Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good Links

- Three River Sports - great blog on the Pittsburgh sports scene

- Good rankings for 2009 fantasy baseball by position

- Poker Road - Two Jacks in the Hole - interesting and funny podcasts

- Dilbert's Unified Theory of Everything Financial - great advice in these financial times (or any times for that matter)

- Biblical origin of the toast - Here's mud in your eye!

- Drunken Wisdom - is there any other kind?

- 101.9 - The New York Rock Experience - good tunes
Red Sox Payroll

It should be noted that the Boston Red Sox payroll for 2009 should be about $5 million less than 2008. According to Cott's Baseball Contracts 2008 payroll was $133,390,035 while this year it looks like the payroll will wind up about $128 million.

Some of the money that came off the books:

- Manny Ramirez $20 million
- Curt Schilling $8 million
- Coco Crisp $5 million
- Jason Varitek $5 million (2009 contract half of last year's $10 mil)
- Mike Timlin $3 million
- Alex Cora $2 million
- Sean Casey $800,000

Money that was added to payroll:

- Jason Bay $7.5 million
- Jonathan Papelbon $5.5 mil increase via arbitration
- John Smoltz $5.5 million
- Brad Penny $5 million
- Kevin Youkilis $3 million increase via new deal
- Takashi Saito $2.5 million
- Josh Bard $1.6 million
- Dustin Pedroia $1 mil increase over 2008 (big money comes in later years)
- Rocco Baldelli $500,000

The Red Sox have increased the depth of the starter position, put together one of the best bullpens in baseball and made the team younger overall than the 2008 edition - all while shedding some payroll. It is easy to point to the loss of Manny and Schilling as the reason the team is saving but instead of just pocketing that money the Red Sox used it wisely.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nobody Messes with the Joe Biden

He was Vice President of the United States but he faked his own death so that he could re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist. He's silky, smooth and harder than trigonometry!

Coming in 2009 - Nobody Messes with the Joe Biden!
I Needed a Reason to Buy a ShamWow

And now I have one.

Vince Offer - the you'll love my nuts guy - is supposedly currently using all of the proceeds from his many ventures to fund his own personal war against Scientology.

Take that Xenu!

HT Sports Frog
World Baseball Classic

Here's a list of players by team who will be participating in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. Just a couple of thoughts:

Many people who follow baseball think that Omar Minaya has a "thing" for players from the Dominican Republic but of the 15 players from the Mets who are participating - only Jose Reyes is playing for the Dominican Republic. I found that interesting.

These teams are either isolationists or their organizations have slim picking to choose from. The Nationals, White Sox and A's have just two player apiece participating in the games. Tampa Bay, Texas and the Giants are just sending three players apiece.

The Mets are sending 15 players to 8 teams while the Red Sox are sending 14 players to 11 teams.
When You're Right - You're Right

Just wanted to point out a couple of things this morning.

First - #1 Pittsburgh loses to Providence. Remember what I said about a ranked opponent playing on the road against a conference foe on the bubble? BC against Florida State was another of a series of games which proved me right.

Secord - going back to the way-back machine. Do you remember what was said in this space once the trade to Cleveland for Coco Crisp was finalized?
The key player from the Indians side is Andy Marte who is rated by Baseball America as the 9th best prospect in baseball. I have no problem saying that I hope Donald B. our expert on all things related to Georgia sports (especially Braves baseball) is right when he says that Marte is nothing but the second coming of Melvin Nieves.
Credit for that one goes mostly to Donald - especially in view of the fact that Marte gone from super-prospect to a guy nobody has taken a chance on yet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Super Users and Pork Spending

There is a groundswell of what can only be termed disgust at the way the federal government is attempting to waste all the taxpayer money on pork projects and welfare state programs. Disgust!

The state of affairs reminds me of the story of cheating at the poker site The poker site was designed with certain insider "super user" accounts that would be able to see all the cards being played in any hand. The idea was to have a couple of accounts able to make sure everything was running smoothly the way it was designed to do.

Things went wrong when the super users realized that they could use these accounts for their own benefit. It's impossible to lose at poker if you know what the other player's hole cards are. The people who played at UltimateBet probably never would have known they were being cheated if the super users didn't get greedy. I mean it would have been easy for a super user to just win a couple of big pots a night and live a rather lush lifestyle. Instead people who didn't understand the mechanics of poker got hold of a couple of super user accounts and they decided to try and win every hand. They got greedy and the players noticed. The players noticed and they got pissed off. Now anyone who knows anything about poker stays clear of

Likewise the federal government has some super users. The President is the biggest super user of them all followed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader.

In the past the government super users didn't get greedy (often) but when they did it was viewed as scandal - think FDR trying to stuff the Supreme Court. None of the greed of the past can match today's naked grab for money though. What is trying to be done in the name of stimulus is just pure disgusting. I am glad that people have noticed. I'm glad people are pissed off. Just like how the super users who toppled didn't understand the mechanics of how poker is played - today's governmental super users don't seem to have a clue on how the economy runs. That much is perfectly clear.

The legacy of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may end up being that they turned the Democratic Party into the UltimateBet of political parties.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

F*** My Life

A very funny website. Some of my favorites:
Today, I was watching a documentary on The World's Fattest Man. Half way through the show the reported started talking about his girlfriend. The Fattest Man in the world has a girlfriend. I'm 21 an have never had a girlfriend. FML

Today, my girlfriend and I were up late watching tv when an infomercial for "male enhancement" came on. I grabbed for my phone to make a call when my girlfriend said "O honey, dont buy that, it's okay that you're small." I was checking my voicemails. FML

Today, I went to McDonald's for lunch and ordered a salad. The man behind the counter looked at me and said "Well, at least you're trying." FML
Is it a Trap Game or Something Else?

Something worthy of consideration.

Take a home underdog on the bubble of being selected to the big dance matched in up February against a ranked conference opponent and what you are likely to wind up with is a big upset. Take Boston College against Duke. Take Louisville against Notre Dame. Take Villanova against West Virginia. That's just three examples.

Sure the home team has an edge and the team on the bubble is more desperate. However, I can't help but be reminded that each league is money motivated to get as many teams into the NCAA tournament as possible. And the league controls the officials in conference match-ups. I'm not saying - I'm just saying.

If you happen to see a ranked opponent playing on the road against a conference foe on the bubble in the next two weeks - do yourself a favor and take the points and the home underdog.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Top 5 - J. Geils Band Songs

Today is John Geils 64th birthday. In his honor here are what I consider the top songs from the J. Geils band.

1. (Ain't Nothin' But a) Houseparty
2. Must Have Got Lost
3. Hard Drivin' Man
4. Detroit Breakdown
5. (tie) Whammer Jammer (tie) Give It To Me

Of course you have to have the live versions of these songs because J. Geils was one of thse bands that were just so much better live than in the studio. And if you think Centerfold or Freeze Frame should be on the list - I say that you really don't know the J. Geils Band. It also goes without saying that the J. Geils band was the best band ever out of Worcester.

John Geils now spends his time restoring classic cars in Ayer, Mass.
Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

This is why I love Dustin Pedroia. He's like a cross between Ryne Sandberg and Begbie from Trainspotting... I had Godfather II on the TV last night while doing some emails. It came to the part where Fredo gets a call from Johnny Ola in the middle of the night and all of a sudden I started asking, "Why is Junior Soprano calling Fredo Corleone?" I had never picked up on the fact that Dominic Chianese (Uncle Junior) was in the movie... Speaking of Godfather II - Abe Vigoda is still alive!... Excellent point about Ryan Zimmerman and the Nationals. While the Red Sox locked up Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis this offseason - the Nationals took another step toward forcing the face of their franchise towards free agency. The timing with Zimmerman may work out well for the Red Sox depending on whether Mike Lowell can stay healthy and productive long enough for them to wait for Zimmerman. Why does Jim Bowden still have a job?... Last night Charles Barkley did a mea culpa about his drinking and driving arrest and today he celebrates his 46th birthday. I'm betting that if he goes out tonight that he has a limo. Happy birthday Sir Charles...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ranking the Red Sox

Chad Finn ranked the Red Sox 25 man roster from the most valuable (1) to least valuable (25). I don't agree with his rankings so I thought I post my own. I put Finn's ranking in parentheses next to mine and I used the same 25 man roster he used (though the final Red Sox Opening Day roster will probably be slightly different since Smoltz will likely start the season on the DL and the team will need a back-up at 1st).

1. Kevin Youkilis - he's as good offensively and defensively as Mark Teixeira with the added benefit that he can also play 3rd base. If Mike Lowell gets hurt then Youk can play 3rd. If Big Papi gets hurt then Terry Francona can have the outfielders take a day off and DH which will keep them fresh during a long season. What do the Red Sox do if Youkilis goes down? Mark Kotsay? Please. (5)

2. Josh Beckett - to win the World Series the Red Sox will need Beckett to be an ace. It's that simple to me. (3)

3. Dustin Pedrioa - last year's MVP would be the number 1 on most teams. Ask yourself - who replaces Pedroia if he goes down? Quickly becoming the heart and soul of the team or more accurately - the guts and fierceness. (4)

4. David Ortiz - the Red Sox will be in the top 5 for offense this year no matter if Ortiz is in the line-up or not. However, if he is in the line-up and back to his old 1.000 OPS self - then the Red Sox offense could be the best in the league. (1)

5. Jason Bay - expectations are 30 HR and 100+ RBI. That doesn't grow on trees. (6)

6. Daisuke Matsuzaka - I think he wins 20 games this year (10)

7. Jon Lester - he's an ace in the making but let's not put the weight of the world on the kid. (2)

8. Jonathan Papelbon - perhaps the best closer in the game but his value to the Red Sox goes down a notch because the starting pitching and offense are so good that the save opportunities are less than with many other clubs. Plus the Red Sox have Takashi Saito and Justin Masterson to fill in as needed. (7)

9. JD Drew - if healthy he can play all three outfield positions and is capable of carry a team offensively for weeks at a time. The key words here are of course "if healthy". (8)

10. Jacoby Ellsbury - his defense and speed make him very valuable. (9)

11. Mike Lowell - veteran leader of the team. I hope he can bounce back from his hip issues from last year. (11)

12. Justin Masterson - he can be a key set-up man or maybe the 5th starter to open the season. His future is as bright as Lester's in my opinion. (13)

13. John Smoltz - could be the difference maker down the stretch (17)

14. Jed Lowrie - may begin the season as the utility man but should be the starter at short in the long term. (12)

15. Jason Varitek - did I just make Jed Lowrie more important to the team than Jason Varitek? Hmmm... yes I did. (16)

16. Tim Wakefield - I'm guessing this will be Wake's last season. I hope he goes out with another ring. (22)

17. Brad Penny - talent wise he's better than Wakefield and I'm guessing if healthy Penny may be taking starts away from Wakefield later in the season if everyone is healthy. (21)

18. Takashi Saito - potentially as big a boost to the bullpen as John Smoltz will be to the rotation. Probably the closer on days Papelbon is unavailable. (18)

19. Julio Lugo - probably begins the season as the starting shortstop. For Chad Finn to rank him dead last is just vindictive on Finn's part. (25)

20. Hideki Okajima - the depth of this year's bullpen should reduce the workload on Okie. (14)

21. Ramon Ramirez - speaking of bullpen depth. (15)

22. Rocco Baldelli - he could drastically rise in the rankings depending on the his health and the health of the other outfielders. (20)

23. Josh Bard - I have to say it but either of the kids at Pawtucket could do as well. (24)

24. Manny Delcarmen - depth of the bullpen may make him expendable. (23)

25. Javy Lopez - not a fan. (19)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Team Snapshot - San Diego Padres

C - With Nick Hundley as starter and Henry Blanco as backup the Padres are in OK shape at catcher. Nothing flashy, nothing too powerful but stable and cost effective.

1st - Adrian Gonzalez is a star in the making. With no real protection in the line-up for him - I'd look for his walk numbers to go up and maybe his home run totals to go slightly down. If your fantasy league doesn't penalize for strikeouts then Gonzalez could be a good choice at 1st base in a deep position. At mid-season - I wouldn't be surprised to see Gonzalez dangled as trade bait. He's under contract until 2011, he's cheap and the Padres are well stocked at 1st in the farm system. Gonzalez could garner them a top pitching prospect or two if done right.

2nd - Scappy McScrap Scrap

SS - Luis Rodriguez puts the replacement level player idea into real world testing.

3rd - Kevin Kouzmanoff had just a .694 OPS post All-Star game last season and is coming off of shoulder surgery. Maybe they should change his nickname from "Kooz" to "Red-Flag"?

LF - Chase Headley is a 20-HR a year guy waiting to happen but it won't be this year.

CF - Jody Gerut is penciled in as the starting CF for the Padres. Jody Gerut.

RF - The Padres picked up Brian Giles $9 million option for 2009 because they thought that it would be difficult to find a hitter of his caliber for $9 million. Bobby Abreu signed a one-year deal with the Angels for $5 million and is a much better hitter. I've never liked Brian Giles.

DH - They don't have the DH in the NL but the Padres signed Cliff Floyd anyway.

Starters - The Padres have Jake Peavy, Chris Young and the comeback story of Mark Prior plus a bunch of guys who have never been in my kitchen.

Bullpen - Heath Bell takes over as closer and is probably the one real fantasy sleeper on the team.

The Padres on paper are an awful offensive club but with some interesting starting pitchers to watch. The projected over / under for win for the team is 67.5 and I'd take the under as I can easily see this team devolving into a 100-loss team (especially if they trade Jake Peavy mid-season).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What I've Learned By Watching Sports Personalities

The age of consent is just 15 (Roger Clemens).

It's possible to be young and stupid at 26 (Alex Rodriguez).

You are a man at 40 (Coach Mike Gundy).

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Lost Generation
Ask not to know for whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee

The phrase "the lost generation" was made famous by Ernest Hemingway. It described the generation of American writers who lived in Paris and other parts of Europe, some after military service in World War I. Members of the Lost Generation included Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Peirce, and John Dos Passos.

Baseball has their own Lost Generation - the players of the so called Steroids Era.

Take a look at the Top 20 Home Run Hitters of all-time. There are 11 players on the list who played from roughly the time of Ernest Hemingway's original Lost Generation back when Babe Ruth first took the field for the Red Sox in 1914 til Mike Schmidt retired in 1989. That's 11 players from a span of 75 years. The Steroids Era put 9 players into the all-time top 20 in just 20 years.

Of those 9 players - 3 are proven steroids users (Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez) and two are assumed by pretty much everybody to have been users (Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa). That leaves just 4 players on that list who have not been tainted - yet.

Ken Griffey Jr. - injuries have robbed Junior of much of his career. He was considered the natural (pun intended). After A-Rod's revelations would it be so shocking to find out that Junior juiced too? It should be remembered that the accepted story is that Barry Bonds decided to juice after meeting with Junior at Griffey's home and being upset at the attention McGwire was getting.

Jim Thome - let's be honest. If you asked people who knew nothing about baseball to pick out the players on steroids from any team picture of any team Thome has been on - then the stocky muscular Thome gets picked almost every time.

Manny Ramirez - I was the biggest Manny apologist for the longest time but I wouldn't be surprised at this point if his name was among that list of 104.

Frank Thomas - Oh no - not the Big Hurt! Many people point out Barry Bonds magic hat size expansion as proof of his juicing. Who has a bigger noggin in baseball than Frank Thomas?

The point is that none of the home run hitters of the steroids era are above suspicion anymore. If feel bad for Junior, Thome, Manny and Frank Thomas if they did things the clean way because now they will forever be lumped in with the Bonds, Palmeiros and A-Rod's.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for you and your favorite home run hitter.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Steroids Decimate Baseball

Pretty busy with business with not much time for blogging. However, with the story about Alex Rodriguez and steroids ring bust I thought I'd repost something I first wrote in 2004 that I think still fits today.

The current steroids crisis has in effect decimated the credibility of all major league baseball players. To understand how bad the situation really is – I thought it might be useful to look back at what the word “decimate” actually meant.

Decimate comes from the Latin for “every tenth”. In the Roman military, decimation was used as a deterrent and as a punishment. If a group lost in battle because of cowardice or if they mutinied - then the punishment was to kill every tenth man of the group. The thought being – soldiers would fear decimation more than facing the enemy or disobeying orders.

Now over the years the meaning of the word “decimate” has changed to mean “wiped out”. For example you could say, “the Black Death in the middle ages decimated entire towns” or “the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez decimated the wild life in Prince William Sound”.

The situation in baseball today actually fits both the old and the new definitions.

The players union has admitted that between 5 and 7 percent of players failed a drug test on steroids in 2003. This was a test that the players knew was coming – so many players who were using steroids were able to pass just by altering their drug cycles. Conservative estimates would say the number of steroid abusers would number at least double the 5-7% of those caught. (Other estimates place that number much higher – in the 30% range.)

[Note: we now know that the list of players was 104.]

If we use a VERY conservative estimate of 10% of players – that means that “every tenth” major league player was using steroids to cheat. As mentioned in my opening – these abusers have basically decimated the credibility of all the players. Now no player is safe from whispers and rumors because of the cheaters.

Some apologists will try and argue, “What’s the big deal?” – “people don’t care” – “fans will still go to the games or watch on TV.” These people are ducking their heads in the sand and they don’t understand the damage that has been done.

The Catholic Church is expert on Latin words like decimate and unless you’ve lived in a cave the last four years – then you know that they are also no strangers to crises.

Less than 10% of Catholic priests were involved in the sex abuse scandal but their actions have decimated the credibility of the Catholic Church in the minds of many in the United States. Apologists could easily point out the fact that millions of Catholics still attend church but the fact is most people will never look at a Catholic priest the same again.

Now I am in no way equating the vile, disgusting actions of pedophile priests with baseball players who juice - but the fact is that people will never look at baseball players the same either. Catholics still love Jesus and baseball fans still love their game but things will never be the same.

The Catholic Church tried stonewalling on the abuse scandal and they only succeeded in making life harder on the men of the cloth who were pure and dedicated to “the calling.” Remember - there were only a few priests implicated at the beginning but the Church leaders knew there was a widespread problem.

Today Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi are just the tip of the steroid scandal iceberg. Anyone with half a brain knows this but still some apologists would prefer to sweep this under the rug or pretend that these guys are innocent and that this never happened.

These apologists should ask a Catholic friend how that worked out for their Church. Then they should go to the nearest dictionary and memorize the word “decimate” because the word applies to baseball and they will be hearing it more and more as this crisis plays out.

[I think it is fair to argue that after the Alex Rodriguez revelations - the integrity of baseball has been more than decimated.]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Robbie Alomar

This is very sad and very shocking.
Baseball great Roberto Alomar has full-blown AIDS but insisted on having unprotected sex, his ex-girlfriend charged Tuesday in a bombshell lawsuit.
Wow - just wow! If true then this is shocking and tragic. If false then this is shocking and outrageous.

I've long been in the camp believing that Roberto Alomar is a Hall of Fame player. I can't help but think that many close-minded voters will use this to hold back from giving Alomar his (or her) vote. It's sad but true but if Alomar has full-blown AIDS then I think his chances of getting voted into the Hall of Fame will hit a brick wall.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Team Snapshot - Los Angeles Angels

C - The Angels are in good shape at catcher with both Mike Napoli (who should get the lion's share of the starts) and Jeff Mathis. They also have 21-year old Hank Conger waiting in the wings. I always wondered by Conger's name was never mentioned by people covering the Red Sox when Varitek's status was still up in the air. The Angels may need pitching just as much as Texas.

1st - Kendry Morales could be good, very good or he could suck. He won't be no Mark Teixeira though but the Angels hope at least he'll equal the output of a Casey Kotchman. 23-year old Mark Trumbo could be a dark horse starter (he's got real power) but my guess is that he'll end up at AAA.

2nd - Howie Kendrick - good average, little pop and less than expected steals. Kendrick is proof you can hit .300 and still be disappointing.

SS - Macier Izturis and Eric Aybar will compete for the starting job. Six of one - half-dozen of the other. Neither brings much offensively to the plate.

3rd - Chone Figgins will probably get the start which means he'll probably represent the fewest HR and most steals of any big league starter at 3rd.

LF - The best thing for the Angels may be to come to a one-year deal with free-agent Garrett Anderson because Gary Matthews is not the answer (unless the question is "Who should we start in left if we want to lose in the first round once again?")

CF - Torii Hunter - which means gold glove defense and probably 20 HR

RF - 33-year old Vlad Guerrero and his balky knees in his contract year

DH - The Angels would be happy with a 20 HR, .270 BA year from Juan Rivera. That's not exactly aiming really high now is it?

Starters - John Lackey, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, and Jered Weaver make up a pretty solid front four. Rookie Anthony Ortega looks to be the 5th starter but you have to ask if he'd be up to replacing the 200 innings you could pencil in for veteran Jon Garland every year.

Bullpen - They replaced the over-rated Francisco Rodriguez with Brian Fuentes. I'd look for Fuentes to be a bargain among closers for those who play fantasy baseball. The offense for the Angels ain't all that but the starting pitching will keep them in a lot of games. That means a lot of save situations.

This offseason the Angels lost the top free agent 1st baseman, the top free agent closer and a veteran starter. They replaced them with two rookies and a closer who signed for 2/3 the money and years of the guy they lost. The Angels have 5 players in their line-up capable of a 20-HR season but all of them have had injury histories. Lose just one and the chances are great that the Angles finish last in the AL in HR. Lose two and they could finish last in the AL West. The starting pitching has been a bit fragile in the past and if I was an Angels fan - I'm not sure how happy I'd be the inactivity of the front office.

The good news is that there is depth in the farm system and the pieces are there for any mid-season trades the team needs to make.

Monday, February 09, 2009

This is Scary

This is just plain scary.
The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. [Tom] Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”
Once something like this is done - it is very hard to get the toothpaste back in the tube. This is very scary.
Please Make It Happen!!

Please God grant me this wish.

Can you make the people at ballparks across the country play Huey Lewis and the News' song I Want a New Drug every time Alex Rodriguez come to bat.

Please God? Pretty please!
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” - Sir Walter Scott
By now everyone is aware that Alex Rodriguez supposedly tested positive for steroids back in 2003. Here are a couple of thoughts on the subject.

1. I question the timing. Four sources confirmed the story for Sports Illustrated. Four sources! This isn't just one guy who has it out for A-Rod - there were four sources! Who benefits from this information being announced at this time? Barry Bonds certainly benefits as he is both taken out of the spotlight and he is no longer the only bad guy. Having A-Rod named opens a can of double standard worms. Why was Bonds singled out when baseball knew players like A-Rod were testing positive?

2. As much as the announcement may have benefited Barry Bonds - the announcement benefited the owners much more. They just took the highest paid player down a big notch and now any older slugger will be looking at a reduced contract because just the shadow of steroids will deflate the worth of any 30+ slugger. If you think Manny Ramirez' market worth is low now - can you imagine what will happen to his worth is he happens to be named among the 104 players who flunked the steroids test back in 2003?

3. The owners knew what players were on steroids. Remember Rangers owner Tom Hicks saying, "Juan Gonzalez, for $24 million, after he came off steroids probably... we just gave that money away." This is the same Tom Hicks who traded away A-Rod right after he tested positive for steroids in 2003.

4. It's not like the owners and the Commissioner haven't manipulated news about steroids before. Remember how the news about Rafael Palmeiro was delayed until after Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame? If you think about it - the Commissioners Office was probably well placed to organize the leaking of A-Rod's name. They had both motive and opportunity.

5. Joe Posnanski made a great point (sorry I can't find the link) about how that 104 players who flunked the test in 2003 probably represents a much higher number than the 5-7% we were told it was. Poz notes "There were roughly 432 players who qualified for the batting title, the ERA title or pitched 50 innings of relief" and compares that to "If 104 people tested positive, and it was 5% — that means they tested 2,080 baseball players." Those numbers don't seem to add up - do they?

Oh what a tangled web baseball is weaving regarding steroids.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Derek Jeter

Joel Sherman has a column up on Derek Jeter that got me thinking. The point of Sherman's piece is that Jeter's contract is up after 2010 and:
After all, what team official wants to tell Jeter he has to take a pay cut or has to move positions or - gulp - just has to move on? How would you like that on your baseball epitaph: You were the Yankee executive who told Derek Jeter thanks for the memories?

Of course, the alternative is not too appetizing either. Because kowtowing to Jeter's legacy by paying him lavishly and keeping him at short means tying yourself to a late-30s icon well beyond his expiration date.

As if the matter needs complications, Jeter will conclude his current 10-year, $189 million contract on the doorstep of 3,000 hits, a total never reached by a Yankee.
At first I thought Sherman was being premature but the goal of any good column is to get you thinking and this one succeeded at that.

My guess is that 3,000 hits or no 3,000 hits - Jeter will probably retire after 2010 instead of sullying himself by going the Varitek route. Of course I could be wrong and Jeter could go the Wade Boggs route and try to hang on for 3,000 hits. I mean he could average just better than .232 for the next four years and that would still be good enough for him to finish with both over 3,000 hits and a better than .300 career batting average.

If Jeter does call it quits after 2010 then that begs the question "Is Derek Jeter a Hall of Fame player?" The gut reaction seems to be "Yes!" but I'm not so sure.

Jeter will probably finish in the top 30 in career runs scored and in the top 50 for hits. If you ask me - Andre Dawson has much better credentials - 8 Gold Gloves that aren't tainted, an MVP award and Dawson can match Jeter's "intangibles". Jeter will probably get in due to his popularity but I'm thinking it won't be the slam dunk that many people expect.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

Miscellaneous thoughts and observations.

Had dinner with a New York Giants season ticket holder last night and he's convinced that free agent receiver Anquan Boldin will be a Giant next season when all is said and done. He also made an excellent point that the defense will probably be the best in the NFC next season as a number of injured players return healthy for 2009. I did not mention it to him last night but one complicating issue that may sidetrack his Boldin to the Giants scenario is the fact that Drew Rosenhaus is not just Boldin's agent but also Plaxico Burress' agent. Still - the Giants at 10-1 odds may be a good 2009 Super Bowl bet if you happen to be in Vegas anytime soon... Did you know that Tris Speaker actually had more triples in his career (222) than strikeouts (220)? That's amazing... Maurice Clarett should have just finished his third full season in the NFL if he was able to stay in school, stay in shape and only get his Goose on during off-season occasions. I'm torn between seeing his as a tragic waste of talent or seeing him as a thug who is getting just what he deserved.... I could give a rat's ass about Michael Phelps taking a bong hit. Who really cares about swimmers except for a 2-week stretch every 4-years. Even then my interest in swimming and swimmers is mild at best.... I'm looking forward to the National Geographic show Morphed on how certain dinosaurs evolved into some of today's modern creatures like turkeys and whales. It would be cool if they could do a show on Barry Bonds while they are at it...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Real Facts

According to the Snapple Real Fact #154 - Americans spend more than $630 million a year on golfballs.

For what its worth - in 2002 the Government spent $630 million for Homeland Security bomb detecting and baggage screening equipment.

$630 million is also the amount that West Virginia got in a one-time settlement with the tobacco companies.

As luck would have it - $630 million is also the amount that this Nigerian banker is promising to share with me if I allow him to deposit it into my bank accounts.

I'm not reading anything into these numbers - just thought I'd post the coincidences.
The Day the Music Died

Nice post by Pauly on The Day the Music Died.
Manny Ramirez

The Manny Ramirez situation is very interesting. I think there are several things at play here which are worth a comment:

- The one-year $25 million offer is very smart from the Dodgers point of view. The Dodgers do need offense but they can't afford to spend that sort of money on a player who could take a month off mid-season to balky knees or a troubled hammy. By making it a one-year deal the Dodgers make sure they get Manny's full attention. He needs to play to get paid in 2010. What better way to make sure Manny focus' on the 2009 season?

- The "screw you Scott Boras" aspect of this is good PR for the club. Nobody likes Boras - nobody. Making the $25 million offer public is in effect calling Boras' bluff. Now everybody knows what the Dodgers are willing to do. If another team is willing to go to two or three years for Manny - fine. The Dodgers have both shown their fans that they were willing to pay top dollar for Manny but at the same time they stood up the the man many blame for ruining the game.

- It has to be asked if the money the Dodgers are willing to pay to Manny would be better used elsewhere. They could literally sign Adam Dunn and Ben Sheets for the same money they would pay Manny (maybe even a lot less than what Manny would cost). Dunn would give them the HR bat they need and Sheets could help fill the role of the departed Derek Lowe. The problem is for the Dodgers that they can't go and sign a Ben Sheets and then have Manny accept his $25 million offer. There's obviously a limit to the Dodgers' budget.

- An aspect that is not talked about but what may be the most important consideration for many teams is the draft picks involved. The Dodgers have compensation picks coming for losing Derek Lowe to the Braves and if they lost Manny to another team - they would have more picks coming. That would allow them to sign an Adam Dunn and a Ben Sheets without impacting their farm system too much. Maybe that's another reason they have made their bids to Manny Ramirez so public - so other teams would know where they stand and thus know what the costs would be without Boras hyping it any further.

EDIT: As an aside - look for a team like the Nationals to offer Manny a two-year deal for like $50 million if the Dodgers one-year deal looks like the only offer. The Nationals draft pick is protected (because it's first overall) and the Nationals could use Manny to sell tickets early in the year and then turn around and trade him to a contender for prospects near the trading deadline.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Bruce Springsteen

I used to consider myself a huge Brice Springsteen fan. I have all the albums, know all the words and have seen him in concert about 10 times. I have to say that his performance during halftime on Sunday was awesome but I think it was the equivalent of the Last Hurrah of my fanhood.

My high school years were in large part bookended by the releases of The River and Born in the USA. Growing up you loved the energy and the dark lyrics made you feel grown up - ready to take on adult things. I never got into his Nebraska period - it was just too depressing for me (and based on record sales I don't think I was alone in this). The music was stripped of the energy that comes with the E-Street Band and what was left was just dark lyrics sung by a guy who if you are honest - doesn't really have a great singing voice. I mean there's a reason others have better luck singing his songs from Manfred Mann, to Patti Smith to the Pointer Sisters.

As an aside - I think the reason you never see any Springsteen songs licensed for Karaoke is because Bruce is afraid people will realize that Joe Blow actually sounds better singing the songs.

We are living in the greatest period of history in the greatest country in the history of the world but I think Bruce still thinks he's Woody Guthrie singing during the Depression. As I got older the dark lyrics overwhelmed me. Pick any song - lost my wife, lost my kids, unrequited love, lost my job - as you got older and these things became real threats it wasn't that fun anymore. It's like having a friend who is always negative about everything. Pretty soon you get sick of that guy and go out of your way to avoid him. That's what Bruce Springsteen was becoming to me.

Ask any Springsteen fan what the big deal is with Bruce and they will start off by saying you need to see Bruce in concert to understand the attraction. When I was young - a Springsteen concert was a 4-hour marathon. A test of endurance between Springsteen and his fans. Today the concerts have been cut to 3 hours with at least a half hour of that time reserved for Bruce to pretend to be a preacher lecturing the audience. That leaves 2 and a half hours for music. That's a Bob Seger concert - with the difference that Seger is more upbeat and positive.

Tickets for Springsteen's 2009 concert tour went on sale Monday. I did not bother to call.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Classy Athlete

It's nice to know that some decency still remains in the world of sport.

Very nice and very classy gesture by Shawn Crawford.