I Was So Ugly, My Mother Used to Feed Me With a Slingshot


So I’m a bit late with this, but that’s owing to a weekend in the sticks with no computer.  You’ve gotta love the latest (April 14th) ESPN "Power Rankings", which place the tip-top Bosox below the cellar-dwelling Yankees.  Our favorite moment comes in the editorial comments, where the staff says that "despite beating up on the lowly Royals", the Yanks are still "vulnerable", while the best they can do to tear down the team with the best 1-2 starters in all of baseball is to mention that David Wells may not be around too soon.  The Sox aren’t even the 2nd best team in the East, according to these clowns, with the Jays taking the number 2 spot, even without their ace or #2 starter healthy.


40 comments… add one
  • the date is the context. Hadn’t the Jays just taken the series from the Sox? And the Yanks were slaughtering the Royals. It’s not so offensively disrespectful.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 7:40 pm
  • ESPN sucks. The fact that they’d pick the yankees over the Sox is a point for the Sox as far as I’m concerned.

    mattymatty April 17, 2006, 7:49 pm
  • Maybe so, Nick, but it’s not a “you’re only as good as your last game” ranking, right? I mean, the Sox were throwing Schilling and Beckett two of the next three games, so one could reasonably assume that the Sox had a very good chance of going to 8-4 (which they did). And the Jays, even beating the Sox in that series (they beat the #4 and #5 starters), are still without Halladay and Burnett hadn’t even made a start. So in the overall context of the season their rankings made little sense. They showed nothing BUT disrespect for the Red Sox, considering the context – it was effectively dismissing their first place position.

    SF April 17, 2006, 7:53 pm
  • I have watched or followed most of the games the Sox and Yanks have played, but haven’t been tracking the Jays as tightly. Maybe it’s time to start taking them seriously again. I think you could juggle positions four through seven on that list without hearing much complaint except from fans of the team that ends up demoted.
    The rankings must be largely stat-based. I don’t think these numbers include today’s games. For your perusal:
    Stat – (Rank in MLB)
    BOS Avg: .259 (22)
    NYY Avg: .301 (4)
    BOS Runs: 53 (25)
    NYY Runs: 80 (1)
    BOS HR: 9 (27)
    NYY HR: 19 (6)
    BOS OBP: .358 (7)
    NYY OBP: .385 (1)
    BOS SLG: .405 (23)
    NYY SLG: .502 (6)
    BOS ERA: .387 (6)
    NYY ERA: .384 (4)
    BOS BB: 27 (2)
    NYY BB: 32 (7)
    BOS WHIP: .127 (4)
    NYY WHIP: .136 (11)

    Anonymous April 17, 2006, 8:06 pm
  • Sorry.. the previous post was from me. I don’t post anonymously on purpose.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2006, 8:07 pm
  • Yeah, well, the Yankee offense may be better than the Sox, especially with Manny slumping and Coco and Trot out, but the Sox have better pitching numbers, and a surer staff, except for Wells. It really just kind of pisses me off, even though I know we have a better team.

    Laura April 17, 2006, 8:29 pm
  • because ESPN has a long history of being disrepectful toward the Sox?! This again doesn’t strike me as the most unreasonable of rankings, given the date. For instance, as of this morning, BP had the Yanks two games better than the Sox according to their adjusted standings. And, Toronto and Boston with essentially the same record. It’s statistically-based, and is heavily dependent on run differential, and of course, it’s by no means a perfect indicator of how good these teams are, but I wouldn’t classify BP as being filled with anti-Sox hacks.Still, you’re right, these Sox (you know, the ones that are squeaking by the Mariners and O’s) deserve to be considered #1 or 2.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 8:42 pm
  • Ah, those “adjusted standings”, which unfortunately aren’t in any legitimate newspaper, or, uh, part of any reality by which playoff positioning is determined. The problem with your case Nick is that ESPN’s “rankings” don’t pretend to be Pythagorean, or any other pseudogeometrical nonsense. Their “editorial” comments betray their simple subjectivity and lack of expertise, their inherent uselessness. It’s no big deal, and it doesn’t particularly bother me. Being in last place in the ACTUAL standings would bother me.

    SF April 17, 2006, 8:48 pm
  • I understand your frustration Laura. That’s my point. The Yankees offensive stats are spectacular but largely the result of blowout games. I’ve watched the games, and in the close ones, the Yankees have had difficulty producing.
    The Sox offense is statistcally pedestrian, but their pitching and ability to capitalize on the situation like today shows them to be in the game as long as it is close. The Sox own the ONLY ranking that matters: standings.
    I am not as convinced that the Yankees pitching is as horrible and fragile as many would want me to believe. It is old, expensive, and mercenary, but their numbers look decent and their starters have had some solid outings. However, I will need a few 2 or 1 run starts in close games to gain confidence in the NYY staff.
    They could invert the 4-7 ranking on that “Power” chart and I wouldn’t complain. As a matter of fact, put the Yankees 30th on that chart. I don’t want a “power ranking”. I only ranking I care about is that NY is .500 and 2.5 games out of first.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2006, 8:50 pm
  • ah, being in actual last place after 14 games does not worry me, especially considering how close everyone is at this point. I’ll let you gloat over a nice start against weak competition (the schedule’s a part of the thing in my humble opinion).
    I think we can both agree that ESPN is not offering the most detailed and thought-out analysis. And we can also agree that these ranking systems mean jack sh*t. Where we disagree is your assertion that the Sox are being disrespected by ESPN scribes. They’re not impressed by the 1 run wins against the O’s, Rangers, and the problems the Sox had with Ted Lilly and company. They’re calling like they see it. But, I don’t think it’s ridiculous for them not to have bought into the Sox just yet.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 8:57 pm
  • Yes, Nick, these rankings systems are ridiculous. What I find funny is when people cite things like the Pythagorean wins stat, and then use it to say something like “based on their runs scored/runs allowed, the Eaglehawks should have won 94 games last year”, even though the Eaglehawks may have actually won 68 games. It’s moments like those that make me think all the Baseball Prospectus gearheads in the world couldn’t figure out how to open a door with no lock.

    SF April 17, 2006, 9:01 pm
  • Nick: with someone like you the Sox are clearly in a no-win situation (not unsurprisingly). If they do great (which in the context of no Coco and no Trot they have), then they are beating up on weaklings. If they had done poorly, you would have used that against them as well. Seems like you’re predisposed to not give the Sox credit for much of anything. Correct me if I am wrong, since you tend to be one of the most objective Yankees fans I know. Or as objective as you can be as a Yankees fan, I should say.

    SF April 17, 2006, 9:06 pm
  • And one more thing (!). If beating up on the lowly devalues a team’s record, as you seem to indicate it does with the Red Sox, then where does that leave the Yankees, Nick?

    SF April 17, 2006, 9:23 pm
  • a few things.
    I think it’s very hard for me to draw definitive conclusions about the actual quality of the Yanks or the Sox from these first two weeks. All I have are impressions, and half-formed impressions they are. For me, part of that has been my inability to actually watch the Sox play (following the game thread and Sox fans reactions was the only window I had into today’s game, for instance) at all, and only getting to see the Yanks play 4 of their games. And another part is the schedule. The Yanks have lost series that probably favored the other team (if we are to follow pre-season predicted favorites as a guide). Meanwhile, the Sox have played and won close games against weak teams, and have lost their only series against a “decent” team (again, following pre-season predicted favorites as a guide).
    What I can gather from the Yanks’ start is that they have a very strong offense, the pitching has been strong at the top, mediocre in the middle (Wang’s last start was encouraging however), and mixed in the bullpen. Torre’######### poorly, and the Yanks have had a tough time winning close ones (is this a persistent trait? I’m not so sure). Overall, I’m encouraged. I’m guessing some of these 1 run games will go their way as the season goes on, and the offense will continue to be dominant.
    The Sox, meanwhile, are completely different from last year’s and 2004’s championship version (and I gave 2004’s team much respect even before the disaster of that fall). It’s a team built seemingly on preventing runs, and, thus far, it looks as if it’s following that design. Schilling has been spectacular. Beckett has been strong (although the k-rate is oddly low for him, and he seems to be gutting it out more than dominating hitters at this point). The Sox offense is surprisingly weaker than I’d thought it would be so far. And, so, low scoring and close games that have been the result. The fact that they’ve won a number of close games, well, is that a persistent trait? Or, will the bullpen eventually start coughing up games? Will Texas third base coaches make smarter decisions in the future? It’s possible (and maybe even likely) that the Sox are especially well-structured for winning close games as the ChiSox were last year. Or it’s possible they’re not. At the same time, the Sox haven’t played world-beaters, and, truth be told, it seems to me that schedule does, in fact, matter. The fact that the Sox have not overwhelmed these opponents seems to me possible red flag about their future performance against the A’s, Angels and other superior teams they have yet to face.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 10:07 pm
  • I agree that at this early point in the season, Schill and Beckett look like the best 1-2.
    One should remember that a lot has gone right for the Sox so far. They’ve won 5 one run games that could have went either way, while the Yanks have lost 3 one run games and a couple of other close ones. Things have breaking well for the Sox, not so well for the Yanks. What goes around comes around, especially in a 162 game season.
    And the result of this so far? Sox have a 2.5 game lead. Don’t get too crazy just yet Sox fans.

    whatever April 17, 2006, 10:07 pm
  • Nick: The Yankees have played 3 games against the Royals, the Sox have played 0 games against the Royals. Half of New York’s wins are against the worst team in baseball. And you have the audacity to say the Sox have had it easier? LOL.

    Sox: First place
    Yanks: Last place

    That’s the full tale of the tape to date, no matter how you want to slice and dice statistics.

    Hudson April 17, 2006, 10:14 pm
  • Because Hudson bolded that line, I now see the truth. I wish you could color code it in the future, maybe make it shake up and down.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 10:20 pm
  • Unbelievable. Bragging on April 17 that were in first and your in last when there’s all of a 2.5 game difference.

    whatever April 17, 2006, 10:23 pm
  • Here’s a stat from your hometown paper (the New York Times).
    [The Yankees win] only when they pound the ball (they have scored at least nine runs in their six victories) and lose when they do not (0-6 when scoring five or fewer runs).
    In other words, The Bombers are just that — an imbalanced, all-or-nothing team.
    The Sox by contrast are playing tough, gutsy baseball, winning close games on pitching, defense and heart while their roster has been missing a number of key guys.

    Hudson April 17, 2006, 10:24 pm
  • SF: you need to relax, and you need to take it easy on team BP. First of all, try not to get so excited about the “front running” Sox and the “cellar-dwelling Yanks.” We’re not even 14 games in, and the separation (2.5 games) could well be a lot smaller if not for a few hops here or there. The Yanks have played 9 road games, all against quality opposition. The Sox are doing well, but we’re at such a small sample size that, honestly, it’s basically meaningless. (Or maybe you expect Chris Shelton to hit 432 home runs this year?) So it’s not surprising that ESPN’s dopey power rankings might not have slipped that far from week 1, when I’m guessing the Yanks were ahead of the Sox (and let’s keep in mind that most scribes–gearhead variety and not–had picked them to win the division). Anyhow, dumb power projections are dumb power projections.

    YF April 17, 2006, 10:28 pm
  • Attack Gerbil,
    Here is a stat for you:
    Boston 9 4 .692 –
    Baltimore 8 6 .571 1.5
    Tampa Bay 7 6 .538 2.0
    NY Yankees 6 6 .500 2.5
    Toronto 6 6 .500 2.5
    Can u read ??????? NYY playing 500 ball and is currently tied for last place with Toronto.

    Sox Fan April 17, 2006, 10:28 pm
  • Hudson, you’re right. I don’t even know why they’re playing the rest of this season out. Just give the Sox their World Championship and call it a year. This year’s Yanks have horrible pitching, no bullpen, and a bunch of over-rated steroid abusers. The Sox, meanwhile, have been playing their hearts out and willing themselves to victory when the world is seemingly against them (as per usual). They clearly have the best pitching staff (one that puts Chicago’s last year to shame I might add) as well as a lineup that can consistently score even against the best pitching in the league (and has proved that it can do so). That is all.

    RichYF April 17, 2006, 10:32 pm
  • Hudson: So far the Yanks have wins against the As, Angels, KC, and Minnesota. If they’ve lost 3 of those 4 series, well, the series were all close. In Minnesota, but for a few hops they take 2-3. So the whole they-only-win-blowouts is kind of ridiculous; they lost a 1-run lead in the 9th to the Twins with Mariano on the hill. How often do you expect that to happen? Beware small sample size.

    YF April 17, 2006, 10:34 pm
  • Rich YF
    “This year’s Yanks have horrible pitching, no bullpen, and a bunch of over-rated steroid abusers”
    That is about the most accurate thing you have posted. You did however forget, over-paid & inflated salaries. Oh and Cano is definately on ROIDZ.

    Anonymous April 17, 2006, 10:42 pm
  • “Sox Fan”, i dunno mebbe i kan n mebbe i kant??????
    Seriously though, if you truly read and digested my first post and the other post I sent in response to Laura, you may have perceived that I clearly devalue the Power Rankings and said the only stat I thought to be truly valid was standings. The stats were quoted to illustrate my guess as to why ESPN pundits may author such an argument for respective ranks, an argument with which I vocally disagreed.
    However, based on your rhetorical question regarding my literacy, I spose dat mebbe i dint tipe wot i thot i did, dadgummit. Ize just a stoopid yankfanboy.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2006, 10:49 pm
  • Going to ESPN for thoughtful, intelligent discourse on baseball is kind of like tuning into Court Tv for thoughtful, intelligent discourse on criminal justice. It seems like that it should be there, but it never is. (Okay, okay, I’ll give you Rob Neyer and Peter Gammons but they’re stuck as devil’s advocates in a world of Kruks and Reynolds’s and Phillips’s.)

    Hunter April 17, 2006, 10:58 pm
  • Stoopid Yankfanboy,
    JD must be rubbing off on Yankee fans…..what an idiot you are!
    No pitching & shabby defense = No Chance

    Sox Fan April 17, 2006, 10:59 pm
  • Yeah, I’ll grant that Yankee fans are more familiar with “small sample sizes” than Boston fans. ;^)
    Back to reality: Sure it’s only a 2.5 game lead. But extend the current winning percentage out another 13 games, and then another, and at some point you’ll have to concede.
    The reality is that the Sox keep winning their close games (and this is a longstanding trend for the team), while the Yankees can only win in blow-outs. KC lost 9-0 again tonight; take them out of your stats, and what do you have?
    Fact remains that Boston is in first, and that’s a better place to be than last place after any number of games.

    Hudson April 17, 2006, 11:03 pm
  • There are many reasons to devalue the Power Rankings that have been pointed out with eloquence and insight, as well as the latest from the luminous intelligence that is “Sox Fan.”
    I think the thing that annoys me the most about the structure of the Power Rankings is the fact that it ignores division structure which ends up seven teams out of the top eight, out of which only four, at best, could end up in the playoffs.
    Meh. This “ranking” serves one purpose: to troll fans into ranting about their team not getting their propers.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2006, 11:10 pm
  • “Back to reality: Sure it’s only a 2.5 game lead. But extend the current winning percentage out another 13 games, and then another, and at some point you’ll have to concede.”
    So, the season’s going to be a sequence of 12 13-game series in which the Sox play the O’######’s, Jays (at home) and Rangers (away), and the Yanks play the Angels, A’s, Twins (on the road), and Royals (at home). You’re right! The Sox are going to win the division by 60 games! Reality has never been so clear.

    NickYF April 17, 2006, 11:20 pm
  • Hudson, I agree with you that first is better than not first. I disagree that you can extend the current winning percentage for any team over a current season and consider it a reasonable projection. Do you really think Boston is going to win 112 games this year?
    You say that winning close games is a long-standing trend for the Red Sox. I don’t know if that is true or not. I would be interested in seeing numbers to that effect, but I know what I _feel_ watching Sox game this year. When it’s tight, I have confidence that the Sox can score the runs needed. Does that bear out historically? I don’t know, but it makes it intersting to watch.

    attackgerbil April 17, 2006, 11:26 pm
  • Yowzer. My simple point was what YF pointed out quite simply amidst another clumsy and ineloquent attack on yours truly:
    “dopey power rankings”
    But then that three word post wouldn’t have gotten 32 comments and riled thin-skinned Yankees fans about their team’s insanely difficult schedule that has supposedly masked how absolutely frigging great their team is.
    And PS, YF: I didn’t attack BP, I only cited an hypothetical instance where those who rely on oft-enlightening stats in an unenlightening context to help explain away a reality they can’t fathom. There is no disrespect shown to BP as an organization, but rather BP-types, if you read my post a bit more closely.

    SF April 18, 2006, 12:26 am
  • I don’t think the Red Sox are going to be able to keep winning one run games the whole year. If they do they’ll be as flukey as the White Sox were last year (thats right, I said FLUKE!). To keep winning Boston will have to start scoring some more. Also, the Yankees schedule has been much more difficult overall than Boston’s which undoubtedly has influenced their record negatively.
    That said, a win is a win. You don’t get extra credit for beating a tougher team in the standings either at home or on the road. If you did the Red Sox would have won the AL East outright last year. In time the Sox will have to make that same trek to Anaheim and Oakland, and it definitely won’t be easy. The Yankees will also get Seattle and Toronto at home.
    I’d like to close with these words you should all remember: ESPN sucks. Real bad.

    mattymatty April 18, 2006, 12:33 am
  • And jeez, if YF, who knows me quite well, thinks that the “cellar-dwelling Yankees” comment isn’t presented with just a bit of good-humored antagonism (a la his David Ortiz unclutch posts), then I fear for his sense of humor. Someone toss it a life jacket.

    SF April 18, 2006, 12:33 am
  • And here’s SF, like clockwork, with the “I was just joking!” back-pedalling. Hudson, you’re right. First place is better than last place at any time of the year. That said, your comments are consistantly of shockingly low value. You’re a ridiculous fanboy with 0 perspective.
    SF, pythagorean wins/losses are a really useful tool, I can’t believe how obtuse you are in dismissing the stat! They tell a lot about the current state of the AL East, namely that the Sox have been more efficient in getting runs in, and the Yankees have had a little bad luck. Pythag win expectancy also indicatest that the Sox suck on general principles and that you are a knave and a clumsy rhetorician. You just have to know how to interpret it.

    shmed shmox April 18, 2006, 3:11 am
  • …and a preemptive screw off to everyone for making fun of my myriad typos!

    shmed shmox April 18, 2006, 3:12 am
  • I am not dismissing Pythagorean wins. I am dismissing selective use of it (or stats like it) when it shows something you wish to be true, as opposed to what is true. Just like YF, you miss my point. And perhaps my point wasn’t made well enough, but I am not backpedaling nor “just joking”, either.

    SF April 18, 2006, 6:22 am
  • Let’s try to have a little perspective. After all, it’s still April.
    The Sox are winning close games. Which is a nice quality, but its not self-sustainable in the long term. I’ve said it consistently, they are leaving too many on base particularly with RISP. Yesterday’s game notwithstanding, their BA was something like .143 with RISP for the Seattle series.
    Part of its due to the absence of Crisp and Nixon (who returned yesterday). Part of its due to the absence of Manny’s slugging. Now I happen to believe their offense will come around, though it won’t be the juggernaut it was last year. My impression is that this is a team that plays pretty solid all around defense, has a pair of front line starters and may have a pretty strong bullpen (once and Foulke recovers and Tavarez and Seanez are in mid-season form). I’m worried about Wells though and somewhat worried about Clement. Offensively, they should prove to be a solid run scoring team, but they won’t steamroll anyone like say the Yankees.
    Schedule-wise, things are about to get tougher for the Sox. After this set with TB, they hit the road for a pair of three game series against Toronto and Cleveland which should give us more insight into how strong the Sox really are.

    Craig April 18, 2006, 7:56 am
  • Craig’s right – we quite obviously have a lot more to go before we can say anything about these teams.
    One thing I can say was that I was terrified through most of the game yesterday, and half-gave up on them a few times. Well, maybe only once or twice. But still, winning lots of close games demonstrates luck, gutsy playing, tenacity, and timeliness. Those are things that can fade easily – if the Sox are still in a similar position in three weeks, then we’re looking at something else. We still need our offense to wake up a bit more.

    rk April 18, 2006, 9:37 am
  • Forget ESPN.
    REAL sports journalism comes from Sports Illustrated, who have been doing it for over 50 years. What do they have to say about power rankings? http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/john_donovan/04/17/power.rankings/index.html
    Sox are #2 – appropriately ranked behind the Mets (for now)
    Yanks are #12 – an improvement over last time’s #15
    Jays slid to #14 – but are somehow “encouraged” about spending $55M on Burnett
    This seems right to me. Sox tied for best AL record, appropriately ranked #2. Yanks and Jays sitting around .500 should be ranked in the middle of the teams. Claiming that your team scored a ton of runs in their few wins in an invalid arguement. Everyone on this site should know what baseball is really all about: W/L.

    Sean April 18, 2006, 9:41 am

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