Yankee fans, get out your worry beads. We've been saying it all winter; the Yankee FA additions are terrific, but the team may well live or die on the fragile shoulder of Jorge Posada.
Saturday, February 28th, 2009
Maybe the Dodgers will eventually sign Manny Ramirez on his terms (whatever those are). Maybe the Giants or some other team will swoop in and sign him. But it's hard to imagine Ramirez receiving any more than the $45 million, two-year deal he rejected this week, and if that's all he gets, consider this:
Friday, February 27th, 2009
Our good friend Tim Einenkel over at Air America was nice enough to offer us this interview with Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus, known also to Yanks fans for his fine Pinstripe Bible and Blog columns on the YES network website.
Tim Einenkel: What are the positives and negatives regarding how the MLB and the player’s union have handled the steroid era?
Steven Goldman: The main positive, in terms of how the steroid era has been handled is that after a long period of ignoring the problem, baseball is doing what it can to get the PEDs out of the game. The problem is that they’ve handled the perception of what they’re doing poorly, in part by failing to manage the seemingly constant drip-drip of players being outed for offenses that predate the testing regime. Contrast that drumbeat, which may yet be augmented by the other players on the 2003 fail list with Alex Rodriguez, with the number of players who have failed a test in the NFL. You can’t, because the NFL doesn’t release that information.
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
It's another in a long line of awful days for journalism, and thereby this country, with the announcement today that tomorrow is the final issue of the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado's longest-running newspaper, Denver's longest-running business and one of the best newspapers in the country.
This is slightly personal for me. I spent a week there, covering for the Rocky the Democratic National Convention. It was personally and professionally one of the best weeks of my life. They did good work there, and the closure is a big blow for one of the nation's best cities.
On a baseball note, this seems to leave the fate of one of baseball's best writers, Tracy Ringolsby, up in the air. He wasn't one of those immediately picked up by the Denver Post, so it seems that, beginning tomorrow, he will join the dozens of other Rocky employees in searching for jobs in an industry that is collapsing all around them. All around us.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
It's the finale of Top Chef season 5, and we're here to watch. Will Crazy Carla pull it out? We're hoping. Stefan is the big challenge, but I suspect he has few fans out there. It looked for a moment that he might reproduce Hung's story-arc (hated to beloved and humbled, and clearly talented), but instead he continues to be an insecure prig, and now that he actually feels threatened by Carla, he's been retreating into his lumpy shell—our man Hung would never do that. Hosea's still hanging around, but the big lug just doesn't have the game, and all he worries about is besting Stefan. So we're pulling for the crazy lady. Big time. She impressed Jacques Pepin, and that's enough for us.
So the Sox' annual massacre of Boston College won't be on TV or radio (boo!) this afternoon, but tonight's match for the Mayor's Cup sure will. So use this spot to comment on any and all of the first live action since last October.
It's been a long four months. Let's hope the next six weeks go a little faster. Comment away!
Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
You may talk to Theo Epstein and discuss J.D. Drew's personality to see what makes him go inside, but there is a veil covering your understanding of the game which not the strongest mathematician, not even the united strength of all the sabermetricians that ever lived, could tear apart. Only OPS, OPS+, UZR, ERA+, Win Values can push aside that curtain and view and picture the objective data beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Dan, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.
Our pal Jay Jaffe, the Futility Infielder,recently got his relocated seat assignment at the new Yankee Stadium. Suffice it to say, he’s mad as hell and he’s (probably) not going to take it anymore.
The bottom line is that this is an outrage, a disgrace, a catastrophe on the level of Joe Torre summoning Jeff Weaver from the bullpen in Game Four, a Bambino rolling-in-his grave nightmare over the successor to the House that Ruth Built. A chorus four million fans strong should be shouting four- and twelve letter words at Yankee president Randy Levine and every incompetent front-office numbskull who played a role in this fiasco. A pox on the House that George Built.
We feel you, Double-J.
Over on the Banter, Cliff Corcoran aims his gimlet eye on the Yankee centerfield competition between Melky and Brett Gardner. Melky gives up 40 points in OBP; Gardner gives up 40 in slugging. Melky has a bigger (though dim) chance to improve into a complete hitter; Gardner's likely to get on base more often, be a bigger threat when he's on, and has better range on defense. Seems like Gardner is the logical choice, but I'm not entirely sanguine about his prospects, and the fact that Melky is out of options, and recently signed a $1.4m contract indicates he's going to get this job, unless Gardner really torches him in Spring Training.
Monday, February 23rd, 2009
Every so often, you'll read some jackass who has gone through Baseball-Reference, snarkily disproving an old-timer's fond remembrance of an event that probably didn't happen the way he told it. I love those guys.
Saito has no illusions of being the closer in Boston, and he knows one of his biggest challenges is adapting to a setup role he's not had before. When he came back from elbow issues last September, the Dodgers used him to close, but then he became a mop-up man.
"Just before the playoffs, and even after we clinched, I came in to close a few games," he said. "I think there were some difficulties in communication, but I had prepared to be a closer but I'd be brought into games and situations where it was 10-0 and I wouldn't perform really well. At the time, I don't know if I felt disappointed . . . but I moved beyond that, and if the team had advanced to the World Series I would have been ready to come back in."
Sunday, February 22nd, 2009
I'll give Slumdog Millionaire one thing. It was a lot more entertaining than other recent Oscar movies-of-the-year. But is it the apex of film-making this year? Of course not. Slumdog Millionaire winning the movie-of-the-year (and it's going to win it per Nate Silver. He's never wrong about these things) is a lot like Gerald Wilkins winning an NBA MVP. Okay, so Wilkins was never an MVP winner and was never in the running. But he had an aesthetically pleasing game that on closer inspection wasn't very good. Actually, it wasn't good at all. That's my take on Slumdog. I left the theater in an okay mood. Some of the audience had applauded the movie, which surprised me a bit. The movie's pacing was fast. There were a number of good M.I.A. videos throughout, and so I guess I could understand the general adrenaline pumping feeling that circulated throughout the theater. But I've thought about it some more, and the movie is just not that good. The character of the brother, for instance, is not based on a human being. One second, he's a saint; the next, depending on the needs of the plot, he's pure evil. What's up with that?
But it will win the movie of the year and this year I won't throw something at the screen. That's mainly because it is better than the utter atrocities that were Million Dollar Baby and Crash. The bar is very low for Best Movies. Slumdog hurdles over it very comfortably.
I haven't seen the Wrestler but I am rooting for Mickey Rourke to win mainly for his speech. I assume he'll say some wacky things, maybe throw the statuette at some producer he's long reviled, and go full method and perform a Ric Flair Figure Four Leg Lock on Sean Penn.
This is your thread for the Oscars. Feel free to talk about the year in movies and the winners here.
Saturday, February 21st, 2009
David Ortiz made some waves this spring by advocating again for the acquisition of a big bat to hit behind him in the lineup — under the theory that without a Manny Ramirez-esque bat protecting him, he will receive no pitches to hit.