Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Night Baseball Live Blog Dodgers-Diamondbacks

Here we have a matchup of the top two teams in the NL West. Both will be sending out their respective sinker studs in Lowe (59.8% GB) and Webb (65.5% GB). Incidentally, they are 1-2 in groundball rate

Fangraphs Live Graph

- Pregame note: apparently, cleanup hitters aren't known for a lot of walks and strikeouts.

- If you're reading this blog, cheers to you, Scotty.

- Hey, it's Doogie Howser! I can't believe I actually remember that.

- Now I definitely don't think "James Loney" when I think "cleanup hitter". Sure, he's a 1st baseman and they are often cleanup hitters but Loney is not that guy.

- Groundball #1

- Home run! Ethier says, "F' your stats! This is for the old scout."

- Webb is having some sick movement on his pitches so far. Probably too much. A lot of balls are up to the Dodgers this inning.

- "Consistent" mention #1.

- GB #2 followed by another home run.

- Berroa: he of the 50 OPS+ this season showing why.

- There's #3, an infield single.

- Ah forget counting groundballs. You can look it up on Gameday. :P I'll still count "consistent/consistency/consistently". That was no.2 and 3 there. As soon as I say it, Webb gets the DP.

- Anyone else find it funny that the D-backs have traded for both a popular MSM target (Dunn) and darling (Eckstein)? It's the yin-yang of baseball transactions.

- Woot! A numbnut on the field! (why people do that, I'll never figure it out)

- You do realize that veterans can be inconsistent as well? Not sure that young players as a whole are more inconsistent.

- For tonight, Lowe has more "power" behind his sinker. Webb hasn't even touched 90 since the first while Lowe has.

- "Choking dogs". Is that you, Plaschke?

- Explain that swing, Loney. Yikes.

- You might want to update that score.

- Looks as though Ledezma is reprising the role of "well-traveled lefty" with Arizona now. His 4th team in 14 months.

- Yeah, they have done well against the NL West. That means they are likely to be better. Don't say they will.

- Would you believe that the Angels' magic number is just 9 already?

- Here's the "blowout game" banter fans know and love.

- Man, Gammons gets everything.

- He would mention those Big Red Machine Reds, wouldn't he?

- Um, where did that come from? Of course not everyone can play 2nd base.

- He just had to get Sheffield in there.

- Someone wasn't paying attention to how many outs there were.

- Look deep into these eyes:


- Um, way to tease us.

- An NL MVP discussion without Albert Pujols fails at life. Finally, Jon Miller brings us some sanity. Phat Albert thanks you. Berkman and Utley still await dap.

- Will someone finally start comparing Reynolds to Kingman instead of comparing Dunn to Kingman?

- Wait, they're actually considering Santana? BUT HE DOESN'T HAVE TEH WINZ!!!

- There's plenty of irony there: a mention of Walter Cronkite School of Journalism on ESPN. A school named after a trusted reporter talked about while there's a man in a booth whom people can't trust with something as relatively trivial (considering other matters) as sports.

- Well said, Jon.

- Now that is an RBI that has plenty of value.

- I suppose you could give Wills some "changed the game" credit. Still, I would not wait with bated breath for Wills getting inducted.

- Here's the legend of Jonathan Broxton again making a Sunday Night appearance.

- Btw, that LaRoche "hit" was an error. Hit my ass.

- Joe seemed much more Morganesque tonight than the other three games I've covered on here. I blame David Eckstein!

- Game over. Dodgers win 8-1. Thanks for another edition of the live blog. Look forward to next week's Phillies-Mets clip. That should be rife with Jon and Joe goodness.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More MVP chatter

On the front page of, we are presented with this lovely photo of Red Sox 2nd baseman Dustin Pedroia:

Presumably, he either believes he can fly or is trying to act out something from "Hamlet 2". Anyway, the headline states:
MVPedroia? Second baseman makes his case
He is having a very nice season (.327/.372/.490, 59 XBH, 3rd among AL 2nd baseman in Revised Zone Rating, 6th in Out of Zone outs, 9th among AL position players in VORP). However, he must bow down to our current pick for AL MVP:

I bet if Lee pretended to be Jesus, he would get more MVP love.

Idle Thoughts on the Tim McCarver Show

Have you ever watched the Tim McCarver show? No? Good for you.

I am right now, and I notice something which is immeasurably annoying. When talking to his guest (remember, McCarver is doing the interview) he looks in to the camera, not at the guest, often times.

This drives me up the wall. I will not be able to sleep now.

Screw you, Tim McCarver.

This is all just an elaborate practical joke.


Chad Johnson has legally changed his name to Chad Ocho Cinco. He said he'd do it, and I didn't believe it. I still don't.

I. . . just. . . I guess if you want to be remembered forever, that's one way to do it.

Why, on a blog that does not exist for reporting, do I create a reporting post that tells you nothing you didn't already know? What do I have to offer you?

This: the ridiculously hilarious and surreal Chad Ocho Cinco discussion page on Wikipedia.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Look Things Up: Part I

ESPN highlight, Phillies/Cubs game.
Chad Durbin replaces Madson, facing Derrek Lee, the former MVP.
Amount of times Derrek Lee has won the MVP: Zero.

Roger Ebert Gives Jay Mariotti Two Thumbs Down

If there happens to be a single person who reads this blog but does not read Deadspin, they leaked an internal letter written by legendary Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert addressed to his recently departed collegue Jay Mariotti.

With a tip of the hat to Deadspin, here's the awesome letter. Because Deadspin is awesome, you should click the link and give them the traffic they deserve for this. Also: it will piss off Buzz Bissinger.

Dear Jay,

What an ugly way to leave the Sun-Times. It does not speak well for you. Your timing was exquisite. You signed a new contract, waited until days after the newspaper had paid for your trip to Beijing at great cost, and then resigned with a two-word e-mail: "I quit." You saved your explanation for a local television station.

As someone who was working here for 24 years before you arrived, I think you owed us more than that. You owed us decency. The fact that you saved your attack for TV only completes our portrait of you as a rat.

Newspapers are not dead, Jay, and this paper will not die because you have left. Times are hard in the newspaper business, and for the economy as a whole. Did you only sign on for the luxury cruise?

There's an old saying that you might have come across once or twice on the sports beat: "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Newspapers are not dead, Jay, because there are still readers who want the whole story, not a sound bite. If you go to work for television, viewers may get a little weary of you shouting at them. You were a great shouter in print, that's for sure, stomping your feet when owners, coaches and players didn't agree with you. It was an entertaining show. Good luck getting one of your 1,000-word rants on the air.

The rest of us are still at work, still putting out the best paper we can. We believe in our profession, and in the future. And we believe in our internet site, which you also whacked as you slithered out the door. I don't know how your column was doing, but we have the most popular sports section in Chicago. The reports and blog entries by our Washington editor Lynn Sweet have become a must-stop for millions of Americans in this election year. After a recent blog entry I wrote about the Beijing Olympics, I woke up at 5 a.m. one morning, when North America was asleep, and found that 40 percent of my 100 most recent visitors had been from China. I don't have any complaints about our web site. So far this month my web page has been visited from almost every country on earth, including one visit from the Vatican City. The Pope, no doubt. Hope you were doing as well.

You have left us, Jay, at a time when the newspaper is once again in the hands of people who love newspapers and love producing them. You managed to stay here through the dark days of the thieves Conrad Black and David Radler. The paper lost millions. Incredibly, we are still paying Black's legal fees.

I started here when Marshall Field and Jim Hoge were running the paper. I stayed through the Rupert Murdoch regime. I was asked, "How can you work for a Murdoch paper?"

My reply was: "It's not his paper. It's my paper. He only owns it."

That's the way I've always felt about the Sun-Times, and I still do. On your way out, don't let the door bang you on the ass.

Your former colleague,

Roger Ebert

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I refuse to say anything about this.

But I have to post it anyway.

I will say, the way the second Hamm brother chooses to try and add a hispanic inflection to the delivery of his words is pretty tragic.

This is years old, but never ceases to be funny

There's something off-putting about a swimmer who trains for the Olympics only during the year of the Games. Add in that he also wears boxing attire on deck, looks like a sleaze, and is the only American I've ever wanted to lose anything and you've got someone most swimmers love to hate.

We're talking about Gary Hall, Jr.

I've been converting my sports tapes (I have 100+ starting from the 2000 Olympics) into DVDs and just got through Day Seven of the 2004 Olympics, wherein Hall swims the 50 free and inexplicably wins the gold out of Lane Two. That race still makes me want something bad to happen to him, so I wandered on over to and typed in "gary hall shark attack" and found what I was looking for:
Olympian Gary Hall, Jr., Sister, Survive Shark Attack -- July 2, 2006

The meat of the story is that his sister, Bebe, gets bit by the shark, it goes and swims around Gary's legs, and then she shoots it in its mouth and it swims away and then the Halls get to the boat and everyone lives happily ever after, except Gary is still Gary so maybe not so much. According to Swimming World Magazine, Gary doesn't do a lot besides tell Bebe to reload the spear.

But then, I clicked on this, which has actual quotes from Gary. He (predictably) gives himself more credit than SWM, saying he punched and kicked at the shark that bit his sister until it went back for her and she shot it.

Either way, Gary's not the one who gets the shark to swim away. His little sister does.

How embarrassing.

Almost as embarrassing as not making the 2008 Olympic Team. Ohhhhh!

The New York Daily News

apparently agrees with Marino.

Carlos Delgado once seemed destined to be a goner at season's end. Now, he may be an MVP candidate...

I am completely and utterly speechless. If Delgado finishes top 5 in the MVP voting I will start a petition for the immediate disbanding of the BBWAA. I'm pretty confident I could get at least four people to sign it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jay Mariotti Quits the Chicago Sun-Times

This will be a day long remembered.

I don't want to say too much and take away from the joy of this moment. You just have to read the story to appreciate this greatness. It includes bitching about the internet taking over sports media and whining about not being treated better than other coworkers. Deadspin even reports he had trouble getting in to his Around the Horn booth since his security clearance was revoked.

This is just too good. I would like to think that Skye's column ripping the buffoon was the straw that broke the camel's back. Doubtful, but I like dreaming.

Bill Plaschke Manhood Cuisine Update

Brief update, but significant because it doesn't happen very often: Tony Reali made me, as they say, "lol."

From the opening of Around the Horn today. . .

Bill Plaschke: Can you believe it? A billion people and not one Panda Express!

Tony Reali: We know where you were eating, Plaschke.

Jay Mariotti: *laughs*

Grif: *laughs*

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

3 Guys And A Sports Page

I'm not sure how many people out there have heard of the website, 3 Guys And A Sports Page. I honestly don't know what kind of popularity it has. It looks like it's been up and running for at least a year now? I don't know.

Anyways, apparently they write some pretty crazy shit.

Is Carlos Delgado an MVP Candidate?

That's the headline. Like I said, crazy shit. The author's name is Daniel Marino. I'm looking into whether or not he spent any time as a quarterback in the Miami Dolphins organization. So far my search yields no results.

In May, if you had told me that Carlos Delgado would be mentioned as a possible MVP candidate, I’d have laughed at you.

Today, if you told me that Carlos Delgado would be mentioned as a possible MVP candidate, I would laugh at you.

On June 1st, he was hitting below .230 and looked lost at the plate. But I stand (or sit) here today, writing it myself: Carlos Delgado has become a legitimate NL MVP candidate.

I laugh at you.

Plain and simply put: there’s no way the Mets would be in first place without Carlos Delgado.

You could also make an argument that they would not be in first place without Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, or Johan Santana (among others).

Nope... Carlos Delgado > All the above players.

Delgado now has 90 RBI. That’s only 9 RBI behind team leader David Wright (who has been mentioned in MVP discussion).

Wright also leads him in OBP, SLG, OPS+, SB, VORP, EQA, WARP, and almost any other valuable statistic ever made, by a pretty large margin.

His 90 RBI are better than Pujols, Utley, Holliday, Braun, Burrell, and Fielder.

This is awesome. I'm so glad Peter Gammons did not write this. So Delgado is the MVP because he has some of the best players in the league getting on base in front of him. Gotcha.

It’s no coincidence that since Delgado started hitting with authority in July, the Mets started winning games (31-17 since July 1st).

Teams often tend to perform better when their players start to perform better. Especially when that player had a .726 OPS(!) up to that point. It also probably helps that Santana, Perez, and Pelfrey have a combined ERA under 2.50 during that time. Maybe? There's also that guy that plays short. He's not too bad.

There are many worthy of consideration, but perhaps no one has been more valuable to his team during the last two months than Carlos Delgado has been to the Mets.

Since July 1st, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday each have an OPS at least 75 points better than Delgado. They also lead by quite a bit in RC and RC/27. Those may not be the best stats in the world, but it would seem rather obvious that Delgado has not been the most valuable even over the last two months (although he's been very good). Also, keep in mind that these players, along with many others, have put up very good numbers throughout the entire season, and not just the last two months.

Albert Pujols is always in the MVP discussion, but the Cardinals are in 3rd place in the NL Central and it will be difficult for them to overtake the Brewers or Cubs. Pujols is also losing consideration to teammate Ryan Ludwick who is also having a monster season.

First of all, how a player's team performs should in no way reflect the value of that player. If the Cardinals were in the NL West, they'd probably have already ran away with the division by now and Pujols would be at the top of everyone's list. Does that really sound fair? Team success does not equal or reflect that of individual value.

Secondly, do not compare Ludwick's season to that of Pujols. This goes for all voters, writers, thinkers, human beings, etc. Pujols currently leads him in like 50 different categories. He is the best player in baseball. Please stop trying to prevent him from winning awards and please stop trying to conform people to your crazy way of thinking.

Ryan Braun is perhaps the most legitimate MVP candidate at the moment. I dare say that Braun and Delgado are 1-2 respectively in my MVP voting if the season ended today.


I don't know who you are, Daniel Marino (still not sure if you played football), but if you had an MVP vote I would lose all faith in the integrity of the award. If there were seriously voters out there who would have Ryan Braun and Carlos Delgado as their FUCKING 1-2 ON THE BALLOT, then there would be no point in caring about this prestigious, 96-year old award at all.
Luckily, though, he's not a voter and the BBWAA get's it dead on every single year.

Fortunately, the season does not end today. The NL MVP Award will come down to the final week of the season. But if Delgado continues his tear (he’s even playing well on defense),

He's currently 8th in RZR and 8th in OOZ among NL first baseman. So he's pretty much average. You'd be better off not mentioning anything about a first baseman's defense unless it's damn good (like Albert Pujols). Otherwise it's pretty moot in an MVP argument.

and the Mets are able to make the playoffs, it will be difficult not to look in Delgado’s direction

I think I could resist.

David Wright has been hitting well the entire season, yet the Mets struggled early on. It wasn’t until Delgado started hitting that the Mets became serious contenders again.

What??? It took more than one player to win baseball games? Weird...

And in September, when the last regular season pitch is thrown, it may just be Carlos Delgado who is a serious contender to become the NL MVP.

Oh man. This is bad, Daniel Marino. I don't care how many passing yards you threw, there's really no excuse for this. Carlos Delgado is currently 44th in VORP among all NL players. That's not very valuable. Yes, he's been doing great lately, but you must realize that you're potentially rewarding him for playing horrible for the entire first half of the season.
There's no justifying such a decision. I think even the current (dreadful) BBWAA would be ashamed of something like this. Perhaps the Dolphins can rebound this season and you can regain some of your sanity. Until then, I very much hope to hear from you again.

Pedro for Cy Young? Maybe next time.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Matt Grevers is from "Chicago"

So Jay Mariotti has to write about him.

My roommate moved in yesterday, bringing with her the print version of this little gem from her local paper. We then ripped it to shreds, the swimming aficionados that we are.

The gold medal will be his forever, even if few remember. By twist of fate, coaching decisions and Michael Phelps' need to rest, Matt Grevers became the fifth Beatle -- anyone recall Pete Best? -- in The Relay Race Of Our Dreams.

Well. I think mostly it was a coaching decision. Cullen Jones got to swim in the final because he swam a faster prelim. The coaches said that was how they'd make their relay line-up for the final. Had Matt swum faster than Cullen, he would have swum the final. As it happened, Matt swam a 47.7 and Cullen a 47.61.

Furthermore, what about Nathan Adrian, who swam lead-off on the first relay? Or Ben Wildman-Tobriner, the third leg? Without them, Phelps, Weber-Gale, Jones, and Lezak wouldn't have been in the position to win the gold. Every single man who competes in the prelim is just as much to credit for the result.

He filled in for Phelps and helped craft a blazing world record in the 400-meter freestyle relay semifinal, then dutifully sat in the stands when Phelps returned for the final.

Well, if we want to get technical about it, Nathan Adrian filled in for Phelps. Matt was filling in for Lezak as the anchor.

So when Jason Lezak bailed out Phelps with the aquatic version of a police car taking down a fugitive in a high-speed chase, guess who benefited without getting his hair wet?

Whoa. Phelps set an AMERICAN RECORD in the lead-off leg of the relay -- a record formerly held by Lezak. Grevers benefitted because he dove into the pool and touched the wall in world record time hours before -- undoubtedly getting his hair wet.

Also, are we now calling the French "fugitives"?

To his everlasting credit, he wasn't the least bit bothered when U.S. coach Eddie Reese chose Cullen Jones for what became a historic quartet. "We get some dice and throw 'em up against the wall," Reese said of his tough call.

I wonder if Mr. Mariotti bothered to listen to Rowdy Gaines during the talks about this relay. Why was it so difficult to say who'd make the final? Because any of the guys could have swum fast enough to do it. No other country has this kind of sprinting depth, which is amazing to say now when you keep in mind where we were four years ago. Reese didn't actually throw dice up against the wall. He looked at the final splits, saw that Cullen Jones had swum faster than Matt Grevers, and filled out his line-up card accordingly.

Now, he had the opportunity to win gold directly, not in absentia.

Well, I actually saw Matt swim the race, so I'm pretty sure he was present for it.

Now, he could add to his medal haul without anyone else's help.

No one can win a relay medal without anyone else's help. Not even Michael Phelps.

Now, the fifth Beatle could record his own hit record.

Or the sixth. Or, you know, seventh. Again with the blatant ignoring of the other two gold medal-winners. Long live Nathan Adrian and Ben Wildman-Tobriner for their world record-setting swims!

As family and friends watched at the ESPN Zone in Chicago, where more than 600 were invited via e-mail and Facebook.

As they watched ... what? What happened? Where's the main clause? How'd this get past the copy editor?

Maybe it came down to Peirsol wearing the celebrated Speedo LZR Racing trunks, which have trimmed times for Phelps and others amid much debate, while Grevers was wearing TYR Tracer Rise.

Or maybe Peirsol is just ... better? And the suit had nothing to do with it?

The following is a phrase that is in the print version (if someone calls BS I'll take the trouble of scanning it) that didn't make it to the online version, but it's good for a laugh or two, I think. It immediately follows the sentence quoted above: Being with TYR did get him a 60-foot billboard during the U.S. Olympic trials, with the billboard to be showcased at a pool in the north suburbs.

One, that's a terrible way to start a sentence. Two, Aaron Peirsol is sponsored by Nike, yet he's wearing a LZR. Speedo gave every swimmer at Trials a LZR suit. Maybe Matt just didn't like it. That happens. He wasn't at a disadvantage because he wasn't wearing a LZR. The suit had nothing to do with it. It was probably the lack of shoulder strength that Matt has compared to Aaron, mentioned later on in the article.

Swimsuit politics aside, the gold-silver perfecta, with possibly more to come in relay events, culminates Grevers' coming-out party at the Water Cube complex.

The only people making a big deal about the new suits are people who know nothing about the sport. Ask a swimmer and he or she will tell you that you won't get the record without the training. The suit cannot be substituted for thousands of hours chasing the black line.

Or I guess it could have been the suit that made up the .57 second difference. That's more than half a second! No one in their right mind would say that a suit, even the LZR, is going to make a half a second difference in a swimmer's performance. That's ludicrous.

He belongs to Chicago and America, but for a fleeting moment a few years ago, Grevers easily could have been one of these quasi-Olympians who compete for another country simply because family blood allows.

No one is a quasi-Olympian. You either are or you aren't. Other countries have different rules. Some athletes train their whole lives for an Olympics and don't make it because the two best swimmers in the world in their event happen to be from the United States. To compete on the highest level is the dream of many athletes and I, an athlete myself, cannot fault them for wanting to fulfill that dream.

Becky Hammon, the U.S. basketball player from South Dakota, doesn't have a smidgen of Russian in her DNA yet she's playing for Vladimir Putin's Olympic roster -- with a possible $150,000 waiting in gold-medal booty -- because she couldn't make the U.S. team. Others have taken advantage of dubious famly-tree links, such as NBA player Chris Kamen, who grew up in Michigan but is playing for Germany because -- ready? -- his great-grandparents hailed from there. My great-grandparents are from Italy, so does that mean I can compete on the Italian air-pistol team?

If you could make the Italian air-pistol team, yeah. I doubt it, though. Well, I don't actually know Italy's requirements. They may be stricter than Germany. Oh wait, the print version says "fencing." Either way, you can't compete if you don't make the team. If you make the Olympic team you are an Olympian. There's no "quasi" about it.

Is Oksana Chusovitina a quasi-Olympian because instead of competing for her native Uzbekistan she won a medal for Germany in women's artistic gymnastics?

Let the athletes play their sports and let the politicians get into the political aspects of it. There's no reason to bring down athletes for their desire to play in the Olympics.

Back to the swimming.

Any doubts about Phelps' stamina and insanely ambitious Beijing workload were temporarily silenced. After struggling in the first leg of the 400 free relay and putting his team in a hole, he kept alive his eight-golds-in-eight-days hopes by crushing his world record in the 200 free. It reinforced the idea that the only way he can fail in his quest is via a relay. Three down, five to go.

Phelps was "struggling" in the first leg of the 400 free relay, even though he swam the fastest 100 free ever swum by an American ever. Ever. It wasn't that far off the world record, either. Yeah, that's "struggling." Or it's just a guy talking about a sport he watches maybe once every four years and not even then because a lot of these inaccuracies could have been avoided by listening to four minutes of Rowdy Gaines. Or even Dan Hicks. Or, hell, listening to the swimmers themselves. OR EVEN reading the quotes that he chose to use in his article!

Oh, and it was eight golds in nine days.

Not that Phelps was anything but imperfect with his slow first leg. "After the first 50, I don't know if I was shock or what," he said. "It wasn't really what I had thought about. That's just shows you never can say anything is impossible. To be a body length behind with 50 to go and come back to win shows anything can happen."

Does anyone else enjoy how Mariotti called Phelps slow after posting the fastest time swum by an American ever? And then quotes Phelps talking about Lezak's insane swim, making it look like Phelps is talking about himself? So, the positioning of the quote is not only misleading, it's also kind of insulting to Lezak.

Phelps and Grevers have become friends, part of a close-knit pack of Americans who knew they're all part of Phelps' dream. But on this day, Grevers ventured out from the seats and won his own medal. He got his hair wet this time.

Well, Grevers knows how relays work at big meets. You get your B-team to swim the prelims if they're fast enough to qualify in the top eight. Our B-team just happened to break the world record. Then you get your A-team to swim the final for the gold -- which goes to every swimmer who participated in the race.

In fact, let me take you back to 4x100 medley relay final of 2004. Phelps came away from that Olympics with 2 bronzes and 6 golds -- one of those being from that last relay. But Michael didn't swim the fly in the final. He didn't even swim the freestyle, or the backstroke, or the breaststroke. He swam in the prelims, won the 100m fly by .04 seconds, and ceded his spot to silver-medallist Ian Crocker so that his teammate could win a gold as well.

Phelps got his hair wet in 2004 for that gold medal, and Grevers wetted his own in 2008. What a back-handed way to compliment a guy. He broke a world record and won a gold medal, but because he didn't compete in the final, that gold is somehow less Matt's than his individual silver? He was sitting in the stands and got handed a medal he didn't earn? What?

Stay out of the pool, Mariotti, and stick to what you know.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Night Baseball Live Blog Dodgers-Phillies

I know I'm cutting it close with these but trust me, I'll make up for it during the notes. At least, that's my hope. The Phillies look to continue the recent stretch of offense that, as mentioned numerous times during last week's coverage, struggled. The Dodgers try to win this game with the hope to split tomorrow behind Kuroda. (edit: stupid wrap around series)

- Oh good, a montage. Yay!

- Hmm, for some reason, the FanGraphs log for this game isn't up yet. My people want to see graphs, darn it!

edit: Here it is!

- Does anyone else see Scott Elarton with Blanton's motion?

- I wonder where the Dodgers would be without that old scout.

- Darn Olympics screwing up my sleep schedule. X( Good thing they're before classes start or else I'd go mad, hehe. Not that I mind given what I've watched.

- Oh noes! What happened to "slidepiece"? You're moving away from your bread and butter, Joe! *tries not to fall out due to sleepiness*

- High stress inning for Blanton. It's innings like that which make it tough for starters to compile complete games these days. This is where pitch count matters more so than total pitches. That's not to say that total pitches don't matter but the manner that they are compiled is the key.

- Haha, I knew something was up with that plate appearance. Nothing like the 5-ball walk.

- Why do I get the feeling I've seen this before from the Mets?

- To borrow Grif's wording, "Just because" -

- Ahh, running sausages. *pinches self* Yup, still awake.

- On that note, congrats to the Hawaii LL for winning the LLWS. In their honor, Victorino takes a walk.

- That swing was fugly to be kind.

- Yes, I'm still awake. Barely though. :)

- Ah yes, the arbitrary nature of numbers. I mean, it's pretty nice that Martin is linked with future HOFer Pudge Rodriguez but that reeks "cherry picking".

- Aggh, attack of the misplaced production graphic!


- Good play by Manny. Not that I don't believe Joe, but that's an awfully small sample to consider someone who's traditionally been a below average fielder will make a run at the Gold Glove. Heck, even if Manny were Yaz out there, it's pretty tenuous.

- Don't waffle on me, ESPN. Either be subtle with your upcoming events graphic or go full screen.

- Anyone remember that ESPN: the Magazine commercial with Jeff Kent? Apparently, neither does he so he hits into the GIDP.

- I think those Scream masks were cool 10 years ago. Now? It's a bit cliched. It jumped the shark.

- "He's like Manny Ramirez." Yeah, they're so alike that it's scary.

- Good 3-2 pitch to Ramirez.

- Victorino choosed correctly and makes the play.

- Howard with the excellent play to end the inning and most likely Blanton's night.

- Phew, I felt the wind from that whiff. Wait, nevermind. The fan in the room is on. :P

- My guess is that Myers isn't giving Blanton hair care tips.
edit: Nope, he just told Myers, "I'll show that Goose!"
edit 2: "Ah shucks, why did you do that to me, Charlie?"

- Good play by Nomar. What a peak he had before that wrist surgery in '01. He wasn't bad after that but the couple of years preceding were special.

- I see Big Helmet got picked off. Sorry about that, nature called. Somehow, I managed not to miss much. Thank Matt Kemp!

- Good read by Ethier. Pretty good play by Ruiz to make that close.

- Kent with the two-out single scoring Ethier. 2-1 Dodgers.

- Here's one thing that has bothered me: why would Major League Baseball decide to advertise MLB.TV on MLB.TV? Isn't that preaching to the choir? Exactly how does this help grow the brand? At least they had it on ESPN just now.

- I see Feliz has honed in on his plate discipline.

- OT: Just me speaking but does anyone else feel weird seeing Mao loom behind Bob Costas?

- Neat plays by Burrell and Howard right there.

- Here's Hong-Chi Kuo reprising the role of Scott Proctor and any number of relievers of Torre teams.

- 778 PAs = everyday leadoff hitter on a top offense. That's pretty much it, lol.

- Here's another "What's the point of that?" (aside from me doing these note): showing the score of the game we're currently watching on the ESPN bottomline. Still not getting that.

- Remember how I mentioned the danger of the high stress inning? Boom! (yeah, yeah, post hoc ergo propter hoc, I know. Still fitting)

- Victorino with the leadoff single.

- So a slider?

- I happen to call that the "reach and preach".

- Man, Andy Tracy is still around?

- Wait, that's an old line? Hmm, who knew Broxton already took up some mythic proportions.

- Game tied. 2-all. Nothing more. First extra inning game for the live blog. YAY!

- Bases loaded for the Dodgers, none out. They lose two outs on a DP and the Martin flies out. I've seen that situation in some permutation with my team.

- Heh, a longtime Dodger coaching for the Phillies and a longtime Phillie coaching with the Phillies.

- Beimel : attack of the LOOGY! Attack of the pickoff move.

- He really kicked it up a notch after reaching 1st. *rues being stuck checking out Gameday right when the game is getting good*

- Hamels, FTW? Nope. Feliz, FTW? Yes. 5-2 Phillies win in 11.

Now I sleep. See you next week!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


That's the reaction of gold medalist hottie Amanda Beard on the prospect of dating Michael Phelps. I'm willing to bet he started that rumor. I know I would.

"Come on, I have really good taste," the sexy swimmer said. "He's really not my type."

Well, good to know I don't need to be Michael Phelps to have a chance here*.

And, of course, this is couple-day-old news, so an apology has already been issued.

Still funny.

*This blogger actually had his picture taken with Ms. Beard and played mini-golf with her, so he knows he doesn't actually have a chance anyway, but stil. . .

Athletes: Yearbook Style

From the "Just 'Cuz" department, I bring you: Athletes.

Yearbook Style!

Michelle Wie

Shawn Johnson

Carsten Sabathia

Mr. Jessica Simpson

Mikey Phelps

Eli's Brother

Randy Moss

Johnny Madden

Kobe Bryant

Joey Morgan

Joshua Hamilton

Jennie Finch

Brett Favre

Alexander Rodriguez

Friday, August 22, 2008

Boom Goes the Dynamite in Waco

According to the blog you should be reading instead if you're making the mistake of reading us (this includes writers), legendary sportscaster and Ball State University's finest graduate Brian Collins has gotten a gig working for KXXV in Waco, Texas.

I hope very much to find some videos of his broadcasts littering the internet in the future. If he doesn't use "boom goes the dynamite," regularly throughout segments, there will be hell to pay. What would Stuart Scott be without "booyah!" Or Dan Patrick without "en fuego." Or Jeannie Zelasko without saying dumb things that set the cause for women's equality in sports painfully back each time she opens her mouth?

In honor of this event, let's all rewatch Brian's greatest performance together.

Oh yeah. That was awesome.

Everyone and Their Mothers May Have Been Right

So sayeth ESPN.

Or, at least, the IOC thinks there's enough of a possiblity they're looking in to it further. They're still playing dipolmatic.

"We believe the matter will be put to rest and there's no question ... on the eligibility," [IOC spokeswoman Giselle] Davies said. "The information we have received seems satisfactory in terms of the correct documentation -- including birth certificates."

Not much to expand on this, we all sort've saw it coming. While Bela Karolyi's tirade may have been a bit misplaced on air, he did say what we all assumed (I think, still not sure he wasn't talking about donut recipes). I think the question was just whether or not the IOC would do anything about it and risk pissing China off.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lima Oscar Lima

I know most of my collegues and probably few of our readers (if we had any) would get this, but for those of you who do and because it makes me lol (which, on the internet, means "laugh over language" or something), I give you:

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Art of Innuendo

At times, a sport or particular situations in sports can make it too easy for the amateur comic *points to self* or not so careful sportswriter to get a quick laugh. This is even more apparent when the joke is unintentional and, most importantly, involves something "blush worthy".

To wit, taken from an article about the women's pole vault battle between Jenn Stuczynski and Yelena Isinbayeva

Big poles and big mouths don’t go together.

*swing* *crack* Hanging pitches go a long way, don't they?

Of course, such humor depends on your state of mind and presentation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday Night Baseball Live Blog Phillies-Padres

Welcome to the 2nd edition of the SNB Live Blog. Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies as they try to keep pace with the NL East leading Mets while the Padres, with Cha Seung Beak starting, look to end the season on a high note.

Fan Graphs Live Scoreboard

- BBTN note: even including the fact that Garret Anderson has played 300 more games that Tim Salmon, I'm not seeing how Anderson was better.

Salmon: .282/.385/.498/128
Anderson: .296/.327/.469/105

edit: I am amazed at how rarely Anderson gets plunked.

- Joe, you do realize that Rollins had a career year last year, right? I'm not saying he's unimportant but how about the fact that Ryan Howard has a .321 OBP? How about Utley having an OPS around 800 the past 6 weeks which says a lot about Utley that it's disappointing? How about Pat Burrell having his first bad month of the season? They put their (less than informative) stats right there. That's not to mention Lidge's shoulder issues early this month.

- I still don't like the look of those special Padres unis.

- Giles with the rainbow throw. Rollins is safe. 1-0 Phils.

- Is it me or has Joe taking inordinately long pauses so far? I know all about taking long pauses as I'm no master orator.

- You have to love that brotherly connection. Speaking of which, it's pretty interesting how the brothers Gonzalez came about into big league life. Adrian was a former #1 overall pick in the amateur draft while Edgar was selected in the 30th round by the Rays (then Devil Rays).

- Here comes Cole Hamels. I remember seeing Hamels pitch against the Yankees in spring training. I was quite impressed by his command and the action on his changeup.

- That was quick. :P

- Heh, they're talking about my observation now. Hire me, ESPN. ;)

- The Padres have the worst kind of offense: one that doesn't get on base and can't run the bases all that well. Speed is pretty useless if you can't get on. Joey Gathright can attest to that. They're not even scoring on the road all that well. That is somethng Padres teams of recent vintage had at least been able to do.

- Some play by Utley to get the forceout.

- In Williamsport, Orestes Destrade is hoping to see Werth hit a home run in the faint hope of seeing his mom.

- That was...interesting. Good thing Giles is alright from first look.

- Nice hitting by Baek. Now he's trying to steal 2nd.

- People may differ on who should be an All-Star but I would think the first half of the season would play into things at some point. I still think Burrell should have made the team this year. Wow, talk about getting on top of a high pitch.

- The Gonzalez connection again!

- Just not enough carry on that ball by Kouzmanoff.

- Hamels is having a Maddux-like outing so far. At least, Maddux of recent vintage. Also fitting considering the lack of support in recent games for Hamels in the same way Maddux had trouble getting wins despite decent pitching.

- Jon, give it up. You just can't win.

- Baek: proof that one can get a 5th starter on the cheap (sorry, Andy) :(

- Switching quickly to Olympic coverage: Lauryn Williams has a BIG dog.

- Where's Gary Thorne to say "kick save and a beauty"?

- Could his voice get any higher when he said "A-Rod"? I don't know what to make of that.

- Burrell showing off the power. 2-0 Phillies.

- My mother says that Shane Victorino looks a bit like Derek Jeter. I'm not seeing it. Do you?

- Grr, it's annoying when Pitch F/X on Gameday gives out.

- Odd play on that ball by Utley. Now the other Chase (Headley) makes them pay with an RBI single. 2-1.

- I remember Mike Adams when he was with the Brewers. That's all I have, lol.

- While I do consider myself a bigger fan of the AL, it's pretty cool seeing both pitchers get a hit.

- Hmm, I didn't know SAS was a third base coach.

- Oh yeah, now I really remember Mike Adams. While they haven't done all that well this year or in the draft the past few years, you have to say that Kevin Towers has done a nice job. Also cool that DePo has a blog as well.

- Yup, that would be a bad sign to be in the same breath as Joe Charboneau. Even worse, I don't remember Jody Gerut getting his own song. At least he seems to have found a nice place.

- We wouldn't expect anything less, Joe. While I'm not big on boxscore stats for player evaluation, they are still stats. They record what happened. No need to form a dichotomy.

- What a sequence by Ledezma.

- Speaking of which, there's that magic changeup to Giles.

- I can't believe this is the first time I've heard Hamels talk. Not sure what I expected him to sound like but not that. Nothing sarcastic, just random musing (as if the rest isn't ;) ).

- Hmm, I never knew Falkenborg threw that much gas. No wonder: his average fastball velocity has gone up 3.3 mph from last year

- Heh, didn't expect the live blog to be this long.

- There's that famous slider.

- It's games like this (Hamels going a strong 8 innings with under 100 pitches thrown) where the whole pitch count debate rages.

- Nice correction, Jon. Lidge knows all about ugly sliders.

- Game over. Phillies win 2-1. I hope you enjoyed the game and this blog.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

And then there was one and he had eight.

All week I've been making fun of a 12-year-old girl for wanting to marry Michael Phelps. Then this happened:
Congratulations, Michael. Speedo's giving you a million bucks and you have your pick of underaged girls. Make wise decisions (no more DUIs!) and just keep swimming.

He's certainly the greatest swimmer of all time (he locked that up in Athens as far as I'm concerned), greatest Olympian of all time, and by the time he retires I'll wager he'll be considered the greatest athlete of all time.

I am proud to be an American.

Soto for MVP?

I have always loved Peter Gammons. I never thought I would ever be able to bring myself to say something negative about him. Even as I write this I feel like I'm breaking some kind of Baseball rule. But after giving it a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that this is inexcusable, no matter how much I may like the guy.

Rookie Soto a viable MVP candidate

That's the title. I know what you're thinking. It's a typo. He meant to say that Soto is a viable Rookie of the Year candidate. Sure, it seems painstakingly obvious that Soto would be a viable ROY candidate, but at least it's true.

Much to my chagrin, however, it is not a typo.

The thought came out of nowhere. "You should," a Cubs player said, "be talking up Geovany Soto as the MVP. Think about it."

No. Don't do it, Pete. Please. I'm begging you.

A rookie catcher as MVP? "Take his position, take what our pitchers have done, take his production," the player continued. "Who in the National League is more valuable?"

Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holliday, Jose Reyes, Chipper Jones, Chase Utley, David Wright...

Don't listen to him! It's a trap! Who the hell is this "player" you're talking to anyway? Is it Lee? I bet it's Lee. He's probably pissed off he didn't win the MVP in '05 and now he's out to to fuck up the whole voting process. Fuck you Lee for putting this idea in Peter's head.

The first point is that on the Ides of August there is no clear choice for MVP. Albert Pujols (.342 BA, 24 HR, 75 RBIs, 28 intentional walks, 1.053 OPS) and Ryan Ludwick (.304, 30, 90) have carried the Cardinals to contention in a year when no St. Louis lead has been safe. Lance Berkman is hitting .333 with 25 homers and a 1.042 OPS, but the Astros' dash is for .500. The two leading home run hitters, Ryan Howard and Adam Dunn, are hitting in the .230s.

It comforts me a little bit when someone like Gammons--who's been around the game for 263 years-- has the open-mindedness to cite statistics such as OPS. It's no VORP or EQA, but it's something that still tends to take a back seat to stats like Batting Average and RBI by almost every ESPN "analyst."
It puzzles me, though, that Gammons chooses to post Pujols' OPS but neglects to do so with guys like Ludwick and Dunn. If he did, then you would see that Ludwick trails Pujols by 76 points and Dunn, despite having the .230 average, has an .896 OPS.
Although, I do think that Gammons is right in one regard. As of now, I don't believe that there is any real clear choice for MVP. I think at this point it's pretty much between Pujols and Berkman, with Hanley Ramirez slowly sneaking into contention.

Chase Utley is certainly in the race, with 30 homers and 80 RBIs. So is Ryan Braun, with similar numbers. One magic September might push David Wright past everyone.

Ryan Braun??? The guy with an OBP exactly at league average? That Ryan Braun?! I really wish someone that I blatantly disliked wrote this article.

So when one looks at Soto and sees that his 18 homers, 69 RBIs and .870 OPS are second among catchers to Atlanta's underappreciated Brian McCann (21 HR, 69 RBIs, .933 OPS), then appreciate what he has done as a rookie handling the Chicago pitchers. In total, the suggestion that he be considered for MVP is at least thought-provoking.

So... there's a player at Soto's same position (catcher) who is producing considerably better than him. Also, I can appreciate what Soto has been able to accomplish, I just don't think it should make him a viable MVP candidate. And I also think the fact that he's a rookie should have absolutely nothing to do with it at all.

The larger issue is catching itself. And how remarkable it is that Soto, who signed as a third baseman, converted into an All-Star rookie catcher and became the frontispiece of what right now is the best team in baseball.

Russell Martin was also signed as a third baseman and converted into a catcher. It's cool, but it's not like it's unheard of. And it certainly should have no bearing on the MVP.

If Geovany Soto doesn't wear down in September and ends up with close to 30 homers and 90-something RBIs and "Go, Cubs, Go" is ringing down Waveland Avenue, perhaps he'll end up in what appears to be a muddled MVP race. Odds are that he won't end up in the MVP finals, but in mid-August it is an intriguing thought, especially when the thought itself comes from one of his pitchers.

Perhaps he will end up in the MVP race. Crazier things have happened. Jimmy Rollins won the MVP last year despite not even being the best player at his position, or his team. Andre Dawson won the MVP during a year in which he got on base like 16 times all season (maybe it was 17, I don't remember). Somehow Juan Gonzalez won twice! So yeah, it's plausible that the voters could give Soto some kind of ridiculous chance to win the MVP. Is he in any way, shape, or form deserving of that consideration? No. Not by a long shot.

This marks the first and last time I will ever post anything negative about Peter Gammons. I already feel like less of a person for doing so.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Christmas in. . . August?

This maybe doesn't deserve its own post, but I'm hoping someone out there can help me.

I'm up late watching a re-air of the US vs. the Netherlands in baseball. In the top of the third, a Netherlands player fails on a pop fly in foul territory (in such a way that helps me understand why this is the last time Baseball will be in the Olympics). After he drops it, the stadium starts loudly playing. . . Jingle Bells?!

Why? Can someone out there help me with this? And it wasn't a quick tune, either, it was the whole song. And it was loud and clear, definitely Jingle Bells. Please? Anyone?

Also, watching this game reminds me of what it was like to watch Expos games. There's no one in the stands, so you can litterally hear individual conversations and hecklers. There's some guy who's louder than the announcers who still thinks it's cool to say "no batta no batta no batta SWING!"

. . . maybe I won't miss Olympic baseball. . .

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Spain's Olympic Basketball Team Fouls Out with Ad

From The Guardian

"Spain's Olympic basketball teams have risked upsetting their Chinese hosts by posing for a pre-Games advert making slit-eyed gestures. The advert for a courier company, which is an official sponsor of the Spanish Basketball Federation, occupied a full page in the sports daily Marca, the country's best-selling newspaper."

As a kid, I remember this thing some of the other students used to do where they would do the same gesture as a way to tell the difference between the Japanese and Chinese. Though I didn't know about stereotypes or political correctness at the time, I had a feeling that it was pretty pointless and dumb.

Congratulations! You have now confirmed my elementary school hunch.

The Epic Baseball Week: Day Two

The Astros won 12-4 against Tim Lincecum. They only got the win after they tried to take out the kid's kneecaps though. As the runs started piling on and those around me commented on the Astros offense being "good," I said, "Welcome to the Giants bullpen."

Update on the physical tolls of aspiring to seven games in seven days: the jetlag is killing me slowly. I first noticed it when I was taking a picture of Barry Zito holding my stuffed dolphin and the shakes overtook me. I had to lean back because hello, I am short and not only is Zito tall, but the field has a couple inches on the spectator portion of the building, and my abs decided to rebel. Thus, Zito's face is a funny-looking mess. Some would say that's normal.

Apparently, asking a baseball player to take a picture with a dolphin is a strange request met with an apprehensive look. I said, "Swisher did it" and that must be the key phrase. "Oh, Swish did it? I love that guy." I think Zito has more fans in Houston than he does in San Francisco.

The difference between Zito and Swisher? After finding out that Snorky is good luck, Swisher rubbed the dolphin all over his body. Zito was just kind enough to avoid getting Sharpie on it.

Omar Vizquel came over to sign after a woman from Venezuela yammered on at him in Spanish.

A kid got a ball signed and asked, "Who ARE you?" Vizquel, always (?) the comedian, said in his highly-accented voice, "Barry Bonds." He then walked away.

In other sports-related news, Michael Phelps (please, do we have to keep using his last name? Let's just call him Mike. Yeah. I went there!) won his fourth and fifth gold medals of this Games, making him the most championest Olympian of all time. He has no finals tonight, but he does swim a semi-final in the 200IM, a race Ryan Lochte thinks he can win. I love the kid's optimism, but ... really? When a guy breaks a world record in the 200 fly with his goggles full of water (yes, young swimmers, it even happens to Mike!), it's going to take more than Jon Horton-like confidence to win it.

And Natalie Coughlin is half Filipino.

More from Chef Karolyi

Wow I am writing things on this web log a lot lately. I should coin a verb for it.

We here at And That Happened are not so much here to report the sports stories of the day to you as we are to cover the people who report those sports stories of the day. Maybe that makes us pathetic, but I enjoy it because I don't have to stand in a sweaty locker room trying to talk to someone in a bad mood hoping he'll say something your editor likes (I've done it, it's not fun).

I mentioned in a previous post, I've become quickly enamored with Bela Karolyi's very unique presence in the NBC olympics booth next to (my hero) Bob Costas.

I also mentioned I couldn't understand a word he was saying, and was unsure of whether he was discussing vaulting form or how to make donuts. Apparently what was being said was far more entertaining.

According to Tampa Bay Online*:

"These people think we are stupid," Karolyi said. "We are in the business of gymnastics. We know what a kid of 14 or 15 or 16 looks like. What kind of slap in the face is this? They are 12, 14 years old and they get lined up and the government backs them and the federation runs away. There is an age limit and it can't be controlled."

The Washington Post also has some nifty quotes:

"They are obviously kids -- 12 or 14 [years old], max -- and you're telling the world they are 16? What arrogance!"

"The passport is made by the Chinese government," Karolyi said. "They can do any kind of documents."

As mentioned, we cover the people who cover the news, not the news itself. I'm sure you've heard speculation of the Chinese gymnasts' ages not being up to snuff, but Karolyi's vehement, biased and insulting statements of fact that the host country of the Olympics are pulling one over on the rest of the world is taking it to another level. Of course, Bela knows how communist countries operate, and also knows what a 14-year-old Gold Medal gymnast looks like, but this is still rubbing a lot of people the wrong way (notably poor co-anchor Bob Costas, doing a full-on Mike Myers).

Me? This sort of outrage makes me love Mr. Karolyi even more. Bring him in for Sunday Night Baseball in place of Joe Morgan. AND Jon Miller! There's nothing better than a studio analyst saying crazy things that make everyone around him so uncomfortable they feel their own jobs might be in jeopardy (yes, I miss Rush Limbaugh on ESPN). Unless, of course, they can't be certain if said studio analyst just said something that should make them uncomfortable because they can't understand what he said in the first place.

And I'm certainly not making fun of him or saying there's anything wrong with that. It just makes him more awesome, even if he is known for bringing up young female gymnasts with the same loving care and patience shown by a guard when bringing up a POW in a concentration camp. Are you not picturing how epic this would be, people?

I can't wait until I get that petition started and Karolyi is greating me every Sunday night before I have to listen to John Madden.

(Note: This author does not know nearly as much about gymnastics as he pretends to.)

*I feel the urge to top this by finding even more random and obscure sources in the future. I dare the rest of you ATH writers to try and out-do me.

Jayson Stark Sums Up the Absurdity that is the MVP Award

"...Remember that this award is about "value," not numbers."

Interesting. And all this time I thought the numbers were the very thing representing that value. He also provided this valuable new age statistic for us:

My "runs produced" definition is RBIs plus runs scored, then subtract homers. Here's how they rank:
Hamilton 160
Kinsler 147
Morneau 142
Quentin 140
Youkilis 125

Sorry, Alex Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore, and Milton Bradley, you are not MVP-worthy. The reasons for this are three-fold: either A) the players in front of you don't get on base enough B) the players behind you don't hit good enough or C) you hit too many homeruns.
Now, I know that Stark didn't exactly use this to back up his stance on the MVP, but the fact that this type of statistic is being used in any context is cause for concern. This is essentially one of the worst ways to determine how well a player produces runs.
Let me show you why this "statistic" should never be used in any argument ever again.

Runs Produced-2008
Mark Reynolds
Albert Pujols

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bela Karolyi for Football Night in America

This man has just become my single favorite studio analyst. Ever. Easily.

He's just so excited about everything, and I can't understand a word he's saying. And I love it. His exchanges go something like this. . .

Bob Costas: Well, Bela, you saw the US floor routine. What do you think their chances of winning the gold are?

Bela Karolyi:

NBC seriously needs to use Karolyi as their analyst for every event. You say all he knows about is gymnastics? Screw that, that would only make it more entertaining to hear his thoughts on Saber or Handball.

Or Luge. Yes, bring him out in the winter, as well. (Also, Street Luge should be a summer event in the Olympics!)

In fact, NBC has a darn good football show on Sunday nights. Pair him back together with Bob Costas and let him loose on football. No need to educate him on the sport. We won't know what he's saying, anyway. Just let him watch, and then let us listen to what he has to say!

I'm getting on this now! Someone help me start a petition!

Olympic coverage often makes me go "huh?"

Does anyone here watch the olympics to hear a former tennis player explain Pandas to us and why, if you go to China, that's the most important site to see?


Monday, August 11, 2008

The Epic Baseball Week: Day One

The plan for my week in Texas before I head back off to school: seven baseball games in seven days. Game One? Complete. Astros beat the Giants 3-1 and I sat in bullpen seats.

All the better for observing Hunter Pence's awesome uniform adjustments. When Pence got called up last season it was brought to my attention that he never stops touching himself. I thought this had to be an exaggeration.

During the top of the 4th inning, my friend Jessica counted how many times he adjusted his uniform per at bat. The counts are as following:
21, 48, and 28. That is a total of NINETY-SEVEN TIMES IN ONE INNING. And it was only a three at-bat inning! That's it!


Extreme Hyperbole Alert

Chris Berman just now on the Monday Night Football half-time show:

"We thought the Green Bay Packers could never go on without Brett Favre. A lot of people thought that was the case."

This was said completely seriously without a hint of being a joke or intentionally over-the-top. I know it's Berman, so I shouldn't be shocked, but this is just SO ridiculous I am.

I mean, really, I guess maybe I was the crazy one for not thinking this 753 year-old franchise with 1,582 championships and 52,000 (rounded) Hall of Famers and a fan base stretching from the North Pole to the Former Planet Pluto would just have to disband without BRETT FAVRE, but I don't think so. Nevermind the fact that if that were true, would HALF of a PRE SEASON game be enough to conclude it's not?

Seriously. Gag me. Or kill me. Both of those seem easier than changing the channel away from ESPN, something I'm strangely unable to do.

And... What Happened?

In 1999, an award was finally established in order to recognize the best offensive player in baseball. Fittingly, it was named after one of the game's great hitters, Hank Aaron. It's nice to have an award with such simple guidelines. There's no confusion over what "valuable" means and how much of a role the team's success should play into consideration. Nope. It's simply an award that goes to the best offensive player in each league.

Now, it would seem that only a limited amount of research would have to take place to determine such a recipient, right? Right. Let's take a look at how some of the cases have turned out thus far.

1999 (N.L.)
Winner- Sammy Sosa
Best Offensive Player- Mark McGwire
Many others were much, much more deserving than Sosa, but it really puzzles me how McGwire especially was not chosen. He led Sosa in the following categories: HR, RBI, R, OBP, SLG, OPS+, RC, RC/G, OWP, BtRns, BtWin, and EQA. Even to someone not accustomed to more advanced offensive statistics should easily be able to tell that McGwire had the superior offensive season. Seriously, what were the voters' justifications? Batting Average?

2001 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Jason Giambi
People got too caught up in the high HR and RBI total. Giambi clearly had the superior offensive season. It wasn't even close.

2002 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Jim Thome
See Above.

2003 (A.L.)
Winner- Alex Rodriguez
Best Offensive Player- Carlos Delgado
This one wasn't quite as bad as some of the others, but Delgado led handily enough in a number of categories for it to be pretty obvious that he was the most deserving candidate.

2003 (N.L.)
Winner- Albert Pujols
Best Offensive Player- Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds had a 231 OPS+, Pujols was at 187. That pretty much sums it up right there, doesn't it? There is no way that Bonds should have lost this award even once from 2000-2004. Also, since 1958, nobody not named Barry Bonds has put up an Adjusted OPS over 230. Although apparently it still wasn't good enough for the Hank Aaron Award.

2005 (A.L.)
Winner- David Ortiz
Best Offensive Player- Alex Rodriguez
I guess things have a way of evening themselves out-- at least partially. There's still a little ways to go for justice to have been entirely served, seeing as Rodriguez has won the award (undeservedly) three times. Ortiz had no business winning this award over A-Rod, though, who was clearly better in every offensive facet of the game.

2005 (N.L.)
Winner- Andruw Jones
Best Offensive Player- Derrek Lee
They should just call this the HR/RBI title award. Apparently nothing else is required. Besides those two categories, Jones didn't even finish in the top five of any statistic except extra base hits, in which he trailed Lee by 21.

2006 (A.L.)
Winner- Derek Jeter
Best Offensive Player- Travis Hafner
The voters went outside their usual way of thinking and picked a player who led absolutely zero major offensive categories. He had a good offensive season, don't get me wrong, but it was nothing compared to that of Hafner. You could also make very strong cases that Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, and Jim Thome were significantly more deserving as well. This is pretty much the benchmark for just how poor the voting system for this award is put together.

These are just the most obvious, ridiculous ones. If you want to get real technical about it, the most deserving candidates have probably won about 6 out of the 18 times the award has been handed out, with 3 of them being real obvious, amazing Barry Bonds seasons. The voting process is in shambles (broadcasters and analysts currently make up 70% of the vote). If the MLB is going to hand out an award for the best offensive season (which I think is a pretty high and important honor), they should do it right and find a respectable way to go about it. Otherwise, get rid of it altogether. I'm sure the Hammer is already plenty embarrassed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday Night Baseball Live Blog Cardinals-Cubs

Welcome to this NL Central match up and not to mention my first post on this blog. I'll be keeping track of some of the nuances of this game as well as some of ESPN's "analysis", good and bad. My fellow authors will join in the fun as well.

-Who would have guessed Joe wasn't big on stats?

-I can give ESPN credit for this: they have better scouting reports than the YES Network.

-As much as I think that strikeouts aren't the big evil some people think it to be, it's amazing he's so productive and can work plenty of walks yet not have the high strikeout totals of most others with high walk totals.

-This may just be me but having a microphone on the bases just doesn't add to my enjoyment of the game.

-There's the obligatory "the Molina brothers can't run" mention. Always helpful. :)

-What a jump by Kennedy.

-"Scouting reports tell you a lot about the pitcher." Isn't that the point of a scouting report?

-Woot, gas money from Jon and Joe!

-Here comes the future HoMer (Hall of Merit-er) Jim Edmonds. He crushed the ball all the way to deep center. To be serious, check out his rate stats. He's been very good.

-Not since Ron Santo's victory heel click or Sammy Sosa's home run hop has leg work been a bigger deal.

-Can those montages be any more melodramatic?

-Oh yes, "the club". That is another whole post altogether. Maybe later. ;)

-"Banzai!" *laughs at Jon Miller's momentary awkward silence after that comment*

-Very nice catch by Edmonds. HoMer!

-Speaking of nice plays, no wonder Glaus has shown so well defensively in stats detailing range.

-They've been pitching away to Pujols all night. I don't see what is so special about this situation that they decide to change from a plan that they haven't really deviated from in the first place. (before you say anything: yes, broadcasting is harder than it looks. I tried a mock broadcast at the Fan Fest this year and I certainly botched it badly. Having said that, I'm not a professional.)

-Dempster is sure working that "slidepiece" to great effect.

-Jon, Joe: please don't try to talk racing. You'll just embarrass yourselves. Then again, ESPN is not the source for great racing analysis of any kind.

-Soriano on the first pitch (career, before tonight): .405/.416/.755 in 610 PA with 46 HR. I would say that's not bad at all.

-There's the Joe Morgan staple: belabor a point regardless of how right or wrong he may be. A perfect example would be the discussion of a disputed HR call during the Mets-Yankees Sunday Night game earlier this year.

-Villone: the designated well-traveled lefty. Let's hope that Carpenter is alright.

-Kennedy channels his inner Leon Durham (oh great, now I'm doing it, too).

-Shuffles must love the 5-run inning his team got just now.

-Trying to steal a base down six? I never thought that to be great strategy.

-I'm a bit surprised they didn't start playing the Notre Dame fight song. Maybe I'm thinking about FOX.

-It's strange watching Wilbon speak to someone without Kornheiser yelling back.

-It should not be that surprising Red Sox fans are about in an away series. You know better, Jon.

-I don't know what is worse: listening to bad analysis (not specific to this game) or listening to one's mother singing an Isaac Hayes (RIP) song off key.

Cubs win 6-2.

FanGraphs plot: Plots 'R Us

Team USA Basketball Unwinds Together

In one of China's most famous brothel. Fun time!

At least there's a good chance this means LeBron, D-Wade and Melo will be loose, happy and, presumably, at the top of their game!

Sure this is an old story that's already been covered and you've all heard by now, but it needs its own story. Why? Because I love Babel Fish translations, that's why!

The story, after the picture serving as a jump.

Special correspondent pulls the Macao report dream eight giant stars certainly not to understand Hong Kong dog young team fierce, when on Wednesday before dawn James, Wedd and Antony go out their castle - - - Venice person hotel time, they already had fallen into the handkerchief para neat (dog young team) lens. A Hong Kong newspaper entire journey has recorded three giant star Macao nightwalking process.   

The American men's basketball team Monday flies to Macao from Las Vegas, has flown Asia's entertainment heaven from US's entertainment heaven, but in the arrival same day, already threw into the training in the Venice person hotel's golden light synthesis skill hall, on Tuesday and Wednesday these two days similarly have also arranged the daily three hour trainings. The castle Venice person hotel, may let the dream eight giant stars avoid all attention, completes the training and the food and lodging line: The ball hall is the seal, the station is also the relative seal. However stuffy two days later, the jorums could not bear finally must come out to introduce to visit the skylight.   

On Wednesday before dawn 0.30 points, James, Wedd and Antony under a staff's accompaniment, the step “the deep palace” goes to Macao named “hits the command” “the golden fish bowl” the type sauna recreation center. They ride the hotel arrangement private car, goes to nearby the wharf the recreation area, what is worth mentioning, three jorums travel light, not special security measure. It is reported that “hits the command” the sauna recreation center massage to serve about 90 minute 1500 Australian coins, three giant stars in “hit the command” the choice all are Vietnam Ji Nv the technician, is it is said best in Macao Vietnam technician's massage technology, and most receives welcome. Hong Kong dog young team also specially interviewed is the female technician who afterward the NBA giant star provides the service, three female technicians before starting the work, already had understood James et al. the statuses, because also more than once serves before this for the celebrity, therefore they had not demonstrated special surprised, indicated but actually, three great people only gave 200 Australian coins to take the tip, was is really not naturally.   

About two hours later, the James and the party of people return to the hotel, this time already was Wednesday past 2:00 am. It is reported that two years ago in prepared for the Japanese international championship time, James, Antony and the Wedd three people also once in warm-up match Hong Kong every night the music and song, they once two late appeared in intermediate belt Volar as well as celebrity foothold Drag-on-i all night the revelry, and attained seals “the travel fatigue three variants”. Perhaps is precisely therefore, three people appear once again in Macao's time, attracts Hong Kong dog young team next to the skin to press hard on immediately. US team's some once indicated with team reporter that the Macao weather burning hot humidity is very big, the player too will not go out to go sightseeing, did not think that these star player will come out using at night to move. However, compares the travel fatigue three variants, the dog young “waits for” does not have too many harvests on the kopeck body, these two day of kopeck's recreational activity, is feeds the beefsteak greatly under staff's accompaniment between beefsteak hall in a Venice person hotel. Some fans hear a rumor come, the kopeck has not let the fan feel disappointed. After finishing eating the food, the kopeck returns to the hotel rest at once, has not appeared again except the training in public's field of vision, relative “travel fatigue three variants”, the kopeck is described naturally the US team “the life model leader”.   

Sina sports own manuscript stated: This work (writing, picture, graph and sound video frequency) supply Sina to use especially, without authorization, any media and individual do not completely or the part reprint.

Well. . . that was "exciting."

At this point in time, I'm unsure of how many readers we have. Probably about two, including those of us who write for this blog. But for you imaginary readers too young to remember, the Dream Team was an awesome thing. I was just old enough then to appreciate the awesomeness of an all-MJ backcourt ripping through the rest of the world and staking dominant claim to playing the best basketball in the world.

Perhaps coincidently and perhaps not, as our international performance has waned so has my interest in the NBA. Where once I was a passionate Lakers fan (bandwagon, I admit), now the Association is just where my favorite college players go to die.

So I've barely been interested in this year's Redeem Team. This morning, I woke up and turned on the Rangers game (I think I'm safe from being a bandwagon fan here), unaware the re-air of the US's domination of China was going on. Suddenly, I flipped over and found LeBron James nuking the giant Chinese front court in a game that appeared to be roughly eleventy billion to negative three.

My thoughts on our Olympic basketball team then became something like this:

These guys seem to be ready to be together as a team ready to squash all comers. No one can expect '92 again, but maybe '96? Maybe? We haven't had the moments of comaraderie the old Dream Team did yet, but this could be something to be excited about and get behind again. Something this child of the 90s hasn't had in international basketball in a long time.

Of course, shortly after I was thinking about that, this whole brothel thing came up. . .

I guess that's comrarderie. Maybe.

I ... don't know how to sing to that.

Michael Phelps won the 400IM on Day One of the XXIXth Olympiad. Yeah, that's right, the Olympics are happening again and Phelps is smashing more world records. Who's surprised?

I was hoping I'd get to recite my favorite quote ("America goes one-two yet again!"), but Lochte fails at life (not really) and got third, letting that bald Hungarian dude improve upon his bronze in 2004.

Whatever, there's still two Americans on the medal stand and Phelps is chatting with Lochte through the entire ceremony, smiling that goofy smile and making me really nervous, being someone who wants things to go exactly right and with the utmost decorum during such important moments as these.

Finally everyone's all settled and Lochte and Phelps get their hands over their hearts and then ... the Star-Spangled Banner is playing, but ... part of the beginning is cut off? And then they add another verse in there? And then right when we're all ready to sing, "...and the hooooooooome of theeeeeeeeee BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAVE!" it CUTS OFF. Phelps laughs a little, but I see that bafflement in your eyes, kid! I see it!

Normally, I'm talking all through the primetime coverage. I say what the commentators say before they say it, I tell whoever's watching with me about Roman Sludnov breaking a minute in the 100 breast before anyone else, I comment on Sasha Artemev's lines before Elfi opens her big mouth, but quoting Elfi from 4 years ago during Hiroyuki Tomita's stunning high bar routine? "I'm speechless." Except back then, it was because she'd never seen anything so good.

Right now, it's because I've never heard anything so ... wrong. It's the Olympics. Those kind of mistakes shouldn't be happening.

So while the rest of the world is marveling over how AMAZING Beijing has done so far, I will continue to point out and tally everything they're doing wrong. I'm also counting how many times Elfi mentions Sasha's "lines," but that's another story for another time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Everyone's Favorite LA Writer Baits Obvious Jokes

And he likes it.

Bill, Bill, Billy, Bill Bill Bill Bill. You're asking for it with this, you know that? I don't know whether to admire you (I don't know if that's possible) or puke.

There's just too much to say about this. I'm finding it very hard not to stoop the level. I know you've got the jokes filling your head, and I'm not going to post them here.

. . . so you should post them in the comments.