Up for the last few innings of this one. Thoughts:
-K. Brown: 1 win, 7 innings, 6 hits, 5 ks, 75 pitches.
-Nice to see Donnie Baseball back in the dugout.
-Why were the fellas in pinstripes if the D-Rays were today’s “home” team?
Wednesday, March 31st, 2004
Tuesday, March 30th, 2004
Caught a bit of this morning’s debacle on YES rewind, and here are some thoughts:
-Playing in Tokyo is one thing, but was it really necessary for the Yanks (not to mention the Rays) to debase themselves by pimping a Japanese electronics outfit with a giant shoulder patch on their unis and a massive logo on their batting helmets?
-In the booth, Joe Girardi is a great addition, though SF might find he has Jerry Remy Syndrome (first class analysis, third class voice).
-Quantrill looks like a nice addition.
-Nice to see Tino Martinez back in the AL. We wish him well (but not THAT well).
-KLo still has wheels.
Average ticket price, Fenway Park: $40.77 (rank: 1)
Average ticket price, Yankee Stadium: $24.86 (rank: 4)
Major League Average: $19.82
Best Deal: Florida, $12.78
Worst Deal: Detroit, $20.43
Nice to see the Sox finally in first place.
*Figures according to Team Marketing Report:
Monday, March 29th, 2004
1. When will Gary Sheffield stop talking to the press?
2. When will Pedro officially break off all contract discussions with the BoSox?
3. When will the NY Post run a back page headline of “No Ken Do: Lofton Packs it In”
4. Who will be the first Yankee to inspire a painful “it is high, it is far…” rant from Mr. Stirling?
4a. How many games until Mr. Stirling does his best Daniel Day-Lewis as Christy Brown call indicating a Yankees win?
5. When will Trot Nixon not have to answer questions about his back?
6. How long until Kevin Brown chews out a teammate in public?
7. How long until a superstar is really outed in a steroid scandal?
8. Who will Carlos Beltran be playing for in August?
9. Who will Jose Vidro be playing for in late April?
10. Will Bud Selig step down some time soon after the November presidential election?
So when it comes down to it, and you look over those predictions, these seem to be the key questions:
-Will Boston finally get past NY?
-Who wins the weak AL Central?
-Who wins the 3-way AL West race?
-Which 2 miss the playoffs: NY, Bos, Oak, Sea, Cal?
-Can the Phillies overtake Atlanta?
-Chicago or Houston in the Central?
-Who misses the playoffs: Chi, Hou, Phi, Atl?
We all know George wants a bigger name at second. Could Woody Allen be the answer? The director tells the Daily News:
“[In] my neighborhood in Brooklyn, they all thought I was going to play for the Yankees. Like many small players, I was a second baseman, and I could really murder left-handed pitching. Who knows, maybe I could have made it. At the end of it all, I really wish I had ended up playing baseball.”
News today that Torre is dropping Kenny Lofton to the 9 slot after his poor spring performance, and that Mr. Lofton (“I am a leadoff hitter. That’s all I can say”) is not at all pleased by this prospect. So what will the Yankee line up be? Jeter, Matsui, A-Rod, Giambi, Sheffield, Posada, Sierra, Wilson, Lofton? We like Giambi, the lefty, sandwiched between A-Rod and Sheff. But he might even be better, given that OBP, in the 3 slot. As it stands, the Yanks have a lot of strikeouts at the top of the order.
He’s no Karnak Dept: The NY Post’s George King predicts a 115 win season for the Yankees in the tabloid’s baseball preview today. Elsewhere, a more rational Kevin Kernan picks the Sox as AL East division winners. So much for hometown boosterism….
Sunday, March 28th, 2004
1. Sox (what would a cliche be without hope springing eternal…)
5. Tampa Bay
3. Kansas City
4. New York
3. St. Louis
1. San Francisco
2. Los Angeles
5. San Diego
AL MVP: Schilling
AL CY: Schilling
AL ROY: Mauer
AL Manager: Scoscia
NL MVP: Pujols
NL CY: Oswalt
NL ROY: Edwin Jackson
NL Manager: Dusty Baker
AL Wild Card: Yanks
NL Wild Card: Houston
AL Champ: Sox
NL Champ: Astros
World Champ: Sox (Who says us Sox fans are doomsayers!?)
1. Not one of Gordon’s best , but still worth a look, if just for the nugget at the end giving us a taste of Bobby Valentine’s egomania. Only in V’s world is a club executive asking him his opinion of a single managerial move a “job interview”.
2. The Herald and Tony Massarotti actually show up this weekend. Again, not earth-shattering journalism, but entertaining, and the juiciest piece, as in the Globe, is near the end, detailing a very funny prediction by The Sporting News.
3. Non-Boston, but Jack Curry of the New York Times does a nice job here on a story about Tuffy Rhodes in Japan.
4. Once again, the booby prize goes to my man Chass for a ridiculously uninformative column about the NL Central’s pitching wars. No conviction, just a bunch of interviews and simplistic speculation. Even the article’s title is amateur hour. A good question would be why I even bother with his stuff…
Saturday, March 27th, 2004
Hope springs eternal, but this spring baseball fans have a lot more reason for hope than is usual. After an off-season of controversy and ugliness, much still unresolved, MLB’s regular season is about to begin, and its shaping up to be one of the great seasons in the game’s history. Will it be? That remains to be seen, but here are a few reasons why this campaign might just be the best ever:
-Tight races: it’s hard to think of another year with so many teams coming into the season with reasonable expectations of making the playoffs. In the AL, there’s NY, Bos, Min, Chi, KC, Oak, Ana, and Sea. In the NL, Atl, Fla, Phi, Hou, Chi, Stl, SF. All told that’s 16 teams going for 8 slots. With the unbalanced schedules, the divisional races are likely to be down to the wire affairs. Consider this: 30 years ago, of the 14 AL teams, only 2 finished within 10 games of the division winners. There’s a lot more excitement to go around these days.
-Below the elite level there are plenty of solid teams. Looking across the MLB spectrum there are only a few doormats in all of MLB. So the average level of competition is relatively high.
-Lots of talent. There are a lot of wonderful players out there. Almost every team has at least one or two who are worth the price of admission. (Why? How about the infusion of foreign, and especially Latin, talent; better–okay, sometimes illegal–training methods; better use of intelligence). And let’s remember that baseball is an entertainment business. This year, with so many good teams and good players, there’s a lot of entertainment to be had.
Okay, now for some predictions:
AL East: NY, Bos, Tor, Bal, TB.
It’s been this way for years, and as a recent study in SABR’s Baseball Research Journal suggested, you’re probably better off taking last year’s final standings as your guide for how teams will finish than going off on your own. So I’ll keep my Yanks in front, even though logic suggests that the Sox’s improved pitching (Schilling, Foulke) and defense (Pokey) will more than make up for any loss of offense, and propel them ahead of the Bombers. Toronto and Baltimore are both fine teams (that Baltimore pitching staff remains a bit dicey, however) on the rise. Tampa Bay has some exciting players (too bad none of them can pitch). Records in this division may not reach last year’s levels due to the depth of quality competition and the unbalanced schedule.
AL Central: Min, Chi, KC, Cle, Det
Despite the various losses (esp. to the bullpen), Minnesota remains my favorite here. Chicago has 2 fine starters but it’s trouble after Loaiza and Buerhle–the Ordonez ax-watch begins now. With its starting staff, KC is going to find it hard to repeat last year’s near miracle. Cleveland will be fun to watch with all of those kiddies, and Det should definitely be improved, but that’s not saying too much.
AL West: Oak, Sea, Ana, Tex
The demise of the A’s is a fantasy, though serious injury to one of the big 3 will knock them out of the running. Seattle has nice depth everywhere. Anaheim, while much improved, finished 19 games back last year. That’s A LOT of ground to recover in a division with the best pitching staff in the AL. Texas? Forget it.
NL East: Atl, Phi, Fla, NY, Mon
Philadelphia is the odds-on favorite to win a division in which they finished 15 games behind winner Atlanta and 5 back of the defending world champs. They do look good on paper, but, as with Anaheim, that’s a lot of ground to make-up, and Atlanta isn’t just going to fold. The Mets are improved. Montreal is one of the few teams that is clearly falling back.
NL Central: Chi, Hou, Stl, Cin, Pit, Mil
Which staff can stay healthy? That will be the determinant here. And if any team with Albert Pujols, Mike Morris, and Woody Williams, can be said to be a sleeper, St Louis is it. A healthier Reds may leapfrog the Bucs, but their advance will stop at 4th. Milwaukee? They raised concession prices. Enough said.
NL West: SF, Arz, LA, Col, SD
The Giants remain the class of this division. Arizona, with a recharged Big Unit, looks like it might jump the Dodgers, who lost Kevin Brown and still can’t hit. Colorado can hit plenty, but pitching is a problem. San Diego is a wild card, but with David Wells and Sterling Hitchcock in the rotation, the people at Tylenol are going to love this team.
So, to recap:
AL East: NYY
AL Central: Min
AL West: Oak
NL East: Atl
NL Central: Chi
NL West: SF
Best team not in the playoffs: Phi
AL MVP: Delgado
NL MVP: Pujols
AL CY: Martinez
NL CY: Prior
AL Rookie: Mauer, Min (Darkhorse: Crosby, Oak)
NL Rookie: Matsui, NYM (Darkhorse: LaRoche, Atl)
AL Man: Francona
NL Man: Alou
Friday, March 26th, 2004
1. Interesting article here at Baseball Prospectus (subscription required), contending that Eric Chavez isn’t even worth what the A’s have just agreed to pay him. Particularly interesting is a section on Chavez’ performance against lefties, which is truly abysmal. Joe Sheehan, in the article, contends that Chavez, without improvement, really doesn’t deserve to play against such lefties, that at current levels he’s really a platoon player. It’s a radical thought, that a player conventionally accepted to be a star on the rise, an $11m per year player at that, wouldn’t be qualified to play full-time.
2. I was thinking about my impression of switch-hitters. I have, in my head, this image of a player (I think it might be Carl Everett, which may explain where I am going with this) who can hit pretty solidly from one side of the plate, but really really stinks from the other. I have historically wondered why that player doesn’t stick to one side of the plate, and just get better, say, at hitting lefties while hitting lefty. Heck, if they can hit .300 against righties when batting lefty but turn around to bat righty against lefty but only barely crack .250 then why not work in the cage, in the offseason, on the lefty/lefty matchup? But then I started looking at last year’s switch hitters in the AL and NL, and noticed that almost all of them are remarkably consistent. From Posada to Chipper Jones to Carlos Beltran (and even Carl Everett!) the differential from one side of the plate to the other was much smaller than I thought it would be. My bias against the weak-from-one-side switch hitter, at least last year, was unfounded. More statistical searching to come, as I want to know why I have this bias.
3. John Stirling is a mediocrity, really, not a good announcer at all. Lucky him, he’s got a big-time radio voice to make up for what he lacks in baseball smarts.
4. Jerry Remy is a highly underrated announcer. Problem is, he’s got a brain for a national TV audience but the voice for local cable.
5. Saw the Yankees landed safely in Tokyo. Another birthday wish down the toilet.
6. Yearly predictions tomorrow – time to make an even bigger ass of myself!
Here’s a little torture contest for us Sox fans.
My title suggestions:
“One and Done: The Story of Aaron Boone and the 2003 Red Sox”
[EDIT: Jeez, check out the (horrible) options that fans have to vote for:
Another Season: The Boston Red Sox Movie
Fenway Blues: The Boston Red Sox Movie
Red Sox Blues: The Boston Red Sox Movie
This is the Year: The Boston Red Sox Movie
I just want to point out that if last year was the year, then what the hell do I have to look forward to this year?]
Sunday, March 21st, 2004
Hey, I love Curt Schilling. I love his openness, his candor. But Curt seems to be trafficking in urban myths, as far as I can tell. Not that his “friend” hadn’t eated a TON of poppy seed bagels, but I think there was a Seinfeld episode about this. It sure would have been funny if Curt had said his friend had eaten an “assload of hamentaschen”, though…
From today’s Globe:
Schilling is militant on the subject of privacy safeguards for drug testing, as well as the inherent risks of a procedure that could prove ruinous to a player’s career, even if the test proved to be a false positive.
“I have a friend who is younger and not in baseball,” Schilling said, “who worked at a company that had drug testing for its employees, and he failed, because his test showed traces of cocaine. If you knew this guy, you knew that couldn’t be true, but this guy was let go. Eight months later, it turns out that this guy had eaten a lot of bagels with poppy seeds, and because of some kind of chemical reaction his tests gave a false reading. But by then, eight months of his life was gone.”
A quick internet search reveals the following:
Poppy seeds, usually on breads, contain traces of morphine, and lead to positives for opiates. According to Dr. Grow, eating a pastry filled with poppy seeds will bring results showing that you are a *high level* opiate user. Harold Crossley, a nationally known chemical dependency expert, said you would have to eat 100 poppy seed bagels to score a positive on a drug test. When taken into account that very few poppy seeds are sprinkled on bagels, you can see that poppy seeds from a hundred poppy seed bagels will easily fill a single large pastry. Purim cookies, a Jewish food known as Hamantashen, may have five to six tablespoons of poppy seeds. A couple Purim cookies may cause a positive test. Poppy seeds can be distinguished from illicit drugs on the GC/MS test. Although poppy seeds have the same metabolites as opium, these metabolites are shown to have different patterns when viewed with the GC/MS.
Friday, March 19th, 2004