Unrestricted View

"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Saturday, October 29, 2005

2006 MLB Prospects

Top Prospects, 2006 Draft
1. Andrew Miller, lhp, U. of North Carolina
2. Drew Stubbs, of, U. of Texas
3. Max Scherzer, rhp, U. of Missouri
4. Jordan Walden, rhp, Mansfield HS, Arlington, Texas
5. Daniel Bard, rhp, U. of North Carolina
6. Matt Latos, rhp, Coconut Creek (Fla.) HS
7. Wes Hodges, 3b, Georgia Tech
8. Ian Kennedy, rhp, U. of Southern California
9. Cody Johnson, of, Mosley HS, Lynnhaven, Fla.
10. Evan Longoria, ss, Long Beach State U.

This is an early list from Baseball America. It's interesting that only 3 of the 10 are high schoolers. My favorite part of this list is prospect #10 Evan Longoria. I'd draft him for his name alone. Think of the marketing possibilities if you could get Eva Longoria on board. The possibilities are endless. And if Evan plays ball even half as well as Eva makes men drool, he's gonna be a heckuva player.

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Depodesta Fired

After just 2 years as GM of the Dodgers, Paul Depodesta was fired today. The Dodgers held a press conference this afternoon to announce his dismissal.

This is one of those stories that moved rather quickly. It wasn't until yesterday that anyone outside of the Dodgers' inner circle had much of an idea that Depodesta's job security was in question. Until yesterday Depodesta was actively involved in the search for a new manager. But on Friday reports surfaced from LA that owner Frank McCourt and Tommy Lasorda met with Orel Hersheiser without Depodesta. This began speculation that he would soon be dismissed. 24 hours later, it's bye bye Paul.

This firing is curious to say the least. The other end of the spectrum suggests it shows complete ineptitude on the part of Dodgers ownership. Jim Tracy who is a very good manager was fired because of his inability ot get along with Depodesta. Fine. Depodesta is in charge and Tracy is easier to replace. But to then fire the GM just two weeks later shows indecision on the part of ownership. Both men are highly capable at their respective jobs, but the choice came picking one or the other. McCourt decided on neither. Now the Dodgers presumably go to the annual general managers meeting on November 6th with no GM. I don't know what they plan on getting accomplished. Dodger fans just hope it's not McCourt and Lasorda wheelin' and dealin' in Palm Springs.

The media had been all over Depodesta since trading popular team clubhouse guy Paul Lo Duca last season. He didn't make any friends by trading Shawn Green and letting Adrian Beltre and Steve Finley walk either. The Dodgers had waited years for Beltre to break out and as soon as he did, Depodesta let him sign with Seattle as a free agent. But in his defense and as Deppodesta points out himself, the idea of trades and player movement is to sell high in order to get the most value. So by definition a good trade will likely always be unpopular.

Beltre left for big money. Mariners GM Bill Bavasi gave him $64 million over 5 years. For his generosity, Beltre repaid him with this stat line: .255/.303/.413 and 19 homers. Jacque Jones is about to find out that those numbers are worth far less than $64 million as he tests the market this offseason.

Shawn Green had a solid but not spectacular season in Arizona. But he's 33 and likely on the downside of his career. The Dodgers recieved 4 prospects from the Arizona farm system in return. One of those prosects was Dioner Navarro who at age 21 is considered one of the top 3 catching prospects in all of baseball. This justs adds to LA's top notch farm system that has the Dodgers in place to compete for years to come.

Depodesta has made a few blunders in his short time as GM though. Resigning Odalis Perez appears to have been a mistake as he posted an ERA over 4.50 for the second time in the past three years. Perez did miss some time due to injury though, as did many other Dodgers in 2005. Dodger players missed over 1,400 combined games this past season due to injury. Depodesta can hardly be blamed for that.

So where does Depodesta go from here? Someone as intelligent as he is surely will wind up somewhere, although probably not as a GM until next year at least. I doubt Philly will suddenly gain interest as they appear to be seeking out old school scouting types like Gillick and Hunsicker. I guess it's still possible that he winds up in Boston, but I see that as fairly unlikely. All reports state that the BoSox and Theo are getting close to a deal. So maybe he ends up back in Oakland with his buddy Billy Beane for the next year. I'm sure Billy ahs already called to let him know there's an opening if he wants it. I'm confident that Depodesta will wind up running a team sometime within the next two years, and do so very well.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

More Steroid Rumors

Well, here we go again! There's more rumors flying about a unnamed player testing positive for steroid use. This time it's supposedly a AL playoff team outfielder who the baseball public will "actually care about". That leaves us with a dozen players to speculate on. Subtract Aaron Rowand because nobody really cares about him. The same goes for Trot Nixon. That leaves us with 10 guys. Johnny Damon was mentioned in rumors like this earlier in the year, so he could be a possibility. But simply being mentioned in a rumor that turned out to be false shouldn't implicate him in this rumor as well. Podsednik jacked 2 homers in the postseason after not hitting any all season. I'll chalk that up to chance and luck before steroid use though. It seems like more people than not are hoping it's Gary Sheffield. I'm putting my paycheck on Steve Finley. The backdrop seems to fit: an aging player looking for an advantage to hang around the league for a couple more years, his injury problems this year, his power surge late in his career, and the time he spent as a teammate of admitted steroid user Ken Caminitti.

The story could turn out to be completely false, but it seems to have more legs than the Clemens/Damon rumor a couple months ago. Will Carroll, a reporter at baseball prospectus, had this to say in a live blog chat.

Carroll: "I really can't talk about it right now. It should be coming out within the next two weeks."

SBL: "Is this a name we're actually going to care about?"

Carroll: "Yes."

SBL: "Is it a World Series champion?"

Carroll: "I really can't talk about it."

SBL: "I would hope not, because that might turn those White Sox black... Will, cough once if he's on the White Sox... Cough twice if it's Gary Sheffield."

Carroll: "I was involved in the appeals process so I can't comment at all."

I guess we'll have to wait and see if it turns out to be true. For what it's worth, I see Carroll as a pretty credible source and I believe he does quite a bit of work for MLB teams, as do other guys from BP.

Enough with the rumors. The Diamondbacks hired Josh Byrnes as their new GM to replace Joe Garagiola Jr. Byrnes is a 35 year old graduate of Haverford College in Pennsylvania. He spent the past year as an assistant to Theo Epstein. Byrnes is another "new age" GM who uses statistical analysis combined with traditional scouting to assemble a team. Earlier this month the Rangers promoted 28 year old Jon Daniels to GM after John Hart stepped down.

While many in the SABR community are elated over the new hirings, I feel like the "traditionalists" aren't taking this shift towards statistical analysis seriously enough. The fact remains that GMs are in charge of filling out the rosters. Therefore, they decide not only who plays, but more importantly what kind of players play. That in turn defines how the game itself is played. The SABR community tends to value OBP, power, and pitching while somewhat overlooking small ball aspects of the game like bunting, base stealing, and defense. If this trend continues, we could see the eventual weeding out of speed/defensive players. Whether this is a good or bad thing varies from person to person. But if you're a proponent of small ball these hirings should at the very least peak your interest. There are plenty of intelligent people who believe your game theories are counterproductive. It seems that now those people are making their way into baseball front offices where they are in position implement their own ideas over yours. With these types of guys already running teams in LA, Boston, Texas, Arizona, Toronto, and Oakland, with many more in lower levels of other clubs, it is something you should begin to take seriously.

It appears that now Theo Epstein and the Red Sox are getting close to a deal. Although I never expected theo to leave in the first place, it's curious to me how quickly they seem to have come together after Byrnes left. I guess without Byrnes to potentially take Epstein's place should he bolt, the Red Sox realized they better pony up the dough.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Congrats to the White Sox

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Alright, I had a big post about the White Sox, but it got erased due to a lockup with Adobe updating. Great. Basically, I wanted to say the White Sox deserved it, they won it and they deserve to be congratulated. Tough being a Cub Fan admitting that, but they went out and got the players they needed, at the "right" cost even, and led their team with pitching to the Championship Trophy. Nice run.

I had written all about how the run they made was extra sweet, for they dropped only one game to Paul Byrd of the Angels in Game 1 of the ALCS. Even though every World Series game was close and could have went either way, the ChiSox came out on top and showed what it takes to win a Championship. Pitching, defense and making baserunners count. Those big homeruns right when the South Siders needed them (Konerko, Podsenik, Blum) couldn't have been scripted any better.

If only the North Siders could learn a thing or two from you. Maybe the pressure is on them now. Probably not, since the Cubs sellout nearly everytime they're in town. What reason do they have to win when the people flock to the seats no matter how good they play? At least they're starting to boo Corey Patterson. If only they could get rid of Capt. Toothpick. Ah well. In time, perhaps. For now, it belongs to the White Sox, and congrats to them for their title run.

And concenring Jermaine Dye winning the Series MVP (over Konerko or Crede, for instance) let me just point out the stats: Dye hit .438/.526/.688 with three runs and three RBI in four Series games played. And he hit in the game winner in Game 4. You have to give the award to somebody, and he deserved it as much if not more than anyone else. If they could chop it up in pieces and give one to everyone, I'm sure they (and Dye as well) would.

Nice catch by Uribe, eh? Amazing he was able to go into the Houston crowd and come out with that ball. Bring out the highlight reel.

Ready for some football? I'm ready for both the College game and the NFL. Lots of big games this weekend in the NFL. Bears v. Lions. Eagles v. Broncos. Giants v. Redskins. Patriots v. Bills. Will USC or UT be atop the (stupid) BCS at week's end? Will Va. Tech, Alabama and Georgia have anything to say about it? Hoops is just around the corner as well. I'm ready.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

One Win Away

Chicago baseball fans, atleast those living on the South Side, are getting that itchy feeling. They could be just hours away from the first World Championship the town has seen since 1917. Chicago sports columnist Michael Wilbon will have us believe that no lead is safe in the hearts and minds of a Chicago baseball fan. I'm not from the Chi-Town area, so I wouldn't know the general feeling. But I would assume that the town can start getting ready to party. Maybe not tonight, but very soon.

The White Sox and their fans have carried two different slogans with them through the postseason. "Don't Stop Believing" and "Win or Die Trying". Aside for the fact that I don't think you're allowed to have more than one slogan, never use the title of a 50 Cent CD as the basis of your playoff theme. That's at the top of the Do's and Dont's list for generating a team slogan.

As for the game tonight, I expect the White Sox to end it here. The Astros first World Series appearance won't be kind enough to grant even one win. On the mound for the Astros is Brandon Backe, who pitched very well in his game against St Louis. But his 4.76 ERA/1.46 WHIP is more telling of his actual ability.

His counterpart Freddy Garcia boasts a 3.87 ERA/1.25 WHIP. Considering Garcia pitched in the AL widens the gap between these stats just a little more. It appears the Astros may be overmatched, but if either pitcher gets into early trouble the game could break wide open. Each club used all of its relievers in the 14 inning game last night, so no one is well rested.

Enough about the game though. I feel we all know what is going to take place. It's just a matter of when it takes place now. Anyone listening to the broadcast last night is well aware that Geoff Blum is a former Astro. Ironically, he ws traded 2 years ago for none other than Brandon Backe. There are other White Sox players with Astro ties as well. Tonight's starter Freddy Garcia was a minor league prospect in the Astro farm system when he was dealt along with 2 other prospects to the Mariners for Randy Johnson. Carl Everrett was shipped to Boston in return for Adam Everett.

How are these players treating their former teammates? Carl Everett is batting .500 as the DH and pinch hitter. Blum hit the game winner in the top of the 14th last night. Now Freddy Garcia has a chance to get the series clinching win for a team in in a 88 year drought. Some payback, huh?

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Game 2 to Konerko and Podsednik

(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The White Sox went into the rain and brought out Game 2 by the skin of their teeth. The things that won it for them in Game 1, strong start, great relief and multiple hit games by Paul Konerko and Scott Podsednik, didn't come to fruition in Game 2. However, after allowing four runs in 7.0 innings, Mark Buerhle was in position for the win, but Bobby Jenks, aka "The Big Man", came in and blew the save and the win (after Cliff Politte came in for a shutout eighth) giving up two runs in the top of the ninth. Also, Konerko and Podsednik, who both had two hits on Saturday, "only" had a hit a piece on Sunday. Good thing for the White Sox that they were a seventh inning Grand Slam by PK and bottom of the ninth walk-off solo shot by Pods. Unreal. Now that's baseball, boys and girls.

It was the eleventh walk-off homerun in over 100 years of World Series history. Sure, not as amazing as Joe Carter's or Bill Mazerowski's walk-off Series winners (no homerun, not Gibson's, not Fisk's, not anyone's are as big as these two that won the frickin' Series! Remember that!), but it's a fantastic moment worthy of World Series Historical note. I mean, here's a guy who went over 500 AB's over the season without one single dinger, and he hits two in the playoffs for the ChiSox, and none bigger than the shot he hit with one out in the bottom of the ninth Sunday night to the third row in right-centerfield. You can put that baby on the board, yes!

Did you see the reaction of the bench when it happened? They saw the ball off the bat, watched it fly, figured (and Crede even said) "No Way", then, as it actually sailed into the exuberant crowd, the bench went crazy, and the rest is truly Fall Classic history. Breathe that in, Sox Fans, that's the smell of victory.

Will the Astros actually pull off four of the next five games to salvage their World Series hope? When I say "I seriously doubt it", I'm not sure that actually has the punch I'm looking for. However, the 'Stros do have Roy Oswalt on the mound tomorrow night, and that has to be a win for Houston. Doesn't it? I'd put money on it, but after watching Podsednik crank one into the crowd at The Cell (not to mention Konerko's blast on the first pitch he saw from Qualls), I'm not sure anymore. This just might be the year for the White Sox.

Game 4 is should be South Siders 2 - Juice Boxers 1. What happens then? Brendon Backe still going to the hill for Phil Garner's squad? Freddy Garcia's ready no matter who it is, but it's either Backe or Pettitte on short rest (or Wandy Rodriguez, and that's not going to happen), so I'd have to say, yes, it's going to be the newest "B" on the hill, with the Series hopes of the city of Houston on his shoulders. No pressure.

Speaking of Phil Garner, in the category of Lucky-Ass Coaching Move of the Series to this point, got a big time hit out of Jose Vizcaino that scored two to tie up the game in the top of the ninth. Seriously, when I saw Jose coming out of the dugout with a bat (instead of Mike Lamb or Orlando Palmeiro), I was literaly yelling at the television "You Dumbass!". But, once again, what do I know? When a guy hitting .246/.299/.337 for the 2005 season, .167 with 7 K's in his last 10 games played, and .000 for the postseason before that AB, comes in off the bench and ties the game for you off of 100 mph big man Bobby Jenks, you get the LACM award, and you should buy a few lottery tickets on the way home.

Anyway, maybe Jon Garland has something to say about me giving away Game 3 to the Astros before it's even played. I'm sure Konerko, Podsednik and Crede have something to say about it. I can't wait until Tuesday night to find out.

On a football note, what the hell is the BCS doing giving the #1 spot to Texas? I mean, I know they played Texas Tech, who was incredibley over-ranked (as I wrote yesterday), and stomped them, but USC stomped Washington too. OK, Washington only has one win, but I thought the strength of schedule component was written out of the BCS this year. Must be a lot of Texas supporters writing their computer polls, because only Jeff Sagrin (perhaps the only computer poll worth looking at) still has USC at #1. I'm sure Pete Carroll is still telling his Trojans and the media that both #1 and #2 get into the title game, but I'm sure inside he's seriously asking "WTF!!!". They are #1, run all over their opponent, and still get shafted. True, USC and UT are so far ahead of Va Tech, GA and AL, that they still look destined for the Rose Bowl, but the question still remains, what the hell are the BCS computer guys smoking, and why can't I get any of that sh!t. As Bill Hicks used to say "is that CIA stash or something?".

Anyway, when USC knocks off their ranked opponents to finish off their schedule and when UT only plays patsies for the remainder of their schedule, this could all turn around once again. Oh, not that strength of schedule has anything to do with it. Allegedly.

How about those Chicago Bears!! Yeah, baby! Nice win over the Ravens. Gotta love it. In first place in the NFC North (they beat the Lions 38-6 earlier in the season). Can you believe it? I can't. I'm extremely happy about it, but I just can't believe it. I wouldn't have thought Kyle Orton could hold it together and that Thomas Jones (25 att/139 yds vs. Ravens vaunted D) could keep holdout-loser Cedric Benson on the bench or that the Bears D could be this good. It's great to see, and I'm glad I have the guys at the Stardust to watch it with. What a fun season it's been to this point. At Detroit next Sunday. Get ready for some Football!

Alright, that's enough for today. Hope you all are doing well. Life in ChiTown has to be sweet today. At least on the South Side. Maybe Dusty Baker will be abducted by aliens or go to LA sometime soon, and life will be sweet on the North Side too. We can only hope.


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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Game 1 to the ChiSox

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Both teams came out swinging, but with Clemens going down after two, and with Cotts and Jenks looking sharp, this thing is close to getting out of hand for the Astros. I had said that Game 1 was a "must win" for the Astros, and I'll explain why. Andy Pettitte has been struggling, although Fox announcers seem to think he's one of the best postseason pitchers ever. Not from where I'm sitting. He's blown as many big games as he's pitched well in, and this year, he's off and I think the righties in the lineup for the White Sox will come through and win Game 2 as well. Not to mention it's Buerhle on the mound for the South Siders, and he's been as hot as anyone not named Oswalt in the playoffs to this point.

Berkman sure comes through though, doesn't he? Leading the Astros going 2-4 last night, .333/.435/.590 for the 2005 postseason, and he hit 11 HR's in Sept/Oct (regular season) going .300/.442/.670 in Houston's push for the playoffs. I'd call him team MVP for 2005.

So, I'm saying the Astros are going to go back to Minute Maid Park down 0-2. Of course, Game 3 is Roy Oswalt's game, so that's one win for 'em. But Backe vs. Garcia doesn't look good. And then it's the question of "can Rocket go in Game 5?" I'm not sure the way he looked last night after he re-strained his hamstring. That's going to be an issue, to say the least.

Basically, it looks good for the White Sox right now, so my Bro ought to be pretty f'n happy right now. I'm sure he is.

The Horns looked like a team on a mission yesterday as well, as Texas knocked off Texas Tech in a massacre, 52-17, in Austin. But, Tech is (was) the most overrated team in all of College Football before that game. I expect them to drop way WAY down in the polls now. I mean, who have they played? I'll tell ya: Florida International (1-5), Sam Houston St.(2-4), Indiana St.(0-8), Kansas (3-4), Nebraska (5-2) and Kansas St.(4-3) That's before they got whooped on National TV by a much better Longhorns team. Why are the Red Raiders even ranked? I'm not sure, but I'm fairly certain it had something to do with hyping this game up for the morons out there. Seriously. Tech might lose to Baylor next weekend.

Well, maybe I'm getting crazy there, but I wouldn't be surprised. They have to play Oklahoma St. (winless in the Big 12), Baylor (better this year, but not even half as good as UT), Kansas (another 40 pt win for sure) and Texas A&M (sorry Aggies, you're getting scorched this time around). Then, it's either Mizzou or the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 "Championship" (no competition this year) and the Horns are on to Pasedena to take on USC or VA Tech in the Rose Bowl. Texas is in the Rose Bowl. Write it down now. Buy your tickets. Seriously.

I, personally, hope USC runs the table, even though their schedule is much tougher, just so I can see these two teams play. Anything else will be anti-climactic and not worth watching. If Georgia's Shockley didn't go down, I'd say they have an outside chance, but it's all about USC-Texas now. USC offensive machine up against the defense of Texas. It would definitely be Must See TV. Add in the fact that they've never played each other, ever, and we've got ourselves a true Sporting Event.

Alright, that's about enough for now. Did you see the Redskins absolutely taking the 49'ers to the woodshed? 42-7 as I type. Ugly. Well, time for me to get ready to go to the Stardust and checkout the Bears. Tough, tough game today with the Ravens. Ought to be a low-scoring slugfest, but we'll have to see about that. The Bears need Thomas Jones to get 120 yds and a couple of TD's, but that's asking a lot vs. the Ravens' D.


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Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday SportsFix

Friday Friday Friday. It doesn't matter as much to me or a lot of my friends (since many of us work on Friday and Saturday), but since many readers do so at work, here's the Friday SportsFix.

What's the deal with the short week game between the Dolphins and Chiefs? Will weather be a factor? Why force the short week down both teams throats? Why not show the game on TV anywhere in the country except Miami, KC or on DirectTV? Insanity!! Well, I suppose, with the way the NFL Schedule works, they don't really have an extra week to play the game, as they do in baseball. So, here we are with "the best alternative", since Miami refused to play the game in KC. I don't blame them for not wanting to give the Chiefs a "free" home game, costing the Dolphins Brass that ticket revenue and the team the home field advantage. Still, seems strange. Especially since most of the country won't be able to watch the frickin' game.

Ready for the World Series!? I know I am. Did you know that of the last 19 World Series, the team with home field advantage has won 16 times? Did you know the team who played at home has won Game 7 the last eight times? Well, this year may be different, because it'd be Oswalt in Game 7, so to Hell with that stat.

Random stat: Ben Hur won Best Picture the last team a Chicago team was in the World Series.

That brings me to something interesting. Most World Series Champions aren't the team with the best record in baseball. Of the last 17 one-hundred game winners in MLB, only the 1998 NYY have actually won the World Series (of course, that Yankee team was one of the best in baseball history, going 114-48 over the season, and 11-2 in the postseason). That Yankee team was also the only team of the last thirteen champions to win the Fall Classic with the best record in baseball. What gives?

Well, basically, it comes down to pitching. The best teams in baseball most likely have a good-to-great fourth starter and a better than average fifth starter, leading to more wins over the course of the season. However, in a seven or five game playoff structure, the fourth and fifth starters are pretty much useless. True, in some seven game series, the fourth starter will get one start, and one win in a seven game series is as important as the next. But, you see what I'm saying? A good hitting team with only three great starters has the same shot at the title as a team with five great starters on it. Five get you there, but three can take the title. Just ask the Arizona Diamonbacks of 2001 who got the ring with only two starters. Curt Schilling started three games, Randy Johnson started two, and Randy came in to hold off the Yankees in the late innings of Game 7. They basically won every game where those two horses were in the game.

Interesting facts:
  • The starting pitchers for the Yankees in the Game 6 and 7 losses in 2001 were Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
  • Andy Pettitte also accounted for one of the Yankees only two losses in 1998, going 0-1 that postseason with a 11.57 ERA, walking three and striking out only one.
  • Looking further, Andy was 0-0 in 1999 postseason (which the Yankees also won) with a 12.27 ERA. Ouch. Leads to the question of what Pettitte's postseason numbers are, eh?
  • Well, never fear, here they are: 21 Post season games, 13-8 with a 4.05 ERA, 1.36 WHIP. In the World Series, he is 3-4 with a 3.90 ERA in ten starts, averaging 6.0 IP per start with a 1.40 WHIP.
  • With all this being said, I say he loses his starts this year as well (or at least gets the ol' ND). *You heard it here first* or second, even.

So, you need at least two Superstars or three studs to nail down the trophy. So, will four matter in 2005? They will this time around, I feel, since it's Brandon Backe vs. Freddy Garcia in Game 4 on Wednesday. And, with Pettitte going 0-1 in the 2005 NLCS in two starts with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP, and with the above stats taken into consideration, is Andy really a stud?

More Baseball News: Leo Mazzone left the Braves to become the pitching coach in Baltimore for his long time friend, Oriole Manager Sam Perlozzo. Will this mark the beginning of the decline in Atlanta? The beginning of a new era in Baltimore? Or will the Braves still win and the Orioles still lose as if nothing happened? It will be interesting to find out.

Alright, that's enough for the Friday SportsFix. Gotta get ready for work. Still calling it as White Sox in Six. Not sure how some people still think the Astros have better pitching, even knowing it's four vs. four. Pettitte is struggling, Clemens may not be healthy, Oswalt rules (over anyone right now), and Backe vs. Garcia? Come on. Anyway, best of luck to both teams, and let's get this thing started. It should be great.


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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Walker Likely to Retire

Larry Walker announced that he will likely retire this offseason marking the end of a stellar career. Even with all the notoriety Walker has recieved in his career, I still feel he was underrated or underappreciated by many baseball fans. Maybe it's because he played most of his career for a bad Rockies team that he doesn't come to mind when fans think of the best players of the past decade. Maybe fans feel like his numbers were severly inflated by the thin Rocky Mountain air. While that may be true, I still view Walker as a premier hitter and a sure fire Hall of Famer. But will the voters give him the same due credit as I do? At first glance, you'd have to assume so based on his career numbers.


Those look to be HOF numbers without a doubt. But remember, this time last year there was an arguement over whether or not Edgar Martinez is a Hall of Famer. His numbers a very similar to those of Larry Walker.


Not to much of a difference between the two and Edgar's candidacy is still up in the air. So will Walker's candidacy be questioned too? I would doubt it. The big arguement against Martinez is that he spent his career as a DH. Walker won 7 Gold Gloves in right field. Walker was also named NL MVP in 1997. Martinez never finished higher that 3rd in the ballot.

It seems the only arguement against Walker being in the Hall could be made (weakly) by pointing to the Coors Field advantage. Voters are likely to consider this when the time comes to put Walker in the Hall. They should remember that he did spend 8 of his 18 seasons in Montreal and St Louis. Somehow I doubt the would look at metrics like park adjusted numbers, but if they did they would see that Walker is still +.30 BA/+.40 OBP/+.123 Slugging over the average major leaguer with park adjusted numbers.

In the end I fully expect Walker to be inducted into the HOF. The Coors Field factor will be debated, but ultimately Walkers numbers will be impressive enough to outweigh any park advantages. This is all what I presume will happen. HOF voters have proved me wrong before. Since Walker will be the 1st of the Rockies to be considered, I feel his candidacy will set precedent for all future Rockies.

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WS '05- From The Booth

I'm not going to predict what will happen on the field this World Series; it would be pointless. The Cards over the Padres is the only series I've correctly pinned. However, I do have some predictions of the type of things we are going to here from the media. I assume Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will be in the booth and my predictions are based on that assumption.

1. The story of Roger Clemens' mother predicting the score of the Astro game on the day she died and the fact that she twice mentioned Shoeless Joe Jackson will be told at least one time a game.

2. The statistic showing Bagwell and Biggio's total number of games played before their 1st World Series appearance will also be showed at least once a game.

3. McCarver will tell the public that Lidge is about to go with his slider, down and away. Lidge will then throw a fastball up and in. McCarver incorrectly calling pitches will occur so often you will begin to not notice.

4. Ozzie Guillen's managing style will be praised and compared to the old White Sox teams in every bunting situation.

5. McCarver will suggest a bunt anytime a runner is on base with less than two outs.

6. Joe Buck will remind McCarver that it's the 1st inning and Paul Konerko is at the plate.

7. McCarver will point to the pitching matchups and go on the longest "manufacturing runs" diatribe ever aired on Fox.

8. If the White Sox win, Bill Simmons will write a congatulatory article in which his bitterness about the White Sox ending their World Series drought one short year after his beloved Red Sox will shine through his words in such a way that it makes Simmons look more childish than Kanye West.

9. If the Astros win, Bill Simmons will write a 4,238 word essay on how the Astros players refusing to shave throughout the postseason is eerily similar to the masturbation episode of Seinfeld. In this essay he will cleverly call Lance Berkman, who hit the game winning homerun in Game 7, the "King of His Domain". Of course, the similarities will be loosely based and the entire article will give the reader no insight as to why the Astros won or why the White Sox lost, but it will be fairly entertaining and easy to read.

10. Scott Podsednik will be referred to as "scrappy" or as a "gamer" in every one of his at bats.

These are just a few of the things I expect from the play by play guys and the writers. There are sure to be many more "McCarver Gems" like when he said Giambi walks too much and that he's always clogging up the bases with all that walking. Searching for comments like these will be one of the reasons I'll be watching.

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World Series 2005

Well, here we are. One team has never been there in their history (albeit somewhat brief history, in baseball terms, since they came into existence in 1962 as the Houston Colt '45's) and one that hasn't been there since 1959 (and hasn't won a Fall Classic since 1917). So, although it's exciting for the city of Houston and the South Side of Chicago, I'm not sure how exciting this is going to be for Joe Q Public.

Why? If you watched the final game of the NLCS, it was a snoozer. The Cardinals got shut down. No tension, no great baseball moments. No real thrills to speak of, until the last pitch and then some folks in Houston were rockin'. Pitching dominance leads to "boring" games (at least for non-baseball fans, and even for some who call themselves "fans"). But, that aside, what happens in the Series? Will the teams go with four or three man rotations? Who will DH for the Astros? Who will be the World Champion here in about a week or so?

Let's start with rotations. I think both teams have to go with four. I think that because Clemens will start Game 1 for the 'Stros, and I can't see him pitching 1, 4 and 7. He'd do it if you asked him, but I don't think his back would cooperate. The White Sox definitely will go four, since they have four solid starters who are all on a roll, and are all well rested. El Duque will be their extra bullpen man, as he's been in the postseason so far. This means that Brandon Backe would be the starter in Game 4. Can he hack it? I'd say, on paper, that Game 4 goes to the White Sox if that happens.

The DH question was interesting a few weeks ago, but now it's Chris Burke for sure DH'ing with Tavares' glove in CF. Done deal. I think this makes the Astros ready for the games at The Cell. Can they handle the arms of the Sox, though? Carpenter shut the Astros down, but can all four horseman do it for the South Siders?

So, who wins the World Series? At first glance, because of starting pitching, you'd have to give the edge to the ChiSox. The took out the offensive machine from Boston, ended the hopes of the balanced Angels, and now are looking at the Three Amigos in Houston. Roy Oswalt is the best pitcher on either side, so when he starts, it'll be interesting (or boring, depending on your love for the game). Expect those games to be one run affairs. He's on fire right now, and is as dominant as anyone in either league. Konerko may be the only one who can even hit the guy.

But, at second look, this one could be a coin flip. Game Four will be in Houston, so Backe will have the home crowd behind him and those little Crawford Boxes in left for his boys to dink the ball into. Although, Crede and Konerko will love the chance to poke a few in there too. You have to believe that Clemens is going to leave his arm out there in Game 1. I mean, this is what he's been waiting for. He's the perfect story to get this rolling along, and I'm sure, absolutely sure, that Fox is going to exploit that to the fullest. Can Contreras handle the heat? It's going to be very interesting. Good for Jose that he's at home to start, because I'm not sure he could take Game 1 on the road. Will the Comiskey faithful be in a froth?

That reminds me. This is the worst World Series in baseball history for names of stadiums. US Cellular Field vs. Minute Maid Park. Ugh. Can't get much worse than that, people. Add the concert feel at the Cell with the Little League feel of MMP, and this is going to be one weird Series.

Anyway, we'll have to see how the Series starts out, because if Houston is down at the Game 4 mark, Backe may not get a start and strange things will happen. But, here in Game 1, it's the ol' traditional Pitching Matchup #1. Will it be a 1-0 ballgame or will one of the (weak?) offenses actually break out and score some runs?

Cue the Bay City Rollers, cause we'll find out Saturday Night.

If you're asking me to pick a winner, I'd say White Sox in Six. Damn, that's hard to say, coming from a Cub Fan, but it's pitching, pitching, pitching. Pettitte has been struggling, and the ChiSox best hitters are righties. Clemens, actually, has struggled as well up to this point, but will he really struggle on Basball's biggest stage? I'm just saying the White Sox have proved it to me, taking out the Red Sox and the Angels without much of a sweat, the AL is the stronger league (winners of 9 of the last 12 World Series and 15-5 in All-Star Games since 1986, winning the last eight straight, not including that stupid "tie" in 2002), and Lidge has really been overworked to this point (although there's time to rest when the season's over). That's my call. I'm with new band-wagonner Dan Patrick and I just think the White Sox will win. Will I be rooting for them? It's really hard for a Cub Fan to root for the White Sox, if not impossible. But, I've been at the Astrodome and Enron/Astros/Minute Maid over 20 times now, for Cub games, rooting against the 'Stros, so it's pretty much tough to root for them either. I'm a Chicago fan all the way, and my Bro is a big time White Sox fan, so I'd rather see him happy than the on-again, off-again "fans" of the Astros. When it comes down to it, I just want to see good baseball, but if you're asking me to pick, its White Sox in Six.

Last comment about the World Series (for now). These fans in Texas are a tad bit embarrassing about baseball. They sort of care, but sort of don't. I'd bet that if the Cowboys were playing up against the Astros that they'd out draw them in TV ratings in the state of Texas. Seriously. This place is Football Country. In Austin, if UT were up against the 'Stros, there's no question that the people would want the 'Horns on the tube instead of the 'Stros. Crazy, isn't it?

Well, at least for this baseball fan it is. Anyway, I've been in Texas for 10 years now, so maybe I'll figure it out soon enough.

One thing's for sure. Whether people in Austin or Dallas are watching or not, History will be made this World Series, and I, for one, will be watching with earnest. One team will end a drought of over 40 years. Let's get this thing started.


Oh, and NEVER EVER EVER EVER shop with MLB.com. I ordered a White Sox shirt for my brother on October 2nd commemorating them getting in the Show, paid for overnight shipping so he would get it on time for his birthday, guess what? He hasn't even received the frickin' thing yet. I look on the website and it's still sitting in their website. WTF??

Of course, my credit card was charged immediately. They had no such problem taking my frickin' money. Incredible. A multi-million dollar corporation can't ship out one flippin shirt, but can take $50 at the drop of a hat.

OK. Off of the soapbox for now. Enjoy the game.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

One More Game at Busch

The Game 6 that shouldn't have been starts at 7:00 tonight. The Cards have new life nobody thought they would have 2 nights ago. On the other hand, they still have a tall order of beating Oswalt and Clemens back to back. I would advise the Astros to get down to business tonight. I know if it goes another game they have "Rocket" on the mound and normally I'd take my chances with him, but I just don't see them winning a 7th game in St. Louis having dropped the last two.

Listening to the media and all the Astro fans that infest my home state is making me realize that some fans wouldn't really mind losing the NLCS in such a fashion. With all the ridiculous comparisons to the Red Sox that I've heard over the past 24 hours, I'm starting to believe Astro fans would rather be famous for suffering than winning. Although their suffering is far less drastic than those of Red Sox Nation. One of my buddies, who was at the game, told me I had no idea what it is like to watch an event like that unfold. Really? How is losing a game 5 when you're already up 3-1 that dramatic? This isn't Bill Buckner. It's not Kirk Gibson. And it's definately not John Elway windmilling himself for a first down in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XXXII. So stop acting like it's a defining moment in sports history. Newsflash, Houston! Nobody cares about the Astros but you. And you only care about them when their winning. Nobody in Boston or New York feels pain for the Astros, except for Bill Simmons, who wrote a column sympathizing with Houstonians on ESPN.com today. But I'll bet a shiny nickel the only reason Simmons wrote that article is so he can once again talk about the Red Sox. He's losing vicariously through the Astros.

Meanwhile, Eckstein is recieving as much credit as Pujols is for the 9th ininning comeback. Afterall, Eckstein is the one who started the rally. I know it was a lucky dinker through the hole and typically I hate analysis like this. It's driven by America's love affair for the "scrappy" ballplayers like Eckstein, Podsednik, and Darren Erstad. I hate this attitude but I can't help but love Eckstein who I call "The Little Shortstop That Could." Seeing him get beaned by a 90 mph fastball and then chunk his bat down and sprint down to first base reminds me of little league.

Here's an interesting stat: Did you know that in Ozzie Guillen's playing career he was victimized by the hidden ball trick 3 times? Unbelievable! You'd think after being embarrassed once you would never let it happen again. Let alone a third time.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New Satellite in Orbit

Hey Matt! I've been lucky enough to capture a coveted snapshot of the ball Albert Pujols hit, high in the sky, just before it left the Earth's orbit.

Behold, readers, for here it is:

Bask in it's glory, Redbird fans, for you have another day to live.

Bring on Wednesday for more Playoff Heroics.

I'm ready, and I can't wait.

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Monday, October 17, 2005

No More Crawford Boxes

Now that, my friends, is a homerun. Who needs the Crawford Boxes when you can send it to Crawford Street?

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BCS is still a mess

OK, the first 2005 BCS poll is out, and although it isn't completely wrong, it's still a mess. Before I get too far into it, here's the Week 1 Rankings:
  1. USC (6-0)
  2. Texas (6-0)
  3. Virginia Tech (6-0)
  4. Georgia (6-0)
  5. Alabama (6-0)
  6. LSU (4-1)
  7. Texas Tech (6-0)
  8. Miami (FL) (5-1)
  9. UCLA (6-0)
  10. Penn St (6-1)
  11. Florida St (5-1)
  12. Boston College (6-1)
  13. Oregon (6-1)
  14. Wisconsin (6-1)
  15. Ohio St (4-2)
  16. Notre Dame (4-2)
  17. West Virginia (6-1)
  18. Auburn (5-1)
  19. Tennessee (3-2)
  20. Florida (5-2)
  21. TCU (6-1)
  22. Minnesota (5-2)
  23. Nebraska (5-1)
  24. Michigan St (4-2)
  25. California (5-2)
So, it's not too different from the Coaches or AP Poll (except ND gets the high hard one), but there are some big problems with the Computer Polls, if you ask me. Primarily, the idiotic Richard Billingsley Poll. Who the hell is Richard Billingsley and what sort of moronic programming is he using in his "scientific" poll? Basically, the new BCS is trying to even out the computer-driven polls by throwing out the highest and lowest of the six computer polls. It's a good thing, but why not just get rid of the RB poll? The others have a question or two, but none are as insane as the Billingsley poll. For instance, the rankings of the RB poll are the highest or lowest in 20 of the 25 rankings. That basically means it's rankings don't matter in 80% of the poll. Eighty Percent!! I think if you asked 100 random people who watch football to rank their teams, I'd bet the ranch that they'd be more "accurate" than 20%. Seriously. You could probably throw darts at a dartboard and be more accurate.

Just a "for instance" pick, he has ranked Wisconsin as the 5th best team in the country. Just let that sink in for a second...(hmm... fifth... hey, wtf?!) Upppp!! There ya go. Ya got it now?

Let's look deeper. Look as "far" down as 6-0 Alabama. They are undefeated in one of the toughest conferences in College Football. They beat #5 (at the time) Florida 31-3. They beat a tough S. Carolina team on the road(I know they're 3-3, but their only losses are at Georgia 17-15, vs. Alabama and at Auburn). But, the moronic RB poll has them ranked 13th. Thirteenth?!? He's got TCU ranked ahead of them. Are you serious? It's stupid decisions such as including this hack's poll in something as important as a National Championship that make the BCS poll so erroneous. Do they even think about what they're doing? Does Billingsley pay off the BCS panel or something?

In addition, they've taken out the strength of schedule component. WTF? So now teams can just play whoever they want and go undefeated and get a shot at a BCS bowl? God, I can't control myself here. Have they learned anything at all watching teams like Va Tech go undefeated in the Big East and then get absolutely stomped in their BCS bowl game? I guess not.

Now, we come to the Harris Interactive Poll. What the hell is the Harris Poll you may ask? How did the BCS decide that this poll would be worth ONE THIRD of the NCAA Championship picture? Well, the AP got so fed up last year with the BCS that it pulled their prestigious poll from the mentally-challenged BCS procedure. Therefore, the BCS had to scramble for something. Harris Interactive is an online polling place where members answer questions of the day and such so that they can get published in the news media structures around the country as some sort of "pulse" of what people are thinking. I won't get into how stupid that is, so let's go back to why this won't work for football. According to their website:
Harris Interactive has constructed a panel of 114 former players, coaches, administrators and current and former media who have committed to submitting ranking college teams each week. These panelists were randomly selected from among more than 300 nominations submitted by the conference offices and Notre Dame Athletics Director Kevin White. The panel has been designed to be a statistically valid representation of all 11 Division I-A conferences and Notre Dame.

Poll participants will rank the Top 25 teams on a weekly basis during the 2005 season, beginning September 25th through December 4th. The results will be released weekly and added to the College Football Poll News & Rankings.

Consistent with the BCS desire for transparency, panelist names and their final season ballots will be released following the December 4th overall rankings release.
Just who are these people? Exactly. If you look at the poll, it's basically a carbon copy of the Coaches Poll, so why is it even necessary? Well, so are the AP and ESPN Poll, so whatever. I just know that a lot of people in the sportsworld are up in arms about the Harris poll, and I'm with them. Why invent some new poll when others are out there you can use that have been scrutinized for years and years?

Well, at least the Harris Poll, the AP Poll and the USA Today poll all have Alabama ranked fifth, and the ESPN Power Rankings have them sixth, so they're miles ahead of the futile, brainless Richard Billingsley poll. But who isn't?

There are some intersting differences between the Computer polls and the often-biased "human" polls. For instance, the average rank of the Computer polls have Miami 13th, but the human polls have them sixth and seventh, and BCS has them eighth. Miami may be 5-1 and has only lost 10-7 to Florida St. in week one, but the teams they've beaten are Clemson, Colorado (overrated), South Florida, Duke and Temple. Their combined records are 10-21. Yeah, that's stellar competition. Oh yeah, strength of schedule no longer matters. Great. Probably because the drunk alumni don't like seeing their teams playing ranked teams as much as they like seeing Miami pound Duke 52-7 (OK, that's a conference game, but whatever), beat South Florida at home by 20 and take out winless Temple by 31. Or watch Texas whoop up on La. Lafayette by 57 or Rice by 41. Or see USC stomp the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors by 46 or humiliate Arkansas by 53. Yeah, that's definitely edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Get Real.

Also, the computer polls have Wisconsin averaged out at 8th and Oregon at 9th (except for Billingsley, who doesn't even have them in the Top 25!!!), but the "human polls" have them at 17th and 16th, respectively. Much of this has to do with extremely biased pre-season rankings and just plain ignorance. The computers aren't supposed to be biased and, at their best, they just look at what happened on the field and how that correlates to power. Does it work? That's up for debate, but East-Coast bias and other structural problems certainly do have an adverse effect upon the "human polls".

Basically, the point of this whole rant is let's finally put this puppy to bed and break out the brackets. Let the AP Poll (who've decided NCAA Football Champions since the beginning of time) and the Coaches Poll fill in the top eight football teams at season's end and let them play the thing out. Hell, include the ESPN poll if you want three voices to be heard. Decide which seven bowl games get to be "championship worthy" and rotate out the games so everyone gets the final game one out of seven years, so they all get a piece of the booty. Sure, the rest of the bowl games "won't matter" as much, but do they now? I mean, who watches the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl?

And take that frickin' computer away from Richard Billingsley. Please. Or some hacker out there take him out, will ya? Thanks.

For another view on the BCS screws things up, check out ESPN.com's Pat Forde here.

Finally, will Carpenter hold off Pettitte and the 'Stros and force a Game Six? We'll find out in a few hours.

And congrats to the Chicago White Sox for getting to the World Series for the first time since 1917, and the first time a Chicago baseball team has been in the Series since 1959, when the White Sox lost in six to the Dodgers. Congrats to the players, coaches and management structure. You've surprised us all (well, except for Kevin) and got it done. You deserve more credit than you've been given to this point, and probably will still be considered "underdogs" to whoever gets to the promised land with you. Whatever. Just go out and play the games and we'll see what happens. You've got Dan Patrick on your bandwagon (in round one, even), and are soon to have many more. Go get 'em, and best of luck to you.

But, I'll still be rooting for the Cubs next year, if that's alright with you. If only they could cut the cord with Capt. Toothpick (but that's another issue altogether).


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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Keep Paul Konerko

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Hey, White Sox owners, you want to be heralded in Chi-Town? You want to keep a winner on the South Side? You want to be thought of as the real contender in town instead of "that other baseball team" (even though you are the better team)? Well, then sign Paul Konerko already.

Don't let me hear about how much money he's going to cost and that you don't have that much to spend. Aren't you in Chicago? It's the third biggest market in the country. If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere.

Are you going to let Konerko go to the Yankees or the Red Sox? Seriously. The Dodgers and the Mets may pay up for PK too, and almost any team not named the Cubs or Cardinals would love the guy at first. Seriously. How many postseason homeruns does he need to hit before you understand? The guy has career numbers of .279/.349/.488 (even better over the last two seasons), has a FP of .995 (that's only about six errors a year) and is only 29 years old?

Wake up, already. You should have signed him already. If you let him become a Free Agent, you'll only prove you don't respect your fans, the game, or the city of Chicago.

If you care, open up the checkbook and keep a winner in Chicago. Don't be the 1986 Bears. Or the 1998 Marlins. Want to see butts in the seats? How about put together a franchise worthy of it. Are you going to dump your pitchers too?

OK. That's enough for now. You wouldn't think I was a Cub Fan would you? Heheh. As I've previously said, I'm not a hater. My bro digs the White Sox so that's enough for me. Call me a Cub Fan that doesn't mind if the White Sox win.

Well, except for those six interleague games a year.

Will the Bears beat the Sex Boat Vikings (as said on this morning's NFL preview on Fox: I guess the Vikings Fans aren't the only ones getting screwed in Minnesota)? Will the ChiSox wrap it up tonight? Will the Astros go up 3-1? I can't wait to find out.

Oh, and on a totally random note, ya know who the NFC's #1 rated passer is? No, not Eli. Not Donovan. Not Brett, Jake or Marc. It's none other than Drew Bledsoe. Take that Buffalo. How's J.P. Losman doing anyway? How about the worst in the AFC. Nice job guys.

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Great Day in Sports

What a day for my roommates and I to unveil the new 3 tv set display in the living room. Between playoff baseball and maybe the most exciting day of college football in my lifetime, we sure needed it.

Starting with baseball, I thought this was as much of a must-win for the Astros as a game 3 could be in a tied series. Looking ahead, the Backe/Suppan matchup clearly favors the Cards. So winning today with "Rocket" on the mound was vital. As much as I hate to admit it, this seems like it may be the Astros year. Eveything is working for them. Garner's drastic changes in his lineup from day to day end up being good moves. Flyballs are getting jsut deep enough to become home runs. Sanders and Nunez are banged up. No word on when they will play again. Everything seems to be going Houston's way.

Does anyone else cringe everytime a ball is hit into the Crawford boxes? I feel like cheap home runs take away from the purity of the game. I wouldn't mind starting a discussion about regulation fields. No other sport has a playing field that varies so drastically from one town to the next. So why does baseball? Plus, sabermetricians would no longer have to mess with those pesky park adjusting figures.

Chicago looks prime to make it to the series this year. That's good news for Joe Morgan and people of his ilk. This gives them one more opportunity to tell us why we should steal second every chance we get or sac bunt in the first inning. I still don't understand why teams that have trouble scoring runs are so often praised for their offensive style.

Onto college football. I've taken a long time to jump on the Notre Dame bandwagon. Mainly because I don't subscribe to the Charlie Weis Will Save The World Theory that so many sportswriters and my roomates have adopted. Is he a good coach? Absolutely. Is he a great coach? To be determined, but he seems to moving in that direction. Does Charlie giving a dying child the option to choose whether or not they run or pass on one play make him holier than thou? NO. I know ESPN likes their psuedo-"Lifetime" stories evry Sunday night, but it's not as though the kid asked him to run the statue of liberty or the fumbleroosky. This also isn't the first time an athlete or coach has made a nice gesture to a sick kid. How Charlie Weis obtained this God-like image is beyond me. Just remember that even though he may be a pretty good football coach, he is still just a football coach.

With the explosion of the FireJoeMorgan, ShutUpTimMcCarver, and other websites like these 2, I can't help but notice the absense of BringBackMaxKellerman.com

How dumb was it for Leinart and Bush to decide on their own to try a QB sneak with no timeouts and under 10 seconds? Had he not got in there wouldn't have even been time for a field goal to tie.

Do you think the Minnesota coaching staff wishes they would have informed their punter to take a safety if there was a bad snap? That's got to be a tough way to lose.

Here's to the hope that Sunday brigns just as much excitement as Saturday.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Astros Tie NLCS at 1

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The Astros finally beat the Cardinals in the postseason. First time they've managed that feat. Congrats. Roy Oswalt, Houston's best playoff pitcher the last two years, made sure of it by holding the Cardinals down for seven innings. Then Brad Lidge, perhaps the League's best closer, came in and shut the Cards down over the last two innings.

The Astros have not lost a road game in the last two seasons when leading after eight innings. They've only lost one game actually, and that was to the Cubs on the last Friday of the year, when the North Siders gave Lidge his first blown save of the year. Nice for us Cub Fans, but I think it might have been what the Astros needed, as they've looked pretty tough late in the game ever since.

How about Chris Burke? The man's performing when it counts. Always someone like that who jumps out during the playoffs and this year it's Burke. He's on fire (kinda like his 'brows).

It's also the first time in five games that Reggie Sanders didn't have at least two RBI's. His diving/flopping attempt at a leftfield line drive last night injured his lower back and may have given him a concussion. I'm fairly sure that So Taguchi won't be able to fill the gap left by Sanders' departure. The fans in St. Louis like Taguchi, but that doesn't mean he's ready to help them take out the Astros' pitching.

Tomorrow it's Clemens vs. Morris. Another good matchup. With the extra day or two off, I think Roger will be ready this time, and I'd be worried if I was a Redbird. We'll have to wait and see.

Tonight, it's game three of the ALCS. I'm just glad the White Sox and Angels can play a frickin' game so I can stop hearing about "the call". Please, let it go. Josh Paul should have tagged A.J., and none of this would be talked about. Simple as that. Easier to blame the boys in blue than yourself I guess.

Speaking of tonight, it's Garland against Lackey. Lackey has looked really good so far in the playoffs, and Garland has yet to pitch one inning. I thin the time off may hurt Garland in the first inning or two, but if he can hold off the Angels for a few, it should be a good game. If the Angels pounce on him right away, could be ugly.

We'll find out tonight.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Great Quotes From Athletes

I've recently stumbled across some interesting statements from the likes of Roy Williams and Kwame Brown.

Roy Williams on Joey Harrington

"I'm not saying I don't trust him. He can stay at my house anytime he wants to. I'm not saying that. I'm just saying on the football field, we don't have that trust and that closeness and that communication on the football field right now at this point, and that's what we're trying to get to."

It's good to know the slumber party for Friday night is still on. I'm looking forward to that.

Kwame Brown

"This is my first summer [with] no trouble. I ain't go to jail for speeding. Didn't go to jail for DUI. I didn't break my foot. I didn't break my other foot. I'm one step ahead of the game already."

I'm sure Phil Jackson is extremely encouraged by your ability to stay out of jail and the ER. Somehow, I don't see this translating into success on the court.


"I felt like the 'P' was coming between me and my fans. We had to simplify it. It was, you know, during concerts and half the crowd saying 'P. Diddy' and half the crowd chanting 'Diddy.' Now everybody can just chant 'Diddy.'"

My sentiments exactly. I hated the concerts because of that. Whew! Sure am gald that catastrophe has been handled.

JP Losman on Brett Favre

"He invited me into the house for a little bit. There he was with his tight little shorts, no shirt and his little red hat. He was doing some farming or something. He was covered in dirt. It was awesome."

If I didn't have a little bit of a man crush on Favre myself, I might find this statement to be a tad bit odd.

Willie Randoph

"You're not going to play for me if you don't put out."

Now this one sounds gay.

NBA Union Rep Billy Hunter

"On a scale of one to 10, I would say 60 to 65 percent."

Where does it rank on the scale of you being an idiot?

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Cards up 1-0

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Chris Carpenter shows why he is the Ace of the Redbirds staff, holding the Astros down for the 5-3 win. Much like Buehrle in Chicago, Carpenter is the best pitcher on the staff. Chris went 8.0 innings giving up two runs on five hits with three walks and three K's. Not a bad outing following up his shutout performance against the Pad's. It was the longest outing for a Cards pitcher this postseason. It was the first LCS loss for Andy Pettitte in six starts. Reggie Sanders helped out the St. Louis cause by hitting a two run homer with two out in the bottom of the first. It's the fourth consecutive playoff game that Reggie has multiple RBI's. Unreal.

David Eckstein sparked the club once again, going 2-4 with two runs scored and a RBI. Abraham Nunez contributed two hits and a run to the cause as well.

Tonight, it's Roy Oswalt up against Mark Mulder. Time to see if the cost to get Mulder from the A's was worth it. We'll also see if Roy can get a win after two no-decisions in the NLDS.

Both the LCS's are hot, and I'm ready for more. I'll try and write more tonight after the game.


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Missing The Point

Hey, I don't care if Josh Paul caught the ball or not. The fact of the matter is, if it's close, you tag the batter. They teach you that when you're 13. You don't hot dog it and toss the ball into the infield, especially when noone called anyone out. I don't care what the ball did, who called what, who thought what or who said what. If you, as a Major League catcher, think there is any chance the ball hit the ground then you do what's right for your team, you simply tag the batter. Or, you can throw it to first if you want.

Imagine a shortstop, who thinks he caught a liner just above the ground, not waiting for an out call and just tossing the ball toward the mound. Wouldn't happen, would it?! Exactly. The fielder throws a ball that's even close, just in case, to first.

If the manager, the Angels players, the media or anyone else wants to blame anyone at all, don't point your finger at the umpire, point it at Paul. He made the boneheaded play. He didn't cover his team's back. He failed to do what he should have done, and Crede made them pay.

And, don't blame the call for the game. It's like blaming Bartman for the Cubs not making it to the World Series. There were other plays after the asshole interfered with the game. And, such was the case in this game. If the "fantastic" and "unstoppable" bullpen of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, just north of San Podesta, south of Disneyland, west of Nevada, north of Mexico, actually got Crede out, then this discussion never happens. But, since the 'pen couldn't hold down the White Sox, and since Paul hotdogged it instead of doing the right thing, it's tied 1-1 and we have ourselves a Series.

And let's not forget that Mark Buehrle is a stud, going 9.0 innings allowing only one run on five hits and four K's, without surrendering a single walk. Amazing.

I'm ready for some more baseball!


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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Let's get it on!

I'm sure everyone by now has heard of the Vikings' Thursday night boat party full of sex, masturbation, and dildos. At least 17 unnamed players rented 2 boats to cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Fred Smoot, who rented at least one of the boats, apperas to be the ring leader. None of this would ahve been made public had the boat employees not been so offended and scared by the behavior that was taken place on the boat. The team issued this statement:

"The organization has been made aware of the allegations involving our players and we take these allegations very seriously. We are working diligently to gather as many facts as possible. At this time, we have no further comment."

At a press conference, Mike Tice added that the team is a family, so as a father he is very upset. Yeah, right. Does anyone believe for a second that Coach Tice wasn't on that boat raffling Super Bowl tickets for a hummer? C'mon.

Mewelde Moore admits to being there, but says he saw no sex acts and definately didn't participate in any. "Sex? What are you talking about?" Moore said. "That's crazy. Sex? Come on. Look, I'm engaged. So none of that. That will put me in trouble." Sure, we all know how faithful professional athletes are. I hope you're picking up the sarcasm. I'm laying it on pretty thick here.

Combine this with the infamous Whizzinator story about Onterrio Smith and you've got one disfunctional team. How ironic is it that not only do the Vikes miss Randy Moss on the field, but off the field as well; as a role model. In fact, at the end of June, Randy Moss held a charity bass fishing event to benefit children in Minnesota. The lake the evnt was held on: Lake Minnetonka. Hilarious! Moss who was exiled because of character issues uses Minnesota's fine lakes to benefit the youth of America. His ex-teammates use them for lude sex acts.

Daunte Culpepper refused to answer questions about the event. "If you're not going to ask me a question about the Chicago Bears, then don't ask," Culpepper told reporters at Winter Park. "Playing in the NFL is tough enough without any distractions." You are absolutely right Daunte. Here's a stumper. Would you consider a fraternity-like orgy on 2 boats in the middle of a lake involving at least 1/3 of the team a distraction? Or is it only a distraction when reporters ask you about it?

It's no wonder why this team is 1-3. The other teams in the NFC North at least have an excuse. They're not very good. What's the Vikings excuse? Having 8 former pro bowlers. This team is a joke. Seriously, when the hell is Mike Tice getting canned? Let's set the over/under at Thanksgiving. I'm taking the under.

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A Brave New Winter

I've had about 72 hours to fully recover from the 18 inning Braves/Astros game on Sunday. What a way to lose! The bullpen had been shaky all year with the exception of Farnsworth after he was acquired from Detroit. Ironically, as soon as the Braves get him in the game, he goes back to Cub form and gives up a Crawford Box grand slam to Berkman followed by the closest home run in history to Ausmus. A full game later, Burke hits a solo Crawford Box home run to win the game.

I specify Crawford Box home runs for a reason. They shouldn't be home runs. I know both teams have the same advantage, and it bothers me when either team hits one there. Those aren't even warning track balls in most outfields.

Did anyone else happen to notice that the same guy caught both of those home run balls? Talk about lucky. If I were that guy, I would have stopped and bought a lottery ticket on the way home.

Anyways, the Braves are headed home early once agian. It's not as bad of a feeling this year because I thought they overachieved all year. Just winning the division and making the playoffs was such an accomplishment. But in the end, it's the same results. It's hard to explain the complete inverse between their regular season and postseason dominance. Most of it I feel is just bad luck and timing. Outside of the championship year, I feel like there was only one or two other seasons in which they were the best team in the playoffs. The other years, they simply weren't as good as other teams or they just ran into a couple hot pitchers/hitters. What are you going to do?

On the bright side though is the offseason. For the 1st time in years the Braves don't have many significant players eligible for free agency. Over the past 4 years, they have lost Sheffield, Maddux, Lopez, Drew, and Glavine. This year, only Rafeal Furcal will draw much interest on the market. The Braves will make an attempt to resign him, but it's fairly likely that teams like the Cubs could drive the price up to high for them to match. Renteria got a 4 yr/$40 million deal last year. You would think Furcal would demand the same kind of loot. Do the Braves think he's worth it or will they go with Betemit of another free agent in his place? I wouldn't be completly surprised to see Furcal in ChiTown and Garciaparra in Hotlanta.

Another question will be the outfield. Langerhans is great defensively but doesn't have the power you'd like from a corner outfielder. Franceour and Johnson played well as rookies, but I feel like they could use some more time in AAA. Franceour never played AAA, which isn't a bad thing, but seeing his lack of plate discipline and his less than mediocre last 6 weeks makes me feel he may not be ready just yet. Don't get me wrong. The kid looks like he's going to be a star, just not in April and May.

Same goes for McCann. Is he ready to be the full time starter? If so, they probably need to move Estrada. I'm not so sure he's keen on being a backup. After all, he was an All Star just a season ago.

I'm still not exactly sure what the deal is with Hampton next year. All I know is the team is getting about $8 million back from the insurance company. Thomason has a $4.5 million option. That's pretty cheap for a reliable third option, so long as he stays healthy. I expect Horacio Ramirez to be shipped somewhere. Hopefully to a bonehead GM who sees more in him then there actually is. Even if that doesn't happen, there should be a pretty good market for a young southpaw starter. I kind of hope the same scenario goes for Sosa as well. I think his stock is as high as it could be right now. 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA looks pretty attractive. But if you look at the career numbers, I just don't see it lasting.

These are fairly insignificant questions to be answered compared to the previous offseasons. The main problem seems to be that there is quite a bit of talent at the minor league level. That's a good problem to have for the future, but it still seems like a problem for '06. The Braves can't block these guys with long term contracts, so that somewhat eliminates them from being big players in the free agent market. However, these kids probably aren't completely ready, meaning the team is just going to have to take their lumps with the youngsters.

I expect the winter to be quite in Georgia, while a new GM in Philly and Omar Minaya go shopping. The media and sportswriters will once agian say the Braves dynasty will end. Using my baseball knowledge form the last 14 years, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it won't.

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Riding off on the Clydesdales?

I hope Ozzie is making the correct decision. McCarthy is not on the roster again. The kid helped us get to the playoffs. I think Marte even though he is a lefty should be off the team. In the end of the season they were going to dump Marte but he had one good outing and he is a power throwing left hander out of the pen, which is hard to come by. Heck Marte almost blew it on last Friday. I would rather have the kid.
I also hope the sox know what they are going to do with Paul Konerko. If the don't watch themselves they will loose him to one of 3 teams this off season, Yankees, red sox, or the tigers. Yes you heard me right when I stated the tigers. They have money they are nor afraid to shell out. If Reinsdorf and Williams know what is best for the team they will give Paulie an extension now and don’t let him get to the market. Damn it sox don't be cheap. Spend money. Being in bean town currently they are talking hard on getting Konerko.
Guess you need to look at the future of the white sox and take care of the players that are contributing to the success of the team and thank these two for being on the team pulling you through the tough times.
Stick with the horses that got you to where you are now.
Go sox.
When you Say Budweiser you said it all.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

3 HR Puts the Astros in the NLCS

(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The NL Central. The best division in baseball? Well, how about the National League? The Cardinals and the Astros are in the NLCS for the second consecutive year, after the longest game in postseason history put the Astros into the NL finale. Lance Berkman, Brad Ausmus and Chris Burke all homered to bring the Astros from five runs down to win the game, in the bottom of the 18th, and get on the train to the League Championship Series.

Unreal game. Roger Clemens came in off the bench and got the win for the 'stros. He was the last pitcher available in the Houston bullpen. Amazing how this game went down.

Adam LaRoche hit a grand slam home run for the Braves in the top of the third off of starter Brandon Backe. The Braves led 6-1 leading into the bottom of the eighth. Then, the improbable happened. Unless you're a Cub fan, then you knew what could happen with Kyle Farnsworth on the mound. That would be an opposite field, line drive homerun by Lance Berkman to make the game 6-5. It was the first time both teams had hit a grand slam in the playoffs.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, Brad Ausmus comes in and sends a shot into the Crawford Boxes to tie the game up at six. Things pretty muched stayed that way until the bottom of the 18th when Chris Burke, who pitch-ran for Berkman in the 10th, jacked a line drive into Crawfordsville as well and sent the fans into a fury and the Astros into the NLCS.

Rematch time. Can the Astros match up with their 2005 squad? Will the three Houston Aces hold down the Redbirds? Or will the Cardinal offense prove too much?

I can't wait to find out.

Gotta go. LAA/NYY in top of the third.


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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fever Pitch

I've always pondered tha age old question of "If a movie was made about my life, who would play me?" Well, I found the answer. I'm going with Jimmy Fallon. Now, I don't like Jimmy Fallon. In fact, I despise him. But after watching him in Fever Pitch last night, I can't imagine anyone portraying me more accurately.

Here's a list of facts:

I sit here today in the worst mood because the Braves are losing 7-2. The Twins aren't even in the playoffs. The Aggies are getting crushed by Colorado. The Packers are 0-4 for love of God. 0-4! The Lakers look like a borderline playoff team.

On top of that, the teams I hate are doing well. It doesn't help that my 2 roomates are diehard fans of these teams. The Loghorns just whooped up on OU, who they hadn't beat in 5 years. The Astros are in the process of eliminating my Braves for a 2nd consecutive year. The Cowboys have 2 more wins than the Packers. And the Spurs look to be in position to win another NBA title.

I live in a college town that has a ridiculous surplus of very hot 18-24 year old girls. These girls come to my house and try to talk to me, but most of the time I'm to wrapped up in whatever game is on the tube or whatever statistic I'm analyzing on the internet.

What the hell is wrong with me? Why do I get so caught up in something I have absolutely no control over? This is why I found a disturbing connection between myself and Jimmy Fallon's character in Fever Pitch. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, Fallon's love for the Red Sox consistently becomes a barrier in his personal relationships. I find the only difference between Fallon and I is that I don't live in the same city in which my favorite team plays. Suppose I lived in Green Bay. Could I possibly have any type of normal life? I doubt it. I'd be to the Packers what Fallon is to the Red Sox.

So the question is how do we get so caught up in something so trivial? Why do we care so much? It seems to me that the biggest factor in my current happiness is not whether or not I got a good grade on a test. It's not wheteher or not I'm in a good relationship. It all depends on how my teams are playing. And that's depressing.

My roomate Joe is a psychology major. Maybe I'll ask him how unhelathy sports obsession can be. If at all. Maybe it's a wonderful thing to be able to devote so much energy into something you have no control over. Or maybe I'm just trying to justify this insanity once agian.

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Congrats ChiSox!!

It's late, and I have to work in about seven hours, but I had to write here while I could. Congrats to the White Sox!! Y'all got the monkey off your back and not only won your first playoff game since 1959, but actually won your first playoff series since 1917 (BlackSox, ya know). So, proper respect to the South Siders for sweeping the defending "Champs". You proved, once again, that it's pitching that wins in October.

And, on that note, it only gets better for you because now the overworked pitching staff gets to sit at home and (hopefully) watch the other ALDS series go 5. It's the best you could hope for. If it does, count the White Sox as winners and into the Promised Land of the World Series. Seriously. I know, I know, I didn't even pick them to beat the BoSox, but now that they have, now that they've shown me and so many others that they are for real, I think it's their's to lose. Count them in. If I were the White Sox, I'd want the Yankees. I'd want their mediocre pitching in town against the best pitching left in the playoffs. Watch out y'all, it just might be the White Sox's year.

Anyway, before I cross boundaries that Cubs' Fans aren't supposed to cross, there's a lot of baseball still left to be played. I just want to come clean and say I was wrong South Siders, you've got the stuff. You proved it at the Cell and in Fenway. You deserve all the props you're about to get and more. Enjoy it. You deserve it.

Whatever it's worth, Dan Patrick got on the bandwagon before Game 3 and now calls the White Sox "his team". So, slowly but surely, the writers, including me, are coming around.

Great job against the Red Sox. I wish you the best of luck in the ALCS. Again, with the rest your pitching staff is getting, my Bro, (and also my bestfriend), Kevin, you've got to be ECSTATIC. I hope your boys go far. Sorry to Suzanne, as well, who I butchered for talking Iguchi as AL Rookie of the Year about a month ago. She looks a lot smarter than me right now. Even if Huston Street still wins it. I apologize.

Anyway, that's about as much Crow as I can stand. I'll be back tomorrow and try to be right this time.


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Friday, October 07, 2005

White Sox Advance

Congratulations to the White Sox, fresh off a 3 game sweep of the defending champs. To be honest, I didn't think they could do it. I thought Boston had too much offense, but the White Sox pithching shut them down. They held the best offense in MLB to 9 runs over the 3 game series. This is why they won 99 games in the regular season. This is why they are in the ALCS.

But I don't hear that from the announcers or analysts. Well, most of them that is. There are still some good broadcasters that look at numbers before they make judgements. The rest of them form opinions and then try to find numbers to back them up. That's why you hear that the reason for the White Sox success is their new offensive approach. Yes, it is true that the South Siders now play small ball rather than waiting for the big inning. Yes, it's true that they won more games this year than in recent history. But correlation is not causation. I learned that in junior high. Some people still don't get it.

Here's the facts:

In 2005 the White Sox scored 745 runs. In 2004 they scored 865. Which is better? Ozzie's new players and new style of offense was 120 runs less productive than it was a year ago.

In 2005 the White Sox pitching staff allowed only 645 runs over the course of the season. They allowed 831 in 2004. That's a 186 run difference.

It seems pretty clear to me and anyone who understands numbers that the reason the White Sox have been successful is because of their dominant pitching. Not only did they not win because of their offense, they won inspite of it. So why baseball analysts continue to ignore obvious information like this is beyond me.

Just for fun I'm going to run Bill James' Pythagorem formula for winning percentage based on runs scored and runs allowed. I'm going to use the Sox 2005 pitching and their 2004 hitting to see what their win total would ahve been had there been no change to the offense, but still had the pitching improvement. If you're not familiar with the formula, here it is. Runs scored squared/runs allowed squared. Average out the ratio over 162 games and you get the expected win total. Go back to the databases and essentially "predict the past" using this formula. It's very accurate, typically with 3 wins either way.

Here we go:

2004 runs scored: 865
2005 runs allowed: 645

Chicago White Sox 2005 expected win total-104

It seems to reason, that had the White Sox not changed the offense they would have been 5 games better. So was this Lee/Podsednik trade really that valuable? Or did it hurt the team? That's a whole different question that maybe I'll explore later. I'd have to calculate defense into that one. My point was simply this: The Sox aren't winning because of "small ball". They're winning because of pitching.

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Thursday, October 06, 2005


Congratulations to Jason Giambi and Ken Griffey Jr. Those are your two Comeback Player of the Year award winners. I can't think of 2 more deserving guys. Both of them were absoluely phenomenal this season.

Giambi finished as the league leader in OBP while slugging .535 and hitting 32 dingers. At the beginning of the season the Yankees were looking for a loophole to get out of his contract. Lucky for them, they were unsuccessful. It's pretty obvious that Giambi was deserving of the award. I wasn't sure he would get it though because of the admitted steroid use. America's a pretty forgiving country though. I think the fact that he was the only one to fess up really helped his cause. I know I found myself rooting for him all year, and I was never a Giambi fan to begin with. Hopefully, we won't find out that he was juicing all season. I don't think he has, but if I'm wrong we will know for sure that Jason Giambi without steroids is just Jeremy Giambi.

Just as deserving was Junior. He played almost 130 games and hit 35 homeruns to go along with .369 OBP and a .576 slugging percentage. Good thing these 2 guys didn't play in the same league. I'd hate to have to vote for one over the other. The only downside to Junior's re-emergence is that I can no longer sit behind the visitor's dugout at Astro games and wait for Griffey to get in the on deck circle to yell out, "Hey, that guy used to be Ken Griffey Jr." There's nothing wrong with a little heckling to bring Junior down a notch.

A similar scenario to this is something mentioned by Bill Simmons in one of his mailbags. I'm normally not a Simmons reader, but this is pretty good. The idea is that if you ever come across a famous actor, try to recall a crappy film they did early in their career and mention that one rather than the one they won an Oscar for. A couple examples could be: Hey Leo, I loved you in Growing Pains. Larry Fishburn and his amazing performance in Pee-Wee's playhouse. Vince Vaughn in Rudy. Reese Witherspoon in Freeway or Kevin Costner in Night Shift. I think you get the drift.

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White Sox Go Up 2-0

Wow. I didn't pick it, didn't expect it, but I must admit it's fun watching the South Siders take it to the Boys from Boston. What a game last night, eh? I didn't see it though, since I was at La Zona Rosa watching Henry Rollins do his Spoken Word thang (which was Outstanding), but I went through the play by play, pitch by pitch of the game, and I must say I'm impressed by the team coming back from four down in the fifth and then holding on to stop the Red Sox from coming back. How are they doing it? The right guys are coming through at the right time. And that Graffanino error sure helped out.

How do you feel if your Tony G.? Wow. He comes on to the team and gains the support of the whole town through his hard-nosed, workman-like playing mentality, and did a great job helping the BoSox get to the playoffs. It's safe to say they wouldn't be here without him. Then, he commits a tragic fifth inning error that leads to three unearned runs and cost the Red Sox the game. Ouch. Tragedy for him, unreal comeback for Taguchi and the White Sox.

Hey, bro, I know I ripped you and Suzanne about Taguchi getting the AL Rookie of the Year (and I still think it goes to Huston Street) but he sure had two of the biggest hits of the White Sox season, the homer he hit to end the Indians run at the playoffs and last night the three run bomb to win the game for the White Sox. He's money, that's for sure, Kev. Hope they don't fold like the 2004 Yanks and hold on to jump into the ALCS. If they do it right away, they can rest while the Yanks and the Angels battle it out in the Bronx.

Speaking of the Yanks, I bet A-Rod doesn't feel to great about his error in the sixth that tied the game up. I know he might win the Gold Glove at the hot corner this year in the AL, but man, he could give a sh!t about that right now. Probably cost Wang the win. He had a great outing when nobody thought he could cut it.

Well, sometimes you've got to field the ball to win, much to the chagrin of Billy Beane and the like. Defense has it's merits as well. Joe Morgan, as idiotic as he can be and as stubborn as he is against the New Metrics, even knows that defense matters.

Tonight, it's St. Louis over, um, I mean versus the Padres at 3:00pm CST on ESPN and the Astros in Atlanta at 7:00pm on FOX. The second game of those two is certainly the bigger media circus, with The Rocket, Roger Clemens going up against John Smoltz. I think that's why Bobby Cox switched up his rotation. Well, he says Smoltz had a sore shoulder. That may be somewhat true, but putting him up against Clemens isn't by accident, I assure you.

I'll be watching that one, for sure. My girlfriend, Traci, is trying to talk me into going into San Marcos to see a friend of hers for lunch, so maybe I'll call up Matt and see what he's doing for the game tonight. If I actually get off of the PC sometime today. I'm feeling part lazy and part worked-up due to the Rollins show last night. If you have a chance to see Henry Rollins Spoken Word anytime, I highly recommend it.

OK. I'm off to try and do a couple of things around the house before the Playoffs tonight.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Coaching Carousel

We are all of 3 days into the offseason for 24 teams in MLB. So far we've seen Jack McKeon, Alan Trammell, Ken Macha, and Jim Tracy either "retire", "fail to reach an agreement" or "step down" from their managerial positions. First off, doesn't anyone get fired anymore? Has our country become so sensitive and politically correct that we can no longer use that word? Where's Donald Trump when you need him? There should be no shame in outright firing somebody who didn't fulfill the job up to your expectations. Why can't we bask in people's failures, kick them while their down, add insult to injury? If Packers GM Ted Thompson ever decides to pull the plug on Mike Sherman, he better not "come to terms". If Thompson too much of a whimp to do it I will. I might even make a joke out of it. Hey Mike! Knock, knock. "Who's there?" You're fired! Now clean out your office and get out of Green Bay.

Enough ranting. Do all these guys deserve the boot? Probably not. Jim Tracy hasn't had much to work with, especially if you take into account all the injuries they had this year. I know it's no big surprise that J.D. Drew missed 90 games, but had he stayed healthy, he would have made a huge difference. Through 70 games he was hitting .286/.412/.520 with 15 hrs. Milton Bradley missed half the season. Gagne only pitched 13 innings and Driefort missed the entire season. What do you want Jim to do?

It doesn't really matter who's in the Oakland dugout. Nothing against Macha, I'm sure he's a fine manager. But in Oakland the manager is just Billy Beane's puppet. Sure he makes the in-game calls, but those calls are in direct line with what Billy wants. The next manager out there will be a guy who comes cheap and who is willing to take the back seat to Billy. Macha's agent stated that the Marlins are interested in setting up an interview sometime next week. It could be a good fit, but like I said, I don't think we've really seen what Macha is capable of doing.

The Jack McKeon situation out in Florida seems a bit strange to me. I've had complaints with the way he handled his young pitching staff, much like Dusty Baker. But if you look at the Big Three's second half ERAs, the biggest dropoff is half a run. That belongs to Dontrelle Willis and it was still under 3.00. So it appears there might not be any truth to the pitch count theory. Or as i believe, it will simply catch up to them in future years. Only time will tell.

Dave Dombrowski has already replaced Alan Trammell with former Marlins manager Jim Leyland. I must plead a bit of ignorance on Trammell's managing ability. I do know that 2 years ago they were an embarassment and they are now competetive. Did I miss something? They seemed to be on the rise in an improved and underrated division. Maybe Dombrowski just wanted to bring back his old running buddy from Miami Beach.

Will there be anymore changes this winter. Cubs fans are calling for Dusty Baker's head. I think he'll get one more year to turn things around. Sorry, Graham. I think you're stuck. Ozzie says that if the Sox win the Series he might call it quits. Somehow I don't see either of those 2 things happening. I've heard the rumors of Sweet Lou wearing pinstripes next year. I don't buy into that. Steinbrenner may be alot of things, but a fool he's not. He understands the importance of Torre in the clubhouse.

I think this might be it for the coaching changes. The only thing to follow from here is who fills the vacanicies.

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Playoff Format

I'm sitting down to watch game 1 of the Braves/Astros series. I want to post this before the outcome of the series. And even before the outcome of game 1, so it doesn't look like an excuse if my Braves lose to the Astros. Although my Astro fan friends will conclude that is exactly what it is. In my opinion, the divisional series should be stretched into 7 games. A 5 game series leaves to much to luck or a single player. Anyone can win a 5 game, which I know makes for more excitment, but isn't the purpose of the playoffs to allow the best team to emerge amongst the other good teams?

A short series can be won with a single hot pitcher. The Astros were victims of this when Randy Johnson pitched brilliantly, only to fall to a more incredible Kevin Brown in 2 games of that series. The Astros have also been on the other side of tracks, benifiting from a ridiculous hot streak by Carlos Beltran in last year's NLDS against these very same Braves. In the former case, the Astros were the better team all year long, in the latter they were not. Unfortunately, in both cases the best team was eliminated due in large part to the unpredictability of the short series.

This has been a staple of MLB playoffs since the conception of the wild card. I don't have a problem with the wild card, in fact, I enjoy that playoff races often last until the last weekend of September. It is strange though that a team that can't even be the champion of a 5 or 6 team division, is somehow fit to be crowned champion of the entire league. How does this happen? Mostly, because like any sport, anything can happen in the playoffs. But these teams also benefit from the short series at the beggining and the fact that they cannot play a team within their own division in the first round. This often means that the wild card, who presumably sneaked into the playoffs, enjoys the benefit of playing the 2nd best team rather the leagues best.

If these two changes were made, I think wild card teams would be far less likely to reach the World Series.

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