Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In which the author will not mention a certain lazy hurler formerly of the B-word Sox ...

OK, out the window with the baseball argument, your side of which has become so convoluted that it's difficult for my poor traditional logic-and-reason-loving brain to follow. A few ancillary points:

1. You drop the "straw man" line about once a month, and yet you have never pointed out a legitimate straw man in your opponent's argument. You use it like most people use "begs the question" (meaning improperly, which, I believe, is a pet peeve of yours). Also, the most common phrasing is "attacking straw men," because of the origin of the metaphor (something military, I think). "Standing on straw men" is a mixed metaphor. Unless you're trying to innovate by making a cliche more fresh, in which case, sir, I commend thee.

2. Correlation certainly does imply causality. It doesn't prove it, but it sure as hell can and does imply it. Especially when you're talking about a nearly universal correlation in a sample size of roughly 150 starting pitchers, league-wide.

3. Joe Morgan seriously wrote Baseball for Dummies? I had no idea. And now I'm speechless. I wonder if it's too late to cancel the other Christmas present I was going to send you...

(spoiler: it's a huge man made of straw. I stole the straw from the Winterhaven hay rides that are currently clogging up every street within a square mile of my house and I made it myself. So I guess it's actually a hay man. Sorry.)

Dear pot, it's the kettle

I'll admit, my post was poorly organized and executed, which was the product of me spending roughly 30 total minutes on it spread over three days. I've been busy, which is having an adverse effect on my argumentation, which means I need to work less. But I find it funny that you felt my argument was so bad that you'd go ahead and prove it yourself.

So you're clearly right. Wins don't mean anything, Randy Johnson is average, and the entire Indians, Yankees, White Sox and Phillies pitching staffs -- including guys like Mussina, Contreras, Vazquez, Sabathia, Myers and Hamels -- are below average.

No, I don't think Mussina, Cotreras, Vasquez, Myers or Hamels are average at all. They're all above-average to really good pitchers. That's borne out by their statistics. And what did they all have in common? Low winning percentages. And what did Randy Johnson and Jon Garland have in common? Neither pitched as well as the guys you listed above, yet both won more games. Which, essentially, proves my point completely. Thank you; I was struggling to make it quite that concise.

Or maybe wins do mean something, because only good pitchers -- even with a good offense -- win 17 games. You're right about the "good pitchers with bad records" argument. But show me a statistically significant amount of bad or mediocre or average pitchers who win 17 games, regardless of offense.

I bet you can't. Which means wins are a good -- not the best, maybe, but a good -- indicator of a pitcher's value.

Correlation does not imply causality. Ignoring my pointing this out doesn't mean my argument doesn't exist. I actually stated this very clearly, with reference to wikipedia. When you were done mocking the form (cleverly, I admit) you should have actually read the entry.

You also originally argued that Freddy Garcia would "suck pretty hard" for the Phillies because Citizen's Bank is a bandbox.

I did indeed. And I believe he will, though I suppose "sucking" is relative, since you're going to look only at his win total and I'm going to look at only those things that have to do with how Garcia pitched. But, I'll make you a bet on your terms: Garcia wins more than 15 games, and I'll buy you a copy of this. I'll even get it signed, if he doesn't smell the computer on me from 100 yards out.

I hope we're done here.

Tired of standing on straw men? Yeah, we can change the subject.

From where the sun now stands ...

I shall talk no more about Freddy Garcia forever. This is tiresome.

But, since you insist on presenting your argument in the form of a poorly considered English 101 paper -- beginning with a dictionary definition, citing wikipedia, etc. -- I will present my counterargument as if I were grading your paper.


You clearly put a lot of effort into this assignment, and your paragraph organization is very strong. However, your thesis seems to have gotten way off-track at some point in the paper's writing -- wasn't your original argument that Freddy Garcia wouldn't succeed in the Phillies' new ballpark? You must have changed it when you realized how untenable your position was, which shows that you've paid attention during class discussions about the important of revision.

Unfortunately, your current argument about wins has some issues as well. You promise early on to somehow explain how wins don't reflect value to a team, but you deal with that only briefly, and your argument in that paragraph is weak. Saying that contributing to a team's "winning expectancy" is somehow more valuable than providing actual wins defies logic and good sense. You can contribute to your blackjack winning expectancy by playing smartly, but unless you actually win some hands, you're not getting any value.

Another thing I noticed is that you continue to imply that there is not a clear difference in meaning between the words "mediocre" and "average." You may want to consult a dictionary on that one: mediocre means "barely adequate" or "rather poor or inferior," while average means that something is close to the mean of a data set. They are similar in meaning, but the denotations are slightly different, and the connotations are significantly so.

Your next-to-last paragraph was a good example of effective argumentation. Solid effort on this draft. A few more revisions and it may have "A" potential.


I think I can briefly wrap up my take on this entire situation -- Freddy Garcia's potential performance and the role of Ws in determining a player's value -- with a couple more statistics.

You argue that Freddy Garcia won 17 games because the White Sox averaged 5.36 runs, meaning an average pitcher should win that many games. You also originally argued that Freddy Garcia would "suck pretty hard" for the Phillies because Citizen's Bank is a bandbox.

Well, the Phillies scored 5.34 runs per game, and their park is actually less of a factor than Garcia's old park, according to Park Factor. So there is absolutely no valid reason to be found via either statistic as to why Freddy Garcia will "probably suck pretty hard." In fact, Mr. Statman (is that "Scatman" song playing in anybody else's head right now?), the prediction those stats should be suggesting is that, given strikingly similar offensive support and a more favorable park, he will do as well or better than last year.

But I want to briefly address Doyle's Take 3.0, that whole argument about an average pitcher being able to win as many games as Freddy Garcia with a similar offense. Well, the Phillies had an almost identical offense -- a difference of three runs scored over the course of the entire season -- and Brett Myers led the team in wins with 12. The White Sox and the two teams with better offenses, the Yankees and the Indians, had a combined total of three pitchers who won as many games as Garcia:

Chien-Ming Wang (19)
Randy Johnson (17)
Jon Garland (18)

What does that tell us? Well, by your logic, every one of those teams has an entirely below-average pitching staff except for those three guys (who must be average), since they're the only ones who managed 17 wins with such great offenses.

So you're clearly right. Wins don't mean anything, Randy Johnson is average, and the entire Indians, Yankees, White Sox and Phillies pitching staffs -- including guys like Mussina, Contreras, Vazquez, Sabathia, Myers and Hamels -- are below average.

Or maybe wins do mean something, because only good pitchers -- even with a good offense -- win 17 games. You're right about the "good pitchers with bad records" argument. But show me a statistically significant amount of bad or mediocre or average pitchers who win 17 games, regardless of offense.

I bet you can't. Which means wins are a good -- not the best, maybe, but a good -- indicator of a pitcher's value. As for your ridiculous argument about what "value" means to a team, I addressed that earlier.

I hope we're done here.

Dear Members of the Flat-Earth Society

It bothers me a great deal to think that such a large percentage of my prospective wedding party still believes in the legitimacy of win-loss records and RsBI. But I once argued, in earnest, that Christian Laettner was the best college basketball player ever. So, it's not like I haven't said dumb things about sports.

But, for fuck's sake, I just don't get it with you people. But I'm going to take the stance of a biology teacher in Kansas here: Whether you rubes like it or not, I'm teaching evolution.

From wikipedia's entry on causality:
  1. "Causality postulates that there are laws by which the occurrence of an entity B of a certain class depends on the occurrence of an entity A of another class, where the word entity means any physical object, phenomenon, situation, or event. A is called the cause, B the effect.
  2. "Antecedence postulates that the cause must be prior to, or at least simultaneous with, the effect.
  3. "Contiguity postulates that cause and effect must be in spatial contact or connected by a chain of intermediate things in contact." (Born, 1949, as cited in Sowa, 2000)
I bring this into the conversation because it has very much to do with the nature of wins and losses as a measure of a pitcher's value. I'll get into the definition of value, as it pertains to baseball, in a second. But first, it's important to notice that, judging by these very logical conditions for causality to exist, a pitcher should not be held solely responsible for a win or loss.

A starting pitcher, in the eyes of many, has the ability to control what happens in half of the innings he pitchers (removing the element of a pitcher going to bat in the NL, which doesn't really serve anyone's argument at this point). But that's not really the case at all. A pitcher really only has singular control over three possible outcomes that can take place on his watch:

1) A strikeout
2) A walk
3) A home run

Anything else that can possibly happen while a pitcher on the mound (save a balk or a wild pitch, but again, that's not serving anyone's argument here) requires the presence of a variable outside of a pitcher's control, with the two leading candidates being the defense around him and luck. Yes, luck. There's an extended amount of research done by people who live in the basement of their parents' houses (literally) that proves that a pitcher has little influence over what happens to a batted ball once it's hit. Some years, guys have an inordinate number of bingles fall against them. The next year, every line drive conveniently gets hit directly at an overpaid corner outfielder. And, obviously, there are degrees in between those two extremes in which the vast majority of pitchers exist. That's simply the nature of the position.

However, judging pitchers is far from a coin toss, provided you view them with respect to what it is they do regardless of whether or not they have an infield of Todd Walkers or Omar Vizquels. Pitchers who have high strikeout numbers have an advantage because they rely on fielders less. Pitchers who walk fewer batters have an advantage because there will be fewer people on base if they get unlucky or give up a jack (see: Curt Schilling). And pitchers who give up a lot of home runs are pretty much fucked, unless they do a lot of other shit awesome.

Judging a pitcher using other measures isn't wrong; it's just that you have to accept that you cannot judge them without taking into account their setting. So, often, it's more beneficial to try and remove as many outside variables as possible when judging a pitcher's value, particularly if you're judging them with the idea of trading for them or signing them to a free agent contract. And this is where Freddy Garcia comes into the conversation.

It bears mentioning that I never said Garcia was a bad pitcher; I said, simply, that he was mediocre. Justin has argued with me that I'm saying mediocre when I should be saying average. I don't see much of a distinction, but I'll acquiesce. Freddy Garcia is average, as demonstrated by his season in 2006.

The one stat in which Garcia was above-average, however, was wins. He had 17. That's great. But what does it mean? Mostly, it means that Garcia played for a pretty good team, one that many years would have earned a Wild Card berth. The White Sox scored, on average, 5.36 runs per game. So, it was clearly an above-average offense, which means that an average pitcher can expect to win the majority of his starts. So, does Garcia's 17-win season indicate "value," as Justin would suggest? I fail to see how.

In 2005, Roger Clemens put together an all-time season, without question the second-best of his career. His 1.87 ERA and 1.01 WHIP were totally sick. He struck out a ton of guys. His G/F ratio was 1.41, well above league average. In short, he did everything you could possibly ask a pitcher to do, and he didn't suffer from any bad luck, either. He had as close to a "perfect" season as a pitcher could hope to have.

Yet he had 13 wins. Thirteen fucking wins. And, if I'm to believe certain people who read and/or write in this blog, I'm supposed to believe that wins are an indication of value? That's one totally dumb way to define value.

Value, for any player, has to do with how much he contributes to a team's winning expectancy. There was no pitcher in the major leagues that year, with the possible exception of Santana, that gave his team a better chance to win, consistently, than Clemens did. He did everything he possibly could. His value was that he gave a horseshit team with a horseshit offense the opportunity to win while scoring only two runs, on average. The worst offense in the major leagues that season, the Washington Senators, scored 3.94 runs per game. Someone tell me what's wrong with this picture.

And Clemens isn't the only example of how a great pitcher can have total shit luck when it comes to W/L records. Look at the three leaders in the NL Cy Young race this year; you telling me those guys didn't put up the kinds of numbers one would expect to lead to 20 wins? But none of them had a higher win total than Garcia, who possessed downright pedestrian stats otherwise.

Is this starting to make sense? I sure hope so, because if it doesn't, then I'm convinced you're retarded.

As for Ryan's red herring, "How many bad pitchers win 17 games?" (emphasis mine). Simple: not many, because it's easier to earn a loss than it is a win. If a pitcher gives up seven runs, he's probably going to lose, unless his offense totally bails him out. So, it's plainly obvious that bad pitchers can't really be expected to do much of anything good. But proving the contrapositive does not prove the positive. I don't think I really need to explain that further.

I'm tired now. How about the Meche signing? Now the Eaton deal is only the third-worst free agent pitcher signing of the offseason.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

I also enjoy your wrongness.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you with my lack of vitriol. Perhaps it's because I'm so clearly right that I don't feel I need it to make my case. I'll try to be more harsh. Bitch.

Re: swapping an uncertain future for a mediocre present, I find it hard to believe that you really think Freddy Garcia isn't better than Gavin Floyd, the only other person in the trade who might realistically contribute in the major leagues in 2007. I think you're just being argumentative for the sake of it. If you'd like to even attempt to support that with any statistics, however esoteric or bizarre, I'm all ears.

In fact, I still have yet to see you really support this "Freddy Garcia is mediocre" argument. He gives up 1.3 homers a game. OK. But that stat by itself doesn't mean anything. In the best 2-year stretch of his career, during which he finished 2nd in the Cy Young voting both years, Curt Schilling had a 1.15 HR/9. Does that make him mediocre? No. Know why? Because he went 45-13 during that time.

But I forgot: WINS ARE A TEAM STAT. THEY ARE A POOR INDICATION OF A PITCHER'S ABILITY. Right. We should all judge pitchers solely on HR/9 innings and Park Factor instead. Let's just make those the Cy Young criteria.

While wins might be a poor indication of a pitcher's ability, quantifying ability independent of value to a team is perhaps the most asinine pursuit possible. And wins are the best indicator of a pitcher's value to a team. I know I'm stealing RF's argument, but name me a good pitcher who doesn't have a winning record. Then name me a bad pitcher with 17 wins. You can't do either. Freddy Garcia won 17 games last year. He's not a bad pitcher.

I'll even try to answer for you: Eric Milton, a bad pitcher, went 14-6 in 2004. Except he wasn't a bad pitcher that year. His stats were slightly worse than average -- not the same as mediocre, BTW -- but he won a lot of games. That indicates that he pitched well enough to win (which brings us back to your inconceivable argument, long ago, that pitchers will not pitch any differently in different game situations, but I digress). If that's not a pretty decent year in your eyes, then you need to stop doing so much accounting. That doesn't make him a good pitcher, but it's a good year. He was valuable to his team.

We've been through this approximately 100,000 times now, but this all comes down to the same thing all our arguments come down to: you grossly overstate the importance of isolated sabermetric or modern or advanced or whatever statistics, while simultaneously overstating the unimportance of traditional stats. The stats you love to rely on -- ERA+, park factor, HR/9, VORP, or whatever it is this week -- are probably better at quantifying a player's ability. But neither statistics nor ability are worth anything in a vacuum.

Yes, wins are a team stat. Baseball is a team sport. The only value a player has is value to a team. And wins are excellent at quantifying a pitcher's value to a team. So, in response to your ridiculous assertion that Freddy Garcia wasn't good because of his HR/9 innings, I will say the following:

Freddy Garcia won 17 games for his team last year. In his career, he has won 62 percent of his decisions.

That's all I need to say.

As far as the team improvement thing, that's another example of where pure stat-crunching comes up short. Comparing Garcia to the average MLB pitcher does no good whatsoever for the Phillies, because that's making the erroneous assumption that if you removed Garcia, the Phillies would otherwise be starting an imaginary pitcher who embodies averageness. Not the case. They'd be replacing him with Gavin Floyd or somebody similarly bad. So it's indisputably an improvement.

There's a difference between averageness and mediocrity. And if your best argument for saying Freddy Garcia is a bad pitcher is that he was slightly above average in some stats and slightly below average in others, that's a pretty shitty argument. His stats were average and he won 17 games. He's a good pitcher. Case closed.

Incidentally, Moyer's performance for the Phillies last year, while a small sample size, also undermines your use of him as an example of somebody who's going to suck for them.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This is fun

I was a little shocked by the tone of your response; your lack of vitriol (comparitively) suggests you know, deep down, that I'm pretty much right. But I'll address the challenges.

- When I said I didn't care what the Phillies were giving up, I misspoke. I didn't care about the guys the Phillies were giving up, as in, I don't think they're anything all that valuable. And while I appreciate the fact that, since you think Garcia is actually good, the Phillies got over, I'm inclined to think that neither team won on this trade. The Phillies swapped an uncertain future for a mediocre present. In my opinion.

- As for Park Factor: I don't see how you can feel this way, being a fan of a team that plays in a hitter's park. You point out that odger Stadium was ranked as a hitter's park this year, which is true and very strange. But it's also an aberration, which you'll notice if you go back (Chavez is usually well into the bottom third of the chart). Unless there were some structural changes made to the park that I'm not aware of, I think it was just variance. But, for the most part, there's a consistent trend of teams with hitter's parks having another thing in common: Pitchers getting absolutely blasted. I can take the time, if you want, to list off the scores of good pitchers who went to hitter's parks as free agents and paid for it, but I don't need to. You know that the phenomena exists, and has a real effect on expected outcome for the individual players and teams.

However, you're quite right that Garcia is actually coming from one of the few parks that rates better for hitters, so I suppose we should't expect a drop-off. Which'll be good for the Phillies, since there isn't a lot of room for Garcia to drop off before he becomes downright shitty. I should have driven home this point more with fellow flyballer and soft-tosser Moyer, who's coming from an extreme pitcher's park and will likely get the living snot kicked out of him making half his starts in Citizen's. It's worth noting that low-hanging-fruit Adam Eaton also sucked in a bandbox.

- Hamels: A WHIP of 1.25 is not fantastic. It's good. But he could stand to take that down. A WHIP of 1.20 or lower is where you start talking about excellence, or at least I do. I know Hamels wass a rookie, blah blah blah ... he's awesome. I agree. But, if there were one thing I would say he needs to work on, it's the WHIP. That's all I'm saying.

- Milton in 2004 = 4.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. If that's not a "bad" pitcher in your eyes, then you need to stop driving immediately. But I sense that your defense of Milton is based on the one "stat" you use to defend Garcia. Which brings me to the larger point:


I'm shouting because that's what you do to people who are smart yet decide that it's important to continue saying dumb things.

Was Freddy Garcia good last year in Comiskellular? Yes.

No, he wasn't.

Garcia, 2006: 4.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 1.0 HR9, 5.6 K/9
American League Average: 4.56 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 1.1 HR9, 6.44 K/9

Pleasepleasepleaseplease justify your position that Garcia is a good pitcher. His ERA was barely below the very definition of mediocrity, his HR/9 was in the same boat as his ERA, and his Ks were well below league average. His WHIP was the only thing that, when held against league average, could be considered "good."

CAVEAT: Garcia pitches a ton of innings, every season, and appears to have the constitution of an alpha bison. I didn't consider this the first time around. It is important. Usually, I would say you don't necessarily want a mediocre pitcher out there for 210+ innings, but in the case of the Phillies, you want anyone but those relievers in the game.

You did point out one factor that I was not considering, however, when judging Gillick's pitching moves: Comparison to 2006. Yes, this rotation is better than last season's, which isn't saying a whole lot but in the world of batshit baseball offseasons nonetheless important. Gillick has upgraded the staff, though his unwillingness to concentrate on the pen (unless the non-deal for Turnbow somehow indicates concern instead of contempt for the bullpen) is a little baffling. So, unlike the odgers, who will be a worse team in 2007 because of their idiot GM, the Phillies will probably be better because at least Gillick didn't make the team worse, and you've got to expect that the young guys will be better for having another season under their belt. But I still can't help but wonder why Gillick targeted the guys he did, because they seem so ill-suited to play in Citizen's, where you want ground-ball, strikeout guys to offset the gophers. That's really what I was saying, in essence.

LATE EDIT: I have been citing Garcia's HR/9 rate as 1.0, incorrectly. It's actually 1.3. Which is way worse than league average.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Let me get this straight ...

so your claims about this trade, both explicit and implicit, include:

1. It doesn't matter whom you trade for somebody when evaluating a trade.
2. The fact that Garcia has a slight disposition toward fly balls and gives up slightly more HRs per 9 than average means he's not going to do well for his new team. Somehow, this is because of park factor.

Well, in response to the first, it does matter. When you trade a raw 21-year old and a 24-year old bust who has proven that he can't contribute to your team for a durable, reliable front-of-the-rotation starter who just won 17 games and has a track record of postseason success, it matters. The Phils gave up very little to add a guy who would have probably commanded $13M/year or more (for a long time) on the free-agent market.

As for the second, park factor doesn't make that much of a difference. It's not going to turn good pitchers into bad pitchers, especially not when a good pitcher has already spent three successful years in a park that's worse. Was Freddy Garcia good last year in Comiskellular? Yes. Is there reason to believe he'll be just as good, if not better, in CBP? Yes.

I'm not even sure what the rest of your argument is, but here are some others places where you're wrong, just for kicks:

Cole Hamels has "WHIP issues" at 1.25?

Eric Milton is your example for the worst fly ball pitcher (probably apt), which in turn is your reason for saying these pitchers won't succeed in CBP (not so apt). Except Eric Milton was the Phillies' best starter his only year in CBP. He won 14 games and was nearly an All-Star despite giving up 43 home runs, the most of his career. So he's not such a great example of how giving up fly balls and home runs makes you a bad pitcher for the Phillies.

If Park Factor is so telling, why is Dodger Stadium -- usually called a pitcher's park -- rated almost exactly the same as CBP?

In other words, I think Park Factor is overrated. And I think the Phillies have a better rotation now than they did at any point last year, when they were trotting out the likes of Ryan Franklin, Eude Brito, and Gavin Floyd while they waited for Wolf to get healthy and Lieber to get fatter.

However, the Eaton signing looks worse and worse with each day that passes and does not bring us relief pitching help. If they don't upgrade the 'pen, all of this is moot, because they won't contend next year.

Oh, and if Keith Law is usually right, how do you explain the fact that he used to work for the Blue Jays?

Pat Gillick: Crazy Pills

I actually don't mean to be piling on Gillick all that much, but since no one in our cohort is a Dodgers fan (quite the opposite, actually), there's no real point on bringing up the fact that Ned Colletti clearly has down syndrome. But I am wondering if, in between fondling his Jays World Series Rings and complaining about how innappropriate Moneyball was, Gillick actually got around to watching the team he ostensibly runs actually play a game last season. Because, I'm convinced, if he actually had watched them play he wouldn't have traded for Freddy Garcia.

Three qualifiers, before I get into it:

- ESPN's Keith Law, a dude who is very often right, thinks the Garcia deal is good. I respect him, and he offers evidence to back up his point. I think he's ignoring some evidence that points out why a guy like Garcia might get his ass chewed in Citizen's. But, whatver, I'm pointing out that people I don't think are idiots disagree with what I'm about to say.

- I don't care what the Phillies gave up in the deal. I think it became obvious that Floyd was far away from having an impact in the majors after his last stint, and the young guy sounds like he's got a couple of years left himself. And while I generally think it's dumb for teams to move young arms when the A's and Twins are providing daily evidence that there's nothing more important to the prolonged success of a team, that's not the situation for the front office of that franchise, which probably needs to make the playoffs this season to remain intact. So, they're looking for guys that can help them right now. Cool.

- That Lieber for Turnbow/Mench trade is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of in my life. I'm not going to get into it in the rest of this post, because it sounds like it might not happen now. But I challenge anyone to tell me why a contending team would need a reliever that can't get anyone out or an outfielder that hit, like, four fucking home runs in the second half of last season. At least Lieber has been good at some point in his career.

OK, onto the meat.

Freddy Garcia is a flyball pitcher (G/F ratio = 1.07, against a league average of 1.2). He gave 32 home runs, which works out to exactly one per nine innings. Now, that's not Eric Milton bad, but that's not very good, either. And while New Comiskey (or whatever the fuck it's called now) is a bit more of a bandbox than Citizen's, it's not by much. Now, considering that Citizen's has established itself as a hitter's park that eats flyball pitchers alive, one would think Gillick would target guys who are at least a little above league average when it comes to keeping the ball on the ground (particularly since the Phils are pretty solid up the middle, with Rollins and the underrated Utley, defensively). Instead, this is what next year's rotation, right now, looks like, broken down by GB/FB, HR/9, K/9, and WHIP, which I think are the best indicators of future success in a hitter's park. (2006 stats)

Myers: 1.25/.9/8.4/1.30
Moyer: 1.03/1.0/4.5/1.32
Garcia: 1.07/1.0/5.6/1.28
Hamels: 0.97/0.9/9.6/1.25
Eaton: 0.98/1.1/6.0/1.57

The only one of the bunch that is even above league average at drawing ground balls is Myers; the rest are actually pretty extreme flyball pitchers. All three pretty much give up at least one home run per nine innings, which is a hair below league average. And none of the five are spectacular when it comes to keeping runners off base, though only Eaton is worse than the average major league pitcher (1.40) in that category. But the thing that stands out for me here is the strikeout figures: I expect Myers and Hamels will be fine, because they're both high K guys that have an ability to negate some of their WHIP issues. Plus, you expect high-K guys to be flyball guys (Myers is actually a little strange in that respect). Moyer, Garcia and Eaton, on the other hand, have almost nothing going for them. And the numbers I've chosen to omit don't paint them in a better light. I'm really at a loss as to why the Phillies, considering their park, have decided that the three pickups they've made since late last season and will pay a little less than $23 million to are somehow going to help the cause. Because the chances are they're all going to suck pretty hard.

I really need to stop writing this much about the Phillies.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ah, what the hell...

I'll take the bait on this contract debate. I'll bust a rhyme while I'm wasting time. I'll defend Pat Gillick ... um ... and make Doyle look ... idiotic?

But before I begin, I'm sounding the biter alert. Doyle's homoerotic KT post is totally a ripoff of my homoerotic Gillick-fluffing post from last year, right after he traded Thome. With Hawaiian Sophie fame, you kept my name in your blog posts.

So I can see that it is not working, and by "it," I mean my ploy to deflect attention away from the Adam Eaton signing -- I'm finally beginning to accept that it was an iffy move, though I would argue it for different reasons than just the salary -- and toward Vicente Padilla, whose contract is roughly equivalent to somebody paying a "retired" journalist lots of cheddar and a sweet-ass new car in order to, like, manage property or whatever.

I like the Maddux signing. Not sure it's as groundbreaking as you seem to believe, but it's pretty much unquestionably a good deal. I still maintain that if we look at the major recent pitching deals (the calculating guys notwithstanding, since we don't know anything about them [because they're mysterious by nature, those ones]), Eaton is far from the worst move.

Let's take a look at the ones we've already mentioned in terms of pros/cons:

1. Padilla -- Absolutely heinous. Almost $12 milly a year for 3 years for a guy nobody else really wanted who's three years removed from his two-year flirt with above-averageness. He's 29 in Nicaraguan years, which are sort of like dog years, only adjusted for machetes, kidnappings, and gasoline attacks. He's also an alcoholic. Speaking of dangerous Latin American countries, alcohol, machetes, kidnappings, and gasoline attacks, where's Ugueth Urbina these days? Oh, right, in a Venezuelan prison, waiting for a cellmate. Don't count out Padilla for that role; 36 milly buys a lot of Toña. But I don't think anybody's really debating the badness of this signing. The last contract he signed with the Phils was one year, $4.4 million. Apparently one decent year and a DUI earns you a pay raise of 200% (or would it be 300%? I don't know these things.)

At least the Rangers were desperate for starting pitching, which makes it slightly less bad. Slightly.

2. Wolf -- $8M for a starter who's averaged 90 innings pitched in the last three years, just came back from Tommy John surgery, and grossly underperformed the last time he was signed to a big contract. Best year was four years ago. Only reason it's not a very bad signing is because it's a one-year deal. But what if he has a good season? Are they going to pay him much more than that?

Actually, don't answer. The way this offseason is going, he might make $15M in 2008. Worth noting that the Phillies chose to sign Adam Eaton instead of paying Wolf. That either says something about the Phillies talent evaluation, or it says something about Wolf. We'll see.

3. Maddux -- $10M for a one-season rental of one of the greatest pitchers ever. He's on the downslope of his career, but he's a reliable starter who eats innings, doesn't walk many batters, and has lots of postseason experience. He also provides what amounts to a second pitching coach and will help a couple of good young pitchers develop. Hell, he may even help turn Jake Peavy into the kind of pitcher Doyle thinks he already is. Could put the Padres over the hump. Pretty good signing, all around -- by far the best of the bunch.

4. Eaton -- I initially thought this was a good move. I heard that the Phils signed Adam Eaton and thought, "Hey, didn't he used to be good for the Padres?" Then I took a cursory look at his career stats and realized that the answer was, "not really."

My beef isn't with the salary. Amazingly enough, $8M/year for a mediocre starter doesn't seem all that outrageous anymore. He's a mostly disappointing former high draft pick by the Phillies, is 29 years old, and has missed a lot of time to injuries and arm surgery. In other words, he's Randy Wolf, but right-handed. Which means Gillick & Co. essentially took a look at Wolf and Eaton and said they'd rather have Eaton for the same price. They know both of them pretty well -- both came up in the organization -- so I'm willing to believe that they know something I don't. Maybe it was just that Wolf's arm surgery was last year, while Eaton's was five years ago. I have no problem viewing the two as interchangeable (for now), which means that the Phils actually shaved some money off their payroll, since they paid Wolfy more than $9M per the last two years to start a grand total of 25 games.

Would I have rather gotten Maddux? Of course. I'd also just as easily take Wolf instead. But the sad reality of being the Philadelphia Phillies -- the losingest franchise in professional sports history, in a miserable city known for its hostile fans -- is that not everybody wants to play here. Supposedly the Wolf deal came down to him wanting to go to SoCal, where he's from. How much more do you think a 41-year-old Maddux would have wanted to go to Philadelphia instead of San Diego? Don't answer that -- it's rhetorical (seriously, how great was that rhetoric conference?). I'd also have preferred Lilly or Meche, except it sounds like they're looking for 4 years/$40M. If I had my pick, I'd have paid double for Jason Schmidt. But I don't think Philly has that kind of spending power until and unless Burrell's gone. We might have gotten an Ohka or a Weaver for a little cheaper, but then again, that would leave us with an Ohka or a Weaver.

So, all options considered, I don't think Eaton was that bad of a signing.

My primary issue is that fifth starter should have been about the fourth priority for this team. We have no middle relief to speak of, no starting catcher, a subpar outfield and (still) nobody to protect Howard in the lineup. Adam Eaton ain't helping any of that.

UPDATE: Apparently Schmidt just signed with the Dodgers, which means Brad Penny might be available for a bat. Hey Coletti -- I know just the guy:

Kevin, sweetie, I really didn't mean those things I kinda said

Hey Kevin Towers, it's me, Diesel. It's no secret that I'm a Padres fan, and that I'm also one of those faceless internet pricks who sits there and second-guesses everything that's happening in the baseball offseason this year. And, unfortunately, I even started criticizing you for a move that you didn't end up making. It's clear to me now that you were testing me, seeing if doing something crazy like signing a 37-year-old utility player who had an OBP of .327 last season to a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract, was going to drive me away. I should have seen it for what it was, but I was spooked by all the other batshit stuff that GMs have been doing this offseason. So, I'm sorry. I should have never doubted you. Here, I brought you coffee this morning. The broad at Starbucks said it was Sumatra. A dollop of honey, just how you like it. Are we cool? I hope so.

Because I am tempted to offer to clean your fucking toilets for the next season after the Greg Maddux signing. I never thought I would want to hug someone after hearing the Pads signed a 40-year-old pitcher to a $10 million contract, but it's nothing short of a masterstroke. One year, with an option for $7 mil in 2008? Pat Gillick isn't even worthy of rimming you.

Some might wonder why I think this is an awesome deal for the Padres. No, I did not smoke peyote this morning, and imagine that I've time-warped back to 1995, when Mad Dog put up one of the sickest pitching seasons of my lifetime. I realize that this the dude who hasn't had a defense-adjusted ERA under 4.00 since 2002. I know this is a dude who barely struck out more than five hitters per nine innings last season. I know he's at best a No. 3 at this point in his career, and on the Padres he's no better than the No. 4 starter. But I don't care.

Here is why this deal, Kevin, is the best of the offseason (not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, because you're awesome and you read Moneyball without having a seizure and you have fine taste in pseudo-Hawaiian shirts that are somehow still respectable in a professional setting):

- Maddux is still good for 200 innings a season, which is not something that can be said about many pitchers his age. Rubber-armed pitchers are manna from heaven for a team that relies so heavily on its pen.

- Maddux still sports a GB/FB ratio of close to 2:1. That's still pretty damn good.

- 2006 OBP against: .301. Not great for him, still pretty damn good all things considered.

- Eckstein-Counsell Grittyness Quotient (ECGQ3.2): 79.7. The league average is a paltry 14, mainly because most of the players aren't short white dudes. But Maddux is still off the charts on this scale, even though some pundits dismiss it since he's actually talented at playing baseball.

But here's the best part about your deal with Mad Dog, Kevin: It's only a one-year commitment. Everyone's been focusing on the salaries being paid this season, but that's missing the point. It's the years. That's why, surprisingly, the Dodgers got it exactly right with the Wolf signing, and the Phillies got it all wrong with the Eaton deal. And the Rangers got it wrong with Padilla. And the Mets, probably, with Barry Zito. In this market, playing ball with free agents means accepting annual salaries that would have made George Steinbrenner blush three years ago. But that doesn't mean you have to swallow long-term deals (especially ones with no-trade clauses ... you hear me Astros?) and retarded salaries. If Maddux ends up sucking, it's really no harm, no foul for the Pads. In a year, he's gone with a buyout, and everyone's happy. When Adam Eaton is two years into his deal, the Phillies are going to be waxing poetic about being under Burrell's contract, because at least he was above replacement level. And that kind of pain won't even come close to the hurting that Zito is going to be putting on a team in year four of his deal.

So, in conclusion, Kevin, this is one dude who wants it to be known that he loves his GM very much. And, wants to make it clear to certain members of the blogging population with overactive thyroid glands that there's a reason the Pads will be in the playoffs again this season, and the Phillies will not despite the fact they have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It's because Pat Gillick is a douche, and KT is clearly not.


Monday, December 04, 2006

Thank God for the Rangers ...

and for Lito Sheppard!

But seriously, folks, let me never again hear how the Phils overspent for Eaton. Never mind the ridiculous Wolf contract the odgers divvied -- now that the Rangers spent 34 MILLION DOLLARS ON VICENTE PADILLA! .

Yes, that does deserve the rare bold-italic-caps. Vicente Padilla, everybody! 34 million dollars! 3 years! 12 million more than we paid for Eaton.

Bless you, Texas. Bless you. Now I don't have to torture myself over the fact that the Phils overpaid for a 5th starter when they needed two relievers and a catcher far worse.

I hope nobody really plans on arguing this. That Padilla contract might be the worst signing I've seen since the 'gers inked Chan Ho.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

This is why I should probably consider maybe doing drugs

For some reason, I'm in a crappy mood this morning. Maybe it's because last night's "House" was a re-run. Maybe it's because after clearing about $85 in online poker last night, I lost it all back and a little more with some totally inexcusable play that makes me want to commit corporal mortification on myself. Maybe it's because I shaved. I don't know. I do know, however, that the last thing I need to see when I'm already in a bad mood is that the Padres are close to signing Craig Counsell.

I realize that Kevin Towers doesn't read this blog, nor does he care much about the sabermatricians in his fan base. The Padres, frankly, are exactly the kind of franchise that pulls these kinds of moves. They're big on "character," and thusly guys who supposedly possess at surfeit of it. Me? I'm big on guys who can play baseball to some degree. I am convinced that Craig Counsell is no longer even bad at baseball; he really doesn't even exist anymore.

Counsell, in 2006: .255/.327/.347

In case everyone else was wondering, that last number is Counsell's slugging percentage, not OBP. If that were Counsell's OBP, that would be pretty awesome for him, considering it's three points higher than his career average. And that's the thing about Counsell that really pisses me off: If he were an aging veteran who was on the downside of his career, I could see it. But Counsell's 2007 season wasn't far off the beaten path for him; he's always been a shitty baseball player. But, because he has a high Eckstein Grittiness Metric score, he's beloved and probably won't have to retire until he's 60 and his VORP has hit -78.

And, now, it looks like he might be starting(!) for the Friars at second base next season. Christ. I don't want to hear Justin talk about David Bell, ever again.

Other things that are making me pissy this morning:

- I cut Peter Gammons a ton of slack. Even though he's still a little old-timey with some of his analysis, he's also done an admirable job of accepting the newer ways of looking at baseball and bringing them to a bigger stage. If anything, he's done more for Bill James' Q-rating than just about anyone else not named Billy Beane or Michael Lewis. And, for about three years, he was the only remotely reasonable, informed baseball mind on Baseball Tonight, which went from being my favorite show on television to unwatchable with the introduction (simultaneously, even!) of Harold Reynolds, John Kruk and Steve Phillips. Oh, and Brantley was on there every so often as well.

But has anyone else noticed that Peter Gammons isn't even remotely making sense anymore? Jesus, man, where are the copy editors? Don't they know that this is one of the greatest baseball writers to ever live that they're allowing to look like a buffoon? Give him some goddamn help!

- This story, right here, made me want to punch someone. Unfortunately, I am surrounded by septuagenarian women today, so that's probably a bad idea. But, honestly, it's this kind of sports commentary that makes me absolutely crazy. And, because Buster links to this asshole a lot, I end up reading most of his uninformed crap. He's a dickwad.

If I'm a GM, do I sign Drew? Probably not. The injury history is super-problematic, and to whatever degree "clubhouse chemistry" has an effect on the outcome of games -- I suspect it's much, much less than most fans and sportswriters think it is -- Drew's clearly not going to be a guy that everyone else on your team wants to hang out with. But if I were a GM, I probably wouldn't want to sign Soriano or Lee, either, and the three of these guys are the only "impact" bats available on the free agent market. Considering the absurd amount of money that's been thrown at Soriano and Lee, neither of whom are anywhere close to as valuable (when healthy) as Drew is to a lineup, and the Red Sox's potential need for a bat to replace Manny, Epstien's interest in Drew is far from "obscene." It's the symptom of a market that's gone absolutely crazy. And, frankly, it makes a lot more sense than them throwing that money at a guy like Lee, who acts as if walks are an affront.

One thing that made me feel a little better this morning:

- Burn, Ned Coletti. Burn.

Late edits:

- This and this have completely turned my day around.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Here's what I don't understand

I'm going to leave the MVP debate(s) up to people who really give that much of a fuck, except to say this: I thought Pujols was the better choice, but I could see a good argument for Howard; There is absolutely no fucking way in a million years ever that Justin Morneau should be the AL MVP. If Bartolo Colon hadn't won the AL Cy Young last year, I'd start dropping shit like, "Worst award pick ever." But, this is becoming par for the course with baseball, a sport that consistently goes out of its way to look as stupid as possible.

More interesting to me is this, a question I posed to a friend of mine at the bar last night that I'll now ask the chorus: Why are "geeky" statistics OK in football, but verboten in baseball?

I was thinking to myself today that if Steve McNair somehow gained traction for an MVP bid, and he was up against fellow quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, there would be no fucking way that anyone would ignore quarterback rating when making the decision. Sure, everyone knows quarterback rating isn't the only statistic worth looking at. But it's a heck of a tiebreaker, and more often than not people look to it as the most well-rounded stat when comparing quarterbacks.

Now, here's where I can see one issue: There are probebly about three or four metrics that can be considered baseball's QB rating. One (which is my favorite) is VORP, which is a measure of the number of runs a player is worth over a replacement at his respective position. Another is WARP3, which is a measure of the number of wins a player was worth to his team, based solely on offensive numbers and irrespective of position, and adjusted for "all-time" so it's valid as a comparison against previous eras when offenses performed at different levels. There's also EqA, which is a batting-average type metric that attempts to take into account a player's total offensive production in a number form baseball fans are already comfortable with. Then there's OPS+, ERA+, Win Shares ... I understand, it can be a little numbing.

But while I understand that sabermetrics can be a little overwhelming, and maybe even off-putting, I cannot understand why there isn't a sportswriter in America, who while writing about the MVP choices they disagreed with (and with good reason), didn't point out that the respective VORPs proved the point they were otherwise making. Would it be so hard to say, "And, to top it all off, Jeter had a way better VORP than Morneau," without being run out of the profession? Because there isn't a single football writer that won't mention QB rating, and that equation is about as confusing, if not more, than anything sabermatricians have come up with.

So, tell me sportswriters, [super snarky text]why the fuck do you hate the truth?[/super snarky text]

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This McNabb injury sucks ...

and it's not because they lost, and the injury combined with a loss to the Titans effectively ends their playoff hopes. It's because now Andy Reid will have another excuse. Another, because he always has an excuse for why the Eagles fail.

We'll go by year here.

2001 -- Played a great Rams team and almost beat them, but couldn't stop the run and couldn't get any offense going early in the game (an obvious sign of bad preparation and playcalling). Forced to win it himself, McNabb threw a late interception that killed their chances. No major injuries to blame -- everybody thought we'd get there next year.

2002 -- See 2001, except with two interceptions and against a better Tampa defense. McNabb was coming off a broken leg. Everybody used that as an excuse.

2003 -- See 2002, except with three interceptions against a team that was clearly inferior. Westbrook was gone with an injury, and everybody used this as an excuse.

2004 -- Hard to fault a coach for a 13-3 season in which his team goes to the Super Bowl and loses to the best Patriots team ever by 3 points, right?

Well, sort of. Obviously his playcalling and personnel decisions factored into his team's success. But let's not forget that McNabb had the best season of his career, one of the best recent seasons by an NFL quarterback. Nobody asked the question, because there's no reason to question success. But the question was, did Reid make McNabb look like the best QB in the NFL, or did McNabb make Reid look like the best coach?

That question didn't arise until the Super Bowl. Down 10 late in the game, they had a chance to win it -- they really did -- except their fourth-quarter TD drive took more than six minutes. Was it McNabb's fault, because he got sick? Or was it Reid's for mismanaging the clock and not having a set of plays prepared for a hurry-up situation? All I know is this -- Reid called seven consecutive short pass plays to the middle of the field to start the drive. When they finally called a decent play (with two minutes left), and Greg Lewis got open deep, McNabb delivered the ball right on target. He wasn't that sick.

The Patriots were a great team that year, and McNabb threw two costly picks. But Reid sure didn't help his cause much. The bottom line is that Reid had the best Eagles team ever, and didn't win the Super Bowl.

2005 -- Last year, it was TO, and then it was McNabb's injury. The TO thing is semi-legitimate; the man obviously disrupted the locker room. But good coaches don't let that happen, and, in that regard, kudos to Reid for banishing TO relatively early. Too early to blame the entire season on a guy who didn't even enter the locker room for the last seven weeks.

Which leaves us with McNabb's injury. He went down for the season in Week 10 of last season, but they discovered the hernia in training camp. So, logically, with his franchise QB nursing an injury, Andy Reid decided to throw the ball 70 percent of the fucking time. It didn't surprise anybody that McNabb got hurt -- it actually surprised me that he lasted that long. So Reid is as much to blame for that injury as anybody can be to blame for another person's injury.

Turns out McNabb's ability to single-handedly keep them in games had been disguising an aging defense, terrible offensive playcalling, poor clock management, and a lack of skill and/or depth at every major position.

Last season's 6-10 was Andy Reid's fault. But he blamed it on TO and McNabb's injury, and everybody gave him a free pass because he'd been such a good coach. Rightly so, I would say -- a record like his (the Eagles won something like 70 percent of their games under his tenure going into 2005) earns you a down year. Even if that record really isn't that good, because you have nothing to show for it, because you shit the bed in every big game you played.

2006 -- Which brings us to this year. The Eagles have been a decent-to-bad team all year, even with a healthy McNabb in his prime. I said this after the first real game we played this year, the choke job against the Giants. Even when they were 4-1, they weren't impressive. That 49ers game was as close as a 14-point loss can be -- only a goal-line fumble that the Birds returned for 98 yards made the difference. It took a classic Drew Bledsoe meltdown to save them against Dallas. The Packers and Redskins suck. Add that to the fact that they've now lost to two 3-7 teams -- the Bucs and the Titans -- and you've got a football team kindly described as average.

They didn't lose to the Titans because McNabb got hurt. They were well on their way to losing before that. But the moment he got hurt, it ruled out one of his classic put-the-team-on-my-back wins, where he throws three second-half TDs and somehow pulls it out despite not looking all that great, overall. Like the one he orchestrated against Tampa, before The Luckiest Moment in NFL History.

They consistently dig themselves first-half holes, especially against bad teams. They drop lots of passes. They literally have not thrown a pass (shotgun excluded) that didn't include a play-action fake in weeks. They only run the ball when the pass game has stalled. They either throw eight deep balls a game (New Orleans) or none (Tennessee). They can't tackle on defense and still can't stop the run, even after five years of this shit. They were third in the league in penalty yards even before the 64 they had today. They have the No. 1 offense in the NFL and have somehow lost half their games.

What does all of that add up to? Bad coaching. That's not all McNabb's fault. The truth is, McNabb's been saving Reid's sorry ass for his entire career. The one brilliant coaching move Reid ever made was drafting Donovan. He's a solid GM -- he drafts pretty well, first-rounders notwithstanding -- but he's a horrible, horrible coach.

And he needs to be fired. But now that McNabb's hurt, he has another excuse. And he'll be back next year, even after the Eagles go 6-10. It'll take another year of mediocrity, another year of playing down to opponents, passing 70 percent of the time even with a so-so line and handless wide receivers, and missing the playoffs. Then he might get fired.

Hopefully it won't be too late by then. McNabb turns 30 on Saturday and just suffered his third major lower-body injury. The best players on the defense are over the hill. Westbrook might need microfracture surgery to fix his chronic knee problems. This year's in the shitter. At this point, I can either hope Garcia finds some magic left in that rag arm of his and lead them to a first-round playoff loss, or I can root for them to lose out and get a higher draft slot. Next year doesn't look good -- McNabb might not be back for the first game, and Westbrook's considering offseason surgery. So, really, I have to look forward to 2008, and hope that the following things happen between now and then:

1. Reid gets fired or moved to GM. (I'm actually hoping for the latter)
2. McNabb returns to 100%.
3. Westbrook returns to 100%
4. They draft or acquire quality starters at all of the following positions:
a)Running back (power)
b)Linebacker (middle and strong-side)
5. They keep Stallworth (and he stays healthy) or acquire a big-time WR.

That would give them a real chance again in 2008. Otherwise, it's back to the perpetual mediocrity that defines Philadelphia sports in my lifetime (did I mention the Phils didn't get Soriano?).

Let's just say I'm not holding my breath. And, since nobody's making them yet, I just ordered a custom "Fire Andy Reid" t-shirt.

(By the way, does the RSS feed for this blog work for anybody else? It never works for me.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kids, don't piss off those sportswriters

From Tim Sullivan's throwaway column on Bonds possibly being a Padre, we see once again that there's no subject in the sports universe that can't accomodate bitchy sportswriter complaints.

When it comes to pending personnel decisions, Alderson's general position is that if it isn't obvious, obfuscate. Sadly, the talkative Towers has lately learned to hold his tongue, too.

“I'm not commenting on it,” Towers told the Union-Tribune's Bill Center yesterday before departing the general managers meetings in Naples, Fla. “I'm not going to comment to anyone on our free agents. I will not ever be commenting.”

Awww, poor Timmy Sullivan; looks like you'll actually have to cultivate more than one source for future Padres columns! Depressing!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Honestly, what the fuck is going on?

Try it, anyone: Give me one good fucking reason Bobby Knight shouldn't be fired, like, right now.

This can't be any simpler: The dude just slapped a kid. No, ESPN, it was not a "push," or a "flip," or a fucking chin massage. And since when did we allow this goddamn bully to set the terms of how his actions are described? Fuck you, Knight. The fact that you didn't get kicked in the balls by that kid is a minor miracle, and you should thank him for not embarassing you to the degree you embarassed him. A slap! I have never been slapped by a man in my fucking life. That is unreal.

Wojo actually wrote a half-decent column about this, but at the end he still doesn't just come out and say that Knight needs to be fired. Maybe he doesn't feel that way, but I don't see how one can confront the facts of the case and not arrive at that conclusion (which is why I'm practically egging on a fight, here). Knight has made a career out of being the drunk uncle that constantly embarasses his family during Thanksgiving. It's enough, already, before he actually just punches a kid for not boxing out, or something.

BTW, fuck that kid's parents, too.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Today's fuckstick

There are times in my life when I think to myself, “Diesel, it’s time to scrap the bitterness. Maybe you need to find your spirit.” Those are the times I spend a couple of days doing my best to smile at every old lady I see, refrain from rape jokes and not gun the GTI when there’s a pigeon in the road. For a short time, this makes me feel better. Then, out of nowhere, a horrible piece of sports writing will appear on my computer monitor while I’m putting a hurting on some chicken lo mien, and I immediately go back to being an asshole.

I wish I could say this stuff was cathartic, but the truth is I just fucking hate Phil Rogers so much, I wish I could sodomize him with a dirty toilet brush. And not gently, like that usually implies.

Here is the latest justification for his impending, unsanitary colonoscopy:

Gentlemen, start your checkbooks.

You’re a funny man, Phil. Heh. It’s funny, because it’s like “start your engines,” only with checkbooks instead, since owners are going to be using checkbooks to pay for free agent contracts. Heh.

There's only one problem with the gaudy numbers that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Lee traditionally put up: They are guaranteed to lead to big contracts but do not necessarily translate into victories.

Along with Alfonso Soriano, these are the biggest bats on the market, and it figures someone will pay them accordingly (Lee appears headed to the Houston Astros; Ramirez possibly to the Los Angeles Angels). But for all their thunder, Lee and Ramirez have combined for only 55 at-bats in the playoffs (and a .218 average), generally playing on also-ran teams.
Their teams were a combined 147-176 last year. Lee did not deliver when he was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Texas Rangers at the July deadline, and Ramirez disappeared when the Chicago Cubs needed him to step up while Derrek Lee was sidelined.
One scout says the saying about lies, damn lies and statistics applies to free agency. "You can take any stat, I believe, and damn near make any point you choose with it," he said.
We’ll ignore the dangling participle in the second graph, and get right to the stupid, unfounded meat of Rogers’ argument. According to idiots like Rogers and his scout friend, who I really think is either the equally-offensive Jerry Crasnick or simply Rogers himself pantomiming Jerry Lewis in his head, individual numbers are useless unless those numbers came while a player was in the midst of a pennant race. This is dumb.

Here is what Rogers could say if he was interested in being right: Lee, Soriano, and Ramirez are all good hitters. But none of them are great hitters, because they don’t get on base enough.

Ramirez’s 2006 OBP: .352 (50 BB in 660 PA)
League average at 3B: .354

Lee’s 2006 OBP: .355 (58 BB in 695 PA)
Soriano’s 2006 OBP: .351 (67 BB in 728 PA)
League average in LF: .359 (AL was .347, for those who are curious)

So, while all will put up gaudy power numbers, on the whole they actually cost your team outs against the league average. Is that what you want to be paying north of $10 million a year for? Maybe not.

But, of course, the real problem with all three is that their teams didn’t win enough. But, I promise, if any of them had been Eckstein, the Cubs, Brewers, Rangers and Nationals would have all won the World Series at the same time.

Jeff Suppan deserves a big contract. After all, he's the poor man's Greg Maddux, making 30-plus starts eight years in a row, and he's never been compensated accordingly. He earned a total of only $9 million from the St. Louis Cardinals while going 47-29 the last three years, including three wins in the playoffs. But there's nothing special about his stuff, and he's coming off a season when his ERA jumped from 3.57 to 4.12.

Huh? Since when did making more than 30 starts become the baseline for Greg Maddux comparisons? Did Jeff fucking Suppan just get compared to a guy who is considered by some to be one of the 10 best pitchers of all-time?

Greg Maddux career ERA: 3.07
Jeff Suppan career ERA (I shit you not): 4.60

Daniel Cabrera compares more favorably to Sandy Koufax than Suppan does to Maddux. I think Phil Rogers is sleeping with Jeff Suppan.

Roger Clemens, who says he hasn't even thought about whether he wants to pitch in 2007 -- yeah, right -- took home $664,858 per start for his abbreviated season with the Astros this season, and he's not getting younger. The plan was for him to be fresh for the postseason, but Houston finished 1½ games behind St. Louis in the woeful NL Central. Houston was 9-10 in Clemens' starts, a quirky fact that belies his 2.30 ERA.

Quirky? Gilbert Arenas is quirky. That statistic is absolute proof that wins and losses are a completely meaningless statistic. Or, did Roger Clemens “just pitch well enough to lose?” Because, I swear, if you had said that, I would have switched out the toiled brush for a spiked bat.

Kip Wells, the quintessential 30-start guy when he's healthy, was shut down for foot surgery shortly after being traded from Pittsburgh to Texas last season.

This is probably my favorite part of the whole article. You know how many pitchers started 30 or more games last season? Roughly 70 (sorry, can’t find the exact stat, but this is pretty close). So, Kip Well’s claim to fame is that – when healthy! – he will be able to do something that only 70 or so other pitchers in the major leagues can do. Rogers makes no mention of whether or not you’d really want Wells starting 30 games for your team, because that would require actual qualitative analysis.

Also, because I can’t resist:

John F. Kennedy is the quintessential two-term president when his head isn’t getting blown off. Kirstie Alley is the quintessential supermodel when she’s not laying waste to a Chinese Buffet. Patrick Roy is the quintessential family man when he’s not beating his wife to within an inch of her life. Bill McCartney is the quintessential role model when his daughter isn’t sucking down chocolate like Daddy-O’s. Colorado is the quintessential intercollegiate model when its coaches aren’t implicitly endorsing rape. Loren Wade is the quintessential college running back when he’s not capping teammates. I could go on like this forever.

There’s more, but I really do need to work sometime today.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fire Jeremy Bessee

Jeremy Bessee, 32, of Phoenix said he preferred Kyl because "he's been here since 9-11."

"He's experienced with the anti-terrorism stuff," Bessee said. "It might be good sometimes to get in someone who still needs to get their feet wet, but right now we need the tried and true."

Congrats, Jeremy, you are the John Kruk of the American vox populi.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh Christ No!

I realize this isn’t the most earth-shattering post topic/take in the history of the world, but cut me some slack here. Sunday's post was barely legible – was I on painkillers, or something? – and this topic was requested by loyal reader rf/anonymous. I’m trying to make amends, reader(s). Bear with me.

There is a chance – however remote – that Dusty Baker might be considered as a possible replacement for Bruce Bochy as San Diego’s manager. Now, I am not a man easily frightened, unless I am somehow confronted with spiders, cephalopods or home pregnancy tests. But, let me tell you, the prospect of having Dusty Baker as the manager of my favorite sports franchise (the Jays are too expensive as a favourite team, considering the exchange rate, and the need to spell with the superfluous “u” when speaking of them) has managed to disrupt my sleeping patterns. Honestly, I’d rather be a bad kicker at Colorado than watch even one Padres game with Dusty at the helm.

After all, this is the man who twice – twice! – used the term “clogging up the basepaths” this past season when trying to explain why OBP was overrated. If you, in any way, think that having baserunners can ever be a bad thing in the sport of baseball, you should be condemned to the Mexican League. This is also the man who has managed to ruin the no-brainer careers of both Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, which is kind of like giving both the Olson twins the clap, three months apart.

The Padres, as currently comprised, are a promising team with a good mix of young guys and solid vets. They get on base fairly well, play pretty good defense, and have one of the better pitching staffs in the league. Are they better than the Mets? No. But they’re better than the Dodgers, and most years that’s good enough for me.

As far as I can tell, the Padres are pretty much a lock to win more than 89 games next year, which should be good enough to win the NL West. If Dusty Baker gets hired, I see that number changing by as much as 10 games. No, I’m not exaggerating.

Did anyone watch the Cubs play last season? I did, especially while I was in Italy, because they play a lot of days games. You know what I saw? A team that didn’t give a flying fuck about being good at its job. The leadoff hitter, Juan Pierre (also known as the world’s only “gritty” black man) OBPed .330, which is almost impossible when you consider that his batting average was .292. Jacque Jones was allowed to regress to the point where he’s worse than replacement level. Aramis Ramirez, who should be mentioned in the same breath as Cabrera, Howard and Wright, was allowed to remain the undisciplined turd he’s always been. Matt Murton hasn’t been heard from since April. And those are probably the four best players on last year’s Cubs team, since D-Lee missed most of the season with a broken wrist. What most people don’t know is that Dusty actually stomped on Derek’s wrist because he was taking “too many goddamned pitches.” Dusty then said, “It’s called ‘hitting,’ not ‘trying to help your team win!’”

I won’t even bother getting into Dusty’s days with the Giants … oh, fuck that, yes I will. Dusty was even worse with the Giants. Anyone remember Pedro Feliz? At one point in time, Mr. Feliz was a great prospect. Then Dusty got a hold of him, convinced him that a “hanging” slider includes those thrown in the dirt, and since then Feliz has been a constant threat to possess and OBP lower than his IQ. Dusty Baker is also the reason that Rob Nen has been forced to learn how to write with his left hand. And the explanation for Kirk Rueter holding down a starting job in the major leagues. And the impetus for 64.3 percent of all Golden Gate suicides in the last 10 years. Dusty killed JonBenet Ramsey while on a road swing in Colorado. Don’t believe me? I haven’t heard an alibi yet.

So, don’t blame me if the thought of Jake Peavy being on one of Dusty’s “pitch counts” makes me want to drink bleach.

I don't think it will happen. There's no rational reason it ever should happen. The Padres hired Sandy Alderson specifically so nonsensical shit like this can't happen. But if it does, I swear, I'm burning my gear and starting over as a D-Backs fan. I'd rather watch Eric Byrnes get a hernia trying to pull a changeup a foot outside than watch Armbands fucking McGee destroy the Friars.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Takes that may or may not be those of some person named Doyle

• While watching the Washington-Dallas morning game, I am amazed that with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Redskins have to call a timeout on fourth down to figure out a play. They are in no-man's land, so going into third down, the coaches have to know that there's a good chance that they'll be facing a ... oh, forget that noise! Instead, Washington comes out after the break and punts from the 42. Ball dribbles between the legs of a Redskins player on the 1-yard-line, touchback, net 22-yard-punt. Dallas has not taken the field as I write this, and I promise I won't revise it after the game is over. I am guaranteeing a Dallas victory right now.

• Louisville will beat Ohio State in the BCS National Championship game.

• Of course they won't. But I wanted to see what it felt like to be Justin, constantly saying ridiculous things.

• OK, so the Cowboys just punted after incomplete pass, incomplete pass, and short completion on third down. I lied; Dallas is not winning this game. Neither of these teams are winning this game. I think Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells should be doing commercials for stem cell research, because they both forgot how to coach football.

• I considered making an entire blog post about this subject, but I figure it's easy enough to truncate my take: It is reprehensible that Willie Tuitama is playing football this season. I've discussed this a few times with Ryan, who knows more about the situation than anyone that isn't on the team, and he's given me no reason to change my mind (since he agrees with me, he doesn't exactly make the best devil's advocate).

Concussions are still the last great unknown frontier of sports-related injuries. And I have a feeling that concrete answers as to what exactly an athlete risks when playing through or after them aren't forthcoming any time soon. Frankly, the anecdotal evidence we have suggests there is no possibility for a concrete answer. So, there's nothing to prove that Tuitama is any better off waiting until next season to play again. But just because you can't prove something beyond a shadow of a doubt doesn't necessarily mean the opposite is true. And that's why Willie should be sitting for the rest of the year.

It also bears mentioning that I don't feel this way because the season is "lost," though it doesn't hurt. I do think it bears mentioning that if coaches weren't losing their jobs right now at UA, this probably wouldn't be happening. And that's sickening.

• I have never quite seen an ending to a football game like the one I just witnessed between Dallas and Washington. Beyond the mutual ineptitude of Parcells and Gibbs, for the first time I can remember each team had an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal on consecutive downs. Of course, Washington got the second of the two, and made the kick, which makes me look like an idiot for my earlier prediction. But being an idiot is the life I chose.

I know there's more that's been on my mind lately, but I can't think of it right now. I'll update it as things occur to me.

- Diesel

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What the shit?

Can one of you Pads guys please explain to me what the fuck is going on with this Bochy situation? Because, as a Phillies fan, I can't understand the first fucking thing about this. Maybe it's an NL West thing. So, please explain how the following things happen:

1. A guy who's been in the organization most of his adult life, and who has turned the team into a contender, suddenly decides to leave for a divisional rival. This happens despite the fact that the team he's leaving has a glut of young talent, and the team he's taking over has a surfeit of decrepitude and assholishness.

2. A long-suffering franchise finally finds a manager who can lead it to two consecutive playoff berths. As far as I know, he's well-liked by the team and the city. And then they give division rivals permission to approach him?

There's got to be something I'm not aware of here. Did San Diego (the franchise or the city) want Bochy gone? Did he want out? Is he gay and itching to live in San Fran? Does he want a town with a better literary scene (please say it's this)?

I just don't get it. That would be like the Mets hiring away the most successful Phillies manager in history, Terry Fran... er, Charlie Man... er ... that dude who managed them in 1980!

That's your cue, anonymous Padre experts. Enlighten.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More than any other celestial body, the Earth is about a molten core

My dislike of Bill "Friend of Fragment" Plaschke is well-documented, if not well-defended. I think he is a bad writer, an even worse reporter, and appears to feel the need to use epithets when describing anyone who thinks that OBP might have a role in assessing a major league baseball hitter. Also, there are times when he thinks he's a poet, which is distressing, since he is very clearly a sports columnist and not a poet. Why does he even want to be a poet? Aren't poets the kind of sissy-men that Plaschke thinks are trying to ruin baseball with computers and Ivy League educations? I don't understand. Plaschke confuses me, completely.

But that's old news. Today, one of America's Least Valuable Voices uttered one of those inane sports cliches that makes me want to scream. It's the dreaded, "More than any other sport ..." qualifier. Some qualifiers edify. This one makes you stupider:

But we should remember it for Zumaya, who reminded us that, more than any other sport, baseball is less about superheroes and more about flawed and unforgiving humans.

I'll leave the grammatical analysis to Justin, because this sentence is so tortured I don't really know where to begin (did I count four different clauses in the same sentence?!? Does he think he's fucking Joyce?). Instead, I want to ponder the stated fact that "baseball is less about superheroes" and more about "flawed and unforgiving humans." I submit, readers, that this has to be one of the most meaningless, banal, retarded, inexplicably vapid things ever written anywhere, ever, in the history of the world, anywhere.

First of all -- without even worrying about the literal meaning of "superheroes" -- what is it about other sports that relies on superheroes? Or, more precisely, what is it about baseball that makes it less dependent on the great play than the one that was screwed up? Last time I checked, a two-run home run by the extremely awesome and somewhat superhero-like Albert Pujols is as important to the outcome of the game as an error by the very mortal Brandon Inge that cost his team two runs. If anything, a better argument can be made that an individual superstar -- particularly a pitcher -- can have a completely disproportionate effect on his team's success, compared to other sports. I don't really think that's the case, but I would be more prone to believe that than what Plaschke says.

But it's really the second part that kills me. "Flawed" and "unforgiving" humans? Who is he talking about? The players who make mistakes? Maybe Zumaya never forgave his dad for not buying him the red bike he always wanted, or something, but what the fuck does that have to do with his two-run error (which really didn't have an effect on the outcome of the game!)? Is Pudge Rodriguez's 0-fer so far in the WS a result of his steadfast homophobia? Please, please, please, please Bill Plaschke, attempt to help me make some sense of this statement. I don't think you can, and you wrote the fucking thing. Are you talking about the fans? I mean ... I'm just speechless. OK, that's a lie, but I am pretty flabbergasted.

On a related note: Bill Simmons, in the span of, like, three months, once said that more than any sport, football was a game of momentum, then later said that baseball was actually, more than any other sport, a game of momentum. I kid you not. Why do people still read this stuff?

(Author is aware of the irony present in that last sentence)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Back to sports!

Not to overshadow Justin's post, which was well-placed and will perhaps serve as the impetus to my voting Democrat for the first (and, hopefully, last) time in my life this November, but this was too good not to quote here. From the always-excellent TMQ, on the sheer lunacy that was the Giants-Cowboys MNF game:

Now we're at the Giants' goal line with 1:38 left in the first half. It's second-and-goal, Dallas holds all three timeouts, plenty of time to run the ball. Instead, the Cowboys' coaches call a short square-out. When you're at the goal line, the short square-out is the riskiest play you can call. Defenders are up at the line, so the cornerback is in position to break on the ball and intercept it; and in this situation the pass travels almost entirely sideways, giving the corner time to react. Dallas' coaches should know how risky the short square-out at the goal line is because three weeks ago when the Cowboys were at the Philadelphia goal line in the closing minute, game in the balance, Dallas' coaches called a short square-out that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants watched film of that. So what do Dallas' coaches tell Bledsoe to throw? A short square-out, interception. Just to prove it was no fluke, when the Cowboys reached Jersey/A's 11 late in a game that was still contested, Dallas' coaches again called a short square-out, again intercepted, and this time it was returned for the icing touchdown. Afterward, did Bill "Mr. Personality" Parcells blame himself or his staff? Somehow he didn't get around to that.

Three Dallas notes: First, it's long been clear that Parcells is an egomaniac in both the casual and, perhaps, clinical senses of that word. Lately he's gone downhill to simply becoming a nasty person, spitting and snarling at everyone around him. What's Parcells going to do next, demand worship? When I look at Parcells, the phrase that comes to mind is "failed human being." Second, the deciding play of Monday night's game was a Terrell Owens blunder. Trailing 19-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas had a fourth-and-2 on the Jersey/A 32. Romo put a perfect short pass into Owens' hands, and he dropped it like it was a live ferret. I wrote "game over" at that juncture. Third, Dallas did run one really sweet play -- a play we rarely see, and I don't understand why. Scoreboard reading 26-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys lined up for a deuce attempt. Everybody split wide, empty backfield; the Giants' defenders frantically spread wide to stop the wacky pass they expected; Romo simply went straight up the middle for two points. When you spread the field at the goal line, often the result is five offensive linemen blocking only five defenders in the box, and the odds for a successful quarterback sneak are excellent.

Not to toot my own horn, but while watching the game at the bar, I made that very comment about the square-out play; I didn't even know there were NFL offensive coordinators stupid enough to still call it within the 10. But I'm sure lots of people who know football did the same thing; anyone who plays Madden knows the square-out inside the 10 is retarded. But here's my question: Where the fuck is this kind of stuff from ESPN's "real" football guys, like Clayton or Pasquerelli? Easterbrook, in the span of two very long paragraphs, made a handful dead-on, incisive comments about the game and the people involved, but I can't remember the last time Clayton said anything incisive outside of, "Sean Salisbury, you are wrong."

Deviating from sports?

I'm not sure whether this blog's supposed to discuss sports exclusively, but if it is, as the title suggests, merely a place for disagreement, I submit politics as a topic. Doyle has often (though definitely not always) played the part of Bush apologist, resulting in (and probably for the express purpose of causing) my unabated fury.

So, what about the bill Congress just passed that eliminates habeas corpus for "enemy combatants"?

The facts: Congress just passed a bill, part of which revokes habeas corpus for foreign citizens deemed "enemy combatants." Our country can now, for the second time in its history (the other being the Civil War, when Lincoln suspended habeas corpus but did not eliminate it), legally detain human beings forever without saying why. They can revoke personal freedom at will.

Worse yet, the bill expands the definition of "enemy combatant." The term now means anybody who "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." It used to mean a person who had engaged in hostilities against the US, but now it pertains to "supporters."

Of course, that raises (not begs!) the question: what constitutes "support"? And at what point will the government officially adopt what until now has been the mostly implicit assumption of the entire neoconservative flag-waving, sticker-sporting movement -- that criticizing the government is supporting terrorism?

At what point will critizing the government get you thrown in jail? I can almost guarantee that Connor will call that a "breathless" or "ridiculous" statement. However, it's about a half-step from being a legal fact in America. Bush could extend the bill to apply to American citizens with an executive order -- it wouldn't even need to go through Congress. The federal government is currently considering charging a man who sold a satellite TV package including the Hezbollah channel with "supporting terrorism." That man, a Pakistani citizen, could now be kept in jail for the rest of his life without charges. Legally. Not in ten years, not in some mythical 1984 world liberals are painting to scare people. Right now, a man could lose his freedom for selling satellite TV in America.

My take, in brief: It's the single most flagrant affront to our country the Bush administration has perpetrated -- worse than the Iraq war, worse than the Patriot Act (though similar in spirit), worse than the incomprehensible deficit, worse than the unprecedented voting irregularities that helped them win two consecutive presidential elections.

It doesn't completely eviscerate the Bill of Rights. Not yet. However, I do think it's only a matter of time until the term "enemy combatant" will be used against Americans. And once you say that you can take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights becomes irrelevant. So does democracy itself.

Bush has consistently given himself and his administration powers the executive branch was never supposed to have under the Constitution. He now has a power no American president has ever had -- indeed, a power greater than that of every British king since the Magna Carta.

Without habeas corpus, the entire Bill of Rights becomes irrelevant. Who cares if you have freedom of speech if the government can legally imprison you for exercising it? If in a year or two, national columnists get thrown in prison for critizing Bush, how many are going to continue to do so?

The entire push to eliminate habeas corpus is probably a result of the many habeas corpus cases brought by GITMO detainees labeled "enemy combatants," including the Rasul v. Rumsfeld case. Essentially, the administration said and believed that it had absolute powers which it didn't. Now it does. And if Rumsfeld was claiming the right to detain any "enemy combatant" -- including US citizens!!! -- that long ago, do you really think this current bill won't soon be expanded to include you and me?

So, tell me again how "ludicrous" it is to call the Bush Administration fascists. They've clearly demonstrated their fascist ideals. I'm going to call them that as long as I can -- which, apparently, won't be long.

Dear Kenny Rogers,

You are an idiot. This is not news, really, because you have been an idiot for a long time (almost as long as you've been a mediocre pitcher with occasional runs of greatness). You are a man who once attacked a cameraman for having the audacity to film you walking during batting practice. To call such an act senseless is to understate to a degree I'm not exactly comfortable with. I have been convinced, on occasion, that you were born without brain synapses. You may want to have this checked out.

However, there is a difference from simply being an idiot -- which you clearly are -- and thinking everyone who follows baseball is similarly unendowed with brain cells. And I have no choice but to believe that you must think just that, after your pathetic explanation for what was so clearly pine tar on your left hand during Game 2. That is the only possible justification I can gather for the, "It was some dirt" line you foisted on the sports media, and thusly the ESPN-watching world, after another retardedly lucky, scoreless, and pine-tar-aided (if only for an inning) outing against the Cardinals.

My anger is not reserved for your red ass alone, Kenny Rogers. While pissing last night at a sports bar -- and activity I'm increasingly becoming a fan of, as it routinely exposes me to the daily sports pages, which I would not likely read otherwise -- I read an AP recap on the game that referred to the substance on your hand as "dirt" the entire way through. Unfortunately, the quotation marks in this case are only being used by me; the writer did not use quotes -- a nifty way, I've found, of indicating either irony or the author's doubt about the correctness of the term -- which forces the reader to conclude that this "journalist" did some "reporting" at some point in the "story" that would bear out Rogers' "explanation" and justify the non-use of quotation marks when referring to the "dirt." And, perhaps, this likely earnest fellow (his byline was on the page not hung over my pisser ... and, who the fuck am I kidding? The term "earnest" and "AP writer" can't possibly related) for some reason actually believed Rogers lame explanation, or somehow believed that the criteria for presenting information in sports recaps was somehow the same as the judicial burden of proof. If that's what he actually thinks, he should be fired, because there is nothing in the AP Sports Style Guide that refers to the presumption of innocence, or the outright regugitation of horseshit excuses that often come out of athletes' mouths.

Mind you, our erstwhile AP scribe is not alone in his guilt. Many of the reports have referred to the substance as dirt. This is in-fucking-sane. If you have seen or played in more than five baseball games in your life, you know what pine tar looks like. Stop condescending to me and state the obvious, Karl Ravech: "Boy, viewers, I have got to say that looks a hell of a lot like pine tar! And that does not look like dirt, not even a little." And then kick it over to Steve Phillips, who will tell us that he once signed a pitcher from the Dominican who used pine tar on his hands. Steve will fail to mention he signed said Dominican kid $10 million more than any other team was willing to offer. And then they'll send it to everyone's favorite androgynous sports journalist Tim Kurkjian, who will offer us another homoerotic anecdote regarding the relationship between Leyland and LaRussa, which is notable both for it's alliteration and it's ability to give me the creeps the more I hear about it.

But, first and foremost, fuck you Kenny Rogers.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Respect Deez

I've got a confession to make: I love the chats. Often, it is because I relish the opportunity to witness Joe Morgan, Steve Phillips and other idiots say idiotic things. However, I read the Neyer chats in earnest, because I think he's the only reasonably sound baseball mind on the ESPN staff (Buster still writes about baseball like he's a seven-year-old who listens to Yankees games on a transistor radio in his Mickey Mantle pjs; Stark is a stat guy in name only, Kurkjian is an absolute non-entity and Gary Gillette is, well, scary) and his chats are usually pretty funny.

But I find, these days, that even the Neyer chats are making me enraged. Not because Neyer's saying anything particularly stupid -- even if I think he's wrong, he at least offers a legitimate reason or two for whatever he's saying, unlike certain former-MVPs who simply say "they can't discuss baseball with people who never played baseball" -- but because a good half of the chat goes something like this:

Diesel (Phoenix): Who is the best hitter in baseball right now?

Rob Neyer: I think Travis Hafner is the best hitter in baseball.

(Two minutes later)

Mutter (Jail): How the fuck can you say Hafner is the best hitter in baseball?!?!? Is it because you're a fucking Cleveland Indians homer? Obvs, Ortiz is the best hitter in baseball! The media never gives the Red Sox any respect! I will piss in your fireplace now!

Rob Neyer: Hey, Ortiz is awesome. So are lots of hitters. But if I had to choose one, it's Hafner, because he's better at [fill in statistics here that give creedence to Neyer's opinion, which are plentiful in this case]. But it's not like the difference between Hafner and Ortiz is all that big.

(One minute later)

Junge (Shea Stadium bathroom): Yor an iduit Neyer! Show some love to the Mets, who you never talk about, because you only like the Yankees and will only say good things about them! David Wright is way the best hitter ever, and he's awesome third base! I'm tired of the media never respecting the Mets.

Rob Neyer: I am a Kansas City Royals fan. I own a shirt that says, "Jesus Hates the Yankees." I routinely mock the adoration of Derek Jeter in my chats. I wasn't even talking about the Yankees; Hafner plays for the Indians. You are retarded.

(30 seconds later)

Anonymous (San Diego, b/w/o Tucson): Why don't you respect the Padres? Brian Giles is the best hitter in baseball, natch! Stop with the East Coast bias, dude!

Rob Neyer: (speechless)

(10 seconds later)

St (Claims to be from Philly, really from Tombstone): Your obvious oversight of Ryan Howard as the best hitter in baseball is not only an example of your glaring lack of respect for all Philadelphia teams, but also a product of the particular paradigm through which you view race in America, as a product of the insular, isolationist and anglo-centric sportswriting culture, through which you are incapable of appreciating the talents of a large, black man who you most likely fear wishes to have sex with your white daughter. Also, all sports writers suck because they don't write like Susan Sontag.

Buzzmaster: Sorry folks! Rob just decided to off himself by sticking his head into an oven! Next up is Scoop Jackson at 3 p.m. EST!

OK, I realize I got a little off track here, but the point is that it seems all these chats are anymore is an opportunity for fans to claim their particular favorite team/player/cheerleading squad doesn't get any "respect" or "love" from the media. And it drives me fucking crazy. Fans from St. Louis, who should be enjoying one of the most improbable World Series runs in recent memory, have spent the last two weeks completely bent out of shape because no one gave the Cardinals -- who almost suffered a late-season collapse nonpareil -- enough "credit" against the Padres and the Mets. Who gives a shit? Doesn't it make it more satisfying if your team beats the odds? But these people act like they're mortally wounded if Jayson Stark doesn't give their team "equal time" in the Useless Statistics column.

I realize I'm not really going out on a limb with any of this, but I felt the need to get it off my chest.