Friday, August 31, 2007

Top 5 - NL ROY Candidates

Here are who I see as the top 5 candidates for the National League Rookie of the Year Award:

1. Ryan Braun Brewers
2. Troy Tulowitzki Rockies
3. Hunter Pence Astros
4. Tim Lincecum Giants
5. Josh Hamilton Reds

I have to think that Braun's number will be too sexy for voters to ignore (25 HR and a .331 batting average) but keep in mind that Tulowitzki actually leads Braun in Win Shares (17 to 16) for those sabermetrically inclined.
Top 5 - Baseball Players Born in Louisiana

Here are who I consider to be the top 5 baseball players born in Louisiana.

1. Mel Ott - Hall of Famer who 6-times led the league in HR and was named to 12 All-Star teams
2. Bill Dickey - Hall of Fame catcher
3. Ron Guidry - just having the name "Louisiana Lightning" is good enough to be on the list
4. Lee Smith - his 478 saves are second all-time but that's still not enough to get him into the Hall of Fame
5. Albert Belle - 9 straight seasons of 100 or more RBI. Three times led the league in RBI. Injury ended his career at 33-years old. Major league jerk.

Just missing the cut:
Will Clark - 6-time All-Star who had over 1100 runs and 1200 RBI
Rusty Staub - 6-time All-Star and 50th all-time in RBI

I hope someday that Jonathan Papelbon will be in the top 5 in this list. Special mention goes to JR Richard whose brilliant career was cut short by a stroke,

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reuters - WTF?

I was reading this article from Reuters (with no by-line by the way) about "100 insurgents killed in Afghan battle" when a paragraph in the article stopped me in my tracks:
No official from the Taliban, who lead the insurgency against Western troops and the Afghan government, could be immediately reached for comment.
WTF? Talk about being in bed with the enemy. Do Reuters reporters have Taliban officials on their speed dial?
Jim Caple - Who's Not Now

It has been a couple of years since I've read anything by Jim Caple on's Page 2. I'm sure Jim Caple is a nice guy but he's a baseball writer who's not informative and he's a wannabe humor writer who's not funny. Sorry - that's the truth.

I only bring this up because I was reminded of why I don't read Caple after sampling his latest piece titled Shut Up, Red Sox Nation.

Caple complains that Red Sox fans have become obnoxious since winning the World Series and explains that he used to be a Red Sox fan. My question immediately after hearing Caple list his bona fides as a Red Sox fan was to ask, "What team are you a fan of now?" My guess is that once Caple became a sportswriter that he stopped being a fan and started being a critic. It seems like he stopped rooting for things and started rooting against things. He's become the anti-Peter Gammons whose love of the game and knowledge of the game are enhanced by the fact that Gammons never stopped being a fan.

Seriously - read Caple's column and ask yourself if he comes off as humorous and informative or if he just sounds mean-spirited and negative. Can you point out anything positive in Caple's article? People who are negative all the time tend to get tuned out and I guess that I've tuned Caple out.

Oh and the second part of your column where talk about Wes Littleton getting a save in the Rangers' 30-3 victory - didn't Tim Kurkjian cover that the night it happened over a week ago? Jim Caple - your baseball insight is - to use an ESPN phrase - so NOW.

Caple also commits my pet peeve of being a sportswriter who brings politics into their columns. Comments like, "If only we had that sort of foresight before invading Iraq" tick me off. Hey Jim - does this mean I should mark you down as a person who thinks Saddam Hussein should have been kept in power. What were your stances on the Oil for Food programs and enforcing the No-Fly zones? Should I mark you down as a person who supports state torture (including rape rooms) and mass graves?

I'd suggest that Caple write about sports when he's supposed to be writing about sports and leave politics to people who write about politics but what's the difference - I doubt I'll be reading anything else that Jim Caple writes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Question

It just occurred to me that John Edwards and Larry Craig served in the US Senate at the same time. While they were in the Senate together - I wonder if John Edwards was ever nervous that Larry Craig was going to try and "snake" him?

Someone should ask Edwards this question out on the campaign trail.
Top 5 - 2007 AL ROY

Here's how I see the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year:

1. Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
2. Reggie Willits Angels
3. Daisuke Matsuzaka Red Sox
4. Brian Bannister Royals
5. (tie) Jeremy Guthrie Orioles (tie) Hideki Okajima Red Sox

Here is my thinking on how I ranked the players:

Just like how position players normally get many more votes in MVP voting - there is also a weighted bias toward position players in the ROY voting as well. Pedroia gets the top nod because he's played since Opening Day and he has an 86 point advantage in OPS over Willits among other reasons. Pedroia may be hurt by the fact that he has two teammates in the running for the award as well as the fact that there are 4 legitimate East Coast candidates whereas Willits just has Bannister of the Royals west of the Mississippi.

I have Dice-K ranked above Bannister and Guthrie because he is far ahead in starts, IP and K's. Those 5 extra starts Dice-K has over Bannister and Guthrie have lots of value to me. Ask yourself if Bannister and Guthrie had those 5 extra starts - what are the odds that they would have been bombed in one of those starts and raised their ERA's above 4.00? I tend to value IP as one of best indicators of a pitcher's value to a team.
Senator Larry Craig

I wasn't going to comment on this situation because I'm of two minds.

First off - I travel a lot and like the idea of being free to go into a restroom or a rest area without being approached by creepy guys looking to give or get a BJ. I also understand the schadenfreude that the Left is getting out of Sen. Craig's predicament and I don't begrudge them at all.

However, if you want to go into Clinton-parse-mode you have to ask where the lewd behavior or solicitation for sex is in this situation. I mean - if there is one thing that Bill Clinton taught the country is that oral sex doesn't count as sex. Right? If there is no sex - how can there be any lewd behavior on the part of Senator Craig?
Farm Subsidies

I was surprised by this and made a little angry by it.

Maybe its because I'm Irish and have an inbred loathing of absentee agricultural landlords. Maybe I just loathe the wasting my hard-earned tax dollars. Whatever it was - that little map got my blood up.

I'm a fan of the family farmer but in no way do those people in Manhattan qualify as yeoman farmers in the Jeffersonian sense. How hard would it be to simply re-craft the laws to make only farmers with an income under $500,000 and who live within 2 miles of their farm property eligible for subsidies? I hate to be bringing common sense to a governmental program but come on!

Some may ask "why have the farm subsidiaries at all?" Why not let the market forces work their magic? I can understand that point of view but I do see value in helping the small family farmer. They do need assistance in competing with the big corporate farming and dairy combines. If just for the peace of mind of knowing that not every glass of milk I drink or steak I eat comes from a cow penned into an awful factory existence is worth it for me.

Heh heh - this is pretty clever.

HT Sports Frog
Aaron Rowand

Happy 30th birthday to Phillies centerfielder Aaron Rowand.

Roward is a scrappy (I think its a rule that you have to call him that) player who gives it his all when he's on the field. Because of his effort - Rowand is a fan favorite in Chicago and in Philadelphia. However, because Rowand goes all-out he is prone to injury (tossing your body around with abandon tends to do that). Rowand is also a free-agent at the end of the season.

This offseason's Hot Stove "action" will be dominated with talk about centerfielders. You have Andruw Jones, Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand topping the bill. Since today is Rowand's birthday - I wanted to take a moment to talk about him. has Mike Lamb, Milton Bradley and Eric Byrnes as the three most similar batters to Rowand. That's not exactly Hall of Fame company. Me - I like to think of Rowand as a poor man's Johnny Damon and I mean that with no disrespect to either player.

The players are similar in that they both are excellent fielders who play with abandon but are tough enough to play through the dings that come with throwing your body around trying to win games for the team. They both have some pop in their bats (both players have hit 20 or more HR twice) and they both get on base at a similar clip (.343 career OBP for Rowand vs a .353 career OBP for Damon). I would give the base stealing edge to Damon and the outfield arm edge to Rowand (there are very few outfielders with a worse arm than Damon).

Damon signed a 4-year $52 million deal with the Yankees in 2006. Johnny Damon was 32-years old at the time. Rowand will be 30-years old when he signs his big free-agent contract but unlike Damon - Rowand won't have either the Yankees or Red Sox bidding for his services. I can see Rowand getting a contract in the 4-year $40 million range and I would not be surprised to see him re-sign with either the Phillies or White Sox. The age difference means that the team that signs Rowand will probably get full value for their contract whereas the Yankees will be looking to eat parts of or most of the final two years of Damon's contract. In fact - between the Phillies and White Sox - I would not be surprised if the Yankees propose a trade to the team that loses out on Rowand to take Damon at a discount for the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Remember - if the Yankees trade Damon (and to do that - they will have to eat about 50% of the contract) - they are freed up to sign Andruw Jones to replace A-Rod's HR in the line-up if A-Rod takes a walk as expected.

Its going to be an interesting offseason.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players Born in Mississippi

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Mississippi.

1. Dave Parker - the 1978 MVP - his admitted use of cocaine may have kept him out of the Hall of Fame
2. Ellis Burks - over 1200 runs and RBI
3. Frank White - 5-time All-Star and 8-time Gold Glove Winner
4. George Scott - the "Boomer" was a big hitter but don't forget that he also had 8 Gold Gloves
5. Roy Oswalt - one of the top pitchers in the NL
Dustin Pedroia

Excellent interview with Dustin Pedroia's college coach - Pat Murphy:
He’s really willed his way to the big leagues…he really has. Let’s break it down: He’s 5-foot-6, he’s can’t run, he’s not strong, his bat speed and his hands are tremendous because his arms are only about 11 inches long and so close to his body that he’s not getting to anything hit 5 or 6 inches to the right or left of him and he doesn’t have a lick of athletic ability…yet he’s a rookie of the year candidate.
HT Boston Sports Media Watch
Red Sox Magic Number - 24

With the Yankees getting absolutely pasted by the Tigers last night - the Red Sox magic number is now 24.

The number 24 will present a quandary for the Red Sox front office in the coming years. It happens to be the uniform number of certain first ballot Hall of Famer Manny Ramirez who should easily be in the top 20 in HR and RBI when he retires. Manny is under contract for 2008 and the team holds options for the 2009 and 2010 seasons but those options will come at a cost of $20 million per year. I have the suspicion that this is Manny's last contract and that his last year in a Red Sox uniform will also be his last year in baseball.

The quandary for the Red Sox will be threefold. First - do the Red Sox exercise the option years? Manny's numbers are down this year. Is this a trend? The Red Sox should have a clear idea by the end of next season. Second - unless Manny stays with the team through the 2010 season - he will have fewer than 10 seasons with the Red Sox. One of the official team guidelines for retiring a player's number is having played at least 10 seasons with the Red Sox (the other two are being elected to the Hall of Fame and having retired in a Red Sox uniform). Do they waive the 10-year rule for Manny? Manny has been an All-Star every year he's been in Boston and he was the MVP of the Red Sox first World Series victory in 86 years.

The final quandary will be if they do retire Manny's number - what do they say to Dwight Evans and Jim Rice? Dwight Evans also wore the number 24 and he's currently over 120 HR and over 500 RBI ahead of Manny on the Red Sox all-time lists for HR and RBI. If they honor Manny by retiring the number 24 - what do they say to the man who played 19 seasons for the Red Sox and who will probably have as many Gold Gloves for the Red Sox as Manny has All-Star game appearances? Do they retire the number 24 and say it is for both Manny and Dewey?

If they do that - what do they say to Jim Rice? No player has worn Jim Rice's 14 since Rice retired. If Jim Rice gets elected to the Hall of Fame - then it is almost a given that the Red Sox will retire his number. That's a big "if" though and realistically it looks like Rice will fall just short of election to the Hall. Retring Rice's number is a pretty easy call in my mind.

Maybe the biggest question to answer is the first one.

The number 24 also happens to be the number of beers in a case. I think I'll go out this afternoon and buy myself a case of beer to watch the Red Sox dash the Yankees Wildcard hopes. My quandary will also be threefold - do I buy Sam Adams, Bud Light or Wachusett?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Astros Fire Tim Purpura and Phil Garner

Today the Houston Astros fired Tim Purpura and Phil Garner. Two years ago the Astros went to the World Series and under Garner and Purpura was a long-time employee. Now both are unemployed. In medical terms - a "Purpura is the appearance of red or purple discolorations on the skin, caused by bleeding underneath the skin". I get the feeling that these firings may have been because something that got under owner Drayton McLane's skin.

Besides the obvious fact that the Astros are a hair's breath from having the worst record in the entire National League - many of the Astros players are under-preforming. My guess is that McLane is tired of the inmates running the asylum and with Jeff Bagwell retired, Craig Biggio done at the end of the season - I'd look for a mini-house cleaning which would include the popular in the clubhouse but pop-gun at the plate Brad Ausmus. I think its fair to say that the house-cleaning started today with Garner and Purpura.

This season the Astros had a $87 million payroll. Much of that number comes from three core players Carlos Lee (signed till 2012 with a 6-year $100 million deal), Lance Berkman (signed through 2010 with a 2011 option) and Roy Oswalt (signed through 2011). Those three players will use up about $40 million in payroll in 2008. Houston also has starter Woody Williams on the books in 2008 for $6.25 million. That will leave about $40 million for about 21 more players. A limited budget (assuming that McLane will insist in a budget similar or less than this year's) and high expectations for winning seem like a perfect fit for a Moneyball guy. Lucky for the Astros that Paul DePodesta is available.

The Rangers have wonderboy Josh Daniels and DePodesta has a much better resume. With Tal Smith around DePodesta could be freed up to just manage the roster and develop the farm system. Hiring a fan and press friendly manager would also work to provide cover to a guy like DePodesta. I wonder if Bobby Valentine would be interested in coming back to America? What about the always-smiling Tony Pena?

I would look for the following players and their 2007 salaries to be castoff this offseason:

Jason Jennings $5.5 million
Craig Biggio $5 million
Brad Ausmus - $3.5 million
Adam Everett - $2.8 million
Mike Lamb $2.5 million
Mark Loretta $2.5 million

Including the money from the now-departed Morgan Ensberg - that's over $26 million of wiggle room for the new GM. The primary needs will be a catcher, shortstop and second base. They will also need a veteran starter to shore up the back of the rotation. I wouldn't be surprised if the Astros worked an incentive laden contract with Kerry Wood, Kris Benson or Matt Clement.
Wow - Just Wow!

This is a must read story from Iraq.

When tales of bravery are told it is not uncommon to hear the remark - "Where do we find such brave men?" In this case the the question would be "Where do we find such brave women?"

HT Instpundit
Red Sox Magic Number - 25

The Red Sox magic number is currently 25.

The number 25 is currently worn by Red Sox 3rd baseman Mike Lowell. I have long been of the opinion that the Red Sox should re-sign Mike Lowell for another year or two. In spring training they probably could have extended him for just another year but now it will probably take a minimum of a two-year contract to get him to come back.

Mike Lowell has said that he really wants to stay in Boston and the value of a player who not only can handle the pressure of playing in Boston but thrives in that environment should not be underestimated. Lowell is a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse and even if his offense declines over the next two years - he still brings Gold Glove caliber defense to the table. Red Sox fans want Mike Lowell to come back - they don't want A-Rod.

To older Red Sox fans - the number 25 means Tony C - Tony Conigliaro. I'm too young to remember Tony C. but I realize that to many Tony C was really something special.

In terms of wedding anniversaries - 25 is the Silver Anniversary. Looking at the Red Sox - even though they have the best record in baseball - I think the team will earn only one Silver Slugger award this year. At 2nd base - Dustin Pedroia has an uphill battle trying to wrest the award from the likes of Placido Polanco, Brian Roberts and Robinson Cano. Manny Ramirez has won 8 consecutive Silver Slugger Awards (in 2002 as a DH) but that streak is in jeopardy. The awards this year probably goes to Magglio Ordonez, Ichiro Suzuki and Vlade Guererro. David Ortiz has to be the leader to win the Silver Slugger at DH but you never know.

There was about an hour and a half period yesterday when the Red Sox magic number was 26. I was going to use that opportunity to mention that the Red Sox will not be retiring the number 26 to honor Wade Boggs. Since Boggs left the Red Sox - 11 players have worn the number 26. It is a token of the esteem not felt toward Boggs that players like Lou Merloni and Freddy Sanchez have been given that number after the selfish bastard Boggs took his act on the road. Boggs was inducted into the Hall of Fame two years ago. If the Red Sox owners felt inclined to honor Boggs - they would have announced it by now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Alabama

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Alabama.

1. Hank Aaron - the undisputed RBI king and in my mind still the true Home Run King
2. Willie Mays - in almost any other state - Willie Mays would be #1
3. Satchel Paige - one of the greatest pitchers of all-time
4. Willie McCovey - Hall of Fame 1st baseman
5. Ozzie Smith - Hall of Fame shortstop - one of the greatest defensive players in history - 13 consecutive Gold Gloves

I wasn't prepared for the number of great players from the State of Alabama. The above top 5 players would give any state a run for its money and consider that the following Hall of Famers did not even make the list.

Heinie Manush - Hall of Fame outfielder and one of the all-time great names in sports
Joe Sewell - Hall of Fame infielder
Billy Williams - Hall of Fame outfielder for the Cubbies
Don Sutton - Hall of Fame Pitcher - 324 career victories
Early Winn - Hall of Fame pitcher - exactly 300 career wins

I couldn't help but think that you could put together a great all-time team from Alabama. The two weak positions would be at catcher and closer but you could have Bo Jackson coming off the bench and George Foster at DH.
Michael Vick's House

Yesterday, for some reason, I got thinking about Michael Vick's house in Virginia where the dog-fighting and dog murders took place. Specifically, I had two things I wondered about:

1. A twist on the old question - "Would you buy a murder house?" If you had a chance to buy Michael Vick's house at 1915 Moonlight Road at a discount - would you? For me a house with an assessed value of over $700,000 has to have a pool and this house does not. That takes me out of the running for buying a house like that and living there. The only way I would consider buying that house is if the discount was so big that I had the opportunity to immediately put it back on the market and realize a profit of over $50,000. Call me mercenary or merciless but I'm not a believer in lingering spirits (especially dog spirits).

2. That house was purchased by Vick for just $30,000 in 2001 and the assessed value today is $747,000? Vick basically got that house for free. What is the story behind that? Some enterprising journalist should follow up on this because there is definitely a story behind the original purchase of the house.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 27

The Red Sox magic number is now 27.

The number 27 is no longer available for Red Sox players because Boston retired the number to honor Carlton Fisk. Interestingly enough - Jason Varitek is only 20 HR behind Fisk on the all-time Red Sox list and already ahead of Fisk by 31 in RBI.

AFC East Preview

Here's what I predict for the AFC East

New England Patriots 13-3
New York Jets 8-8
Miami Dolphins 6-10
Buffalo Bills 4-12

New England Patriots - If Tom Brady and to a lesser extent Laurence Maroney remain healthy - then the Patriots finish the season with the best record in the AFC. If Tom Brady or to a lesser extent Laurence Maroney get hurt - then the Patriots turn into the Bengals with a better defense. Tom Brady staying healthy for the season is not a given. The offensive line for the Patriots is the real question mark and Pats fans can only hope that the coaching staff employs max protection schemes much more this year than in the past to help keep Brady from getting creamed on a regular basis.

The Patriots have perhaps the best defensive line in football. Many critics have pointed out the advanced age of the linebackers as a potential trouble spot but these critics ignore the fact that the defensive live will do a good job of keeping blockers off the linebackers and that linebackers in a Belichick defense rely as much on their smarts as physical ability. The Patriots have the most savvy group of linebackers in football.

Many fantasy football fans are high on Laurence Maroney but before you draft him too high consider that many of the goal-line carries may actually go to fullback Sammy Morris who could turn into a poor man's Mike Alstott.

New York Jets - It's hard to imagine that Chad Pennington is going into his 8th pro season. Where did the time go? By now, however, what type of player Pennington happens to be has been made clear. He's a QB who does not make many mistakes but who does not possess the strongest of arms. I get the feeling that Pennington won't last the season without getting hurt though. The Jets don't have much of a running game and I think the defenses they face will be blitzing Pennington on most of the plays.

Bodog has the over / under for the Jets pegged at 8 wins. I think that number is spot on.

Miami Dolphins - The Dolphins let Wes Welker walk and sign with the Patriots and they then turned around and drafted Ted Ginn Jr. The universal reaction was "WTF?" I half -hope Brady Quinn turns into the next Dan Marino just to screw with the Dolphins.

Trent Green is one of the most likable players in the NFL and if any QB in the NFL knows how to run an offense that has a good running game but replacement level receivers - its Green who had that same situation in Kansas City. Even if Green has a good season - I still don't see the Dolphins doing better than 6-10.

Buffalo Bills - I covered the Bills earlier. I see them going 4-12.
Red Sox Magic Number - 28

The Red Sox magic number is now 28 and their lead over the Yankees is up to 6.5 games in the AL East.

There are two players who wore the number 28 that I'd like to mention.

First - the number 28 was worn by Sparky Lyle in his days in Boston. In New York - Lyle is remembered as the 1977 AL Cy Young Award winner and as a clutch reliever but in Boston he is remember as the man who made the name Danny Cater a sort of a curse word and as the next to ultimate example of why the Red Sox should never deal with the Yankees (Babe Ruth being the ultimate example).

The number 28 is also currently worn by Doug Mirabelli who is known in some circles as Tim Wakefield's binky or as Doug Fatbelli (though to be fair - Mirabelli reported to camp in great shape this year). I'm of two minds with Mirabelli. On one hand I don't like the Red Sox using up a roster spot on a guy who has trouble hitting his weight. On the other hand - Mirabelli is a veteran and al the pitchers are comfortable with him and honestly back-up catcher is not the most vital position on the roster.
Baseball Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous baseball thoughts and observations.

Chipper Jones currently leads the NL in batting with his .337 mark. Jones is 35-years old and if he won the batting title - he'd be one of the oldest players ever to do so. The oldest player to win the batting title was Ted Williams who won his last batting title at age 39.... Al Kaline of the Tigers was the youngest player to ever win a batting title. Kaline was 20 years, 9 months and six days when he won the title in 1955... The race for the NL Cy Young is pretty tight. Who do you chose? Jake Peavy has 14 wins, leads the league in strikeouts and is second in ERA but he plays in the uber pitchers park and playing in San Diego doesn't enhance his Q rating. Brandon Webb has 14 wins, leads the league in innings pitched and complete games and is second in strikeouts and fourth in ERA, however, Webb is the complete opposite of flashy and his workman like approach may not be sexy enough to woo the voters. Cole Hamels has 14 wins and even though he plays in the biggest bandbox in baseball - he still has a decent 3.50 ERA. What about old man John Smoltz who is 12-6 with a 3.01 ERA? My guess is that first place votes could go to as many as six players. The person to take home the award will probably be the guy who gets the most second and third place votes... Mike Lowell has 90 RBI and his career high is 105 which he set in 2003 when he was 29-years old. I'm rooting for Lowell to set a new career high this year and to be re-signed by the Red Sox... David Ortiz hit 2 HR last night to give him 23 for the season. Last year he hit 54 - so I'd say he's a bit behind last year's pace.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 30

After winning the first game of a double-header against the White Sox - the Red Sox magic number is now 30.

The number 30 is probably most associated in history with the 30 pieces of silver Judas Iscariot took to betray Jesus. If the Red Sox do sign A-Rod in the off-season they should give him the number 30 to commemorate it.

Another former Red Sox number 30 has been in the news lately - Jose Offerman.

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

I can't believe that Paul Konerko leads the White Sox in hitting with a .270 average. Is it any wonder that Chicago has the worst team batting average in the AL with a .246 mark? Is it any wonder that they are battling the Royals for last place in the AL Central?.... Many scribes and TV talking heads have been decrying NFL teams charging full price for tickets to pre-season games. Two things I haven't seen brought up when discussing this subject is the fact that most of the people taking the NFL owners to task for charging full price never pay for a ticket to an event in the first place. Its easy to get on your high horse when you watch the games from the press box for free. Secondly - at this time of year many fans are starved for football action and are willing to pay full price even for exhibition games. It has been months seen we've any pigskin and many people are Jonesing... If he played for the White Sox - Coco Crisp would be their leading hitter with a .272 average... My guess on Michael Vick is that the judge sentences him to 18 months and not the 12 to 18 the prosecutor offered in the plea deal. I also think there will be an unofficial black-balling of Vick in the NFL when he gets out of jail (there is little upside to signing him at that point - look at how many teams are lining up for Ricky Williams). One final prediction - Michael Vick gets mad at not getting a deal with an NFL team and writes (more accurately - has written for him) a tell-all book ala Jose Canseco.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Florida

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Florida.

1. Steve Carlton - Hall of Fame pitcher - 329 career wins and 4 Cy Young Awards
2. Andre Dawson - should be in the Hall of Fame -as Ryne Sandberg said "he played the game the right way"
3. Fred McGriff - another guy who should be in the Hall of Fame - lead both the AL and NL in HR in separate years
4. Chipper Jones - will be in the Hall of Fame - not a ton of HR but top 25 all-time in OPS
5. (tie) Tim Raines - 5th all-time in stolen bases (tie) Gary Sheffield - closing in on 500 HR

I was surprised that there was only one Hall of Famer from Florida. You would think that a state that is always in the top 3 (with California and Texas) in producing athletes would have more than one. Florida does have a number of players who either should be in the Hall of Fame or are the most borderline of cases. You could actually arrange the last four players on my list in any order and I would not argue with it.

I was also surprised to learn that Wade Boggs was not born in Florida but instead was born in Omaha, Nebraska.

Florida is also home to the player who perhaps blew the most talent in the history of MLB - Doc Gooden. Conversely it is also home to the player who has probably maximized his God given gifts more than any other in Tim Wakefield.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

AFC North Preview

Here's what I predict for the AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
Baltimore Ravens 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Cleveland Browns 6-10

I already explained that I think Cincinnati will go 10-6 this year. I also earlier explained my reasoning in picking Baltimore to do the same.

Ben Roethlisberger is not a top level quarterback in my opinion and he has a new offensive coordinator and new offense to learn. Big Ben has said that he looks forward to being a "rookie" this year and I think we will see him make some "rookie" mistakes in some close games that will ultimately cost the Steelers a playoff spot. I won't make many friends in Pittsburgh by saying this but I consider Roethlisberger to be just an over-hyped Jon Kitna. I see them going 8-8 in coach Mike Tomlin's first year.

Brady Quinn will probably start his career at QB for the Browns against the Dolphins in week 6 because Romeo Crennel just won't throw his future franchise QB to the wolves by having him start against Bill Belichick and the Patriots in Foxboro in week 5. I'm just as curious as the next guy to see how the Notre Dame star fares in the NFL and I bet the Browns are happy to have the anticipation to Quinn's ascendancy be the top story instead of stories of how bad they have been or stories of flesh eating bacteria in the locker room.

Infections are a serious problem but I can't help but think of how far our medical knowledge has come. Back is 1924, President Calvin Coolidge's son - Cal Jr. - played tennis on the White House lawn with shoes but not socks and got a blister on his foot. The blister became infected and Calvin Coolidge Jr. died from the infection. Less than 85 years ago our medical knowledge was such that even the President's son could be killed by an infected blister while staying at the White House! We've come a long way since then but bacteria are still a major health issue (as the Cleveland Browns could attest).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bill Murray - DUI in Sweden

Bill Murray got cited for DUI in Sweden while driving a golf cart.

It would have been funny if Murray asked the cop "How about some flapjacks?" when he got pulled over. I'm guessing Murray may be avoiding Sweden in the future.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Georgia

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players born in Georgia.

1. Ty Cobb - love him or hate him - he was one of the greatest players of all-time
2. Jackie Robinson - do I have to explain?
3. Frank Thomas - certain to be a Hall of Famer. 508 HR and climbing
4. Bill Terry - Hall of Fame 1st baseman
5. Moises Alou - 6-time All-Star

I could have picked pitchers Kevin Brown or Kenny Rogers for the 5th spot but both those guys are jerks.

File this under "You Learn Something New Every Day" - there really was a Crash Davis but he wasn't a catcher.
Red Sox Magic Number - 31

With the Red Sox beating the Devil Rays and the Yankees being eviscerated by the Angels last night - the Red Sox magic number is now 31.

Jon Lester who was the winning pitcher in last night's game coincidently wears #31 for the Red Sox. Lester is an impressive 9-2 so far in his career with Boston. What is not impressive is the fact that his career ERA is over 5.00 (5.02 to be exact) and opponents are hitting .287 against him.

I know that Lester is an inspiration having beat cancer but as a major league pitcher - I'm just not sold on him. If Lester makes a start in the playoffs - I'm going to bet the over. Not to be harsh but Jon Lester is the leading reason to re-sign Curt Schilling for another season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got destroyed last night in Anaheim which is near Los Angeles. Mike Mussina couldn't even get out of the second inning. Since I dumped on a Red Sox pitcher - I figure I should take this opportunity to be equal opportunity and dump on Mike Mussina as well.

This season Mike Mussina has been pretty bad. He's 8-9 with a 5.22 ERA. Batters are hitting over .300 against him (.305 to be exact). Where Jon Lester also has an ERA over 5.00 - there is hope that Lester will improve but with Mussina you get the feeling his career is now on a slippery slope and improvement is not on the horizon. If the Yankees did make the playoffs (which they won't) - Mussina would probably be slotted as their number 4 pitcher by Joe Torre (behind Wang, Pettitte and Clemens). He should also be behind Phillip Hughes but Torre likes his veterans.

Mike Mussina - number 5 starter for a second place team. That's what its come down to. At least Jon Lester won't cost the Red Sox $11 million next year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Walk Hard

This looks to be pretty funny.

HT Steve Silver
Red Sox Magic Number - 33

The Red Sox magic number is now 33 and their lead in the AL East is back to 5 games.

In Boston the number 33 makes you think of just one person - Larry Bird. In the mid 1980's if you asked the average Bostonian about Bird the reply was likely to be, "Larry Bird is a God." Bird was a player whose greatness could not be expressed or understood by simply looking at his numbers. This season I heard a number of people compare Dirk Nowitzki to Larry Bird because Nowitzki's points per game and rebounds per game were similar. Just looking at the numbers just doesn't tell the story of how important and how great some players are. Dirk Nowitzki is no Larry Bird.

Back to the Red Sox - Tim Wakefield is now 15-10 on the season which means he has a decision in all 25 of the starts he made. His 15 wins puts him in a tie for the most wins in the AL so far this season and his ERA is now down to just 4.35 (which is just a shade over his career ERA of 4.30). Wakefield is now just 6 strikeouts behind Ron Guidry for 84th place on the all-time list. With probably 7 more starts this season - Wakefield has an outside shot at 20 wins this season. At the least he should top his career high of 17 wins he set in 1998.

JD Drew is driving me crazy. Sure he's hitting .339 in August but the last two games it has looked like he bet someone he could go entire games without taking a swing. Plus he hasn't hit a home run since June. JD Drew - I want to believe but he's making it damn hard on even the most optimistic fan like me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Michael Vick

So Michael Vick has reached a plea agreement. Who didn’t see that coming?

Make no mistake – a plea agreement was Vick’s last chance to leave open the possibility that he could come back to the NFL. If he went to trial and heinous details of torturing dogs made the nightly news, night after night – the disgust factor with Vick would have been off the scales.

Now with the plea bargain and guilty plea – he can hope that someday he can go back to playing on Sundays. The door is open but only just a bit. My guess is that Vick has taken his last snap in the NFL.

Michael Vick won’t ever be back in uniform with the Atlanta Falcons. That’s for sure. He lied to the face of the owner and he betrayed his responsibility to the team. The Falcons can’t wait to void Vick’s contract to free up some cap space. This season the Falcons may tank and end up with one of the top picks in the 2008 draft. It is well within the reach of possibility that by the time Vick gets out of jail that Brian Brohm will be the #1 QB for the Falcons.

When Michael Vick gets out of jail it is entirely possible that Commissioner Roger Goodell will refuse to reinstate him because of the gambling aspects of the charges that Vick is about to plead guilty to. You are known by the company you keep and the company that Vick was keeping while tens of thousands were bet on dogs trying to kill each other is not the crowd the NFL wants players hanging with. The quality of company Vick will be keeping in jail may actually be an upgrade.

If by some slim chance Commissioner Goodell does reinstate Vick – who will want to take a risk on him? What team will be in such dire straits that they would take a chance on a player who will have been out of football for two years and who has a reputation already as a coach-killer? This doesn’t even take into consideration the fan protests the franchise would face from dog lovers and PETA.

I won’t even be charitable enough to hope that Michael Vick has saved some money so that he can support himself after prison. I hope he has played his last down in the NFL and hope he has to work at McDonalds the rest of his life – after he gets out of jail that is.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from South Carolina

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from South Carolina.

1. Shoeless Joe Jackson - 3rd highest career batting average of all time - yet never lead his league in batting. Not in Hall of Fame for obvious reasons
2. Larry Doby - Hall of Fame Outfielder - broke color line in the American League
3. Jim Rice - lead league in total bases 4 times, home runs 3 times and was 1978 AL MVP - should be in Hall of Fame
4. Willie Randolph - 6-time All-Star 2nd baseman for the Yankees
5. Reggie Sanders - one of six players in baseball history to have both 300+ HR and 300+ stolen bases

I think South Carolina is the first state where I picked five position players and no pitchers.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Michael Deaver

Michael Deaver, who was both a closer advisor and friend to both Ron and Nancy Reagan has died. I read the news in this obituary and I was taken aback by this passage in the article:
Deaver chose a German military cemetery near Bitburg for Reagan to lay a wreath while on a visit. To the president's embarrassment, the cemetery turned out to contain the graves of 49 members of Adolf Hitler's elite SS troops. Reagan refused to drop the appearance from his schedule in spite of withering criticism.
The way I recall that event from reading first hand accounts of the Reagan White House is that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl put the visit to the Bitburg cemetery on his own schedule and then asked President Reagan if he would accompany him. Reagan was genuinely fond of Kohl and agreed. When it was learned that there were some SS troops buried there - Deaver and others tried to get the President to drop the visit from his schedule. Reagan, however, did not want to embarrass or hurt the feelings of his friend Helmut Kohl - so he went on with the visit. I shake my head at the fact that Deaver now has to have inaccuracies like the one above smear even his obituary.

While trying to find the first hand references to back up my recollection - I stumbled upon this 1988 piece by Bill Cahir that argued;
It would be far more appropriate to execute Michael Deaver than Charles Manson.
Sure that 1988 piece was written by a college junior but now Bill Cahir works for the Newhouse News Service as the Washington correspondent and columnist for four newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including The Gloucester County Times of Woodbury, N.J., and the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. I am sure a guy who once argued for the execution of Michael Deaver must be an unbiased source of political reporting.

I am trying to tie the loose ends of the above together with a few cogent sentences but my disgust at the bias and inaccuracy of the Main Stream Media is clouding my ability to think or write clearly.
Red Sox Magic Number - 35

With the Red Sox 10-5 win over the Angels last night the magic number for them to clinch the AL East is now 35.

There are 39 games left to play and the Red Sox could go just 19-20 to finish the season which would force the Yankees to go 24-15 (a .615 winning clip) just to tie. Now I don't think the Red Sox will go less than .500 for the rest of the season but there is a chance the Yankees could.

Not only do the Yankees play their next six games on the road against the Angels and Tigers - after that they play 25 of the last 33 against AL East opponents against whom the Yankees have gone just 22-25 so far this season. All this is just a way of taking the long way around the barn to once again say that the Yankees just aren't catching the Red Sox this year.

The uniform number 35 was worn by both Rickey Henderson and Rick Miller for the Red Sox. You would think it would be Rickey Henderson I would want to talk about but instead its Rick Miller. Back after the 1977 season - Angels owner Gene Autry informed his GM that he wanted "that outfielder from Boston". Autrey was actually quite taken by Dwight Evans but his GM thought he meant Rick Miller so he signed the free agent Miller. I always found that story amusing.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 38

After the Yankees lost yesterday - the new magic number for the Red Sox is now 38. The number 38 brings to mind many things.

There are 38 slots on a roulette wheel. (And if you added up all the numbers on a roulette wheel you would come up with 666 which is both the mark of the beast and the number Alex Rodriguez originally requested when he went to the Yankees).

I can't help but think of the band 38 Special when you mention the number 38. They sang the hit Hold On Loosely (but don't let go). That seems to be perfect advice for the Red Sox who need to be loose down the stretch but also focused.

Of course the number 38 is also the uniform number of Curt Schilling.

However, to most Red Sox fans over a certain age - the number 38 is most closely associated with Channel 38 WSBK which for most of my youth broadcast both the Red Sox games and Boston Bruin games. Seeing Ned Martin and Bob Montgomery (with Tom Larson in studio) doing Spring Training games meant school was almost out. Channel 38 was NESN before there was a NESN except instead of fishing shows to fill in the time between games they had The Movie Loft and Hogans Heroes. To this day if I'm playing poker and I hold an open ended straight with the 4,5,6,7 - I immediately think WSBK.
Cincinnati Bengals

Bodog has the over / under for wins by the Cincinnati Bengals at 9.5 games. Looking at the Bengals' schedule I can see them going 10-6 if Carson Palmer stays healthy. Perhaps no team is tied to the health of a single player more than the Bengals. If he does stay healthy - I'd look for Carson Palmer to have a huge year with over 4,000 passing yards and 30+ TD passes. The Bengals will be forced to pass this year because their running game just isn't what it used to be.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Red Sox Magic Number - 39

With the Red Sox victory and the Yankee's loss last night - the magic number is down to 39.

The number 39 also happens to be the uniform number worn by Mike Greenwell who was a player you either really liked or disliked. I just thought Gator was OK. He wasn't chopped liver but he wasn't Jim Rice (if you know what I mean). Mike Greenwell is a player who should have had a mullet. If Greenie had a mullet he would have won me over.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

PTI and the Dumbing Down of America

Norman Chad has an amusing column on sportswriters on TV. Norm was just half-joking but he's hit on a serious problem. Sportswriters on TV are responsible for the dumbing down of America and they must be stopped.

First there was The Sports Reporters which was lead by the great Dick Schaap. It was a veritable Algonquin round table for serious sports fans. However, after the passing of Schaap it became the Mike Lupica show and the quality of the discourse went down the tube because the other guests were too worried about wearing the same tie as or looking the little dictator directly in the eye to make cogent arguments.

Sports Reporters spawned Pardon the Interruption (PTI), which as Chad points out, took two of the best sportswriters in the business out of the business of writing. PTI spawned Around the Horn which is to intellectual improvement what cockfighting is to sports. (While I'm throwing around analogies - Stephen A Smith is to bleeding ears what Japanese cartoons are to sudden epileptic seizures.)

The trend has been downward in quality of discourse and upward in volume. At the same time, as Chad points out, the sportswriters have stopped writing. It gets confusing because if they are not writing then they can't be sportswriters. Since most of them never played the game they can't be called sports personalities. Yammering white guys would cover 90% of the TV talking heads but I think it wouldn't be politically acceptable.

If you think I'm kidding consider that while at the same time the sportswriters on TV phenomenon was spreading a gender gap in education was also developing. Girls were surging ahead of boys in reading and math skills. Boys who used to read the Kornheisers and Wilbons of the world were now just vacantly staring into a boob tube. Instead of working out the math of a boxscore - boys just assumed the numbers Woody Paige shouted out were correct.

There has been a serious dumbing down of the American male youth and ESPN is to blame. They must be stopped before something worse than Stephen A. Smith is forced upon the youth of America.

If you need any further proof that what I claim is true - just look at the recent Who's Now "competition" on ESPN. Never mind the inanity of the idea behind the competition - just look at the grammar of the title of it.

(Oh and Norm - just an FYI - Nipsey Russell died 2 years ago.)

HT The Big Lead for the Chad column
Tom Verducci's All-Time Team

SI's Tom Verducci picked his all-time baseball team. I have three quibbles with his choices.

1. OK - I can see picking Bunyanesque Josh Gibson to be the starting catcher but I cannot see picking Pudge Rodriguez as the back-up and mentioning Mike Piazza. Where's Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra? Both of those players are more deserving than Rodriguez or Piazza.

2. This one's not really a quibble but more of an observation - I couldn't help but notice that Barry Bonds is not even mentioned on the list.

3. OK - I can see picking Pete Alexander to be in the bullpen (373 wins with a 2.56 ERA) but my choice would have been Warren Spahn.
Markos Moulitsas

Markos Moulitsas of the Daily KOS was on Meet the Press this Sunday. After reading this post over at Hugh Hewitt - I was left scratching my head. I know KOS gets tons of traffic but what makes Markos Moulitsas such a mover and shaker that the gets equal billing with the head of the DNC?

It occurs to me that every candidate Markos Moulitsas has supported has lost. I mean every single one. If you had a campaign manager whose candidates lost every election - would he still get TV time? If you had a guy who supposedly was an expert at picking football games but every time he picked a game - he backed the losing team - would he still get TV time?

I don't get it but God love him. Markos Moulitsas has managed to make a nice living off being a blogger.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from North Carolina

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from North Carolina.

1. Gaylord Perry - Hall of Fame pitcher, won 314 games, 5-times won 20 games and twice won the Cy Young Award
2. Hoyt Wilhelm - Hall of Fame pitcher, knuckleball specialist who was the first reliever to have 200 saves and he still holds the record for most wins by a reliever with 124
3. Luke Appling - Hall of Fame shortstop, career .310 batting average
4. Enos Slaughter - Hall of Fame outfielder, 10-time all-star
5. (tie) Rick Ferrell - Hall of Fame catcher, 8-time all-star (tie) Catfish Hunter - the Tony Perez of Hall of Fame pitchers
Red Sox Magic Number - 41

With the 3-0 win over the Devil Rays last night - the Red Sox magic number is now 41.

Last night Tim Wakefield was brilliant. With his six strikeouts he also moved into 85th place on the all-time strikeout list passing John Burkett. Next up is Ron Guidry who is 11 strikeouts ahead of Wakefield with 1,778.

The number 41 also happens to be the uniform number of Tom Seaver who finished up his career with the Red Sox in 1986. Mentioning Tom Seaver brings up the question of who was the greater right-handed pitcher - Tom Seaver or Roger Clemens? Looking at their stats - you would have to say that Clemens has the edge over Seaver in just about every category but for my money - I'd still take a young Seaver in his prime over Clemens at any point in his career. I'm guessing that Seaver would never get himself thrown out of an important playoff game against the A's or beg out of an important game 6 when the Red Sox are about to win their first World Series in decades.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Zod 2008

You will kneel before Zod in the voting booth.

Zod will lead Americans to a better life and a better body.

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Tennessee

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from Tennessee.

1. Todd Helton - so far a career batting average of .330 with 5 All-Star appearences, 3 Gold Gloves and 1 batting title
2. Bob Caruthers - 218 career wins, .688 career winning percentage and TWICE won 40 games in a season
3. Steve Finley - one of only 6 players in baseball history with over 300 HR and 300 stolen bases
4. Vida Pinson - 4-time All-Star outfielder who twice lead the NL in hits
5. Ben Chapman - 4-time All-Star who lead the AL 4-times in stolen bases

The pickings are so slim for Tennessee that Phil Garner almost made the list. Caruthers looks like a very interesting character who would make a great subject for a book.
The Karl Rove Interview

A Large Regular was lucky enough to get an exclusive interview with the now departing Deputy Chief of Staff and political lightning rod Karl Rove.

ARL: First off - thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I know this must be a particularly hectic time for you.

KR: No problem Chris. I always have time for my friends and except for the barrage of phone calls about me leaving I'm not particularly busy. I've planned this departure for some time now and all my stuff is already out of my office.

ALR: You've said in interviews that you are leaving to spend more time with your family. I hate to be blunt but oftentimes that excuse is just cover-up for some other reason.

KR: You're right Chris. Often the phrase "to spend more time with my family" is code for something else. In my case it's half true. I do want to spend more time with my family but there is something else.

ALR: And that is?

KR: Well - I need to make some money. I've been a target at the White House and all the legal fees have really hit me in the pocketbook. It has literally cost me hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to work at the White House. By leaving now I'll have time to write a book and do some speaking engagements. That should put me back flush with cash. People forget that I was just a consultant. I've wasn't some rich business heavyweight like Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld.

ALR: Aren't you going to miss the day to day goings on at the White House and being in the middle of the big issues of the day?

KR: Those are two different things. I won't miss the day to day stuff at all. After a few years it almost becomes the same ol' same ol' with a bunch of daily meetings and memos. I won't miss that stuff at all and being the Deputy Chief of Staff - that was a big part of my day. As far as still being involved - I'll still have my long Sunday morning calls with the President just like I always have.

ALR: Again - sorry to be blunt but you've been with the President so long it just seems strange that you couldn't wait the last 15 months before going back to private life.

KR: No problem Chris. I agree that this is a point worth emphasizing because the Left will seize upon it as some sort of hope of some big scandal about to break that is forcing me out or make some crack about rats leaving a sinking ship. That's just not true. The truth is very pedestrian. I don't need the hassles of doing the day to day stuff and I need the money that a well-time political memoir will bring. People don't realize that there is a small window for political first hand history. I need to get my book done prior to the next President taking office.

ALR: Thank you for your time.

KR: Always a pleasure Chris. By the way - do you think people will realize this was satire?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Buffalo Bills

I like Buffalo. Really I do. I know the city is gray with concrete the building material of choice and the sky always looks ready to rain or snow - I still like Buffalo. I've always had a good time when I've gone there and the people always seemed nice and down to earth.

I also like the Bills. That's why I feel bad that they will have such a miserable record at the end of the season. The Bills have perhaps the toughest schedule in the NFL. Going into their December 16th game against the Cleveland Browns - it is entirely possible that the Bills have either 1 or zero wins. Seriously.

Bodog has the over / under for wins for Buffalo set at 6 and I'm thinking the under is a pretty good bet. I hope I'm wrong because I like the Bills.

I like Dick Jauron as a coach, first round pick Marshawn Lynch (with a name like Lynch - how could I not?) and second round pick linebacker Paul Posluszny. The Buffalo Bills will probably be involved in many close games but alas they will end up losing almost all of them.

The good news is that they should be in the running for Brian Brohm and the first pick overall in the 2008 NFL draft.
TNR and Scott Beauchamp

The New Republic accuses the Army of stonewalling when it comes to Scott Beauchamp's fabulist tales of military cruelty in Iraq. It is now clear that the Army can't speak on the subject without Beauchamp's permission.

Here's my read on the situation.

Scott Beauchamp wants to be a writer so he created some stories he thought would resonate with the anti-war literary elite. These stories were printed as if they were fact by the New Republic with minimal or sloppy fact-checking.

The stories contained actions which were clearly against military codes of conduct so the Army investigated. The Army investigation concluded that Beauchamp's stories were without basis in reality but since they are nice guys - they just slapped Beauchamp on the wrist for his transgressions. However, the Army probably told Beauchamp that if he tried to defend his stories as the truth then the Army would go public with their findings and Beauchamp would face a court-martial. So now Beauchamp is stuck. He can't respond to the New Republic guys to help defend the stories without facing real repercussions for his lies. And he can't come out and say it was all lies without burning his literary bridges.

Meanwhile you would think that a magazine such as The New Republic would have learned from the example of Richard Nixon. It was not the break-in that brought Nixon down - it was the cover-up. Likewise for The New Republic publishing the story by Beauchamp was bad enough but it is the defense of the story which is bringing the magazine's reputation to its knees.

The Army, for their part, is not unlike your own employer. There may be things in your personnel file but your employer cannot release that information without your permission. The Army has placed their findings into Beauchamp's file but they cannot now release that information without Beauchamp's permission.
Red Sox Magic Number - 42

According to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. The number 42 also happens to be the current magic number for the Red Sox after Boston beat Baltimore 6-2 yesterday. Josh Beckett surely looked like an Ace other teams would be hard pressed to beat come playoff time.

The last Red Sox player to wear the number 42 for the Red Sox was Mo Vaughn. He will also be the last since MLB has retired the number to honor Jackie Robinson.

The number 42 also happens to be the number of teeth that both wolves and dogs have. The pessimists in Red Sox Nation are afraid that the wolves in the form of the red-hot Yankees are nipping at the Red Sox heels. Meanwhile the optimists believe that the Yankees will fall back to earth during their tough schedule stretch in the dog days of August.

I read recently that the Red Sox could have had Jermaine Dye for a package of pitchers Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen. My first reaction is to ask why the hell didn't the Red Sox make that trade? After some reflection I'm glad the Red Sox did not trade Manny Delcarmen. He's got an above average fastball and curveball and has averaged a strikeout per inning pitched this year. I'd hate would have hated to see Delcarmen turn into some Johan Santana-like starter for the White Sox (hey it could happen).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Baltimore Ravens

It seemed like Baltimore had a perfect storm of opportunity to get them to 13 wins last year. They had a pretty easy schedule last year, Pittsburgh and Cincy had off-years and they won some close games that may not go their way in 2007. In 2007 Bodog has their over/under for the Ravens at 9.5 wins. I wouldn't touch that bet (although - gun to my head - I'd take the over).

I'm not a fan of the Ravens. In fact - Ray Lewis and Brian Billick set my nerves on end. For some Ravens' fans it is the defense of Samari Rolle that is bothersome. Looking at their schedule - I could see them splitting the games versus the Bengals and Steelers. Against the Pats, Indy and Chargers - they will lose 2 of 3. I also see them losing 2 more games from the rest of their schedule. That puts them at 10-6 but I may be being optimistic.

I'm thinking that the success of the Ravens rests squarely on Steve McNair's shoulders. If McNair gets hurt for any length of time then the Ravens are done and will be lucky to have a .500 season. McNair may not put up great numbers but he knows how to win and that is one very valuable commodity in the NFL.
Bob Ryan on Boomer Wells

Bob Ryan has what can only be called an "appreciation" of David Wells. I too am a fan of Boomer. He was an original and I agree with Bob Ryan that he will be missed.

It should be pointed out that Wells will probably finish with 235 wins but going into his 4th pro season he only had 2 starts in 113 games. Tom Glavine, the most recent 300-game winner, already had 72 starts going into his 4th season. I'm not saying that Wells would have been a 300-game winner if he had those extra starts early in his career but I do think those extra starts may have been enough to have put Wells over the top for the Hall of Fame (as it stands right now it is doing Wells a kindness by calling him a borderline Hall of Fame player).

With just 10 more wins David Wells would have been in the top 50 all-time in baseball history. Wells is already in 50th place in all-time strikeouts. Of the players who are top 50 all-time in both wins and strikeouts - only 8 players are not in the Hall of Fame - Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Tommy John, Bert Blyleven, Randy Johnson, Jim Kaat and Jack Morris. You would have to say that Clemens, Maddux, Glavine and Johnson are locks for the Hall of Fame. My guess is that Wells doesn't quite stir the emotions of Blyleven or Morris but his emotional pull will be close.

Wells' Hall of Fame vote will probably be close to that of Jim Kaat's who was known for his great glove while Wells was known for his great gut.
Top 5 - Baseball Players from Missouri

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from Missouri.

1. Yogi Berra - either the top or second best catcher in baseball history
2. Pud Galvin - Hall of Fame pitcher with 364 career wins
3. Carl Hubbell - Hall of Fame pitcher and 2-time National League MVP
4. Zack Wheat - Hall of Fame outfielder
5. Jake Beckley - Hall of Fame 1st baseman

Just missing the list is Clark Griffith - a Hall of Fame Pitcher with just 237 wins and an ERA+ of just 121. He did have 7 seasons of 20 or more wins but I have to wonder if he got into the Hall of Fame more because he was a popular owner than what he did on the field. Griffith went from player, to manager and then to owner - he owned the Washington Senators from 1920 to 1955. Griffith was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946 - 32 years after his playing days ended but also 16 years into his ownership of the Senators.

I also have to give honorable mention to Smokey Joe Wood who would have been remembered as one of the best pitchers of all-time if he didn't have a fluke injury which basically ended his career.

Missouri also happens to be a breeding ground for managers. Here are who I consider the top 5 managers from Missouri

1. Casey Stengel
2. Earl Weaver
3. Dick Williams
4. Charlie Grimm (1287 wins)
5. Clark Griffith
Top 5 - Joe Jackson Songs

Today (August 11th) is Joe Jackson's 53rd birthday. Happy birthday Joe. Here are my favorite Joe Jackson songs.

1. Is She Really Going Out With Him?
2. Steppin' Out
3. Look Sharp!
4. Fools In Love
5. (tie) Breaking Us In Two (tie) I'm the Man (tie) Sunday Papers
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

So the Red Sox bullpen blew the game last night against the Orioles. That's OK. The Red Sox bullpen has been great the whole season - they're allowed a stinker every once and a while... Just to add more fuel to the "take the under on Charger wins" conversation - the Football Outsiders rank the coaching staffs of all 32 NFL teams and the Chargers' staff comes in 30th out of 32 teams... After appearances in 4 games for the Red Sox - opponents are hitting .474 against Eric Gagne. They were only hitting .192 against him when he was in Texas. He has to get better... Last night the Oakland A's beat the Detroit Tigers 16-10. There were 4 NFL exhibitions last night and only one of the 4 games produced more points than the number of runs scored in the A's game...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Los Angeles Rats of Anaheim

I've never been to Angels Stadium and after reading this article - I'm pretty sure if i did visit I'd only order bottled drinks from the place.
There were 118 major and minor vermin violations since 2005 at the stadium. An analysis of Dodger Stadium and San Diego's Petco Park found a combined nine vermin violations in the same time period.
If Disney still owned the club I guess this is where you could insert a Mickey Mouse rodent joke.
San Diego Chargers

The Chargers went 14-2 last year which was good enough to get coach Marty Schottenheimer fired. This year they have Norv Turner at the helm. So basically they went from a head coach with a reputation for not being able to get the job done in the playoffs to a head coach with a reputation for not being able to get the job done at all.

The Cold, Hard Football Facts thinks that San Diego will repeat as champs of the AFC West. I'm not so sure.

Bodog lists the over / under for wins for San Diego at 11 wins but the Pro Football Prospectus (put together by the guys at Football Outsiders) projects the Chargers to 8.6 wins but the Broncos to 8.7 wins.

I think the San Diego offense regresses a bit under Norv Turner and I'm not sold on their defense. My guess is 10 wins which may or may not be good enough to win the AFC West. The big thing to watch is how they bounce back from a loss. There is real potential for the Chargers to go 8-8 and miss the playoffs. All it would take is one or two injuries and one questionable late game decision by Turner for the wheels to fall off the bandwagon..
Red Sox Magic Number - 43

The Red Sox magic number is 43 and the lead over the Yankees is 6 games. The Red Sox play 9 of their next 13 games against Tampa Bay and Baltimore - so I don't think anyone in Boston is concerned.

The number 43 is also the number that Dennis Eckersley wore in his days in Boston. There is currently no better studio analyst in the game than Dennis Eckersley. For those of you who don't get NESN - you don't know what you are missing.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Saratoga Springs and Potato Chips

Sorry for the lack of posting. I'm actually up at Saratoga with the boys for horse racing. Saratoga Springs happens to be the birthplace of the potato chip (or as Dan Quail would say "potatoe chip"). According to Wikipedia:
It is believed that the original potato chip recipe was created by Native American/African American chef George Crum, at Moon's Lake House near Saratoga Springs, New York on August 24, 1853. He was fed up with a customer - by some accounts Cornelius Vanderbilt - who continued to send his fried potatoes back, because they were too thick and soggy. Crum decided to slice the potatoes so thin that they couldn't be eaten with a fork. Against Crum's expectation the guest was ecstatic about the new chips. They became a regular item on the lodge's menu under the name "Saratoga Chips". They soon became popular throughout New England.
Saratoga chips are still served at the racetrack and at various restaurants around Saratoga Springs. I've had them and they are fantastic.

If you have a chance - read the Wikipedia entry on potato chips. It's pretty interesting stuff. And wish me luck because I've been having no luck at all.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Last 300 Game Winner?

Lyford has a nice post on the subject. I agree with him 100%.

Sometimes sportswriters are predictable. This is one of those times.
Boston College Football

Looking at Boston College's schedule makes me start to wonder if BC could be going to a BCS bowl this year. The Eagles have a lot of things going for them. Jeff Jagodzinski comes back to the heights as the head coach after spending time as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator. It should not be lost on anyone that Coach Jags also spent time as an offensive line coach for the Packers and that pro experience should help the Eagles offensive line be one of the best - if not the best - in the ACC. BC is returning three starting offensive linemen and will help augment what is already returning with two highly touted prospects including 6'6" 260 pound Patrick Neumann of New Jersey.

Those linemen will help protect All-ACC quarterback Matt Ryan. The best line and the best QB in the ACC? That very well could be the story for Boston College.

Putting on my rose colored glasses for a minute - I can actually see the Boston College Eagles starting off the season 7-0 which should put them squarely in the Top 15 going into their October 25th game at Virginia Tech.

The Eagles start off the season against the 2006 ACC Champs Wake Forrest. I don't think I'm alone in thinking that last year the Eagles clearly had the better team against the Demon Deacons. I'm not saying the Eagles have the best team in the ACC but I am saying that they do match-up well against Wake Forrest. Last year BC lost because it was a road game, they got out-coached and they had a turnover bug. Things should be different this year.

The second game of the year is against NC State and ex-coach Tom O'Brien. Last year the Eagles lost to NC State mainly because their field goal kicker was awful. This year they have Steve Aponavicius back and on scholarship after being a feel-good walk-on story at the end of last year plus they signed the #1 kicker in the country, according to, in Billy Bennett out of San Diego. I don't think BC will lose to their ex-coach - especially at home.

The third game against Georgia Tech is the wild card game. You almost never know what you will get with Georgia Tech. Some experts are saying this will be a rebuilding year for the Yellowjackets while others are saying they will win the ACC. It just seems that you never know with Georgia Tech. If BC can win this big game on the road then a 7-0 start to the season will not only be possible - it will be likely.

The next three games are against Army, UMass and Bowling Green. These should all be wins for the BC Eagles. That brings them to their October 13th tilt against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame has a pretty brutal schedule for their first six games leading up to the game against BC. This includes 4 tough road games (Penn St, Michigan, Purdue and UCLA). On paper ND is in a rebuilding year while the Eagles are returning most of their key personnel from last year. I have to think BC has the edge in this game.

So that's a potential 7-0 start heading into the game with Virginia Tech. This is where I have to take off the rose colored glassed. The game is on the road against a team ranked in the top 10 in most polls.

Hey 7-1 would be a good start to the season!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Jim Edmonds Must Listen to Too Much Sports Talk Radio

Jim Edmonds is now on record as saying he'd be open to a trade if the Cardinals thought it would improve the team:
Edmonds, who enjoys the right to veto any deal, said Sunday he would consider a trade if the Cardinals think it would be in the organization's best interests.
Sorry to break it to you Jim but I don't think there's a team out there who would take you in a trade. Edmonds is high priced (he's in the first year of a 2-year $19 million extension), he's often hurt (his games played and at bats have decreased every year since 2004 due to injuries) and he has decreased offensive abilities (in 2004 he averaged a HR every 12 or so at bats but this year its 1 HR every 33 or so at bats).

The Cardinals signing Edmonds to that big extension was a big mistake. If the Cardinals do find a taker for Edmonds - you can be sure that St. Louis will be eating a big part of the contract as part of the deal.
The Average 300 Winner

The Baseball Crank has an excellent chart that averages the last 12 people to win 300 games and where they stood at each year through the pursuit of 300 wins.

I would like to note that according to the chart - Josh Beckett should have 78 wins by the end of his 27-year old season to be on target to reach 300. Currently Beckett has 71 career wins with about 10 more starts remaining for the season.
Top 5 - Tom Glavine's Draft History

In honor of Tom Glavine's 300th win I took a look back to a bit of his history. He was taken in the second round of the 1984 baseball draft with the 47th overall pick by the Atlanta Braves. Here are the top 5 notable picks that were taken above him.

1. Shawn Abner - an outfielder taken first overall by the Mets. Not sure if Glavine was even on their draft day radar but if they had a do-over you'd think Glavine would have to have a good shot at being taken first.

2. Billy Swift - another New England pitcher (from Maine) - taken with the second overall pick by Seattle. I think Swift remains the highest drafted player ever from New England.

3. Mark McGwire - taken 10th by the A's

4. John Marzano - taken 14th by the Red Sox over the local (Billerica, MA) Glavine. John freakin' Marzano. Good thing the Red Sox took Marzano and his 11 career home runs over local boy turned Hall of Fame pitcher.

5. Greg Maddux - taken in the second round (31st pick overall) by the Cubs. These guys were destined to be linked together. I easily could have ranked this pick first but I cheated and did the rankings by draft order.

From everything I've heard - Tom Glavine is both a very nice and likable guy and a good parent. Congratulations on the 300th win.
Tom Glavine and 300 Wins

Last night Tom Glavine won his 300th game and now it seems like everyone wants to call him a blue-collar, lunch-pail pitcher. I don't like those types of descriptions because they're not true. Tom Glavine is an elite pitcher at the end of his career. People like Jeff Passan want to portray Glavine as some sort of workman's hero but that diminishes who Glavine is.

Tom Glavine has won 20-games 5-times, he was top 3 in Cy Young voting 6-times and he won it twice. Glavine may not be the strike-out pitcher he once was but don't lose track of the fact that his 2,544 strikeouts are good enough for 28th place on the all-time list. A pitcher doesn't get to be in the top 25 in wins and top 30 all-time in strikeouts simply through grit and hard work. To call Glavine blue-collar or lunch-pail is to sell his talent short.

Another Tom - Tom Seaver finished his career at age 41 too. Seaver had just 103 strikeouts his final season but I don't recall anyone calling Seaver a "lunch-pail" pitcher because to do so would have been insulting to Seaver's great talent.
Red Sox Magic Number - 45

The Red Sox magic number is now 45. The number 45 also happens to be the uniform number of Pedro Martinez.

Pedro Martinez will probably be back pitching for the Mets in a couple of weeks. I really wanted Pedro to finish his career with the Red Sox but I also understood the logic of not offering a 4th year in the contract. This is Pedro's 3rd year with the Mets but a good portion of that time has been spent on the DL. The Mets signed Pedro to a 4-year $53 million contract.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Iowa

Here are who I consider the top 5 baseball players from Iowa.

1. Cap Anson - Hall of Famer - 7th all-time in hits with 3,418
2. Bob Feller - Hall of Fame pitcher
3. Red Faber - Hall of Fame pitcher
4. Dazzy Vance - Hall of Fame pitcher
5. Fred Clarke - Hall of Fame outfielder

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Top 5 - Baseball Players from Minnesota

I was listing the top 5 players from each state but some reason I stopped after doing Wisconsin almost a year ago. It seemed like an interesting diversion - so today I am resuming the series.

Here are who I consider the top 5 players born in Minnesota.

1. Dave Winfield - Hall of Fame slugger who many forget was also great in the field - winning 7 Gold Gloves
2. Paul Molitor - Hall of Famer who is 9th on the all-time hit list with 3,319
3. Chief Bender - Hall of Fame pitcher with 212 wins and a career winning percentage of .625
4. Jack Morris - 254 career wins with a number of legendary post season victories
5. Ken Hrbek - over 1,000 RBI playing his whole 14-year career for the hometown Twins

Honorable Mention:

Roger Maris - most folks think he was North Dakota but he was acually born in Hibbing, MN (birthplace of Kevin McHale)
Joe Mauer - a hometown boy playing for the Twins who may make the Top 5 some day

(I actually wrote this last August but I thought I'd run it again today.)

The historian James Burke had a very entertaining TV show called Connections that made a chain of "connections" from an event in the past to a surprising result of that event in the present.

Based upon today's date and something that has been in the news lately - I'm going to do a version of Connections of my own.

Wednesday was August 1st - which is generally regarded as the anniversary of the beginning of World War I in 1914 (when Germany declared war on Russia because Russia had declared war on Austria because Austria had declared war on Serbia because a Serb assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on July 28th).

Personally I think the real war started on August 3, 1914 when Germany declared war on France and followed that up with the invasion of Belgium the following day (because the quickest way to Paris was through neutral Belgium). However, that's neither here nor there. The connection I want to focus on actually started on July 28th.

In 1914 the Turks had two state of the art battleships being built by the British. The ships had cost $30,000,000 in 1914 dollars (which is a lot of money now but a fortune back then). On July 28th the British thought that those two ships (the Sultan Osman and the Reshadieh) would come in handy in the upcoming war - so under the direction of Winston Churchill - the British "requisitioned" them (and they also kept the $30,000,000).

This did not sit well with the Turks who had been trying to stay neutral in the whole brewing fiasco but this bit of thievery may have tipped them toward the Germans. On August 10th the German ships Goeben and Breslau entered the Dardenelles and were soon given to the Turks to replace the two ships the British had stolen. This gesture was well received and basically put the Turks on the side of the Germans.

If the Turks did not enter the war on the side of the Germans then there may never have been the bloody massacre at Gallipoli.

If there was no battle of Gallipoli - then there probably would have not been a movie of the same name. This 1981 movie helped continue the career of a fairly unknown Australian actor who would use his role in Gallipoli to help gain him entree into the American film market by starring in the 1984 film The Bounty.

It is entirely possible that if the movie Gallipoli was never made that Mel Gibson would have remained simply a star in Australia. And news of what crazy Australians spout off when they get arrested in Australia for drunk driving never makes the news in the US.

So Mel Gibson may want to blame the Jews for all the wars in the world but in this series of connections it was the greedy British who miscalculated.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Harry Potter and Divorce

There are many things which require the reader to suspend normal belief in the Harry Potter books but maybe the most unreal has nothing to do with magic at all.

In the series - young readers are exposed to death, murder, torture, theft, lying and I'm pretty sure that if there was an eighth book the line over heavy snogging would have been crossed. The only thing JK Rowling seems to have been very careful to protect young readers against by not bringing it up is divorce.

Tonight it hit me that none of the adult characters in the book are divorced.

Think about it.

Any adult character that gets married stays married till death does them part. The Weasley's, the Granger's, and Fleur's parents are all happily married. Even the Dursley's and Malfoy's - as unlikeable as they may be to the reader - are all-in-all pretty happily married. Harry's parent's and Neville's parents were happily married till tragedy struck. Luna Lovegood's parent's loved good till tragedy befell her mother. Heck even Bellatrix and Rodolphus Lestrange seem to have been a happy couple in their twisted way.

If an adult is unmarried in the series - it is pretty much because they are a widow(er) or a spinster (or bachelor). McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore and most of the teachers at Hogwarts seem resigned to living the celibate life. No divorced adults or children of divorced parents are mentioned.

There seems to be three exceptions to this rule of thumb - Dean Thomas, Hagrid and Voldemorte himself. Dean Thomas shouldn't count because according to Rowling his father was killed by Death Eaters when he was an infant - unbeknown to either Dean or his mother who later remarried. Hagrid's mother was a giant and thus probably exempt from the normal rules. That leaves only Voldemorte as an example of some sort of "broken home."

Merope Gaunt, Voldemorte's mother cast an enchantment on Tom Riddle Sr. (first a love potion but then other things) to get him to marry her. Once Merope let the enchantments lapse - Tom Riddle became disgusted at what had happened and left the pregnant Merope to her fate. Did the one truly "bad egg" somehow become what he was because of the sins of the parents?

When you consider that JK Rowling was a single mother when she started writing the series - it doesn't take much of a psychologist to wonder if her situation played a major role in how she portrayed marriage in her books. A magical world where people who fall in love never get divorced.