully) Carpenter come back off the DL.

So, Welcome Mike Maroth. Good luck, and keep the ball down.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Start collecting those cans

Tomo Ohka? We signed Tomo Ohka?

I'll bet Walt Jocketty feels like a buyer at Kobey's swap meet. Or like he's pushing a shopping cart around the streets of St Louis ransacking trash bins for aluminum cans and bottles.

We signed Tomo Ohka?

Remember, he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays. Toronto is only slightly more dysfunctional than the Rangers, if you've been following along on line. Toronto is the group of Canadian knuckleheads who tried to get B.J Ryan to pitch when he needed Tommy John surgery earlier this year - and then lied about his actual injury status for 2 months.

We signed Tomo Ohka?

Granted - our rotation isn't very pretty (Wainwright, Reyes, Wellmeyer, Thompson, F-in Wells). And I whole-heartedly agree with Larry Borowsky's analysis on Monday. Who should we have signed? Marquis? He had worn out his welcome and no longer gave a shit in St Louis. Suppan? Too pricey at $10 mil per (which we wouldn't pay Carpenter) Weaver? - seen his ERA this year (north of 10.00) Tejeda? Only a member of the worst starting staff in the Majors (all 5 Ranger starters are available in my fantasy league, and you'd have to be REALLY desperate for wins/innings to pick one of them up). Padilla? See above. Eaton? One good year does not a $8 million dollar pitcher make. and so on.

Fact is, Carpenter going down and F-in Wells being much, MUCH worse than advertised has really hurt this club. Signing Ohka really emphasizes how desperate the starting pitching situation is. At least (a) they're not paying the majority of his contract, and (b) he has 2 weeks to get himself squared away or the club releases him.

Anyone else think Ryan Franklin should get a shot? The club is 6 under .500 and currently dead in the water. Why save Franklin for the end of the game when you so rarely get to the end with a lead to protect?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Rotisserie Update

For 4 consecutive weeks, I've posted the best numbers in my league. I attribute this to many work hours spent combing the web page instead of doing real work, shrewd management of the team, and pure dumb luck. My 3 most crucial moves so far:

a. Picking Richie Sexson up off waivers. His last 3 healthy season he's averaged 30+ HR and 100+ RBI. He may hit .200 this season, but he'll hit 20 HR and knock in 80. And I'll take it. Replaced: Shea Hillenbrand.
b. Trading Jorge Posada, Milton Bradley, and Akinori Otsuka for C.C. Sabathia. I got Aki back via waivers, and the dude I traded Bradley to subsequently dropped him. Yes, Posada is leading the league in hitting, but my other catcher is Victor Martinez (who led the league in RBI until today); I had 6 wins through 4 weeks. Sabathia has 6 wins by himself for the club. I moved from last in wins to second in 3 weeks. Replaced: John Danks.
c. Adding Reggie Willits. He's only hit .325 and stolen 13 bases since Garret Anderson went on the DL. His SB prowess vaulted me into a dogfight for second in steals. I now also have a 20 steal margin on the 4th place team. Replaced: Garret Anderson.

There've been a couple of other events, like having Fausto Carmona on the roster (he's 5-0 for my team), sticking with Dustin Pedroia (hottest hitter in either league since 12 May), Mike Lowell's resurrection (who would have thought he'd be leading the Red Sox in HR and RBI on 1 June?), picking up Okajima to cover the saves Paplebon doesn't get, and so on. Actually Paplebon has been a bit of a disappointment - he only has 13 saves so far. Hell Al Reyes has 10.

I have two decisions upcoming: what to do with Jon Lester if he returns to the bigs (trade him? Drop Paul Byrd?), and what to do with Garret Anderson (which OF do I drop?). Anderson's the bigger question mark since I don't have a big bat in the OF HR and RBI-wise. All my outfielders are fast guys who hit for average (Casey Blake is eligible in the OF which is why he's positioned there). But right now I enjoy an 11 point lead. I'm hoping that, with the season a quarter gone, the rankings won't be as volatile as they were the first month, and I'll stay there for a while.

Now if only Papleboner can get some more saves.....

Monday, June 04, 2007

If it looks like s*%t and smells likes s*%t, then...

Kip Wells. The Jason Marquis of 2007.

Initially I thought his troubles were simply due to the Cardinals not scoring any runs. I got to watch him lose to the Padres 7-0 in person, and although he didn't pitch particularly well, that fact was masked by Jake Peavy throttling the Cardinals as he allowed 3 hits through 7 innings of work.

However during Saturday's rain delayed 'Game of the Week' (how can the game of the week include a team that's 7 games under .500? Wouldn't Indians/Tigers have been a better choice?), I got to watch Kip dissolve in Houston. Here's the abridged play-by-play for the bottom of the 5th, in case you missed it:

- Has Brunson 1-2, hangs a slider. Brunson's first hit of the year.
- Hangs a slider to Everett. Single in the left-center gap. First and Third.
- Over-runs Sampson's sacrifice bunt for an error. Bases loaded.
- Hangs slider to Biggio, who hits it right at Spiezio at third. Brunson forced at home. Bases remain loaded, one out.
- Pence lines high fastball off wall in right for double. Two runs in, second and third.
- Infield back, Berkman grounds to second. Sampson scores, two out, runner at third.
- Lee walked (unintentional intentional walk).
- Loretta grounds to second.

See the trend? Give Wells a mulligan on the muffed sac bunt. That could happen to anybody, although a major leaguer should make that play 100 times out of 100. But his problem is execution. Way too much of the plate 1-2 to start the inning. Hanging breaking stuff gets hammered at this level. Wells' problem is execution, plain and simple. He's gotta execute, or he's going to be the first 20-game loser in a long time for St. Louis.

Or perhaps La Russa will send him down.

And perhaps giving him #21 wasn't the greatest equipment managing decision of all time.

On another note, I thoroughly enjoyed McCarver blasting A-Fraud for bungling a play in New York's nightmare of a seventh inning Saturday. With runners at first and second, and the ball hit to the outfield, A Rod should have stayed at the bag. Pitcher backs up home, and the first baseman becomes the cut off man in the center of the diamond. This is so basic even I know it.
No wonder the Yankees suck this year - fundamentally, they're not very sound.

Rotisserie update later this week. Suffice to say I have a sizeable lead in the league, and don't want to jinx it.