Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Billy Mays Hocks ESPN360

Happy Festivus, everyone!

Sorry we've been so busy lately. Content is coming in the new year, I "promise."

Meanwhile, it must be the holidays, since I'm about to compliment ESPN for the second straight post. Why? Because I just saw one of these commercials on ESPN and had to share them. They are absolute genius.

Well, hope you enjoyed. I'm off to the Airing of the Grievances. Hopefully I won't be selected for the Feats of Strenght this year. My mother is way too tough to pin.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The New Standard for Geekdom

Wilbon's descent into curmugdeon-ness continues:

- On Kornheiser arguing for Phillip Rivers deserving a spot on the Pro Bowl roster given Rivers's TD-INT ratio: "You're beginning to sound like one of those stat geeks!"

- During "Role Play", Kornheiser played interim Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks. After talking about Durant as having had more double-doubles under Brooks than he did under Carlesimo, Wilbon responded that he should stop with the "gobbledygook".

Touchdown to interception ratio

Geeky stats.

God help us all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There's Light at the End of the Tunnel

Sorry I've been gone lately, guys. I don't want to speak for everyone, but I probably do when I say things have been pretty busy lately. Holidays and such.

And my mom wants me to clean her basement, and that takes a long time.

I have a backlog of things I want to post, but for today I come in to report good news.

Slowly but surely, the Baseball Writers Association of America is becoming more inclusive. The organization just held a meeting here at Bellagio and, for the second straight year, humbly voted to add a few Internet writers to their newspaper-dominated ranks. Joining the inaugural crop from last year will be Will Carroll and Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus and Rob Neyer and Keith Law of ESPN.com.

These four people have one awesome thing in common: sabermetricians.

It is truly great to see the BBWAA (and I will now officially refer to them as such, rather than the BBRAA) opening their doors up finally to progressive baseball thinkers who don't meet their traditional standards of the grizzled beat writer but rather cover and WRITE about baseball from other sources but are none-the-less credible.

Good job, Baseball Writers!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Remember Matt Grevers?

Maybe Mariotti should write about him again.

This weekend is Short Course Nationals in Atlanta. Our favorite backstroker-sprinter is swimming and he won the 50yd freestyle with a time of 18.95 seconds.

For you laymen out there: that's smokin' fast. Nineteen seconds is a plane which is rarely broken.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tips On How To Manufacture A Shitty Ballot

Sorry we've been slacking lately. Most of us have probably been busy and/or haven't come across anything worth noting. Fortunately, I'm all caught up on my DVR'd recordings of House and Boston Legal, so I've got some time to kill. Let's talk Hall of Fame!

Bad Wax.

Here is my take, if you took steroids or were linked to steroids in any way shape or form, no way you get in.

Okay, that's fine. I understand a lot of people feel this way, and I can see the sentiment in wanting to keep "cheaters" out of the Hall of Fame. I disagree with this sentiment because I believe the vast majority of MLB players did (or were "linked" to) steroids and it's unfair to just simply reward the players who didn't get caught. But again, I can understand this view and won't fault anyone for having it.

So far, so good.

You need at least 7 years of domination, where you were by far and away (sic) one of the 20 best players in the game.

Ehh.. This is pretty sketchy. I'm not sure that being in the top 20 for seven years is quite up to Hall of Fame standards. I feel like there's quite a few mediocre players out there who can claim this accomplishment.

That's not too bad, though, what else you got?

Automatics are 3000 hits, 500 home runs, 800 stolen bases, 300 wins, 300 saves, or 3000 strikeouts.

-If Billy Buckner averaged 13 more hits a season over his 22-year career, he would have finished with 3,000 hits.

-Seven home runs are separating Fred McGriff from the Hall of Fame.

-Vince Coleman would be in were it not for four more stolen bases a year, despite his .324 OBP and 83 Career Adjusted OPS.

-Tommy John, Jim Kaat, Tony Mullane... so close.

-Congratulations John Franco, Jeff Reardon, Troy Percival, Randy Myers, John Wetteland, Roberto Hernandez(!), Jose Mesa(!!), Todd Jones(!!!), Rick Aguilera, Robb Nen, Tom Henke, Jeff Montgomery, and Doug Jones, you are all deserving of an induction into the Hall of Fame! Also, congratulations to every slightly above average closer in the future.

-Mickey Lolich is pissed he didn't get those extra eleven strikeouts a year.

Ask yourself, would these players really have deserved to be in the Hall just because they reached a subjective, public-induced "milestone"? No. The majority of these players aren't even close. There should be no "automatics" when considering a player for induction. You should never look at any single statistic when evaluating a player's production, because there is no single perfect stat. Bert Blyleven should not be penalized because he failed to accumulate thirteen more wins, nor should Tommy John be rewarded had he collected twelve more. This seems to be a simple concept. I would hope that the BBWAA's apparent recent improvement would transfer over into Hall of Fame standards, although I think that's still probably wishful thinking at this point.

My ballot, were I to submit one, would look like this:

Bert Blyelven
Rickey Henderson
Mark McGwire
Tim Raines
Alan Trammel

Rickey Henderson will obviously make it easily, I don't see it happening for any of those others this year, though. Unfortunately, I believe Henderson now being on the ballot will cause people to look more dimly upon Raines' case, so he'll probably still have quite a ways to go before he gets any serious consideration. Blyeleven seems to have the best shot out of the other four.

I love this time of year. I can't wait for more and more columns to come out attempting to justify the cases for Matt Williams and Mark Grace because they were true "gamers" and "played the game the right way." I can't wait to hear the reasoning behind a single writer's vote for Jesse Orosco as I sit bewildered at the surprisingly strong support for Mo Vaughn.

Don't worry everyone, the Winter Meetings are coming soon!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Trails, Moose

Mike Mussina is officially retired from Major League Baseball. Let us all hope and pray that the BBWAA continues their current string of intelligence five years from now and inducts this man into the Hall of Fame. Please do not penalize him for failing to collect two more wins per year (300+) and/or eleven more strikeouts per year (3,000+). Not many guys have the perspective to hang it up at the right time, but Mussina would seem to be the rare exception. Congratulations, Mike. Godspeed.

As for the Yankees: you just lost your best pitcher from the 2008 season--who happened to be a 39 year-old. Good luck, Hank!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fuck The Heck 101

Yeah, that's right, an FJM reference. Get used to it. The denial of them shutting down is not likely to cease in the near future. Anyways, this is somewhat old news, but I thought I'd point it out nonetheless. The results for the Hank Aaron Awards and the Silver Sluggers were recently announced this past month. Here's a quick look at how a few of them turned out. (Disclaimer: If you're a fan of reasoning, I suggest you refrain from reading the rest of the post). Enjoy.

Your 2008 AL Hank Award Winner

Your 2008 AL First Baseman
Silver Slugger Award Winner

Your 2008 NL Hank Aaron Award Winner

Your 2008 NL Third Baseman
Silver Slugger Award Winner

So... Kevin Youkilis was deemed to be the best offensive player in the American League, but not the best offensive player at his position. Aramis Ramirez was deemed to be the best offensive player in the National League, but not the best offensive player at his position.

Phil Sheridan would've had a legitimate case if he did his bitching about this process. The Hank Aaron Award is seriously fucked up.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Phil Sheridan is Out of Whack!

And you thought we wouldn't be able to find anything negative about the MVP selection. Phil Sheridan: MVP voting is out of whack.

Ryan Howard was the most valuable player in the National League in 2008. That he was not voted MVP by the Baseball Writers' Association of America says more about the association than about Howard, Albert Pujols or America.

I agree with Sheridan in that the BBWAA's selection of Albert Pujols says a lot about the voters--they're actually getting smarter. We just witnessed a player lose the NL MVP Award despite leading the league in homeruns and RBI! Not to mention the fact he had an awesome September! And I think we should all know by now that games in September count approximately 4.8 times as much as games that take place in any other month (4.8 is the mean, of course, since games in April obviously only count for .006 the amount of your standard September game). Also...

Ryan Howard 2008:
5.0 WARP1

If the MVP is the player with the best all-round statistical season, a computer could figure that out. And a computer might well have spit out Pujols' name this season. He was terrific.

Statistics are an objective account of what took place. In order to know and understand one's value you must look at what took place. Therefore, you must look at statistics to objectively understand a player's value. I know, MIND-BOGGLING! Also...

Ryan Howard 2008:
.339 OBP (NL League Average: .343)

But Howard got hot in September, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 32 runs to carry the Phillies into the playoffs. That's the very definition of valuable.

Those are very good numbers. But if I'm not mistaken, there are over 130 regular season games that aren't even played in September. I'm uncertain as to why these games are carried out, seeing as they hold so little value in the standings, but nevertheless they count. Just for kicks, though, let's see what happened in those other non-September/meaningless months.

March-August (Ryan Howard):
.234/.324/.490--.814 OPS

March-August (Albert Pujols):
.364/.468/.643--1.111 OPS

Interesting... too bad it's irrelevant. Baseball should just be a 30 game season that takes place over the course of one month. There should be no days off and the MVP should be given to the player who performs the best (aka is the most clutch) over the last 5 days of the season.

The group-think association argument for Pujols, if I'm smart enough to get it right, is that he single-handedly kept the Cardinals in the wild-card race. That is brilliant, except it ignores the presence of Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Troy Glaus (so much for "single-handedly")

Chase Utley. Pat Burrell. Jimmy Rollins. Jayson Werth. Shane Victorino. Cole Hamels. Jamie Moyer. J.C. Romero. Chad Durbin. Ryan Madson. Brad Lidge.

No, Albert Pujols didn't "single-handedly" carry his team, but it's not like he had anywhere near the supporting cast that Ryan Howard possessed. If I were to make an MVP ballot of strictly 2008 Phillies players, it would look something like this:

1. Chase Utley
2. Cole Hamels
3. Brad Lidge
4. Jimmy Rollins
5. Jayson Werth
6. Shane Victorino
7. Pat Burrell
8. Ryan Howard

Chase Utley is far and away the best player on this team. He has lost to an inferior teammate twice already and came very close again this year. He finished 15th(!) in the MVP voting this past season. THAT is what's wrong with the BBWAA. Also...

Ryan Howard 2008:
25 Win Shares (T-12th)

The association seamheads love to throw around stats - OPS, VORP, ASPCA - to make a case for Pujols.

I had no idea that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shared the same name as an imaginary, unoriginal baseball statistic.

Yes, he (Pujols) struck out less and hit for a higher average. But Howard won actual baseball games in an honest-Abe pennant race. He had 11 more home runs than Pujols, scored five more runs than Pujols, and drove in 30 more runs than Pujols.

Notice there are no decimal points involved there, only whole numbers that made a difference in real baseball games.

You know this guy's gotta be a supporter of batting average. Do you think he's aware that those include decimals? Here's a whole number for you, Phil: 475. That's the number of outs Howard made this past season, the 8th most in the league. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Ryan Howard - who has added a World Series ring to his 2005 rookie of the year and 2006 MVP trophies - will survive this voting nicely. The process that produced it should not.

The voting "process" is fine. It's the voters themselves that most likely need to be changed. However, it would appear that some smarter ones are sneaking their way in there and these past awards would be an indication of that. Sure, there's still some stupid people out there (who the fuck voted for Jose Valverde?), but I think the system is, in fact, improving. Oh, and lastly...

Ryan Howard 2008:
36.6 VORP (29th in NL)

Albert Pujols 2008:
98.7 VORP (1st in MLB)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Credit Where It's Due

We spend a lot of time -- and rightfully so -- ragging on the likes of ESPN here, so I think it's only fair when we point out the good things they do.

This 23 hours of college basketball thing is absolutely awesome. I was up late because of the rats in my mother's basement having a party, so I was trying to find something on TV. And there, at two in the morning, was Idaho State @ Hawaii. It was awesome. Not because the teams were that good (they went to OT 53-53 and not because of good defense), but just because it was two in the morning and I was watching live college basketball.

It was spectacular. No matter how many times I was offended by watching someone take a highly contested three 10 seconds in to the shot clock.

Anyway, way to go, ESPN. You do this next year, maybe I'll live blog it. The whole thing. Giggidy giggidy!

The World is Becoming a Better Place

Of the players who have lead the league in RBIs and Home Runs and made the playoffs all in the same season, Ryan Howard is the first to not win the MVP.

I take this as a sign that the BBWAA is getting better at doing their jobs. They gave the award to the right guy instead of following the same pattern they have for decades and rewarding a player for how good his teammates are and putting way too much weight on a small cross section of his plate appearances.

I don't say this often, but good job, Baseball Writers.

. . . now about Chase Utley finishing 15th. . .

I Heart Peter Gammons

Why so few NL MVP votes for Hanley Ramirez?

It's not as if the Marlins existed in another universe; their 84-77 record was a half-game better than the Dodgers', and they did it in the best division in the National League -- the division with the world champions.

Albert Pujols deserved the Most Valuable Player Award. This is not to question anyone's vote for Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Manny Ramirez or Lance Berkman.
But Hanley Ramirez 11th? Only Pujols and Berkman had more runs created. His OPS of .940 was the best of any NL middle infielder, better than Utley's .915.
Ramirez's job wasn't to drive in runs -- it was to create them. He reached base 40 percent of the time, hit 33 homers, stole 35 bases and led the league with 125 runs.
And he did it with average defensive skills at a critical defensive position.

Runs Created. OPS. OBP-reference. Value of position.

Here's to Mr. Gammons living forever.

Japanese School Girl to Play Pro Ball

Some Japanese team I've never heard of in a league I've never heard of drafted a 16 year old knuckleballer to break the gender barrier for their pro team. You could go get this news from MLB.com.

I, however, am going to do this the fun way: finding a Japanese story and translating!

The Kobe 9 cruises of the professional baseball Kansai independent league designated Yoshida collar (16) = Kanagawa prefectural Kawasaki north high 2 years = at the draft meeting on the 16th, birth of the boy player and the domestic first woman professional baseball player whom you play together became secure. The professional baseball is promotion of industry, there is also a viewpoint of topic precedence, but Yoshida what compared to gained the ticket to dream with capability. The authorized personnel expects also the far-reaching effect to the other woman player.

This month 2~4 day, in the tryout of the league which is Kobe city, Yoshida opposes with total 8 hitters. It dazzled with the knuckle ball of 80 kilometer level from the right unskillfulness, sealed in non hit. The Kobe Nakata director “throwing the knuckle from under is difficult with the original Osaka and Kobe pitcher. While shaking truly, and, it becomes the funny war potential where it falls”, that you appraise. It is not something which the baseball sees “for the woman, perhaps it becomes something we would like to do. In Yoshida we want becoming goal of such a player.”  

Temporarily as much as 20 teams or more there was a domestic woman professional baseball which starts in 1950, but financial difficulty and promotion of industry trouble etc to amateur were converted to the reason, in only 2 years. While employment equal opportunity of the man and woman shouts, baseball agreement was amended in 91, participation of the woman player to the professional baseball became OK, also the player who takes the joining an organization test of professional club appeared.  

Concerning the woman player, there is an insecurity of the physical strength aspect and a voice which points out danger. Simply, latent interest is high for the woman e.g., the player of industry group top class of softball participates in the latest tryout. With Yoshida's participation circumstance, the independent league which pursues originality in the management aspect, is a possibility of becoming fixed as the place where thinking the woman player is actualized.  

* You aim toward April of 09 commencement as the domestic 3rd independent league which it comes after the Kansai independent league Shikoku Kyushu island league and the BC league. There are 4 teams of Osaka, Kobe, Guizhou (Wakayama) and Akashi, (Hyogo) there is the conception which is made 8 teams in the future, including Shiga and Kyoto etc. 1 clubs make a contract with 20 professional players, do the annual 72 tournament. As for commissioner Isige Hiroshi model person.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't put this post up just for the chance of humorous translations. She's apparently a side-armed knuckleballer who hopes to be like the "great" Tim Wakefield. Now that's precious!

Here's a video of Yoshida doing her thing.

I'll avoid making jokes about the ulterior motives of a team from a country which has school girl underwear vending machines in drafting a "Japanese School Girl." Because she's 16 and that makes me uncomfortable.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Are FJM tributes getting overkill?

I don't care, because I had to write something. It took me a while to accurately describe what this means to me.

When I was a kid, I was inspired by Bill Waterson to try my hand at writing little comic strips for my family. I sucked at it, but whatever.

I came home one day from little league practice when I was 10 and my dad told me Calvin and Hobbes was done; no more. I cried, litterally.

This is that feeling all over again.

While I'm here, you guys should read this congenial tribute by twice ripped Jeff Passan.

I remember those posts. He wrote some dumb things, but I still have the utmost respect for him at the moment.

Let the Games Begin

MLB free agency officially began today, and I can't think of a better way to kick things off than to spend it with one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time!

It's been quite some time since we've heard from our good friend, Daniel Marino (no relation that we know of, although we like to believe so). I'd like to think that he's been so busy willing his former football team to victory that he hasn't had time to write about his hobby on the side: baseball (Dolphins are 5-4 WOOP WOOP!!!). The following article is about baseball, however, and it's entitled Let The Games Begin. It's a commentary/prediction of where he thinks certain free agents should or will end up this offseason. It's really not all that bad. There was one portion that particularly caught my eye, though:

CC Sabathia
Who should sign him: Phillies - Imagine if the World Champions added Sabathia to their rotation? He and Hammels (sic) would be a lethal 1-2 atop the rotation. Signing Sabathia would instantly make Philly the team to beat in 2009.
Who will sign him: Dodgers - They won’t resign Manny, but that money could be used to sign Sabathia.

It's funny how signing Sabathia "would instantly make Philly the team to beat in 2009." As if winning the World Series does not already accomplish that. Anyways, that's not even the best part.

Manny Ramirez
Who should sign him: Mets - They need a run-producing right handed bat that won’t fold down the stretch.
Who will sign him: Dodgers - He became a fan favorite and put on a hitting clinic that impressed the Dodgers. Other teams may be wary of the baggage.

Let's backtrack real quick to C.C. Sabathia:

Who will sign him: Dodgers - They won’t resign Manny, but that money could be used to sign Sabathia.

Now, another look at the Manny Ramirez "who will sign him" portion:

Who will sign him: Dodgers

Looks like 'ol Marino may have been sacked one too many times. To sum things up, the Dodgers will sign Manny and C.C. this offseason. However, at the same time the Dodgers will not re-sign Manny, therefore freeing up enough money to sign Sabathia, which was part of the original plan. Also, despite winning the World Series last season, the Phillies are not considered the "team to beat."

I'm not so sure Mr. Parcells would take kindly to this type of absurdity, Danno! Go Dolphins!

Grading the BBWAA

For many years now the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have gotten away with putting forth historically bad recipients for their respective awards. Since there is apparently no one else to hold them accountable for their actions, I thought I'd go ahead and do it on this blog, which Commissioner Bud Selig reads every day, hence assuring that all incompetence will be extinguished.

Class is now in session.

A.L. Cy Young: Cliff Lee

BBWAA Grade: A

You really couldn't have gone wrong here with Lee or Halladay. Both were very good, but I'd agree with the voters and give Lee the slight edge. The only real gripe I have hear is the fact that K-Rod finished third in the Cy Young voting. You could maybe make a case that he was third best A.L. reliever, although even that would be pretty farfetched. However, I can live with it since Lee and Halladay finished 1-2. Good job here, guys.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum

BBWAA Grade: A

Thankfully, there was no real scare here with Brandon Webb. Lincecum won it easily, and it was much deserved. Kudos to the writers for also recognizing Santana's great season as well. Maybe they're learning? Or getting smarter voters? Who knows.

A.L. Manager of the Year:
Joe Maddon

BBWAA Grade: B

Maddon has gotten FAR too much credit for what he's done in Tampa Bay. Sure, he's done a fine job and it's great that they were able to turn things around this season, but he had much less to do with it than what would be perceived by the media. As Grif has attested to many times (not here, but other places), Maddon made quite a few God-awful decisions throughout the season. The grade would be worse were it not for the implement of the bullpen ace format--although it's unclear whether that's a front office creation or managerial preference. Obviously I can certainly understand the reasoning for voting for Maddon, it just seems evident after looking deeper into it that Gardenhire would've been the better choice. Still not the worst decision, though.

NL Manager of the Year:
Lou Piniella

BBWAA Grade: A

No argument here. Great manager. Great choice.

AL Rookie of the Year:
Evan Longoria

BBWAA Grade: A

Mike Aviles probably should've finished higher, but they got the most important one right so I'll let it pass. This was a pretty easy one, though.

NL Rookie of the Year:
Geovany Soto

BBWAA Grade: C-

Don't be fooled here. Geovany Soto was the right choice. I'm penalizing the voters for something much worse. Edinson Volquez finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting DESPITE NOT EVEN BEING A ROOKIE! That's right, somehow a player who is not even eligible to win the award snuck on to the ballot. Not only that, HE GARNERED THREE SECOND PLACE VOTES! So, while I've overlooked the entirety of the ballot with other awards, I simply can't ignore such sheer stupidity. Seriously, how were these ballots even allowed to be counted? How hard is it to look up the eligibility of a player before you vote? I just looked it up on B-R in about 9 seconds. So the answer is: not very hard. These three writers--whoever they are--should be removed lest we see Derek Jeter finish third in the Cy Young voting in 2009. I applaud you guys for at least getting the winner right, but this is just... there are no words.

Overall BBWAA Grade So Far: C+

I know, the math doesn't quite add up. I ended up docking some serious points for Edinson Volquez receiving three goddamn votes (not to mention Kosuke Fukudome???). But hey, I'm surprised I was able to stay objective for as long as I did. Chances are the BBWAA will tragically fuck up one of the MVP awards, anyways, thus justifying my exaggerated disdain.

Delgado for MVP!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Today, the single greatest blog of all time called it quits.

It truly is a sad day. Bad sports journalism must now find a new place to die. In honor of FJM, the writers here at ATH will now dedicate their time to providing non-stop satirical scrutiny to all sports stories everywhere. If you're a regular reader, this news will probably disappoint you because it means we will no longer be providing in-depth, philosophical views and analysis on Descartes' cartesian dualism and whether or not it is admissible to look inside the metaphysical box. Our political views and insights on things such as the state of the economy, war on Iraq, and health care will also be taking a back seat as well. To those loyal readers, I apologize.

R.I.P. FireJoeMorgan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's a Conspiracy, I Tell You

At least according to former Royals pitcher and current Dugout Central writer Doug Bird. I'll just let you enjoy this for yourself. Beware of the tin foil.

For someone who pitched in the majors, I have a hard time believing that one could be so willing to accept a conspiracy so easily. The last paragraph is especially ridiculous:
The 2008 ALCS nearly saw another Boston miracle comeback. But then Tampa Bay managed to turn back Boston’s momentum with a game seven victory, getting the former doormats into the World Series for the first time. Did Major League baseball decide the game needed this new Tampa Bay fan enthusiasm more than it needed the safe and always paying Red Sox nation? Although Fox couldn’t have been enthused with the promise of poor ratings, might there be something more devious behind Tampa’s ascension? Is it just coincidence that Tampa’s new, good fortunes come at a time when the team is trying to get a deal for a new stadium?

Let me take a stab...YES IT'S A COINCIDENCE!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three Non-BCS Teams in the BCS?

I totally didn't notice this was going on, but the highest ranking ACC team in the BCS is Florida State at #15.

They just lost to Georgia Tech.

The highest ranking Big East team in the BCS is South Florida at #23.

They lost 24-10 to Cincinnati.

Now, in the BCS selection guidelines, it says this:
3. The champion of Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, or the Western Athletic Conference will earn an automatic berth in a BCS bowl game if either:

A. Such team is ranked in the top 12 of the final BCS Standings, or,
B. Such team is ranked in the top 16 of the final BCS Standings and its ranking in the final BCS Standings is higher than that of a champion of a conference that has an annual automatic berth in one of the BCS bowls.

At this writing, Utah ranks 10th. Boise State is up 28-0 and ranked 11th. TCU is up 14-0 and ranked 13th. Ball State is 16th.

That puts two schools inside the auto-bid top 12 range. Four in the top 16, and with FSU losing they will likely be ahead of not one but TWO BCS champs (if they win out). Now, Utah and TCU can't both go, but that would still put THREE! (3!!!) non-BCS schools in BCS games this year. Which is good or bad depending on how you look at it, but it's absolutely hilarious any way you look at it.

Now, I believe every conference champ from the BCS gets an auto-bid regardless of any other stuff. I know at at-large team has to win at least nine games, and it's possible the Big East and ACC champs won't have nine wins (Georgia Tech has eight with two or three games to go, WVU, Cincy, Pitt and UConn all have 6 left with three or four to go), but I don't think that will matter.

So, you could have three non-BCS schools and two awful BCS schools playing, and that leaves you just one auto-bid for whoever doesn't win their conference out of Alabama, Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and maybe Georgia.

How interesting. . .

UPDATE: I missed a bit of wording.
No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team or teams will be in the pool of teams eligible for selection by the bowls as at-large teams.

So, nevermind. There probably won't be three teams. There is still a chance for it, though, and a decent shot at two.

I'm linking to Royals Review a lot lately.

But you just HAVE to read Mike Jacobs: the Musical!

This is just too brilliant, I have to share it.

I defy you not to laugh at this picture someone made in honor of yesterday's Halloween Around the Horn.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Grit: Not Just for Short, Mediocre Ballplayers

On current no. 1 Jelena Jankovic from the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour website in the run up to their year championships Link:

If tennis players can be heroes, Jankovic rides into Doha like a character in the John Wayne western, True Grit.

100th Post

Woohoo! Forced milestone!

In honor of this event: something entirely unrelated to anything we do here!!!

Wow! That's good soup!

Everyone at AtH should add one unrelated piece of media that reflects their souls to this post!

edit: From Goose(you may want to turn the volume down)-

edit: From Rook (I think we all have a little bit of Doug in us)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you thought Sal Paolantonio was an objective, soft-spoken, classy guy. . .

. . . you were wrong.

Wow. Even with the things that are right this is so wrong.

Mike Smith Sucks for Not Reffing Better

Tony Kornheiser likes to be angry. He likes to blame people for doing stupid things, often that aren't stupid. And he likes to be adamant about it.

He also likes to be wrong (apparently).

On PTI today, he decided to RIP Mike Smith and blame him for this:

I'm not quoting because it's just not necessary, but as the replay of the show will be in about 40 minutes or so, you can tune in and watch it yourself. With a loud, condescending tone, he decided to say Mike Smith's by-the-book strategy to use his time outs so he could get the ball back with 2:22 left in the game and a chance to win was stupid. Why? Because he didn't save a time out so that he could challenge the play on the field if the refs made a bad call. Which they did.

What? So. . . the coach should not use his time outs as best he can because the refs might make a mistake? They can't play normal strategy because someone else might screw up? We're going to blame a coach for doing everything right because the officials don't (and the NFL rules are ridiculous for the situation)?

I'm seen Kornheiser be wrong, and I've seen him be angrily misguided. This is bad, even for him, though.

Live Blog Game 5 World Series Rays-Phillies Part Deux

My Favorite Martin

Ned Colletti will probably be forever-praised for bringing Manny Ramirez to Los Angeles and "reviving" the Dodger fan base. It will, in many people's minds, make up for or perhaps overshadow the numerous idiotic moves he's made throughout his tenure as GM (Pierre, Schmidt, Jones, etc.). However, I would hope that all those naysayers would soon return if the implication from the following article came to fruition.

Martin wearing out welcome in L.A.?

Twenty-nine GM's throughout all of baseball are hoping the answer is "yes."

An OBP of .385 for a catcher is awfully hard to come by, not to mention the fact that he has exceptional speed and can play a decent third base from time to time. So I'm not really sure what this could be addressing. Maybe he's wearing out his welcome in a "Manny being Manny" kind of way. Perhaps he's wearing out his welcome in that he's become a clubhouse cancer or something to that extent. It certainly can't be because of his production on the field.

The Dodgers were disappointed by the regression of catcher Russell Martin, who in the words of one Dodgers-connected person was "just another catcher'' this year.


Out of the 24 catchers this year with at least 350 plate appearances, Russell Martin had the third highest OBP, trailing only Joe Mauer and Chris Iannetta (who caught in 49 fewer games than Martin). He had the eighth highest OPS, which isn't great, but still better than two thirds of the catchers in baseball. And from those same twenty-four, he had the most walks and stolen bases as well.

The Mariners, Phillies, Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Mets, Blue Jays, Tigers and many other teams are in dire need of what this "Dodgers-connected person" describes to be "just another catcher."
By the way,

Tony Romo is just another quarterback.

Steve Nash is just another point guard.

Adrian Peterson is just another running back.

Tim Duncan is just another center.

The Office is just another tv show.

All are of equal absurdity.

Only a year ago Martin was an excellent two-way player who won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger and appeared on the verge of superstardom.

2007 OBP- .374
2008 OBP- .385

2007 OPS+ 113
2008 OPS+ 106

2007 RC- 95
2008 RC- 88

2007 EQA- .296
2008 EQA- .288

2007 WARP1- 8.3
2008 WARP1- 7.2

So yes, Martin digressed a little bit, but enough to become "just another catcher"? No way in hell. And for what it's worth, out of every catcher in the world this past season, Martin had the third best WARP1 (0.1 points behind Brian McCann).

Martin's digression was more than likely due to the heavy workload he's undergone since coming up to the majors. Since May 5th of the 2006 season, the Dodgers have played 457 regular season games. Of those 457, Martin has caught in 411 of them (90%). His first half/second half splits obviously indicate that he wears down as the season goes on. So, an easy way to fix the enormous, drastic, incredibly steep "regression" problem? GIVE HIM A GODDAMN DAY OFF ONCE IN A WHILE! Catching the most innings in baseball over the last two years may play a slight factor into his dip in production. Just some food for thought, Colletti.

Although, I guess it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to trade Martin if you had a catcher waiting in the minors who OPS'd 1.000 at Single A this year. Too bad you traded that catcher for two months of Casey Blake.

The New York Post reported that the Dodgers might even consider trading him.

Epstein, Beane, all intelligent GM's: Cheer in unison.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

NBA Opening Night

Celtics/Cavs, Lakers/Blazers

Awesome. I'm disappointed that there's no World Series game tonight, but I think these games will do an exceptional job of holding me over.

Baseball, Football, Basketball. It's a shame that these three sports are played at the same time for only one week a year.

Brief ATH on ATH note

Can someone let me know who won the World Series 150 years ago? (re: Reali)

Henry Aaron Rolls in His Grave (WITHOUT EVEN DYING FIRST!)

The MLB announcement of the Hank Aaron Award includes a very blatant lie:

The Hank Aaron Award officially recognizes the most outstanding offensive performer in the American and National Leagues.

This is not just a blatant lie, it's a vicious lie. I know because this man won it. And he was not, by any stretch of the imagination, the best offensive performer in the National League.

The other winner was none other than Euclis, the Greek God of Walks himself. I have trouble seeing him ahead of Milton Bradley in terms of quality, or Grady Sizemore in terms of quantity, or Alex Rodriguez in terms of both, but he was third in wOBA, so whatever. Weird, but it's fine.

Ramirez, though, was 19th in EqA and 20th in EqR. THAT is the best offensive player in the NL?

Want to limit it just to hitting and not offense, as the award claims? Fine, he 15th in wOBA, 15th in Runs Created, 20th in GPA, and his numbers like a 128 OPS+, 7.2 RC/27, .581 OWP and 2.4 Batting Wins don't even register on the Baseball Reference leader board.

Look, that's a good season, but it's not even top 10, let alone anywhere near the best. Especially when Albert Pujols was worth two Kevin Youkilises (yes, that includes defense, get over it). Pujols was worth, like, fifty more runs than Ramirez. His Baseball Reference page looks like something out of a video game.

How does this sort of crap happen?
Fans cast 230,000 votes at MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, in this, the sixth consecutive year that fans have had a voice in selecting the award winners in this fashion.


But still, according to Baseball Almanac, the fans are only 30% of the ballot. So where does the rest come from? Wikipedia?
Fan's votes accounted for 30% of the points, with broadcaster's and analyst's votes accounting for the other 70%.

So there you go. The brilliant minds of fans and announcers deciding who is about the 15th or so best hitter in the league and giving him an award named after one of the greatest, classiest and most significant players in baseball history.

This bothers me to a large degree because, if this award was treated with any sort of dignity and seriousness, it would be a great answer to the idiotic "the pitchers have their own award so the MVP should just be for hitters!!!" brigade.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Live Blog Game 5 World Series Rays-Phillies

For all of tens of fans not in Philly or Tampa Bay watching this game:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Live Blog Game 4 World Series Rays-Phillies

Once you're finished at the NFL Live Blog, come and chat here:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week Eight NFL Live Blog

We'll see if this isn't a grueling way to live blog.

Live Blog Game 3 World Series Rays-Phillies

Come on and chat:

The colors, Zeke! The colors!

I changed the background to gray. The stark white wasn't doing it for me. I'm not sure the gray is, either, but there's something drab about the white.

Yay? Nay? Back to white? Something else?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jim Rome Just Discovered the Rays

I'm not sure why I would ever watch Jim Rome is Burning, but I did today. I'm not sure why. Anyway, Rome had this to say about the Rays.

The Rays are who we thought they were,

Nice. A joke that hasn't gotten old, but incorrect in this case if you keep reading.
not the guys who were trying to knock over the monster in Fenway.

No, Jim. That's exactly who they were. They were the team who finished fourth in the American League in home runs hit. In a pitchers' park. Doesn't that sound like a team that hits a lot of home runs?

They hit almost as many home runs as the Texas Rangers. I don't think anyone is confusing the Rangers with a small ball team.
That's not where these guys live, they were built to do it with pitching, speed and defense,

And power and patient hitting.
and it was all on Game 2 of the World Series.

But not the power.
They don't wait for someone to pop a three runner, they play small ball, not long ball.

They were fourth in home runs and 13th in batting average. So a relatively large number of their hits left the park (in a pitchers' park) and they had a relatively low number of other hits. They were, however, sixth in on base percentage. Does this or does it not paint a picture of a patient team that scores a lot of rums on homeruns? Sort've like an Earl Weaver team.

Guess what team was LAST in the league in sacrifice hits. That's right: the Rays. If the fact that they scored three runs on outs last night is an idication of small ball, every team is small ball! Including patient, power-hitting teams like the Rays.

Beyond all that, the Rays are a renowned progressive front office and anyone who follows sports FOR A LIVING should be aware of this. As in: not a team that embraces small ball.

The Rays have a lot of talents, they can win even when they're not hitting home runs because they have speed and a great defense and pitching. That doesn't make them a small ball team.

The fact that a major member of the sports media is so unfamiliar with a team playing in the World Series that he makes things up that are flat-out and obviously wrong should be an embarassment.

Relevant Video is Relevant

If having a progressive, sabermetrically-inclined front office isn't enough for you to want to root for the Rays, then maybe building an entire fan experience around the fact that you want to be able to play this video at games is.

More Cowbell - The most popular videos are here

How is that not awesome?

And yes, I made this post just because I felt like posting that clip. But I would like to think I tied it in nicely.

P.S. Any of you notice that videos weirds out posts? Things like comments don't show up. Oh well.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Live Blog World Series Game 2 Phillies-Rays

Welcome to Game 2 of the World Series. Brett Myers and James Shields are the pitchers. More "goodness" from Joe and Tim.


Live Graph

- Hmm, I think I've seen this before.

- Good to see Mark Grace get the "overuse 'must-win'" memo.

- Nice rendition by Los Lonely Boys on the anthem

- Hey, it's Dallas Green. I remember when he was the manager for the Mets. My grandfather (RIP) used to talk so much crap about him, lol.

- Diving into a pool with Christie Brinkley = WIN!

- And Joe calls out Timmy for his Captain Obviousness. :)

- Jonny "Zangief" Gomes with the microphone. Neat.

- Pretty nice play by Longoria. Fine scoop by Pena. Should be interesting to see if Longoria can limit some of the sketchy throws he's had since he came back from his wrist injury.

- "1 of top 5 curves" in the game. Not that I'm disagreeing with it but says who?

- Rays drive in two with consecutive RBI groundouts. 2-0 Rays. Howard prevents Crawford reaching on a hard hit groundball.

- Why does Bob Melvin sound like Boomhauer from "King of the Hill" in those ads?

- Bad read by Upton on that ball. It would have been tough to get it on a good read given his position and the speed of the ball off the bat.

- The called third strike looks so bad even if it's just a matter of taking a tough pitch.

- Feliz with a bit of misfortune on the line drive.

- Good positioning from Jimmy...bad attempt at a joke by Timmy

- Um, huh? Did Danley change his mind or am I missing something? Also, where is the side view?

- Another opposite field single for Upton. Good throw from Werth to nail Baldelli. 3-0 TB

- More fail by the Phillies with runners on as well as good pitching from Shields.

- Sorry about that delay. I'm trying to following the IndyCar Series online (www.indycar.com). Of course, when you have Gameday and two flash players for timing and scoring and streaming, this can happen.


- Great play by Baldelli on the throw. Werth drifted just a bit too far on a play right in front of him.

- Good job by Myers and Ruiz to exploit that hole of Longoria's.

- Floyd showing off that blazing speed. Still out by a couple of steps.

- Phillies fans, turn away!

- Even though they've gotten 4 runs off of Myers, the Rays haven't exactly stressed him out in this game.

- As far as the issue of African-Americans in baseball, I would think that expanding and revising the draft, in addition to establishing more academies, would help in that regard.

- I know that I mentioned Howard's struggles against lefties this year. Even so, I would not go as far as to warrant a platoon.

- Endurable is a word, huh? Good to know. :) (this is a sincere note if you thought otherwise)

- Another Friedman mention.

- side rant: I just love how mom just says "that's it" for no reason whatsoever. It's like having another Tim or Joe in your household.

- For some reason, that whole exchange sounded like something from "Major League".

- Price is trying to go bullpen ace on these Phils.

- Ruiz again!

- Hmm, that did look like a brush of the jersey. Costs them a baserunner as Rollins pops out.

- Howard grounds out to end this. 1-all as it goes to Philly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Live Blog World Series Game 1 Phillies-Rays


Well, I didn't really go anywhere. I took a break from the live blogs but with the World Series starting, I'll be here to put in my two cents. I, or one of my colleagues, hope to add a more convenient live blog system some time soon if not for the World Series some other day.

I know you are all ready. :D

Live Graph!


- I've been waiting to say this: Beautiful weather under the dome!

- Ooo, montage. I'm a sucker for these "through time" pieces. When you add baseball to it and you just sock it to me right there.

- Again, they may not have predicted a playoff spot, let alone a World Series appearance, but a couple of systems did forsee nearly 90 wins from these Rays. Stop saying as though they were going to win 75.

- Mark Grace was not one of those systems. ;)

- Haha, the return of the Taco Bell promo.

- Mini-rant: you know what I can't stand more than anything? Media types who complain about certain teams being in the championship game/series because they aren't sexy enough or they haven't heard of most of the players or the fact that they won't get good enough ratings. Screw them!

- Hmm, I heard that music before. They played that during the '82 World Series recap montage (don't know what I'm talking about? check out Game 7 of the '82 Series on MLB.TV if you have a subscription)

- *stands up*

- The Backstreet Boys are still around? The hell?

- Is this just my TV or does Joe Buck look kind of...pasty?

- Woot, Michael Jack Schmidt! (and he just killed it by mentioning "Ryan Howard" and "MVP" in the sentence without saying "was in 2006")

- Honestly, I did not know the Simpsons were up to TOH 19.

- Keys to the game : WIN! I think most of the ones FOX have could be summed up like that.

- At least the scouting report is decent. Once again, if anyone at the YES Network is watching, that is how you do a scouting report. SCOUT THE PLAYER!! It isn't that hard.

- New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys. Did we get sent to the '90s?

- Um, huh?

- That is why you don't bunt, Chase! (91.9 mph fastball down the middle, 3.8'' break [distance from top of arc and the chord connecting release point and breaking the strike zone], 16.1'' pFX [distance between location of pitch and same pitch thrown with no spin]) 2-0 Phils

- Kashmir? edit: he said it again!

- Camera is that way, Crawford.

- Phillies fans just about had a heart attack right there.

- I know a certain someone who is shocked that Feliz has taken 5 straight pitches (my comrades would know who ;) ).

- Victorino sure wants some of that taco.

- Not a great sequence by Kazmir. Last thing he needed was the bases loaded with Rollins up. If they steal, so what?

- The arm of Bossman Junior strikes!

- MLB Network, FTW!

- Before I was enlightened to the fact that making a huge deal about small sample sizes is a fool's errand, I got googlyeyed with Willy Aybar's cup of coffee for the Dodgers. Though he hasn't come close to matching that, he seems to be a pretty solid player.

- Stop denying us free tacos!!

- The mother of all holes, ladies and gentelmen.

- In the bottom of the third in the 3rd inning, FOX has mentioned Sternberg and Friedman more often than TBS did their entire postseason broadcast schedule.

- Bases loaded for teh Bossman. GIDP again for teh Bossman.

- A low forehand lob from Feliz. Oops, wrong sport. 0_o

- 3-nil Phils on the groundout. *smacks self again*

- I wish those were box seats so I can make an apropos joke there. ;)

- "You reach it with your arms and not your legs." Quoi?

- That was awful even by your standards, Tim. "Ray-naissance man"?

- Famous instance of people getting out of the way on a timeout: '93 World Series Game 6 when time was called and Rickey, Darren Daulton, and the ump all got out of the way as if Mitch Williams were about to throw a grenade.

- So it has nothing to do with Myers but there's a dropoff between Hamels and the rest of the staff? That does kind of imply an indictment on Myers, et al.

- FREE TACOS!!!! probably not going to get any but I just like saying "taco".

- Aki in the gap. 3-2 Phils

- LOOK AT HIM GLIDE!! Sorry. *blush*

- Clank by Howard followed by redemption on the throw to pick off Pena.

- Looks as though Longoria has legitimate beef (according to Pitch F/X). I'll have to re-check to see if Welke has been calling that pitch all night.

- Lefties make Howard cringe. :/ Interesting that his platoon split has gotten more lopsided over time. (edit: since he played a full season in '06: Howard v. Lefties)

- Bowl cut alert!

- Heh, a slider and a curve from Balfour that inning. Sometimes, it seems to slip under the radar whenever he throws one.

- Sick stuff from Madson. Upton had a decent pitch to drive on 0-1 but nearly screwed himself into the ground.

- Time for TEH LOOGY!!

- Lidge vs. TB's 3-4-5 hitters. Should be fun to watch. :D

- Lidge ownership. Phillies lead the series 1-0. Join us for Game 2.

What I Do When I'm Bored


One of Woody Paige's reasons as to why the Rays will win the series against the Phillies:

"The American League has won eighteen of twenty-two of the last (World) series. Eighteen and twenty-two, I think it makes a difference."

Fact: The National League has won 8 out of the last 22 World Series.

Fact: The NL winning 8 out of the last 22 is not equivalent to the AL winning 18 out of the last 22.

Fact: Woody Paige makes up shit every day on Around the Horn.

Fact: It is idiotic to take any "statistic" Woody Paige spits out as fact.

Fact: Even if it were true that the AL had won 18 out of the last 22, it would not make a difference on the outcome of this seven game series.

Fact: The 1985 Kansas City Royals do not affect the 2008 Phillies.

Short-Sighted Quote of the Week

Jim Caple:
I pick the Rays to sweep because the American League is that much superior to the National League, which once again got smoked in interleague play and the All-Star Game. It's like the majors versus AAA.

Let's break this up real quick:

I pick the Rays to sweep because the American League is that much superior to the National League

An entire league should not reflect or represent the talent level of one team.

which once again got smoked in interleague play

In 2006 the Cardinals embarrassed the Tigers in five games. Guess what the record in interleague play was? The Americal League had 158 WINS TO THE NATIONAL LEAGUE'S 98. That's the biggest disparity between leagues since interleague play began. The AL was also superior in 2001, the Diamondbacks won. The NL was superior in 1999, the Yankees won. Weird...

and the All-Star Game

How the hell did the NL get "smoked" in the All-Star game? It JUST ended. It was that close. Seriously, didn't it last like 36 innings? I don't understand how you can possess any degree of sanity and say the National League got smoked in the All-Star game this year.

It's like the majors versus AAA

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels, and Brad Lidge make up the most unbelievably awesome AAA team of all time. Who's on the MLB roster? Mays? Jesus?

I've never really read any of Caple's stuff, but now I'm inclined to go back and read every article he's ever written in hopes of finding more terrific nonsense like this.

Rays in six.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slightly Random Plug

A Roylas' blog!

The reason is to help put a stop to the use of another silly baseball term that bothers me all the time: "ace." What is an "ace?" Who is the "ace of the staff?" Is it merely the best pitcher on the staff? In that case, doesn't every team have an ace? Can you have five aces?

How about when someone is a "solid number three." What's that mean? How good is a number three? How often does someone know what he's talking about when he says, "he's a good back-of-the-rotation starter, but not better?" I'll bet it's never, that's what I'll bet!

Sorry, I worked with a habanero pepper when I was making dinner tonight and just rubbed it in my eye. That smarts.

But back to aces. I don't think we have to stop saying "ace." I think we need to define what "ace" or "number three" or "back of the rotation starter" means.

And the guy from this blog did just that. Hooray!

And by this it would seem the Rangers had one solid #2, one solid #3 a couple solid #4s a whole lot of #5s and no ace. Hooray!

And this year the Rays had an ace in Shields and three #2s in their rotation. They sent out a guy barely "bad" enough to be a #3 as their fifth worst pitcher (by xFIP). That guy just won the ALCS MVP. Those guys are also all younger than 27.

Well that's fair.

The Patriots Will Win Tonight Because Two Injured Quarterbacks are Hurt and Another One Sucks

Stuart Scott's reasoning for picking the Patriots tonight on Monday Night Football:

In Matt Cassell's career he has backed up Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Tom Brady. Of those four, he's the only one playing this week, so I'm picking the Patriots.

The janitor at my local McDonalds has been a janitor at three other restaurants in town. Two of those chefs are dead (both in beaver-related incidents, tragic), and one of them is no longer licensed to prepare food due to health violations.

So I'm hiring this janitor to cater my Halloween party.


I was petrified for awhile there (all through Games 5 and 6, actually, and until Aybar's home run in Game 7) that I'd somehow brought a curse upon the Rays with my Latin. You can imagine how relieved I was when I woke up from a cough syrup-induced haze to see smiling Rays faces on the TV.

Because I know you've all been waiting for it (and because now my as-yet-unlatinized additional sentences are even more relevant), here is the translation for:

Longoria iuvenis vim ostendit quem globum lunae capissit ... Artus auriolus Sonnanstinis alba ad thecam nigram designatam torquet.

Young Longoria displays/shows strength which launches the ball to the moon ... The golden arm of Sonnanstine hurls white tablets to the marked out black box.

Yep. That sounds WAY better in Latin. (It's also WAY dirtier.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Steve Phillips Quickie

From Sports Center a moment ago:

"Evan Longoria had the game winning RBI in the All-Star game and that's why [the Rays] have homefield advantage in the World Series."

Exactly none of that is true, Steve Phillips, and if you don't watch it, some angry Rangers fan who has very few things to be happy about in life and thus takes pride in the fact that his team always finds a way to involve a player in the decisive moment of a mid-season exhibition game is going to call you on it.

Did That Just Happen?

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays?* In the World Series?

Congratulations Rays! It's a triumph of sabermetrics over. . .

. . . older sabermetrics!

*That was on purpose, shut up.

But can Brad Pitt hock cars?

One of the first things I thought of with yesterday's exciting announcement that Brad Pitt might play Billy Beane in Moneyball: the Epic Motion Picture Event of the Century was this:

I feel like for those of us hardcore Moneyball fans out there Pitt should reenact this commercial to show us what he can do. How close can he come to this dramatic character?

Now THAT is the best looking and smartest GM in baseball (just ask the Mets' secretary). It's a good thing the Beane Counter isn't playing himself, eh?

P.S. Scroll past this and look at Rook's LVP post. Look at that formatting!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

2008 Least Valuable Players

Each and every year there's a variety of players throughout the MLB that cause you to scratch your head and wonder as to why a big league manager would continue to put their name on the lineup card day in and day out. The 2008 season was certainly no exception. The following is a list of some of the absolute worst seasons that took place this past summer. They're categorized by position (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, 3 OFs, SP) and each hitter was required to have a minimum of 375 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Andruw Jones does not qualify. These very prestigious awards are only reserved for the ones who continued their (lack of) performance embarrassingly deep into the season.

So, without further adu, YOUR 2008 LVP's!

C-Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners
409 Plate Appearances
112 Games Played
64 OPS+
-19.7 BtRns
-1.9 BtWin
.220 EQA
Apologies to: John Buck, Ramon Hernandez

1B- Ross Gload, Kansas City Royals
418 Plate Apperances
122 Games Played
75 OPS+
3 Homeruns
0.8 WARP1
.236 EQA
Apologies to: Daric Barton, Billy Butler

2B- Freddy Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates
608 Plate Appearances
145 Games Played
76 OPS+
21 Walks (1 BB per 29 PA)
1.2 WARP1
.236 EQA
Apologies to: Jamey Carrol, Alexi Casilla

3B-Jose Castillo, San Francisco Giants/Houston Astros
455 Plate Appearances
127 Games Played
74 OPS+
-17.0 BtRns
0.9 WARP1
.229 EQA
Apologies to: Bill Hall, Chone Figgins, Jack Hannahan

SS- Khalil Greene, San Diego Padres
423 Plate Appearances
105 Games Played
63 OPS+
-20.7 BtRns
1.1 WARP1
.215 EQA
Apologies to: Jeff Keppinger, Bobby Crosby

OF- Michael Bourn, Houston Astros
514 Plate Appearances
138 Games Played
56 OPS+
-31.5 BtRns
1.8 WARP1
.223 EQA

OF- Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees
453 Plate Appearances
129 Games Played
70 OPS+
-18.6 BtRns
1.7 WARP1
.231 EQA

OF- Corey Patterson, Cincinnati Reds
392 Plate Appearances
135 Games Played
.205/.238/.344 (Holy Shit!)
48 OPS+
-29.9 BtRns
0.8 WARP1
.201 EQA (Holy Shit!!!)
Apologies to: Juan Pierre, Gary Matthews Jr., Emil Brown, David Dellucci, Jeff Francoeur

SP- Livan Hernandez, Minnesota Twins, Colorado Rockies
180.0 Innings
31 Games Started
6.05 ERA
71 ERA+
1.667 WHIP
.895 OPS Against
0.6 WARP1
Apologies to: Nate Robertson, Brandon Backe, Brian Bannister, Barry Zito

Congratulations John Mclaren, Trey Hillman, John Russell, Bruce Bochy, Bud Black, Cecil Cooper, Joe Girardi, and Dusty Baker. Your decisions to give these guys so much playing time not only resulted in the receiving of a fantastic award, but it also resulted in each one of your teams missing the playoffs. See you next year!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Non-Fiction Dialogue re: Moneyball the Motion Picture

So, yes, I'm spending two posts on the same subject, but the awesome Katey Rich at Cinema Blend had this to say while I was talking with Skye about the announcement and working on the other post:

I don't really get how you make a movie based on a non-fiction book that's about statistics, but I guess it can't hurt to get Brad Pitt on board. Variety says that the actor, who's apparently having a busy day today, will possibly star in an adaptation of Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, about a baseball team manager who uses a complicated computer system to pick his players.

Maybe this is the kind of thing that sounds thrilling to the people who read box scores and know the RBI of every player on the Red Sox, but the rest of us may be left a little cold. I guess that's where Brad Pitt comes in-- just focus on his nice blue eyes, and let the numbers and figures wash over you. Anyone who's read the book want to enlighten me on why this movie is a good idea?

I felt it would be appropriate and usefull to use this space to write a response and take a more serious look at how a Moneyball movie would work.

Moneyball, the practice (named after the book), is about stats. The book touches on those stats, but it's not what it's about. The sabermetric revolution fueled the A's front office revolution, and thus sabermetricians are strongly drawn to the work, but there are no charts or graphs. There's no break down of how Win Shares are calculated or how to judge a replacement-level player. Hell, there isn't even much time spent on why batting average sucks and why on base percentage is the best invention ever.

Moneyball, the book, is a story. Brad Pitt is going to be playing someone whose early life came easy. Friends, girls and sports were all easy because he was so incredibly gifted. He was so talented the Mets thought higher of him than Darryl Strawberry (for those who aren't aware, Darryl Strawberry owned baseball, it's just that drugs owned him). But, despite all the talent, Billy Beane just couldn't make it in the pros. Completely un-conventionally, he, instead, became a genius front office man, and one who was constantly in the pursuit of players who are nothing like himself.

And that's what the movie would primarily be about: Beane's rise, fall and resurrection as something new. And he's an interesting character. He wants life to be scientific and composed and runs his team the same way, and at the same time he's an emotional wacko liable to do anything at any moment (like throwing a chair through a wall because of a bad draft pick).

On top of the life of Beane and the excellent, half-eccentric/half-composed character Pitt gets to play, you have the team he builds. His ideas for how to build a baseball team spat all over baseball tradition, something people either laughed at or outright reviled; both in and outside of the A's organization. You have the drama of the oft-cited (and over dramatized) scouts vs. stats argument. Mostly, you just have a team doing something that people either hate or don't understand and being successful at it even though everyone says they can't be. You have this team with a fraction of the payroll of the Yankees being better than the Yankees.

And from there, you go to the players. A bunch of misfits that every team thought sucked for some reason or another and wouldn't give a chance, and the A's saw something in them no one else did that made them awesome. It gives you an entire cast of characters; underdogs. Most notably Scott Hatteberg, told his patient approach was killing the team and selfish everywhere he went before he gets to the A's who think he's a godsend and he finally gets to feel like he belongs. Or Chad Bradford, a funny little guy with a weird delivery kept down by the White Sox before the A's unleash his potential as one of the most devestating pitchers in the bigs.

The whole story is full of that. Quirky, interesting, misfit characters who are all better than everyone else thought. Major League with real names and more drama.

You have the team losing its star, the defending MVP (villain?), and everyone calling them dead before they have an even better season without him. And that season comes with the help of a record winning streak after a struggling first half.

And that 20th-consecutive win gives you ultimate drama. In front of a huge crowd, the team blowing an 11-0 lead. Your prime characters are involved, as Bradford falls to pieces before Hatteberg (with someone else's bat) pinch hits and drives in the walk-off home run to win it.

I'm sure it would be "Disney'd" up. Maybe the A's win the World Series. Some people are made out to be better, worse or quirkier than reality for the sake of drama and entertainment, but most of the enjoyment is already there in how things really went down.

Essentially, you have a great baseball story with a compelling central character, quirky side stories, heroes, villains, underdogs and drama. And it's based in the reality of a revolutionary front office that changed sports.

Moneyball makes for a boring video lecture. Moneyball makes for a thrilling baseball movie.

"My shit doesn't work in Hollywood."

On a chilly December day in 2001, I woke up early, hopped in my car and drove to the local theater to see the long awaited adaptation of one of my favorite books: The Lord of the Rings. I remember getting out of the car and seeing a long line of people coming out of the theater, and a bus pulling up and dumping out a group of folks who immediately attached themselves to the end of that line. The atmosphere that day was nuts.

I can only imagine there will be the same uproar (if not more!) now that Variety is announcing the film adaptation of another favorite book of mine: Moneyball, by Michael Lewis.

Alright, truthfully, a Moneyball movie isn't exactly going to get E! in a tizzy or inspire an entire spin-off forum at the message boards of Cinema Blend, but for a segment of the population (myself and four felow bloggers included) seeing a film adaptation would be entertaining. In a geeky kind of way.

And to play the revolutionary waste of talent that is Billy Beane? Why, none other than the man you see pictured above: Brad Pitt (apparently chearing at a Yankees game, the very team that made the game so unfair, thus forcing Beane to find an art to win it). I can just picture Louis de Pointe du Lac suddenly standing up and hurling a chair through a wall now. Oh, it will be glorious. And as Skye points out, while a movie about Moneyball might not get a lot of buzz, Brad Pitt would, and it might get the masses to think a little bit harder about the failures of traditionalism.

Adapting the screenplay is Steve Zaillian, who you've probably never heard of but has, to his credit, the excellent Gangs of New York, which you liked a lot more than you think you did (I'm serious, go watch it again as proof). This is important to me because, if you couldn't guess from the last sentence, that's a major movie in the world of Grif.

For those of you who have never read Moneyball, you should get right on that. It's arguably the single most impactful sports book in history, and certainly in recent memory, as it engages readers in the story of Billy Beane's quest to exploit the insanity of baseball people to build a winning team cheap, largely relying on the devil's work also known as "statistics." It has changed the way many fans and front offices -- not just in baseball -- have looked at games. If you're not a fan of stats it's still a great insight in to how front offices operate. And even if you're not a sports fan, it's still a fantastic story of the lives of several misfit individuals and the brilliant business practices that changed them.

TL;DR: Detective David Mills quits after finding his wife's head in a box and ends up looking at really obvious things that other people think are evil in order to make the Yankees look stupid.

Sounds like a winner.

How to Win Arguments and Influence Stat Boys

Let me present to you today's winner on Around the Horn (the other ATH): Tim Cowlishaw. He won, in part, thanks to getting points for this statement:

There was never any indication from his agent that he would have played for a reasonable amount of money. It's not like you could have gone out and signed him for a million dollars. He wanted a ton of money.

And if you keep un on your sports news, you know what's wrong with this. First, there's the fact that a team couldn't know how much Bonds wanted to play for without first making him an offer.

Second, there's the fact that, you know, what Cowlishaw said was flat-out wrong.

Bonds is willing to play for the MLB minimum. . .

Well, that seems to stand in stark contrast to what Cowlishaw just said. And this was no small sports story. And Cowlishaw's job is to follow sports stories. So, somehow, this escaped both he and Tony Reali.

So how do you put up the best argument in a sports debate? Simple! Don't have a clue what you're talking about, allow raging bias to get in the way of reason, and make sure the judge of the debate doesn't know what you're talking about, either.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pitchers Only Throw Strikes to Manny Ramirez

Does anybody ever wonder how Tim McCarver's brain works? What must go on in that never-ending pool of knowledge from which he draws first rate analysis each and every broadcast? Last night during the Dodgers/Phillies game he gave us an example of why he is one of two men that have the privilege of commentating the World Series year in and year out. He had this tidbit to say about Manny Ramirez, whom he apparently just can't talk about enough lately.

"Manny (Ramirez) chases pitches outside of the strike zone. And by that I mean, pitchers won’t throw pitches out of the stirke zone. It’s a different approach."

Wow.. You lost me, Timmy.

Since 1999, Manny Ramirez has finished in the top ten in walks seven times, including leading all of baseball with 124 free passes this past season. He has a career .411 On-Base Percentage. Now, do either of these facts lead you to believe that pitchers WON'T THROW PITCHES OUT OF THE STRIKE ZONE TO MANNY RAMIREZ???

And since when does Manny chase pitches out of the zone? Last I checked, he was a pretty damn disciplined hitter, hardly ever chasing anything off the plate. You'll find this quality in players who walk a lot, Tim. They tend to not chase pitches out of the strike zone.

I'm gonna stop pretending that even you comprehend what you are saying.