The hoopla swarmed the blogosphere Saturday morning. Adrian Gonzalez was Boston bound. Three minor-leaguers, a PTBNL and a quart of beer give or take were the asking price for the slugging first baseman and most recent object of Theo Epstein’s affection.
Even as contract negotiations hit several snarls and a 2 pm ET deadline shuffled by Sunday, the Red Sox made the decision to pull the trigger on the trade and welcome their new middle of the order presence.
Those contract snarls hearkened Sox fans back to the 2003 offseason when the club worked out a deal shipping Manny Ramirez and then minor leaguer Jon Lester to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez. More than one friend commented that if they pony up for John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo (correctly pronounced Julio Freakin’ Lugo) then why not guys like A-Rod and A-Gon.
But the fears were misplaced. The trade went down and the fans rejoiced.
Adrian Gonzalez is a premier hitter and one of the finest sluggers in the game presently. His numbers were potentially hampered by the spacious expanse of
Considering the talent dished away, the deal appears even grander. Anthony Rizzo may someday grow up to be Adrian Gonzalez. Casey Kelly slipped somewhat in his first experience in AA. He remains a fantastic prospect, but is likely at least one year if not two away from the big leagues. And Reymond Fuentes might be exceptional, but he is a project, one with a spectacular payoff, but without a guaranteed return. All three are lottery tickets, capable of paying off handsomely or going bust in a spectacular fashion.
But the success of a deal is not the price paid, but the value received, and more importantly, the marginal value over less costly and more readily available alternatives. And on that score, the Red Sox acquisition is somewhat lacking.
Consider the following players:
- Player A: .308./404/.560 4.9 UZR 5.2 WAR
- Player B: .285/.387/.523 3.7 UZR 5.2 WAR
- Player C: .286/.335/.471 12.5 UZR 4.5 WAR
Those are three year averages for Kevin Youkilis, Gonzalez and Adrian Beltre, respectively. Beltre’s poor showing in 2009 leavens his best in class 2010. The likelihood of decline for both Youkilis and Beltre, who will be 32 next season, gives Gonzalez his biggest advantage. He is three years younger than either of
Worth considering is whether Youkilis’ offense will be diminished moving across the diamond to play third, as well as his defense. As a hitter, Youkilis has performed slightly better at third base, which is encouraging. For his career, at third he has hit .296/.391/.526 versus a .298/.396/.497 line as a first baseman.
Defensively, his UZR/150 is slightly better at first (7.4 vs. 6.9) but he has logged less than half the time at third that he has at first, including only 99 games in the last three seasons. Gonzalez has not flashed the leather at first on par with Youkilis, and Youkilis is good but not nearly in the same class as Beltre at third.
Is poorer defense and a chance at better hitting from each corner position worth three top ten prospects? Hardly. Considering
Gonzalez may represent a long term power solution. He’s clearly the best pure slugger to wear a Red Sox uniform since Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were in their primes. But the price remains high considering Gonzalez’ services would have been available on the open market in 2011 when both JD Drew and Ortiz’ contracts would have come off the books for
I won’t say I dislike the move, but Theo Epstein did not measurably improve his club by making it. The Red Sox certainly have not “won” the offseason, either. Measured on its own, the Red Sox overpaid for Gonzalez, and if rumors of a seven year extension worth $154 million are correct, will continue to foot the tab for the next eight years.
One obvious consideration that you may feel free to consider. Longtime Sox follower and friend of the blog, Ted Fisher remarked recently,
“Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but doesn't Adrian Gonzalez bring the Red Sox payroll for 2011 to around $135M? ($115M on Cot's Contracts plus $10M for Papelbon, $5M for Ellsbury, and $5M for Gonzalez.) That leaves some $30M additional space before they approach the luxury tax.”
With Marco Scutaro, Jonathan Papelbon, Cameron, Drew and Ortiz off the books following 2011, that $30 million or so of space remains perpetually open. Six years and $150 million could be the ticket to land Cliff Lee. Now if Theo pulls that off, he wins the offseason.no comments
The advantage of rebuilding arrives when an organization can shed players whose peak value will pass before a team is ready to again contribute. Kansas City signaled at the tail end of the season that they would consider dealing Zack Greinke who is young, affordable and good if the price was right.
It's those kinds of bargains that stock the shelves of the hot stove swap meet and flea market. Cans of maximum immediate return stew can fetch the fresh ingredients that teams use to whip up something savory for their fans a few years down the road. If the rumors from Arizona are to be believed, Greinke might be looking a little less appetizing when the baseball powers that be gather in Disney this December.
In the desert, Kevin Towers inherited a plan conceived by Josh Byrnes. But when Byrnes got axed in June the team was scuffling along and if the rumors are true, then maybe Towers would rather whip up a batch of his favorite five year rib sticking stew instead of reheating what was on the stove when he got into town.
Which leads us to the availability of Justin Upton. Upton like his brother B.J. in Tampa Bay is a phenomenally talented athlete blessed with baseball skills to spare. I'll quote Paddy McMahon of Chop-N-Charge (that's the link above and go ahead and click it for the rest of his thoughts on Upton):
In 2009, Upton was worth 5.6 WAR, so I'd say his talent level probably lies somewhere between 3 and as much as 8 WAR. 8 may be shooting for the moon, but he's got the defensive talent to augment a bat that should only get better as he develops – or, as Torii Hunter puts it, as he gets his man muscles. That's a recipe for excellence by any measure....
Paddy roots for the Braves and would love to pair Upton with Jason Heyward in an outfield of awesomeness for the next decade. With Upton's extremely affordable contract paying a total of $49.5 million for the next five seasons, Upton presents the perfect stocking stuffer for any team. A fixed, known cost for a player coming into his most productive seasons as a player. For Upton, he will arrive at free agency just after his age 27 season and can easily expect to pull in another $100 million over the five seasons that follow the end of his current contract.
Players like this almost never appear on the market. They are dealt with even less frequency. Which makes for plenty of buzz, or as a far better writer than I once said this is but a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
But it prompts an examination of Arizona. What do they have? What would they need? And would they deal Justin Upton? You'll find my take below the fold.no comments
Yeah, on the day I am announced as a Finalist for Bloguin's Blogger of the Year I'm also announcing I'll be out of touch for much of this weekend. I have unfortunate family doings that will keep me away from regular contact with my computer and my blog. Watch this space for more details.
And please go out and vote for the Bloguin Awards. The dedicated group of bloggers comprising the nominees are exactly why I am so honored to be a part of this network. They are well worth your time and attention and your clicks.
So Vote for some of them, since you can't vote for all of them, unless you're in Chicago, where voting often is still encouraged.
Toronto enjoyed a remarkable season for mashing baseballs north of the border. With Joey Bats and his MLB leading 54 round trips leading the way, the Jays knocked out 257 home runs, good for a tie for the third best of all time for a team. A nice tally, but not as impressive as the 2005 Rangers, nor the standard bearer of home run hitting, the 1997 Mariners.
I became initially curious about the Jays season due to the high number of solo home runs I would see in the box scores. Specifically, "0 on 1 out" and so forth. At which time I started watching their on-base percentage numbers. My initial hypothesis was that the Jays would probably set the record for most solo shots in a season. Seeking to check that, I spent some time looking for the statistic, but not only was a difficult to compile the top twenty (which you'll find below the fold) it was near impossible to see a consolidated break out of solo home runs by team for a season.
So I started to compile them. And in the process discovered how daunting a task it would be to surpass the 161 solo home runs the Texas Rangers hit in 2001. Nineteen clubs in 2010 couldn't muster 161 home runs of any type, let alone 161 solo home runs. So that record, especially with the mild decline in home runs in recent seasons, seems fairly safe.
And it's likely the 2010 Blue Jays will have a record that is equally safe. Of all the clubs I looked at, not one scored more than half their total runs via the home run. Until the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays. Who not only exceeded 50% but scored more 53% of their runs thanks to the 257 home runs they hit.
By hitting 147 sole home runs, 79 two-run home runs, 28 three-run home runs and 3 grand slams, added up to 401 runs via home runs. Good for sixth best. But due to the relative low total of overall runs scored, those 401 make the Jays season historic as the first ever to score more than half their runs via home run.
As far as I can tell. Looking solely at 20 exceptional team seasons, 19 of them occuring in the last fifteen years, a period of 450 team seasons is just 4.22% of available data. A more thorough examination is required, and will be conducted.
I began that process by taking the examination a little further. I looked at the numbers for the 30 teams in 2010. Toronto outpaced the rest of the league by a very healthy margin. Arizona and Boston both scored just over 41 percent of their runs on home runs. And only the Angels scored more than three out of every eight runs via home runs. (37.5%) This suggests, but hardly proves, how much of an outlier the Jays season was. Again, further study is required.
At present, the sata support no general conclusions. But it does reinforce some known concepts. The numbers indeed bear out the already noted direct relationship between On-Base Percentage and runs scored as the best OBPs are lead to far better run totals.
The high perecentage of runs scored via home run indicates an inefficient offense, effective with just one tool - raw power. Admittedly a very good skill, but hardly one that in a vacuum increases a team's likelihood of winning. Looking at the team that is the 2010 Blue Jays's foil, the 2003 Boston Red Sox, we see a team fully capable of scoring by many different means. By tallying more than five of every eight runs some other way than a hone run, the Red Sox of that season illustrate the effectiveness of clogging the bases, extended rallies and scoring many runs.
Additional inquiry is essential and shall be conducted.
Click here to see the tables for the all time best home run hitting teams, and the 2010 MLB teams.no comments
The common expression of a player banished to the offseason as competitors fight on for postseason glory is that he has been sent off to golf. Remember Manny circa November 2004:
Just shot my best round of golf ever...76...shot 1 under on the back...feeling too good about myself right now
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll be lucky if I ever shoot 76 on the front 9. Of a Par 3 course. Hell, it's a mighty fine round of mini-golf when I'm in the seventies. So bravo, Mr. Price. But, really, wouldn't you rather be gearing up to take out the Yankees in a game 7? Im not saying, I'm just saying.no comments
Factoring in the distribution of his signing bonus, Lilly will earn $7.5 million in 2011, $12 million in 2012 and $13.5 million in 2013.
Lilly also has a no-trade clause through the end of the 2012 season.
Which when one considers that Lilly will be 37 in 2013 and earning that much money, effectively means that he has full no-trade protection for the life of the contract.
Seriously, the backloading of the deal is a reflection on the Dodgers financial situation. Take less now, and we'll make up for it later. The efficiency of paying 37 year olds (even lefties) $13.5 million for one year remains to be seen. Ned Coletti must be guessing that they'll be able to afford it.no comments
Player A had the following cumulative season stats in the final three years before he became a free agent after his age 30 season:
84 starts, 563 and two-thirds innings pitched. 448 strikeouts and just 139 walks for a 3.22 K/BB ratio.
Player B had the following cumulative season stats in the final three years before he will become a free agent after his age 31 season:
93 starts, 667 and one third innings pitched. 536 strikeouts and just 95 walks for a sparkling 5.64 K/BB ratio.
The lower walk rate is the most significant difference, but player B is a year older, and his track record of success is effectively those three seasons where player A put up numbers consistent with the sample period throughout his career.
Question the first: who is worth more? And second: who are they?
Well Tony Mazz, the ever excitable Boston Globe columnist and Blogger thinks player B is worth the combined contents of Fort Knox and the New York Fed's gold reserves. The bright side is that Mazz is over Mark Teixeira. Sorry, Mark. Mazz is fickle, you should have known.
Mazz, why is Player B so vital to the Red Sox cause?
Lee...is the best free agent talent available on the market this winter. His teams have never lost a postseason game he has started, Lee posting numbers that nearly mirror those of Sandy Koufax, who made seven postseason starts in his career. No one is suggesting that Lee isKoufax, but rather that his performance has been beyond historic. In the recently completed five-game series against Tampa, Rays lefties (a group consisting primarily of Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford) went 1 for 16 against him with seven strikeouts.
So what happens if Lee ends up on the Yankees? It means that New York would have a rotation built around Sabathia and Lee for years to come, which would almost certainly spell doom for any team heading into New York. It’s the kind of tandem that cannot help but make you wonder if there is a way, any way, for the Red Sox to thwart the plan. The Red Sox have obvious needs in the middle of their lineup and their bullpen this offseason, and those cannot be ignored. But if the Sox could somehow create space in their rotation by trading either Daisuke Matsuzaka or, perhaps, Josh Beckett, must they not explore it?
Let's go back to Player A and Player B. Player A did in fact get a five year, $82.5 million contract that covered him from age 31 through 35. But his 2010 season was regarded as lackluster. His record of successful performance is more consistent, than Lee. In 1501 IP from age 22 to 30 he had a K/BB of 2.72. Cliff Lee by comparison posted a 3.10 in 1409 IP from 23 to 31. And that's the nature of the comparison above. The notation is more of how quickly Player A became more mortal, and that past performance is no guarantee of future results.
Lee's K/BB ratio has been stellar in the last three years, which indicates he's made an adjustment. And one that should be rewarded. But breaking the bank for a pitcher over thirty is often a decision that comes to be regretted. The Yankees can afford to, and they will. Should the Red Sox be equally eager? Given the results they saw with a comparable pitcher they signed on a pricey deal (Player A), the risk to reward ratio is too close for my comfort.
Player A's identity is revealed below the fold. no comments
Terrifying, and undeniably true.
"What’s really important is that law-abiding middle-class citizens are deciding that playing by the rules is nothing but a sucker’s game."
We are a nation of laws, that loves the scofflaw. Like Jimmy Conway, we go to the movies and root for the bad guy. But that's escapism. Right up until the time it isn't.
More than once in the last year I have thought the best recourse is to tell my creditors to pound sand. Why not? What can they do? Assess fees that I won't pay. Sue me? I have no assets worth taking. Attach my pay? Get in line. These bastiches got bail outs. They stick it to us, because they can. Time has worn off our individual rough edges and made us meek like sheep. Sheep ready to be fleeced.
*I paraphrased the quote. Read the piece for what they really have essentially said.no comments
I've never subscribed to Baseball Prospectus. Largely because when one seeks to scrimp to make ends meet, the added expense of a website that I likely won't have enough time to read has been a luxury beyond my grasp. I expected to remedy that someday.
But Will Carroll is leaving. And he's not the only reason to read BP. They remain a great source of baseball knowledge, both in front of and behind their subscriber wall. And having been linked twice by Jay Jaffe (not bad for a Sox fan) I hold them in high regard. Dave Pease gave Will a send off that referenced back to BP's father Gary Huckabay. More so it called back to our fresh recollection the enthusiasm that Carroll brought to the site.
He has been more than just an enthusiastic writer. He has quickly and conscientiously written back to every query, even the most asinine ones. Such encouragement from the recognized names of the trade to writers who can number their following in the dozens on their best days is very greatly appreciated.
The next thing, if there is one, remains unannounced. But there needs to be a place in the community of baseball writers for Will Carroll. His knowledge, experience, style and talent are far too valuable to not be seen on ESPN, MLB or any place where quality baseball coverage is served up 24/7/365.no comments
New CT laws to more vigorously punish distracted drivers are taking effect Friday. In announcing the law, one of its proponents engages in a measure of deception:
Rep. Donald DeFronzo, Senate chair of the General Assembly's a Transportation Committee, is reminding motorists of the new regulations approved during this year's legislative session.
The new changes take effect on Oct. 1.
"Drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into automobile crashes serious enough to injure themselves as drivers who refrain from using a cell phone or other mobile device while operating a vehicle," said DeFronzo. "Distracted driving is a serious problem not only in Connecticut, but all across the country."
Researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute compared rates of collision insurance claims in four states — California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington — before and after they enacted texting bans. Crash rates rose in three of the states after bans were enacted.
The Highway Loss group theorizes that drivers try to evade police by lowering their phones when texting, increasing the risk by taking their eyes even further from the road and for a longer time.
Remember the place where advocates of condom distribution in schools say the kids are just going to do it anyway, we might as well make sure they're safe? This is the place they should step up and say people are going to text and drive anyway, we might as well make sure they're safe.no comments
To bed with the 2010 Boston Red Sox season. Let us rest and dwell on the winter ahead. Sleep, recovery, and restoration are the goals for the winter that lay ahead. Recovery is the key, as the well-documented injuries proved much the difference between their efforts and their missed goal of October baseball. And in typical Internet stylings we look at the good, the bad and the incomplete as we begin our slightly premature post-mortem on the year that was.Incomplete: Ryan Kalish
Playing the kids. A luxury of September if you have soared to a clinched berth or if your season was over in July. Boston found the luxury to be necessity as three of their four opening day roster outfielders were felled by injuries. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron tried to return before fully healed. But Jeremy Hermida, whose acquisition I applauded last autumn, failed to hit at all and was released. Into the void stepped journeyman Darnell McDonald, minor league feel good story Daniel Nava and well-regarded prospect Ryan Kalish. Kalish is a player worth deeper examination.
I can't take credit for this comparison. Ambrose Cohen, who writes in frequently to the BOSOX email list to which I subscribe suggested it, but Tim Savage, whose coverage of Sox Prospects I've featured here confirmed that the comparison, though premature is apt. Kalish resembles Jim Edmonds in many obvious ways. Both demonstrated through their minor league careers an ability to get on-base with middling power for a corner outfielder. Edmonds played solid centerfield defense during much of his big league career. Whether the comparison holds depends entirely on Kalish. How well he adapts to big league pitching to elevate a woeful K:BB ratio of 36:9 will determine his place.
Kalish demonstrated a knack for adaptation as he was promoted. Elevated to Advanced A in 2008, he put up a BB% of 9.8. Repeating the level in 2009 he upped the percentage to 18.2 and walked more than he struck out. That performance earned him a ticket to Double A where his BB% slipped to 9.2. But the beginning of 2010, again in Portland of the Eastern League, Kalish restored his BB% to 15.6 and again walked more than he struck out.
I've long prized that trait among developing hitters. Consistent production as they advance through the minor leagues and plate discipline shown by their ability to draw walks and not strike out. Kalish has shown it as he progressed.
He may get a chance to demonstrate that mastery of AAA in 2011. Upon promotion to Pawtucket, Kalish saw his BB% again slip, this time to 8.8. But his development time on the farm ended concurrently with Ellsbury's season. Summoned to Boston to as a stop gap when Cameron went down for good on July 30th, Kalish stayed when Ellsbury was unable to stay in the lineup. Kalish saw his BB% slip even further as a major league player, dipping to 5.6.
He has adapted in Boston. In his last 23 games, spanning August 29th to September 28th, his BB% has been 7.6 and in that time his slash line has been .282/.346/.507. But as any reader will rightly note, the sample size of 23 games and 79 plate appearance is horribly small. Kalish has earned a shot at a starting outfield job in 2011. But with Ellsbury and Cameron healthy again and JD Drew returning for his possible valedictory, the Red Sox outfield remains crowded. McDonald makes sense as a fourth outfielder. But Kalish would benefit from gaining mastery at AAA, bumping his BB% back to the mid to upper teens.
After the controversy that sprung up surrounding Ellsbury in the press this past season, some wonder if he has worn out his welcome in Boston. Those musings though do not begin in the front office of Fenway Park. And dealing the incumbent starter would be the very epitome of selling low. If the club is disinterested in retaining Ellsbury, dealing him at midseason after he has restored a measure of his worth would fetch a more handsome price.
In the wings, Kalish will wait. At 22, he has demonstrated he can contribute. His success in Boston, or another big league city, if the Red Sox dangle him in successful trade negotiations, has mostly shifted from if to when. Though, not entirely. Too many variables exist for any player, no matter the talent he possesses nor how refined his skills, to be a certain success. He'll be a injury callup away, and when that next happens, in Boston his is likely to stay.no comments
Whether poker, pot or prostitution, consenting adults should be able to choose freely to enjoy the pleasures and pastimes they desire. But government criminalization prohibits our pursuit of happiness using dubious reasoning such as protecting us from ourselves.
Dipping back into the Reason.tv well with this gem from Ted Balaker who interviews Poker Pro and free market advocate David Sands.
Doc Sands makes a point that is valid, but represents an unhealthy compromise in libertarian ideals. In advocating government regulation and taxation of these occupations, we surrender the idea that there is a place for government intervention into our decision making process. Secondly, we allow our pursuits to feed the leviathan when our goal should be its starvation. While decriminalization is necessary, and compromises equally important to achieve the goal, allowing the state access to our lives perpetuates the thought that our rights are not inalienable and integral to our humanity, but a privilege bestowed by our betters.no comments
I have yet to watch the Top Half of the Tenth Inning that I DVR'd last night. It'll be this weekend by the time I get around to it. But thankfully the All-Knowing Baseball Oracle of Wisconsin, Larry Granillo, is watching.
During the steroids segment, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell - who, if you don't already know, was the first person to connect steroids to Jose Canseco, if even in the most superficial ways - gave this quote:
"There was another player now in the Hall of Fame who literally stood with me and mixed something and I said "What's that?" and he said "it's a Jose Canseco milkshake". And that year that Hall of Famer hit more home runs than ever hit any other year.
So it wasn't just Canseco, and so one of the reasons that I thought that it was an important subject was that it was spreading. It was already spreading by 1988."
Thomas Boswell seems to be telling us that he has first-hand knowledge of a current Hall of Famer using steroids. Who might that Hall of Famer be?
Well, if we take Boswell at his literal word, this is what we need to look for: someone who is already inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and who hit more home runs than he ever had before after Jose Canseco arrived in the league. Canseco won Rookie of the Year in 1986, so we'll start there even if it makes more sense to use 1988 as the starting point.
Lar details some likely suspects. Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra begins to make the point I think is relevant. Take it away, Craig:
But back to Boswell. I recently spouted off about making evidence-free accusations of PED-use, and I stand by such spouting. But in this case, Boswell has apparently been sitting on evidence of a Hall of Famer using what Boswell believed to be PEDs for over 20 years.
Sports reporting occurs in fitfull starts. I've always maintained the figures most responsible for the unreported widespread use of performance enhancing drugs and least frequently cited are the press.
Consider. Reporters have access to players that we fans will never have. In the clubhouse they see and hear things that never make the paper. They know who to talk to about what they see to gain added clarity.
At the same time they rail against the perceived wrongs, publishing thinly sourced rumors without affixing a name to the background voice making the claim. With such standards, how could they collectively miss the single biggest cheating scandal in the game?
Reporters have a responsibility to report newsworthy stories. It is quite literally their jobs. In the process they no doubt become better acquainted with the subjects they cover, as is natural. However, the moment the acquaintance slips the bonds of professional rapport and becomes friendship, the reporter's objectivity is blown.
Illustrative. During one of the panels at August's FanGraphs Live event, either the media or stats panel, I fear I cannot correctly recall, the point was made that David Eckstein found himself in many stories because he engaged with the writers. The same was said of Gabe Kapler. By making the writers jobs easier, these players likely earned better coverage than their production on the field would have warranted. I think it was the media panel.
Reporters spilled more ink and burned more pixels decrying the rampant use of steroids after the story was blown. Boswell as noted by Craig and Larry was one of the few to call out Canseco for juicing early on in his career. But he sat on this story for as many as 20 years. In Heaven's name, why?
Boswell's admission after he singled out Canseco can only be described as the intentional suppression of a story, which is what I believe happened during the late 90s and early 00's. While it was an open secret that amphetamines were commonly used, the reporting was minimal even there.
With their access reporters could have and should have sniffed out the story of players using illegal substances in the hopes of improving their performance. They either willfully turned a blind eye to what they saw to maintain access to their sources or were incapable of basic investigative reporting.
The failure of the press in the steroids scandal is emblematic of the failures of the press in general. The refusal to cover real news, whether due to willful negligence or incompetence is what prompts news consumers to seek out new sources. Boswell's acknowledgement that he participated in the cover-up of an activity that was newsworthy damages his credibility. What else went unreported and uninvestigated until it could be casually tossed off in a documentary?no comments
Rob Neyer would like us to know:
All of this is possible because of the ridiculous schedule that includes two off-days after Game 2 (which is the case in both of the American League's Division Series).
Have I mentioned lately that the Division Series schedules in the American League are ridiculous? Well, they are. Great work, Major League Baseball!
Obviously at the heart of this is the desire to ensure all the games are televised nationwide. The 1995 Division Series were broadcast regionally. Which meant that even though the Red Sox made the playoffs, as a college junior in Chapel Hill, NC, Braves country if you'll please, I didn't see a game.
The problem baseball has is that it cannot schedule playoff games without preventing some audience somewhere from being accepted from coverage. In a purely rational world, MLB would schedule both series on competing networks with cable backups. All the games in primetime, at the same time.
So for example, Fox and FX have the AL and ABC and ESPN have the NL. Sorry TBS. In New York, Fox 5 has the Yankees, while FX shows the Rays game. In Philly, ABC 6 Action News shows the Phillies game and ESPN has the other NL series.
Offset the NL and AL series starts so that each series gets one national broadcast night. But Major League Baseball needs to shed the fear of regional broadcasts and the criticism they engender. If Bud Selig really does wish to explore playoff expansion, he will necessarily shift to regional coverage of the games to prevent the postseason from extending into mid-November.no comments
Reason's Radley Balko has a worthy piece on the insane incentives that motivate federal prosecutors.
The deeper problem is that we have a federal criminal justice system that can be so easily manipulated in the first place. The number of federal laws reaches well into the thousands, and it's growing. Many are so broadly written they allow prosecutors to ring just about anyone they please up on federal charges. This creates a system driven by politics, not justice. It makes criminals out of all of us, making actual enforcement of the law arbitrary and corruptible. Worse, every incentive for a federal prosecutor pushes in the direction of winning convictions, with little if any sanction for crossing ethical and legal boundaries in the process. It's a system that’s not only ripe for abuse, but that actually rewards it.
Of the 201 cases USA Today reviewed in which a judge publicly reprimanded a prosecutor, the paper found just one in which a prosecutor "was barred even temporarily from practicing law for misconduct." The Justice Department refused to tell the paper about which, if any, of the cases resulted in internal discipline taken against the offending prosecutors. Rather appallingly, DOJ cited the need to protect the prosecutors' privacy. Never mind that they’re public servants who have been reprimanded by a federal judge for abusing their power. Not to mention that said power is among the most serious we afford to a government official. Prosecutors have the power to take away a citizens’ freedom. Even in cases that don’t result in a conviction, a federal indictment or even investigation can bankrupt the target of the investigation. The idea that prosecutors who abuse that power should be escape public scrutiny out of concern for their privacy is not only preposterous, it's another symptom of a system with misplaced priorities.[...]
The only way to address this issue is to pierce the cone of infallibility we put around prosecutors. There’s a presumption that because they’re public servants, prosecutors should be given the benefit of the doubt, that even grievous mistakes should be assumed to have been unintentional, or that because they’re pursuing a goal most of us consider to be in the public interest—putting bad guys behind bars—even intentional infractions should be lightly sanctioned, or overlooked entirely.
Let's review fundamental common sense for a moment. The behaviors we subsidize we get more of. The behaviors we penalize we get less of, as a society. So if prosecutors are rewarded for convictions and laws are sufficiently broad to allow anyone to be a charged and convicted, then prosecutors will push ahead with flimsy charges. Like this one.
Via - Instapunditno comments
James Joyner notes the increasing acceptance of partner to note a massive number of potential relationships
This is an interesting evolution in the direction of gender neutral, politically correct language. "Partner" has no gender or legal implications. So, used in conversation with a casual acquaintance, it carries no information that can be used to form value judgments. The person referenced could be of the same or opposite sex. The union could be legally recognized (whether through marriage, civil union, or other arrangement) or not.
I wonder if, over time, this will become the preferred usage, with, say, "wife" becoming antiquated?
As a side note, "partner" is a somewhat peculiar word in this context, since it’s still more widely used in a business context. (There’s also it’s close cousin, "pardner," which is mostly confined to old cowboy movies.) Until some sort of convention is established (for example, "business partner" being the accepted form for that relationship), there will be some awkward confusion.
I emphasized the bold passage above. The use of a word whose meaning is sufficiently vague as to render it effectively useless as a descriptor engenders confusion rather than clarity. The purpose of language is to convey ideas. It strikes me that intentionally vague, valueless words like partner, which could refer to as Joyner says, a person of either gender, in an array of romantic, creative or professional relationships are effectively useless.
Much like love. I'll allow a recent Miller Lite commercial to illustrate my point.
We use love to describe our appreciation for beer, and the deeper feelings of affection for a romantic "partner". A flexible and therefore confusing word. Like partner, love without adequate context becomes meaningless. However, love generally has enough context as to avoid such confusions. Partner however seems to be gaining popularity because it is confusing. In which case, our fear of stark contrasts has led us to the unhappy land of meaningless words and muddled language. Further proof to the point.
"If we think words are things and we have no feelings in our words then we say things to each other that don't mean anything. But if we felt what we said, we'd say less and mean more."
In the last baker's dozen years I've often gone back to that truism from Looking for Richard. The intentional obfuscation of meaning is a devolution of our language.no comments
My weekly piece over at The Foxboro Blog is up:
Pats fans, I bear bad news today. The story circulating the rounds is true that Tom Brady is not allowed to trim his doo without the express written consent of Mrs. Tom Brady, better known as Gisele Bundchen. And so the hair grows.
Despite Brandon Tate's spot on analysis of the situation ("That's a grown man over there, he can do what he wants. That's on him.") it occurs to your humble correspondent that Jules, our man in Inglewood may have the skinny on what's shaking, besides Brady's locks as he runs.
you can read the rest here.no comments
Good friend and blogospheric colleague Jason Rosenberg follows on about the bat situation after yesterday's scary incident involving Cliff Lee getting cut and bloodied by shards of a maple bat that shattered in the Athletics-Rangers game.
Ash, while less likely, can still shatter into two pieces. It won’t shear off quite like maple, but it can still come apart in two pieces....All wood breaks, but maple and ash break differently and both are potentially dangerous. Maple explodes; ash cracks.
That point is the essential difference between the lumbers of choice and the primary motivator of my ash advocacy. Jason notes the incident in 2009 when Kerwin Danley was hit with the barrel of Hank Blalock's ash bat when it broke in a game between the Rangers and the Blue Jays.
Ash bats are dangerous, true enough. As are maple bats. Ash though has a far greater tendency to crack and break cleanly than maple that tends to explode. Interestingly, this is due to the hardness of the wood itself. Ash is softer than maple.
As anyone with a high quality and expensive rock maple cutting board can tell you, that maple is plenty hard. It allows for faster knife work because the wood doesn't absorb as much of the force of the knife and instead bounces the blade back more quickly. And that bounce back is instrumental in how the maple bats respond to impact with baseballs.
For cutting boards the surface is near ideal, both for quick prep work and for maintaining the edge on one's blade. Sharp chef's knives though, even when wielded by the slickest kitchen artisans are never travelling in excess of 90 miles per hour. Nor are they travelling for six feet six inches. And the knife's edge is far thinner than the cutting board itself, allowing the force to be absorbed by the board itself. The flatness of the board also allows for greater dispersion of force. The cutting board in its utter simplicity is ideally suited to handle the repetitive impacts with blades.
But consider a bat. The barrel is round creating multiple angles of impact. That creates the ground balls and pop ups and limits the number of line drives. At the same time, without even distribution of force, repetitive contact will create weakspots and cracks, which increase the likelihood of broken bats. That's where the relative softness of ash is beneficial. It absorbs more force at the point of impact distributing it to reduce the damage done to the bat itself.
I'll happily stipulate that Jason is right. Ash is not a perfect fix. It reduces the risk of shattering, but it will not prevent broken bats. And as the Danley injury shows, any broken bat has the potential to inflict damage on players, spectators and umpires. The goal is to limit that potential if at all possible. The primary culprit is maple. Going back to ash, as Adam Dunn did, is a start.no comments
I posted the initial blurb up on BizofBaseball.com, and over there I try to do more of the Joe Friday school of blogging, "just the facts, ma'am." Over here I can engage in wild speculation. I'm not putting Maury's name or the BizofBaseball brand behind my unconfirmed theories.
So let's do a tick tock from the trade deadline. The Chicago White Sox were heavy into Adam Dunn. needing a big bat, they wanted the Nats slugger to give them some desperately needed pop to chase the Twins, who had struggled in July, opening the door to challengers in the Central. The Nats were reportedly hot for Edwin Jackson. Chicago spun their top pitching prospect, Dan Hudson, to Arizona for Jackson and for good measure through in David Holmberg. After Jerry DiPoto got swindled out of Dan Haren, he needed a win and scoring Hudson was every bit the win he needed. Please pardon the brief aside, it will make sense eventually.
But now, Kenny Williams wants to parlay Jackson for Dunn. And the Nats say no. And not only do they say now, the entire framework of the deal collapses down a sinkhole, never to be seen again. Which is unusual. Remember Kenny Williams wanted Jake Peavy so bad that even after Peavy said, no way, he came back until Peavy's mind was changed. If Williams has a guy in mind, and that guy fits what he's trying to do, he doesn't quit. But instead, Manny Ramirez was claimed and Dunn to the White Sox was never heard again.
Thomas Boswell provided a hint this morning at Kasten's thinking. His opinion proved to be spot on:
In the past, Kasten has never publicly said the Nats should increase payroll or be aggressive in free agency. Now, he's changed his tune.
"This is the time to act," he said this week. "We are close. This is how it felt in Atlanta just before we turned it around. Once you've laid the groundwork and improved the farm system, you need to add some pieces. That's where we are now."
If the Lerners, with their gradually rising payroll of $66 million, took the decisive step toward the kind of $85 million budget that mid-market teams in new parks typically can afford, would Kasten stay to see his plan evolve?
After all his success with the Braves, it would be out of character for him to leave a job that remains so unfinished: 24th-best record, 23rd in attendance, 22nd in payroll. But, according to those closest to him, his frustration at his lack of effective influence on the Lerners, as well as a desire to get back to his family in Atlanta, will probably end his D.C. days.
If Kasten leaves - even if he soft-pedals his departure, praises his handpicked GM Mike Rizzo and crows about the futures of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and the rest - the Nats' reputation will take a hit within the industry. And they will have a hard time replacing his broad skill set.
My preference for the Nats' sake: He stays. My firm opinion: He's gone.
And so he's gone. Gone likely because the Lerner's were unwilling to trust the man they hired. Which suggests that like the McCourts in Los Angeles and potentially the Greenberg-Ryan group in Texas, the Lerners too are a heavily leveraged, under capitalized ownership group. Now this is just speculation on my part. I don't have their financials. I don't have any information other than a read on the events and my own unique spin as an observer of human behavior.
When confronted with a trusted adviser who recommends course "X" there must be a reason for taking path "not X". I choose not to believe that it is greed with the Lerners. Because success on the field will lead to greater monetary rewards for the club and therefore the owners. The Red Sox and Yankees are the standard bearers for that philosophy, though their AL East rival the Tampa Bay Rays are a sobering reminder that on field success, even with measured spending is not always a panacea for the mid-market blues.
The difference in Washington is the gleaming new stadium the Nationals call home. A ballpark that rarely has seen full capacity, and whose most exciting moments have been authored by a player who was barely out of high school when Kasten came on board. Stephen Strasburg is the Nats future. But he was meant to be the team's present. Injury forestalled that present, but Kasten was clearly angling for a run in either 2011 or possibly in 2010 if the Phillies continued to struggle and the Braves faltered. By my guess, the reticence on ownership's part was enough to push Kasten to reconsider his options.
This offseason will be brimming with front office opportunities. The implosion of the Dodgers ownership and the Luecke situation in Seattle may create openings for a well-respected team runner. In addition, the Mets are expected to clean house, which may present the ideal opportunity for Kasten. Despite the protestations to the contrary of Mets fans I respect.
Matt Cerrone is another Mets fan I respect. And it was his post from Monday quoting the New York Post's Joel Sherman that prompted the following speculation.
I sometimes wonder if, on the day after the season ends, would it help public perception (among fans and around the game) if Wilpon were to come out, be humble, and after announcing that Jerry Manuel and Minaya will not be returning, lay out a specific vision – in public - for what he wants the team to look like, i.e., paint a mental picture, tell a story, while also detailing his role in the process, or lacktherof, and then go find the right people to do the job, set a budget and step off the stage? Or, at this point, is it just about winning. Is the time for talk over, only action will matter?
Sherman suggests the Mets look in to hiring either Sandy Alderson, Pat Gillick, Terry Ryan or Gerry Hunsicker, i.e., ‘someone older than Wilpon’ with a ‘steel spine,’ ‘unflappable core principles,’ ‘and the ability to establish up front how communication will work between the owner and the front office.’
The model that Sherman suggests is the more vertical CEO-GM-Field Manager model that Kasten, Sandy Alderson and Larry Lucchino have or do employ with the franchises they have run. In that sort of scenario, the CEO acts as the intermediary between ownership and the GM. Kasten and Alderson laid out the mission statement for their clubs and hired front office executives to implement the vision. That's why today's resignation should encourage Mike Rizzo to update his resume.
If Jeff Wilpon wants to shed the tag of micro-manager he'll want the dynamic CEO to whom Sherman alludes. Someone like Kasten who will happily spend the Wilpon's buckets of ducats well in a new stadium to aggressively improve a franchise that has laguished over the last two decades. Kasten would need a GM, someone like Jerry DiPoto who can be relied on to not make the same mistake twice, as he did in Arizona. Rizzo is a good candidate as well, but without the Nationals relieving him of his duties, Kasten will be reluctant to try to hire him away, whereas DiPoto, thanks to the Towers hiring is in the clear to find a better deal.
Look at what the Mets have that dovetails with Kasten's successful tenure with the Braves:
- A new stadium
- Ownership with deeper pockets
- A fan base that wants to be energized
- An interesting young talent core (Jose Reyes, David Wright, Ike Davis, Jonathon Niese, Jenrry Mejia, Dillon Gee)
Having vanquished the wickedly vile purveyors of filth at Craigslist, Connecticut's Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who happens to be running to win the Senate seat being vacated by Chris "Lame Duck" Dodd, has turned his attention on the rest of the online classifieds companies.
Richard Blumenthal, also a U.S. Senate candidate, said Tuesday the state attorneys general have sent a joint letter to Backpage.com. He said they are also asking the site to develop better safeguards to prevent illegal prostitution and child trafficking ads from migrating to the site's other sections.
Craigslist closed its adult services section earlier this month after the attorneys general and others raised concerns it could not effectively screen out illegal ads.
Blumenthal estimates Backpage makes $17.5 million from prostitution ads. A message left with a spokesman for Village Voice Media, which owns Backpage, was not immediately returned Tuesday.
Blumenthal's quest to shut down providers of adult advertisements is a classic case of failure to identify unintended consequences. Regardless of one's personal stance on the oldest profession, my own take is that if consenting adults elect to turn sex into a transactional relationship there should be no legal impediments to the conduct of such contracts, a public forum allows for the disinfecting sunlight of public observation to force the unsavory elements to the periphery. Craigslist worked to battle both illegal prostitution as well as human trafficking.
craigslist is committed to being socially responsible, and when it comes to adult services ads, that includes aggressively combating violent crime and human rights violations, including human trafficking and the exploitation of minors. We are working intensively as I write this with experts and thought leaders at leading non-profits and among law enforcement on further substantive measures we can take. We are profoundly grateful to those offering us their expert assistance in this regard.
One of the many recommendations we hear from experts at NGOs, in law enforcement, and from politicians and regulators, is that craigslist is uniquely positioned to lead by example, and to exert influence over other advertising venues to follow in its footsteps. Indeed, as we intensify our efforts to make further forward progress, we continue to be hopeful that other companies will take an interest in adopting measures we have had in place for years.
craigslist implemented manual screening of adult services ads in May of 2009. Since that time, before being posted each individual ad is reviewed by an attorney licensed to practice law in the US, trained to enforce craigslist’s posting guidelines, which are stricter than those typically used by yellow pages, newspapers, or any other company that we are aware of. More than 700,000 ads were rejected by those attorneys in the year following implementation of manual screening, for falling short of our guidelines. Our uniquely intensive manual screening process has resulted in a mass exodus of those unwilling to abide by craigslist’s standards, manually enforced on an ad-by-ad basis.
Manual screening matters. We are proud of the difference it has made, along with the other measures we have taken. However, there is no shortage of US companies that have not yet implemented manual screening for this ad category, or any other of the steps that craigslist has taken, and that have not yet exhibited any interest in combating human trafficking and the exploitation of minors, and other forms of violence and human rights violations.
One of the advantages of Nevada's legalized prostitution is that sex workers are afforded protections their colleagues in other states lack. They can work legally, shielding them from blackmail from unscrupulous people looking to make a buck off them. Further, a regulated industry marginalizes the exploitative aspects of the sex trade.
What does make news is a sex panic. After the murder of Julissa Brisman, a Boston-area woman who sold massage sessions in Craigslist's erotic-services section, Blumenthal's complaints about the site suddenly had urgency. Forgotten in that moment was the fact that, though sex workers do face real threats of violence, Craigslist isn't responsible for generating interest in the age-old institution of buying and selling sex. The claims of Blumenthal and his allies that their campaign against prostitution ads will "prevent the exploitation of women and children" ignore the obvious fact that there will always be a black market for sex. No matter how successful you are at driving prostitution underground, someone will find a way to profit from it and control it.
Craigslist's erotic-services section was simply the latest and most visible underground marketplace, a sexual public square so easily accessible to consumers, providers, and window-shoppers that it made prostitution seem less risky. For sex workers, it actually was safer than working on the streets or advertising in a newspaper. Craigslist enabled sex workers to screen potential customers and to work for themselves rather than rely on a pimp or agency. With the erotic-services section, work conditions also improved for the vice squad, whose job was made all the easier by having a dedicated and high-traffic venue to police.
The most significant difference between Craigslist and a brothel is that the former voluntarily opens its "black book" of clients to police. The records Craigslist maintains on its users played a critical role in apprehending the so-called Craigslist Killer. The Boston Police Department reported that "Craigslist was cooperative in identifying and locating" accused murderer Philip Markoff; Craigslist spokeswoman Susan Best notes that "a digital trail left by those breaking the law" allows Craigslist to support criminal investigations in a way, say, a newspaper cannot. In the case of Markoff, what could have become a series of murders was put to a quick halt once his inbox was examined. Boston cops said they relied on these "high-tech" solutions as much as "shoe-leather" investigation. The lesson here for those in law enforcement—and a lesson that Richard Blumenthal fails to understand—is that Craigslist is an ally, not a perp.
The reason that Craigslist's erotic-services section no longer exists is that the site made sex work safer without intending to, and without any input from the cops. Craigslist's power in the field of online prostitution appears to be far more threatening to Blumenthal, et al., than any modern-day Jack the Ripper who targets those who advertise there. If public safety is his goal—and not a run at the governor's office—then Blumenthal ought to reconsider who his enemies and allies are in his fight to keep the sex trade in check.
The decision to censor craigslist has led to a further intrusion into the marketplace to shut down another provider. But again, let's echo the point, shutting down the place where business is advertised won't shut down the business itself. So if the goal is to protect women and children from exploitation, why is forcing them to hide behind protectors who operate outside legal enforcement channels a logical recourse? It clearly isn't. Dick Blumenthal is running for Senate in a very liberal state. An ironic twist is that a dozen years ago, Republicans went to the mattresses pursuing the private sex life of the President. Dick Blumenthal is committed to interfere with the private sex lives of literally millions of Americans. Let's get government out of all of our lives.
UPDATE: The puritanical follies aren't limited to the attorney general. A group of busybodies concerned citizens is looking to keep pornography out of Connecticut. Yeah, good luck with that.no comments
As noted earlier, Troy Tulowitzki is chewing bubblegum and kicking butt and he's all out of bubblegum. Just like today's Bloguin BRU. And neither of us have any gum.
- Statistical study is all about helping individuals unearth value that otherwise might be overlooked because we know some behavior is of no use. In that spirit, we salute Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball who helpfully compiles a compendium of successful fake to third, throw to first pick offs. If you aren't reading Wezen-Ball, you are missing the game.
- Over at Around the Horn Baseball, Alex Freeman takes a look at the struggles of Mat Latos in his last two starts. A pair of abominations that come as San Diego struggles to hold off Colorado and catch San Francisco.
- Speaking of San Francisco, Richard Dyer of The Giants Cove celebrates the taking of the lead in the NL West by force. Just remember, don't get cocky, kid.
- The Red Sox dropped a slug fest to the Jays Friday night. Our trio of Sox blogs took three different approaches to reviewing the carnage. Fenway West's David Maciel compares John Lackey to Daisuke Matsuzaka for cranking up the misery meters of Sox fans. But Ian of Sox and Dawgs is proud to call the 2010 edition of the Olde Towne Team a bunch of fighters. Meanwhile Rob Muntis looks at the Bottom Line of working to resign Adrian Beltre.
- Even on vacation, Pirate blogger extraordinaire Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS passes along some links including a trip back to one of the biggest blowouts in big league history. Amazingly the Pirates won. Yes it was 35 years ago, why do you ask?
- New at Cardinals Diaspora is The Business who give the Kiss Cam the business, dropping kerfuffle in the lede. Awesome. Pure 140 proof awesome.
- In addition to seeing the future, Metstradamus is occasionally blasted back to the past.
- In the other big league baseball bearing borough of the big apple, Ross of the NYY Stadium Insider is writing about the 2010 Yankees post-season ticket details. And yeah, they haven't clinched, yet. Still, the odds favor the Bronx Bombers.
- Good news from the too little too late files haunts The Brewers Bar's Jaymes Langrehr who applauds that Randy Wolf is finally playing like Milwaukee fans hoped he would.
- In DC, the Nats have rarely had exciting, meaningful baseball to enjoy in the early autumn, which has provided Will Yoder of The Nats Blog ample experience with determining what is worth watching at the end of the year.
- Still counting and tracking prospects in greater Cubville, mb21 of Another Cubs blog continues to track and tally who did well and who failed to live up to potential.
- But some teams were still in action, and that means more from Jay Yencich of Mariners Minors and Nancy of Sandlot Swashbucklers.
- Promotions at the ballpark are an American tradition. But Brady Green of Detroit4lyfe finds the halfway to Paddy's Day celebration in Chicago (also in Kansas City, though Brady doesn't mention it) to be outstandingly awful.
The Bloguin BRU is an occasional, though hopefully soon to be daily, glance at the latest and most thought provoking baseball writing from around the Bloguin Network. Bloguin was founded in 2008 to empower bloggers by ensuring consistently high-quality blog design, maximum site functionality and responsive advertising and revenue maximization programs. With over 150 blogs comprising the network, there is never a shortage of conversation.
Injured for much of June and July, Troy Tulowitzki had not state much of an MVP case prior to September. But like his ball club, the Rockies star shortstop is blazing hot and storming back into the discussion for the highest honor an individual player can earn. And quite possibly of greater importance to the writers who will cast ballots for the award, Tulowitzki is lifting the Rockies back into the thick of the NL West playoff race.
So let's take a look at his performance month by month. The results for Sep/Oct are complete through 9/17. As I type this, I see he has hit another two home runs today, thus further making my point.
That Sep/Oct line is insanely good. And yes it is but one month, but it's a month at a crucial point in the year. Another example of the statistical anomaly that this month is, all the home runs he is hitting is driving down his BAbip. Just .250 on balls in play on 11 hits in play in 44 in play at bats. How awesome is that!
The precedent exists for late season performance influencing post season awards. Rick Sutcliffe's Cy Young was a product of his performance with the Cubs after being dealt to Chicago before mid-season. CC Sabathia's run with the Brewers was so good that writers rumbled about how deserving the lefty was of a NL Cy Young to go with the AL Cy Young he won the year before with the Tribe. And when Manny Ramirez joined the Dodgers and put up huge numbers there was talk of him as the NL MVP.
Carlos Gonzalez has been the hitting hero in Denver, but by both FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference's flavors, Tulo has in 100 fewer plate appearances compiled a higher WAR. In neither measure is he the tops in the league, but here's where we take the empirical and practically apply it. Tulo's WAR is partially inflated by his worth at the more challenging defensive position of shortstop. But his .324/.389/.579 line and 24 (now 26) home runs are quite a statement.
But you maintain Tulowitzki's outstanding performance is a small sample size fluke. Yes. Yes it is. But there have been few small sample size flukes that have been more efficacious to the post season hope of any team. And that's what value means. How important a player is to his team's success or failure. I can find no one more ably demonstrating his worth to his team than Tulo. Good timing matters almost as much as good performance. Which is why if I had a vote I'd cast it for Tulowitzki.no comments
The recent conversation that began online and spread through television and print commentators regarding the professionalism of both the New York Jets players and coaches as well as the TV Azteca reporter sent to interview Mark Sanchez. Left underreported was the massive chasm between the cultures of the United States and Mexico, as well as the nature of the coverage of professional athletes. But first, a requisite preamble to properly set the stage of our discussion.
Frequently, media types refer to athletes as professionals. He's a professional hitter. He's just a professional ground pounder. As far as working the glass, he's a pro.
How observant. A pro athlete is a professional. It's a cop out word that signifies competence, and even then, it does little as a successful modifier, because what makes one athlete's professionalism noteworthy while another athlete fails to measure up. The consequence of such meaningless dead air denying diction is that a discussion of professionalism must be prefaced with a definition of what is on the table.
Further muddying the water is the subjective and nebulous nature of professionalism as a subject matter. The connotation of sportscasters and scribes and even the bloggertariat for professionalism is a direct descendant of class. As in he is a classy act. That guys carries himself with class. Synonyms include, but are not limited to, dignity, honorability and basically the qualities that embody a "Stand Up Guy."
So with our understanding of professionalism perfected, for this piece, let's tackle the subject itself.
Ines Sainz felt uncomfortable in the Jets' locker room. Many commentators have highlighted her choice of clothes or her physical appearance. Her typical attire does vary greatly from what players typically encounter. But that should not excuse or be used to explain the behavior of the players who leered and ogled. Still it remains a Shotgun Spratling, of the fine Blue Workhorse Blog, writes:
Journalism is a profession. It isn't just a job. Like any other profession, there are standards that journalists are expected to uphold, one of which is attire.
When is the last time, you saw a doctor, lawyer, or other professional go to work in jeans so tight there's no room for a cellphone, or maybe even a credit card, in the pocket? And Sainz shouldn't get a pass just because on this particular day, she wasn't wearing her typical attire.
Sainz has made a living off of objectiving herself to further her career. And what kind of groundbreaking stories is she producing? At the last two years' Super Bowl media days, she managed to measure players' biceps and get carried on the shoulders of some linemen.
In making the argument that she violated the codes of professional journalistic ethics, he's adopting a stance that is remarkably American-centric. The standards of attire may be different for reporters at Azteca TV. To make the case that she violated some informal code of conduct is to unsuccessfully make the case for the universality of that code.
How many Americans are immersed enough in Mexican television programming to know to what standards reporters, including special interest/features reporters, are held? I'm not capable of claiming such knowledge. I suspect Shotgun isn't either. Though I agree with him in principle, to be a professional one should act as a professional. And if one purports to be a journalist, then behaving in a classy, dignified and honorable manner is essential.
Does Ines Sainz? I haven't the slightest idea and further I have reason to say she doesn't. Therefore I'll not pronounce her behavior as wrong or out of line. Does it conform with our American sensibilities? Maybe. But that is largely immaterial. She was credentialed by the Jets public relations department and if they regarded her work as unprofessional surely would have denied her access to the organization and their quarterback. Public relations offices frequently turn down bloggers who request credentials on the basis that they are unprofessional.
Let's tackle the last aspect of why she has been deemed less credible by American observers. Her pieces are trivial. Maybe they are. But your typical local newscast will include a sponsored segment, a literal advertisement, for the local pet shelter promoting an adorable critter who needs a home and needs to be loved and taken care of. Is that piece any more or less trivial than measuring the biceps of the big dudes who play football?
It is easy to cast stones at those we elect not to see as our equals. I think far too much of that occurred with Ines Sainz and Azteca TV.
Thus we turn our attention to the New York Jets. From many accounts they behaved boorishly. And though the NFL has elected against any formal punishment, the Jets will be tarred by their behavior. The story of Lisa Olson and the Patriots of my youth is illustrative. In 1990 Zeke Mowatt, Michael Timpson and Robert Perryman were fined by the NFL for sexually harassing Lisa Olson, who worked at the time for the Boston Herald.
Famously Victor Kiam, the owner of the team at the time, labeled Olson a "classic bitch" though Kiam denied the use of that phrase he publicly apologized for his comments denigrating Olson. The incident was downplayed by management as "a flyspeck in the ocean" as the Patriots attempted to dismiss the wrong doing of the players involved.
Twenty years later, the behavior of the Jets, while not as crude as the alleged genital fondling perpetrated by two of the Patriots players two decades earlier, caused a woman to feel uncomfortable doing her job. Part of this is due to the nature of how we treat athletes who play at the highest levels of the game.
Because of their value to the colleges and high schools for which they play, young talented athletes receive preferential treatment, not only from their peers, but also from the institutions themselves. My four and a half years in Chapel Hill were revelatory in the distinction between how basketball players were treated as compared to the rest of us in the student body. That treatment does not justify the chattel system of major college athletics, but it illustrates how players rarely receive correction for missteps in personal conduct.
When improper conduct is tolerated, an individual's sense of entitlement is reinforced. The idea that athletes are representatives of an institution is frequently lost as players rise to the highest levels of play. Take the 1998 US Olympic men's hockey team for example. They were chosen to represent the United States in international competition, quite possibly the highest honor a nation can bestow upon an athlete
Rather than comport themselves as professionals, some of them trashed their hotel rooms. And worse, they never stepped forward to own their behavior. How many were fined? Suspended? Were any denied jobs because of their conduct? We'll never know and should assume they faced no worse consequence than the shame (if any) they felt. We presume they grew up, but in the shadows of secrecy, we know not.
Going back to the conduct Olson endured, Patriot fans slashed her tires and sent her hatemail. Reportedly, she still receives it. No doubt the amount that finds her will have increased thanks to this recent incident with the Jets, because people like me will remind folks of what happened prompting them to take to their anonymous email accounts.
The positive is that the corrective action of the NFL humiliated the Patriots as a franchise and led to first James Orthwein and second Robert Kraft to remake the Patriots franchise as paragons of professional behavior. None can say whether the Jets will growup following this incident. But the hope is that the players and coaches who helped create the atmosphere where such behavior was acceptable have learned something. I suspect they learned that they can get away with it. And that, more than tight jeans and fluff pieces, is more a hallmark of unprofessionalism.no comments
As teams crawl back from the grave to pursue the dream of postseason glory, we leave you a question with which you may ponder the following stories: Is a dream a lie if it don't come true, or is it something worse?
- Chief among the undead zombie squads are the Boston Red Sox, about whom Rob Munstis of The Bottom Line gleefully notes their much improved, undead prognosis. Leading the charge yesterday in their sweep of Seattle was Clay Buchholz, a convincing enough victory that David Ross of Around the Horn Baseball has declared the Sox control their own destiny. And while that proved interesting to Sonoma Dave of Fenway West, what really sparked his curiosity were the reports that the Dodgers Andre Ethier would seriously consider setting up shop in Boston. Ian from Sox and Dawgs runs down the latest across the nation.
- Adam Dunn has been crushing baseballs with consistency for his entire career, but his big league best active streak of consecutive seasons with at least 35 long balls has Will Yoder of The Nats Blog wondering if Dunn has earned a place among the greatest ever.
- Pedro Alvarez has arrived, but for Pat Lackey over at Where Have You Gone Andy Van Slyke his arrival, while a cause for celebration, leaves a hint of foreboding. Specifically, does he have to strike out so much?
- He didn't get plunked, but he did get to take his base, and for the man named slanch Derek Jeter's performance was Oscar-worthy!
- One team that decidedly is not pulling a we're not dead yet routine is the St. Louis Cardinals. Not only have they cratered rather spectacularly, but in fighting has turned the team against its most talented position player under the age of 25, Colby Rasmus. Jaime Garcia is done for the year. Tony LaRussa may be gone, and everybody wants to know what's up with Albert Pujols? Well hooks at Cardinals Diaspora thinks it time to walk away, and includes something more important for you to grant an audience.
- Life's no fun for our pair of Mets pundits. Nikki DeMaio of We're the Team To Beat is weary of the perpetual deck chair re-arranging in Metsville and wants a house cleaning. Meanwhile the sage Metstradamus needs to remind us that a three game winning streak against the Pirates is not all it's cracked up to be.
- We're still in 2010, but that didn't stop the release of the preliminary 2011 schedules, and Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar is thinking about what next year holds.
- Callups continue into the latter part of September, and for Charlie Saponara of Fantasy Baseball 365 that means another trio of players to profile as they appear on the scene.
- Not everyone is looking at the the big leaguers. In the case of mb21 of Another Cubs Blog the attention has focused on the kids, as the review of the top 30 Cubs prospects begins.
- More recaps from minor league post-season play courtesy of Nancy of Sandlot Swashbucklers and Jay Yencich of Mariners Minors. But game wraps are taking a back seat to a greater exploration of the Yankees farm system as Sean P. at Pending Pinstripes takes a look at walk and strikeout rates.
The Bloguin BRU is an occasional, though hopefully soon to be daily, glance at the latest and most thought provoking baseball writing from around the Bloguin Network. Bloguin was founded in 2008 to empower bloggers by ensuring consistently high-quality blog design, maximum site functionality and responsive advertising and revenue maximization programs. With over 150 blogs comprising the network, there is never a shortage of conversation.
Fall Sundays are made for football and in New England that’s the Patriots. The bunch beloved by Bostonians of all ages. Except for cranky columnists looking to stir the pot prior to the season’s start.
As "cranky columnist" could cover any fifty bile-spitting, ink-stained wretches in the greater Boston area, not to mentions dozen on bellicose radio talkers and callers, it’s best to specify the particular offender. This charming ne’er write well goes by the nickname of "Curly Haired Boyfriend", a moniker coined by Crazy Carl Everett ten summers ago.
Admittedly, Dan Shaughnessy’s shot at Everett (Jurassic Carl, which may have influenced USS Mariner’s C-Rex nickname, another stellar derisive dig) was among his better. Those clever quips are rarely present these days, and Shaughnessy’s shots are of the pre-programmed mailed-in variety.
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I don't normally highlight the pieces I pen at the Biz of Baseball, because so many of them are breaking news type stories. But I took sometime to evaluate several cities that could conceivably be homes to MLB expansion or relocated franchies. Here's the lede:
The stadium situation in Tampa has already created a chorus of calls to relocate the Rays. This week the club has battled the Yankees for first place to two-thirds capacity crowds in Tropicana Field. The Rays have made clear to municipal officials in Tampa that they want a new stadium and they would require significant subsidies if not outright public funding to make a new facility a reality.
The desire of Tampa-St. Pete to field an MLB team was the driving force behind the construction of the Rays' current stadium which was completed in 1990, eight years prior to the Rays taking the field. Ironically, the presence of the Florida Suncoast Dome (since renamed twice) was used both by the White Sox and the Giants as leverage to get new stadiums approved and built by the cities they call home. Now the Rays need some juice to squeeze Tampa for a new facility.
But looking at the map, the possible locations a club might pack up and move to are few and far between. Two years ago, Maury Brown took to this space to examine the most likely relocation or expansion markets. And while he concluded then and I concur now that expansion is a highly unlikely proposition, the availability of viable locations reflects potential for growth.
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In today's Bloguin BRU, I mentioned Mike Cardano's post on the playoff chase in the AL East and how the presence of a Wild Card ladles on an incentive to refrain from an all out playoff push. In the NL the tight races in the East and West make the Wild Card a goal rather than a last resort.
The first question we need to answer is whether the wild card works as a means of increasing drama in the playoff push. We have since 1995 30 completed wild card races. In that time, the wild card has created four play-in games, which is a decidedly positive result. It also created twice as many races where the division winner and wild card team finished tied or less than one game apart in the same division. Those eight seasons had slightly less drama because the runner up still made the playoffs which indicates the wild card does have a negative impact on pennant races.
Because the effect is limited to just 25% of races available for our examination, with a 50% offset in the form of winner take all one game play-ins, undertaking a complex fix is hardly necessary. Even if one takes into account the excellent success wild card winners have had at advancing to the World Series and winning it (In the same period, nine wild card winners won their league's pennant and 4 took home the World Series crown) the effort seems likely much ado about nothing.
But we're in the business of being primarily irrelevant, so here goes:
The simplest way to ensure teams push for division titles is to place a premium on winning the division. The NFL used to do that rather well when each conference was a three division affair. All three division winners earned a bye and the two wild card teams fought to play the best team in the conference. By rewarding the division winners with extra time off to heal up and further rewarding the best team with a bruised and battered opponent the NFL provided an incentive to win out and earn an easier path to the Conference Finals.
Baseball can follow that pattern and ensure a permanent winner take all one game play-in by taking the two teams with the best record who do not win a division and putting them in a wild card playoff to continue their season. Because baseball is a game where any team can win on any given day, a one game contest makes it far more important to win the division to avoid a possible season-ending upset.
After the play-in the winner plays the team that finished with the best record in the league and the two other division winners meet for a five game LDS. And so forth.
Obviously, it's not an essential fix. Instead it is a chance to increase drama, television revenues and interest in the sport. Something the wild card itself has been mostly successful at doing. Though unlike the wild card, this places the emphasis on regular season success. In turn that could prompt earlier trades and more excitement and buzz at the actual trading deadline. If the goal is to better promote the sport, this is an idea whose time will come.no comments
Our brief hiatus of round-ups from the Bloguin network coincided with the shake out that follows the end of August. The field has been winnowed, and will shrink more between now and the beginning of the playoffs. Those eliminated already, whether officially or all but, have begun to reassess the roster, the farm system, pondering what next year holds. Those still in contention focus narrowly on winning to extend their season to October. And the Bloguin network buzzes with baseball chatter. Look alive. And look at these stories culled from Bloguin's Baseball beat.
- The Cy Young race in the AL is shaping up to a battle between a pair of lefties, the best AL pitcher is by far Felix Hernandez, who is plagued by being on a historically awful hitting team and so gaudy win totals are unattainable. Rob Muntis has The Bottom Line on the chase.
- The all-knowing oracle of Astoria (NY) Metstradamus muses on the plague called Mets flu that seems to have spread from the Mets to the Jets and will soon afflict the Nets.
- The presence of the wild-card has certainly added extra excitement to baseball. Mike Cardano of Around the Horn Baseball wonders if the format though could be denying us a barn-burner of a pennant race in the AL East between the Yankees and the Rays. I have some thoughts that I think are worth sharing, and I'll do so later today.
- Bad managerial decisions in last night's other 1-0 contest involving a New York team, and Pat Lackey takes the time to proffer a clinic on win expectancy and how it relates to bunting in tied games as the road team. Consider it a follow on to his previous thoughts on the topic.
- The more things change, the more they stay the same is what Lar at Wezen-Ball has discovered peering through the archives and unearthing a pre-hashing of the battle of ballpark anthems.
- Curses, jinxes, hexes and whammies occupy the thoughts of Will Yoder of the Nats Blog and Paddy McMahon of Around the Majors. Yoder debunks the thought of the Wilkes Booth curse that does not plague Nats Park. While McMahon pleads for reassurance that jinxes are not real.
- The dawn of football prompted Hooks over at Cards Diaspora to go a-ramblin'. With the bitter taste of this year's Cardinal collapse still present, the journey is football heavy, which is all part of the process of packing up this year.
- Giving in to the inevitable is part of baseball. The decision to allow a star player to pursue greener pastures is the natural effect of the free agency system. As is the choice a front office makes to instead preemptively dish a talented star to maximize the return. Milwaukee faces that quandry with Prince Fielder, who may be playing his final contests for the Brew Crew. The situation prompts Jaymes Langrehr of The Brewers Bar to consider a post-Prince offense, that still brims with quality bats.
- Boston has a pair of dark horse Cy Young candidates. An elevated xFIP eliminates Clay Buchholz from my consideration, but Jon Lester deserves consideration. And while it was agaisnt the Mariners (see above) Shelley of Fenway West notes that Jon Lester is making his case in remarkable fashion. Take a moment to ponder how Texas would look if they had swung the deal with Boston and nabbed Lester back before the 2004 season.
- Life on the bubble is a constant challenge for ballplayers. Guys like Jonathan Van Every can find themselves in the show one day, DFA'd the next. That struggle sent Shawn Berg of Twins Target scurying to his keyboard to profile Estarlin De Los Santos, the guy likely to face designation when and if Anthony Slama is needed back on the 40 man roster or when Justin Morneau is again healthy. That bubble will burst, as it does for the great majority of players striving to reach the show.
- Speaking of striving, the proudest accomplishment for any high school coach is to get word that one of their players has matriculated to the highest level of professional sport. The journey is often quicker in Basketball and Football, which is why the note Blaine Clemmens of 9County9 passes along announcing that Konrad Schmidt got the call is all the more touching.
- Johan Santana owners in keeper leagues no doubt are wondering what to do with their star lefty. Worry not, Charlie Saponara of Fantasy Baseball 365 breaks down the information surrounding the guy who used to be the best pitcher in the game and what options are availble.
- The minor league playoffs are in full swing, which means both Jay Yencich of Mariners Minors and Nancy of Sandlot Swashbucklers are still charting the future big leaguers for Seattle and Pittsburgh as they strive to end the season with wins. For Greg Fertel of Pending Pinstripes the equally important task of system review is in full swing. And the Yankees have already crowned a champion in High A and have their AA team still fighting for the Eastern League title.
The Bloguin BRU is an occasional, though hopefully soon to be daily, glance at the latest and most thought provoking baseball writing from around the Bloguin Network. Bloguin was founded in 2008 to empower bloggers by ensuring consistently high-quality blog design, maximum site functionality and responsive advertising and revenue maximization programs. With over 150 blogs comprising the network, there is never a shortage of conversation.
Back in January I took a look at Derek Jeter's chances of passing Pete Rose's all-time hits record. In that post I tried to project what Jeter would do not only for 2010, but for four seasons into the future. I stipulated up front that I was hardly using a scientific method of projection, merely an intuitive feel for what I thought would be a slow, graceful decline. This season has been perceived as the beginning of the end for Jeter, and with his career-worst .261/.329/.369/.697 line, the initial impression is that the wheels came off.
Here's what I thought we could expect:
So how has Jeter done in 2010?
The 2014 age 40 season looks an awful lot like what Jeter did this season. But there is time left in 2010, and Jeter will continue to accrue counting numbers. How much he can influence his rate stats is debatable, but those numbers are very close to where we can expect him to finish.
With under 20 games left, Jeter is unlikely to catch my hits projection, but his other numbers are fairly close. In fact looking at his isolated power and discipline numbers, my guesses are fairly close. His Isolated Discipline for the year is .068. I projected a .074. I thought the Isolated Power number would be .118 and it sits at .108. The decline is limited to his batting average. Admittedly that has been an important component of Jeter's production.
Further, the decline is in part attributable to a BABIP that was more than sixty points off Jeter's career average. We don't necessarily look at the .293 BABIP as being anomalous because it tracks with what we see as a reasonable BABIP. But Jeter's career BABIP is .355, which includes this season. Therefore, the normal rules of comparison cannot apply. That the BABIP decline has been well pronounced since June suggests the former, but BABIP numbers take much longer to normalize and even with three plus months of data, we may be looking at a small sample size. So while the BABIP can partially explain what happened, it does little in the way of predictive value for next season. Our question therefore remains, is Jeter's decline permanent or merely a blip in the graceful decline I expected.
Given Jeter's age, and the comparables I highlighted in the post from January (Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Ryne Sandberg) the potential that this decline is real and permanent cannot be ignored. The only caveat is that Jeter may be playing through an injury of some sort. I'm not convinced that is the case, and in the absence of any claims of it, I'm literally just throwing it out there as a possible explanation. Without anything truly credible, there is little more that any of us can do.no comments
Some stellar and not exclusively baseball stuff from the great Bill James.
I am not saying that we should not admire Babe Ruth, that we should not respect him, that we should not honor him. What I am trying to get people to face is the cast of mind that made Babe Ruth what he was. It was not very different from the cast of mind that made Barry Bonds who he was, or made Roger Clemens or Ted Williams who they were. I myself am a stubborn, sometimes arrogant person who refuses to obey some of the rules that everybody else follows. I pay no attention to the rules of grammar. I write fragments if I goddamned well feel like it. I refuse to follow many of the principles of proper research that are agreed upon by the rest of the academic world. An editor said to me last year, "Well, you've earned the right to do things your own way." Bullshit; I was that way when I was 25. It has to do with following the rules that make sense to me and ignoring the ones that don't. It doesn't make me a bad person; it makes me who I am.
I've added the emphasis above. The philosophy encapsulated in that final sentence. It reminds me entirely of Robert Heinlein's Professor Bernardo de la Paz character from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The Prof espoused the idea that rules could only be self-imposed. A few quotations from the book:
A rational anarchist believes that such concepts as ‘state' and ‘society' and ‘government' have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame... as blame, guilt, responsibility are taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else.
I would be satisfied to have the Golden Rule be the only law; I see no need for any other, nor for any method of enforcing. But if you really believe that your neighbors must have laws for their own good, why shouldn't you pay for it? Comrades, I beg you - do not resort to compulsory taxation. There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.
To be honest, Prof strikes me as a futuristic sabermetrician:
Distrust the obvious, suspect the traditional... Whatever you do, do not let the past be a straitjacket!
The impact of Heinlein on sabermetrics is not exactly a secret, either. Gary Huckabay, one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus was said to have coined the term TANSTAAPP - There Aint No Such Thing As A Pitching Prospect - a direct derivative of TANSTAAFL, which appeared first in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The freed minds who examined baseball and found the existing metrics wanting are so far from the constricted ones that triumph either the role of tradition, the so called purists, or the managing hand of elites in the game. With James, our Prof, continuing to produce innovative ideas the movement will continue to attract those willing to question assumptions in the crucible of critical thinking.no comments