Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: October 2002


Hideki II? Hideki Matsui, the
2002-10-31 23:32
by Mike Carminati

Hideki II?

Hideki Matsui, the star centerfielder for the Japanese champion Yomiuri Giants, has announced his decision to test the free agent waters in the U.S. Some sources already have him headed to the Yankees. There is further speculation that the Yomiuri media conglomerate, the owners of the Giants, will buy the Japanese rights to broadcast Yankee games in order to air his games in Japan.

Matsui would be unlike any Japanese player to come to America. He hits for power and average. He came close to a triple crown this year. He is left-handed and would fit in nicely with Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch. Bernie Williams and his aching arms would move to left, with some sort of combination of Juan Rivera, Raul Mondesi, Rondell White, and Shane Spencer (all right-handed batters) handling the right field and DH duties. He could fail like no other Japanese player before, too.

However, with the Yankees suddenly fiscally austere--trade talks of Posada, rumors that Pettite's $11.5 M option will not be picked up, and Roger Clemens declining his option for 2003--is this the time to mention a Japanese player with the first name Hideki to The Boss?

Billetes! Billetes! Who Needs Billetes?
2002-10-31 22:44
by Mike Carminati

Billetes! Billetes! Who Needs Billetes?

MLB is pimping the Expos in San Juan to the tune of $300,000 a game. Bud Selig is honing his used car saleman chops with offers like "$5.4 million for 18 games and $6 million for 20 games" plus a set of Ginsu knives. But wait! There's more! For callers in the next 10 minutes we'll throw in the Chop-O-Matic. It chops, it lops, it dices, it even juliennes. Act now!

You Can't Spell Egomanic without
2002-10-31 22:19
by Mike Carminati

You Can't Spell Egomanic without G and M

Cal Ripken has expressed his desire to become a GM, preferably with the Orioles. Current Oriole GM Syd Thrift's contract is up at the end of the year. Ripken expressed the interest to Peter Angelos, the owner--how serendipitous!

Ripken believing that all of swelling in his head caused by the press that he has received of late for having his streak named the Most Observable Occasion (or was it Most Discernible Deed? Salient Situation?) is actually an infusion of GM smarts (like those guys in the commercial who can play music like Kiss because they stayed at a Ramada--Confidentially, we can all play music as well as Kiss). He now believes that he can assume a role for which he has never trained nor even shown any inclination.

Ripken explains the involved thought process:

I don't want to manage right now, and coaching doesn't appeal to me. But if there was a job that I could shape a baseball organization or help shape a baseball organization, I certainly would look at that.

"Uh, either that or run the scoreboard to shape a baseball organization or help shape a baseball organization or supervise the baseball organizing shape thereof. That would be awesome." (disclaimer: these words were not actually uttered by Ripken. I just happened to receive them via my extra sensory power and felt compelled to report upon them.) It reminds me of the eposide of Seinfeld in which George is fired and he and Jerry are going through the want ads to find him a new job. Realizing that he has no discernible skills and no driving amibtion, George proposes that he become the GM of the Yankees since he likes baseball. (Funnily enough, years later George is poised to become just that when he screws up the deal with one of his machinations.) Of course, George didn't have the massive public persona, or ego, to help him fulfill his dream that Super Cal does.

I shouldn't be too hard on Cal. Ripken was gracious with his acceptance speech, er, offer:

The Orioles are my first choice. ... Before I looked at options elsewhere, I'd like to know whether that opportunity would be available to me here.

"Uh, Thanks, Cal, but we already have a GM: Sid Thryft. Would you look to manage in the minors, coach a bit at the major-league level, or how about serve as assistant GM to see if you have any talent in that area?"

Upon, hearing the counterproposal, Ripken packed up Camden Yards and with a "No, it's mine and you can't play with it" he was gone.

Russell Phils Pirates Coach Opening,
2002-10-31 14:24
by Mike Carminati

Russell Phils Pirates Coach Opening, Set to Replace McClendon in 2004

John Russell will join the Pirates staff as hitting coach after leading the Edmonton Trappers to the PCL title in 2002. He becomes the second former Phil to join ther staff since the end of the season. The other is former utility man and 2003 bench coach, Pete Mackanin.

Russell played 10 years with the Phils, Braves, and Rangers. The highlight of his career was catching Nolan Ryan's 6th no-hitter June 11, 1990. He also homered in the game. In 1986, he served as the right-handed two-thirds of the Phillies catching platoon, the otherthird being filled by then slowly developing rookie and lefty bat, Dutch Daulton. For the most part he served as a backup catcher for the rest of his career.

That is precisely the reason that McClendon should have done everything possible to keep Russell off his staff. Everyone knows that backup catchers have the fast track to managing. Ask McClendon himself. Odds are that Russell takes the Pirates' helm about this time next year.

Meares Mortal Shortstop-turned-second-baseman Pat Meares
2002-10-31 11:28
by Mike Carminati

Meares Mortal

Shortstop-turned-second-baseman Pat Meares has agreed to drop his grievance against the Pirates. Meares had been kept on the disabled list for the entire 2002 season even though Meares contended that his injured left hand was healed and he was ready to play. He demanded his release so that he could sign with another team. Perhaps Meares' agent pointed out that he has approximately $4 M left on his contract before slapping him on the head and shouting, "Moron!"

Apparently, Meares will serve out the remaining year of his 4-year contract extension on the disabled list. Meares in accepting this agreement is in essence retiring since he will be 35 at the end of the contract and after not playing for most of 3 years will not be the most attractive free agent in the 2003-04 marketplace.

Meares represents the worst of the Pirates' Cam Bonifray years. Not many remember that the ever-average Meares actually took a salary cut in signing a one-year deal with the Pirates in 1999. He had made $2.5 M with the Twins in 1998, up from $245 K in 1996 and $1.425 M in 1997 thanks to arbitration. However, when the Twins started to pare down the team salary prior to 1999 Meares was cut loose. The Twins feared arbitration would continue to escalate his salary. The Twins were vilified in the press and by fans for doing so, but given his fungible mediocrity and the price tag accorded sustained mediocity by the arbitration system, who could blame them? Certainly, no one is questioning the decision now.

When then Pirates' GM Bonifray signed Meares to a $1.5 M, one-year deal just before the start of Spring Training in 1999, it seemed like a wise bargain. Then the Pirtates mistakenly repaid Meares for taking the salary cut by guaranteeing him in April of 1999 a 4-year, $15 M extension. The extension did not take effect until 2000. Meares responded by playing only 21 games due to the injury to his hand and the subsequent surgery to repair it. He started at short in 2000 and then switched to second in 2001, all the while getting plenty of ABs and showing very little resemblance to a major-league player at the plate (His 2001 adjusted OPS was only 41% of the average major leaguer).

In May of this year, Meares, who started the year on the DL, claimed that he was ready to play and was as healthy as when he played last year. The Pirates responded that that's what they were afraid of, and asked him to have further surgery to strengthen his hand so that he could better grip the bat (he was getting hammered on the inside pitch). It is in the Pirates best interest for Meares to stay on the DL so that they can recoup their losses via disability insurance. No mention was made of the additional hush funds directed Meares' way.

But it's deserved since all rehab and no play makes Pat a dull boy. Dull he has not been as this citation from will attest:

June 26th, 1999: Shortstop Pat Meares of the Pittsburgh Pirates, on the disabled list recovering from surgery on his left hand, participates in a sausage race at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Meares, dressed as a 10-foot bratwurst, wins the race defeating a giant hot dog and a polish sausage. Two days ago, Meares was caught on videotape sunbathing in the upper deck of Philadelphia's Veteran Stadium for the first six innings of game.

Robbing Posada to Pay Bud
2002-10-31 10:14
by Mike Carminati

Robbing Posada to Pay Bud

The Yankees are reportedly preparing to shop All-Star catcher Jorge Posada due to concerns related to the penalties imposed upon the team as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

To keep the same $135-million team salary that the Yankees maintained this season, they would owe "$8 million to $9 million next season in payroll taxes, plus a possible $15 million payout in revenue sharing."

Of all the long-term contracts that the Yankees' players have signed, Posada's is the only one without a no-trade clause. In one of the oddest mixed metaphors you'll ever hear-how often are Don Corleone and Jesus Christ alluded to in one statement?-GM Brian Cashman said, "I'm certainly open to listening, but if someone wants to inquire about him, they'd better come with frankincense and myrrh and make me an offer I can't refuse."

The Budding Rose Above The
2002-10-30 23:00
by Mike Carminati

The Budding Rose Above The Rose Full Blown

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters is running a series on the Pete Rose situation.

John has asked me to contribute as well. First, Morgan. Now, Rose. Soon I may tick off the entire Big Red Machine (if they knew I existed). I hope John knows what he's in for.

The quote's Wordsworth, by the way.

G'Joe Morgan Chat Day, Bruce
2002-10-30 13:24
by Mike Carminati

G'Joe Morgan Chat Day, Bruce

Today we, the Mike's Baseball Rants' Players, present for your entertainment the classic Monty Python Bruces/Philosophy sketch intertwined with the Joe Morgan Chat Day review (all of Joe's lines are from the chat session). But now for something completely different: Joe Morgan is our favorite analyst because he can say the most "Stone Me!" shaggedelic, ace, right as rain rhetoric and then-Bob's Your Uncle-the soddingest, "Blimey O'Reilly!"-est, bollocksed-up, bleedingest load of cobblers. So let's have a butchers at this week's, his last for the year. Cheers!

[Scene: Office setting with a conference table and a side table in the back with sign "Philosophy Dept." above a stack of unopened Fosters beer cans. First and Third Bruce are playing cards. Second Bruce enters stage right. Walks to table. Pulls out a seat. Finds a dead parrot seated there. Picks up the parrot with a surprised expression and then tosses it aside absentmindedly.]

Second Bruce: G'day Bruce!

First Bruce: Oh, Hello Bruce!

Third Bruce: How are you, Bruce?

First Bruce: A bit crook Bruce.

Second Bruce: Where's Bruce?

First Bruce: He's not 'ere, Bruce.

Third Bruce: Blimey, it's hot in here Bruce.

First Bruce: Hot enough to boil a monkey's bum!

Second Bruce: That's a strange expression, Bruce.

First Bruce: Well Bruce, I heard the Prime Minister use it. "It's hot enough to boil a monkey's bum in here, your Majesty," he said and she smiled quietly to herself.

Third Bruce: She's a good Sheila Bruce, and not at all stuck up.

Second Bruce: Here! Here's the boss-fellow now! How are you Bruce?

[Fourth Bruce enters, accompanied by Joe Morgan.]

Fourth Bruce: 'Ow are you, Bruce?

First Bruce: G'day Bruce!

Fourth Bruce: Bruce!

Second Bruce: Hello, Bruce.

Fourth Bruce: Bruce.

Third Bruce: How are you, Bruce?

Fourth Bruce: G'day Bruce.

[To All] Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce the man from pommyland who is joinin' us this year in the philosophy department at the university of Walamaloo.

All Bruces: G'day!

Joe Morgan: Hello everyone...let's go!!!

Fourth Bruce: Joe Morgan, Bruce. Joe Morgan, Bruce. Joe Morgan, Bruce.

First Bruce: Is your name not Bruce?

Joe Morgan: It's just a shame. I don't know how you can change it though. There is no way you can control it really. . Trying to change people into what we want them to be, it's just not up to us. That is just the way I understand it.

Second Bruce: That's going to cause a little confusion.

Third Bruce: Mind if we call you "Bruce" to keep it clear?

Joe Morgan: It has always been the custom that if you are on the staff of a winning organization that is where you go first. If Dusty goes to the Cubs, it's possible ..

Fourth Bruce: [quizzical sideways look towards Bruce Morgan] Gentlemen, I think we better start the faculty meeting. Before we start, though, I'd like to ask the padre for a prayer.

First Bruce: Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, Amen!!

All Bruces and Bruce Morgan: Amen!

Bruce Morgan: He won't put up with any nonsense like the marijuana smoking. I'm sure his friends and family think he is a nice person and I am one of those people. Seems like he would make a good manager.

Fourth Bruce: Crack tubers! [Sounds of cans opening.]

Now I call upon Bruce to officially welcome Mr. Morgan to the philosophy faculty.

Second Bruce: I'd like to welcome the pommy bastard to God's own Earth, and remind him that we don't like stuck-up sticky-beaks here.

The Other Bruces: Hear, hear! Well spoken Bruce.

Bruce Morgan: Thank you .. my offseason has already been great.. I hit golf balls all day yesterday and I'm playing again today!

Fourth Bruce: [with confused expression] Bruce here teaches classical philosophy, Bruce there teaches Hegelian philosophy, and Bruce here teaches logical positivism, and is also in charge of the sheep dip.

Third Bruce: What's new-Bruce going to teach?

Fourth Bruce: New Bruce will be teaching political science, Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett and Benet.

Second Bruce: Those are all cricketers!

Fourth Bruce: Aww, spit!

Bruce Morgan: If you are on the staff of a winning organization that is where you go first. If you can cut your weaknesses, you will be right there with them. The smart teams tried to follow that blueprint. More valuable than any player they could have acquired. As for the rumors, I don't think it is going to happen.

Third Bruce: Hails of derisive laughter, Bruce!

All Bruces: Australia, Australia, Australia, Australia, we love you amen.

Bruce Morgan: Probably won't be in Vancouver anytime soon!

Fourth Bruce: Another tube!

[Sound of cans being opened.]

Any questions?

Bruce Morgan: Hello everyone.. this will be my last chat of the season .. let's go!!!

Bloody Brilliant

Auggie: Bruce, can you give us some insight on why Willie Randolph has not been hired by one of the dozen teams he has interviewed with over the years?

Bruce Morgan: Seems like he would make a good manager. It has always been the custom that if you are on the staff of a winning organization that is where you go first, except in the case of minorities.

[Bruce (call me Bruce today): Very diplomatic, Bruce. Auggie, how's you're Doggie Daddy?]

Eric, NYC: Bobby Valentine's name hasn't come up much where managing vacancies are concerned. Do you think someone will hire him during the offseason?

Bruce Morgan: He will get another chance I'm sure.. he has managed Texas and New York so I'm sure he will get another chance somewhere.

[Bruce: Maybe he should go back to Japan again. Dumb-o Arrogant-o, Mr. Bobby-oto.]

Joe Trapani: Bruce, who do you see replacing Joe Torre as the manager of the yankees when Torre decides to hang it up?

Bruce Morgan: I think he will continue to manage as long as it is still fun. A lot will depend on this season. He will tell us how long he will manage I think after this next season. I'm not really sure who would succeed him.

[Bruce: Joe, how's your brother Kevin? Right you are Bruce-how fun is it to be the manager of a team that can get you talent quicker than you can Bud can impose a fine. It's like APBA with real guys.]

Betsy: Why cannot Bonds be more of a good Role Model? Is that not part of the multi million dollar deal that super star athletes sign for?

Bruce Morgan: Everybody's personality is what it is. Trying to change people into what we want them to be, it's just not up to us. We shouldn't be trying to fit people to make them fit what we think a nice person is. I'm sure his friends and family think he is a nice person and I am one of those people.

Bruce Morgan: Most of the images you have of Bonds come from sportswriters views of him. I'm sure you haven't met him personally, you are just going by what you read or saw on TV. They tried to blame the Game 6 ball on him and that he botched the play. They tried to blame him because he doesn't talk after the game.

[Bruce: Thanks, Bruce. I don't think there is anything about making Betsy like him in Bonds' contract.]

Greg Roberts,Fort Worth: Is Scott Boras bad for baseball?

Bruce Morgan: All I know is at one time agents were a neccessity but aren't as much now because players know what other players make. Before you didn't know that. But I can't say he is bad for the game, I don't know him.

[Bruce: Yeah, define bad. The people he represents seem happy. Actually, Marvin Miller recommended early on to free agents that they use a lawyer instead. They're cheaper and do the same job.]

Bugger all

Mike from Albany: What do you think Art Howe can bring to the Mets ball club, and do you think the Mets can make the playoffs?

Bruce Morgan: I don't know how they will do next season but Howe will bring some stability. The players will understand where he is coming from and he won't put up with any nonsense like the marijuana smoking. That is nonsense.

[Bruce: Mike? I don't trust that name. Oh, Bruce, what's Howe's stance on sniffing glue? And how do you feel that stance enhances the Mets' playoff chances next year?]

Darius(Mpls): Bruce, I am wondering if you think the Devil Rays paid too much in giving up Randy Winn for Lou Piniella? Lou wasn't going to manage for Seattle this year anyways and I think there were alot of other qualified candidates who would have cost them nothing

Bruce Morgan: Well, if you are finshing last with the record they had, how can it get any worse. It can only get better.

Bruce Morgan: Lou is more valuable than any player they could have acquired ..

[Bruce: Good point! Trade the whole team away and Piniella and his superior managerial skills can manage an APBA team. Is a manager, even a good one, really more important than a decent player? I doubt it.]

Vancouver: Mr. Morgan, You and Sanberg are my Idols! I played second base for the portland beavers. I have Sanberg's autograph! Now I need yours.. When are you going to be up in Vancouver, WA!?! Cary D. Anderson

Bruce Morgan: Probably won't be in Vancouver anytime soon!

[Bruce: Vancouver likes Bruce! They really like Bruce! Thanks, Bruce! You've been studying at the Elaine Bennis school of excessive punctuation, haven't you!?!]

Tyler (Milledgeville): What are the Braves going to do this offseason? With all the great young pitchers they have, could they trade for some one like Carlos Pena who wouldn't hurt their pockets and still give them a big bat at first?

Bruce Morgan: I'm a big Pena fan. But I don't see how Detroit could trade him. He is going to be a future star in this league. The Braves need some more offense but that has been the case for a long time. They have ridden their pitchers to all their success. They got some offense with Sheffield but they need another left handed bat in that lineup.

[Bruce: Why an unproven player then? Why not a known entity who bats left-handed and is a free agent, say, perhaps, Jim Thome?]

Norton: Hey Bruce, is the Yankees run over?

Bruce Morgan: Unless they can come up with better starting pitching, they are going to have a problem. But I think they will get what they need and be prepared for next season. So I guess my answer is no.

[Bruce: Hey, Norton! My Yankees runneth over? The Yankee starters had a 3.97 ERA in 2002. The AL champ Angels? 4.00. Plus the Yankees got more innings out of their starters. Actually that was the problem: their older starters were worn out covering for the decimated relief corps all year and showed it by October.]

Greg Roberts,Fort Worth: Bruce , I am a 40 something white guy and i would like to know if the Texas Rangers will win a world Seris in my lifetime.

Bruce Morgan: I don't how long you are going to live! I don't think the Rangers are as far away as you might think. The Rangers just aren't that far away.. they need a couple pitchers and a solid leadoff guy. I actually thought they would do better this year than they did.

[Bruce: You're a white, middle-aged Texas Rangers fan? Shocking! Bruce, give it to him straight. They need a bit more than "a couple pitchers and a solid leadoff guy." They need at least 3-4 starting pitchers with Rogers likely gone as a free agent. They need to rebuild their bullpen around surprising closer Francisco Cordero. They will soon need to replace Pudge or get up the jack to keep him, which still means replacing him in the lineup 50-80 games a year. They need to see if Hank Blalock is for real. They need a leadoff hitter? Their leadoff man had a .308 OBP this year. That's poor for a gut at the tail end of your lineup. They also need to switch to the AL Central. The West has three tough teams.]

jalal leach: Bruce, have a great off-season. sorry I couldn't catch up with you before I left for venezuela winter ball. maybe in the future?

Bruce Morgan: Thank you .. my offseason has already been great.. I hit golf balls all day yesterday and I'm playing again today!

[Bruce: What is this the Mutual Admiration Society? Get back to baseball.]

Rob (NYC): What did you think of the kiddie corps in the Giants dugout during the playoffs?

Bruce Morgan: I don't like kids in the dugout .. baseball is a dangerous sport. Anyplace on the field there is danger. Sitting in the dugout is dangerous. I have seen line drives go just over their head. They don't pay attention like the players do. I think it is hard for the players to concentrate when they are worried about the kids. I also wouldn't want my kids hearing the language you hear in the dugout. The Angels didn't have that .. they were there to play baseball. My wife used to want to go with me on the road but I didn't want to worry about her getting hurt. I would say, if I worked in a coal mine, would you still want to go? That ended that conversation.

[Bruce: You're right. There should be no kids in the stands even. Wait, no kids should even hear mention of the word "Baseball." And you can't have your pudding if you don't eat your meat. You know I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling kids and their dog. By the by, is coal-mining a spectator sport?]

Mary Jo Nelum, Chesapeake, VA: But sitting in the stands watching your loved one play a game that they love to play is different from watching him lug coal out of a mine, wouldn't you like to reconsider having family with you on the road? I think it's important-sometimes for a player's family to be there.

Bruce Morgan: We always want our families around but not in harm's way. That takes away from your concentration. Your family should be there as long as the environment is safe.

[Bruce: Mary Bruce, don't try to confuse the issue with logic.]

Shawn, Nova Scotia: Being a Red Sox fan - do you see the chance that they are going to make a big move like trading away Pedro, Manny or Nomar?? Also, what are you thoughts on the rumors of the Expos going to Boston?

Bruce Morgan: I don't think they will make any big moves.. they just need a consistent 1B.

As for the rumors, I don't think it is going to happen. That is just the way I understand it. I think the Expos will play some games in Puerto Rico.

[Bruce: Bruce Morgan is a Red Sox fan? I didn't know that. Oh, gerund trouble, that's what it was. Miss Foley, my 10th-grade English teacher, is wrinkling up her nose right now.

The Sox need a bit more than that. They need to re-sign Bud's trade deadline present, Cliff Floyd. They need an honest-to-god major-league second baseman (thanks to Dan Duquette's releasing David Eckstein a couple of years ago), a deeper bullpen, a lineup that doesn't fade in the second half (thanks, Scotty Coo...I mean, Shea Hillebrand), and a consistent pitching rotation (just live with Wakefield in the rotation already!). And if more consistent means better, you're right. But who's counting?]

Davis (Halifax, Nova Scotia): Hi Bruce, I love your work with John Miller on ESPN, and was very fond of the Mrogan/Costas duo NBC once had for the World Series. That was delight! Do you think the A's under-estimated the power of Art Howe on their team, or on a team like the A's is a manager not as important? Thanks Very Much!!

Bruce Morgan: I think they underestimated his impact and a manager is always important. On another note, I'm not sure why Ken Macha is a better manager than Howe would have been. They could have kept Howe if they wanted him but Billy Beane wanted Macha. That is why Howe is in NY right now.

[Bruce: I don't think that the A's preferred Macha. I think that they preferred Macha's price tag. Howe is a known entity, but I don't think anyone views him as more than a competent manager. He had some poor years in Houston and in Oakland early on.]

Mike Ports.: Hi Bruce, Is Adam Dunn going to be a franchise player? What about Kerns, was he one of the top three rookies?

Bruce Morgan: It's too early to tell about all those guys being franchise players. A lot of guys have a good year or two but you have to be able to do it on a longer stretch than that. It's just too early to tell.

[Bruce: Yeah, but they have been very good, and there is no reason to think they won't. Offer an opinion. In the immortal words of John Blutarsky, "It don't cost nuthin."]

You Bastard!

Ryan, Riverdale: What kind of impact will the Angels' style of play have on other teams' game plans in 2003?

Bruce Morgan: It always has an impact when a team like that wins. The Angels are just a version of what the Yankees have been for so long. They hit and ran, hussled, went from first to third well, and hit a few HRs. They are very similar to the Yankees. I would think that blueprint is part of why the Angels were succssful. The smart teams tried to follow that blueprint.

[Bruce: Really? So where are all the Yankee disciples? Why are there so many teams that pray at the altar of the long ball and ignore small ball? Maybe because a little small ball just buttresses a team's success. It does not presage success.]

Jarid (Normal, IL): Hey Bruce. With the rumors the Cubs will make a hard push to get Dusty Baker, what do you think of them acquiring Jeff Kent and moving him to 3rd?

Bruce Morgan: If you read the paper it says they want Dusty Baker. Dusty would be a good fit anywhere he goes, he is the best manager in the game.

[Bruce: Is he better than Torre and Cox? Come on.]

Mary Jo Nelum, Chesapeake, VA: Is it a patented answer? Each time I hear someone say "Dusty Baker is the best manager in the league" I want to ask WHY do you say that? WHY DO YOU SAY THAT??

Bruce Morgan: The key to being a good manager is getting the most out of the players you have. That is very difficult to do in today's game with guys looking more at stats than wins. He has had teams with tremendous holes in them and still won over 90 games. That is why he has been Manager of the Year three times, more than anyone else in the game.

[Bruce: First, Bruce, you played with Pete Rose. The man was aware of every stat known to mankind. Second, Baker has gotten a lot out of his teams, but isn't what Cox and Torre have done, sustaining the excellence of their respective teams more impressive? By the way, Cox and LaRussa have won the Writers' award three times. Cox has won the TSN award 4 times.

Steven, Chicago: With the Angels winning the World Series after being 40 games out a year ago, what are the Cubs chances of turning it around? The talent is there, but where's the leadership?

Bruce Morgan: There aren't that many great teams so any team that can get that focus, can do it. If you get your ducks in a row, you can make a big jump in this game. There just aren't that many great teams, all teams have weaknesses. If you can cut your weaknesses, you will be right there with them. Any team could make it to the World Series next year.

Bruce Morgan: If Dusty goes to the Cubs, it's possible ..

[Bruce: Dusty can leap tall Cardinals in a single bound.]

Scott (New lenox, IL): Bruce: Was that Barry Bonds' last chance at a title?

Bruce Morgan: I would say close to the last chance, yes. Not because of him, but because I expect the house of cards in San Fran to come tumbling down if Dusty Baker leaves. I don't see them being a very good team after that.

[Bruce: He is faster than a speeding bullet. The departure of Jeff Kent will have a much more profound impact.]

PJ (Compton): It is my opinion that the WS would've been much better had Barry not been walked so many times. I think the intentional walk is ruining baseball . . .your thoughts, Mr. Morgan?

Bruce Morgan: I agree with you .. it ruined the WS for me as well and for Barry Bonds. I asked him if he was having fun because of all the walks and he said he really wasn't. It's just a shame. Dierker started that process last year and everyone built on it. It's a black eye on baseball. I don't know how you can change it though. There is no way you can control it really. It's one of the shortcomings of the game.

[Bruce: It's not a shortcoming. It's called strategy. The Giants lived by the sword and died by the sword. Sandwiching Bonds between two productive hitters in the second half spelled success. When Kent and Santiago both hit, it also proved an effective antidote to the walk during the Series. When Kent and Santiago struggled, the opposition walked Bonds and the Giants lost. This was also the case earlier in the year before Bonds and Kent flip-flopped. Aurilia and Kent were not having great first halves and that affected the on-field success. If they had an extra bat or two in the lineup or on the bench to relieve the pressure on Bonds, it would help.]

Fourth Bruce: Right, that concludes the readin' of the rules, Bruce.

First Bruce: This here's the wattle, the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle, you can hold it in your hand.

Bruce Morgan: I agree with you

All Bruces: Amen!

First Bruce: Right, let's get some Sheilas.

Bruce Morgan: I would say close to the last chance, yes.

[An Aboriginie enters with a tray full of enormous steaks.]

Fourth Bruce: Ok!

Second Bruce: Ah, elevenses.

Third Bruce: This should tide us over 'till lunchtime.

Second Bruce: Reckon so, Bruce.

Bruce Morgan: I don't how long you are going to live!

First Bruce: Sydney Nolan! What's that ! [points at Bruce Morgan's head]

[Cut to an cartoon close up of Bruce Morgan's ear. Hold close up. Out pops Jon Miller smiling and waving. An arrow appears and points toward the ear.]

Voice Over: Number Nine: The ear. The ear.

[Return to original scene.]

All four Bruces and Bruce Morgan: [Singing in a row. Second Bruce is strumming a guitar.]

"Immanual Kant was a real piss-ant who was very rarely stable.

Heideggar, Heideggar was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.

David Hume could out-consume Wilhem Fredrich Hegel.

And Whittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nieizsche couldn't teach 'ya 'bout the raising of the wrist.

Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

John Stewart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shanty was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day!

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,

And Hobbs was fond of his Dram.

And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart: "I drink, therefore I am".

Yes Socrates himself is particularly missed;

A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed.

Bruce Morgan:

In closing, baseball had another great season, after they resolved the labor issues. The games were great and the players performed well. I congratulate the fans because if you hadn't voiced your disapporoval, it never would have gotten done without a work stoppage. This was the year of the fans.

I look forward to all your questions again next season .. I hope you all enjoy the offseason and I hope your teams make some good moves over the winter.

Take care everyone.

[Bruce's Baseball Rants: Take care, Mr. Morgan. Thanks for all the hard work. We'll see you next year.]

Catch As Catch Can Two
2002-10-30 11:04
by Mike Carminati

Catch As Catch Can

Two more managers were named and guess what? They, too, are former backup cathcers: Ned Yost and Ken Macha.

Yost, whose real first name is Edgar (!), also got the job as part of the "Hey, remember him?" school of manager casting. He played for the Brewers back when they had that "M-b" glove logo on their hats that were probably designed by the foppishly fashion-conscious Bud Selig.

Macha was a utility player for Pirates, Expos, and Blue Jays in the late '70s. He served as mostly an emergency catcher, playing only 4 games there. He was mainly a third baseman.

Right Above Women's College Basketball
2002-10-30 09:05
by Mike Carminati

Right Above Women's College Basketball

Yesterday was a sad day in the baseball world. Just two days after the seventh game of the World Series, and has already dropped baseball out of its feautured sports links on its main page. It now appears at the top of the dark gray, inert sport links with, among others, PBA Bowling, Outdoors, and Action Sports, whatever that is-probably everything to Evil Kinieval to Tony Hawk.

"But if I go cold I won't get sold
I'll get put in the back in the discount rack
Like another can of beans"

Thank you Mr. Brinkley. Truer words have never been said.

San Juan Expos Continue Colonization
2002-10-30 08:52
by Mike Carminati

San Juan Expos Continue Colonization

The Expos have exercized the $6-million option on 20-game-winner Bartolo Colon. With his value in the open marketplace, MLB could not defend not bringing him back at such a relatively low cost for next year. Besides now Bud gets to dictate where Colon goes at the trade deadline next year. Who's been naught and who's been nice? John Henry will probably get another present from the Expos. The man seems the perfect Smithers to Bud's Mr. Burns.

Go The Distance Last night
2002-10-29 13:26
by Mike Carminati

Go The Distance

Last night I couldn't sleep. I tossed and I turned worrying about the unimaginable. It wasn't the possibility of George Bush's personal war with Iraq, the Punch-and-Judy stock market, or my overwhelming concern for Winona Ryder's rights being trampled that troubled my sleep so. It was the prospect of the long winter months without a thread of baseball to keep me warm.

Then I heard it. "If you rant it, they will come."

It was a raspy, far-off voice. Where was it coming from?

I turned over and quickly got my answer. I was greeted by two glaring, unblinking, red-rimmed eyes above a maniacal smile. Festooned in the corner of the mouth and illuminating the face was the still-burning butt of a cigarette. An inch of ash was somehow still affixed. His white, pasty, moribund complexion belied the frenetic energy expressed in his eyes and his smile. The only part of him that moved was his left leg that bounced continually as if powered by some other disconnected source.

I then recognized the face. It was Ray Liotta. He emitted a short, piercing spasm of demented laughter while not batting an eye. His countenance returned to the maniacal smile that first greeted me.

I rubbed my eyes and queried, "Mr. Liotta, what are you doing here?"

"Is this heaven?" He asked suddenly confused.

"No, it's my bedroom. What are you doing here?"

"It was you, Ray. It was always you," he shot back with the same hoarse, throaty whisper, his eyebrows arching. The rest of his face stood at attention as if under the control of some far-off source.

"Ray? Who's Ray? He's Ray, not me, " I thought. I realized that his voice was still hoarse from all the shouting he had done in announcing the unassailable summit of humankind, MLB's Most Momentous Memories list, during the game four pre-game show. As if reading my mind, he pushed a copy of the DVD ($26.95 retail) towards me slowly shaking his head. I quickly scanned the cover and inset among the pictures of Cal Ripken, Mark McGwire, Nolan Ryan and other bygone greats of antediluvian yesteryear was the Rally Monkey with the caption "Hosted by the Anaheim Rally Monkey" followed by the TM trademark symbol. The monkey was surrounded by two bodacious bombshells, one miming a pitcher's motion and the other channeling Babe Ruth pointing to centerfield. Mr. Monkey wore sunglasses and was winking and giving the pair the "thumbs-up".

Realizing I had a thirsty guest, I asked, "Do you need a drink of water?"

He jerked his arm to show me a whiskey bottle, spilling a splash or two on the carpet, all the while not changing the expression on his face or batting an eye. He took a hard swig to further illustrate. Somehow the smile went on unabated until a thought seemed to cross his mind. Then he made a headlong dash for the window next to me and started to glare up into the sky, all the while mumbling something about the helicopters and Karen and the guns, and then he spit out, "Stir the sauce."

All of a sudden a lightning bolt shot from the sky and rent a tree across the street in two, and a young boy ran out and grabbed a still-burning hunk of wood. With lathe and wood-burning kit handy, he instantly fashioned a reasonable facsimile of a baseball bat with the words "" burnt in. He sold it on eBay the next day.

I was understandably shaken, and crossed the room to the bathroom to splash some cold water on my face. But in the bathroom was Tim Robbins in his underwear and a pair of garters with the rose in the front, and he was breathing out of his eyelids.

That was enough for me. I went downstairs to get a drink of water for myself. Ray followed me, laughing and asking me , "Charlie, where's Lulu?" Downstairs was a young man in catcher's gear and a pinstriped uniform with "Mammoths" across the front seated at my kitchen table. He was sobbing softly, then looked up at me and suddenly elated, said, "Author!"

Liotta responded for me saying, "You're confused. I'm Henry. This is Ray."

I looked at Liotta and he smiled ever-so-slightly more and explained, "It's Jimmy. He's the kind of guy that roots for bad guys in the movies."

The catcher got a quizzical look on his face, stared at Liotta, and said, "Are you talking to me?" Then his voice changed to a squeaky Brooklynese, "Do I amuse you? Am I a clown?"

Liotta demurred saying, "What? I don't know. You tell a good story."

Then the catcher said, "You didn't get me down, Ray," with a sly smile on his punch-drunk face.

I was tired and hungry. I grabbed a box of corn flakes pouring the contents into a cereal bowl with my head resting on my hand and the crook of my arm on the counter. The two suddenly stopped their bickering and shouted "I'm melting." I looked up through the falling flakes as the two disappeared into the corn flakes.

All of a sudden the "This is CNN" guy also in catcher's gear and white uni emblazoned with a rainbow motif was standing behind me saying slowly and in a self-satisfied manner, "They will come, Bingo. They will most definitely come."

I asked him, "Is anybody here going to hit my invite pitch?" He smiled. I grabbed a nearby frying pan and conked him on the head. I tossed the pan on the counter and returned to bed. I slept soundly except for a brief nightmare in which I pitched for the Tigers and the guy from Boogie Nights was my catcher. It wasn't all bad: Kelly Preston was there too.

I awoke with a sudden jolt. It was the realization that the ghosts had been trying to tell me that Mike's Baseball Rants must go on through the cold winter months. That if I continue to rant, people will come. Or maybe it was James Earl Jones standing over my bed awaiting the moment that I awoke to return my favor with the frying pan, handle grasped between both hands and his body arched for a swing. As the pan made contact with my head, I awoke from these uneasy dreams, to find myself transformed into a giant insect. So I showered and went to work.

Of course, all this is to say that Mike's Baseball Rants will be there throughout the barren winter months to deliver baseball stories of a topical and an historical nature. I don't know if I can keep up with the output that I've sustained during the season, but I'll give it a shot. So thanks for reading, and please join me for the ride in the off-season and into the 2003 regular season.

P.S., If you get all the references contained herein, you are a bigger geek than I, Horatio.

Indians Wedge 34-Year-Old Into Managerial
2002-10-29 01:01
by Mike Carminati

Indians Wedge 34-Year-Old Into Managerial Opening, None Injured

When I heard the Indians had tabbed Eric Wedge to manage next season, my first reaction was, "Oh good. A backup catcher turned manager, there aren't many of those in the majors." Some may remember Wedge collecting 5 home runs and slugging .500 in a backup role to 2002 Royals manager Tony Pena on the 1992 Red Sox. No news as yet as to when John Marzano, the other 1992 Red Sox catcher, plans to manage a major-league team. We'll keep you posted.

That would have been the end of, as they say, that until I heard that Wedge was only 34, and I thought the move a bit more interesting. Prior to the signing the youngest manager was former backup catcher (surprise!) Lloyd McClendon of Pittsburgh, 43. It made me wonder have often a terciagenarian (?) was hired to manage a major-league club. I looked it up, and it was far more than I expected. The last was Terry Francona who allegedly managed the Phils in 1997 at the age of 38. The last 34-year-old to manage in the majors was Frank Quilici of the Twins who in 1972-73 managed Minnesota to a 122-124 record at the ripe old age of 33-34.

The youngest recorded manager of all time, was Hall-of-Famer Monte Ward who guided the Providence Grays to an 18-13 record in 1880 at the age of 20. By 30, he had organized the players into their own league to compete with the majors. Ward would also lose the presidency of the National League by one vote due to this action. He also owned the Braves for a short time and worked with the 1914-15 Federal League that competed with the majors. Oh, and he was a lawyer with a thriving practice. Kinda makes you feel like a slacker, huh?

D-Rays Add Piniella But Already
2002-10-29 00:24
by Mike Carminati

D-Rays Add Piniella But Already Winn-Less

The Devil Rays finally signed hometown boy Lou Piniella to a $13-million, four-year contract today. But in so doing they traded arguably their best player and sole All-Star game representative, Randy Winn, to the Mariners as compensation for his negotiation rights.

It reminds me of the Chuck Tanner trade to the Pirates. Tanner managed the A's for one year in 1976 before being traded by Charley Finley for catcher Manny Sanguillen and $100,000. Tanner went on to win a World Series in Pittsburgh in 1979. Don't expect such miracles from Sweet Lou.

This job gets him set up for retirement though as he builds his nest egg and, as he turns 60 next year, looks for a nice condo in a Floridian elderly community. Rumors have it that Piniella has been practicing his shuffleboard, kinasta, and compaint-letter writing skills.

Don't Bet on Repeat One
2002-10-29 00:07
by Mike Carminati

Don't Bet on Repeat

One day after the 2002 World Series ends and we already have the odds for the winner of the 2003 edition. The Yankees and the A's lead the AL with 7:5 odds while the D-Backs and Cardinals head the NL at 3:1. The Giants and Angels, this year's World Series foes, are both listed at 4:1. If you feel lucky, punk, go with the D-Rays who top out the list at 200:1 despite adding big-name manager Lou Piniella.

The Long Reign of Bud
2002-10-28 14:29
by Mike Carminati

The Long Reign of Bud the Execrable

Now that the joy of the baseball season is over, Bud Selig again has started his reign of terror swooping down on unsuspecting villagers, scooping them up with his talons, and slathering them with his excessive amounts of hair oil and drool. No need to thank me for the image.

Last year, Bud spent the entire offseason talking contraction and threatening fines on owners who stepped out of his goose-stepping line. This year's reign of terror has begun with small sorties to be sure, but they are equally offensive. Bud is now taking time from his busy schedule to ban kids in the dugouts after Darren Baker almost became the filling in a David Bell-Bengie Molina sandwich at home in game 5. Instead of being concerned for the children's welfare, baseball officials are concerned that ''We look ridiculous and very unprofessional,'' evidently something they are not concerned with when they allow the incredibly uncharismatic Bud Selig represent them. Instead of seeing the presence of the Giants' sons in the dugout as 1) an overt symbol of the baseball tradition being passed on from father to son or as 2) a continuation of the long-standing tradition of baseball sons being used as batboys or as 3) just good PR, they choose to consider it offensive. What a bunch of out-of-touch stuffed shirts!

Next, Selig is considering a more heavily enforced moratorium on manager signing during the playoffs. He is allegedly fining the Mets for allowing new manager Art Howe's agent leak the story. The Mariners and Devil Rays are also on Santa Bud's naughty list. Good, Bud, let's suppress any non-World Series stories until all of the fan interest has completely dissipated. A moratorium would preclude teams from signing big names (like Trammell to the Tigers) to help boost season-ticket sales for the upcoming seasons while reporters are still paying attention to the sport.

While stories abound that the World Series popularity has slipped and no one knows who will eventually own the Expos or where they will reside, Bud Selig chooses to dwell on these non-issues. By the way, did he ever do anything at all to prevent another All-Star game fiasco? I'm surprised he didn't fine Brenly and Torre and declare victory.

World Series: Game 7 Notes
2002-10-28 01:14
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Game 7 Notes

Here are my thoughts while watching game seven of the Series yesterday as told to my scorecard. Editorial commentary in square brackets. By the way, I have devised my own scorecard with one page devoted to each team's batting lineup and another to the pitchers (3 in total). I record each pitch (including pickoff attempts, stolen bases, wild pitches, etc.), in a separate line under each cell and I have a footer devoted to the legend that continues to grow as time goes on. I also record nice plays with an asterisk, a slash in the corner of the cell of the last batter faced for a pitching change, and I draw the diamond as the runner proceeds around the actual diamond. Yeah, I'm a geek. Henry Chadwick would be proud.

Top of 1st: Aurilia K's 2-3.
Kent-flies out on warning track.

Bottom of 1st: Eckstein 2-0 pitch looked good. Walks-other balls not close.
Bud Black-says "Look at Barry. He knows we're going to walk him if he gets on"-[referring to Bonds on deck] when Kent was up [in top of first].
Erstad-nice 1-0 bunt.
Salmon-Hernandez evens count [2-2]. Misses outside. Looks shaken-ball inside for walk.
Anderson-Ball one looks pretty good. Hernandez upset with [home plate ump] Gerry Crawford. Soft liner to center. Eckstein-caught off [double play], bad play. [i know that he's now America's sweetheart, but I'm still not convinced about Eckstein especially as a leadoff hitter. His .363 on-base percentage is good, but it was third on the Angels and his 13 times caught stealing in 34 attempts is nothing to brag about. It's almost inexcusable that he as the leadoff hitter caught so far off especially with only one out and two on.]

Top of 2nd: Bonds-lines out to second.
Santiago-1-1 fastball just inside for ball 2. Single. First hit of the game.
Snow-3-2 pitch Santiago running-fouled off. Draws a throw to first. Santiago going again on 3-2. Line drive gapper to right-center. Santiago to third. [good idea to start runner.] Snow-stays at first even though no one at second (McCarver points this out), but man getting relay is between him and the bag.
Sanders-McCarver says Goodwin not DH'ing since they want him available to PH for Sanders. Why not just use the lefty? Hanging breaker 2-2. Sac Fly to deep left. Throw into sceond, 1-0 Giants.
Bell-1st pitch, way foul but in upper deck [he had a couple of those that he turned on way foul]. Pitch 2-slider in dirt almost got away. Pitch 3-slider off corner, gets strike call. 5th pitch-just inside 2-2; Slider to K.

Bottom of 2nd: Glaus-two called strikes (2nd inside), K's on slider in dirt.
Fullmer-2-0 breaking ball on outside corner [strike]. Next pitch, tried the same thing but got too much plate, nice catch to his right for Lofton.
Speizio-everything away. Loses him after starting 1-2.
Molina-strike on inside corner but Santiago set up outside. 3rd pitch, Molina clearly went aroundm but third-base ump says didn't go. Hits a hanger to gap in left-center, double, game tied 1-1. McCarver points out that the ball bounced off the top of fence-ground rule double would have kept runner at third.

Top of 3rd: Feliz-[DH batting ninth.] Act of desparation?
Aurilia-tips into family jewels of Molina [on pitch one].
Poll-"which team has the momentum?" Result: Angels, well didn't they just score?

Bottom of 3rd: Eckstein-Bonds third straight bobbled ball (plus one over his head). [single to left.]
Erstad-soft line to left. 1st and 2nd.
Giant BP-no one is up. Baker has really dragged his feet getting pitchers ready.
Salmon-Slider on 2-1, low and away (2-2). Hit on right hand.
Zerbe and Witasick up in BP.
Anderson-nice backdoor fastball, strike 1. Frozen rope down right field line, 4-1 Angels, on high hanging fastball-too much plate. (How improbable was this after his last few games?) Sanders was hit by fan with thunderstick [retrieving ball]-interfered. [Didn't appear to alter play, but definition only applies to touched ball:

INTERFERENCE (d) Spectator interference occurs when a spectator reaches out of the stands, or goes on the playing field, and touches a live ball. On any interference the ball is dead.

What if fan had knocked Sanders down?]
Glaus-IBB, Hernandez gone.
Zerbe in, should have been in vs. Anderson.
Fullmer-grounder, almost a DP, but not [hit] hard enough.
McCarver & Buck-argue that Sanders not interfered with but fan should be ejected. [I agree.] They announce fan is being ejected.
Spiezio-High hopper over third base bag. Bell throws Anderson out by a stride at home. Great play, but was it fair? [couldn't tell from the angle.]
Molina-grounds out to 2B. Great work Molina.

Top of 4th: Lackey may be iffy after long 1/2 inning. [Hernandez rely labors with men on. He should be used to it by now.] Heart of SF order up.
McCarver-"17 inches of real estate." [Uses teleprompter to illustrate.]
Kent-0-2 fastball-called strike. Looked good but Kent doesn't like it.
Bonds-2-0 fastball down the middle, called strike. I think Lackey missed because Molina set up outside, grounder to deep short (Glaus because of the shift), gets to it, but can't get Bonds.
Santiago-nice 0-1 liner over short. Lackey didn't get ball far enough inside.
Snow-big AB. 1-0 fastball looked high and inside-called inside. Flies out.
Rueter-up in SF BP.
Sanders-slider up the pike-looked good, 1-0. Swings through belt-high fastball (1-1). Same thing (1-2). Slider away in dirt (why?), 2-2. Molina and Lackey confer. Fastball-not high enough, fouled off. Fly out.

Bottom of 4th: Kennedy-Rueter in, Zerbe came out due to blister, would have stayed in for [lefty] Kennedy. 1-2 then two close ball calls outside, 3-2. K's on high heat.
Eckstein-strike one called looked inside. Soft liner to left, fan's think it will go an additional 50 feet over wall, out.
Darren Baker-[close-up] loses gum, keeps chewing anyway. Thank you, Fox.
Erstad-K's on pitch 2+ feet outside.

Top of 5th: Bell-soft liner to left-center. Great running catch by Erstad.
Feliz-two fastball strikes. 2 sliders in dirt. K's on slider.
Lofton-showing bunt on ball 1. They need the top of the order to wake up (0-for-6 with 2 K's). Checks swing, 2-2. Fans overwrought, want K. Works a walk.
Bud Black-out to mound. Donnelly up [in BP].
Aurilia-almost throws ball away in throw to 1st. Flies out on first pitch

Bottom of 5th: Anderson-3 unassisted. The last AB keeps lookin odder.
Donnelly-taking over for Lackey in 6th.
Glaus-Pitched to carefully. 5-pitch walk. [See, I said that they'd give him the Bonds' treatment.]
Fullmer-3-2, grounds to pitcher.

Top of 6th: Kent-Molina set up away, ball at Kent's head. Not good sign. High heat, to third.
Top 3 are now 0-for-8 with walk and 2 K's.
Bonds-pops up on high heat.
Santiago-swings at pitch off plate outside. Tips of Molina's mask. Empathizes with Angel catcher. Takes ball on outside corner-called ball. 2-2 way inside. (Angel fans want every pitch.) 3-2, ball way outside (fans though it caught inside corner). Ball 4 low. 3rd time on base.
Snow-0-1, low fastball over plate. Roped into right, double. Santiago holds at third. Bud Black to mound.
Goodwin-PH for Sanders, why not just start him? 1-0 outside fastball-called strike (close). Three straight fouls. K's on outside fastball.

Bottom of 6th: Spiezio-Rueter still in-looked shaky last inning. How many times does McCarver have to mention his father [Bonds' father played a bit, too.] Another plug for Sandfrog. Flies to right.
Molina-3-1, doubles to deep right-center. Off out-of-town scoreboard. Nice backup by Goodwin.
Kennedy-hits to right. Out. Lomina to third.
Witasick-up in BP. Just getting ready. Rueter must face Eckstein. Why wasn't someone up?
Eckstein-nice catch by Kent on liner.

Top of 7th:Bell-Rodriguez and Schoeneweis up in BP. Anderson catches ball with back against wall. Just missed HR.
Feliz-looks silly on breaking ball outside, 0-2. K's on three pitches. Looks pathetic. Why waste outs on this guy?
Lofton-Erstad catches 1st-pitch flay against wall in right-center.

Bottom of 7th: Flashbacks to '61 Angels. Fox-now anoints Angels as champs.
Rueter-still in? Is anyone up in BP?
Erstad-quick 2-0, 3-0 (pull Rueter if walks?). Does Rueter a favor and goes after high 3-1, ground out.
Salmon-3-1, 2nd straight. Witasick and Eyre ready in BP. Strikeout called on low fastball.

Top of 8th: F-Rod in; Why not Percival [with heart of order]?
Aurilia-takes two (hoping Rodriguez wild?). Strikes put on slider outside. 0-for-4 with two K's [on the day].
Kent-called strike, looked outside. Fouls off-Rodriguez looks sharp. K's on slider over plate. 0-for-4 with two K's.
Bonds- 3-0, 3-1-Bonds thought it was low (looked like he was right). Walks.
Santiago-fouls three off. Looks off-balance. K's outside.

Bottom of 8th: Worrell is in. Uh-oh.
Michael Eisner is a geek.
Bud Selig-looking goofy.
Fullmer-high K (Crawford wants to go home). Snow great dive on ball just off line, 3-1.
Poll-"If Angels win is Barry Bonds MVP?" [didn't see result]

Top of 9th: Percival in. Is it a lift for the Giants after Rodriguez?
Snow-ball one way outside. Snow shows bunt on another outside ball. Fastball right down the pike-taking al the way. Gets call on outside corner, 2-2. Turns on inside fastball, Misses spot-Molina outside. [single to right.]
Goodwin-McCarver predicts bunt. I think that's a bad option with a 3-run deficit. Shows bunt on 2nd strike. Grounder to 2nd-they get lead runner. Nice slide by Snow to ensure no DP.
Bell-Goodwin took second.[They didn't give him stolen base, good.] Shinjo on deck. Inside strike-maybe to correct bad strike two call. 3-1. Walk.
Shinjo-Giants have no bench. McCarver calls him pinch-hitter but just replacement DH. Nice outside strike. Fouls back. Breaking ball-just a bit outside. Timing fastball-hits one straight back. K's on high heat too far outside.
Lofton-Flies out. Angels win [Giants do win the pennant though.]
Darren Baker is crying. I'm crying too: no baseball for 5 mos.

Postgame: Bud Selig-Booed. [The first nice thing that I've said about the Angels fans so far.] Such a bad public speaker. [Take you hands out of your pockets.] Calls them the "Cali...Anaheim Angels"-moron.
Jackie Autry-calls them the California Angels, too.
Jeanne-"Rookie manager been here three years"-re. Scioscia, huh?
MVP-Glaus. Right call. Selig barely shakes hands and dives out like there's a fastball aimed for his head.

My summation after reading over my notes is:

1) Gerry Crawford called an awful game. The Fox crew hasn't called umps on poor strike zone adherence the whole postseason. The last three were inconsistent, and Crawford was the worst of the lot. He was pretty consistently inconsistent though. The only time it seemed to really affect the game was on Molina going around and that was the third-base ump's call. Of course, it didn't help Hernandez much, but then again he was easily distracted.

2) The Angels pitched well, but I submit the Giants offense hog-tied itself as much if not more than the Angels' pitchers. Other than F-Rod, none dominated. They pitched well enough, but missed spots often, and the Giants just did not take advantage of the mistakes.

3) Baker needs to get his bullpen up in these important games. Hernandez should not have faced Anderson. The BP did amazingly well, but when they started to falter slightly, Baker had no options because the BP was not up. This was inexcusable given the importance of the game. You could also argue that he picked the wrong pitcher to start, but hindsight is always 20-20. My problem was in his reluctance to pull Hernandez after he continually proved ineffective.

World Series: Game 7 Epilogue
2002-10-28 00:31
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Game 7 Epilogue

It's great to see an organization wins its first World Championship. I remember in 1980 when my Phillies won theirs, it was a catharsis for the whole organization. It was great to see Glaus get the MVP. Some will say that Bonds had better numbers, but you can point to his numbers since the Angel comeback started yesterday, add in his poor defense, and Glaus is a better call. I do feel bad for Barry. This may have been his last, best shot.

To sum up game 7, the Angels pitching dominated. Their offense bunched a few hits in the second and third, and that's all that they needed (only one hit after that). Anderson's shot with his overall poor play of late was almost shocking. Who would expect this team to win with the way that their number 4 hitter and left-fielder was dominated by the Giants' number 4 hitter and left-fielder. Rodriguez came in and pitched what might have been the most important inning, the eighth with the numbers 2, 3, and 5 hitters whiffing and only one ball called among them.

The Giants can feel good about how their bullpen kept them close. Chad Zerbe came in in the 3rd with men on 1st and second, none out, and 3 runs already across. He got the next three in order (thanks to a great play by David Bell) with none scoring. Kirk Rueter pitched four innings of one-hit ball leaving one wondering why he did not start or at least come in while the game was a bit closer. Santiago and Snow had big nights going 5-for-7 with a walk combined. Not much else good can be said for the offense tonight. Bonds was not allowed to be a factor due to the top three hitters' inability to produce: 0-for-12 with a walk and four strikeouts. The odd choose of Feliz as the starting DH proved ill-advised as he and Shinjo combined for an 0-for-4 night (with 3 strikeouts) from the DH spot, 9th--maybe the pitchers should have hit for themselves. The Giants will likely have a much different feel next year. Baker--Dusty and Darren--seems gone. The GM Sabean may be, too. Kent will likely leave as Bell is moved to 2nd and Feliz is primed to start at third. Others like Goodwin, Lofton, Sanders, and Mueller may leave through free agency. Hernandez was trade bait all season and will likely be jettisoned.

The Angels will likely keep their core of players with only role players Palmeiro, Cook, Ochoa possibly leaving. This team is good and young and may enjoy future success in the postseason.

Now to my predictions:

1) Hernandez vs. Lackey does not inspire me. But I think that Hernandez may be a better gamble just because he will be able to eat more innings if it's close.

Well, that would have been a bad bet. Hernandez pitched poorly and was left in for far too long as it was at 2+ innings. Lackey gave a gutsy performance: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.

2) Both bullpens are now iffy, but I think the Giants have a few guys who are smaller question marks.

Both bullpens performed extremely well tonight. The Giants may have been a bit better, but it didn't matter.

3) Giants win 7-5.

The 5 runs for the Angels was in the right ballpark, but the Giants never really got much offense going with just 4 men in scoring position all night.

World Series: Game 7 Preview
2002-10-27 21:03
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Game 7 Preview Du Jour

Hernandez vs. Lackey does not inspire me. But I think that Hernandez may be a better gamble just because he will be able to eat more innings if it's close. Both bullpens are now iffy, but I think the Giants have a few guys who are smaller question marks. Giants win 7-5.

Seventh Heaven Tonight will the
2002-10-27 10:02
by Mike Carminati

Seventh Heaven

Tonight will the 23rd time that a game seven is at the home field of the team that won game 6. Do you know what happened in the previous 22 game sevens? The home team won 11 and lost 11. The home team has won the last 6 straight dating back to 1982.

Do you know what that means for tonight? Abosolutely nothing, but I thought it was interesting.

By the way, in the 1962 Series the Giants forced a game 6 at home and lost 1-0 to the Yankees.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-27 00:11
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game Six

Wow, we're going to game 7. The Angels were stymied by Ortiz but came alive against the usually reliable Giants bullpen. The Giants build a lead, knock out the starter, knock out Rodriguez, and then are held in check for the longest two innings you'll ever see while the Angels score six to win.

Here are my notes from the game, assessment of my predictions, and my predictions for tomorrow.

Pregame: HP Ump-Tim McClelland

Top of 1st: Lofton-popup down 3rd base line. Important out.
Aurilia-popup to center. Another big out.
Kent-liner right back at Appier. Kent looks relaxed and ready.
Bonds-IBB, moves Kent into scoring position. Are the odds better that Bonds gets 2B, 3B or HR than makes an out? [I checked. In 2002, Bonds got an extra base hit in 14.5% of the non-IBB plate appearances, 27.4% he got a hit-in case they are worried about Kent taking third on a single-, and 34.6% of the time he generated an out. It seems like a poor gamble.]
Santiago-slider on ball one didn't miss by much inside, 2-0-almost hits Santiago, fastball way inside at his belt, 2 nice sliders, fouls out.

Bottom of 1st: Salmon-pitched carefully, nice comeback from 3-0 by Ortiz, Angels go meekly.

Top of 2nd: Sanders-seems like a nice guy discussing Baker
Bell-2nd pitch 4 inches outside, called a strike. K's on slider.
Appier-looks good.

Bottom of 2nd: Hits one to the middle of the warning track. Lofton has time.
Glaus-nice little change down the middle [strike 1], flips him on second pitch. McCarver says, "Glaus received the high hard one."-I emit Beavis & Butthead laugh. Being pitched carefully. Walk.
Fullmer-pitch 1, nice inside fastball. Ortiz is starting to miss spots-2nd pitch is way outside. Same for pitch 3. Santago points glove at him to say calm down. Popup on high fastball. Looked bad on 2nd high fastball.
Spiezio-Ortiz has thrown a first-ball strike to all 4 batters this inning. Pops Up.
Through first 2-0 runs, 1 hit, 3 baserunners, 61 pitches. Game 2-11 runs, 13 hits, 14 baserunners, 96 pitches. Ortiz: 31 pitches, 18 strikes. Appier: 30 pitches, 16 strikes.

Top of 3rd: Dunston-flies out on 1st pitch. Why is he in there? I guess b/c he's in the sons club.
Lofton-Glaus looks for bunt. Runs in and barehands a throw to 1st. Mike Schmidt would be proud.
Aurilia-Shows a little patience (last two hitters went on 1st pitch). 5-pitch walk.
Kent-1st pitch nice backdoor slider. Pitch 3, right off inside corner.

Bottom of 3rd: Kennedy-strikes out on fastball in the dirt after three straight fouls.
Eckstein-McCarver: "Doesn't have extra base hit, but seems like he does." Huh? Drippler to short on high fastball.

Top of 4th: Bonds-1st pitch bounces. 2nd pitch off plate inside-got strike call (slider fouled ump). 2-1. 3-1 (both low and inside). Ball 4 almost hits ankles. Do you think Appier remembers game 2 HR? 1st leadoff hitter in game to get on.
Santiago-bunts for base hit foul. How often do you see a catcher try to bunt for a hit? Bll 2 inside and low. Scioscia looks ticked off at call. Nice inside fastball, 2-2. DP: Glaus nice pick of bad hop, has time and takes it to get DP. Reminiscent of Santiago in game 4.
Appier-throwing well but lots of balls (28 of 55 pitches, plus 3 walks). Ginats should be more patient.

Bottom of 4th:Salmon-only 2nd 2-0 count by Ortiz. 1st hit off Otiz. Aurilia deep to his right, throw late.
Anderson-1st time Ortiz has fallen behind 1-0 to two straight hitters. Routine DP. Has created 7 outs in last 6 ABs.
Both pitchers finish 4th, go farther than both combined in game 2.
Ortiz 50 pitches. Appier 55.

Top of 5th: Sanders-Swings through high heat (0-1)
Bell-first two pitches same but called differently (1-1), McClelland being inconsistent on inside pitches. Swings through slider. Single to left of Eckstein, knocks it down, single. 3rd infield hit.
Dunston-all one on low fastball. Ump inconsistent low too. Appier-worried about Bell, 4 throws to first. Francisco Rodriguez-up in BP. HR right over fence down LF line. Why throw a low ball? Obligatory Gene Clines reaction shot. How many guys get to hit HR in the Series with their son in the dugout? Big hug from Bonds. (is that aloof?)
Lofton-3-1 gapper to right-center. Double. Appier gone-Wow, that's quick. He's upset. Mouths "God damn it!" Rodriguez in.
Aurilia-shows bunt on close ball1. Lofton steals third on one-bounce slider outside. Now infield in. 2-2, grounded slider to shallow short.
Kent-strike one on slider. Quickly 0-2. Slider in the dirt outside-WP & run scored, 3-0 Giants.

Bottom of 5th: Glaus-quick 0-2. Ball right off inside corner. Hits nice fastball to Lofton at wall. McCarver & Buck-ode to Lofton, forget that was killing them (only 1 hit) in the first three games.
Fullmer-another long fly ball.
Spiezio-3-0 (2nd bounced). Nice inside fastball, 3-2. Nice battle. Ground ball to 1st. Ortiz gets over to bag quickly, 3-1.

Top of 6th: Bonds smashes a high 0-1 slider. If they win tonight, he'll be MVP.
Gene Clines-obligatory hoot after HR. In upper register.
Snow-nice opposite field liner. Single. Rodriguez-slider is flattening out.
Don't understand why no one is up in Angel bullpen.
Sanders-swings through two sliders, 1-2. K's looking on slider.
Fox-showing '54 Giants parade. Ready to crown SF.

Bottom of 6th:Molina-lines to right, all 6 leadoff hitters have been outs. Ortiz has lead all off them off with a strike.
Kennedy-jammed but fists right past Kent. Bat shatters and goes toward 2nd. Did it effect Kent? 2nd hit.
Eckstein-huts it as far as he can, foul down left-field line; Prtiz-worried about runner, didn't he learn from Appier? Aurilia-takes his time on a dribbler, gets him. Kennedy-to second. 1st runner in scoring position for Angels.
Erstad-3-0, Ortiz is not even close. Gets low strike called (3-1). Third 3-ball count of game. Walk.
Rodriguez & Eyre up in BP.
Salmon-0-1 ball called, looked good. Chased shoulder-high fastball (1-2)-couldn't check. Strikes out looking at fastball down the pike. Huge out.

Top of 7th:Dunston-McCarver: "He waited 39 years for the biggest hit of his life"
Lofton-nice liner on soft high fastball to RF.
Why is Rodriguez still in? Too late to keep him in.
Lofton-SB on pitch out. Molina throw in dirt. Eckstein holds him at 2nd (can't get out of way) still gets to 3rd.
Aurilia-why is he bunting with the infield in? Fouled off. Hangs 2-2 slider. Called strike 3 on slider on black.
Donnelly-up in BP (finally).
Kent-1-2 slider hangs, fouled off. Nice liner.
Bonds-shift on, 1-1 fastball inside when Molina set up outside-could have been a strike though. 2nd called strike (2-2). K's on inside slider in dirt. Fans are happy-can they see scoreboard?

Bottom of 7th: Fox playing "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart during Bonds retrospective. What is this the Olympics?
Ortiz-starting to look shaky, will give him short leash; why isn't anyone up in BP?
Anderson-ball 1 way outside, 2-0 (Throw strikes!). Why does Anderson swing at high 2-0 pitch? Out.
Glaus-Nice liner to left.
Fullmer-Rodriguez now up in SF BP. Eyre too. Snow-holding Glaus with 5-run lead.
Ortiz-if they had the bullpen up to start the inning, he'd be gone. Baker is pulling him. Is Rodriguez ready? Baker gives Ortiz game ball.
Rodriguez-third pitcher to appear in first 6 WS games (Darrol Knowles and Dan Quisenberry others). Dueling F-Rods again.
Spiezio-Worrell & Eyre up; fouls 3 back, starting to time fastball, full count. HR right over rightfield fence. Sanders looked like he had it the whole way but ran out of room. Huge AB for Spiezio. Inside fastball, turned. Now it's a ballgame, 5-3 Giants.
Palmeiro-PHs for Molina, necessary now that no one on? Pull Rodriguez for lefty? 0-2 fouls off Santiago's arm, stays in. Works to 2-2 (Angel fans think that they are leading), K's on high heat outside.
Eyre-lefty in to face Kennedy. Why not bring in Gil if brought in Palmeiro? Too early? Gone. Brought in for one hitter and lost him. Worrell in.
This inning has slowed to a crawl. Does Rodriguez come in topitch 8th? Do they want him to?
Eckstein-soft liner to left. Angels fans cheer as Sanders puts it away.

Top of 8th: Donnelly in; Why not Percival? Giants need some runs back.
Santiago-knocked down ball 1. Knocked down, ball 2-did he go around? 3rd ball (3-2) high & tight, bounced ball 4.
Percival-doing push-ups, not pitching in BP.
Spiezio-must hold runner with lefty up.
Snow-goes on first pitch. Fly out.
Percival-now up in BP.
Sanders-K's on fastball waist-high inside.
Buck-"When you think about it, a kid from Brooklyn (Dunston) helped Giants take a 2-0 lead." (Yeah, and God spelled backwards is "dog". Kinda makes you think.)
Bell-0-2 fastball wide. The crowd is sure that it caught the corner, replay shows otherwise. K's. Donnelly comes up big with man on.

Bottom of 8th: Worrell-must pitch well because Nen can't go more than 1 inning (with heart of order up).
Erstad-lines one over fence in right, 5-4. Floating change-up.
Salmon-No one is up in BP for Giants. Single to shallow center (defense playing back). Chone Figgens (why doesn't it sound like Bone anyway?)-Pinch runs.
Nen-is now up in BP.
Anderson-why no lefty in? Grounder down the 1st-base line. Foul. Blooper to left, bobbled by Bonds. 2nd and 3rd, error on Bonds (for both runners or just the trailing one?).
McCarver-"The derring-do of Chone Figgens" (How long has been waiting to pepper his play-by-play with that one?)
Nen-Coming in.
Glaus-strike one on ball 2 ft outside (1-1). Corners in. Ball 2, 2 ft outside. Doesn't go (2-1). Lined to wall in left. Bonds bobbles again, 6-5 Angels. High fastball missed spot, too far inside. Will be MVP if Angels win.
SF BP-no one up?
Fullmer rips a foul at 0-2. Next pitch high-ripped down RF line, 1 ft foul. K's on low slider.
Spiezio-IBB to get to J. Molina (Wooten is emergency catcher, caught 25 games last year, 2 this year).
J. Molina-bunts first pitch foul. Bunts 2nd and 3rd, successfully. McCarver hates it but it does avoid the DP.
Kennedy-1-0 pitch in the dirt-Kennedy still swings. Tips to Santiago.

Top of 9th: If the tie it, can Nen come back out?
Dunston is set to lead off. I would pull him for Goodwin with Percival probably in.
Goodwin-DH vs. Percival (hmm?), 2-1-does Percival a favor swinging at a ball 2 ft outside. K's on fastball down the middle.
Lofton-frozen on 0-1 slow fastball. Angels fans now want everything to be called a strike. Tough AB for Lofton. Fouls out.
Aurilia-1-1 pitch close on outside corner. Takes him up the ladder. Strikeout. We've got a game seven.

Predictions: 1) Kent continues comeback.

He was 2-for-4 with an RBI, not bad.

2) Both pitchers go at least 4 innings.

Kevin Appier went 4.1 and Russ Ortiz went 6.1. Good.

3) The Angels' offensive returns.

It took its time about it but those seventh and eighth inning rallies qualify.

4) Francisco Rodriguez gives up the go-ahead run in the sixth or seventh inning.

Well, it wasn't the go-ahead run but he gave up two in 2.2 innings. The judges will accept that.

5) The Giants win 6-5.

Right score. Wrong team. 50% aint bad.

6) If the Angels win tonight, I think they win tomorrow as well.

This turned out to be a better prediction than my actual game 7 prediction. Go with your instincts, I always say, at least from now on.

World Series: Game 6 Preview
2002-10-26 18:01
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Game 6 Preview

Tonight's game 6 appears to be a replay of game 2. The pitchers, Angel Kevin Appier and Giant Russ Ortiz, are the same and again it will be played in Anaheim's Edison Field. Again the Giants lead the Angels by one game after having won the previous meeting just as in game 2. The circumstances, however, are much different given that the Angels are now facing elimination.

What can we look for in game 2? Each team hopes that its pitcher goes a bit farther this time around. In game 2, Ortiz lasted only 1-2/3 allowing seven runs on nine hits. Appier lasted two innings and allowed five runs on five hits including three home runs. Each team would love to take the pressure off their relief corps. The Angels will probably choose not to rely in Ben Weber who gave up five runs in game 5, but do have Francisco Rodriguez, Brendan Donnelly, lefty Scott Schoeneweis, and closer Troy Percival rest and ready to go. The Angels will also have the bat of Brad Fullmer re-inserted in the lineup. The Angels hope a return to Anaheim will help revive their bats. They have scored only seven runs in the last two games and did not score after the sixth in either game.

The Giants hope that Jeff Kent's return to productivity in game 5 was not short-lived. They hope to keep the pressure on the Angels by having Bonds sandwiched between two productive hitters in Kent and Benito Santiago. They hope that the top two hitters, Lofton and Aurilia, continue to get on as they did in game five collecting five hits and five runs. They hope that the bottom of the order continues to produce. They hope that the bullpen continues to dominate (2.82 ERA in the Series while pitching more innings than the starters). The only negatives for the Giants is that they have to play in Anaheim and that they have to insert one of the subpar players on the bench in the lineup as DH (or rather that the Angels get to insert a pretty good batter as theirs).

Really, there is no reason not to think that the Giants will clinch their first championship since moving from New York tonight. But that's why the play the games. The pressure may be on the Angels to avoid elimination tonight, but the last thing the Giants want is play game 7 in front of Anaheim's exuberant fans. It will be important for both teams to get on the scoreboard first and try to get to the bullpen as quickly as possible. If the Angels break out first, they might find the Giants starting to look forward to game 7. The Giants don't have that luxury, as the Angels will throw every thing but the game 7 starter at them.

I expect a much lower scoring game than game 2 but one probably just as close. What Kent and Santiago do will probably dictate the outcome from the Giants' side. The Angels need to start bunching their hits again. They only got two or more hits in a row three times in the last two games, each time scoring at least a run. They will need better production from their number 2 to number 5 hitters than they have gotten in the last two games.

Predictions: Kent continues comeback.

Both pitchers go at least 4 innings.

The Angels' offensive returns.

Francisco Rodriguez gives up the go-ahead run in the sixth or seventh inning.

The Giants win 6-5.

Game 7 Preview (even if unnecessary):

Neither team has a great option for a starting pitching in game 7. It would be Ramon Ortiz' spot, but he is suffering from tendonitis in the wrist of his pitching hand. Game 4 starter would be the best option. For the Giants it is Livan Hernandez's turn but his star has fallen dince his game 3 performance (6 runs, 5 earned in 3-2/3).

If the Angels win tonight, I think they win tomorrow as well.

I Like Barry Bonds and
2002-10-26 16:23
by Mike Carminati

I Like Barry Bonds and I Don't Care Who Knows It

Barry Bonds is having a tremendous World Series with 3 home runs, a .500 batting average, and an incomprehensible 2.144 OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging). This comes after his second season of historic production. Barry Bonds has never been convicted or even arrested of any crime. The closest thing to a scandal that Bonds has ever been involved in, that I am aware of, was the claim during the 1994 strike that he had withheld child support while he along with the rest of the players was not getting paid.

He has had altercations with teammates, the most famous and public of which was the June 25th shoving match with Jeff Kent in the Giants' dugout. Bonds was seen as the aggressor-mostly because Kent told the press how standoffish Bonds is with teammates-, but it should be remembered that he came to the defense of David Bell, whom Kent was upbraiding for a poor throw that pulled Kent off second on a double-play ball. That event is now viewed as the turning point in the Giants' great season.

And yet Bob Klapisch writes that with all Bonds has done it's Still not enough to like. Klapisch points to the towering home run that Bonds hit in game 2 off closer Troy Percival in the ninth to bring the Giants within one. The criticism of the home run is that Bonds "didn't leave the batter's box" but "[i]nstead, he fell in love with the 485-foot home run...which, in a single frozen moment, revealed the depths of Bonds' self-absorption."

Klapisch failed to mention the frustration that Bonds must have felt having been thrown only three strikes in his five previous plate appearances, resulting in four walks (one intentional) and one impatient first-pitch groundout. Bonds finally got a pitch to hit and he destroyed it. Perhaps, he paused at home to leave an impression with the Angels' that he would not be defeated even in losing a ballgame. Perhaps, he did it because he surprised himself with the blast. Perhaps, he did it because he is an egomaniac who was enjoying his moment. Perhaps, it was a combination of the above. Whatever the reason, what difference does it make? It is not an infrequent occurrence for batters to admire their home runs at the plate today. And for the prattle by McCarver, Morgan, about how such action is demanding of some sort of repayment the next time in the box, what difference do such actions really make over the course of a game or a season?

Bonds grabs Torii Hunter in a playful bear hug after being robbed by him of a home run in the All-Star game. Bonds has brought his son with him to the game throughout the playoffs. Bonds publicly campaigned for the Giants to re-sign the selfsame Jeff Kent with whom he had been "feuding", bearing no grudges but rather trying to do what's best for the team.

Bonds is called emotionally distant when he says things like, "I just want to go to the ballpark, do my job like anyone else, go home and be with my family." When Bonds said that people still ride the bus in reference to fans returning to the ballpark if there had been a strike, he is not seen as a good union man or an honest person but rather as boorish, spoiled, and self-involved. During the series Bonds choice not to shake hands with teammates as the lineups were being announced; instead of this being part of his approach to staying focused on the game, it is seen as his insouciance in dealing with the men with whom he is going into combat.

Obviously, most if not all that we hear about Bonds is reported by a body of journalists who have made it abundantly clear that Bonds does not pay them the props they feel they are due. (Who're the self-involved ones?) They create an image of an aloof, self-loving and self-promoting egomaniac. I'm not saying that Klapisch is necessarily one of those journalists, but his and every other piece written about Bonds is tainted by the largely media-created persona of him. The talk-radio shows are peopled with the brainless disciples of such drivel.

Personally, I find it refreshing to have a player speak his mind. There are enough of the types that learned their clichés as they learned the game a la Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham. I find Bonds to be intelligent and introspective whenever I hear him interviewed. But then again Sir Charles Barkley has always been my favorite basketball player, too. So maybe I have an affinity for the controversial type.

It is odd that the media follows Barry around seeking a story to make fans love him (or hate him) when most other players are just assessed by what they do between the white lines. Jeff Kent for example was not widely criticized for refusing to do a TV interview after his 2-HR game 5. Some would view this as racist, that the media cannot accept the best player being African-American. I agree that there is a double standard but I prefer to think that such a high performance level on the field raises the expectation level for the character of the individual off the field. We expect that all of our celebrities and politicians be squeaky clean, the people we want to be. They are held to a higher level than we apply to our friends and family or even to ourselves. They quite often let us down. The double standard is even more pronounced when we delve into someone's psyche for watching his own home runs or for just having a seemingly dour demeanor, especially when there are other athletes who have done far worse things (the devotion to ex-con and admitted gambling addict Pete Rose is particularly curious).

It reminds me of the double standard applied to the two stars that the Phillies had when I was kid: Greg "The Bull" Luzinski and Mike Schmidt. Schmidt was obviously more talented, but Luzinski was more popular. The fans could identify more with a player with an everyman appearance like The Bull who excelled and found the talent-laden Schmidt to be cool and distant.

Love him or hate him, Bonds is one of the truly great players in the history of the game, arguably the best ever. Instead of dealing with such trivialities as does Barry appear to be happy to play on a given day, why can't we, the baseball-viewing public, just enjoy him for the immense talent that he is? Why can't that be enough for us? If you need some melodrama mixed in with your baseball, go rent The Rookie.

World Series Game 5: Notes
2002-10-25 14:32
by Mike Carminati

World Series Game 5: Notes

[I'm sorry, that it took so long to post this. The Blogger site was down for maintenance for about three hours.]

Here is the random scribblings and bibblings that blew through the transom of my gulliver while watching the game last night (editorializations in square brackets):

Top of 1st: Erstad-[The Giants] just missed a DP by a step.
Salmon-Away [pitch 1]. Up and away [pitch 2]. Up and over the plate [3]. Up-Ball [4]. K's on change.
Anderson-goes up for a bad pitch. Punched into left-center (fastball).
Glaus-1st pitch down the middle of the plate (backwards K). Pitch 3-little chin music (Kenny Lofton would have charged). K's on high heat.

Bottom of 1st: Lofton-foul ball right into fan's glove. Drops it: Don't sign him up.
Aurila-shows bunt on ball one [Lofton at first]. Long fly-nice catch Erstad. Lofton barely makes it back [to 1st].
Kent-2 pitches right down the pike-strike called. Looks like a deer in the headlights. 2-2 pitch looked pretty good > 3-2. Walks w/o taking the bat off his shoulder. Lofton does not go on 3-2-SF afraid that Kent will K? Bonds-McCarver advocates IBB. Buck points out yesterday's situation different since man already at third-isn't that obvious? Slow fluttering fastball, pulled down the line for a double [1-0]. Santiago-SF on 1st pitch. Kent scores easily [2-0]. This could break him out. Snow-2-1 Washburn has gotten a 2-ball count on every hitter bit Santiago and Aurilia. Ball 4 in the dirt, bases loaded. Bud Black to the mound-both pitching coaches look like they could still pitch. Bell-1st pitch almost past Molina high. Ball high, 2-0. 3-0, low. Washburn can't hit anything. 4th pitch-high strike called. Ball 4 high [3-0]. Schmidt-only 2nd 0-2 count for Washburn. K's. 34-pitch 1st (21 balls) for Washburn.

Top of 2nd: Spiezio-K's on change. Kennedy -had a good game vs Schmidt game 1, moved up to 6th. Molina-Good change on strike 2. Can't lay off high heat-K's. Schmidt's got it going.

Bottom of 2nd: Lofton-Foul down 3rd-base line, pops out of Eckstein's glove, and he lands on top of tarp. Nice poke into center, Washburn shaking head. Aurilia-[Line drive] Robbed by diving catch by Erstad. 2nd time Erstad robbed him. Kent-OK, let's see if he breaks out. Why is Buck surprised Kent and Bonds don't get along-they're two egomaniacs. Double off the wall on 3-1. Lofton has to hold up. Bonds-IBB. Nice animotronic chicken doll. Santiago-Nice hit right back up the middle. Erstad overthrow hits Sanders directing Kent, 5-0. Scot Shields-up in pen. McCarver-wonders what call would be if went into dugout. [Here's the rule: 7.11 The players, coaches or any member of an offensive team shall vacate any space (including both dugouts) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. PENALTY: Interference shall be called and the batter or runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out. ] Wasburn-staying in to finish [inning] since pitcher's spot due up? [6-0]

Top of 3rd:Got to have a PH for Washburn. Washburn is in? Career 5-for-14-who cares, he is getting rocked on the mound. Is Scioscia conceding? Eckstein-4-pitch walk. Erstad-needs a shave. W/o his Aurilia catches, what would the score be? Eckstein steals w/o a throw on 2-0. Pop down third/shallow left, Falls in, 1st and 3rd. Salmon-strike 1, nice fastball outside, freezes him. 2nd strike-nice low fastball with late movement. K's on outside fastball. Eckstein-in TSN Baseball Register: Hit over .300 first thee years [in minors]. Hit .246 in 199 games at PawSox and released. Signed to Edmonton, bats .346 in 15 games, and next yr starts for Angels. Still listed as 2B. Anderson-nasty change low-strike 2. 2 Balls almost get away far enough to score Eckstein.

Bottom of 3rd:Bell-Washburn still in. Deep to short, Eckstein throws-should have just help it. Weber and Donnelly on the bench look like members of DEVO [glasses reference]. Aurilia-third fly out to center, this one an easy catch for Erstad. Frau Farbissina from Austin Powers movies in a Gateway commercial

Top of 4th: Glaus-K's on high heat. 2nd K of Glaus, 6th in total for Schmidt. Buck-now jumping on the Giants bandwagon. "In every postseason series, the team w/ home field advantage has lost. The Angels have home field advantage in the World Series (Dot Dot Dot)." QED Bud Selig [in stands]-sticking his tongue out on national TV. Man he looks like Old Man Potter in It's a Winderful Life. Don Fehr-In stands, only wearing a sweater. What a man. How did the players lose to Selig? Spiezio-nice AB, works a walk. Shields-up in Anaheim BP. Hasn't pitched in 3 weeks. Why is Scioscia all of sudden so worried about overworking the bullpen? Terrell Owens-watching game. Signing autographs. Looks like he signed his shirt. On cell phone, excited to be on TV. Still on Owens. Are these guys bored with the game? Kennedy-Schmidt keeps going inside, Kennedy keeps fouling off-4 straight. Low fastball to K.

Bottom of 4th-Bonds-check-swing pop-up. First shot of Taco Bell Target. Santiago-2nd strike looks inside. HP Ump Mike Reilly inconsistent on inside strikes. Ball just foul-would have been a HR. Washburn-first 1-2-3 inning

Top of 5th:Palmeiro-PH [for pitcher] now that Washburn is settling in. Double off wall in right. McCarver and Buck-suddenly notice a game is in progress. Phil Rizzuto still telling stories about Billy Martin. Eckstein-fists a ball under Bell as he fell. Poll-"Should Giants re-sign Baker?" Salmon-hit off mound, just past Kent. Eckstein tests Lofton's arm-throw late to third [6-1]. Schmidt-is starting to tire. 22% say don't re-sign Baker, who are these idiots? Anderson-can't check on high fastball. Two weak swings on bad balls.K. Zerbe-up in pen, Schmidt due up fourth. Donnelly in Angels' pen. Glaus-2-0 hanger fouled back. Nice inside pitch, 3-2. Smells the bat on 3-2. High hanging fastball, off wall, double, 6-3. McCarver-Mentions the Leyritz game in '96 Series, Yanks came from 6 down to win. I was at that game. Says Boggs, last available position player, walked in winning run. I thought Andy Fox was on the bench? Spiezio-walks on some ugly pitches. Schmidt is gone. Zerbe in. Kennedy-why not bring in Gil? Too early?

Bottom of 5th: Donnelly [now pitching] and Molina have a conference before first pitch. That's not a good sign. Sanders-long ball just foul, like Santiago's last inning. K's. John lee Hooker-"Boom Boom" now playing. McCarver calls it Jazz-cretin. Snow-Mike Reilly (HP Ump)-calls almost same pitch twice, once a strike, once a ball. Donnelly and Molina-2nd conference. Nice pitch (splitter), moves away-K. Rodriguez-up for Giants [in BP]. Pitcher up next. Snow-getting looked at by trainer [in dugout] (fouled off his knee), might be hurt.

Top of 6th: Gil-PH, ball straight away. Lofton misplays again, can't pick it up, off glove, double. Eckstein-fouled off shin, goes to Bell. Foul ball. Good call by ump. Ground ball scores Molina, 6-4. Schoeneweis-in pen. Erstad-dribbler up first-base line. Zerbe makes a nice play to tag him and hold runner at 3rd. Zerbe gone. Salmon-Rodriguez 3-0. Wicked liner to Bell.

Bottom of 6th: Shinjo-K's on inside pitch. Reilly has been inconsistent there all night. Lofton-backs out w/o time. Called strike one. Aurilia-Liner off Glaus' glove. Finally catches a break. Kent-big AB. Schoeneweis is not up (will walk Bonds if Kent gets on). Line drive over the wall in left. Big HR, 8-4. Breaking ball didn't. Bonds-gap double. Weber-Looks shot. Santiago-IBB to get to pitcher's spot [double-switch earlier]. Obligatory Gene Clines HR recation. Dunston-in to PH-waste. Worrell is just getting ready, didn't they think about the pitcher's spot? K on inside heat-waste, esp. if Worrell not sharp.

Bottom of 7th: Taco Bell Target is sinking. Skipper! Monkeys hung in effigy. Damn dirty ape! Snow-right back at Weber, somehow he missed it and it missed him. Shields-up in pen again. Shinjo-nice bunt, falls [in box], but would still have been out. Lofton-1st ball off Molina's glove, bounces right back, Snow holds up [at 3rd]. Liner off the top of the lower tier of wall. Snow-picks up Baker's 3-year-old son standing around plate as he crosses home, 10-4. Aurilia-Shields in. K. Kent-Scot Eyre getting up in a hurry (they realize that pitcher's spot is coming up this time). Another liner to left [2nd HR], 12-4. Bonds-single past Eckstein in 2nd baseman's spot. Top 4 are 9-for-17, 2 BB, 2 HR, 10 R.

Top of 8th: Fox running a Mays-Bonds comparison, Bonds retrospective. Ready to hand Giants the hardware. Kennedy-likely last batter for Worrell (since leads off). K's. Good job by Worrell.

Bottom of 8th: Poll-Can Angels still win series? 56% say they can. I guess I'll keep watching. Angels-resting Salmon and Molina, defensive replacements. Shield still in to do mop up. Bell-bullet right back at shields. 1st and 2nd. Shnjo-grounder through Glaus (E). Snow slides around [Jose] Molina, 13-4. Aurilia-1st-pitch HR. Shields can't finish mop up? 16-4, all unearned due to error.

Postgame: Jeff Kent declines to speak to Steve Lyons [I don't blame him] after the game. If Bonds did that he'd be vilified by the press.

20-20 Hindsight: Looking back over the game notes, I am left feeling that Scioscia calculated the amount and the kind of effort from his team almost conceding the game when the Giants got a big lead. I would assume that was in an effort to prepare the team for the last two games at home. Let's see if that pays off.

Apology Excepted, III John Perricone
2002-10-25 11:09
by Mike Carminati

Apology Excepted, III

John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters has the agreement reached between baseball and Pete Rose. It's an interesting read.


Nothing in this agreement shall be deemed either an admission or a denial by Peter Edward Rose of the allegation that he bet on any Major League Baseball game.

Neither the Commissioner nor Peter Edward Rose shall be prevented by this agreement from making any public statement relating to this matter so long as no such public statement contradicts the terms of this agreement and resolution.

MLB has no legal or moral grounds here. Its official position is that there is no evidence that Rose bet on baseball.

I'm So Bored with the
2002-10-25 11:03
by Mike Carminati

I'm So Bored with the U.S.A. (But What Can I Do?)

Here is an exchange between a British reader and myself. Cheers.

Isn't baseball just rounders with helmets?

I really don't know enough about it, I admit. But I have been to a game in Chicago, and to honest, I got really bored.

Kids play rounders at school in England which have the same rules, but that stops at about eleven, and they move onto a proper sport. Apols to all those fans, but have any of you even seen the rest of the worlds [sic] version? One day cricket is much more exciting. Batters don't just get 3 swings every 2 hours. They stay in until they are out just once, and thats their part in the game over. In my opinion 10 or 12 small innings dont [sic] build up any tension, (Baseball batters must just think, well I'll get another go in an hour or so, so whats the big deal if I'm out) where one innings each side means just that. In cricket, individuals in games can turn them on their own, and become major heros [sic], rather than your watered down version - One hit wonders.

I won't go on too much about your hilariously named World Series. (oh .. my sides..) Suffice to say, do you really think the rest of the worlds sport loving population really thinks naming a competion [sic] the World Series, and then playing it in the US, amongst US club teams is slightly ironic? Why isn't it the American Series or US Series? Perhaps then the major cricket playing nations (Austrailia [sic], New Zealand, England, Pakistan, India, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Sri Lanka, The majority of The West Indies, even Scotland and Japan) wouldn't laugh at you quite as much. Apols, The above bracketed words may look like gobbledigook [sic] to you, but they are infact [sic] other countries in the world.

Apols for the cheap jibe.

Keep a stiff upper lip old boy. I await a suitably versed and presented rant!


My repartee:

Hi Ned

Cheers and thanks for the email. I'll choose not to respond to the perceived hubris contained therein and rather chalk it up to cultural differences. A rant but perhaps not a proper cheeky slagging off shall now ensue sans references to "bollocks" or "sticky wickets". I hope I don't cheese you off.

In fact, you are correct: baseball is the grandson of rounders. It developed during America's Revolutionary War days (apols for the reference) into kids games called town ball and cat o'nine tails and finally into base ball (yes, two words). There were two versions, "The Massachusetts Game" based on square, and "The New York Game" based an a tilted square or "diamond", which beat out its Neanderthaloid brother. Contrary to the promulgated history, early practitioners were urban middle class working men usually organized by professions who were desirous of a retreat to the country for relaxation and exercise. These men's clubs would hold opulent banquets to fete their opponents before and after games (the precedents for such actions are explained by sociologist Marvin Harris' works like "Cows, Pigs, Wars & Witches: The Riddles of Culture").

As play improved, teams started providing jobs to individuals based solely on their baseball prowess. Originally, a good deal of these men were converted cricket players who were mostly countrymen of yours. This lead to professional teams, then professional leagues, and Bob's your uncle, baseball organizations with developmental leagues, advanced scouts, amateur drafts, and the World Series.

The name "World Series" (apols to your sides) came about in 1903 to give baseball's championship a bigger-than-life title. It was not meant to offend the rest of the world but rather to express the exuberance of what was at the time a somewhat isolationist country finally entering the world stage. There was also a good deal of interest at the time at exporting the game around the globe and this was maybe a misguided means of doing so. The Chicago White Stockings toured the world a decade before playing in Egypt (with requisite team snaps on the Sphinx), England, Ireland, France, Italy, and Australia.

Anyway, that is the title and we are stuck with it. It may finally becoming a reality as players from most of central and South America, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Curacao (see we have atlases in the states too), The Philippines, and Aruba are now represented. It's not the UN, but the best players in the world are in the American major leagues. The poorer American players are jettisoned and usually wind up dominating the Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean professional leagues. Perhaps, in that sense the title "World Series" does fit.

As far as your attendant ennui in attending to a game, all I can say is that the game requires a good deal of understanding of and appreciation for its innerworkings--the battle between the batter and the pitcher, the positioning of the defense, and various strategies to gain an advantage. That cannot be conveyed in an email: it must be witnessed. I can't convince you of the game's merits. All I can do is recommend that you give it another chance (at least on the telly) and try to become more familiar with its complexities.

You mention cricket and there are a lot of parallels between the two sports. However, Americans (me included, and yes, I have witnessed cricket) find cricket to be far too long and open-ended. I have had British and Indian friends within whom I have discussed basic cricket strategy, and I find it to be much less challenging than baseball, but that is with my admittedly limited knowledge of the game. This is our basic problem with soccer or, as you would refer to it, football. I do feel that the constrictions (like limiting the number of swings, the length of an inning, not awarding 6 runs for a decent hit, etc.) implicit in baseball, of which you speak, add to the tension. Every rule change and what I'll call improvement over baseball's history has been made in an attempt to better the game.

By the way, much in the way that you describe British children outgrowing rounders and moving on to the so-called proper sports, assuming soccer would be one of those, American children move from soccer to more edifying sports such as baseball. There may be an implicit progression there but I may not be the proper person to speak to that.



Better than an episode of Benny Hill, huh?

World Series Game 5: Assessment
2002-10-25 01:06
by Mike Carminati

World Series Game 5: Assessment

Assessment? What assessment? The Giants pummeled the Angels, 16-4. Well, let's add a bit more depth to see if it means anything for game 6 and beyond (if there is a beyond).

For the Giants, what went right? First and most importantly, they won and are now one win away from champagne time. Lofton was 3-for-6 with 3 runs and 2 RBI. Aurilia had some bad luck but was still 2-for-6 with a HR, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI. Kent had the big night: 3-for-5 with 2 HRs, 4 runs scored, 4 RBI, and a walk. He is officially out of his slump. Those three combined were 8-for-17 with 3 HRs, 9 runs, and 9 RBI. The Giants needed to get production at the top and they got it in spades. They also got production for Santiago hitting behind Bonds and lo and behold Bonds goes 3-for-4 with only one IBB. The end of the order continued to contribute. The Giants got to the Angels bullpen (Weber: 1.1 innings and 5 runs) after a rally closed the gap to 2 runs. The scored 10 runs after the 5th inning, something they were not able to do earlier in the series. The worked deep counts throughout the lineup showing patience and persistence. The bullpen only allowed one run on three hits and no walks after taking over from fatigued Jason Schmidt with two outs in the fifth. Also, with the off day the only pitcher who probably will not be ready for game 6 would be Worrell (2 innings). Nen, Witasick, and Fultz got to sit this one out and will be well rested for game 6.

What went wrong? Schmidt started strong but tired quickly and lasted only 4-2/3. The Giants needed Schmidt to last in order to save their bullpen, but the damage was minimal. The Giants bench again looked poor with Shinjo, Dunston, and Feliz going a collective 0-for-4 with a run. It doesn't make the choice of DH in game 6 any easier (or maybe it does: Goodwin against the right-hander). Snow fouled a ball off his knee and it may bother him in game 6.

What went right for the Angels? Eckstein did get on three times. Even though the starter Washburn only went four innings, their key relievers (Percival and Rodriguez) got to rest and Donnelly only went one perfect inning with two Ks. Washburn's short outing means another arm for the bullpen in game 7. They still hold the home-field advantage. They have the last two games at home. They get the DH back in the last two games.

What went wrong for the Angels? Weber gave up 5 runs in an inning and a third and looks like either he is too tired or too ineffective to pitch until probably game 7 if necessary. No one after Eckstein in the batting order collected more than one hit. The last 12 hitters went down in order.

As far as my pre-game predictions:

1) Tonight's the night Jeff Kent finally breaks out. I just have a hunch.

That one looks pretty good, huh? I thought with a lefty that had been prone to the long ball in game one. Kent did not take the bat of his shoulder and looked tentative as he drew a walk the first time up and later scored the second run on a Benito Santiago sac fly. The next time he doubles off the wall and later scores the fifth run on a Santiago 2-RBI single. The next two times he homers to left, driving in two runs each time.

2) Glaus starts getting the Bonds treatment and is walked intentionally twice.

That one looks pretty bad after he strikes out three times.

3) Francisco Rodriguez comes in again and is even wilder (only one K in two innings yesterday).

Rodriguez didn't even get into the game since it was quickly out of hand.

4) Giants win 7-3. I hope I don't jinx them.

Well, I didn't jinx them. I'm counting this as a W even though the Giants more than doubled my predicted score for them.

So I was 2-for-4 but those two were pretty good, if I do say so myself.

It's late now. I will have my game 5 notes posted tomorrow.

World Series Game 5: Fearless
2002-10-24 16:59
by Mike Carminati

World Series Game 5: Fearless Prediction

Tonight's the night Jeff Kent finally breaks out. I just have a hunch.

Glaus starts getting the Bonds treatment and is walked intentionally twice.

Francisco Rodriguez comes in again and is even wilder (only one K in two innings yesterday).

Giants win 7-3. I hope I don't jinx them.

Apology Excepted, II John Perricone
2002-10-24 16:29
by Mike Carminati

Apology Excepted, II

John Perricone over at Only Baseball Matters has some great points re. the Rose case including some citings from Bill James and BP's Derek Zumsteg.

He raises an especially excellent point: What were Bart Giamatti's intentions regarding Rose? Since his death his cadre of owners and execs have made the Rose ban their religion. Given that Giamatti was a baseball scholar (unlike Bud), wouldn't he have been able to have some perspective on the Rose case? As John points out circumstantial evidence says he did. So aren't Bud and the rest completely misguided in trying to continue the ban as if they were trying to "win one for the Gipper"?

Wednes-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day's Child Is Full of
2002-10-24 14:36
by Mike Carminati

Wednes-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day's Child Is Full of Woe

We here at Mike's Baseball Rants love Joe Morgan and we especially love Joe Morgan Chat Day. Joe answers range from sage to silly often in the course of one sentence. This week we get an early JMCD on Wednesday and we are all a-flutter.

My latest take on Joe is that he is Cartesian. No, not because he is two-dimensional. Because the famous phrase coined by Rene Descartes "Cogito ergo sum" (or for you lowly English speakers, "I think, therefore I am") sums Joe up completely. He thinks about everything. He can while away the hours conferring with the flowers. He deconstructs the world of baseball analysis and rebuilds it in based on the existence of his own private baseball God-Sparky Anderson, I think. I hyperbolically doubt it.

Like Descartes (pronounced "DES-Cart-EEEEZ-ah"), Joe believes in primary and secondary qualities in the epistemological dealings with the world or at least baseball. The primary quality of his analysis takes the form of "I know it because it's true." The secondary quality is based on "Well, stats don't tell you everything. Baseball was just better when I was a player. Take my word for it."

Joe gave us plenty to think about yesterday. Witness:

The Good-Cogito...

Lawrence Arendt (Chicago): Joe, When will baseball fix the World Series with some day games and earlier evening starts? Or don't Selig and Fox get it?

Joe Morgan: Everything has to do with ratings and trying to get the biggest audience. Prime Time on the East Coast is 8pm. It's all about trying to get the biggest audience.

[Mike: Right, they just don't realize that they are alienating the audience by doing so-Pound foolish, yudda yudda.]

Bill(CINCINNATI): Hi Joe, just curious on your thoughts of Basball letting Pete Rose take part in tonights celebration, but not allowing him to do it in Cincy..Seems hypocrytical to me...Thanks Bill

Joe Morgan: It is very hypocritical.. you are either in or out. It shouldn't be half way. Some people believe it is only because of the money involved. Tonight it is being sponsored so they are taking the money. Their was no money involved in Cincinnati.

[Mike: You go girl.]

mike (moraga, ca): joe, Ortiz was throwing pitches that sank as they crossed the plate yet the announcers kept saying he was throwing fastballs. Can a fastball have that kind of consistent movement down in the zone?

Joe Morgan: Yeah, a sinker is still a fastball. That is what it is. A sinker by definition sinks down and it is still a fastball. Some move sideways, those are cutters.

mike (moraga): joe, as a follow-up to my prior question, using your definition of a cut fastball, how do you differentiate a cutter from a slider?

Joe Morgan: A cutter has tighter spin, it rotates faster. It's rotating almost in a circle. A slider rotates from 1 to 7 on a clock, think of it that way. The cutter is actually supposed to move in circle and move across the zone slightly. The slider moves faster than curve ball because it has a tighter spin.

[Mike: This is Joe in his element. Cogito, baby! Cogito!]

Brian McElroy (Greenwich, CT): Mr. Morgan, you have been a hero to me since childhood. You never let me down as a player, a commentator, or as a role model. Still had your poster on my wall in college in 1990. You were the most complete player in history, you went back to college for your degree, and you are a credit to all athletes and a gentleman. Loved your book and learned about what you went through in Durham and at L.A.X. You are a real hero in every sense of the word. Keep up the great work. Thank you. p.s. Ever consider politcal office?

Joe Morgan: Thanks again .. I am a close friend of former President Bush and when I played for Houston he always was trying to get me involved in politics. I don't see myself as a politician. I do see myself having a responsiblity as a role model though. I have twin daughters and I have raised two older daughters. I think my responsiblity goes beyond just raising them. I want to help all kids understand their direction in life. I was taught as a kid "It takes a whole village to raise a kid". That is part of who I am and the way I was brought up.

Joe Morgan: But politics .. no.

[Mike: He is a pretty cool guy even if he can't spell "responsibility". Joe, can I chat with you and say what a great guy you are?]

James- Ft. Pierce: Joe- Can the Detroit Tigers get back to a respectful competitive club again?

Joe Morgan: The one thing that worries me about a lot of teams, not just the Tigers, it all starts at the top. By that I mean it starts at the top of the organization ... not just on the field. There is a reason some teams have continued to lose. With the right people at the top you have seen some great turnarounds.. the Angels, Twins, etc. Some teams have gone from last to worst and it all starts with the top of the franchise. That is the only way things will change. It's a filter down theory.

[Mike: Yeah, and it wouldn't kill them to take a pitch once in a while.]

Rick (lompoc, Ca): Do you think the angles can fisish this in pac bell?

Joe Morgan: If the Giants do not get a good performance from Reuter tonight, there is going to be a lot of pressure on Schmidt. But if the Giants pull it out tonight, I think they win the Series. Tonight's game is the most important one of the Series. Whoever wins the game tonight wins the Series in my mind.

[Mike: I think whoever wins the last game will win the series. No one ever agrees with me though.]

The Bad-Ergo...

Brad (Indiana): Joe, Is their a reason why the Giants have been unable to score without the home run? Can Reuter help their bullpen? Thanks and Best of Luck.

Joe Morgan: They don't have a lot of speed and are not hitting around a lot. They are depending on driving the ball, that is just how they are built. You will score a lot of runs but not consistently that way.

[Mike: Brad, how are Janet and Dr. Scott? As far as the Giant's lack of scoring, how about their not hitting? The top 3 need to get on base (like they did, at least the top 2, last night).]

Danny Homosassa, FL: Hi, Joe I am wondering what you think of the situation with the Devil Rays and Lou Pinella. Do you think the Devil Rays can stop their losing ways with him? Or is it just false hope? Thank you for your time

Joe Morgan: Lou has proven that he can get the most out of the players around him and that is what is important for managers. They need a new image that will say they will not accept losing. Lou will not let anyone relax while losing so I think he could make a difference.

[Mike: Danny, have you ever considered changing your name to Danny Not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-it? I hope Piniella can pitch.]

Doc Burnette (Santa Barbara): What do you think of the way the Angels pitching staff has dealt with Bonds so far, especially the first inning walk last night?

Joe Morgan: I'm not a fan of walking guys intentionally. That is one of the weaknesses of baseball. You can take the superstar out of the game just by walking him. You can't take the ball away from Jordan or keep the puck away from Gretzky, etc. Every other sport they get a chance to do their thing but baseball allows you to take the greatness of a player away from him and I don't like that. What if they never let Jordan touch the ball, how great would he be?

[Mike: Pitching around guys is part of the strategy, even if they don't walk them. Baseball is not analogous to hockey and basketball because the defense holds the ball. If a hockey player kept the puck away from a teammate it would be because he would hurt the team not help it. In the other sports if the defense hold the ball, they become the offense. They do, however, try to stay away from great defenders. That's analogous.]

Shane Davis: Will the Nations Capital ever have a baseball team again?

Joe Morgan: I think they might .. for political reasons more than anything.

[Mike: How about the millions of DC-onians who have to drive 30 minutes to see a baseball game. And then it's the Orioles!]

Garrett, Laramie Wy: What do you think the Rockies need to do to be in contention next year?

Joe Morgan: That's a hard one .. they played really well when Hurdle took over but fell back to where they were before. Obviousley there is a mindset that needs to be changed. You have to be tougher to play there, esp. if you are a pitcher. They have to become more mentally tough. That is a start.

[Mike: Laramie, Wy? Laramie why not? Yuck Yuck.

By the way, how about they get some better players? Or bring Coors down to earth so that they don't hit like Pete Gray on the road.]

Tony (Lansing): Joe, Now that the Tigers have hired Alan Trammell, do you think they go to the World Series next year or will it take Alan a season or two?

Joe Morgan: If you look at the Tigers, he can't have anything but a positive impact. They can only go up. Whether it will be immediate or long range I don't know. But they can only go up.

[Mike: Why? What makes Trammell so special? He was a pretty good player but who's to say that will translate into a managerial career? He has no track record as a manager to go by.]

Rudy (Los Angeles): Good Morning Mr. Morgan, was it just me or did you notice Bonds admiring his homerun a little too much? I mean at that point of the game the homerun was meaningless. Also in the players introduction before the game Bonds, unlike his teamates, just jogged past his teammates and went to his spot of the line instead of high-fiving his teammate. Is this a man with way too much of an ego or am I misinterpreting this?

Joe Morgan: It depends on what is too much. When you are frustarted, the only way to get that out is to frustrate the other team. The way they treat Bonds, he can do whatever he wants when he hits a HR. They are emabrassing him so he can do the same. He did admire it for a long period of time. But his HRs are never meaningless. He gets everyone's attention. His HRs are different.

[Mike: Well, Rudy. I've been told you can't fail. Here's a message to you. Oh, love that eighties music. By the way, could you maybe be an Angels' (or Dodgers') fan?

How is an intentional walk an embarrassment? I noticed those two incidents he mentions re. Bonds. Who knows what Bonds was thinking? Who cares? The HR in game three was not meaningless at the time. It cut the lead to four. If you mean in general, how could that many HRs be meanigless?]

David (Lincoln): What are your thoughts on the Cubs turning down Ryne Sandburgs offer to manage them? It seems like no matter what they do they are going to get the same result so why not at least get a fan favorite? Though Billy Williams should have gotten the job when Baylor did maybe he'll step up.

Joe Morgan: I really didn't see that .. I'm surprised that he would want to manage first of all. I think the Cubs in my opinion want to get away from the Cub tradition of losing and not winning anything. I think they will bring someone in without Cub history. Whether that is a good idea I don't know.

[Mike: Has Sandberg ever managed? Why not get a minor-league manager with no name put a good track record (a la Jim Tracy) not just a fan favorite? It would be the first thing that the Cubs have done right in years.]

Shane (Cincinnati): Joe, what do you think the Reds will do with their 1st base/ outfield logjams. Do you think they could move anyone to pick up pitching help for the new ballpark? Bowden has backe dhimself into a corner with the " wait for 2003 " comments. it's 2003 and we dont have any pitching.

Joe Morgan: They have to do that .. they can't keep the status quo and think they will perform better. They have to get rid of one or two of those guys and get some pitchers.

[Mike: Come back, Shane? Well, didn't they pick up about a half-dozen before the trade deadline. They just need to get some decent pitchers is the problem, not just Boone-favorite Jimmie Haynes.]

Frank (Philly): Joe, could you speak a moment to the importance of speed in baseball, not only on offense, but defense as well? Lack of it has hurt the A's the last three years, and is hurting the Giants in the field currently.

Joe Morgan: You are 100 percent correct .. speed is just as important on defense as it is offense. Speed on defense helps your pitching staff and can make a good pitching staff great. On offense, it allows you to put pressure on defense. I am a big advocate of speed in both offensive and defensive situations. That is the only thing you can control. You can control stealing bases and running the bases well. You can put more pressure on the defense that way. The A's, I watch them a lot, and I am just disappointed in their approach. They think on base perc. and hitting HRs is all that is important and that is why they don't win the close games in postseason. If the other team doesn't walk them, they don't win. The Yankees only gave up four walks to them two years ago and the A's couldn't score. Minnesota didn't walk them either and they got the same result.

[Mike: Are you one of the Phillies Phranks? Maybe all this proves is that a short series is not reflective of a team's actual ability. By the way, you can't steal first, as they say. You need to get on base to score runs and HRs do score them rather effectively.]

Jesse (Miami): Joe, do you see the Expos moving anytime soon? Would DC be able to get the team there in 2003 or 2004? How soon could we see a move?

Joe Morgan: I see them moving but they will not move this year. There are a lot of circumstances that will not allow them to move this year. They don't really have a place to go anyway. There are some unsettled issues still so it won't happen right away.

[Mike: RFK can get ready by opening day. Reportedly it can be ready in 6 weeks.]

The Ugly-Sum

Brian McElroy (Greenwich, CT): Sparky Anderson called you the smartest player he ever coached. Who do you consider to be a smart player today?

Joe Morgan: I don't see all the players, I just see the games I broadcast. Barry Bonds is one of the smartest. He understands the game. Roberto Alomar also. I think there are a lot of smart players in the game but those two stand out in the way they understand what the game is all about.

[Mike: He also called Barbaro Garbey the second coming of Mickey Mantle.]

Sung (NTHS): Hello MR. Morgan, I've got a question about most memorable MLB moments. It's at the baseball page on espn and it asked what the most memorable moment is. And I obviously voted for Ripken's break, but 1/4 of the people voted for Gibson's homer, but isn't play every-sing game for like 13 years is more harder than just one homerun?

Joe Morgan: The problem with that poll is the people who are voting now only know the young players. To me, the Bobby Thompson HR has to overshadow everything because it is what baseball is all about... being down in the 9th and winning. The Gibson HR only won one game .. the first one. I guess Bill Mazeroski's HR should be up there .. for me, Hank Aaron's HR was the most memorable. The HR record was and still is the greatest achievent for a baseball player. Gibson's HR was great but it just won one game. Fisk's HR was more memorable than that one.

[Mike: How many games should a home run win? The funny thing is that I agree with his assessment.]

Bubba, St.Louis: Hey Joe, What do you think the Cardinals will do about their pitching staff for next year? Will they resign Woody and Wright? Or will they chase the likes of Clemens or Glavine? How do you think they will come together on the mound?

Joe Morgan: I don't think they will go after Clemens but maybe Glavine if he is available. Clemens is an AL guy. A lot of Clemens success is due to the AL. If they go after anyone it would be Glavine.

[Mike: What?!? Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Certainly the best of his generation. He could have pitched successfully in the NL. I could see if Joe said that his age is an issue or that he wants to remain in the AL.]

Frank (Philly): Joe, do you see the success of the Angels as a precursor to a more-balanced approach to offense in baseball? For 5 years, it's been wait for the HR, don't steal, don't bunt, don't hit-and-run.

Joe Morgan: It should .. over the history of the game, the complete history, the team that can do more has won. The Yankees won 4 or 5 pennants without being built around the HR. The Yankees won 4 or 5 years and only had a 30HR guy once. The Angels are a copy of the Yankees success.

[Mike: Modus ponens, Joe. The Yankees did not win because they did not hit a lot of home runs. They won despite it. Look at how the Angels have won in the playoffs. They have scored in bunches with small ball and with the long ball.]

Jorge (Watertown): Hello Mr. Morgan, thanks for all the insightful analysis. About Bonds-- Do you think that he's a selfish hitter? True, he has no control over the intentional walks, but he will never, ever go for a borderline pitch, even when he could make something happen.

Joe Morgan: In one of my Sunday night games, the only criticism I gave him was just that. When there is a runner in scoring position, the great hitters would expand their strike zone a little. I don't think it's selfish it's just the way he is zoned in. Ted Williams was very similar, it's just their style. That is the only criticism I have given him.

[Mike: Thanks for joining us, Tony LaRussa. I thought you were too busy crying over spilt milk. Bonds is the best hitter in the game. I think he knows what he is doing.]

Mazzella (NY): Joe, huge fan. I want to go into broadcasting. How did you attain your smooth approach in the booth?

Joe Morgan: I wasn't so smooth in the beginning .. when I started, I can't even watch those tapes! I mean that. The one thing I have tried to do as a broadcaster, is not be a broadcaster. I want to be the guy sitting on the coach next to you just talking about the game. I don't want to downplay mistakes, I want to talk about why it happened or didn't happen.

Thank you for the compliment.

[Mike: Is that the bench coach? It might be a bit uncomfortable for him.]

Joe Morgan: Thanks for all the questions.. thanks for staying interested so far this season. Because of all the interest this season in chatting with me, I will make sure to do one more either towards the end of the series or right after.

[Mike: Joe, only one more chat session with you this season. What will I do all offseason?

Boss Bud's Quid Pro Quo
2002-10-24 11:54
by Mike Carminati

Boss Bud's Quid Pro Quo

Baseball is allegedly thinking of moving the Expos to Boston's Fenway Park for one season in 2003. John Henry is willing to allow the team to infringe on his territorial rights in order to garner the extra revenues:

"This could be a win-win-win for all the parties involved except the 200 season ticket-holders in Montreal," the source said. "The Red Sox get the benefit of the extra revenue, the Expos get a great place to play where people will come out to see them and Boston fans get to see National League baseball again."

Fenway Park only has a capacity of 33,817 and Boston has a metropolitan population of about 5.8 million. Better numbers could be found by sharing Yankees Stadium or by moving to R.F.K., but local ownership would bristle at the suggestion.

So why move to Boston? One answer is in order to help out Selig crony John Henry, who only owns the Red Sox because of Selig's machinations to prevent better offers from gaining approval. Another solution may be the overwhelming demand for national league baseball in Boston since the Braves moved. You choose which is more likely.

Apology Excepted In the new
2002-10-24 11:21
by Mike Carminati

Apology Excepted

In the new season of the great TV series The Sopranos, Soprano lieutenant Ralphie Cifareto has told a joke about the hippopotanic dimensions of the derriere of another family leader Johnny Sack's wife. The joke gets back to Johnny Sack and he is, let's say, upset. To diffuse the situation Tony Soprano has Ralphie call Johnny Sack to smooth things over. The one thing that Tony is adamant about is that Ralphie not apologize since that is tantamount to an admission of guilt. Ralphie eventually does apologize and comes very close to getting whacked.

That said, a Fox poll during last night's game overwhelmingly supported an apology from Pete Rose so that his ban from baseball can be ended. Joe Buck echoed those sentiments after the results of the poll where disclosed. And now, the estimable Jim Cable is joining this crusade. Everyone seems to think if Rose apologizes, he will be welcomed back into the fold with enshrinement at Cooperstown not far behind. Well, he did gamble on baseball, they assume, so just let's just call a Mulligan and start again.

First, there has never been any credible proof that Rose bet on baseball. There has never been any admission to that effect by Rose. John Dowd's entire report was based on hearsay from people known to have reasons to cast aspersions on Rose's anything but flawless character and on inconclusive scribblings allegedly by Rose referring to baseball games on which he gambled. Those scraps list dates and opponents that are erroneous and amounts that do not demonstrate culpability. That said, I think that Rose probably bet on baseball. But I have no proof because there is none.

Second, MLB and Rose agreed to a ban for an indeterminate amount of time as long as they never stated that he gambled on baseball. Rose may be dumb, but he's not stupid. He knew that if he admitted that he bet on baseball, he would never see the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, the ultimate goal for the ultimate stat-oriented, egomaniac player (I actually liked him as a player, but what's true is true). Rose agreed, assuming that he would be suspended for a year like Leo Durocher in 1947 for consorting with gamblers-what else did they have on him? MLB then reneged on the agreement, stating in the news conference that Rose bet on baseball and his agreeing to the ban was in effect a no-contest plea, and then-commissioner Giamatti conveniently martyred himself by dying eight days later. Rose's ban soon became a lifetime one. Baseball has never abided by their agreement, but they hold all the cards, so why should they?

Lastly, if Rose apologizes now, he will be validating everything that baseball has done and admitting their unsubstantiated claims against him. If he did that I cannot see how any logical person can support his enshrinement in Cooperstown. This is the one rule in baseball that cannot be broken. If it is broken and proof to that effect is available, the player concerned should be banned for life with no possibility of absolution.

But in Rose's case, how was it proven? In a unilateral investigation based on unsubstantiated hearsay and circumstantial evidence that would hold up in any court of law. Rose got the shaft. If Rose were to sue MLB, he would win in 15 minutes.

But that will not get him what he wants. What Rose needs to do is cozy up to the powers-that-be in MLB; otherwise his ultimate goal, the Hall, will remain unattainable. Bud Selig seems uninterested in hearing any plea from Rose, having been an owner during the Giamatti tenure. Things may soften after Selig's term as commissioner has ended. But it seems that baseball fans are growing anxious on this issue. Rose remains a black eye on the public face of baseball.

I have to say that the apotheosis of Rose has left me puzzled. He was a popular player, but he received a bigger hand yesterday than Cal Ripken or Hank Aaron. Rose has been elevated to cult-figure status. All of the alienation that the fans feel toward the sport has been misguidedly re-focused into support for this pugnacious character. Just because he ran out walks? Meanwhile, if Barry Bonds isn't constantly smiling, he is vilified.

But back to the apology: If Pete Rose apologizes now, he will finally give the owners the smoking gun they have always sought. If may buttress his popular support base at least temporarily, but any support among the owners' ranks will evaporate. In the long run, it would be the worst thing that he could do.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-24 01:45
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game Four

Well, that was more like it. The Giants win on a go-ahead run eked out off of phenom Francisco Rodriguez, 4-3, after a number of missed opportunities for San Francisco earlier in the game.

My notes from the game with editorial comments in square brackets:

Pregame: Billy Crystal: "It's great to be in SF. It's the first time since 1997 I had nowhere else to go."-good line (got booed).

Why didn't Nolan Ryan show?

Kirk Gibson is roundly booed in SF.

Crystal: "#8, he wouldn't like that."-re. Joe DiMaggio's streak.

Ted Williams batting .400, how is that a moment?

Crystal: "He slid into the dugout."-re. Pete Rose leaving field.

Top of 1st: Eckstein-claims ball hit him. Replay shows ball hit uniform. Isn't that the same thing?

Salmon-reaches on a tough error on Bell. Doesn't stop on ball to center, challenges Lofton's arm, no throw.

Bottom of 1st: Lofton-showing bunt on pitch 2 and 3. Dribbler just past lackey towards second. Safe.

Aurilia-bunts foul on 1st pitch. McCarver disagrees [with bunt] (me, too). Taken off-ball 2.

Kent-just doesn't look good. Ahead of a lot of pitches. 3rd pitch over plate-just able to foul it off. K's on nice slider.

Bonds-walked again. Same as 1st inning yesterday.

Top of 2nd: Poll-"If Pete Rose apologizes, should he be let back in to baseball?" If he didn't gamble on the baseball, what's he got to apologize for? If he did, screw him.

Lackey-[1st and 2nd one out] Shows bunt on ball 2. Santiago almost catches Gil off 2nd. 4th pitch, shows bunt but pulls back. Same on 5th pitch. Nice poke into right goind with pitch. Bases loaded-not testing Sanders' arm.

Eckstein-Sac Fly. Lofton takes it in left-center, worse position, worse arm than Bonds. Why didn't the runners tag on the throw home?

Bottom of 2nd: Sanders-Ball two looked good. HP ump Winters has had a tight zone.

Woody/Rueter comparison-Not again!

Top of 3rd: Buck says that the SF pitchers need a way to figure out Anaheim batters. How about throwing strikes and getting ahead?

Glaus-Rueter not getting corners, bodes ill; next pitch-too much plate: HR. [3-0 Angels]

Rueter-either hit first pitch by Angels or throws ball.

Memorial Moments Video-first ad. I knew it was coming.

SF-anyone up in the bullpen yet? 2-0 on Molina. At least Rueter's not throwing a lot of pitches. If Giants come back, could last longer.

Bottom of 3rd: Lofton-shows bunt on ball 1.

Lackey falls behind Aurilia 2-0. Molina to the mound. ("You have a lead. Throw strikes.")

Aurilia-Erstad overran ball, off the heel of his glove. Nice pickup by Anderson-saves a run.

Kent-lines to Lackey. Runners get back in time. Kent is really not catching a break. "Halloween on the way and two nightmarish ABs for Jeff Kent"-McCarver.

Santiago-[with bases loaded]2nd DP in a row. He's killing the Giants.

Top of 4th: Eckstein is on deck having a conniption. I'm sorry, but he annoys the heck out of me. Why does everyone love these little, scrappy types? Lays down a bunt. Nice play by Bell anticipating it.

Rueter-goes 1-2-3. Looks like he's settling down.

Buck-bloviating on Angels' offensive prowess. Getting ready to climb on their bandwagon.

Bottom of 4th: Sanders-ugly swing on inside pitch. (fast ball? Cutter? Flat curve?)

Buck is blaming Kent [for last two ballgames] but 1) Santiago did ground into two DPs and 2) Yesterday Kent went 2-for-4, scored on Bonds' HR, and was stranded at third in the first. It's not all his fault.

Top of 5th: Salmon-nice breaking ball to whiff Salmon.

Rueter preoccupied with Anderson at first.

Glaus-DP. The Giants needed that.

Bottom of 5th: Rueter bunted foul 2nd attempt. Chopped ball into ground in front of home. Doesn't come up. [Single.]

Lofton-bunts down the [3rd-base] line. Rolls along line 40 feet. Glaus picks it up after it rolls foul and then fair again.

Expected Runs-according to them, Giants should have 1.5 runs in 1st, .7 in second, and 1.5 in 3rd. They should be ahead by .7 runs.

Aurila pops a ball into right, 3-1.

Kent-[Sac fly, 3-2.] Salmon not setting up for throw. Weight going back. (McCarver points this out.) Aurilia tags up.

McCarver & Buck-admonish Aurilia for taking second because Bonds now walked again.

Santiago-got fat pitch and went right back up the middle with it. Erstad's throw [home] hits mound, up first base line, 3-3. Why isn't Bonds at third?

Snow-deep liner. [Caught.] Bonds doesn't tag. McCarver belabors Bonds' non-tag-why not mention not moving up on previous play.

Weber up in pen.

Sanders-foul fly in bullpen. Spiezio chases but looks afraid of bullpen mound. Can't get it. K's on slider in the dirt.

Top of 6th: Spiezio-Rueter looks better as game progresses. Oops, single to center.

Zerbe up in bullpen.

Gil-looks bad bunting. 2nd attempt: bat is in foul territory. Strikes out on ball a foot outside. McCarver criticizes Scioscia's decision. I agree.

Bottom of 6th: Rodriguez up in BP. (PH for Rueter?)

Bell-Anaheim fan gets foul ball. Is roundly booed. Nice liner 2 feet fair. Anderson gets to it quickly and throws Bell out at second by three feet. Anderson's D is better than I expected.

Goodwin-PH for Rueter. I'm not sure this is the right move. Rueter is settling in and they need to rest the bullpen. (I guess they'll rest in November.) [Walks and steal second.]

Lofton-ball 1 showing bunt.

Weber-pumps while looking at second [to check runner] and then throws home, 2-2. I know that's his timing mechanism, but how is that not a balk?

Goodwin-tags and goes to third. The Bell play is looking big.

Top of 7th: Palmeiro- PH. Surprised it's not Kennedy.

Francisco Rodriguez up in the pen. Felix in the game.

Erstad-grounds right to Snow playing towards the line-good call McCarver.

Salmon-Nice play by Lofton on a long fly ball. Got on his horse.

Glaus-Angels have not gotten a man to 2nd since his 3rd-inning HR. 1-2 pitch just missed. Looked like a liner but straight back.

Bottom of 7th: First Taco Bell Target plug.

F-Rod in.

Kent-strike 2 on a slider in the dirt. K's.

Bonds-"The 20-year-old to the 38-year-old. The rookie to the 17-year veteran." The diaper wearer to the denture wearer. The stamp collector to swing dancer.

Bottom of 8th: Nen is up in pen. Arm OK?

Snow-hanger lined to right.

McCarver calls Rodriguez, "Francisco Cabrera." [prescient]

Sanders-1st pitch shows bunt. Molina misses ball low fastball. Another stab by him. [Passed ball]. 2nd pitch, bunts foul. Why not take it off now? 3rd pitch, shows bunt (ball). Bunts foul in air. Great running catch by Spiezio. What a waste!

Bell-nice hit just past Eckstein. All those tough ABs are paying off, 4-3 Giants.

Schoeneweis and Shields up in the pen.

Martinez-PH. Takes twice after 3-0. K's DP at 2nd to end it.

Top of 9th: Nen-how is his arm? Let's see.

Spiezio-0-2, Nen looks pretty good (inside and outside strike). Flies out foul. Got all sliders.

Kennedy-[PH] 1st pitch, high fastball. Looked slow. Poked into right.

Percival and Donnelly up in the pen.

Fullmer-PH, fastball pokes foul. Slider-got 'em, 0-2. DP 63 on little dripper. End of game.

Postgame: Rodriguez loses with unearned run.

Jeanne-"We're all tied up with one place to go"-where? Damn, she is annoying. Is she animatronic?

For the Giants, Pros: Evened the series. Rueter ate some innings. Bullpen pitched well (1 hit, no walks in three innings). Lofton and Aurilia came alive. Santiago overcame the two double play balls. Bottom of order continued to contribute. Finally, got to F-Rod. Cons: Kent looks pretty miserable (did get a sac fly). Cannot counter the "walk Bonds" strategy (1-for-3).

For the Angels, Pros: Glaus and Anderson hitting. Six of eight position players got hits. They still have home field. Cons: Bullpen finally scored upon (even though unearned). Nothing from Eckstein and Erstad tonight (except a sac fly). Giants' adjustments (breaking balls) after third inning dismantled their offense.

A replay of game one (Washburn and Schmidt) tomorrow. Won't that be fun.

The Series Just Doesn't Rate,
2002-10-24 00:32
by Mike Carminati

The Series Just Doesn't Rate, II

Brian Rodriguez points out that TV ratings in general have slipped as more choices have been made available to viewers via cable. It's a good point.

But one may think that these singular events would be somewhat insulated from this development. To get a reference point I checked out the Super Bowl ratings over the same period and they too dropped off (Year, network, network rating, and share):

1992 CBS 40.3 61
1993 NBC 45.1 66
1994 NBC 45.4 66
1995 ABC 41.3 63
1996 NBC 46.1 72
1997 FOX 43.3 65
1998 NBC 44.5 67
1999 FOX 40.2 61
2000 ABC 43.3 63
2001 CBS 40.3 60
2002 FOX 40.4 61

There's just more stuff to watch. As I said to Brian, it's the waste of a good rant.

Cal-cified If you missed it,
2002-10-24 00:23
by Mike Carminati


If you missed it, tonight's pregame was devoted to Baseball's top 10 Most Memorable Moments popularity contest. I wasn't particularly surprised by the choices-I thought the fans would pick the D-Backs 2001 championship since it was still lodged in their short-term memory-, but my friend Mike had a scathing email, that gave me a chuckle:

Sheesh, that was even lamer than I anticipated. Cal Ripken?!? Nolan Ryan?!? Kirk Gibson???
Where's Bobby Thomson? Where's Fisk? Heck, where's Canseco getting hit in the head by a fly ball or Bret Saberhagen throwing Clorox? (And how can you have something like this without Kevin McReynolds anyway?)
Unbelievable that Rose gets a huge ovation but people think Barry Bonds is a bad guy. Bonds is 10 times the man Charlie Hustler will ever be.
And how does it help baseball's image to have two guys who played gangsters, Andy Garcia and Ray Liotta, do the intros?
Nice moment: the fans chanting "Bar-ry" when McGwire was introduced.
BTW -- what song did Natalie Cole just sing? I thought they said she would do the National Anthem.

I did think more memorial moments were left out (Thomson, Maz in '60, Ruth's "Called Shot", Fisk's HR in '75, Mays catch in '54, Don Larsen's perfect World Series game, etc.). I especially like the goat plays like the Mookie Ball, Merkle's Boner, Snodgrass's Muff, and Mickey Owen's passed ball, but they are probably too negative for this campaign.

It was basically a popularity contest to sell videos, but at least baseball is trying to promote itself. And what better way to do so then with its history.

(I have some notes on the pregame that I put in my game 4 notes.)

Nen in Pen? Eyre His
2002-10-23 13:47
by Mike Carminati

Nen in Pen? Eyre His Arm Be Witasick? Giants Worrell It Zerbe All Fultzed Up? Your Rodriguez Is As Good As Mine

Giant closer Robb Nen is having trouble getting loose during the World Series. Dusty Baker is downplaying the situation but at best he will be limited to one-inning appearances for the rest of the Series. At worst, the Giants will be without his services. Nen has not had an appearance over one inning since September 9 anyway. So it may not be a major factor. We shall see.

The Stinking Rose Pete Rose,
2002-10-23 11:44
by Mike Carminati

The Stinking Rose

Pete Rose, though barred from baseball for over 12 years, will again make an appearance at a baseball game. His hit record made the top ten moments in baseball history-as voted by you, the fans-, which will be celebrated as part of game 4 tonight with a free ride for all top-10 vote-getters on the Taco Bell Flotilla.

The only other time that Rose was allowed in a major-league stadium was to participate in the All-Century Team festivities a couple of years ago. The Cincinnati Reds' request to allow Rose to partake in the events surrounding the final game at Riverfront Stadium last month was vetoed by the commissioner's office. Rose was also left off the guest list for Bud Selig's surprise birthday party at Scores earlier this year-a topless Carl Pohlad popped out of cake; it was a grand old time.

Basically, when it serves MLB's purposes Rose is allowed to appear but only at their behest. Otherwise, he is part of the great unwashed. I wouldn't mind their stance as long as they were honest about it. They should just say that Rose's appearance would help sell the video that is tied into this promotion when it appears in stores later this month. "I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one." (Rick Blaine in Casablanca).

By the way, the Stinking Rose is the name of my favorite restaurant in San Francisco. The name refers to garlic, which is what almost all their food contains in abundance. I thought it appropriate given the Pete Rose tie-in as well as Joe Buck's many references to smelling garlic fries (which may actually be a euphemism for something that he cannot say directly on TV).

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-23 01:19
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game Three

Well, that wasn't very good at all now was it, unless you are an Angels fan. The Angels won 10-4. The game wasn't very close after the Angels scored 4 runs and batted around for two innings in a row to make it 8-1.

Here are my abbreviated notes from the game. Editorial comments in square brackets:

Top of 1st: Eckstein-wide strike called on first pitch. Eric Greg reference [The first of many. McCarver later says that Greg is a bartender in Philly. I know that he writes for a Philly commuter paper called the Metro.]

Bottom of 1st: Lofton called safe twice in a row on pick-off attempts. Looked tagged out high on the replay both times. Steals second. Tagged in the back. Looks out (for third time). [Imagine if Lofton was called out-that would have erased what was for a good portion of the game San Fran's only run.]

Kent-dribbler off Ortiz's glove (heel). Ball toward second. Second baseman covering second-why?

Bonds-McCarver goes out on a limb to say Bonds is the first to get an IBB in first with men on first and third. [Confirmed about two innings later.]

Santiago-dribbler just past Ortiz. Run scores, 1-0.

Top of 2nd: Glaus-away 4 times. 5th Santaigo sets up outside-ball had too much of plate & hanging. Just missed it-10 ft foul to left. Next one-20 ft foul to right. Hits first ball out of the infield, fly out to warning track. Ball was up a bit.

Kennedy & Molina-swapped in batting order. Makes sense since Kennedy is better hitter. Bats 9th to act as second leadoff hitter.

Kennedy-slicing line drive 3-4 ft fair, into the stands. Spiezio held up at 2nd. He forgot there were 2 outs.

Top of 3rd: Robin Williams [in attendance] dressed like Mork from Ork at a formal. McCarver spews about his 3-D glasses for Eckstein's entire AB.

Eckstein-shows bunt on first pitch.

Williams-now relaying signals to the batter.

Erstad-showing bunt on first pitch.

Buck-taking a tour of the Bay Area. Another gratuitous shot of the Taco Bell target.

Erstad-pitch right down pike, hit & run, liner down right field line. Eckstein can't score.

Salmon-First 4 pitches away; 5th Santiago sets up away, but it has too much plate. Takes a bad hop on Bell. E5.

Anderson-hits outside ball to left. Fails to move runners.

Glaus-[1st pitch] Santiago set up outside, but Hernandez way too high-not hitting spots. Pitch 3, Santiago again outside. Livan-too much plate but pulled foul. Pitch 4 in dirt, again missed spot. Hit & Run. Single. Salmon to third.

Spiezio-Hit & Run. Livan-again missed spot, too much plate. Gapper. Aurilia decoyed Glaus successfully but still scored.

Righetti-had told Hernandez to back up plate as prescient piece of advice. He looks good like he could still pitch.

Ortiz-Again missed spot outside but called inside strike. Nubber to mound. Nice stop by Hernandez and nice catch on inside of bag by Snow. 4-1.

Bottom of 3rd: McGwire commercial-theme from Courtship of Mr. Eddie's Father.

Taco Bell target shown again.

Aurilia-hits first ball out of infield for Giants [single to left].

Kent-looks bad. Pops two up-second in play.

Bonds-1st pitch right over the plate. 3-pitch strikeout. All low fastballs.

Top of 4th: Another shot of the Taco Bell target and now a commercial.

Buck and McCarver-applaud Eckstein for not wearing body armor.

Salmon-Hernandez missing spots low, bothered by baserunners. Ball 4 didn't miss by much.

Anderson-1st pitch: double steal. No throw. Hernandez now not watching runners. Hernandez is done for the night.

Guy on mast [in McCovey's Cove] now on cell phone.

Kennedy-line drive off Witasick's elbow. Into left.

Molina-ball up, single. The throw to plate is late-should have been cut off. 8-1.

Bottom of 4th: Snow-two balls bounced up to plate. Is layoff going to affect Ortiz?

Heat Mizer is in attendance tonight.

Buck and McCarver now discussing the fact that Ortiz is a barber.

Bell-2nd pitch tipped into Molina's chest. As he lurches over to his side, [they are] still talking about manicures. They say PH Martinez on deck. It's actually Feliz. Bell's sixth straight fouled off. Nice AB-works walk.

Feliz-Bud Selig in attendance. Wiping his mouth on national TV.

Top of 5th: Scioscia and Cox named TSN Managers of the Year. A-Rod is Player of the Year.

Bottom of 5th: Greatest Moments promotion finally over tomorrow.

Aurilia-hanger for HR. 2nd long ball in a row.

Kent-ball right over plate. Is Ortiz tiring? Is anyone up in the BP?

Bonds-Shot of the Taco Bell Flotilla again. Laser to straightaway center on hanger over the plate. No Gene Clines reaction in the dugout though.

Santiago-Bullpen finally up. Hard hit right at Eckstein. First ball to stay in the infield in last 6 batters for SF.

Top of 6th: Ortiz in on-deck circle. Is lifted after Molina walks. If 1-2-3 inning does Ortiz still stay in? [He was the #4 hitter in the inning.]

Eckstein-went and got a pitch. Lofton has no arm-short of mound, on 1st base side. Pitcher tries to relay it home. Big run after SF scored.

Top of 8th: Jerry Rice in attendance, so we have to see him not first pitch from Scott Eyre.

Molina-on base all five times.

Eckstein-great stop by Snow. Eyre does not cover. Snow looks disgusted.

Bottom of 8th: Snow-why is the 3rd baseman not guarding the line? Why didn't Snow get a double?

Rodriguez-no longer up in Angels' bullpen. Gets the night off. Weber up.

Top of 9th: Why is Scott Eyre still in against righty Glaus? I guess the game is done.

Bottom of 9th: Final score 10-4. McCarver [referring to Angels]-"You have to go to the thesaurus and look up another word for relentless. That's what they are."

[FYI: Synonyms GRIM 3, implacable, ironfisted, merciless, mortal, ruthless, unappeasable, unflinching, unrelenting, unyielding; Synonyms INFLEXIBLE 2, adamant, dogged, inexorable, obdurate, rigid, single-minded, unbending, uncompromising, unyielding]

Summation: The Angels now have their offense going. They have regained the home-field advantage. Their bullpen is basically well rested even though Ortiz departed early. Every position player got a hit. Walking Bonds in the first worked. Kennedy broke out of mini slump. Negatives: Scheoneweis, the only lefty in the bullpen, was used for two innings tonight.

The Giants' positives: Bonds had another monster bash. Their bullpen held pretty well. Kent is showing signs that the slump is ending. Negatives: some bad defense. Lofton is not hitting. The bottom of the order stopped hitting (though Bell had some tough ABs). Hernandez looked very bad and probably will not be used again. Their bullpen is getting a lot of work. Their bench did nothing.

Basically the Angels have made the adjustments that they have needed to make. Now it's the Giants turn. So what's up for game 4? The Giants had better jump on Lackey early. Remember he did get some work in game 2. The Ginats have seen him, and he may tire easily. The Giants need to get into teh Angels bullpen early and disrupt their offensive game. They also need a good game from Rueter with a lot of innings. He Angels need to continue with how they are playing. The can afford a loss now. It's more important that they stay loose and play well. Finally, let's hope for a better game.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-22 16:13
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game Four...Of the 1993 Series, That Is

The 11-10 game the other day got me to thinking of what I will refer to as my least favorite game of all time, game four of the 1993 Toronto-Phillies World Series, which ended 15-14 Toronto. The game was played October 20, 1993, nine years to the day earlier than the 11-10 game. The '93 game lasted 4:14, the longest in World Series history, unbelievably 17 minutes longer than Sunday's marathon. In both games, the winning team employed five pitcher and the loser 6. In '93 there were four lead changes. Sunday there were only three. 1993 had three HRs with two by Lenny Dykstra; Sunday's had six with two by Tim Salmon.

The Blue Jays went into the game up two games to one, having just pummeled the Phils 10-3 the night before in the first game at Vet's Stadium in the series. People forget that the Blue Jays were the closest thing to a dynasty in 1993, having won the Series in '92. They had a new stadium with three straight years of 4-million plus attendance and seemed to sign every available free agent and to acquire every player on the trading block possible. Their dominance seemed without end even though they would never finish above third place again. The Phils on the other hand had been a last-place team the year before, were unshaven, scrappy, and seemed to personify underdog in every gesture.

The Blue Jays jumped all over Phils' starter Tommy Greene with three runs on three hits and two walks (including one that drove in a run) in the first. The Phillies responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame, taking advantage of Todd Stottlemyre's wildness (four walks in the inning) and being aided by Milt "Toast" Thompson's three-run triple.

In the second, the Blue Jays had another rally. The pitcher, Todd Stottlemyre, walked and tried to go to third on a two-out Robbie Alomar single to center. A good throw by Lenny Dykstra coupled with a belly-flop slide by Stottlemyre ended the inning. After the play Stottlemyre had bloodied his chin and looked like the character in the Bugs Bunny cartoon who says, "Which way did he go? Which way did he go?"

Even though they only had a one-run lead, there was a feeling that the Phils were destined to win. The Blue Jays sending Stottlemyre out to the mound was pathetic. He lasted one more inning, giving up two runs on a single by Tommy Greene, the pitcher, leading off and a home run by Lenny Dykstra. The next three Phils went down to end the inning, but they led 6-3.

However, Greene couldn't hold the lead and Toronto scored 4 in the top of the third to take a 7-6 lead. Greene got Joe Carter to pop up but then gave up three straight singles and was pulled. Roger Mason came in with the score 6-5 and men at first and second. He gave up a walk and a single scoring two, but struck out Alomar after a Rickie Henderson-Devon White double steal of third and second respectively.

Mason settled down given up only a double to relief pitcher Al Leiter in his next two innings of work. Meanwhile, Leiter had come in and saw the Phillies go in turn in the third. The Phils did tie the game, 7-7, in the fourth on a two-out Dykstra double followed by a Mariano Duncan RBI single.

Leiter and Mason seemed in control until the bottom of the fifth, in which the Phils exploded for five runs. Leiter was left in to absorb all the runs on 6 hits in his one-third inning of work in the fifth. Dave Hollins singled and Dutch Daulton homered to give the Phils their first lead since the top of the third. Instead of pulling Leiter, Cito Gaston left him in for three more runs on four hits including Dykstra's second home run.

However, he never communicated this to his team as the Blue Jays scored two in the top of the sixth off of the inept David West. The Phils got those two runs back with off the wildness of Tony Castillo. He walked two to load the bases in the seventh, hit Daulton to force in a run, and was allowed to complete the inning amazingly without further damage-further evidence that Gaston had thrown in the towel. The eighth inning began with the Phils in command 14-9. It would not end that way.

The eighth with Larry Andersen, who had struck out two in a perfect seventh, on the mound and Robbie Alomar grounding to Hollins at third. After a single and a walk, Andersen induced the next batter to hit to Hollins on a possible inning-ending double-play ball, but the third-baseman flubbed the ball. Jo Carter scored on the play. The Phillies still led 14-10.

Mitch Williams who recorded 43 saves during the regular season strut to the mound amid the raucous cheers of the Philly faithful. Williams proceeded to pitch batting practice giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning on two singles, a walk, and a go-ahead, two-out, two-run triple to Devon White to right-center. The Blue Jays led 15-14.

The entire Phils' side struck out in the eighth to Mike Timlin (Stocker and Morandini) and Duane Ward (Dykstra) and then went down meekly in the ninth.

After the game, the unusually articulate Lenny Dykstra had this to say, "There are not many words to describe it. I could care less about what I did personally (two homers). We were ahead the whole way. And they just kept pounding and pounding. It was an unbelievable game."

Williams again played the goat giving up the go-ahead runs in the sixth and deciding game on the now-famous Joe Carter ninth-inning home run. Carter said after the game that Williams' entrance gave the Blue Jays a lift. Poor Mitch Williams became a pariah in Philadelphia and had his career fall apart. I never blame a player for making an effort. I choose to blame a manager for electing to use a player in a situation in which he will not perform. It was clear from the game four loss that Williams did not have anything left. I realize that the Phillies pen was shorthanded but Larry Andersen had just finished the eighth and Bobby Thigpen was also available. Jim Fregosi sealed Williams' fate by sticking too long with him in the fourth game, visibly shaking his self-confidence, and then by going to him with a one-run lead in game six.

In game four, Fregosi ended up being outmanaged by Cito Gaston, who discernibly gave up three times in the game. That's awfully tough.

The Series Just Doesn't Rate
2002-10-22 13:58
by Mike Carminati

The Series Just Doesn't Rate

This year's World Series on pace for the lowest T.V. ratings ever. The first two games are 16% behind last year's and that ended up being the third lowest series ever. The two ahead of it were the 2000 and 1998 Series.

Do you notice a trend? Four of the last five World Series are the lowest rated of all time. Could it have to do with the cancellation of the 1994 World Series due to a players' strike? Well, why are they all bunched in the last 5 years then? What happened in 1997? That was the year of the Florida Marlins, an exciting underdog-a 4-year-old expansion team-winning the World Series.

Well, how could that have done anything but raise interest? Well, maybe because a) they were the first wild card to win a Series and b) the 1998 rendition of the Marlins looked nothing like the World Champions of a year earlier, losing 108 games. Owner H. Wayne Huizenga was accused of buying a championship one year and then dumping salary the next.

Perhaps-and I have no more than circumstantial evidence here-baseball fans were alienated by the 1994 cancellation but still continued to watch the World Series. However, after the double whammy of the Marlins-a team that never won anything over the season winning the championship and the perception of their buying that title-was the last straw. That perception has continued with the Yankees' perceived purchased supremacy ever since.

Oh, and lest I forget, the advent of the most dreaded of baseball's transgressions according to the baseball purists, of which I am one, interleague play started in 1997. The intrigue created by Roger Clemens potentially facing Barry Bonds has been diluted by their regular-season meeting.

Finally, attendance was down considerably all season (over 5%) due to the labor talk. And games are to long due to exorbitantly long commercial breaks. All of these problems were created by baseball and they can be corrected by baseball if they choose to do so. Another year of poor ratings and maybe the will.

Where's Scully When You Need
2002-10-22 12:29
by Mike Carminati

Where's Scully When You Need Her? No, Not Vin Scully

Troy Percival, who admitted to grooving a pitch to Barry Bonds in the ninth inning of game 2, among other pitchers on both teams is now claiming that the baseballs used in the World Series are juiced.

The pitchers claim that the balls feel harder. Tim Worrell, who by the way has never failed the Pepsi Challenge even once, claims that he can identify the World Series balls by feeling them behind his back.

I don't have an actual World Series ball handy (maybe I can borrow the one George Brett caught). So I thought I would do the next best thing, compare the stats from various postseason series over the years to see if this conspiracy theory holds any water. First I created a list of all the series in which there were 10 or more total home runs. Then I averaged the number of home runs per game and runs per game and sorted the list by home runs/game, with the highest at the top. Here's what I found:

Year Series HR G HR/G  R   R/G
2002 WS     11 2 5.50  28 14.00
1995 ALDIV  22 5 4.40  68 13.60
2002 ALDS   16 4 4.00  56 14.00
1996 ALCS   19 5 3.80  46  9.20
1969 NLCS   11 3 3.67  42 14.00
1999 ALDIV  17 5 3.40  79 15.80
1996 ALDIV  13 4 3.25  45 11.25
1995 NLDIV  13 4 3.25  46 11.50
1989 WS     13 4 3.25  46 11.50
1978 NLCS   13 4 3.25  38  9.50
1971 NLCS   13 4 3.25  39  9.75
1998 ALDIV  12 4 3.00  38  9.50
1997 ALDIV  12 4 3.00  34  8.50
1987 ALCS   15 5 3.00  57 11.40
1970 WS     15 5 3.00  53 10.60
1977 WS     17 6 2.83  54  9.00
1953 WS     17 6 2.83  60 10.00
2002 NLCS   14 5 2.80  39  7.80
1932 WS     11 4 2.75  56 14.00
1999 ALCS   13 5 2.60  44  8.80
2002 ALDS   13 5 2.60  53 10.60
1996 ALDIV  10 4 2.50  32  8.00
1928 WS     10 4 2.50  37  9.25
1955 WS     17 7 2.43  57  8.14
2001 ALCS   12 5 2.40  47  9.40
1992 ALCS   14 6 2.33  69 11.50
1997 WS     16 7 2.29  81 11.57
1991 WS     16 7 2.29  53  7.57
1952 WS     16 7 2.29  46  6.57
1989 NLCS   11 5 2.20  52 10.40
1984 NLCS   11 5 2.20  48  9.60
2002 NLDS   11 5 2.20  50 10.00
1998 ALCS   13 6 2.17  47  7.83
1995 WS     13 6 2.17  42  7.00
1993 WS     13 6 2.17  82 13.67
1968 WS     15 7 2.14  61  8.71
1964 WS     15 7 2.14  65  9.29
1957 WS     15 7 2.14  48  6.86
1956 WS     15 7 2.14  58  8.29
1997 ALCS   12 6 2.00  36  6.00
1997 ALDIV  10 5 2.00  45  9.00
1995 ALCS   12 6 2.00  35  5.83
1993 NLCS   12 6 2.00  56  9.33
1989 ALCS   10 5 2.00  47  9.40
1984 WS     10 5 2.00  40  8.00
1983 WS     10 5 2.00  27  5.40
1981 WS     12 6 2.00  49  8.17
1961 WS     10 5 2.00  40  8.00
1960 WS     14 7 2.00  82 11.71
1986 ALCS   13 7 1.86  71 10.14
1975 WS     13 7 1.86  59  8.43
1967 WS     13 7 1.86  46  6.57
1958 WS     13 7 1.86  54  7.71
1980 WS     11 6 1.83  50  8.33
1959 WS     11 6 1.83  44  7.33
1936 WS     11 6 1.83  66 11.00
2000 ALCS   11 6 1.83  49  8.17
1996 NLCS   12 7 1.71  62  8.86
1986 WS     12 7 1.71  60  8.57
1925 WS     12 7 1.71  51  7.29
2001 WS     12 7 1.71  51  7.29
1923 WS     10 6 1.67  47  7.83
1992 NLCS   11 7 1.57  55  7.86
1987 NLCS   11 7 1.57  46  6.57
1965 WS     11 7 1.57  44  6.29
1889 WS     13 9 1.44 125 13.89
1971 WS     10 7 1.43  47  6.71

So far, this World Series has had the most homers per game ever by a hefty margin (1.1 HR/G) and it is also tied for second in runs per game (the 1999 AL division series between the Red Sox and the Indians was the highest at 15.80). But two things: A) We are only talking about two games here. And those games were in the higher scoring stadium of the two. Pac Bell may be a completely different story. And B) those numbers are not totally out of line with postseason baseball scoring in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Yankees-Angels division series earlier this month had very similar numbers. Why didn't the Angels pitchers complain in that round (maybe because the outhomered the Yanks)?

Conspiracy theorists may be having a field day with this, but even if it were true, as long as the balls that they are using are the same for both teams, what's the difference? One could argue that a livelier ball favors the Giants who are more of a long-ball club. However, the seeing-eye singles and gap doubles that the Angels are known for can only be aided by a livelier ball. I would by no means put it past the Mr. Burns of baseball, Bud Selig, to try to create excitement with a juiced ball. I just think that it would be highly unlikely, and until we have a few more games the statistical evidence is sketchy at best.

David Bell To Become "Taco"
2002-10-22 00:50
by Mike Carminati

David Bell To Become "Taco" Bell As Part of Corporate Sponsorship

Bud Selig and Major League Baseball have sunk to a new low in venality one day after attempting to cozy up to the nearly-contract Twins' faithful. As the World Series shifts to San Francisco's Pac Bell Stadium, Taco Bell (no relation) will be installing a 15-foot wide floating target in McCovey's Cove. If someone hits the target everyone in America and, one would assume, its territiritories would be entitled to a free taco. The only drawback is that everyone in America is entitled to a free taco.

Ode to Billy Joe Morgan
2002-10-21 20:25
by Mike Carminati

Ode to Billy Joe Morgan Chat Day

We here at Mike's Baseball Rants love Joe Morgan and especially love Joe Morgan Chat Day. Joe says the most sagely succinct statements as well as the most insipidly silly, superannuated saws sometimes sophistically simultaneously-OK, enough of the excessive sibilance.

Joe is experiencing some moral relativism during the postseason, at least where baseball morals are concerned. He Protagoreanly pronounces that, "Hey, I call them as I see them and I am the measure of all things." He is an ardent believer in the primacy of de facto values: the values of today's game in fact primarily suck. He is steeped in cultural variation: he varies his analysis from one moment to the next and he is well cultured.

Frankly, this past JMCD wasn't the greatest-a lot of touchy feely World Series remembrances. ("[My first World Series game] was almost like my first game in the Big Leagues...It is very rewarding and exciting.") What can I do with that? So I spliced the chat session with some choice citations from his ESPN article Expect Angels to pitch to Bonds, and here goes:

The Good

James (NC): Are you suprised at an all Wild Card WS?

Joe Morgan: Wild Card means nothing to me once the playoffs start. Once they start, everyone has a good chance in a short series. I'm surprised that Minnesota beat Oakland. I'm surprised the Angels beat the Yankees so easily but I'm not surprised the Giants are there.

[Mike: Right, anything can happen in a short series. Steve Lyons can even get a gig in a short series.]

Joe Mac (Tempe): Hey Joe, thanks for taking my question. After reading your column, you seem to think Dusty Baker will not manage the Giants in 2003. I know you're happy with your broadcasting job, but living in the Bay Area as you do, if the Giants offered you the job, would you ever consider leaving the booth for the dugout again?

Joe Morgan: No. Emphatically no.

[Mike: Thank you, Joe.]

Tim: Do you think that the angels play better when they are picked to not win the series?

Joe Morgan: I don't know if you benefit from being an underdog.. they may be more relaxed but trying to get to the WS, there is pressure built into that. They just played better than everyone else!

[Mike: Right, besides who do they think they are? Not picking the Angels for the World Series. Lined up at gym class and the poor Angels are standing there thinking, "Please, pick me!" Yet they are the last kids picked along with a boy they call "Lefty", who eats paste. Well, I guess they'll think twice about letting the Angels play their reindeer games in the future.]

The Bad

Brad (Seattle): Who do you think has the better pitching staff between Anaheim and S.F.? And do you think Dusty Baker will leave S.F.? Thank you Mr. Morgan.

Joe Morgan: Difficult question since they pitched in different leagues. In the NL you get pulled earlier. The Giants starting rotations has more experience and is probably a little better but the Angels bullpen is VERY good. The depth on the Giants starters is better but the depth of the Angels bullpen is better.

[Mike: For the record, the NL averaged 5.861 innings pitched per game started, and the AL 5.997. That's about an extra out per third game, big deal! Anaheim averaged 6.220 IP/GS and San Francisco 6.200, even less of a big deal (except SF did better compared to the league, but they are in a pitchers' park).

The Giant bullpen had a 2.89 ERA; while the Cherubic pen had a 2.98. Their Adjusted Runs Allowed (Baseball Prospectus) is: Angels 3.11 (2nd in majors behind the Braves) and Giants 3.61 (3rd). Their Adjusted Runs Prevented (also BP): The Angels 68 (2nd), the Giants 48.2 (5th). Both are VERY good.]

Sam (San Diego): Do you think that either the Angels or Giants will be able to repeat and play in next year's World Series?

Joe Morgan: I think the Angels may have a better chance of contending next year than the Giants. I believe Baker will leave and when he leaves that team will not be nearly as good.

[Mike: A) I do not believe that Baker will leave. He has a perfect situation: good owner, good team (if they resign Kent), and great city. If he goes to New York or Seattle, he will be shepherding an old team into an uncertain future and he may be seen as the scapegoat. Then again if the money is that good, who knows?

B) The Angels, as well as they are playing, have a better chance to return back to earth next year. They are in a perennially tough division and played poorly last year with largely the same group of players. The Giants face an overachieving Dodgers team (thanks in part to their Jim Tracy's guidance), an aging and possibly strapped Arizona team, a continually underachieving Rockies team, and a Padres team that has been rebuilding since its 1998 World Series appearance. The Giants are a better gamble, Baker or no.]

Mike (Mercer Island WA): Joe I don't get it. All i hear from the Seattle athletes, especially the baseball players, is how much they love Seattle, the fans and Safeco Field. Now Lou's leaving makes many of us wonder why do athletes leave when they have the chance? What's wrong with this once "Greatest city to live in"?

Joe Morgan: It has nothing to do with the city, they love the city. It has to do with individuals in the organization. Guys that have left and are leaving are all unhappy with the organization.

[Mike: How about moolah? It doesn't hurt that guys like Tom Hicks are handing out the bucks.]

Eric (Burlington, VT): Joe, any ideas on how to speed up the game and get them started earlier when kids can watch?

Joe Morgan: By nature, the AL games are longer with the DH. The games in Anaheim will likely be longer. But remember we are in the WS and every pitch is more important. We are going to have some long games.

Execpt the first one .. Schmidt and Washburn will throw lots of strikes and things will happen.

[Mike: Joe, how about we get rid of the excessively long commercial breaks? Three commercials to change pitchers? By the way, if Schmidt and Washburn throw a lot of strikes, can't we get a pitchers' duel (as we did) in game 1?]

Mike in Omaha: Hi Joe...I love your TV broadcast work. What do you think the Twins need to do in the offseason, other than resign current players, to take the next step? Would a power bat do the trick?

Joe Morgan: I think they learned a lot this year. They will be better next year just due to that. But they need some right handed hitting.

[Mike: They made it to the ALCS with a young club. What next level? There is no next level. They just need to execute in the playoffs. Do the Yanks and Braves need to do something to get to the next level? A right-handed bat would help improve a weakness.]

Ron (Pittsburgh): Don't hitters that wear these huge pieces of armor make them more dangerous hitters then they would be without the armor. I mean these guys that stand on top of the plate, like Bonds, it gives them protection. It takes a littl bit of the fear out of getting hit. These guys are baseball players and getting hit is part of the game. I think it's rediculous that these guys are aloud to use armor. It let's them sit on top of the plate and take away the outside corner.

Joe Morgan: First of all, he is playing within the rules and others guy wear it without hitting 73 HRs. I don't think anyone should be able to wear it but its not against the rules so he can wear it. Bonds is wearing it because it he had an operation on his elbow and he started wearing it after that. He didn't want to get hit on that elbow again.

[Mike: Well, it's true that other guys wear them and don't hit 73 home runs. But is it true that he is playing within the rules or is he bending the rules? He reminds me of the girls who would get a note from their doctor so that they would be excused from swim class in high school. His doctor wrote a note to allow Bonds to wear the armor, but it aint kosher. Sure, he does not want to get hit there again: Who does? I don't think it detracts from him as a player, but let's not make excuses for him.]

John, Charlottesvile: Joe, Barry Bonds' presence seems to throw everything out of whack, including opposing managers' gameplans. How does he do this? Does he affect the focus levels intended for pitching to the hitters around him? Thanks

Joe Morgan: It's mainly the HRs. He is the most feared hitter maybe in the history of the game. I don't know how he is more feared than Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, etc. but he is. It's amazing. The managers are just as afraid as the pitchers and that is unusual. I have never seen anything like that. Even the pitchers are afraid to compete with him.

[Mike: Joe, even with the monster year, Bonds is only 5 home runs ahead of Sammy Sosa over the past three years. It's that he is the best hitter of his generation and arguably the greatest ever. Period.]

Joe Morgan: Major League Baseball is getting closer to a word the NFL likes to use: parity. While I don't like the word, it describes what happens when there are no dominant teams. The Yankees were an elite team, but other teams -- especially the Giants and the Angels -- worked hard to close the gap, despite the payroll disparity.

[Mike: Joe, did you notice that this year had the greatest schism between the haves and have-nots maybe in the modern era? There was no parity this year. I think hegemony is the word you're searching for.]

Joe Morgan: Starting out in the AL park is to the Giants' advantage. During the regular season, they hit better on the road (5.3 runs per game) than they did at home (4.4), and that trend continued in the playoffs.

[Mike: True, but that's half the story. They play in a pitchers' park. The outscored their opponents by 1.00 runs per game at home and 1.06 runs per game on the road.]

Joe Morgan: Bonds and the Giants will get their first look Saturday at the Rally Monkey, which has become a phenomenon in Anaheim.

[Mike: Ah, but Joe we now know from our history of the Rally Monkey graphics on Fox that Mr. Monkey was first employed in an Angels-Giants interleague game. The Giants are well aware of the menacing force of Mr. Monkey. Are the Angels' fans for real? Is this what happens when an area doesn't have a football team any longer? They seem to be having a wonderful time but look utterly ridiculous. No offense intended but I couldn't imagine such fans at a baseball game on the East Coast.]

Brian (Charlotte): Hey Joe, I was just wondering what the yankees need to do in the offseason, personally, I'd like them to have a strong bullpen that they have had in past years

Joe Morgan: The bullpen wasn't why they lost to the Angles, it was the starting pitching. They couldn't get deep enough in the game. They have to address their starting pitching.

[Mike: Oh really? Their starting pitching was 3rd in innings per start. They didn't last long in the playoffs because they got hammered (10.35 ERA for New York starters vs. Anaheim), but a) you can't base their entire season on a short series and b) their relievers did not fare much better. The Yankee rotation has to get younger, or maybe Torre keeping them in longer during the season to cover his threadbare bullpen wore out the old staff by the end of the year.]

Joe Morgan: Bonds is different from the player he was in past postseasons and from any player we've ever seen. Just look at how relaxed he is in the batter's box. In the past, Barry wasn't always the best player on the field. Sometimes, it would be Greg Maddux or Tom Glavine or John Smoltz.

[Mike: Technically speaking, pitchers are rarely the best players on the field. Bill James, among others, has shown that offense contributes at least 50% of a team's propensity to win. On the defensive side, pitching and team defense have to split the rest.]

matt: Let's take a look at both of the defenses....where is the advantages....and who is crazy steve?

Joe Morgan: That's a good question.. they are pretty similar defensively, pretty equal. I'd give a slight edge to the Giants but VERY slight.

[Mike: Joe, stop avoiding the question. Who is Crazy Steve? What is his relationship to Goofy Dan? Ve have ways to make you talk!]

The Ugly

Joe Morgan: While Bonds didn't face Anaheim in interleague play this year, he did in 2001 and went 5-for-11 with two home runs.

[Mike: A) What does that mean? It's 11 at-bats. B) These 11 ABs include Dennis Cook, Lou Pote, and Al Levine, none of which are on the Angels' active roster for the Series.]

Mike(Chicago): Joe, do you think the TV ratings for this World Series will beat last year? Isn't this what the fans wanted, different teams in the Series?

Joe Morgan: Yes, I think people will be interested. The Angels are a very exciting team to watch and the Giants are an interesting team to watch. After the third game I think this series will really build excitement. Both teams will give it their best and I think people will watch.

Joe Morgan (from article): Will baseball fans embrace an all-California World Series? They may react in a lukewarm manner, as they did when the Yankees and Mets met in the Subway Series in 2000, or when the A's and the Giants faced each other in 1989. In terms of interest, the best World Series matchups come when the two teams are from opposite coasts, developing an East-West rivalry.

[Mike: This is Classic Lil Joe. He contradicts himself constantly. It's great. Proof of his moral relativism in the playoffs.]

By the way: Sheez, there are too many damn Mikes in the world. That's the third one in this chat session.]

Dino (sacramento): Does Barry Bonds need a WS ring to make him anymore valuable than he already is?

Joe Morgan: More valuable to whom? No, he is already a great player. That would just add to his legacy.

Joe Morgan (from article): Being in the Series should not enhance Bonds' status as one of the game's greatest players. He already was.

[Mike: Exhibit B.]

Joe Morgan:

While Barry wants to win the championship and it will matter how he performs, he won't face the same criticism if the Giants lose. No one should say he has to win a championship because not every great player can. Ted Williams didn't. A lot of players get to the World Series and don't win, yet they still have a sense of accomplishment.

[Mike: So let me get this straight. It doesn't matter how he performs in the World Series because it's a short series and he led his team there, but it does matter how he plays in the short series leading up to the World Series? If he leads his team throughout the season, but has a poor division series or his team just doesn't win a division series, then that is significant. I have got to say Exhibit C here.]

James (NC): Joe, how will the Angels pitch Barry or will it depend on the situation?

Joe Morgan: I think they will try to pitch to him. If they get burned, they will do what everyone else did. He will hurt them at some point if they pitch to him, but you are better of pitching to him until he hurts you.

[Mike: This is patently ridiculous. The Angels will pitch to Bonds or any other player when they feel that it is to their advantage to do so. They will not pitch to Bonds or any other player when they feel it is to their disadvantage to do so. Bonds is just give a little bit more latitude in this area. If there are two outs and first base open with the pitcher up next, they will not pitch to Bonds. If it is a tie ballgame with the bases loaded, they will pitch to Bonds. There is that gray area in the middle to consider.]

Joe Morgan: At the same time, I don't expect the Angels to adhere to the normal strategy and walk Bonds every chance they get. The Angels will pitch to him, at least in the beginning. Why? Because they will be upholding the integrity of the American League, and that carries some weight. The Angels feel they have good players in their league -- and on their team.

[Mike: See note above. At least he is consistent here.]

The Classically Fugly

Dino (sacramento): Why hasen't Dusty Baker been getting the respect from the Giants ownership? He has been one of the most productive mangagers the Giants have had in a while. I am not sure letting Dusty go is a good thing for the Giants, do you?

Joe Morgan: It's not a good thing but everyone is not as smart as they appear to be. I just don't know. I don't think anyone can figure that out other than the owner or managing partner.

[Mike:I can't top that.]

Joe Morgan: Thanks for the questions.. I am looking forward to a very exciting WS. It should be a lot of fun with different personalities and different teams to watch.

[Mike: Well, they have the same teams throughout the World Series. They got rid of that round-robin tournament system a few years ago.]

Que Dijiste? The Yankees have
2002-10-21 13:07
by Mike Carminati

Que Dijiste?

The Yankees have cut Orlando Hernandez's interpretor. Can the departure of Hernandez be far behind?

Who's Your Buddy? Who's Your
2002-10-21 12:33
by Mike Carminati

Who's Your Buddy? Who's Your Pal?

My friend Mike sent me this story (before ESPN posted it so I'm giving him the credit):

MINNEAPOLIS -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig thanks Minnesota "for your patience and enthusiasm'' in a full-page advertisement printed Sunday in both of the Twins Cities daily newspapers.

The advertisement printed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis includes a color photograph of the Minnesota Twins as the 2002 American League Central Division Champions.

Underneath the picture, it states:

"Thank you, Minnesota, for your patience and enthusiasm ... and Congratulations Twins, for a most memorable season! We look forward to building our future ... together.''

It was signed "Allan H. 'Bud' Selig, Commissioner of Baseball.''

Selig failed to eliminate the Twins and Montreal Expos last offseason after baseball's contraction plans were blocked by the Minnesota courts. Baseball later agreed in its new labor deal not to eliminate teams until 2007 at the earliest.

In Minnesota, Selig was perceived as trying to help Twins owner Carl Pohlad, a close friend, get a better price in contraction that he would in a sale. Selig has denied the accusations.

Earlier this month, Selig came to the Metrodome to watch the Minnesota Twins in the opener of the ALCS. The Twins lost the series to Anaheim.

Selig means blessedly in German. I didn't know Germans had a sense of humor.

First, what a venal attempt to ingratiate himself with the Twins' fans. Second, after ignoring that community for years, at least he is acknowledging their-current and future-existence.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-21 11:47
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game Two

Wow, it was another exciting, one-run ball game with lots of chances for second-guessing and lots of heroes. First, I found myself thinking of the horrifically exciting-for me as a Phillies fan-game four of the 1993 World Series, which was more like a prize fight than a baseball game. The Phillies had starter Todd Stottlemyre and the rest of the Blue Jays bruised and bloody, literally in Stottlemyre's case, but allowed them to keep getting up, until they won 15-14. But more on that another time. McCarver and Buck cited both that 1993 game and a 1956 World Series game in which Don Larsen was knocked out in the second inning en route to a 13-8 loss (Don Larsen's next appearance was the only perfect game in World Series history). It was that kind of ballgame, one that begs for comparisons to the historical record, at least offensively.

Anyway, here are the notes that I scribbled down as I watched the game. Editorial comments in square brackets:

Bottom of 1st: Erstad shows bunt on first pitch-Ball. [Man on first, no outs. The Angels score 5 runs in the inning. Think they are happy that Erstad's first pitch was a ball?]

McCarver non-sequitur "Skip to My Lou" to describe bunt.

Anderson-fourth straight hit. This is the Angels offense that we've been waiting for.

Spiezio stole second and Fullmer home on a double steal on 5th pitch to Molina. Next pitch is a fly ball to the warning track-he would've scored anyway.

Kennedy-2-2 pitch, ducked under ball, and the ball hit the bat. It dribbled to Ortiz to end the inning. Weird!

Top of 2nd: Bonds-walks after falling behind 1-2. Buck and McCarver claim that Appier should just go after him, that walk to lead off an inning is the worst possible scenario. Would a HR to lead it off be better though?

Sanders and Bell-13th back-to-back HRs in World Series history. Long balls for San Fran again. Maybe Buck and McCarver are right about lead-off walks.

Dunston-DH? Interesting choice: a washed up shortstop who can't play short and can't hit any longer.

Lofton is up and Shoeneweiss is up (only lefty, if they use him could be big later in the game). Game-4 pitcher John Lackey is also up-could just be throwing between starts?

Bottom of 2nd: Eckstein bunt single. He is a pest.

Salmon-home run: why do they pitch him low balls?

Glaus-after double Baker is delaying at mound to get left-hander (Zerbe) time in the pen. Why wasn't he up after the first? The ump comes out to break it up and Baker points to his left arm to call for Zerbe-classic.

Top of 3rd: Kent HR. Finally. He needs to come around for the Giants to win.

Bonds shows bunt on ball one. Four straight balls-are they really pitching to him? Appier is gone. They are bringing in game-4 starter Lackey. How long does he go? Scioscia really screwed up not having another lefty in the pen. Now, he has no long reliever since Schoeneweiss is exclusively on Barry Bonds duty.

Bonds doubled off of first on a bad play. He knows it. You can tell by the look on his face.

Bottom of 4th: Eckstein-Bell makes a great play playing up for bunt [Eckstein bunted for a hit last time up]. His defense has been very good throughout playoffs.

Lycos Mark McGwire commercial-this is the funniest baseball commercial since "Bull's ear, Cat Nip." The milk through the nose cracks me up every time. [I love high-brow humor.]

Top of 5th: Bonds intentionally walked and Lackey is gone. Can he pitch game 4 still? He just said in the dugout that he's finally loose-does that bode well for his arm?

Ben Weber is in. He always reminds me of that pitcher goofing around in Little Big League that syas something like, "Put me in coach. I'm ready," while wearing weird glasses.

Sanders-did he get a piece of the 1-2 pitch? It looked like a tip, but the replay doesn't show it.

Bell-third really good at-bat (6, 8, 6 pitches). Single and RBI.

Dunston-got a hit? Wow. San Fran is playing the Angels' game, 9-7 Giants.

Bottom of 5th-#41 Zerbe reminds me of a left-handed Jim Lonborg (#41 for Phils year ago). Same up and down lead-foot delivery. Lonborg didn't have those sliders though.

Michael Eisner [in crowd wearing Mickey shirt and Angels' jacket]-biggest dork in the world. Michael show us your monkey!

Glaus-[hurt in slide into third] rolled over ball. Right in THE area. Good call McCarver.

Witasick-up for fourth time [in bullpen]. He's pitched a ballgame over there.

Zerbe-seemed to tire while Giants scored. Shot of Weber in dugout-looks beat.

Error by Lofton is costly-unearned run.

Top of 6th: Aurilia-nasty slider to K.

Rodriguez looks real good.

Bonds-I'm surprised he went on 1st pitch he has ever seen from F-Rod.

Bottom of 6th: Zerbe-surprised he's still in. Must be to pitch to lefty.

Eckstein-ball two called looked pretty good.

Zerbe-kept in to face Erstad, and he hits a rope on first offering.

Rally Monkey-lip-syching We Will Rock You [on jumbo screen]. Poor Freddie Mercury is rolling over in his grave.

Comeback Kids [Fox graphic]-Angels tied for 3rd in AL in come-from-behind wins. How are they the Comeback Kids then?

Witasick-finally in, walks Salmon, and he's gone. Ball 4 way outside, in dirt.

Salmon-does Ginats favor by getting caught in a rundown to end the inning.

Top of 7th: Santiago just missed second pitch-straight back. Then ugly on slider.

Snow-swung at slider about a foot inside.

Sanders-First strike is a rising fastball-unhittable.

Sanders-second strike is right down the pike. Sanders is frozen. Rodriguez has them completely off-balance.

Bottom of 7th: Dueling Rodriguezes [Felix in for Giants]-fifth pitcher for SF, only 7th, and it's tied.

Gheorge Brett-caught Fullmer's fly ball. Replay shows that he didn't even stand up. It just fell in his lap as he ate a hot dog. He does look cool.

Fullmer-tough at-bat. Draws 9-pitch walk.

Top of 8th: Dunston is still in vs. F-Rod. Why not use [lefty] Goodwin-save for Percival? But top of the order will be up then. Wasted chance. Foul fly on first pitch.

Bottom of 8th: Kennedy-best AB tonight. Foul ball on 6th pitch-long. Flies out.

Eckstein-McCarver: "The guy with the Minny Me strike zone and the heart of Simba." Lordy Mama!

Erstad-why isn't Eyre ready and in, with lefty up and baserunner at first? Tough AB [8 pitches and three throws to first]-flied out.

Salmon-big homer! Rodriguez looked tanked after Erstad AB, grooves one to Salmon. Rattled by runner-threw over again before HR pitch.

Top of 9th: Aurilia-why is he swinging 1-0? Flies out to left.

Kent-another fly out to left. Kent had a tough AB but seems back in slump [2 K's and fly out since HR].

Bonds-Monster HR. Why didn't Aurlia work Percival a bit? Tim Salmon says [you can read his lips in dugout], "That is the longest ball I've ever seen hit here." I disagree with the announcers' assessment that you don't walk Bonds-preferable to grooving a pitch. [Percival admitted later that he just threw it up there and dared Bonds to hit it.]

Santiago-pop up. End of ballgame.

The Angels can feel good for a number of reasons:

1) They won their first World Series game to get that monkey off their back.

2) They evened the Series.

3) Rodriguez pitched tremendously. His last inning was his worst-no K's-, but it was still one-two-three. Now everyone in the Giants lineup has faced Rodriguez and they may make some adjustments the next time-we'll have to see. My prediction that F-Rod could get wild did not hold true [4 balls in 26 pitches], but this is only game 2 and he had a week off [he did throw three straight balls to Snow after going ahead 0-2]. We'll see what happens the next time out.

4) They finally got their small-ball offense going. Though they did win with a HR.

It wasn't all positive for the Angels: Appier had a very bad outing and may have to pitch again. Lackey now may not be available in game 4. Weber looked very hittable. Kennedy is now struggling at the plate.

The Giants had some positives: Zerbe pitched well before tiring. The bottom of the order continues to produce (even Dunston). They are making the Angels pay for walking Bonds (2 runs for him after a walk). Kent may have started to break out of his slump with the HR.

The negatives for the Giants: With all of the scoring the top of order still was not productive: Lofton 1-for-5 with a K, Aurila 1-for-5 with a run and 2 K's, and Kent 1-for-5 with a HR and 2 K's. Ortiz looked very bad and may be needed for game 6. Rodriguez grooved a HR pitch to Salmon and didn't have an encouraging outing all-around. Rodriguez and Percival were very effective shutting down the Giants for the last four (except the Bonds HR). Lofton had another problem with a ball in his glove (3rd of the postseason), which cost them a run.

Game 3, as it always is in these series, appears to be of monolithic importance in this series. Tuesday will be fun.

World Series Game Two Wow,
2002-10-21 00:11
by Mike Carminati

World Series Game Two

Wow, what a ballgame! I will post some notes tomorrow as well as my tardy Joe Morgan Chat Day review. The ballgame just went to long and I have to wake up early tomorrow.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-20 10:18
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game One, II

I just was watching The Sports Reporters on ESPN, and Mike Lupica said that the difference in last night's ballgame was the bullpen. The Giant bullpen held the Angels hitless for 3 innings (actually 3.1), and that was the difference.

Did he watch the same game as me? The Angels allowed no hits and no runs with two strikeouts and one walk (an intenionally unintentional one to Bonds) over the last 3-1/3.

The Giants' pen allowed no hits and no runs with three strikeouts and one walk (Spiezio) over the last 3-1/3. Nen also gave up some long foul balls to two of the three men he faced and a decently long fair fly ball to end it.

I would say that at worst the Angels' bullpen was the equal of the Giants' last night.

World Series: Notes from Game
2002-10-20 01:18
by Mike Carminati

World Series: Notes from Game One

First, I have to say that this was as good as advertised: the Giants and Angels are very well-matched and played very well overall. Here are the notes I scribbled on my scorecard as I watched the game (some explanatory notes added in square brackets):

Top of 2nd: Bonds' home run was a monster shot. Washburn looked like a fan, smiling as the ball left the park.

Bottom of 2nd: Fullmer steal-Bad call on steal. He was out. High tag but foot was over not on bag.

Bottom of 3rd: Eckstein hit high and tight ball to right to move runner [Kennedy to third with one out]-nice.

Bottom of 3rd:Erstad's second strike (called) was clearly inside. Strikes out on ugly pitch.

Top of 4th: Bonds K'ed on ball four (high and tight). How often do you see that?

Top of 5th: Lofton shows bunt on 1st, 2nd, 4th pitch late. McCarver says AL doesn't bunt as much as NL [Lofton had been on Chisox until midseason]. Is that still true of position players or just perception?

Bottom of 5th: Salmon-Snow fell down, got up, caught foul ball. (McCarver mentions Boone-dropped/Rose-caught fly ball in 1980 World Series. I though of that, too.)

Bottom of 6th: Glauss [2nd HR]-bad pitch. Turned on it. Ball over plate, should've been outside.

Bottom of 6th: Molina-Hit & Run. Bad hop to Bell. Can only go to first. H&R saved double play.

Top of 7th: Shinjo still in vs. righty? Baker left bench short and is saving Goodwin.

Top of 8th: Kent ostensibly lined out to short. Eckstein dropped ball but had time to get Kent since he did not run it out.

Top of 8th: Bonds [after Schoeneweiss brought in to face him]-why bring in lefty to pitch around Bonds? Waste!

Bottom of 8th: Worrell in. Nice at-bat vs. Glauss. Some nasty breaking stuff.

Bottom of 8th: Figgens [pinch-runner]-McCarver says that he shouldn't run because it would waste [pinch-hitter] Palmeiro given that Jose Molina would have come in to catch an lead off 9th. What if Molina takes Figgens spot and Palmeiro plays first? Just an idea.

Bottom of 8th: Worrell-not getting ball three call to Spiezio seemed to rattle him. Followed by four straight balls.

Bottom of 8th: Snow holding runner [tying run] on full count, 2 out.

Top of 9th: Buck called Goodwin a pinch-hitter, but isn't he just the new DH?

[From the rule book: Pinch hitters for a Designated Hitter may be used. Any substitute hitter for a Designated Hitter becomes the Designated Hitter.]

Bottom of 9th: Good to know Rally Monkey ancestry [Fox graphic]. Started vs. Giants-how prescient!

Bottom of 9th: Kennedy-monster hit foul on fourth pitch.

Bottom of 9th: Eckstein-liner down left field line just foul, 3rd pitch. Strike out on a nasty outside slider, impossible to hit, impossible to lay off [1-2].

Post: For a team known for late-inning rallies they [Angels] were 0-9 with a walk vs. Giants pen.

Lyons [interviewing Snow] half-jokingly admonished Snow for slipping [on foul ball]-moron.

Jeanne-"It's Barry Bonds' world...series" and "The Bonds market is up". Oh brother!

Final notes:

The Giants can feel good because they got the win, took the home-field advantage away, their bullpen pitched well, the Shinjo move (almost) worked (1-3), Sanders had a big game, and the bottom of the order contributed. But they only had 6 hits, the top three in the order did nothing, and Kent looks very bad offensively and failed to run out a play.

Gammons had asked if game-two starter Russ Ortiz, who hits better than practically anyone on the Giant bench, will hit for himself? Rulebook says: "It is not mandatory that a club designate a hitter for the pitcher, but failure to do so prior to the game precludes the use of a Designated Hitter for that game." If Ortiz leaves early this could come back to haunt them. There is no way that they will do it.

For the Angels, Washburn looked hittable and may get two more starts, top of the order went 2-for-14, and only had one run that wasn't driven in by a home run. The only bright spots are Glauss' continued postseason improvement and Donnelly and Weber's performance.

Keep in mind that the Giants' OPS against lefties is nearly 100 points higher than against right-handers. With Bonds' bat, you wouldn't expect it. Those numbers may be slightly skewed since Snow and Lofton did not play full year.

Preview Du Jour The World
2002-10-19 20:03
by Mike Carminati

Preview Du Jour

The World Series starts in about five minutes and I just had some final thoughts that I wanted to post:

1) San Francisco has a predominately right-handed line-up and Anaheim has a predominately right-handed pitching staff.

However, the only lefty starter (Washburn) will probably go three times. Schoeneweiss is the only other lefty on the staff and he will probably be reserved as Bonds' personal caddy.

I am surprised that lefty reliever Dennis Cook was not activated by the Angels and that left-handed batter Damon Minor was not activated by the Giants.

I think this will be less of an edge for the Angels given that Bonds is a lefty and Snow is hot. The undermanned (left-handed) Angels bullpen may be an issue when they go to San Francisco.

The Angels staff's propensity to give up home runs and the Giants propensity to hit home runs should also be a factor.

2) San Francisco's DH: On the rightside the options are Ramon Martinez, which leaves the bench short for backup infielders, Shawon Dunston, or Tsuyoshi Shinjo. None are very savory options. On the left-side, there is basically Tom Goodwin, also not a great option. Minor could have been helpful. Given that possibly four games will be played in Anaheim with the DH, this could be a factor against the Giants.

3) Bonds: Bonds will get walked a lot, I think, in this series. The Angels will have to walk Bonds a good deal of the time because of the probable righty-to-lefty matchup. Washburn will probably challenge Bonds and was probably put in to start the first game in part to do so. But if first base is open, with one or two outs, I would expect the Angels to walk him. It's just the book on Bonds now. No one wants to be beaten by pitching to him.

The question for me of is not so much what the Angels will do against Bonds as what Kent and Santiago do against the Angels. Kent so far has had a poor postseason, and his inability to put pressure on the opponent's staff has allowed them to walk Bonds. Santiago has had a good postseason and made teams pay for walking Bonds. They both need good series.

4) Francisco Rodriguez: The Angels have quickly grown to rely on the rookie. He had a rough outing in the last game against Minnesota getting a little wild. He was very wild in the minors and either he was starting to tire, having been used so often, or his wildness was returning. Either way, I think that Rodriguez as good as he is could be an Achilles heel for Anaheim.

5) Angels' offense: I'm not sure what to make of the Angels' offense. Aside from two incredible innings, the Angels have relied very heavily on the home run. That is uncharacteristic given their regular season performance. I would have to think that this does not bode well for the Angels' offense in the Series, unless, of course, they hit a ton of home runs.

Final prediction: Giants in 6. The Giant home runs, Rodriguez potential Shiraldi-ing, and the Angels' potentially poor offense outweigh the Giants' lack of a DH.

Los Yanquis The Yankees are
2002-10-18 16:42
by Mike Carminati

Los Yanquis

The Yankees are going after two foreign players, left fielder Hideki Matsui from Japan and right-handed pitcher José Contreras from Cuba. Given New York's success at wooing foreign players, I wouldn't be surprised to see them in a Yankees' uniform soon.

Puckett-Even the Name Sounds Perverted
2002-10-18 16:00
by Mike Carminati

Puckett-Even the Name Sounds Perverted

Kirby Puckett was charged today with sexually assaulting a woman in a men's room on September 6. That was the night that the Twins ended the A's 20-game winning streak with a 6-0 shutout by Brad Radke at home. The game lasted until about 10:30.

With a proud day as a celebrity in the middle of a pennant race completed, it was now Miller time. Two hours later, it was time for Puckett to drag unsuspecting women into the bathroom allegedly. He's Kirby Puckett. She was in Minnesota. It's his right, allegedly. Besides what was she doing near a bathroom-what else did she expect, allegedly?

Puckett was last seen whooping up the Twins troops in their dramatic victory over the A's in the division series, allegedly. I wonder how many women he had to molest-allegedly-before working himself up to those inspirational pep talks.

Let Me Know When Barbaro
2002-10-18 15:26
by Mike Carminati

Let Me Know When Barbaro Garbey Is Named GM

The 2003 Detroit dugout is fast becoming a Tiger wax museum. They just added former highlight reel Kirk Gibson to the staff as bench coach. This on top of new manager Alan Trammell, bullpen coach Lance Parrish, hitting coach Bruce Fields, and third-base coach Juan Samuel (damn, I'm old), all ex-Tiger players.

Evidently, they feel that fans will come to see retired players that they know as opposed to the active players that they don't want to know.

Compeer Comparisons ESPN has a
2002-10-18 14:37
by Mike Carminati

Compeer Comparisons

ESPN has a decent comparison of the key positions. I would disagree on the bullpens (edge Angels) and managers (edge Giants), but overall it's OK.

I have a problem with these simplistic approaches in general and have avoided doing them in the playoffs because a) there are tons of those already and what am I going to say that hasn't been said already and b) I don't think this approach really tells you all that much-Bonds' superiority to Anderson is canceled out by Erstad's edge over Lofton, which does not accurately reflect the true match-ups. Besides Bonds is not matching up against Anderson but rather against the Angels' pitchers and the defense in a given situation. Bonds and Anderson just happen to play the same position.

I will try to take a shot at key match-ups in the series and how they might affect the outcome. My gut feeling is Giants in 6, which is what both this analysis and the computer simulation came up with. Therefore, I am almost certain that the Angels will win. Now I'd like to put some thought into it and see if I can say something meaningful on the topic. Or in other words, enough of my jive, let's boogie.

Did I mention that there is a 4-day break before the World Series?

No Need to Watch-The Giants
2002-10-18 13:37
by Mike Carminati

No Need to Watch-The Giants Already Won

A computer simulation based out of that baseball mecca, Jersey City, N.J., has predicted a Giants victory, four games to two, in the Series. Of course, Jersey City was a minor-league affiliate with the Giants for a number of years in the 1930s and 1940s (and Giants replaced their great long-time nickname, the Skeeters), so there may be a bias.

Macha-chistic? The Brew Crew have
2002-10-18 12:03
by Mike Carminati


The Brew Crew have offered Ken Macha a 3-year contract as manager. As we learned in Scarface, a macha is "a pig that don't fly straight no more." I'm sure that Frank Lopez did not have Ken in mind when he stated this. Of course, he did have an issue with the catcher on his little-league team though.

Futility Feuds The San Francisco
2002-10-18 11:49
by Mike Carminati

Futility Feuds

The San Francisco Giants last won the World Series in 1954 when they were playing in the Polo Grounds-that's New York, don't you know. That series featured the amazing Mays' catch as New York swept 111-game winning Cleveland. 2001 made 47 straight seasons in which they failed to reach baseball's promised land, 47 years of futility. As we all know by now, the Angels have never won a World Series. They have had 41 years of futility.

Combined these two teams have 88 years of futility between them. That seemed a bit high to me. I wondered what was total for previous seasons. I didn't think that it meant anything especially: I just thought it was kind of interesting. I based totals using the season of 1903, the first NL-AL World Series as the starting point (sorry, Bill Temple). The non-Series years of 1904 and 1994, I included in the totals (except for the two league winners in 1904 who were not allowed to meet because of Giants' manager John McGraw's disdain for the AL for being fired as manager of the AL Baltimore Orioles in 1902).

Anyway, I found that 88 years is the second total of all time, tying the 1980 Phillies (77 years)-Royals (11) Series. The all-time high is 90 years in the 1975 World Series (Reds 34, Red Sox 56). The next highest are 1995 with 83 years (Braves 37, Indians 46) and 1972 with 72 (A's 41, Reds 31).

That got me to thinking what was the lowest total ever. The lowest potential total (other than zero for both teams in 1903) would be one if the past two champions meet in the Series. That happened in 1928 (Cards-Yanks), 1943 (ditto), and 1958 (Yanks and Braves). There was only one total of 2-1956 (Yanks and Dodgers).

Another thing I thought was what was the greatest disparity in years of futility between the two clubs. That would be 66 years in 1980 (Phillies 77, Royals 11). Here is the entire list with a difference between the two teams' years of futility 50 or above:

Year Disparity
1980 66 (Phillies 77, Royals 11-winner Phillies)
1966 63 (Orioles 63, Dodgers 0-winner Orioles)
1987 58 (Twins 62, Cardinals 4-winner Twins)
1986 51 (Red Sox 67, Mets 16-winner Mets)
1955 51 (Dodgers 52, Yankees 1-winner Dodgers, finally! Let's move.)
1953 50 (Dodgers 50, Yankees 0-winner Yankees)

Finally, -before you're completely sick of this-here are the years of futility for the potential 2003 World Series combatants:

Anaheim 0 or 42 (depending on the 2002 outcome)
Arizona 1
Atlanta 7
Baltimore 19
Boston 84
Chicago Cubs 94
Chicago White Sox 85
Cincinnati 12
Cleveland 54
Colorado 10
Detroit 18
Florida 5
Houston 41
Kansas City 17
Los Angeles 13
Milwaukee 34
Minnesota 11
Montreal 34
New York Mets 16
New York Yankees 2
Oakland 13
Philadelphia 22
Pittsburgh 23
St. Louis 20
San Diego 34
San Francisco 0 or 48 (depending on the 2002 outcome)
Seattle 26
Tampa Bay 5
Texas 42
Toronto 9

A Cub-White Sox World Series confab besides selling a lot of pop would blow away the previous high with 179 years of futility between them. A Cubs-Red Sox meeting would be just one year less.

By the way, the Yankees have never strung together more than 20 years of futility at once. Their high of 20 was broken by their first title in 1923. They only have two other stretches of over 10 years: 17 broken in 1996, and 14 broken in 1977.

"Hey Guys, I'm Back" Mike
2002-10-18 10:07
by Mike Carminati

"Hey Guys, I'm Back"

Mike Lieberthal and John Smoltz were named the co-comeback players of the year in NL yesterday. Lieberthal, I understand-he played only 34 games as the Phillies catcher in 2001-, but Smoltz? He picthed from right after the 2001 All-Star through the end of the year (as well as 5 games in May). How was 2002 his comeback year?

Exponential MLB is now discussing
2002-10-18 09:54
by Mike Carminati


MLB is now discussing having the Expos stay in Montreal for 2003 with some home series played in other cities including San Juan and Portland. Neither city has a stadium that holds more than 20,000 people (Estadio Hiram Bithorn has a capacity of 18k). If this is meant to be a means to evaluate each city for a potential move in 2004, then the attendance is going to be a big disappointment.

The Guys That Steve Palermo
2002-10-18 09:47
by Mike Carminati

The Guys That Steve Palermo Will Defend on National TV in the Next Round

Here is the World Series umpiring crew. It includes Tim Tschida who once ejected Angel Orlando Plameiro for dropping his bat after striking out. Palmeiro happened to be leaving the bat for the next hitter-this was part of an attempt by the hitting coach Rod Carew to break the team out of a batting slump by sharing one bat. Tschida did reverse his decision after then-manager Terry Collins explained the situation. Tschida once admitted that, ''I didn't make the right call,'' in a 1999 ALCS game when he called a runner out even though the fielder clearly missed the tag. The runner was the potential tying run in the eighth, but the play ended the inning.

Angel Hernandez caused a small stir in August 2001. He called Cub Ron Coomer, trying to score on a wild pitch, out on a close play at home that would have tied the score in the sixth. Steve McMichael, former football player and pro wrestler, had been enlisted to sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch, which he decided to introduce by promising to talk to Hernandez after the game. Hernandez promptly ejected McMichael, perhaps the first time that an individual not involved in the game has been ejected by an ump. He once called Brave Michael Tucker safe at home on a sac fly to win an 11-inning game even though the throw clearly beat Tucker. In 2001 he changed a home run to a long foul fly-ball strike after the batter had rounded the bases and had taken a seat in the dugout. Also, in 1996 Kenny Lofton left his bat at home in a sort of protest of Hernandez calling him out on strikes. Hernandez kicked the bat away in an act called the most unprofessional thing that manager Mike Hargrove ever had seen on a ball field.

Battle Creek-native Mike Reilly has his own webpage. Sorry, no email, but here's an enlarged photo of Mike.

Tim McClelland was the arbiter in the famous George Brett/pine tar incident and has this Q&A page on

The crew chief is Jerry Crawford, who once had an altercation with Bill Madlock. Crawford called Madlock out with the bases loaded in a 1980 game, and Madlock responded by poking Crawford in the face with his glove. Well, fair is fair. Madlock was fined $5K and suspended 15 games but remained in uniform during his requisite appeal. Mad Dog dropped the appeal after the entire NL umpiring staff threatened to eject him for every game he played. Crawford did receive top grades in the umpiring report cards issued in 1999. His parents posted it on the fridge. He also headed the failed Richie Phillips umpiring union and its hunger strike attempt.

Soccer? I Hardly Even Know
2002-10-18 01:21
by Mike Carminati

Soccer? I Hardly Even Know Her

Check out this story about an embittered LA soccer player, who is making personal comments about Angels' fans:

Galaxy find themselves lost in Angels' 'World'

The Los Angeles Galaxy held their final practice yesterday , but there was considerably more fanfare 35 miles away, where their baseball neighbors, the Anaheim Angels, prepared for the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.

"I certainly think they have their fans and we have our fans." Galaxy defender Alexi Lalas said with a wry grin. "Ours may be a little more underground, certainly a little more intelligent, probably better looking.

'And all in all probably a better class of people. To each his own. There's a time when you want to drink a bottle of beer and there's a time when you want to enjoy some fine wine."

The Galaxy. featuring established stars Lalas and Cobi Jones, and high-scoring Major League Soccer rookie Carlos Ruiz. face the New England Revolution on Sunday in Foxboro, Mass., in the MLS title game.

Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, a Giants fan as a youngster who will be rooting for San Francisco in the World Series, hopes his own team can snap an 0-3 record in MLS title games.

He calls his fans "a better class of people." Oh, are they the ones that swill down the beer that he mentions and then go on rampages at the stadium killing rival fans.

It all reminds me of the quote in Spinal Tap: When their manager is asked if their audience is slipping because they are playing at considerably smaller venues on the current tour than previously. He replies, "No, it's just that their appeal has gotten more selective."

10K is A-OK Today Mike's
2002-10-17 21:47
by Mike Carminati

10K is A-OK

Today Mike's Baseball Rants got its 10,000th visitor. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed your stay. Tell your friends and relatives.

"It's Funny Cause It's True"
2002-10-17 17:00
by Mike Carminati

"It's Funny Cause It's True"

My friend Mike sent me this great quote from Rob Dibble. It's funny on many levels:

"If I were Barry, and I were that good, I'd be two-times the jerk people perceive him to be."

Dusty Roads Correct me if
2002-10-17 16:46
by Mike Carminati

Dusty Roads

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if the Giants win, won't Dusty Baker be the first African-American to successfully pilot a team to a World Series title? I believe he is the first African-American to even manage in the Series. The only other minority World Series manager that I can remember is Cito Gaston (Toronto 1992-1993), who is Latin (born in San Antonio).

With all the hoopla, I wonder why we haven't heard this-at least I haven't. Maybe it's a sign that we've progressed as a society past the point where these labels mean anything. Well, at least everyone but me, I guess.

A Trophy Atrophy This is
2002-10-17 16:23
by Mike Carminati

A Trophy Atrophy

This is only the seventh time in World Series history that two teams will meet that both represent cities that have never won a World Series. It's only the second time in 82 years. The other six times are:

1903 Boston (AL) vs. Pittsburgh
1905 New York (NL) vs. Philadelphia (AL)
1906 Chicago vs. Chicago
1909 Pittsburgh vs. Detroit
1920 Cleveland vs. Brooklyn (if you consider Brooklyn and New York separate)
1992 Toronto vs. Atlanta

He's a No-Accountant You may
2002-10-17 13:48
by Mike Carminati

He's a No-Accountant

You may have noticed that my counter jumped in the last day or so by a significant margin. I have just added in an estimated total for the time I did not have the counter set up when I started the site. This is in anticipation of my 10,000th hit. I'm kvelling already!

"What's Wrong with Being a
2002-10-17 13:46
by Mike Carminati

"What's Wrong with Being a Sexagenarian?", II

By the way, that was a take-off on a Nigel Tufnel quote if you didn't know.

My friend Mike says that I oversold the sparce 70-and-over data. I just want to clarify: I don't think that the data prove anything especially since it's such a small sample size. I was just trying to evaluate the merits of Neyer's statement. I think it demonstrates, as he said, that their is no "historical precedent for a good manager in his middle 70s." It doesn't prove that one could not be successful, but it explains why or at least how teams would rather shy away from older candidates.

Also, you probably noticed that Cornelius McGillicuddy outlasted everyone even though his record wasn't very good. It causes more of a drag on the data as the groupings get older and smaller. Well, Mack, as you probably know, was in a special position: He owned the team. Managerial record did not really apply for him. Not many managers have such a luxury today (now that Pete Rose has been blackballed).

"What's Wrong with Being a
by Mike Carminati

"What's Wrong with Being a Sexagenarian? "

Felipe Alou is bitter. He says that baseball will "have white and young managers," and that, "[b]lacks and Latinos won't have many opportunities from now on." Oddly, he doesn't call it racism, "because we've already overcome that, but in the major leagues the trends are cyclical. They come and go." So, it's just a trend that Luis Pujols and Jerry Royster were fired (Royster by an African-American team prez) and that Pujols was replaced by lilly-white hometown boy and first-time manager Alan Trammell, while Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss are left scrounging for coaching spots.

Rob Neyer had an interesting take on Alou:

Umm, you know he's listed as being 72 years old, right? I know he doesn't look that old, but the fact is that he might actually be older than 72. And there's not any historical precedent for a good manager in his middle 70s.

Actually, Alou is listed as 67. He may be older-it has always been common among Latin players to fudge their ages. But I doubt that he is five years older. That would mean that he retired at 44. Doubtful.

So is there precedent for managerial success in one's late sixties or even one's sixties? Among today's managers Joe Torre (62), Bobby Cox (61), and Jeff Torborg (60) all qualify for discounts at the movies; two of them-guess which-will probably go in the Hall of Fame as managers and won over 100 games each this year. By the end of next year, Jimmy Williams and Lou Piniella, two highly sought-after skippers, will join that group. Manager/genius/auteur (at least until this past postseason) Tony LaRussa will start riding the bus for free in 2004.

Let's look at the all-time record of managers who are card-carrying members of AARP. First, the 60 and over set:

Name Name          W     L  Pct
Eddie Popowski     1     0 1.000
Eddie Stanky       1     0 1.000
Joe McCarthy     223   145 .606
Burt Shotton     326   215 .603
Joe Torre        285   197 .591
Billy Martin      40    28 .588
Bobby Cox        189   133 .587
Fred Haney       178   132 .574
Walter Alston    549   411 .572
Steve O'Neill    269   207 .565
Chuck Dressen    380   313 .548
Red Schoendienst  13    11 .542
Casey Stengel   1227  1043 .541
Bucky Harris      82    72 .532
Joe Morgan       172   152 .531
Gene Mauch       257   229 .529
Ralph Houk       312   282 .525
Jack McKeon      328   302 .521
Tom Lasorda      744   721 .508
Leo Durocher     633   621 .505
Paul Owens        81    81 .500
Jimmy Dykes      245   247 .498
Herman Franks    238   241 .497
Wilbert Robinson 684   695 .496
Billy Gardner     62    64 .492
Dave Garcia      209   216 .492
Jeff Torborg      79    83 .488
Don Zimmer        18    19 .486
Tom Sheehan       46    50 .479
Roger Craig      232   254 .477
Connie Mack     2037  2266 .473
Dallas Green     183   205 .472
George Bamberger 142   171 .454
Al Lopez          29    35 .453
Felipe Alou      453   554 .450
Sparky Anderson  113   146 .436
Charlie Fox       17    22 .436
Bob Lemon         17    22 .436
Danny Ozark       24    32 .429
Bill McKechnie    64    86 .427
Red Corriden      52    72 .419
Paul Richards     64    97 .398
Bobby Mattick    104   164 .388
Jack Onslow       71   113 .386
Yogi Berra         6    10 .375
John McNamara     10    18 .357
Charlie Grimm      6    11 .353
Frank Lucchesi     8    17 .320
Del Baker          2     5 .286
Hans Lobert       42   109 .278
Billy Meyer       42   112 .273
Luke Appling      10    30 .250
Johnny Pesky       1     4 .200
Bobby Wallace      5    20 .200
               11599 11461 .503

Well, actually they are a bit better than average. There are some all-time greats in that list too, some of which were still successful (McCarthy, Alston, Stengel, Mauch, and Harris). However, there are also a number of successful managers who seemed to lose the winning touch in their sixties (Mack, Richards, and Anderson). Overall, there is enough success to say that there is no evidence to support Neyer's statements re. 60-year-olds.

Maybe, we should look at Alou contemporaries, the 65-and-above set:

Name               W    L  PCT
Burt Shotton     186  122 .604
Walter Alston     90   68 .570
Red Schoendienst  13   11 .542
Chuck Dressen    221  189 .539
Ralph Houk        86   76 .531
Jack McKeon      291  259 .529
Leo Durocher     311  296 .512
Wilbert Robinson 312  300 .510
Herman Franks     78   77 .503
Casey Stengel    734  769 .488
Tom Lasorda      321  337 .488
Jimmy Dykes       77   83 .481
Tom Sheehan       46   50 .479
Connie Mack     1661 1882 .469
Felipe Alou       88  127 .409
Paul Richards     64   97 .398
Bobby Mattick    104  164 .388
Del Baker          2    5 .286
                4685 4912 .488

Well, there is a dropoff past the age of 65 apparently. Although, Alston had one good year left in him, and Robinson and Durocher improved.

Let's take a look at a few more groups to see if the trend continues. First, 70-year-olds:

Name            W    L  PCT
Jack McKeon    85   77 .525
Connie Mack  1159 1621 .417
Casey Stengel 272  461 .371
             1516 2159 .413

Now, 75+:
Name W L PCT

Connie Mack  807 1216 .399
Casey Stengel 31   64 .326
             838 1280 .396

And finally 80 and above:

Name            W   L  PCT
Connie Mack   572 810 .414

Wow, they start dropping like flies, by winning percentage and by number of managers. Neyer just might have something there. I would say that there is evidence for managerial success in one's early sixties. In the late sixties, the winning percentages start to drop, and by 70, one is historically too old to manage.

Of course, with ballplayers and regular ol' folk taking better care of themselves, they have remained active longer. Perhaps in a few years we will see managers being successful into their 70s or even 80s.

Does this help Alou? Probably not. He is fast approaching the big 7-oh and has been out of the game for a year. He turned down the Boston gig for 2002, and that may have been his last offer. Perception has always held that Alou was and is a superior manager, but with the recent success in Montreal and with Alou's numbers (.450 winning percentage since turning 60), that perception may be changing. Besides, if racism is actually an issue in managerial hiring today, teams now have a number of ready-made excuses, including age, to ignore Alou.

Only the Series Matters John
2002-10-16 22:18
by Mike Carminati

Only the Series Matters

John Perricone has a World Series preview over at Only Baseball Matters. Go check him out.

K-E-Double R-I G-A-N spells
2002-10-16 22:09
by Mike Carminati

K-E-Double R-I G-A-N spells Kerrigan!

The offseason hasn't officially started and the Phillies have already improved themselves for next year. No, they haven't re-signed Terry Adams or another journeyman swingman to a multi-million-dollar contract. No, they haven't signed Adams' younger brother Gomez-they love signing brothers. No, they have not coaxed Gregg Jefferies out of retirement or pried Ron Gant away from the Padres to platoon in left and stand in the way of more promising young players. Heck, they didn't even trade away five major-league players for one overrated skinny rookie outfielder.

The Phillies signed Joe Kerrigan to be the pitching coach for 2003. It was announced last Friday and now that baseball is on hiatus for four days-did I mention that this will be NO BASEBALL FOR FOUR DAYS?-I have time to get to it.

Kerrigan has been a very effective coach in the past developing young arms in Montreal and Boston while reclaiming veterans from the scrap heap. Kerrigan was let go in spring training as manager of the Red Sox and hooked on for the Phillies' postgame show on Comcast SportsNet. He was the logical choice for pitching coach. He knows the staff and the organization, and hopefully he knows what he's getting himself into.

The Phillies will look to Kerrigan to develop Vicente Padilla (25 years old), Brett Myers (22), and Randy Wolf (26) into upper-tier starters. He will determine if the once promising careers of youngsters Brandon Duckworth (26) and David Coggin (25) can be salvaged. Also, he must decide if older players like one-time staff ace Robert Person (if he re-signs) and 31-year-old, career minor-leaguer Joe Roa can be used to fill out the staff.

On the bullpen side, he will have to determine what is to be done with a group that performed adequately but is aging and potentially will be decimated by free agent departures. Ostensibly, the always unpredictable Jose Mesa will return as the closer. Terry Adams pitched well in relief, but given that he was signed to big contract as a starter ($2.7M in 2002), his option may not be picked up. Overpriced journeyman, Ricky Bottalico's option will almost certainly be dropped. Veterans Dan Plesac, Jose Santiago, and Mike Timlin will probably depart as free agents. That leaves Carlos Silva (3.21 ERA as reliever), Cliff Politte (3.86), lefty Hector Mercado (5.13), and lefty Rheal Cormier (5.25 with a $2.8M 2002 salary who worked with Kerrigan in Boston). Their bullpen was ranked twentieth by Baseball Prospectus in adjusted runs prevented. None of their relievers finished in the top 30 in this statistic. Certainly, the Phils look extremely weak from the left side and overall the bullpen looks pretty poor for 2003 and may get worse with the free agent defections. The other spots may be filled by one or more of the starters who don't make the rotation, free agents, and/or trades. It doesn't look like there is a Francisco Rodriguez waiting in their minor-league system.

Kerrigan certainly has his work cut out for him, but if the Phils wanted to make one move to shore up their pitching staff short of having held on to Curt Schilling, this looks like a hard one to beat.

Doubting Thomas The Chicago White
2002-10-16 16:50
by Mike Carminati

Doubting Thomas

The Chicago White Sox invoked the diminished skills clause in Frank Thomas' contract today. The once Big Hurt has 7 days to accept a smaller base salary or become a free agent. The prevailing wind has him accepting the pay cut (or rather deferment) and staying with the Sox.

Thomas is still a decent offensive player (59th in OPS with an .834) but is a shadow of the great player he was once and is relegated to DH'ing. He will be 35 in May, 2003. Would anyone be willing to pay him more than the $250K base the White Sox will now pay him? Probably-The Red Sox and Braves come to mind. But don't forget that he has nearly $10M in deferred payments. No one is going to match that not in these days of austerity.

That's probably what the Sox think and that's why they are willing to make this gamble. What if they lose? The ChiSox are a young team with players like Joe Crede and Joe Borchard who can DH if they do not start defensively (or the players they displace can move to DH). Besides their minor league system is brimming with talent. The AL Central is weak division and they probably feel that they contend as easily with Thomas as without.

What does Thomas do? Swallow his pride and the deferred cash and stay or test the free agent waters? Only he knows for sure, but realistically Chicago is the best place for him to be in 2003.

This will be an interesting test case. If Thomas stays, these sorts of clauses will start to be pushed more and more on aging players or those with long-term agreements.

Full Nelson Uncle! I give.
2002-10-16 15:23
by Mike Carminati

Full Nelson

Uncle! I give.

After reading this post on Only Baseball Matters and consulting the always interesting The Rules and Lore of Baseball, I have changed my opinion of Jeff Nelson's invocation of the obstruction rule-though I still disagree with his judgment call but even though the majority seem to agree with me, that still is a judgment call.

I had been caught up on the phrase "If a play is being made on the obstructed runner" which invokes the first half of the rule and as I stated earlier would award Santiago home. But the OBM email got me thinking: what qualifies as a play being made? If there was no play being made on Santiago, then the second part of the rule would be invoked and Nelson would be correct. Here is the rest of the rule:

7.06 (b) If no play is being made on the obstructed runner, the play shall proceed until no further action is possible. The umpire shall then call "Time" and impose such penalties, if any, as in his judgment will nullify the act of obstruction. Under 7.06 (b) when the ball is not dead on obstruction and an obstructed runner advances beyond the base which, in the umpire's judgment, he would have been awarded because of being obstructed, he does so at his own peril and may be tagged out. This is a judgment call.

The rules make a distinction between non-fielder obstructors and those considered "in the act of fielding a ball":

If a fielder is about to receive a thrown ball and if the ball is in flight directly toward and near enough to the fielder so he must occupy his position to receive the ball he may be considered "in the act of fielding a ball." It is entirely up to the judgment of the umpire as to whether a fielder is in the act of fielding a ball. After a fielder has made an attempt to field a ball and missed, he can no longer be in the "act of fielding" the ball.

But it does not define what is meant by a play being made on the runner. Cairo was not in the act of fielding the ball. If I recall the replay properly, the ball was just getting to the relay man when the obstruction occurred. If Cairo did not possess the ball nor was he fielding the ball at the time of the obstruction, does that mean that no play was being made on Santiago?

Being thick-skulled, I was unsure. So as I said earlier, I consulted the ever-interesting The Rules and Lore of Baseball. This is a great resource for investigating rules since like a law book it contains all of the precedents in which the rules were used in the past. Under rule 7.06(a), I found a few passages about catcher's blocking the plate without the ball and this story about obstruction as it pertains to a rundown:

Boston and Washington played a night game on May 21, 1955, in which Boston outfielder Jackie Jensen and Washington pitcher Mickey McDermott were involved in an obstruction play and mild skirmish.

In the top of the twelfth inning, Jensen was on first base with two out. Picked off by McDermott and trapped, Jackie made a break for second, then returned to first base. On his way back to first, his progress was obstructed by [first baseman] Mickey Vernon. Obstruction was called by the second base umpire, Ed Runge, but he didn't make any gestures to go with the call.

Jesnsen was steaming about the obstruction as he charged toward McDermott, who was waiting to put the tag on him at first base. Jensen pushed McDermott down, and the ball was knocked out of the pitcher's hands.

At first base, umpire Hank Soar called Jensen out for interference. The Senators, believing the side was retired, walked off the field. However, senior umpire Bill Summers said Jensen was obstructed by Vernon and should be given first base. Today Jensen would be given second base, one base beyond the last base legally touched. On the play, Jensen and McDermott got into a scuffle, and both were ejected from the game.

And there's this famous tale:

John McGraw, the great ex-New York Giants' manger, used to pull the following stunt, which was an act of obstruction, when he played for Baltimore many years ago. When a runner was on third base and ready to leave third after an outfield fly, McGraw used to hold the runners [sic] belt to slow him down.

OK, so if the play is directed at the runner-a rundown or a tag-up-then it can be said that a play is being made on him.

Here's an example of the second half of the rule being invoked that I think is analogous to the Cairo-Santiago play:

Eddie Stanky when managed Chicago between 1966-1968...had a neat trick that would involve Pete Ward, his third baseman. When an opposing runner attempted to score from second on a hit, Ward would move into the path of the runner, and then step aside just before the runner got there. (This would obstruct the runner's path.) There would be no contact, but Ward's actions would cause the runner to break stride just enough to give the Chicago outfielders a chance to nail the runner at home. The umpires finally caught on to Ward's trickery and nailed him a few times. Once they realized the umpires were on to them, Stanky and Ward soon scrapped this caper.

I think that given this anecdotal evidence, I am ready to acknowledge Nelson's correctness and probity in this matter.

Something Wild? Already much has
2002-10-16 14:28
by Mike Carminati

Something Wild?

Already much has been made about this being the first all-wild-card World Series. Although it may be true that this is the first time that two teams designated as "Wild Cards" have met in the fall classic, this is not the first time that two teams that did not have the best record in their division or league have battled for the crown.

In the strike-interrupted season of 1981, an artifice was imposed to acknowledge those teams that led their division as of the strike date (June 12) and to re-line the pockets of the fat cats who ran baseball, i.e., the split season. The teams that were leading as of the strike were automatically accorded a playoff berth when play resumed. They would meet the second-half winners, the division leaders from that point forward, at the end of the year in a division series.

If one team won both "halves", a wild card would face the division winner. If I remember correctly, the wild card team was the second place team for the entire year not just the second half. This was a point of contention for the Kansas City Royals who finished fifth, 12 games behind first-place Oakland in the first half. They were battling the A's down the second-half stretch, when it was confirmed by commissioner Bowie Kuhn that they would have to win the division to qualify for the playoffs given that their first-half record was so poor. (Or did I dream that). Anyway, the Royals clinched the second half by two games and the wild card was never invoked since none of the other first-half winners finished higher than third in the second half.

The two league champions were the Dodgers and the Yankees, and they met in a repeat of their 1977-'78 Series. Both teams were first-half champs who fell to fourth and seventh place, respectively, in the second half.

The Dodgers won their first-half title by one-half game over the Reds. The Reds lost the second half to the Astros by 1.5 games and finished with the best record in baseball (66-42 or 99-63 in a 162-game schedule) but famously failed to make the playoffs. The Dodgers were second overall, four games behind Cincinnati.

The Yankees led a strong AL East division at the strike-six of the seven teams were over .500 and just 4 games separated the top 5 teams-, but fell to sixth with no incentive in the second, one game below .500, in the second half. Overall, New York was third behind second-half champs Milwaukee (yes, the were the AL once), and only 2.5 games separated the top 5 teams.

When the Yankees met the Dodgers in the World Series, which LA won four games to two, there was a third-place team versus a second-place team overall.

By the way, the genesis of the wild card was in the odd year of 1892. In that year the National League had just swallowed its old partner/rival the American Association and like a snake swallowing its prey had ballooned to twelve teams. Their postseason series, the Temple Cup, which had been a contest between each league's champ, now had to be revised to have two NL-only representatives. Their resolution was a split-season with each half's champ meeting in the postseason. The first-half and overall champs, the Boston Beaneaters, defeated the second-half champions, the Cleveland Spiders, for the Cup.

This format was a failure and the Temple Cup series was not even played in 1893. But the series was revived in 1894 and ran until the 1897 season. In its last rendition, the top two finishers overall would meet in the Temple Cup series. A team would finally win the actual cup after three successive championships over three years. The series were never highly regarded, and no one ever did win that dang cup. But in 1894 and '95 the first two second-place finishers, the New York Giants and the Cleveland Spiders, won and became the first two wild card champs.

The Taking of Palermo Only
2002-10-15 15:28
by Mike Carminati

The Taking of Palermo

Only Baseball Matters has a good summation of the Steve Palermo dog-and-pony show that Fox allowed to be perpetrated on the viewing public.

Just Super Baseball in its
2002-10-15 14:46
by Mike Carminati

Just Super

Baseball in its recent efforts to emulate the more popular sport of football is now trying to follow in the footsteps of football's championship schedule. They are taking a four-day break in between the league championship series and the World Series. It's baseball's equivalent to a bye week.

Four whole days without baseball!

And yet they claim that the first round cannot be expanded to seven games.

Four whole days!

Fox potentially gets two full weekends of World Series games. Who cares?

Four Friggin' Days!

This will allow the game 5 starter in the NLCS (Kirk Rueter) to be ready for game 1. Huh? All the accumulative bangs and bruises will be healed. Pitchers will be rested. Hell, even Scott Rolen would be ready to play by game 1.

Why not play the games next spring? In Arizona?

Four Days!?! Come on!

It's enough to make a soul settle in for football season.

Palooka Uecker The NY Times
2002-10-15 14:27
by Mike Carminati

Palooka Uecker

The NY Times has a good comparison of the vastly different FOX crews used during the league championship series. It takes a Steve Lyons to make one appreciate the finer points of Tim McCarver.

Bucking the St. Louis Perfecto
2002-10-15 09:24
by Mike Carminati

Bucking the St. Louis Perfecto Jinx?

After three full innings, announcer Joe Buck stated that Matt Morris had just completed three perfect innings. Of course, tradition has it that speaking about a perfect game or no-hitter while it is in progress is vorboten. The speaker would jinx the pitcher and put his masterpiece in harm's way. I don't buy that, but it is interesting that Morris hit Kenny Lofton, the next batter he faced, thereby losing the perfect game.

I Guess Morris Did Not
2002-10-15 09:20
by Mike Carminati

I Guess Morris Did Not Have His Nine Lives

Yeah, I was tempted to use the old "The Giants Win the Pennant" headline but decided on something a little more obscure and more to the point, if a bit cloying.

Tony LaRussa. If I were a Cardinals fan I would be spitting that name out with vengeance in my eyes. Did this man cost the Cardinals the series? No. Did he do anything to help? No. LaRussa in his infinite wisdom stuck with Matt Morris through the middle innings and was rewarded. He stuck with him in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded and left-handed-hitting Barry Bonds at the plate and was rewarded (who would expect more than from a pitcher than one run allowed in that situation?). But LaRussa should have thanked his lucky stars, pinch-hit for Morris who batted second in the top of the ninth, and had a well-rested Jason Isringhausen ready to go in the ninth.

By allowing Morris to bat, he was as much as admitting that he was playing for the tie on the road. This goes against conventional baseball wisdom. Morris came out in the ninth, got two quick outs, and then gave up a couple of hits. Steve Kline came in. Kenny Lofton jumped on his first offering and the game was over.

I feel bad for the Cardinals especially Scott Rolen because he is an ex-Phil and because he did not get an opportunity to play. I feel good for Lofton who bounced back finally after the so-called brushback pitch (he did over-react, but he came by it honestly and it seemed to get him out of his game for a few days) and for the great Barry Bonds. I also feel good for baseball. Baseball needs its great players in its finest showcase, and finally Bonds will be there.

I don't feel bad for the supercilious LaRussa. He knew better than to make the moves that he did. He knew that Morris should have been pulled after eight innings. He knew that taking 12 pitchers including two starters (Simotacchi and Stephenson) who did not appear in either postseason series was an ill-advised move. He knew that sticking Rolen on the roster even though he wouldn't be ready until at least the fifth game was doubly bad given that the bench was already depleted (basically the Cardinals played three players short this series with Rolen and the two unused starters). He bunted every chance he got, kept starters in too long, failed to pinch-hit when it was called for, etc. He flouted convention, thought he was above it, and he paid.

By the way, of those 12 pitchers that the Cardinals carried, no more than 5 ever pitched in one NLCS game. In fact only about 3-1/2 were used per game (game 1: 4 pitchers, game 2: 4, game 3: 5, game 4: 3, game 5: 2). Steve Kline appeared in four games and Rick White 3, but no other reliever appeared in more than 2 and the eight-man bullpen averaged less than two appearances each in the 6-day NLCS.

Half Nelson In re. to
2002-10-14 22:35
by Mike Carminati

Half Nelson

In re. to Benito Santiago's being interefered with at third, Tim McCarver has just stated that ump Jeff Nelson called for obstruction but said in his judgment that Santiago would not have scored. Aside from the issues with the relay throws that had yet to be made, the ruling itself does not read like that:

When obstruction occurs, the umpire shall call or signal "Obstruction." (a) If a play is being made on the obstructed runner, or if the batter runner is obstructed before he touches first base, the ball is dead and all runners shall advance, without liability to be put out, to the bases they would have reached, in the umpire's judgment, if there had been no obstruction. The obstructed runner shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he had last legally touched before the obstruction.

Santiago was interfered with as he rounded third. He already occupied third. The rule states that he shall be awarded at least one base beyond the base he last legally tocuhed before the interference. Santiago then has to score if Nelson calls an obstruction.

O Holey Glove Kenny Lofton
2002-10-14 22:29
by Mike Carminati

O Holey Glove

Kenny Lofton just had another ball go off his glove for a double. It was Mike Matheny's hit and he came around in the seventh to score the first run.

Jo[i]e Morgan Chat Session de
2002-10-14 11:38
by Mike Carminati

Jo[i]e Morgan Chat Session de Vivre

I've finally figured Joe out. I know, I've had my theories before but now I'm sure. First, we here at Mike's B-Ball Rants love the Joe Morgan and we love the Joe Morgan Chat Sessions even more. Joe says the most pithily profound and the most gelastically laughable things you will ever hear, often at the same time.

So my new theory is that Joe is the living embodiment of the Tripartite Soul, that the soul of man is pulled in three directions at once. This was perhaps most famously portrayed by Sigmund Freud's (or as Bill and Ted dubbed him, the "Frood dude") id, ego, and superego tripartite theory that is the basis of psychology, i.e., the body, the self, and society's mores.

Its roots are in Pythagoras of Samos's theory of three types of man. He chose an early Olympiad to expound on these theories, proving that Tim McCarver's sports pontificating has an historical basis:

Life... may well be compared with these public Games for in the vast crowd assembled here some are attracted by the acquisition of gain, others are led on by the hopes and ambitions of fame and glory. But among them are a few who have come to observe and to understand all that passes here. It is the same with life. Some are influenced by the love of wealth while others are blindly led on by the mad fever for power and domination, but the finest type of man gives himself up to discovering the meaning and purpose of life itself. He seeks to uncover the secrets of nature. This is the man I call a philosopher for although no man is completely wise in all respects, he can love wisdom as the key to nature's secrets.

Pythagora also held that the soul transmigrated from one being to the next. He once stopped a man from beating a dog because he heard an old friend's voice in the dog's yelp-certainly he was an influence on Joe.

Next, Socrates stole the tripartite soul gig, changing the view from the macro- to the microcosm by relating it to an individual's soul. Socrates supported the Pythagorean approach while dialectically playing Zeno and the Stoics like saps, but they got the last laugh-poison hemlock and all. Socrates or Plato or whoever we think created this junk said that there are three elements that rule our being: reason which desires wisdom and truth, spirit which desires public acclaim and success, and body which desires money, material gain, and booty calls.

Finally, the Christians got into the act incorporating (forgive the pun) the tripartite soul into the Godhead Trinity: the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, which Andy Partridge of XTC once called, "just somebody's unholy hoax"-Go figure.

I will give the last word to the Arts. First, William Shakespeare whose Hamlet gave birth to the modern man, a.k.a. Bob Denver.

From Hamlet, III. 1-Ophelia:
O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!
The courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword,
Th' expectancy and rose of the fair state,
The glass of fashion and the mould of form,
Th' observed of all observers, quite, quite down!

Of course, this all culminated in Madonna's Like A Prayer, the epitomizing moment of our culture.

So, you see it's all perfectly normal. It's not Joe's fault. He's just depraved on account of he's society.


Michael, Tulsa, OK: Do you think a healthy Scott Rolen would have made that much of a difference in the SF/STL series so far?

Joe Morgan: No. Miguel Cairo hit well the first game. He did as much as Rolen could have done. And Rolen wouldn't have been able to hit Schmidt either yesterday. But over seven games, Rolen's absence would make a difference.

[Mike: Right, and what may make more of a difference is the roster spot that Rolen is occupying while sitting on the bench chewing the fat with Kannon Kile.]

Peter (Richmond VA): Joe, What chance do you think the Giants have in a World Series? And do you think Barry Bonds has 'redeemed' himself in the eyes of those who claim he is not capable of being a good post-season player? (I'm not one of them for the record).

Joe Morgan: Barry Bonds doesn't need to redeem himself. He is the most feared player in the game. They will not allow him to do things other players get a chance to do. But I do think the Giants will win, and Bonds will be Bonds. It's just a matter of whether they will pitch to him or not.

[Mike: Right again. And by the way, they won't pitch to him, Tony LaRussa's bloviating notwithstanding.]


Kristen (New York): Down 2-0, it's not looking too good for the St. Louis Cardinals. What adjustments will be made for Game 3? Do you think they can surprise and come from behind?

Joe Morgan: The Giants have just played better. I don't see St. Louis coming back and beating the Giants. They played well against Atlanta. They are doing the same against St. Louis. And I pick the Giants to beat whoever they would play in the World Series.

[Mike: Well, when you win you do play better. Does that mean that the Giants will continue to play better and win? I don't know. I admire Joe his certainty.]

Jeff (Cleveland): Hey Joe, After years of seeing Kenny in Cleveland, we know he is a complainer at the plate on just about every pitch that is not in his favor. Do you feel he was a little short-fused the other night. Sure the pitch was on the inside part of the plate, but if he had stayed exactly in the same place, it wouldn't have hit him anyway. I think it is just another instance of Kenny not knowing the proper way to handle himself at the plate.

Joe Morgan: First of all, the pitch was closer than people described it. And when you have a 90-mph fastball coming toward your head, you'd have a different opinion. He may have overreacted, but when you get a fastball thrown that close, you don't just smile.

[Mike: Bitter, Jeff? I know Kenny was no Willie Mays Hayes, but he gave you Wahoo fans some good years. Let it go.

By the way, Joe, the pitch was closer to Lofton than advertised because he was hanging over the plate and for whatever reason did not move. All he had to do was turn slightly away. This is not a rare occurrence in a game. It may not have even been a message pitch as was assumed at the time.]

Joel-Twins Fan: What do you think about tonight's game? Do you think Milton will pitch well enough for the Twins to beat another lefty? GO TWINS!

Joe Morgan: With the Twins starters, you don't know what you will get. I didn't think Mays would pitch as well as he did. Milton has had a sore knee. It may not hold up under stress. We don't know. You don't know what you will get from the Twins starters other than Brad Radke.

[Mike: Well, it's true that the Twins rotation wasn't great during the year, but they are a veteran group, not an unknown entity. They had injuries and were continually baled out by their superior bullpen. Now everyone is healthy and they are pitching well, but now their bullpen is letting them down. Oh, and why is Radke so special, he had a 4.72 ERA this year.]

Ian (Scotland): Do you think Bonds might consider retirement if the Giants won the World Series?

Joe Morgan: No. He is still playing at the top of the game. There is no reason to quit. Plus, he's still chasing Hank Aaron.

[Mike: Ian, have you played any Sean Connery/Iggy Pop trivia while shooting people with BB guns lately? You know what I mean mate.

On top of his game?!? He's on top of everyone's game. He has just had two of the greatest offensive years in baseball history.]

Mark (Oscoda): Joe, Do you like the hiring of Alan Trammell as manager for the Detroit Tigers? It seems to be a good fit, but they new it would create a lot of PR. Tigers fans hope he can manage. He has a lot of house cleaning to do.

Joe Morgan: I don't know about Trammell's baseball knowledge or managerial skills. The Tigers had to do something, and his hiring has caused people in Detroit to get excited.

[Mike: So did building Comerica. That's the problem, everything this ballclub does is to create a little excitement short-term. When the excitement wears off they are still the same deplorable team.]

Pete Morrow, Plymouth, MN: Joe - With the way Jacques Jones has struggled in the postseason, and the Twins facing a lefty tonight, do you bump him down to 7th or 8th in the order and move Guzman to 1?

Joe Morgan: Knowing Ron Gardenhire, who deals with his players well, I'm not sure he will move anybody because he is worried about their psyche. I don't think he will move Jones to the bottom. He may move him a spot down. I don't see Gardenhire making a lot of changes.

[Mike: How will Jones' fragile psyche react if he is blamed for blowing the ALCS? Remember Donnie Moore? If dropping Jones down will help the team, Gardenhire should do it. The only problem is then who leads off and will he do any better.

tony (Fairfield): The A's have lost 3 years in a row in the 5 game series. I think a 7 games series is a better representation of the better team. I hear rumors about going to 7 games in the division series. Is this going to happen and what do you think is better, 5 games or 7 games?

Joe Morgan: Seven is a better test. But I don't think that will happen in the Division Series. It would go to late in the season. And it would also mean cutting regular-season games. I don't see that happening. The A's lose because they are two-dimensional. They have good pitching and try to hit home runs. They don't use speed and don't try to manufacture runs. They wait for the home run. They are still waiting.
[Mike: Why? It's two games not twenty. Add in a travel day So the season goes three day's longer, big deal.

The A's, by the way, have had speed in the past and still lost. They can hit the homer, but really rely on walks and getting on base. They did not accomplish that this postseason (.333 OBP). That's why they lost along with a 5.51 bullpen ERA.]

Ryan Kelly: Joe, you and Harold Reynolds and I have had San Francisco doing postseason damage all year. How do you like their sweep chances with Ortiz and Hernandez going against Finley and possibly Morris at PacBell?

Joe Morgan: When they beat Morris, it sent a signal to the Cardinals that if Morris can't beat them, who can? I think the Cardinals know that as well. I think the Giants will win. I don't know if it will be seven games or fewer, but they will win.

[Mike: True, they beat the Cards' ace and that carries some cachet. But does it mean that Morris and the Cardinals are going to roll over for the rest of the series (Morris was 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA vs. the Giants in the regular season)? Please.


Rich (York, NE): Should the Twins stay with their lineup vs. lefty Washburn?

Joe Morgan: Good question. I thought they should have against the A's because they won Game 1. Washburn is different in that he doesn't throw a lot of curveballs. They should stay with the same lineup in that he doesn't throw a lot of curves and sliders to left-handers.

[Mike: Washburn is different, but they should stick with the same lineup? Perfect logic.]

Evan- NY: Do you think there would've been the same revenue sharing system if the negotations took place after the Angels and Twins got further than the Braves and Yankees?

Joe Morgan: Good point. Probably not. There wouldn't have been enough justification to do certain parts of the revenue sharing.

[Mike: If the CBA had not been signed by now and the players had not struck, the owners would be smacking their lips right now. Who knows what they would have imposed in the offseason.]

Tom (New York): Is Dusty Baker a real candidate for the New York Mets job even though the Giants are two wins away from going to the World Series?

Joe Morgan: He's a candidate for some job other than the Giants. He has had problems with them second-guessing. I think Dusty wants to move on. I don't think he will be back with the Giants, although he is the best manager in the game.

[Mike: I don't Baker will be back with the Giants, although his favorite color is blue.]

Joe Morgan: That's all the questions I can take for now. There have been a lot of surprises in the Division Series, but not any surprises in the LCS so far.

[Mike: Two wild cards leading their LCS's, that's not surprising?]

Playing Small Ball With Giants
2002-10-14 01:28
by Mike Carminati

Playing Small Ball With Giants

The Giants went are now one game away from the World Series after dumping the Cards, 4-3. Much will be said of LaRussa's decision to intentionally walk Barry Bonds in the eighth instead of bringing in a left-hander to face him. The walk brought Benito Santiago to the plate. Santiago's subsequent home run was the difference in the game. I cannot blame LaRussa here because no matter who is pitching, Bonds will draw the walk.

LaRussa's poor decision making runs deeper than that. His decision to bring 12 pitchers (plus the injured Scott Rolen) coupled with his reluctance to actually use them has plagued the Cardinals throughout.

Case in point, Andy Benes popped up attempting to bunt in the fourth, killing a rally. He grounded into a force in the sixth to end that inning as well. I'm not saying that you necessarily replace him the first or even the second time, but LaRussa's limited bench made the decision for him.

When right-hander Rick White did relieve Benes, he retired one man and then gave up a double to left-handed J.T. Snow. If you have 12 men on your staff, why don't you bring in a left-hander to face Snow?

While many will criticize LaRussa for not bringing a lefty to face Bonds, I blame him for not bringing in a fresh right-hander to face Santiago the second time. White had already been in for 2-1/3.

Finally, LaRussa's continual overuse of the bunt helped stymie the offense. Four were attempted tonight, 2 of which were "successful". Neither of those successes resultant in a run, however. Each was with no outs, and one was a sacrifice to third by the pitcher in the second.

Twin Killing The Angels wrapped
2002-10-14 01:04
by Mike Carminati

Twin Killing

The Angels wrapped up the Twins tonight, 13-5. The difference was a 10-run Anaheim seventh. It's kind of a shame that a team like the Twins that had a great deal of success under very trying circumstances would have to go out in such a humiliating way.

It was a very odd ballgame: for the second game in a row a pitchers' duel turned into a run away. If you take away the seventh inning the score would be 3-2 in favor of the Angels. For the third straight game the Minnesota bullpen let them down, which is also odd given that it was one of their strengths during the season (their starter's ERA was 70 points higher during the season but 156 lower in the postseason). Another oddity was Adam Kennedy, who hit 7 home runs all season, clouting three today.

The more one looks at the strange twists of the last two games, the one realizes that the series turned on the use of 4 pitchers in the third game. The strategy seemed to work at the time as the Twins' relievers kept them tied with Anaheim, but it unraveled in the ninth as left-handed J.C. Romero remained in the game to pitch to the right-handed Troy Glaus, who quickly untied the game for good. The strategy has severely failed the Twins in the last two games.

Minnesota's strategy and miscues plagued them the entire series and help cause their demise:

In this game A.J. Pierzynski, after apparently plating Dustan Mohr in the second with a single to shallow left, gets himself caught in what may kindly be called a rundown when the throw to the plate is cut off.

Luis Rivas defense early in the game was disconcerting on three separate plays but did not cause any damage o the scoreboard.

Mays gave up two home runs (to Spiezio and Kennedy) on hanging breaking balls to lose the lead without causing some much as a stir in the bullpen. My thought was where is Kyle Lohse-he's a starter who is well rested. Lohse wouldn't appear until the game was out of hand.

Kennedy's third home run was particularly egregious. He started out bunting (the Angels trailed 5-3 at that point), fell to 0-2, and then homered on a fat inside breaking ball.

Also, in the disastrous seventh, Romero throw a ball so high I swear I saw it hit the bull, scoring the Angels' ninth run. Wells hit Eckstein to force in the 12th run. And Romero also walked in the seventh run. The Angels scored 10 runs on 10 hits (1 HR and 9 singles), one walk, a wild pitch, a hit batsman, and two strikeouts.

Gardenhire continued to use strategy that had been failing him throughout the series. The relief tandem of Hawkins, Santana, Jackson, and Romero has just not gotten the job done. Kyle Lohse, Bob Wells (who gave up the last run tonight), and closer Eddie Guardado were all available and underused. Terry Fiore was left off the ALCS playoff roster in favor of Wells. If Gardenhire had not intended to use Lohse in long relief (like replacing Mays early), why not bring Fiore for the relief help? Frankly, anyone besides the game five starter should have been used to keep the game close.

Gardenhire also stuck with "the guys who got us here" and lost because of the loyalty. Jacque Jones and Christian Guzman at the top of the order failed to ignite the offense. His one inspired move was to use Dustan Mohr, who has been hot, in right.

Some will say that when his team is not batting and his relief corps is failing, the manager cannot be blamed. It's true that he had somewhat limited options, but it is also true that he did not explore those options thoroughly enough.

The saddest part of the 10-run inning was the look on the Twins faces as the Angels punched singles between or just over defenders. They had just taken a two-run lead exploiting Francisco Rodriguez wildness (a walk and a wild pitch that each scored a run-the Angels may be overusing him or is minor-league wildness may be returning) and lackadaisical stab at the wild pitch by Bengie Molina (his second such play of the game) in the top of the inning.

Giant Loss The Cardinals won
2002-10-13 02:41
by Mike Carminati

Giant Loss

The Cardinals won 5-4 today to move to a two games to one deficit in the NLCS.

The Giants missed opportunities all day. In the first, they had Rich Aurilia, who hit two home runs in the last game, bunt the lead-off runner to second helping squander an opportunity. The inning ended with the bases loaded and no runs scored. The inning featured three bad defensive plays: First, an Edgar Renteria error on a ground ball by lead-off hitter Kenny Lofton, then a 2-out flip by Renteria to scond baseman Fernando Vina for a force that was scored a fielder's choice when Vina failed to cover the base (Vina did at least try to get the batter at first but was too late), and finally a near-collision on a fly ball to end the innings (in which Vina strayed too far into Jim Edmonds territory).

In the second the Giants had three lead-off singles (the third helped by some sloppy D by pitcher Chuck Finley), but scored only one run. After a fielder's choice at home and a sac fly, pitcher Russ Ortiz failed to score from second on a two-out single by Jeff Kent. Barry Bonds ended the inning with a fly ball to right with the vases loaded.

The Giants then opened the third by allowing the Cardinals' lead-off hitter, pitcher Chuck Finley, to get on base with a third-strike wild pitch. The next hitter, Vina, hit a ball that sliced away from center fielder Lofton. The play was scored a double even though the ball bounced out of Lofton's glove and he had time to make the play. Both players ended up scoring and the Cardinals led 2-1.

The rest of the scoring in the game consisted of home runs. Barry Bonds crushed a ball into McCovey Cove, which at the time tied the ballgame. That was the remainder of San Fran's scoring. The Cardinals scored thre more runs, all on solo shots, all just over the wall in left. The most important of those was an Eli Marrero sixth inning shot to put the Cardinals in the lead to stay.

This was a game that the Giants could have very easily won, thereby solidifying their hold on the NL championship. We will have to see how much the ugliness of the game affects both teams, especially the Giants since the lost, going forward.

Too Much Monkey Business for
2002-10-13 02:07
by Mike Carminati

Too Much Monkey Business for Me To Be Involved In

The Angels are having a tremendous postseason and are now poised to represent their league in the World Series. However, I am pulling as hard as I possibly can for the moribund Twins for one reason and one reason only, the Rally Monkey.

I have to admit that I chuckled the first few times I heard about the seraphic simian. The absurdity of having a monkey on a scoreboard inciting fans to go rip roarin' mad was appealing to me. But as FOX has Olympic-profiled the postseason to death (I feel sorry for Darryl Kile's son--I just don't need his one day as bat boy to be referred to after every out), the monkey has been a bit overexposed. The once-cute Rally Monkey rally has now been played more times than Joe Thiessman's leg being wishboned. We are given graphics at least once a game explaining the rules of rally monkey use. Fans wearing monkey paraphernalia are featured incessantly. Finally, during the Angels' go-ahead drive today, a child dressed in a monkey suit appears in the stands behind home plate and becomes the cynosure of the easily amused FOX commnetators, Steve Lyons and Thom Brennaman. I've seen home movies that feature fewer shots of that person's own child than FOX decided was necessary to subject the baseball watching public to.

I am glad for the Angels fans. They finally have a team to be excited about and are clearly enjoying themselves. But I will be hoping as hard a s I can that the Twins come back to whip the tar out of them if only not to have a Barbara Walter's up-close and personal interview of the Rally Monkey featured in the World Series.

Raising the Aybar The Twins
2002-10-13 01:49
by Mike Carminati

Raising the Aybar

The Twins bullpen was the difference tonight as the Angels won 7-1 tonight (and lead 3-1 in the series). A scoreless pitchers' duel through 6-1/2 innings got out of hand after Minnesota starter Brad Radke left with two out in the 7th trailing 2-0.

The Twins, for the second night in a row, used a large number of pitchers in the eighth innings. Yesterday it was four; tonight it was five. The result yesterday was that lefty J.C. Romero was left in in the ninth to pitch to right-handed Troy Glaus, who ended hitting the game-winning home run. Gardenhire was roundly criticized for that move, which of course led him to doing the same tonight. Mike Jackson proved least effective facing four batters, which resulted in three hits, one walk, no outs, and three runs. Worst of all his four batters took eight pitches, four of which made up an intentional walk. The other three were basically hitting batting practice. While Gardenhire displayed an itchy trigger finger with his pitchers all night, he allowed Jackson to pitch ineffectively to for different men as the game got furthe and further out of reach.

Poor Brad Radke appeared to be pitching at least as well as if not better than John Lackey through the first six innings. But the ineffectiveness ofthe Twins' offense and their bullpen left him saddled with the loss. He left the game after hitting Benji Molina to load the bases. This was enough to cause FOX commentator Steve Lyons to question if Radke had intentionally hit Molina. It's hard to believe but Lyons actually played the game at the major-league level, although his highlight reel consists of him accidentally dropping his pants to his ankles after a headfirst slide.

It was encouraging for the Twins to mount a mini-rally in the ninth, scoring their only run. Corey Koskie scored the run and hopes that his postseason slump is now over (earlier in the game he got his sixth straight strikeout). David Ortiz, who has had a good number of hard-luck at-bats in the series, finally picked up his first RBI. The Twins now face elimination, and may be time for manager Ron Gardenhire to alter his strategy. Jacque Jones has been the lead-off hitter throughout the series despite only amassing one hit in 17 at-bats. Two players who swung a hot bat against Oakland in the first rounds, Matt LeCroy and Michael Cuddayer, have seen limited use in the ALCS.

Spare the F-Rod and Spoil
2002-10-12 01:04
by Mike Carminati

Spare the F-Rod and Spoil the Twins

The Angels' 20-year-old rookie Francisco Rodriguez won his third game of the postseason and of his major league career tonight, pitching one scoreless inning with 2 strikeouts against the Twins. This comes from a player who did not appear in a major-league game until September 18 of this year and who has moved up three organizational levels from 2001.

So how does a player go from his second straight year languishing in the Single-A California League to making Torii Hunter look silly on a 59-foot slider in the League Championship Series all in one year. The answer is, in a word, strikeouts.

Rodriguez was signed by the Angels as a free agent in 1999. He labored three years in the minors as a starting pitcher. He did alright his first two years and advanced from Rookie League to Short-Season Single-A to Single-A. But his 2000 California League season was cut short ostensibly by injury. When he came back in 2001, he was still in the California League and his ERA ballooned to 5.38 for the year, but he continued to strike out well over a hitter per inning. Rodriguez was moved up to Double-AA this year despite his poor performance in 2001 and was converted to a reliever. He quickly moved up to Triple-A and finally to the parent ballclub. He also played for the World team in the 2002 Futures Game at the All-Star break. After the All-Star break, there were rumors that Mike Scioscia was ready to promote him to the Angels, but given that he was just getting used to Triple-A, it didn't happen until the rosters expanded. Here is his bio from the MLB Futures Game web page:

Francisco Rodriguez, RHP, ANA, Salt Lake/AAA, Venezuela
2002 stats (23 games with Arkansas): 3-3, 1.96 ERA, 9 saves
After tearing up the Texas League, Rodriguez recently earned a promotion to Triple-A and the PCL. A starter for three seasons, Rodriguez got stuck in the California League for two seasons. But as a closer for the first time, he's been able to use his penchant for strikeouts (301 in 234 IP coming into this season) to his advantage. He struck out 61 in 41.1 innings with Arkansas. He's only 21, so he has plenty of time to adjust to the new role.

I could not find Rodriguez's transcript anywhere. He was not on the 2002 spring training 40-man roster; therefore, he is not listed in TSN's Baseball Register. The ESPN and CNN sites show just his major-league stats. I dug through my old yearly TSN Baseball Guides and formed a picture. Here are his complete major- and minor-league stats through tonight's game:

Year      Team                 W  L  ERA  G CG SHO SV IP     H   R  ER HR  BB  K HBP WP BK  OBA
1999      Butte (R)            1  1 3.31 12  9  1  0  51.2  33  21  19  1  21  69  3 10  3 .176
1999      Boise (SSA)          1  0 5.40  1  1  0  0   5     3   4   3  0   1   6  0  0  0 .150
2000      Lake Elsinore (A)    4  4 2.81 13 12  0  0  64    43  29  20  2  32  79  1 12  1 .188
2001      Rancho Cucamonga (A) 5  7 5.38 20 20  1  0 113.2 127  72  68 13  55 147  6 17  4 .276
2002      Arkansas (AA)        3  3 1.96 23  0  0  9  41.1  32  13   9  2  15  61  0  7  1 .206
2002      Salt Lake (AAA)      2  3 2.57 27  0  0  6  42    30  13  12  1  13  59  3  2  0 .204
2002      Anaheim              0  0 0.00  5  0  0  0   5.2   3   0   0  0   2  13  1  0  0 .167
2002-post Anaheim              3  0 2.16  4  0  0  0   8.1   3   2   2  1   3  13  0       .120
Minors                        16 18 3.71 96 42  2 15 317.2 268 152 131 19 137 421 13 48  9 .224
(Starter)                     11 12 4.22 46 42  2  0 234.1 206 126 110 16 109 301 10 39  8 .230
(Reliever)                     5  6 2.27 50  0  0 15  83.1  62  26  21  3  28 120  3  9  1 .205
Majors                         3  0 1.29  9  0  0  0  14     6   2   2  1   5  26  1  0  0 .140

Those are pretty interesting numbers. Note that he averaged about 12 strikeouts per 9 innings in the minors and is now averaging almost 17 since his call-up. Look at those wild pitch, hit batsmen, and balk numbers in the minors though.

Rodriguez is only 20 and look at the interesting career that he has already had. It will be even more interesting to see what he can do in his first full season next year. By the way, Rob Neyer advocated starting Rodriguez next year. I think his numbers clearly indicate that he would be more effective as a reliever.

Perc-picacious Troy Percival came in
2002-10-12 00:07
by Mike Carminati


Troy Percival came in for the save in the Angels' 2-1 win over the Twins. The Angels are also ahead now two games to one in the series.

It looks good in the box score but Percival gave up two line drives that just stayed up enough for the outfielders to get. I'm confused as to why the Twins did not have the switch-hitting Bobby Kielty pinch-hit for right-handed Dustin Mohr to face the right-handed Percival in the ninth with one out. Mohr flied out to right. Alex Ochoa got the first two outs of the ninth after relieving the ever-injured Tim Salmon.

The last play of the game was an A.J. Pierzynski liner that was caught by Garret Anderson. Pierzynski wagged his finger and clearly was saying "No" rounding first, meaning that he thought it was a trap. I watched the replay (which was from my own VCR after FOX's best angle had the camera positioned too high to see the actual catch--Lyons also referred to the play as the third out of the GAME.) and I'm not sure if it was an out. It appeared that the ball hit the webbing of Anderon's glove, came out a bit after it hit, and was scraped along the ground before Anderson showed the ump the catch as a "snowcone". By baseball's definition, "A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground." If they ball was indeed wedged between the glove and the ground before Anderson gained control as it appeared, then I believe the rules says that there would be no catch.

Glaus Shines Troy Glaus has
2002-10-11 23:30
by Mike Carminati

Glaus Shines

Troy Glaus has just homered on a 3-1 pitch in the eighth to put the Angels up by one, 2-1. J.C. Romero threw him a high fastball at 1-0 and Glaus just missed it. He got all of it the second time that Romero threw a high fastball.

Percival is coming in in the ninth.

Missed It By That Much
2002-10-11 23:12
by Mike Carminati

Missed It By That Much

The Angels' Garret Anderson just hit a ball to the right field warning track with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh. The The Angels had men at second and third with one out (a sacrifice to waste an out) and did not score. The Twins used four pitchers in the inning.

To Err Is Gorman Chone
2002-10-11 23:06
by Mike Carminati

To Err Is Gorman

Chone Figgens was just thrown out at home by Rivas, or so said home plate ump Brain Gorman. With the naked eye he looked clearly out. But the replays from two different angles seemed to show that the catcher Pierzynski never tagged Figgens. Figgens was probably arguing this when he and Scioscia spoke with the ump after the play. That's the second blown base running call against the Angels tonight.

De-Blew-It Second base ump Dana
2002-10-11 21:45
by Mike Carminati


Second base ump Dana Demuth just called Dustin Mohr safe on second on a seemingly botched stolen base attempt. Mohr slid head first and away from the tag but the ball and mitt were down and waiting for the slide. I cannot see any angle that does not demonstrate the Mohr was not out.

By the way, Thom Brennaman just referred to Mark Mulder as MARTIN Mulder. I thought he was great in Mr. Mom.

Earlier, Steve Lyons in discussing Milton's no-hitter against an Angels lineup of largely September call-ups a few years ago, said that, "Even a three-year-old with a bat can do a lot of damage." So can a moron with a microphone.

Roster Wise I sent my
2002-10-11 11:04
by Mike Carminati

Roster Wise

I sent my earlier playoff roster questions to Ken Bumbaco, the webmaster at MLB Roster Central.

1) I understand that a team may replace a player on the 60-day DL with a player who was in the organization on Aug 31, even if he was not necessarily on the major-league roster, but are there any requirements placed on the injured player? Such as, does that player have to be active at some point during the season.

Specifically, I am referring to Francisco Rodriguez who was in the minors on August 31 and didn't pitch in the majors until Sept 18. He ostensibly replaced Steve Green who has been on the DL since spring training and has only pitched in one major-league game in his career. I believe that I know the answer, but do you know why such a poorly conceived rule was enacted. Given that baseball has established a framework for playoff rosters that requires teams to represent themselves in playoffs as they were constituted during the regular season--unlike say hockey--how did such a loophole-riddled rule come about?

2) Today, the Cardinals activated Woody Williams to start game two of the NLCS. Jason Simontacchi had taken over Williams' roster spot when he was injured. Simontacchi had stupidly been sent down to the minors prior to the August 31 deadline. When Williams was activated, he took Luther Hackman's spot. Why doesn't Simontacchi have to give up his spot now that Williams is back?

3) If the Cardinals had deactivated Scott Rolen for the NLCS, would they have to fill his playoff spot with a third baseman? Or could they have activated Wilson Delgado, a shortstop has played third in the past? I understand that baseball does not want to have teams replacing catchers with pitchers, but how specific are they with this rule.

4) I cannot find the official rules governing playoff roster moves. They are not among the official rules on MLB's site. Do you know where I can find a copy?

Here is his response:

There is a book of Professional Baseball Rules - Business Operations, but it is only available to GMs and their assistants, though it's not as though there is anything earth-shattering inside. My understanding of the rule is that Rodriguez replaced Green on the playoff eligible list. All 25 man roster players and disabled players are automatically on the eligible list. Players on the 60-day DL may be replaced by a player at the same position, catchers replace catchers, infielders replace infielders, outfielders replace outfielders, and pitchers replace pitchers. So, in your Rolen case, any infielder could replace him, even a guy who doesn't play 3B. As far as Simontacchi goes, I believe he replaces Mike Matthews, who was traded after August 31 to Milwaukee. There is some rule that allows this. I hope I've answered your questions.

Cardinal Sin The Giants beat
2002-10-11 10:19
by Mike Carminati

Cardinal Sin

The Giants beat the Cardinals 4-1 at Busch last night. San Fran now leads 2-0 as they head to Pac Bell for two games. Obviously, the Cardinals are not in an admirable position, but they are by no means out of this series. They do, however, have very little margin for error. I saw a stat on SportsCenter today that LaRussa has been 0-2 more than any other manager. What they didn't mention was that he lost all of the three previous times (1988 WS Oak lost 4-1 to LA, 1990 WS Oak lost 4-0 to Cin, and 2000 NLCS StL lost 4-1 to the NYM). He should have accumulated some experience in losing though.

Jason Schmidt was great, and it is very encouraging for the Giants to see Aurilia break out in the playoffs after a subpar year. He has been outstanding offensively and defensively throughout the playoffs. Their performances were the stories of the game. There were some interesting points that I would like to focus on though:

First, J.T. Snow is a fine defensive first baseman, but-and I did not hear the commentators mention this-should he have tried to get the Drew grounder in the third inning? Jeff Kent was standing about 10 feet behind him and could have made the play. If Snow had instead retreated to first, let Kent make the play, and simply readied for the Kent throw, it would have been an easy 4-3 out. By committing do far to his right, it a) required the pitcher to get over to first to cover the bag-which Schmidt was late in doing-and b) it makes the throw much more difficult. That makes three reasons against Snow making the play: it's Kent's ball, the pitcher must cover first, and Snow has a difficult throw.

On the next play, a ball is hit to the position that Snow had just vacated to hold the runner. First, I do not know why the Giants were so concerned with Drew who has good speed but is not really a base stealer. Second, if Snow did not make the play on the first ball, he can make a play on the second. And maybe Schmidt still has the no-hitter going (that, I realize, is a big maybe). Schmidt does not give up another hit until the seventh.

Look, I don't want to blame a player for making an effort, but sometimes those efforts just aren't the smart play. (And yes, the picther should have covered, but that's beside the point.)

What a perfect segue for my second point. Later that inning the Cardinals have men at second and third base with one out (Williams sacrificed them over). Fernando Vina sends a fly ball to shallow center field, and J.D. Drew is thrown out at home by Lofton as he tries to tag up. Lofton may not have a great arm (only 6 assists this year though he had a pretty good arm when he was younger-18 assists in 1998), but if he could not make that play, he really has no business playing center field in the majors any longer. Lofton is running in, so his momentum is already headed toward home, and is not really extending himself much. The throw really wasn't a particularly good one. It was a one-bouncer but a bit up the line. The point is that the throw would have had to be rather poor for Drew to have scored. Relying on another player to screw up is just not playing the percentages in a major-league playoff series.

By the way, I disagree with McCarver in that I believe that Drew's momentary loss of balance just before he ran home did delay his tag. But it would not have mattered anyway.

I thought that the poor play was just the product of an overzealous third-base coach. But then I read this quote from LaRussa:

"We were all yelling, including myself, 'Send him! Send him!,''' La Russa said. "They made the pitch, they made the play.''

McCarver did allude to the Cards' stated position to test Lofton's arm whenever possible. This is consistent with the way that LaRussa has been Bobby Cox-ing this series throughout. First, he takes 12 pitchers and three catchers. Next, he keeps two injured players (Williams and Rolen) on the roster further limiting his bench. Williams somwhat redeemed that decision by pitching well yesterday. However, if the Cards get swept without Rolen playing, LaRussa will have put his team at a severe disadvantage. There are no backups for three infield positions, second, third, and short. I suppose if there is an injury to a player at one of those positions, Pujols could be shifted to third and the remaining infielders cover the other two spots. But there is no real possibility of pinch-hitting for one of those players in a close ballgame. Now, he tries to go small, or rather miniscule, ball when it is not advisable.

The play at home was the turning point in the game as the Cardinals never again mounted a serious challenge (Bonds overrunning a ball in left notwithstanding). It was doubly ill-advised, as McCarver point out, since it killed a potential rally. Methany was on second at the time. Miguel Cairo, their hero yet far in the playoffs, was due up next. So sending Drew didn't cost them just that one possible run but it cost them a rally, something that was in short supply yesterday.

Shortstop Managers Alan Trammell has
2002-10-10 13:39
by Mike Carminati

Shortstop Managers

Alan Trammell has just been named to manage the Tigers in 2003. It is his first managerial job ever, and seems more of a PR move to revitalize the Tiger club by capturing-let's not say "trammeling", which has a more negative connotation-the team's history in the on-field product. It doesn't really matter who manages this team if they can't produce or acquire better players. When Randall Simon is your best player, you have problems.

But it got me to think about the spat of catchers turned managers lately and the dearth of former-shortstop mangers. There had been four this past season: Larry Bowa (Phils), Jimmy Williams (Stros), Bobby Valentine (Mets), and Rookie Ron Gardenhire (Twins). With Valentine's firing and Trammel's hiring, they remain at four. No longer are we in the halcyon days of the eighties when there were 7 different former-ss managers in three different years (1981, '86, and '87). It's not even 1998, the last time there were more than four (Valentine, Williams, Bill Russell, Tim Johnson, and Glenn Hoffman). There have been 67 all-time. Trammell makes 68.

Let's take a short look (get it?) at the history shortstops-turned-managers (SSMs). Here are the SSMs who have won at least 500 games:

Name             First Last   G     W    L  PCT Post W-L
Leo Durocher      1939 1973 3739 2008 1709 .537  7  8
Joe Cronin        1933 1947 2315 1236 1055 .534  4  8
Hughie Jennings   1907 1925 2203 1184  995 .537  4 12
Lou Boudreau      1942 1960 2404 1162 1224 .483  4  2
Bobby Valentine   1985 2002 2189 1117 1072 .510 13 11
Jim Fregosi       1978 2000 2123 1028 1095 .484  7  9
Alvin Dark        1961 1977 1950  994  954 .510 10  9
Jimy Williams     1986 2002 1450  779  671 .537  5  9
Dick Howser       1978 1986  933  507  425 .543  8 15
Roger Peckinpaugh 1914 1941  995  500  491 .503  

Here are the SSMs with a .520 or better winning percentage:

Name             First Last    G    W    L   PCT Post W-L
Dick Tracewski    1979 1979    2    2    0 1.000  
George Wright     1879 1879   85   59   25  .694  
Ron Gradenhire    2002 2002  161   94   67  .584 4  3
Tom Carey         1873 1873   24   14    9  .583  
Billy Hunter      1977 1978  254  146  108  .575  
Jack Barry        1917 1917  157   90   62  .573  
John Ward         1880 1894  618  336  264  .544 4  0
Dick Howser       1978 1986  933  507  425  .543 8 15
Tim Johnson       1998 1998  162   88   74  .543  
Dickey Pearce     1875 1875   72   39   29  .542  
Eddie Kasko       1970 1973  640  345  295  .539  
Hughie Jennings   1907 1925 2203 1184  995  .537 4 12
Bill Russell      1996 1998  322  173  149  .537 0  3
Jimy Williams     1986 2002 1450  779  671  .537 5  9
Leo Durocher      1939 1973 3739 2008 1709  .537 7  8
Glenn Hoffman     1998 1998   88   47   41  .534  
Joe Cronin        1933 1947 2315 1236 1055  .534 4  8
Bud Harrelson     1990 1991  274  145  129  .529  
Hal Lanier        1986 1988  486  254  232  .523 2  4

So let's wish Alan Trammell luck as he starts his new career. Just keep in mind that being a great shortstop does not ensure that the individual will be a great manager. Look at the greatest of them all, Honus Wagner. He resigned after only five games and a 1-4 record in his brief 1917 trial as the Pirates manager.

In Praise of PIP (and
2002-10-10 01:45
by Mike Carminati

In Praise of PIP (and the Swap Button)

Here is a log of the events of the two games in chronological order that I made while I watched both and switched from one to the other. I hope I didn't miss anything big:

-Top 1st AL: Erstad homered on a high hanger.
- Top 1st NL: Cairo is starting at third.
- Lofton lead-off walk. Giants draw first blood on Santiago single, 1-0.
- Bottom 1st:HP Ump not giving Rueter corners.
- Bell is playing the bunt on lead-off hitter Vina. Ball hit right to him, 5-3.
- Marrero doubles. Sanders didn't even run hard to cut it off.
- Top 2nd AL: Fullmer's hit: how can it be a double with the bad throw through the cut-off man.
- Spiezio double. Cuddayer misplays ball. Why didn't Fullmer score? 2-0
- Rueter hits Renteria, misses badly to load bases.
- Fullmer goes on contact. Caught in a rundown. Did he cost them a run twice?
- Ugly play: rundown at first as Kennedy fell down. Mientkiewicz took a little too long to throw ball home to get the lead runner. And he threw to wrong side of the plate. Spiezio's knee knocks the ball loose, 3-0.
- Kennedy goes to third as the ball gets away.
- Little nub single by Eckstein scores him, 4-0.
- Top 2nd NL: Lofton 2-out liner. Stolen base.
- Lofton's speed harried St. Louis. Vina played bag and missed Aurelia's grounder right to second baseman spot. Why didn't Morris step off? 2-0
- Lyons is claiming that the mistake was not going to the shortstop in the rundown play since the ss has the best arm. But how do they go to the ss? The play is to the 1B to pick off the runner; then if he throws to short, the run scores.
- Bonds triple on a hanging curve by Morris. Edmonds fell down. 4-0
- Santiago: nice line drive, 5-0. Looks like we have two runaway wins.
- Bottom 2nd NL: Cairo-5th straight hit.
- Buck and McCarver are continually discussing how Rueter looks like Woody from a Toy Story. They even have a graphic comparing the two. Oh my.
- Morris is up with no outs and two on, bunting. I guess LaRussa has no bench so he can't pinch-hit this early. Bunt is good.
- Bottom 3rd AL: Ortiz nice throw to pick Rivas off of first. The only thing is the replay makes him look safe.
- Lyons is so impressed w/ Spiezio's defensive play at first. He was a second baseman, what's the big deal?
- Top 3rd NL: Lofton HR: another Morris pitch that was up. 6-1
- Top 4th AL: Tim Salmon has to come out pulling a hammy apparently running out a fly ball.
- Bottom 3rd NL: Rueter finally has a relatively easy inning. Nice 163 DP to end it.
- Bottom 4th AL: lead-off hitter Ortiz, seeing eye single to right side.
- Top 4th NL: McCarver theorizes that Morris is being left in in the 4th to work out his problems should he have two more starts in this series. Why do you carry 12 pitchers and then let your flailing starter work through his problems.
- Bonds walked.
- Cairo 5-3 DP on Santiago. He started to throw to second after stepping on bag for triple play but didn't.
- Top 5th AL: Brennaman is amazed at Eckstein's HBP totals. The guy is right on top of the plate-what does he expect?
- Bottom 4th NL: Nice play by Snow to knock down Martinez's liner.
- Cairo gets his sixth straight hit.
- Botton 5th AL: Twins DP after lead-off hitter for second straight inning. Kennedy's relay looks like a curve ball-bad grip. Nice pick by Spiezio.
- Top 5th NL: Nice reaction catch on a line drive up the middle by Morris.
- Top 6th AL: Nice pick and throw by Rivas far to his right.
- Bell HR to left-center one pitch after a wicked curve on the inside corner. Morris is gone. 7-1.
- Glaus triple to right off that garbage bag.
- Crudale comes in to face Rueter.
- Fullmer HR on high fastball (I think). Reed is gone. 6-0.
- Benches clear after a slightly tight pitch to Lofton. LaRussa and Baker yelling at each other-oh boy. The ball is maybe four inches off the plate. I don't get it. Warnings issued. Two pitches on the outside to Lofton. Flyball out. Evidently Matheny said something to Lofton to get him mad.
- Bottom 5th NL: Sanders plays the Edmonds ball against the wall tentatively. Could have caught it. He has played that way the entire postseason.
- Pujols HR (of course) on low fastball. 7-3.
- Bottom 6th AL: Ortiz got a ball up to lead-off hitter, Guzman. Double.
- Rueter clearly uses the F word upon watching ball go over wall in replay.
- Guzman's speed gets the Twins a run on a single to right. The ground ball is directly to the right fielder and yet he scores from second. 6-1.
- Tough AB for Ortiz. Punched out after fighting off a few pitches.
- Top 6th NL: Bonds is up. Walk. For all of LaRussa's bluster they seem not to know from one AB to the next how they are going to pitch him.
- Double by Hunter on a ball up from Ortiz. Eckstein knocks it down but it rolls away. Koskie to third.
- Twins score two on hit up middle by Mientkiewicz, 6-3.
- Santiago, 2-run HR on fastball right down the pike, 9-3. That'll teach'em to pitch around Bonds.
- McCarver calls Santiago SF's 2nd most valuable asset to Bonds. How about Kent?
- Donnelly in for Angels. A little chin music to Cuddayer Maker. Got him away.
- Bottom 6th NL: Lofton and Dunston discussing brushback on bench (must be replay from top of inning). McCarver and Buck discussing their discussion. Dunston is apparently explaining that the pitch was payback for Lofton watching his HR. Lofton is very surprised. McCarver says that if so, 80% of batters will get brushed back. Maybe it was just a pitch that was a tiny bit high and tight to set him up away, which is what they did and it worked.
- Cairo HR to left on a high fastball. 7th straight hit, 9-5.
- Rueter is done. They put up that damned Woody picture again.
- Top 7th AL: Ochoa pinch-hitting.
- Felix Rodriguez in for SF.
- Aurilia makes a nice stab on a Matheny line drive.
- Robinson PH for Crudale. Walks.
- Bottom 7th AL: Francisco Rodriguez in for Angels. Dueling F-Rods.
- Santiago great throw from his knees to nail Robinson. End of inning.
- F-Rod pitch on outside corner to Guzman for backwards-K. Impossible to hit.
- Bottom 7th NL: Dave Veres in for Cards.
- Top 8th AL: J.C. Romero in for Twins.
- Felix Rodriguez, the former catcher, bats for himself and swings like a relief pitcher though nice stance. K.
- LaTroy Hawkins replaces Romero after Wooten steps in.
- Bottom 7th NL: Ump is checking with Bob Watson re. something that is obstructing hitter Edmonds. It's a camera light flashing on and off in center bothering Edmonds. Now it's Santiago complaining.
- Wooten strikes out.
- Bottom 8th AL: Koskie K's on power slurve from F-Rod.
- Spiezio nice grab on liner from Ortiz. Tough day for Ortiz.
- Dueling F-Rods again.
- Percival is up in the Angels' bullpen.
- Mientkiewicz blooper. Big Hop. Hunter to third.
- Kielty PH for Cuddayer Maker.
- Percival in. Now second guessing today.
- Tino Martinez is up, but lefty still in bullpen. 1st and 2nd, 2 outs.
- Pop up. Inning over.
- Kielty strikes out looking on a ball that looked about three inches inside.
- Top 8th NL: Rich Aurilia shows bunt on a called strike.
- Umps want to go home. Ball outside called strike 2 on Aurilia.
- Kline up in the Cards' bullpen.
- Top 9th AL: mike Jackson, former Phil, in for Twins. Kielty in right.
- Hunter runs way in to get a popup.
- Kennedy, just foul down the left field line. Strike out.
- Eckstein, little hump-back single over Rivas' head.
- Bottom 8th: Worrell in for SF. Finally out from under his brother's shadow. Must be a decent brother player since never on Phils.
- Erstad single, Eckstein to third.
- Cairo strike out on a sinker to end 7-for-7 streak.
- Pierzynski saves a run on a backhand stab on a one-bounce pitch way to his right. Wow.
- J.D. Drew PH for pitcher.
- Bottom 9th AL: Pierzynski up (how often does that happen that a guy who makes a great defensive play is up the next inning).
- Mientkiewicz is sitting in his rally spot on dugout floor.
- Drew HR to right. Righetti on the phone. 9-6.
- Mohr PH for Rivas. Chases high heat, fouls it straight back.
- 97 MPH fastball down the middle of the plate. Mohr K'ed.
- Full count on Vina. Nubber to Bell ending inning.
- Jacque Jones misses high heat to end it, 6-3.
- Top 9th NL: Bonds due up. Kline in.
- Kline pitching to Bonds. 2-2 w/ 2 fouls.
- Crushes one foul.
- Pitch way inside.
- Another foul.
- Ground ball to Vina playing towards 1st (was shift on?).
- So now they are pitching to Bonds.
- Snow-they say he went around on a textbook check swing. I don't know what they are looking for nowadays.
- Bottom 9th NL: Nen in.
- Marrero shows bunt on first two pitches. Works a full count. Walk.
- Edmonds crushes an 0-1 ball a little up, but foul. He really wanted that. Fouls off two more.
- Edmonds line drive to right. It stays up for Sanders. One out.
- Pujols looks silly on outside slider and change, I think. K.
- Renteria-ground ball to Nen. Game over. 9-6.

Wow, it was like two interpretations of the same story. One team jumps to a big lead early. They add insurance runs as the other team chips away. Finally, they run out of outs. Both games feature an F-Rod, but only the NL game has the Bonds intrigue and the benches clearing.

The reason I made this log was that it was to be the last time this season that two games would be occurring simultaneously. And these were big games. It was a lot of fun.

Hey Joe, What Do You
2002-10-10 00:44
by Mike Carminati

Hey Joe, What Do You Know? III

Expanding on the Mays query from last night, how many pitchers have started and won a playoff game with 5 or fewer starts for their team. I have included World Series, LCS, and division series. I list them in reverse order by wins with the team for the season and include the player's total stats if he switched teams mid-year:

Name              Year PO?  Tm  W L All tms      W  L
Virgil Trucks     1945 WS   DET 0 0   
Red Munger        1946 WS   STL 2 2   
Tom Zachary       1928 WS   NYY 3 3 WSH-NYY      9 12
Bob Wolcott       1995 ALCS SEA 3 2   
Larry Christenson 1981 NLDS PHI 4 7   
Tommy John        1982 ALCS CAL 4 2 NYY-CAL     14 12
Don Sutton        1982 ALCS MIL 4 1 HOU-MIL     17  9
David Cone        1992 ALCS TOR 4 3 NYM-TOR     17 10
Ken Hill          1995 ALCS CLE 4 1 StL-CLE     10  8
Ed Crane          1888 WS   NYG 5 6   
Alex Ferguson     1925 WS   WSH 5 1 BosA-NYY-WSH 9  5
Marius Russo      1943 WS   NYY 5 10   
Roger Craig       1955 WS   BRO 5 3   
Mike Krukow       1987 NLCS SFG 5 6   
John Burkett      1996 ALDS TEX 5 2 FLA-TEX     11 12

Note that Trucks started one game that year. Actually Trucks and Munger were two guys like Mays who missed a substantial portion of the given year but enjoyed success the previous year. Craig, Crane, and Wolcott were rookies. Christenson, Russo, and Krukow were old vets finishing out careers. The others were mid-season acquisitions.

Actually, Larry Christenson got old quick destroying his knees in some Tug McGraw bicycle race for charity at the age of 24. He was never the same. Considering that he won 45 games by age 23, LC could have been pretty good.

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture, III
2002-10-09 16:40
by Mike Carminati

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture, III

The schedule makers screwed up and tonight's games will run simultaneously. Keep that clicker handy.

The Trouble with Scotty, II
2002-10-09 15:10
by Mike Carminati

The Trouble with Scotty, II

Scott Rolen has indeed been retained on the active St. Louis roster for the NLCS. ESPN reports that he may be ready as soon as game 3. That leaves the Cardinals thin on the bench for the first few games of the series. Let's see what the consequences of that will be.

Woody Williams will also be active in this series. He is set to start game 2. Luther Hackman was deactivated for this round. My question is how the Cardinals get to retain the services of Jason Simontacchi, who only got to be on the roster because of Williams' injury. Aren't they required to rdeactivate him now that Williams is ready to pitch? Evidently not.

With the Francisco Rodriguez activation and now this, why not just allow teams to employ their 40-man rosters come playoff time and be done with it? I thought the point of playoff roster rules was to have the teams' postseason fortunes tied to the composition of their regular season rosters, not to allow teams to be creative will loopholes.

Evil Is As Evil Does,
2002-10-09 14:47
by Mike Carminati

Evil Is As Evil Does, My Mama Always Said

If there is any lingering doubt that Bud Selig is a truly venal and loathsome person:

"If it happens that I present the World Series trophy to the Minnesota Twins, and if I'm their Knute Rockne, then they owe me something."

I thought Pohlad's "loan" was enough, no?


"I understand why I took a lot of heat from a lot of people," he told reporters. "I don't have control over it when I deliver unpopular messages. Contraction was a 30-0 vote by owners. To this day owners thought we should have contracted by four clubs."

As Doug Pappas has pointed out in the past, this is an outright lie. The vote was reported to be 28-2, ostensibly with the two owners of the contracted teams dissenting. Gammons reports that the original plan indeed was to contract 4 clubs and the Twins and the Angels were among those four. You can insert your own epithet as to the wisdom of baseball's management team.

Hey Joe, What Do You
2002-10-09 14:30
by Mike Carminati

Hey Joe, What Do You Know? II

Murray Markowitz makes a good point:

I reviewed the list that accompanied your comment about Joe Mays (?)(!) and his great start yesterday against the Mickey Mouse Club...

A few thoughts. Cone's four wins came after he was traded by the Mets for clubhouse lawyer Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. Hill's wins came after he was acquired down the stretch from the Cardinals, I think. Sutton pitched for the disappointing Astros in 1982, I think, and was acquired down the stretch by the Wallbangers. John pitched for the pathetic 1982 Yankees (the first year I followed baseball from wire-to-wire) and must have won more games than just the 4, I suspect? So only Wolcott, who was a callup/reliever, and Mays fit into the category of "Where the heck did this start come from?" It makes it more amazing, as far as I'm concerned.

Murray is absolutely correct, only Wolcott really qualifies and I was just being lazy by saying "4 or fewer wins with their team". The other four played for two teams and here are their records:

Cone 17-10 (NY Mets &Tor)
Hill 10-8 (StL & Clev)
John 14-12 (NY Yankees & California)
Sutton 17-9 (Milw & Hou)

Wolcott started game 1 of the 1995 ALCS for Seattle in his rookie year. He pitched 7 innings and only allowed 2 runs and scattered 8 hits (though 5 walks) in the 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians and Denny Martinez. The Mariners lost 4-2 in the ALCS, but the Indians eventually lost to the Braves in the Series. Wolcott ended up 16-21 for his 5-year career and this win was his only postseason game.

Play Off? Given the media
2002-10-09 13:53
by Mike Carminati

Play Off?

Given the media attention that Barry Bonds postseason performance, both for his past shortcomings and his seeming rapid turnaround this year, I am left to think that the media have nothing better to write and/or talk about. Well, I know that I don't, but I'd rather discuss how offbase the discussion has been.

Bonds was neither struggling in the playoffs nor has he "turned it around". The problem is that we are discussing 97 at-bats spread over 11 years in the former and 17 at-bats in five games in the latter. In each case, there are too few at-bats in the sample to set a pattern. Yes, Bonds had fewer home runs and hits over the years, but if you take 100 random at-bats from various series through his career you could probably get worse numbers. OK, these are not your typical games-they are playoff games. But Bonds is only human: he has good games and bad games. Some of those bad games can happen during the playoffs.

To prove the point, I have taken the postseason performance of every major-leaguer to hit 400 or more home runs. I though about taking all Hall-of-Famers but then I reconsidered. These are generally top-caliber offensive players more readily comparable to Bonds and they are a smaller and easier group to deal with. It's not a perfect group but who of us is? They are in reverse order by OPS (on-base plus slugging):

Name              G   AB   R   H  2B 3B  HR RBI SF SB  BB  SO HBP   BA  OBP SLUG   OPS
Ernie Banks (No playoff experience)
Billy Williams    3    8   0   0   0  0   0   0  0  0   1   1   0 .000 .111 .000  .111
Dave Kingman      4    9   0   1   0  0   0   0  0  0   1   3   0 .111 .200 .111  .311
Andre Dawson     15   59   3  11   1  1   0   3  0  2   3  16   0 .186 .226 .237  .463
Sammy Sosa        3   11   0   2   1  0   0   0  0  4   1   0   0 .182 .250 .273  .523
Ted Williams      7   25   2   5   0  0   0   1  0  0   5   5   0 .200 .333 .200  .533
Darrell Evans    13   42   2   9   1  0   0   2  0  1   9   6   0 .214 .353 .238  .591
Dave Winfield    26  101  11  21   6  0   2   9  0  2  15  16   0 .208 .310 .327  .637
Willie Mays      25   89  12  22   5  0   1  10  0  3  10  12   0 .247 .323 .337  .660
Mark McGwire     42  129  13  28   2  0   5  14  0  0  18  33   0 .217 .313 .349  .662
Mike Schmidt     36  140  19  33   9  0   4  16  0  1  15  26   0 .236 .310 .386  .695
Barry Bonds      32  114  17  24   5  1   4  10  1  8  21  22   0 .211 .331 .377  .708
Jose Canseco     30  103  15  19   1  0   7  18  0  5  19  28   0 .184 .311 .398  .710
Stan Musial      23   86   9  22   7  1   1   8  0  1  12   4   0 .256 .347 .395  .742
Eddie Mathews    16   50   7  10   5  0   1   7  0  1  15  17   0 .200 .385 .360  .745
Rafael Palmeiro  22   82  13  20   5  0   4   8  0  0   6  22   0 .244 .295 .451  .747
Eddie Murray     44  159  21  41   3  1   9  25  0  3  27  27   0 .258 .366 .459  .825
Willie Stargell  36  133  18  37  10  0   7  20  0  0  17  34   0 .278 .360 .511  .871
Frank Robinson   35  126  25  30   5  1  10  19  0  0  20  32   0 .238 .342 .532  .874
Cal Ripken       28  107  14  37  10  0   1   8  0  0  12  22   0 .346 .412 .467  .879
Reggie Jackson   77  281  41  78  14  1  18  48  0  5  33  70   0 .278 .354 .527  .880
Mel Ott          16   61   8  18   2  0   4  10  0  0   8   9   0 .295 .377 .525  .901
Mickey Mantle    65  230  42  59   6  2  18  40  0  3  43  54   0 .257 .374 .535  .908
Fred McGriff     50  188  36  57  10  1  10  37  0  1  27  37   0 .303 .391 .527  .917
Duke Snider      36  133  21  38   8  0  11  26  0  1  13  33   0 .286 .349 .594  .943
Harmon Killebrew 13   40   6  10   1  0   3   6  0  0  14  10   0 .250 .444 .500  .944
Ken Griffey      15   59  11  18   2  0   6  11  0  5   7  10   0 .305 .379 .644 1.023
Jimmie Foxx      18   64  11  22   3  1   4  11  0  0   9  10   0 .344 .425 .609 1.034
Carl Yastrzemski 17   65  15  24   3  0   4  11  0  0   9   3   0 .369 .446 .600 1.046
Juan Gonzalez    15   62  11  18   4  0   8  15  0  0   4  15   0 .290 .333 .742 1.075
Willie McCovey    8   29   4   9   0  1   3   7  0  0   5   5   0 .310 .412 .690 1.101
Hank Aaron       17   69  11  25   4  1   6  16  0  0   5  13   0 .362 .405 .710 1.116
Lou Gehrig       34  119  30  43   8  3  10  35  0  0  26  17   0 .361 .476 .731 1.207
Babe Ruth        41  129  37  42   5  2  15  33  0  4  33  30   0 .326 .463 .744 1.207
Total           858 3085 483 830 145 16 176 483  1 49 460 638   0 .269 .364 .498  .861

Yes, Bonds is below average but not by a whole lot. Legends are at the top (well, bottom here) of the list: Aaron, Ruth, and Gehrig. But there are legends like Williams, Mays, and Schmidt who fare worse than Bonds. Ernie Banks never even got to play in a postseason game-damn Cubs.

It's going to be fun to watch Bonds play in the NLCS: the pitching approach that the Cardinals use against him, the shifts, etc. But enough already with the playoff performance questions. The press should find a new story and just let Bonds play. Maybe Ted Williams' kids will do us all a favor and start feuding again so that the Jim Grays of the world have a new story to cover.

Hey Joe, What Do You
2002-10-09 00:58
by Mike Carminati

Hey Joe, What Do You Know?

Joe Mays was great tonight in the first game of the ALCS allowing no earned runs in the 2-1. Mays was hurt most of the season and owned a 4-8 record at the end of the regular season. It made me wonder how many pitchers with 4 or fewer wins with their team have ever started and won a League Championship Series game. Well here they are:

DAVID CONE, 1992, TOR, 4-3, 2.55 ERA
KEN HILL, 1995, CLE, 4-1, 3.98
TOMMY JOHN, 1982, CAL, 4-2, 3.86
DON SUTTON, 1982, MIL, 4-1, 3.29
BOB WOLCOTT, 1995, SEA, 3-2, 4.42

By the way, the Twins Geek was right and ESPN was wrong: Ortiz was active and played.

Also, the Angels bullpen was perfect over the last three innings but it didn't matter.

Epicure-iouser and Curiouser There is
2002-10-08 22:20
by Mike Carminati

Epicure-iouser and Curiouser

There is nothing like the sight of Commissioner Bud Selig masticating some good ole, home-style ribs and sucking dry the marrow while sitting next to his good buddy Carl Pohlad. And evidently Thom Brennaman does serve a purpose if just to say that, "There's nothing like ribs...especially if they're free".

Meet the Geek I went
2002-10-08 16:05
by Mike Carminati

Meet the Geek

I went to the source re. those Twins moves, i.e., the eminent Twins Geek. Here's what he had to say:

Sears for Ortiz has to be a mistake. I've heard nothing about that, and I'm sure I would have.

As I wrote today, the Wells/Fiore thing is a mystery. Did Firoe do something wrong? Did Gardy no like how he was throwing the ball in
Game 2? Was this always his play (to reward both guys for their seasons)? I don't know. One thing which isn't apparent from their stats is that Wells was pretty good after the all-star break, when he came back from his bone chips operation (3.96 ERA), so the move is defensible. And Wells has long been a coaching favorite. Wells is also a better bet to strike poeple out in a pressure situation, and probably more dependable for a one-inning starte than Fiore is. With how the Angels hit lefties, the Twins are probably paying pretty close attention to the lack of quality right-handers in their pen. Of course, part of the reason for that is they insist on carrying Mike Jackson, who should be the one who is left off. But the Twins coaching staff gives him all kinds of credit for his influence on the other relievers, so they keep him on the roster.

Go check out the Geek's playoff coverage. The man knows Scott Leius' shoe size by heart. Let's support the Twins while we thumb our collective nose at the Bud Selig and the powers that be in baseball.

The Trouble with Scotty Scott
2002-10-08 15:24
by Mike Carminati

The Trouble with Scotty

Scott Rolen is apparently out of the NLCS that starts tomorrow in St. Louis. But it seems that the Cardinals have decided to leave him on the active roster should he recuperate enough to play towards the end of the series. If the Cards decide to deactivate him for this round, they will likely activate veteran utility man Wilson Delgado (even though a replacement player who was not active prior to September should play the same position as the injured player-Delgado did not play third base this year but did in 2001, and they should be given a little lattitude).

The question remains who should replace Rolen at third base. Miguel Cairo went 4-for-4 in the final game of the NLDS, but should the Cards opt for Cairo at third and not replace Rolen on the roster, this would mean that they would have no backup infielders available. This is due to LaRussa's decision to take 12 pitchers and three catchers (Marrero also plays OF), leaving 10 spots among the rest of the position players. The Cardinals can move Luis Pujols back to third, but they only are carrying 4 outfielders meaning that the only backup outfielders would be catcher turned outfielder Eli Marrero and Cairo. Actually, Marrero would be pressed in to starting OF duty should Pujols start at third, leaving Kerry Robinson instead on the bench. I would think that the Marrero/Pujols combination would be preferable to the Pujols/Cairo one. I would expect LaRussa to insert Cairo should they feel that a game presents a good pitching match-up and therefore a low scoring game.

Finally, Woody Williams may return this series, but as he said, will not return unless he is 100%. The reason for this is that rookie Jason Simontacchi took over Williams' roster spot (Simontacchi was in Triple-A on August 31, therefore ineligible for the playoff roster except as an injury replacement). Having a healthy Simontacchi to an injured Williams is preferable. However, given that the Cards' staff is bulging, carrying Williams to pitch later in the series (like they seem to be carrying Rolen) would not be too onerous.

We're Number One! We're Number
2002-10-08 09:32
by Mike Carminati

We're Number One! We're Number Ow!

Apparently, Twins veteran utility infielder Denny Hocking had his finger stepped on in the postgame victory celebration the other day and will miss the ALCS. He will be replaced by 27-year-old journeyman David Lamb, who was 1-for-10 in a September call-up this year. With Luis Rivas' injury forcing Hocking to play and play well in the final game of the A's series, this could really hurt the Twins.

Minnesota also apparently made two other moves. Right-handed reliever Tony Fiore, who got knocked around in his one postseason appearance, has been deactivated in favor of veteran right-handed stiff Bob Wells. Wells has had some success with the Angels (3.18 ERA and 8 Ks in 11.1 innings since 1999, but with 15 hits, 3 HRs, and .300+ batting average). Fiore has not a great deal success against Anaheim (7.94 in 5.2 innings over the last few years). These are extremely small samples, but I guess they matter to the Twins.

DH David Ortiz has also been deactivated in favor of September call-up Todd Sears according to the ESPN Twins roster. They both bat left and play the same position (1B). Ortiz is batting .097 (.308 OPS) against the Angels this year, but unless he is injured, why would the Twins bench a starting player in favor of a 26-year-old scrub (he's number 58) with seven games of major-league experience? As a matter of fact, if Ortiz is not injured, how can they procedurally replace him with a September call-up? There is no one else on the DL, thereby allowing the Twins to activate Sears (a la Anaheim's Francisco Rodriguez replacing Steve Green, who was injured last March).

Braves-Giants Game 5 Boy, this
2002-10-08 01:39
by Mike Carminati

Braves-Giants Game 5

Boy, this was a nice, juicy deciding game. Three-to-one in the bottom of the ninth with the go-ahead run at the plate and no outs-you can't ask for anything better. There was a lot to mull over:

· First, the official score was 3-1. Buck and McCarver went back and forth on this, finally deciding that the run did not score as the fade-out music played, which was obvious from the replay. Actually, there is no way that Furcal should attempt to score on that play. Given that his run is meaningless if the Giants get the final out, he should do his best to draw a throw from the Giants to free up the runner. The Giants would probably never fall for it, but it's worth a shot. Once he scores, he no longer serves any function.

· In the bottom of the ninth, the grainy replay did seem to show Snow's foot still on the bag as he caught the ball on the leadoff hitter, Furcal. There are two things that are more decisive than the replay: 1) Snow tried to tag Furcal as he ran by and 2) Snow did not act surprised nor did he argue the play. He knew that he was off the bag.

· By the way, that was a tough play on which to give Kent an error. Yes, he made a bad throw, but he made a great play just getting to the ball. You can't divorce the throw from Kent catching the ball: his throw was hurried and off-balance by the difficulty of the play and Furcal's speed.

· Next, Julio Franco singles to right and Furcal goes to third. Maybe Sanders could not have prevented Furcal from taking the extra base, but he could have gotten to the ball a little more quickly.

· Tim McCarver at first said that the Braves were bringing in a pinch-runner for Franco, but then corrected himself realizing that the Braves only had two slow-running position players left. First, Cox's earlier strategy prevented him from having a Mark DeRosa or Marcus Giles to pinch-run. This became an issue when Franco was doubled up in a rundown. I'm not saying that a better runner could have down anything on that play, but the earlier moves dictated that a slow runner was at first, which in turn dictated where Snow was positioned at first. If Snow was not positioned where he was, that doubleplay perhaps turns into a single.

· Also, given the position players that Atlanta had left, why not have a pitcher pinch-run? The Phils did it with a bit of success with lanky Ron Reed when I was a kid. Why not bring in a young pitcher like Damian Moss? There's always the chance that you might need pitchers later on if you tie up the game. But that's a chance that you have to take.

· My next question is why Cox took three catchers on his playoff roster, especially ones that hit so poorly. That limits your bench from 7 to 5 men right off the bat. Looking at the regular-season roster, I do not see anyone else they could have taken besides weak-hitting Jesse Garcia (Surhoff has been injured all year). Why not just take an extra pitcher?

· With Lockhart in the lineup Cox only has two left-handed bats on the bench, Matt Franco and Darren Bragg. Both of them were used by the sixth and they still had the right-handed Worrell and Nen to get through. They also had no defensive replacements for any position besides catcher and firstbase after the sixth. They had one run to show for all the moves. Cox played the sixth inning like the ninth, so he had to play the ninth like the sixth.

· It was an interesting move pulling Ortiz in the sixth with a 2-0 lead. After Fultz gave up the hit to DeRosa and the Braves pulled within 1, it didn't look like a great move. Ultimately, however, with the Braves spending all their players with the righty-to-lefty and then back-to-righty switches, it proved the turning point of the game.

· Why was Bell initially bunting with a man on first and one out in the ninth? Why not a hit-and-run?

· Henry Blanco made two great plays in succession in the eighth. First he made a perfect throw on a Bonds' steal attempt. Then, he threw out Santiago on a third-strike that went back to the backstop. If Santiago had been paying attention he would have made it easily-an experienced catcher should know better.

· Can we all now agree to drop the derogatory comments about Bonds' postseason performance? He ended up batting .294 for the series and was the difference in the deciding game. Can the announcers by a tad bit creative and find a new story?

· By the way, Gene Clines reaction to Bonds' home run was classic. He hooted like an owl. The ball was crushed. The outfielders hardly moved at all.

· Do we have to endure this annoying Fox "October Magical Match-ups" ad campaign for the entire postseason? I'm embarrassed for the actor who plays the voodoo dude.

· In the battle of the chop vs. the thundersticks, I vote for Youppi. Can't we keep these annoying shenanigans limited to one mascot in one locus? Pretty soon these thundersticks will become as prevalent as those streamers that they use behind the opposition's basket during free throws in college basketball.

Brave to a Fault? In
2002-10-07 16:10
by Mike Carminati

Brave to a Fault?

In 1991 two Cinderella teams, who had gone from last place the previous year to first, met in the World Series. It was a Cinderella story out of nowhere just like a former greenskeeper becoming the Masters champion. Thank you, Bill Murray. The winner, however, had just won their second world championship in five years. They would not finish any closer than six games out of first (in '92 and '01) again until they won their division title this year. They were and are the Minnesota Twins.

The other team would win the World Series in 1995 and has yet to fail to qualify for the playoffs since their Cinderella season. They are of course the Atlanta Braves. This year was one of their best with 101 wins in only 160 official decisions. They have eclipsed 100 wins five times (1993, '97, '98, '99, and now 2002) and were on a pace to do so in the abbreviated '95 season. Their highest win total during the streak is 106 in 1998 though at one point this season it seemed they would easily surpass that total. They have had the best record in the NL in eight of the seasons in the streak including this one.

But it appeared that their streak was nearing an end as they completed the 2001 season. After eking out only 88 wins last year and being dogged by an overachieving Phillies team until the final week of the season, they entered 2002 with seemingly more question marks than in any other season since 1991. Baseball Weekly in its season preview pointed to their rebuilt bullpen as the team's major weakness. Kevin Millwood and Andruw Jones were listed among their major worries. Only three of the five BW analysts picked Atlanta to win its division in 2002 (though one picked them to win the World Series).

In the off-season, the Braves had added Gary Sheffield's bat and a number of fungible role players had transmogrified, but this was basically the same team as 2001's version, just a year older and deeper in debt. Chipper Jones switched from third base to left, thereby potentially weakening two positions. Who was going to be the second baseman? Keith Lockhart, Mark DeRosa, Marcus Giles, or maybe Jesse Garcia? Quilvio Veras was no longer in the mix at least. Surprisingly, for a team built on pitching, there were question marks in the rotation for the first time in recent memory with Smoltz' defection to the bullpen, Kevin Millwood's ineffectiveness, the loss of John Burkett to the Red Sox, and only unproven Jason Marquis and Damian Moss to fill out the starting corps. Second-year closer John Smoltz was re-signed to the tune of $30 million over three years-that's a tune with a good beat and you can dance to it-and the supporting reliever caste was rebuilt.

The problems from 2001 still had not been resolved: There seemingly wasn't a player on the major league roster to play first of third base. B.J. Surhoff and former Mexican-Leaguer Julio Franco were to platoon, sort of, at first. This was put on hold as Surhoff got playing time in rightfield while Gary Sheffield was nursing a sore wrist in mid-April. Surhoff slid into a wall on April 27 chasing down a triple destroying his knee (but did have the wherewithal to hit the cutoff man) and has been out since. Jones' switch to left created a hole at third base. Vinny Castilla was signed after seemingly righting his career with Houston in the last three-quarters of 2001but Castilla still had an OPS under .600 for the Devil Rays in each of two partial seasons. There still was no clearcut starter at second. (Imagine if this team had not made the Ryan Klesko and Bret Boone for Reggie Sanders, Wally Joyner, and Veras trade.)

Remarkably the Braves have had a healthy lead for most of the season and finished the season 19 games ahead of second-place Montreal. The division standings are a testament to their dominance in 2002. They sit alone atop the NL East while only 7.5 games separated the second through fifth team (and they were within a just a few games of each other until the last week of the season). Atlanta was 47-28 against the rest of the division. The other four teams were slightly below .500 (37-39 to 34-41) against the rest of the NL East. Clearly the Braves are the class of an otherwise evenly matched, mediocre division.

Does this dominance bode well for the Braves' playoff hopes this year? Tim Kirkjian thinks that it does. Most fans are more skeptical given this team's past postseason failures. Kirkjian points to the Braves' bullpen as "the best bullpen in the National League, the best bullpen they've ever had" and to the dominance of closer John Smoltz in particular as major improvements over the underachieving teams of the past. Kevin Millwood's turnaround and the development of youngsters Damian Moss and Jason Marquis have solidified the rotation, says Tim. He offers that Gary Sheffield's bat has made up for the deficiencies at first and third base. He reminds us that Rafael Furcal's speed was dearly missing in the playoff run last year. These are all valid points to some extent, but are they enough to rid the Braves of their recent playoff demons.

To determine that we need to figure out what went wrong in the past and determine if those root causes still exist on the current team. Did their notoriously bad bench let them down? Did their starting lineup? Is their historically uneven bullpen to plan or was it their starters? Where there injuries to key players?

Here are the yearly postseason batting numbers for the entire Atlanta Braves team for every year in the 1990s in which they did not win the World Series (i.e., not 1995).
[Note: I have again used Sean Lahman's database for 1991-'99 and ESPN for the last two years]:

1991 478  48 116  20  5 13  48  5 16  5  48   3  81 .243 .313 .387 .700 .762
1992 434  54 101  17  2  9  51  3 20  4  49   0  76 .233 .309 .343 .652 .833
1993 215  33  59  14  0  5  32  2  0  3  22   1  54 .274 .342 .409 .751 .000
1996 539  80 144  23  4 17  79  7 13  8  60   5 111 .267 .342 .419 .761 .619
1997 291  40  68   9  2  9  36  4  3  2  31   2  67 .234 .308 .371 .679 .600
1998 301  33  70   6  1  8  31  2  6  1  40   0  74 .233 .321 .339 .660 .857
1999 484  51 117  19  2  7  49  4 19  7  57   4 108 .242 .324 .333 .657 .731
2000  95  10  18   5  0  1   9  0  1  3  16   1  20 .189 .313 .274 .586 .250
2001 268  29  65  12  0 11  27  1  1  4  15   1  57 .243 .284 .410 .695 .200
All 2742 339 675 108 16 68 326 27 77 30 307  17 571 .246 .323 .372 .695 .720

Other than 1993 and 1996, those numbers are pretty poor. Who is to blame, the starting lineup, the bench, or both. I took the top eight players in at-bats in each postseason and designated them starters, removed all the pitchers, and designated the remainder the bench (I know that this is somewhat arbitrary especially in years in which they used a DH in the World Series, but it was the best that I could think of). Here are the yearly number for the starters and the bench. First the starters:

1991 388  46 103  18  5 12  44  3 15  4  42   3  52 .265 .339 .430 .770 .789
1992 355  43  81  14  1  8  37  2 14  2  44   0  57 .228 .312 .341 .653 .875
1993 188  28  51  12  0  5  31  2  0  3  20   0  45 .271 .338 .415 .753 .000
1996 437  68 120  20  3 14  64  7 12  4  48   4  81 .275 .347 .430 .777 .750
1997 225  36  55   8  2  9  30  4  3  2  26   2  49 .244 .323 .418 .741 .600
1998 226  25  50   3  1  7  24  2  5  1  34   0  54 .221 .321 .336 .657 .833
1999 383  45 101  17  1  7  40  3 12  6  43   4  74 .264 .342 .368 .710 .667
2000  81   9  14   3  0  1   7  0  1  3  13   1  17 .173 .295 .247 .542 .250
2001 221  27  56   8  0 10  24  1  1  4  11   1  47 .253 .291 .425 .716 .200
All 2504 327 631 103 13 73 301 24 63 29 281  15 476 .252 .328 .391 .719 .685

Now the bench:

1991 65  2  10  2  0  1   4  1  0  1  5   0 15 .154 .211 .231  .442  .000
1992 58  9  17  2  1  1  11  1  5  2  4   0 11 .293 .333 .414  .747  .714
1993 15  3   5  1  0  0   1  0  0  0  1   1  6 .333 .412 .400  .812  .000
1996 71  9  18  2  0  3  11  0  1  4 11   1 17 .254 .361 .408  .770  .200
1997 45  2  10  1  0  0   6  0  0  0  4   0  9 .222 .286 .244  .530  .000
1998 56  6  16  2  0  1   7  0  1  0  3   0 15 .286 .322 .375  .697 1.000
1999 75  5  13  1  1  0   9  1  7  1 11   0 21 .173 .276 .213  .489  .875
2000 11  0   4  2  0  0   2  0  0  0  2   0  1 .364 .462 .545 1.007  .000
2001 32  2   7  3  0  1   3  0  0  0  4   0  3 .219 .306 .406  .712  .000
All 428 38 100 16  2  7  54  3 14  8 45   2 98 .234 .308 .329  .637  .636

To make the comparison clearer, here is a table of ratios of the key ratios, bench players to starting players:

Year    BA   OBP  SLUG   OPS   SB%
1991  .580  .627  .536  .576  .000
1992 1.285 1.064 1.214 1.142  .816
1993 1.229 1.206  .964 1.073  .000
1996  .923 1.043  .949  .991  .267
1997  .909  .885  .585  .716  .000
1998 1.291  .997 1.115 1.057 1.200
1999  .657  .807  .579  .689 1.313
2000 2.104 1.566 2.209 1.859  .000
2001  .863 1.051  .955  .994  .000
All   .927  .937  .843  .886  .929

So what does this tell us? A. The Braves have not been exactly setting the world ablaze with their bats. The starters have done better than the bench, but B. the bench has not been tremendously worse throughout, as is their rep. Sure, in 1991, '97, and '99 the bench was pretty worthless, but in 1992. '93, '98, and 2000 it did a better job than the starting lineup. The bench batted .364 and the starters .173 in their 2000 early exit.

Now, let's take a look at the pitching. Here are the pitching totals for each of the years:

Year  G  W  L SV CG SH    IP    H   R  ER  BB  SO  ERA WHIP K/BB K/IP IP/GS
1991 14  7  7  3  2  1 134.00 107  36  32  42  96 2.15 1.11 2.29 .716 6.381
1992 13  6  7  2  2  0 115.67 104  52  48  47  85 3.73 1.31 1.81 .735 5.923
1993  6  2  4  0  0  0  54.00  47  23  19  26  34 3.17 1.35 1.31 .630 6.444
1996 16  9  7  5  0  0 143.00 102  40  30  47 125 1.89 1.04 2.66 .874 7.083
1997  9  5  4  0  3  0  80.33  52  25  20  31  76 2.24 1.03 2.45 .946 7.333
1998  9  5  4  1  0  0  80.67  70  28  25  32  72 2.79 1.26 2.25 .893 6.333
1999 14  7  7  5  0  0 134.33 117  57  50  44 113 3.35 1.20 2.57 .841 6.643
2000  3  0  3  0  0  0  25.00  28  24  22  14  19 7.92 1.68 1.36 .760 3.667
2001  8  4  4  2  0  0  71.00  59  28  18  26  48 2.28 1.20 1.85 .676 5.833
All  94 45 49 18  7  1 838.00 686 313 264 309 668 2.84 1.19 2.16 .797 6.435

Those are pretty good numbers in general. In 2000 the starters got roughed up early and the Braves had an early exit. And in 1992 the pitchers had a few problems, but aside from that these numbers are very good.

What if we compare starters to relievers like we did early with bench and starting players' batting? These roles are easier to classify. I have divided up the numbers for starters who came in relief. Here are the starters:

1991 5  4  0 14 14  2  1  89.33  81    24  25  71  2.42 1.19 2.84 .795 6.381    
1992 5  5  0 13 13  2  0  77.00  72    36  29  55  4.21 1.31 1.90 .714 5.923    
1993 2  2  0  6  6  0  0  38.67  34    13  18  26  3.03 1.34 1.44 .672 6.444    
1996 9  5  0 16 16  0  0 113.33  80    20  29  88  1.59 0.96 3.03 .776 7.083    
1997 5  4  0  9  9  3  0  66.00  46    20  28  62  2.73 1.12 2.21 .939 7.333    
1998 2  3  0  9  9  0  0  57.00  53    18  19  49  2.84 1.26 2.58 .860 6.333    
1999 5  4  0 14 14  0  0  93.00  84    32  21  74  3.10 1.13 3.52 .796 6.643    
2000 0  3  0  3  3  0  0  11.00  19 18 16   7   7 13.09 2.36 1.00 .636 3.667    
2001 3  4  0  8  8  0  0  46.67  47 22 16  16  26  3.09 1.35 1.63 .557 5.833    
All 36 34  0 92 92  7  1 592.00 516   195 192 458  2.96 1.20 2.39 .774 6.435

That makes the 1992 and 2000 poor performance even clearer.

Now here are the relievers:

Year W  L SV   G GS CG SH    IP    H R ER  BB  SO  ERA WHIP K/BB  K/IP 
1991 2  3  3  30  0  0  0  44.67  26    8  17  25 1.61 0.96 1.47  .560
1992 1  2  2  31  0  0  0  38.67  32   12  18  30 2.79 1.29 1.67  .776
1993 0  2  0  14  0  0  0  15.33  13    6   8   8 3.52 1.37 1.00  .522
1996 0  2  5  35  0  0  0  29.67  22   10  18  37 3.03 1.35 2.06 1.247
1997 0  0  0  11  0  0  0  14.33   6    0   3  14 0.00 0.63 4.67  .977
1998 3  1  1  29  0  0  0  23.67  17    7  13  23 2.66 1.27 1.77  .972
1999 2  3  5  37  0  0  0  41.33  33   18  23  39 3.92 1.35 1.70  .944
2000 0  0  0  13  0  0  0  14.00   9  6 6   7  12 3.86 1.14 1.71  .857
2001 1  0  2  24  0  0  0  24.33  12  6 2  10  22 0.74 0.90 2.20  .904
All  9 13 18 224  0  0  0 246.00 170   69 117 210 2.52 1.17 1.79  .854

Those aren't bad numbers, not so bad for a much maligned bullpen. Their worst year was probably 1999 in which they had an ERA near 4 for over 40 innings. A few years they were a real strength: zero ERA in 14.1 innings in 1997-you can't beat that.

Let's again compare relievers to starters by comparing their ratios:

1991  0.667   0.811    0.518    0.704
1992  0.664   0.986    0.879    1.086
1993  1.164   1.018    0.692    0.776
1996  1.910   1.402    0.677    1.606
1997  0.000   0.560    2.108    1.040
1998  0.937   1.004    0.686    1.131
1999  1.266   1.200    0.481    1.186
2000  0.295   0.484    1.714    1.347
2001  0.240   0.670    1.354    1.623
All   0.852   0.976    0.752    1.103

The relievers actually have a lower ERA and Walks Plus Hits per Innings Pitched and a higher strikeout-to-innings-pitched ratio. They have given up more walks though so there strikeout-to-walk ratio us lower.

One last thing, injuries, and then we'll make a final assessment. Here are the position players that played more than 80 games in a season for the Braves and did not end up playing or had limited playing time (i.e., were not designated starters):

1991 Otis Nixon (OF, 124 games)
1992 Greg Olson (C, 95)
1996 Dwight Smith (backup OF, 101)
1997 Mark Lemke (2B, 109)
1999 Randall Simon (backup 1B, 90)
2000 Quilvio Veras (2B, 84)
2001 Rafael Furcal (only 79 games but was the starting shortstop

I don't have anything to compare it to, but that seems like a pretty bad run of luck. Most of those injuries happened mid-year though, and the team had time to replace the player.

So now let's get to the fun part, assigning blame. I have singled out the starting or relieving corps if they have an ERA over 3.50 in a given postseason and a starting or bench position player corps if they have an OPS under .700. Here's my assessment:

1991 Bench (plus a key injury)
1992 Starting pitching and position players
1993 Relief pitching
1996 None
1997 Bench
1998 Starting position players
1999 Relief pitching and bench
2000 Starting and relief pitching and starting position players
2001 None

Note that the notoriously poor role players only had one year in which they both plagued the team (1999). 2000 was a complete breakdown (except for the bench) but was only three games. 1992 wasn't much better even though they got to the World Series. There were two years in which none of the groups broke down: the Braves were just outplayed. The Braves strength, starting pitching, has been a problem area almost as often as their much maligned starting position players and relief pitching (they also has a few years with an ERA over 3, but not over 3.50).

So other than one or maybe two years, the Braves have had some major facet of their game working for them and still did not garner the World Series trophy. That shows that even a very good club can play well and lose to another good club that just happens to play better in the postseason. What does this mean for the Braves 2002 playoff run? Well, the inconsistency so far of their starting pitching (i.e., Glavine) does not bode well. They are currently out-hitting San Francisco, but have a 5.40 staff ERA (and 7.78 starter ERA-relievers have a 2.35 ERA) in the series. If they win tonight, stranger things have happened than their winning the World Series. But if they don't win tonight, the point will be moot.

Hurray for Game 5 The
2002-10-06 23:53
by Mike Carminati

Hurray for Game 5

The Twins and A's gave us a great one today. The Braves and Giants have had an odd series, each game being won in a lopsided fashion, but maybe they can redeem it with a decent game five tomorrow. It's Russ Ortiz for the Giants vs. Kevin Millwood for thr Braves. Each pitched well in their start in the series--Ortiz winning the first game Wednesday and Millwood the second on Thursday--, but in each case the opposing pitcher was hit hard. That's kind of been the story in the series (except maybe game 3 in which Schmidt pitched so-so in losing--Aybar, the reliever, was the goat). Let's hope that these two can lock up in a battle since it'll be the only game on tomorrow.

Tuesday, the Angels travel to Minnesota in perhaps the least expected, at least when the season started, pairing in League Championship history. When past surprise teams appeared ('93 Phils, '97 Marlins, '98 Padres, etc.), they had to face well established teams in the LCS (in this case the Braves each time). Even the LCS's that preceded the '91 dual last-to-first Series (Braves and Twins) featured two clubs (Pittsburgh and Toronto) who were in the pennant race the year before. It should be fun. Mays and Appier are scheduled for game 1, but that may change.

Twins-A's Game 5, II The
2002-10-06 19:52
by Mike Carminati

Twins-A's Game 5, II

The ninth inning of this ballgame was like a completely different game. Both teams scored three runs. Unfortunately for the A's, that was not enough. I have to question Howe's decision to let Left-handed Terrence Long bat against the left-handed Guardado with one out in the ninth and the A's trailing by a run. He was already 0-for-3 on the day and even though he bats equally well (or poorly) against left-heanders, why not go to Eric Byrnes (who can play centerfield if they tie it up) in that situation. Perhaps Howe would have gone to Olmeda Saenz in that situation but his injury earlier in the series prevented that. Not having Saenz hurt the A's all day as their lefties who were pressed into action went hitless against Radke.

The other strategy that backfired on Howe was going with closer Billy Koch in the ninth. Koch proceeded to walk his first batter and then give up a homer to the second, basically sealing Oakland's fate. He did get the next two out, but when Christian Guzman singled, that should have been it for Koch. Howe let him walk the next batter and then give up what ended up to be the winning run on double to Ortiz. Everyone but the two pitchers used today and Hudson, who started yesterday (and maybe Ted Lilley who relieved him for 3.1), should have been available. Cory Lidle who pitched so well for the A's during their streak was only used for 1 inning in the whole series.

A's fans may be calling for Koch's head but if the A's offense had done something against Radke during the first 8 innings, then they still could have won. Besides Howe should not have allowed him to get as roughed up as he did. Why stick with a closer who obviously doesn't have it when you're down to your last three outs?

Twins-A's Game 5 The Twins
2002-10-06 16:51
by Mike Carminati

Twins-A's Game 5

The Twins just missed a golden opportunity. With the bases loaded and 2 out in the second, Denny Hocking hit a line drive to short center. Matt LeCroy scored easily from third but Torii Hunter, the runner on second, had to hold at third. Mulder then made Jacque Jones look pathetic against left handers striking him out on a ball in the dirt.

The question remains why Hunter could not score from second. Joe Morgan beat this horse to death, but I have to agree with him. Hunter has to go on contact with two outs. he is a fast runner. Long, the center fielder, is fast and got to the ball quickly but has a weak arm. On a replay that showed the entire field, Hunter was barely getting into third as Long got to the ball. It's inexcusable.

Even ESPN assumed that he would score. Here are the entries for the play in their game log. They entered one with Hunter scoring and then corrected it without taking at the first one:

-D Hocking singled to center, M LeCroy and T Hunter scored, M Cuddyer to third.
-D Hocking singled to center, M LeCroy scored, T Hunter to third, M Cuddyer to second

D-Based The Cardinals swept the
2002-10-06 00:08
by Mike Carminati


The Cardinals swept the Diamondbacks tonight and await the winner of the Giants and Braves series in the NL Championship series. Bob Brenly will be second-guessed left and right for a couple of decisions in this game. First, he will be questioned as to why he did not try to bring ace Randy Johnson back to start game three on three days rest. Johnson had only gone 6 innings and thrown 92 pitches on Tuesday. Besides starter Miguel Batista only went 3-2/3 innings anyway. Some would say that Johnson could have provided a more sublime few innings on three days rest. My opinion is that the D-Backs could not advance very far in the playoffs if they couldn't rely on more than 2 starting pitchers. Brenly had to rely on someone else and Batista was the logical choice-he had been an instrumental part of the second half surge (3.75 post-All-Star ERA) even if he did implode down the stretch with the rest of the team.

The second stratagem that will be questioned is intentionally walking Mike Methany with a runner on second and two outs in the eighth trailing 5-3. It did create a force at any base. That brought up the pitcher's spot and LaRussa used left-handed pinch-hitter Kerry Robinson against Byung-Hyun Kim. Robinson punched a hit into left and the Cards had a 3-run lead. Brenly allowed Kim to load the bases with a walk to the next batter and then induce a soaring popup from J.D. Drew without calling in a relief pitcher.

Should Brenly have had Kim face Methany? Methany was hitting well in the series (.444) and was 1-for-3 on the day, but Methany is not much of a hitter against righties (.619 OPS). Joe Morgan said that Brenly had to have Kim walk Methany to bring up the pitcher's spot and force LaRussa to pinch-hit for Steve Kline. Kline was the final Cardinal lefty in the bullpen and the D-Backs had two left-handed bats coming up in the ninth. Two things that I thought immediately about this turn of events were: The final pitch to Methany was right over the plate though high. What if LaRussa had Methany swing away a la Roy Hobbs? The other thing I thought was what if LaRussa tried to thwart the strategy by just allowing Kline to bat? I guess neither were high-percentage moves.

Even after Robinson knocked in a run Morgan still defended the strategy saying that you cannot worry about the other team scoring in this situation-you have to set yourself up to have the best offense possible in the ninth. Well, I'm still not convinced by that argument. Let's say that Kim who is much better against righties (they have a 123-point lower OPS against him) pitched to Methany and got him out. LaRussa could do one of two things: 1) leave Kline in or 2) bring in his closer Isringhausen. If LaRussa leaves Kline in, Brenly can counter with Matt Williams, Damian Miller, Greg Colbrunn, Mark Little, or Alex Cintron, all right-handed batters (Cintron's a switch-hitter) available on the bench for either or both of the left-handed batters due up in the ninth. Also, McCracken the second batter due up is a better hitter against righties. If LaRussa decides to go with his right-handed closer, then the D-Backs don't need to make any changes and have the left-handed Mark Grace available for pinch-hitting if needs be. If LaRussa decides to pretend to leave Kline in and then bring in Isringhausen after the right-handed pinch-hitter is announced, there would still be Grace on the bench to pinch-hit followed by two left-handed bats.

So on the pro side there is removing Kline from the game (which may have happened anyway) and creating a force at every base. In the cons are facing a left-handed pinch-hitter instead of the weak-hitting right-handed Methany and allowing another runner on base. Given that the Kline pro is mitigated by not knowing what LaRussa may do in the ninth and by having to instead face the closer, that leaves only the force advantage. Add in the fact that there are a number of right-handed bats and at least one lefty bat available, and I do not think that the gamble was a good one.

The most important thing for the D-Backs was to keep the score close, which they failed to do. If that means that it inconveniences you 9th inning strategy, well that's why you have a bench. I think it was a bad gamble and would have looked even worse if the D-Backs had scored two runs in the ninth and lost 6-5. They didn't though and one could argue that losing is still losing be it by 2 runs or by three. But you never know what will happen in the ninth and as the manager you have to make moves that will give you the best chance to succeed. This one did not provide that to the D-Backs no matter what Brenly or Morgan might say.

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture II
2002-10-05 18:26
by Mike Carminati

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture II

With both games tied, the Braves and the Angels have come with big innings at the same time. The Braves have just scored five runs on two hits on the first two pitches from relievr Manny Aybar. The Angels are in the middle of an 8-run inning.

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture Alfonso
2002-10-05 17:24
by Mike Carminati

In Praise of Picture-in-a-Picture

Alfonso Soriano just booted a textbook doupleplay ball to allow the Angels to tie the game with one out in the third.

Almost simultaneously, Barry Bond just grounded out into the shift with men at first and second and two out.

Yankees-Angels Game 4 The Yankees
2002-10-05 17:15
by Mike Carminati

Yankees-Angels Game 4

The Yankees just missed a golden opportunity. After Ventura doubled in the first run of the game in the second, the Yankees had third and second and one out for Rivera. He hit a ball to the third baseman Glaus. The runners held and then Soriano ended the inning with a deep fly ball to right. As much as I hate to agree with Tim McCarver, if the Yankees had sent Coomer from third on the groundball, the worst that could happen would be runners at firt and third and two outs and the best would be a run. Glaus has a great arm at third and Coomer is slow as a slug, but wasn't it worth a shot? The only difference between second-and-third and first-and-third with two outs is that the trailing runner probably won't score on a single. Torre must have great confidence in the next batter, Soriano, and Glaus' arm to not try it.

A's-Twins Game 4 II The
2002-10-05 16:59
by Mike Carminati

A's-Twins Game 4 II

The Twins won 11-2 but it could have been 12-2 since Dustin Mohr was called out at home in the seventh. He was clearly safe even though his hand got stuck momentarily on the catcher's shoe.

Also, the reason why Greg Crawford had not awarded Pierzynski home on the errant throw by Tejada was that the rule depends on where the batter-runner is not the lead runners. The commentators said that the ump who made the call, Greg Crawford, could not have seen where Pierzynski was at the time and therefore, could not have made the call. It did not matter where the runner was. Clearly, the batter had not yet passed first, therefore the other runners get two bases based on their original positions.

Rule 7.05 (g)
Each runner including the batter runner may, without liability to be put out, advance... two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made. APPROVED RULING: Since no runner, when the ball is dead, may advance beyond the base to which he is entitled, the runner originally on first base goes to third base and the batter is held at second base. The term "when the wild throw was made" means when the throw actually left the player's hand and not when the thrown ball hit the ground, passes a receiving fielder or goes out of play into the stands. The position of the batter runner at the time the wild throw left the thrower's hand is the key in deciding the award of bases. If the batter runner has not reached first base, the award is two bases at the time the pitch was made for all runners. The decision as to whether the batter runner has reached first base before the throw is a judgment call. If an unusual play arises where a first throw by an infielder goes into stands or dugout but the batter did not become a runner (such as catcher throwing ball into stands in attempt to get runner from third trying to score on passed ball or wild pitch) award of two bases shall be from the position of the runners at the time of the throw. (For the purpose of Rule 7.05 (g) a catcher is considered an infielder.) PLAY. Runner on first base, batter hits a ball to the shortstop, who throws to second base too late to get runner at second, and second baseman throws toward first base after batter has crossed first base. Ruling Runner at second scores. (On this play, only if batter runner is past first base when throw is made is he awarded third base.)

The ump got it right.

Braves-Giants Game 3 Vinny Castilla
2002-10-05 16:55
by Mike Carminati

Braves-Giants Game 3

Vinny Castilla just got an early birthday present. With runners at first and second, he had a ground ball hit right at him at third base. As he caught the ball, the runner from second began his headfirst slide into third. Castilla appeared to tag him and throw the batter out at first. However, it was clear on the replays that Castilla was nowhere near tagging the the runner. The analysts said that was one of those "in the vicinity" plays. Maybe a middle infielder turning a double play should got some latitude on whether he touched second so that he can avoid injury, but a there is no such thing as a tag "in the vicinity" play. The ump, who was standing right there, just missed the call.

A's-Twins Game 4 The Twins
2002-10-05 15:52
by Mike Carminati

A's-Twins Game 4

The Twins have now scored 9 unanswered runs and look like they will win easily. The key to me wasthe 3rd inning at-bat to Corey Ksokie. Hudson had just given up his first run and had been battled firencely by the first two Twin hitters. But there were now two outs and a man on second. Hudson was ahead to Koskie 1-2 and threw a borderline inside pitch that Hernandez framed well (I though it was a strike), but he didn't get the call. He didn't get the pitch, proceeded to walk Koskie, and then gave up a ground-rule double to Ortiz to lose the lead. That seemed to be the moment when Hudson lost it: not getting the bordeline call seemed to get him rattled.

In the fourth the entire A's team looked rattled. There were two throwing errors (both plating runs), two wild pitches (each also reulting in a run), a hits batsman (on the pitch after the first wild pitch), and a total of seven runs allowed on only 4 hits (a double and three singles).

Notes From Yankees-Angels First, I
2002-10-05 01:26
by Mike Carminati

Notes From Yankees-Angels

First, I have to say that so far this has been an extremely exciting series. Maybe it hasn't always been artistically perfect but it's been exciting. Also, as baseball fan and someone who lived in New York for some time, I tend to root for the Yankees, but I find it very difficult not to pull for this Angel team. They are fun to watch.

I have to say that the Yankees cannot call what is happening with their bullpen unexpected. Their starters have not pitched deep into games very often especially Pettite (6.1 innings per start), Mussina (6.5), and Clemens (6.2). Even with starters Orlando Hernandez and Jeff Weaver in the bullpen, when your starters go only 5-2/3, 3, and 4 innings in the three games so far your bullpen is going to get worn. Worse yet the Yankees only have one left hander in the pen, Stanton, and have only really used three or four relievers all year: Stanton, Karsay, Mendoza, and Rivera when healthy. Their bullpen is like a throwback to the Goose Gossage Yankee days, with Gossage closing, Ron Davis setting him up, and a caste of characters like the aging Jim Kitty Kaat and Don Hood filling in. The Yankees had time in July after Rivera went on the DL to pick up another veteran reliever arm. There were rumors that the would get lefty Dan Plesac from the Phillies. They did nothing. They had time to work in the Randy Choates and Mike Thurmans, especially after it was clear that Boston would not catch them. They chose not to do so.

Mike Stanton also did endure a good deal of bad luck: a nice pitch punched right over Soriano's extended reach, a slicing fly off the glove of Mondesi, a hard liner past first base that Giambi would have gotten had been guarding the line. It was apparent before the Erstad double in the eighth that he had nothing left. The only problem was that he was the only lefty in the pen who could face Erstad. Karsay was used in all three games and gave up the back-kreaking home run to Salmon. Perhaps if Torre hadn't overworked these guys continually throughout the season, they would have performed a little better tomight. It's surprising for a manger who built his reputation on using all 25 spots on the roster to their fullest.

Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez was calling an extremely low strike zone. There was one 3-2 call where Jeter looked the ball into the catcher's glove and was sure that he had a walk until he was punched out. His early low strike calls helped set up Francisco Rodriguez's low stuff be so effective. Not to take anything away from kid, he was tremedous. But as the game wore on more players were swinging atthat low pitch assuming if they didn't it would be called a strike anyway. This seemed to favor the Angels' pitchers.

Francisco Rodriguez was great in picking up his second win of the series and of his major-league career. I still cannot get over the fact that he was allowed onto their playoff roster even though he didn't pitch until September 18.

Joe Morgan alluded to this and maybe I'm just being swayed by Joe's persuasiveness, but this game felt like a passing of the guard. The Yankees lost on little nubbers and balls falling in lucky spots. The Angels won by chipping away and by shutting out the Yanks with their bullpen, who bailing out an extremely erratic starter (Ortiz's line 2-2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K).

Game 4 is going to be something: 18-game winner Washburn against 19-game winner Wells. Oh, and I like the rally monkey but it can get old, but it is nice to see those supposedly apathetic California crowds get into the game. Now if they had a monkey-cam film the game, that would be exciting.

Take the Money and Runs
2002-10-04 16:49
by Mike Carminati

Take the Money and Runs

There's a report that the scoring is down to the lowest level since 1993. ESPN attributes it to pitchers catching up with hitters:

Forget the long ball.

After a decade of record-setting bashing in baseball, pitchers finally are starting to catch up with hitters.

Also, says ESPN, the strike zone's being actually enforced (imagine that) over the last two years has caused a drag on home runs.

First, I have to say that this is an issue that is by no means as facile as the media would lead you to believe.

Second, I have a chart, what else? It lists the total runs and home runs per game with their percent change by year since the dawn of the expansion era. There is also the average and standard deviation for each of the percent change:

Year   R/G   Diff  HR/G   Diff
1960  8.63  -1.58% 1.72  -5.27%
1961  9.05   4.90% 1.91  10.89%
1962  8.92  -1.43% 1.85  -3.03%
1963  7.89 -11.52% 1.67  -9.79%
1964  8.07   2.25% 1.70   1.71%
1965  7.98  -1.17% 1.66  -2.50%
1966  7.99   0.14% 1.70   2.55%
1967  7.54  -5.64% 1.42 -16.45%
1968  6.84  -9.30% 1.23 -13.49%
1969  8.14  19.14% 1.60  30.55%
1970  8.68   6.61% 1.76  10.05%
1971  7.78 -10.43% 1.48 -16.25%
1972  7.37  -5.21% 1.36  -7.73%
1973  8.43  14.32% 1.60  17.12%
1974  8.25  -2.12% 1.36 -14.69%
1975  8.43   2.13% 1.40   2.43%
1976  7.99  -5.17% 1.15 -17.37%
1977  8.94  11.91% 1.73  50.33%
1978  8.21  -8.21% 1.41 -18.84%
1979  8.92   8.63% 1.64  16.30%
1980  8.58  -3.80% 1.47 -10.33%
1981  8.00  -6.76% 1.28 -12.88%
1982  8.60   7.49% 1.60  25.52%
1983  8.62   0.24% 1.57  -2.40%
1984  8.51  -1.18% 1.55  -1.12%
1985  8.66   1.74% 1.71  10.66%
1986  8.82   1.81% 1.81   5.86%
1987  9.45   7.11% 2.12  16.80%
1988  8.28 -12.38% 1.51 -28.50%
1989  8.26  -0.14% 1.46  -3.33%
1990  8.51   3.00% 1.58   7.64%
1991  8.62   1.21% 1.61   2.04%
1992  8.23  -4.43% 1.44 -10.28%
1993  9.20  11.67% 1.78  23.12%
1994  9.85   7.09% 2.07  16.33%
1995  9.69  -1.55% 2.02  -2.08%
1996 10.06   3.77% 2.19   8.06%
1997  9.53  -5.24% 2.05  -6.34%
1998  9.57   0.38% 2.08   1.58%
1999 10.17   6.27% 2.28   9.45%
2000 10.28   1.09% 2.34   2.94%
2001  9.55  -7.10% 2.25  -4.13%
2002  9.27  -2.91% 2.09  -7.03%
Avg          0.36%        1.35%
Std Dev      6.97%       14.96%

Do you notice how wildly fluctuating this figures are? The standard deviation is a 7% swing for runs and a 15% one for homers. The dropoffs in the last few years are miniscule compared to a number in the past: from -12% to +19% in runs and from -28.5% to +50 in home runs. So to say that this shows that pitchers have caught up with hitters is ludicrous. Were they catching up with and falling behind each other constantly in the last 40+ years? Besides, the 1993-2000 numbers are much higher than the previously established levels.

There are a number of factors that may be responsible for the slight decrease in runs and home runs the last few years. First, there have been a number of new parks that were in the 1990s. There were twelve since 1990 as a matter of fact, about one a year, plus four other parks used by expansion teams. Most of those ballparks are hitters' parks, and the influx of so many (about half of all stadiums) at once could have disadvantaged the pitchers. There were no new ballparks in 2002.

One other factor that has loomed large in the 1990s is expansion. The two closest rounds of expansion ever were in the '90s (1993 and 1998). You'll notice that all but the 1962 expansion have been accompanied by scoring increases. After a couple of years the trend has been reversed and scoring has returned to its previous levels. The 1990s saw this after the 1993 expansion, but the correction was halted by the 1998 expansion. Baseball is just starting to get back to its previous levels. Why does scoring increase after expansion? The prevailing theory is that pitchers take a little more time to mature than hitters. When there is a large influx of talent, such as when the majors expand, the batters that fill those new positions tend to be better prepared than do the pitchers. Of course, after the 1961-62 expansion analysts were saying the opposite, that scoring was down because there weren't enough good hitters to fill the roles. The theory as to why scoring goes down a few years after expansion is that pitching resources are at a premium and it takes a few seasons for them to be more evenly distributed among the teams.

If you want to reduce that to pitchers catching up with batters than I guess the media are correct. But there are a myriad of other factors (training, conditioning, nutrition, organizational approach, equipment changes, etc.) that come into play. Besides the slight fluctuations in 2001-'02 are not large in the scheme of baseball history.

Attendant Problems There are reports
2002-10-04 15:22
by Mike Carminati

Attendant Problems

There are reports from the commissioner's office that major-league attendance totals dropped 6.1% from last year's per-game average, the biggest drop since the '94-'95 strike. Twenty of the thirty teams declined and Milwaukee (hurray!) experienced the largest drop-off of all. The decline is being blamed on the dark tenor that dominated the season due to the possibility of a work stoppage.

I took a look at the numbers since 1971, the last year in which we all fans could say that they had never seen a strike. The numbers that I found differed from those in the article (I used Sean Lahman's great, free database for 1971-2000 and the ESPN partial year reports for 2002) but were similar. My numbers should a 7.9% dropoff in 2002. Here is a chart by year of the average per-game attendance, the percent change from the previous year, and the percentage change overall (i.e., from 1971):

Year Avg Att    % Diff  % Diff 
1971 15,063.68   1.87%    -
1972 14,506.87  -3.70%  -3.70%
1973 15,496.10   6.82%   2.87%
1974 15,437.33  -0.38%   2.48%
1975 15,403.26  -0.22%   2.25%
1976 16,151.80   4.86%   7.22%
1977 18,406.93  13.96%  22.19%
1978 19,332.49   5.03%  28.34%
1979 20,748.16   7.32%  37.74%
1980 20,434.27  -1.51%  35.65%
1981 19,041.88  -6.81%  26.41%
1982 21,161.78  11.13%  40.48%
1983 21,593.33   2.04%  43.35%
1984 21,255.52  -1.56%  41.10%
1985 22,265.52   4.75%  47.81%
1986 22,589.73   1.46%  49.96%
1987 24,708.55   9.38%  64.03%
1988 25,237.57   2.14%  67.54%
1989 26,198.05   3.81%  73.92%
1990 26,044.55  -0.59%  72.90%
1991 27,002.74   3.68%  79.26%
1992 26,529.19  -1.75%  76.11%
1993 30,964.27  16.72% 105.56%
1994 31,246.50   0.91% 107.43%
1995 25,021.93 -19.92%  66.11%
1996 26,480.45   5.83%  75.79%
1997 27,876.74   5.27%  85.06%
1998 29,000.27   4.03%  92.52%
1999 28,887.72  -0.39%  91.77%
2000 29,377.90   1.70%  95.02%
2001 29,881.06   1.71%  98.36%
2002 27,502.84  -7.96%  82.58%

There are a number of remarkable things that can be derived from this.

First, baseball did a tremendous amount of damage with the 1994-'95 strike that has yet to be undone. The largest increase on the sheet is in 1993 (16.72%). Some of this is can be attributed to a one-year increase from adding two expansion teams-this is borne out by the fact that the second largest surge occurred in 1977, the previous expansion year-but it still represents a substantial increase. That increase was subsumed be the approx. 20% drop after the 1995 strike was settled.

The assumption that the threat of a work stoppage would negatively effect attendance is not borne out by the data. All of the years in which games were lost experienced a decline in attendance (1972, -3.70%; 1981, -6.81%; and 1995, -19.92%), but other years with labor strife actually saw attendance rise (1973, 6.82%; 1976, 4.86%; and 1985, 4.75%). One could argue that with the 1994 fiasco still fresh on the fans' minds, this threat was more imposing that past ones.

If you look at the overall attendance increase from 1971 on, you will see a nice straight line increases steadily over time. There are yearly dips and surges, but it holds pretty steady. You will also notice that each of the attendance drops attending a strike year are followed quickly by an increase: 6.82% in 1973, 11.13% in 1982, and 5.83% in 1996. The last rebound took a bit longer and was a bit flatter-baseball still has not gotten back to those per-game levels though they were a bit inflated due to a previous surge. If this decrease is due to the strike talks, then baseball should probably expect a turnaround in 1-2 years.

But I still don't think that it explains all of the drop-off. Since 1990, there have been twelve new stadiums built to replace existing ones (plus four others used by the expansion teams). One could argue that baseball's popularity has been falling for some time and that it has been masked by the increases that attend a new stadium opening. The average attendance increase when a team has opened a stadium iver the last twelve years in 32% (even with the Rockies' falloff in leaving the overflowing Mile High Stadium crowds).

While major-league attendance may have had some difficulties in the last decade, there has been a substantial increase in minor-league attendance. Independent leagues like the Northern and Frontier Leagues became popular in the 1990s. Minor-league teams in organized ball also saw their crowds increase. Whether this was a cause or result of the major-league woes would be difficult to say without further research (perhaps another day).

Meet the New Boss... Apparently,
2002-10-04 12:51
by Mike Carminati

Meet the New Boss...

Apparently, first impressions are lasting ones. Jerry Royster disobeyed the newly installed Milwaukee management by not playing Jose Hernandez down the stretch thereby denying Hernandez the title of single-season strikeout king. This came in an effort by Royster to protect Hernandez from the press. Unfortunately, the person Royster should have been protecting was himself: he was fired two days ago.

Here's what new team president Ulice Payne had to say about Royster's decision:

For the money we pay professional players, unless you're hurt, sick or have a family emergency, you play. You don't sit out because your job might be tough today or you might get a little embarrassed today. And that's what I would expect from everyone in this organization, from the front office to the ticket takers.

I am left trying to figure out if Royster was just stupid or thought he was taking an important mortal stand. Or both.

B' Bye John Rocker has
2002-10-04 12:32
by Mike Carminati

B' Bye

John Rocker has been released, and to add insult to injury, it was by the Texas Rangers. Texas was his third organization in two years. It seems unlikely that anyone will pick him up. It is less than three years since his infamous remarks to CNN.

I can't help hearkening back to the prescient statements made by his pitching coach Leo Mazzone at the time of the article:

Baseball's a very humbling game. The first thing I think about is after I hear about this, he's going to go out and blow himself out. One of his teammates might punch him out. Something's going to go wrong now with his career. And you watch it, it'll end up going straight down the tubes.

Gamboa Gambit Tom Gamboa, the
2002-10-04 12:17
by Mike Carminati

Gamboa Gambit

Tom Gamboa, the Royal firstbase coach who was attacked during a ballgame by two Chicago fans/thugs last month, is being shifted to bullpen coach for 2003. He had been a bullpen coach until this season.

If this is to protect him from future attacks, I hope that the Royals have taken into account the volubility and volatility of the fans in the bleacher abutting some of the bullpens in baseball. Remember Chad Kreuter's stolen cap at Wrigley a couple of years ago? I hope that they get some Barry Bonds-type body armor for the guy.

Los Expos de Beisbol? The
2002-10-04 12:08
by Mike Carminati

Los Expos de Beisbol?

The Expos are reportedly looking at playing some home games in Puerto Rico next year. San Juan is currently the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and Canada without a major-league team (though smaller than Montreal). See my Les Exits study for more.

Steve Lyons and Thom Brenniman
2002-10-04 11:10
by Mike Carminati

Steve Lyons and Thom Brenniman

How did this happen?

Brave to a Fault? In
2002-10-03 11:43
by Mike Carminati

Brave to a Fault?

In 1991 two Cinderella teams, who had gone from last place the previous year to first, met in the World Series. It was a Cinderella story out of nowhere just like a former greenskeeper becoming the Masters champion. Thank you, Bill Murray. The winner, however, had just won their second world championship in five years. They would not finish any closer than six games out of first (in '92 and '01) again until they won their division title this year. They were and are the Minnesota Twins.

The other team would win the World Series in 1995 and has yet to fail to qualify for the playoffs since their Cinderella season. They are of course the Atlanta Braves. This year was one of their best with 101 wins in only 160 official decisions. They have eclipsed 100 wins five times (1993, '97, '98, '99, and now 2002) and were on a pace to do so in the abbreviated '95 season. Their highest win total during the streak is 106 in 1998 though at one point this season it seemed they would easily surpass that total. They have had the best record in the NL in eight of the seasons in the streak including this one.

But it appeared that their streak was nearing an end as they completed the 2001 season. After eking out only 88 wins last year and being dogged by an overachieving Phillies team until the final week of the season, they entered 2002 with seemingly more question marks than in any other season since 1991. Baseball Weekly in its season preview pointed to their rebuilt bullpen as the team's major weakness. Kevin Millwood and Andruw Jones were listed among their major worries. Only three of the five BW analysts picked Atlanta to win its division in 2002 (though one picked them to win the World Series).

In the off-season, the Braves had added Gary Sheffield's bat and a number of fungible role players had transmogrified, but this was basically the same team as 2001's version, just a year older and deeper in debt. Chipper Jones switched from third base to left, thereby potentially weakening two positions. Who was going to be the second baseman? Keith Lockhart, Mark DeRosa, Marcus Giles, or maybe Jesse Garcia? Quilvio Veras was no longer in the mix at least. Surprisingly, for a team built on pitching, there were question marks in the rotation for the first time in recent memory with Smoltz' defection to the bullpen, Kevin Millwood's ineffectiveness, the loss of John Burkett to the Red Sox, and only unproven Jason Marquis and Damian Moss to fill out the starting corps. Second-year closer John Smoltz was re-signed to the tune of $30 million over three years-that's a tune with a good beat and you can dance to it-and the supporting reliever caste was rebuilt.

The problems from 2001 still had not been resolved: There seemingly wasn't a player on the major league roster to play first of third base. B.J. Surhoff and former Mexican-Leaguer Julio Franco were to platoon, sort of, at first. This was put on hold as Surhoff got playing time in rightfield while Gary Sheffield was nursing a sore wrist in mid-April. Surhoff slid into a wall on April 27 chasing down a triple destroying his knee (but did have the wherewithal to hit the cutoff man) and has been out since. Jones' switch to left created a hole at third base. Vinny Castilla was signed after seemingly righting his career with Houston in the last three-quarters of 2001but Castilla still had an OPS under .600 for the Devil Rays in each of two partial seasons. There still was no clearcut starter at second. (Imagine if this team had not made the Ryan Klesko and Bret Boone for Reggie Sanders, Wally Joyner, and Veras trade.)

Remarkably the Braves have had a healthy lead for most of the season and finished the season 19 games ahead of second-place Montreal. The division standings are a testament to their dominance in 2002. They sit alone atop the NL East while only 7.5 games separated the second through fifth team (and they were within a just a few games of each other until the last week of the season). Atlanta was 47-28 against the rest of the division. The other four teams were slightly below .500 (37-39 to 34-41) against the rest of the NL East. Clearly the Braves are the class of an otherwise evenly matched, mediocre division.

Does this dominance bode well for the Braves' playoff hopes this year? Tim Kirkjian thinks that it does. Most fans are more skeptical given this team's past postseason failures. Kirkjian points to the Braves' bullpen as "the best bullpen in the National League, the best bullpen they've ever had" and to the dominance of closer John Smoltz in particular as major improvements over the underachieving teams of the past. Kevin Millwood's turnaround and the development of youngsters Damian Moss and Jason Marquis have solidified the rotation, says Tim. He offers that Gary Sheffield's bat has made up for the deficiencies at first and third base. He reminds us that Rafael Furcal's speed was dearly missing in the playoff run last year. These are all valid points to some extent, but are they enough to rid the Braves of their recent playoff demons.

To determine that we need to figure out what went wrong in the past and determine if those root causes still exist on the current team.

Here are the
To be continued...

I Am Every Joe Morgan
2002-10-03 01:28
by Mike Carminati

I Am Every Joe Morgan Chat Day People

So you thought that Joe Morgan could sneak an extra Chat Day by and we wouldn't notice? Well, you were right. But he made one mistake: the chat session was posted on the ESPN site. Elementary, my dear Watson. It was a stone groove, my man.

Anyway, what the hex am I talking about? It's a belated Joe Morgan Chat Day only four days after his last regularly scheduled one. We (and again I am abusing the royal "we" but it's OK: I got a special dispensation from the Pope to do so-no condoms for South America, but I get the royal "we") here at Mike's Baseball Rants love the Joe Morgan Chat Days. We remember the carefree Joe Morgan Chat Days of our childhood, playing free. The Joe Morgan Chat Days seemed to stretch on forever. Joe was one of our favorite players, snapping that elbow in the batter's box. It was enough to make one break into a swinging rendition of Sesame Street's "I love eight. Eight is great...."

Joe the baseball analyst is a more uneven but, for us, a more intellectually challenging proposition. Joe can, just as a verb does in Schoolhouse Rock, tell it like it is. Or he can feed the unwary baseball fan the worst line of pap this side of Gerber's. What we like best is when he does both at the same time.

I must say that Joe has done another 180 on us. Last week we thought we had him nailed with his Reductio ad Absurdum. Joe seems already to have soured on this and appears to be entering a metaphysical phase. He now reminds me of the doorkeeper who stands before the door to the Law in Kafka's Der Prozess or for the layman, The Trial. This doorkeeper denies admittance to the Law, at least for the time being, to some poor rube, who comes seeking the Law. The bumpkin tries to trick, cajole, and even bribe the doorkeeper to no avail until he finally dies still seeking admittance to the Law while the doorkeeper closes the door. Joe is that gatekeeper, keeping us from the laws of baseball by obfuscation and inveiglement that adds up to adumbration. You heard it here first: Joe is an inveigler. Curse you, Red Morgan.

The Good

Jim ( New York ): Hey Joe, Don't you think that Steve Phillips is to blame for not bringing in compatible players this year to the Mets or was it the right thing to do getting rid of Bobby?

Joe Morgan: That is the chicken or the egg because Phillips can say he got the right players but Bobby didn't get enough out of them. Bobby can say just the opposite. I don't know whose fault it is but I dont' see how you can put all the blame on Bobby.

[Mike: Right Bobby should have had half the team laying eggs and the other half raising chickens. Or something. Bobby V had little control over what the veterans did, not that he helped them much. Phillips created this amalgamation. He deserves the bulk of the blame after that endomorphically headed Mr. Met.]

Javs2002(Cortland): What is your prediction in the Giants-Braves series? Can the Giants really beat the Braves with thier pitching or will it come down to who can score first?

Joe Morgan: Anybody in the playoffs now can win the championship. The Giants are playing great and play even better on the road. They have a great chance to win this series.

[Mike:Right, even the '97 Marlins could win a few short series.]

Ken (Seneca, PA): Great job this season doing the games on ESPN (as always). Do you think that Barry Bonds will be pitched to in the series against the Braves? I think Bonds will be pitched to because of the Braves veteran presence both in the rotation and the bullpen.

Joe Morgan: I think they will start to because he doesnt' have a good record in the playoffs. They will just to see how he reacts.
[Mike:Agreed, but not because his playoff numbers really matter (97 at-bats strewn over 11 years? Please!). Rather because Bonds apparently believes it or at least he hears enough about it from the press to believe it (or so it seemed in the 2000 playoffs). Also, I think the Braves just might have the pitching hubris or more to the point cajones to challenge Bonds though he was walked once intentionally today.]

Craig (Evansville): Joe - will the post-season every feel the way it did? It used to have a certain feel around this time of year similar to the NCAA tournement....just isn't the same anymore. I can't I think it will be.

Joe Morgan: I'm excited about the postseason ... this is what baseball is all about. I'll get even more excited as we get closer to the World Series.

[Mike:Joe's actually kvelling. I hear you, bud. Listen Craig just because the Evansville Otters didn't make the Northern League playoffs this year, it's no reason to lose your perspective. Live a little. The Fargo-Moorhead Red Hawks has their bad days, too.]

Dan (Calif): Joe, Do you think Scioscia is making the right decision in starting Appier instead of Ortiz in Game 2?

Joe Morgan: That is a tough question that I can't really answer. I think he is doing it because Appier has pitched in the postseason and is a veteran.

[Mike:I have to go with Joe's theory here. Ortiz pitched better down the stretch and pretty much during the year. He had more success against the Yankees in his two starts than Appier did in his one (admittedly an extremely small sample). They were both rested. Appier did pitch well in the last three weeks of August and it might be one of those "go with the guys who got us here" things. But Ortiz did his part as well. Maybe Scioscia uses a dartboard to pick starting pitchers. Who knows?]

Chris (Califon): Do you think the format for the playoffs should be 7 games for every round? Or are you in favor of the current 5, 7, 7 games?

Joe Morgan: They should be 7 throughout but they need to shorten the season to do that. You don't want to be playing in November. To do that you have to shorten the season. Best of 7 is a better test. 3 of 5 is not as good a test.

[Mike:Well, true, but wouldn't best of nine be an even better test. How 'bout best of 35? Just being facetious. In Joe's defense he does make it abundantly clear elsewhere that any team can win a short playoff series. Seven games are a little fairer in the way that home and away games are apportioned at least.]

Chris (Califon): The Yankees MUST keep Eckstein of the bases, much the way the were able to contain Ichiro last year to a degree, don't you think?

Joe Morgan: They have kept him off so far but they only won 4 of seven. Your success will always depend on what you do with the top of the lineup.

[Mike:Chris, get a life. What are you obsessed with Joe Morgan Chat Day? How pathetic.

The Yankees have done well against Eckstein (.250 batting average and .523 OPS during the season), but that begs the question of whether they must or just should keep him off base. Your success will always depend on what you do with the one through nine hitters. Oh, and the pinch-hitters. And defensive replacements. And the opposing pitchers-getting hits off them helps too.]

Brett (Livonia, Mi): Todays A's vs Minn game should be great but why isnt Zito starting for the A's ? Your prediction of today's game too ?

Joe Morgan: Art Howe said he didn't want to change the rotation and get them out of their routine. I was surprised as well.

[Mike:It is a little surprising given the year that he's had, but it isn't really much of a rarity. Besides the way the A's have been playing in the second half why mess with it.]

The Bad

Greg (minneapolis): Joe - always nice to hear your take on in that case...what is your take on the Twins-A's series? I as a home boy would love for my Twinkies to win, but Oakland is a good club...your thoughts?

Joe Morgan: The real key is for the Twins to not just be happy to be here. They have to take this personally and say they are here to win. Secondly, they have to stay close through the first five innings. They cannot afford to fall behind early.

[Mike:That's an embarrassingly bad prediction given yesterday's comeback. But what the Hey. I said that John Patterson would definitely make Arizona's playoff roster.]

boulder: which team (in the playoffs) gains the biggest advantage from their home park?

Joe Morgan: Yankees. Because when you face the Yankees, you are also facing The Babe, Monument Park, the fans, etc.

[Mike:Excuse me is that boulder as in "Dumb as a..." From 1995-2001 the Yankees have a home playoff record of 29-11 and an away of 29-14. Big whoop! If you take out last year's World Series, they have a better away record: 29-10 away to 26-11 home. By the way, I think the Bambino is retired. Oh, and Monument Park is actually behind you when you play. And the fans, though some would like to, can't really play for the Yankees.]

C.J. - Jacksonville: Joe -- love your insight during baseball games. Big D-backs fan. Was actually at the first ball game at the BOB. Looking at their starting lineup today... are they going to be able to score any runs? Mark Grace is batting clean up!!!???

Joe Morgan: It's interesting beause nobody thinks of them as an offensive team but they led the league in runs scored. They will miss Gonzo and have some problems but they should find a way to run scores. If they have a downfall, it will their bullpen.

[Mike:Hey, Joe used a stat and he used it correctly. Unfortunately, the D-Backs are a different team without Gonzalez. And yeah, lineups don't matter much, but it's inexcusable to use Mark Grace as your number 4 hitter against Morris. Grace has a .637 OPS in 64 at-bats in the 4 spot this year. He did have a .760 OPS vs. Morris this year, better than most of his teammates. I guess those are the kinds of moves that makes Bob Brenly a genius. Joe is certainly right about the bullpen (where's Patterson anyway?).]

Les-MINN: Joe--the A's bullpen is probably the most vulnerable spot on their team. How long do you expect Art Howe to keep in his starters. What adjustments will be made? I love this series!

Joe Morgan: I think at this time of the year you play everything by ear. You don't plan on anything. Only thing you can plan is the starter.

[Mike:True, but the regular season still matters to some degree. As a manager, you don't just throw away everything that you've seen over 162 games. You gamble a little more, but it's not like you double-down on a pair of twos.

By the way, Oakland had a 3.82 staff ERA in the bullpen. I would say that their most vulnerable spot would be Terrence Long of the .689 OPS.]

The Ugly

john(atlanta): What kinda of chance do the Braves have of winning the world series? Is there line up good enough?

Joe Morgan: I think with Sheffield in to help Chipper, they can do it. Again, all the teams that are left have a shot. If you handicap everyone, it's the Yanks followed by Oakland. In the NL it's the Braves, then Giants. But it's very difficult to do that because all of them can win.

[Mike:How can it be the Braves then the Giants? They are playing each other in the Division Series.]

Reed (Irvine): The Angels do not hit a lot of HR's. Do you think this lack of power is going to haunt them this series?

Joe Morgan: That lack of power didn't hurt the Yankees winning four out of five. The Angels have power but they have a lot of other weapons. The Angels are not favored but they have a great chance to win that series. They match up well against the Yankees.

[Mike:Did the Yankees win already? They won four of seven in the regular season so that's not what he means? Does anyone understand what he's referring to? For the record, the Angels do not hit a lot of homers but that might be adaptive for their park. Their park is a good hitter's park but not for home runs. The Angels have the fifth highest road OPS in the majors for what it's worth.]

Jason (Charlotte): I see a lot of people picking the Cards to win the NL. I know it is a sentimental choice. I just don't think they have enough pitching after Morris your starters are Finley and for today anyway Benes. There bullpen is Ok not great. I just don't think that is enough. Where do you stand?

Joe Morgan: The one thing they have is the best lineup in the league. Drew, Pujols, etc. They have a good offensive club. Again, we just have to see how the pitching holds up. If you can score enough runs, it takes a lot of pressure off the pitchers.

[Mike:Didn't he just say that the D-backs had the best? By the way, the Cards have the ninth-highest batting average in baseball and the 11th-highest OPS. Of course, scoring runs does help pitchers to not lose. Good insight.]

F-Rod as in Fraud Francisco
2002-10-02 23:54
by Mike Carminati

F-Rod as in Fraud

Francisco Rodriguez came in for the Angels tonight and had some ungodly stuff, fastball in the mid-90s and breaking balls that fell off the table. Mondesi (I think) swung at one ball that bounced seemingly before the plate. He did give up two runs that are still earned even with Gil's error (Scorers never seem to charg players with an error for not turning the double play but for a throwing error where the runner advances. The scorer charged Mondesi with an error on a play in which Soriano nearly collided with him. Why not charge a middle infielder who has plenty of time to complete a double play but instead syumbles around the bag and fails to get the ball out of his glove with an error?)

My question is how Rodriguez is even on the Angel's playoff roster. He made 5 appearance from September 18 on and was not on the roster on August 31. The rule is that the get to add a player for ones on the 60-day DL. The Angels have pitcher Steve Green on the 60-day since March 11. I can see Arizona being able to replace Gonzalez and Anderson on their playoff roster with a post-Aug. 31st player--they got hurt after the deadline. But how does a mid-March injury have anything to do with who is allowed to play in a playoff series. The roster should reflect the team as it was constituted during the regular season. Veteran reliever Al Levine gets dropped and a 20-year-old rookie gets added. It doesn't seem fair.

Waiting for Troy Much will
2002-10-02 00:29
by Mike Carminati

Waiting for Troy

Much will be said about Anaheim's choice to bring in Scott Schoeneweis and Brendan Donnelly with 2 outs in the eighth instead of closer Troy Percival. Manager Mike Scioscia will second and third guessed over it. In his defence, however, this is the formula that got the Angels in the playoffs. Weber had a 2.54 ERA this year, Schoenweis 3.25 (as a reliever exclusively since July), and Donnelly 2.17, will of which are indeed higher than Percival's miniscule 1.92 but are pretty darn good. While it is true that Percival has pitched more than 1 inning four time (1.1 each time), never was he brought in when his team did not have a lead. May 30 he gave up the tying hit to Minnesota while pitching 1.1 innings en route to a 7-6, 10-inning loss. On August 3, he came in with 2 outs in the eighth with the Angels leading the Yankees 5-1 and two men on. Bernie Williams hit a three-run homer off of him, but the Angels held on to win. The other two games the Angels had small leads that they expanded on in the eighth.

For Scioscia to go with Percival before Williams, when the Angels want Williams to bat right would be illogical. So they go with lefty Schoenweis and Giambi gets a seeing-eye single to the rightside tying the score. Then the righty Donnelly comes in against Williams, who homers driving in three...end of ballgame. The problem was not in bringing in Schoenweiss to face Giambi, his OPS is a 150 points lower vs. lefties. The problem was in not continuing to go with him against Williams to force him to bat on the right side where he has a slightly lower slugging percentage and far less experience. Frankly, I don't see why you bring in Schoenweis to pitch against Gimabi and not face Williams (though Williams has had some success in the 10 ABs vs. the lefty). That was the mistake. I'm sure that Scioscia considered bringing in Percival but due to his mixed success when pitching over 1 inning (including the Yankee game and the homer to Williams) thought better of it. He should have stuck with the lefty though.

Back to Oakland I added
2002-10-01 19:13
by Mike Carminati

Back to Oakland

I added a new link today, Elephants in Oakland. Go check them out for playoff converage. You gotta love a page that's in Athletic yellow and green. That's keeping it real.

MINF MVP, no relation to
2002-10-01 16:31
by Mike Carminati

MINF MVP, no relation to MILF

My friend Doug has a good question:

I know you have discussed the MVP thing at great length, but I was trying to think about who I would vote for in the AL. The three players that I keep hearing about as the "top" candidates are ARod, Tejada, and Soriano. Assuming these are the top three, has there ever been another time where the top three (or more) players in MVP voting were middle infielders? (I would probably give some consideration to Giambi as well, but for purposes of this question, let's assume Giambi comes in at number four or below.)

The answer is no. The closest was 1912 when Larry Doyle (1), Honus Wagner (2), and Joe Tinker (4) finished in the top four in the NL. The award was then called the Chalmers Award for the Chalmers Automobile Co., who would present the winner with a car. At first, it was based exclusively on batting average until Nap Lajoie tried to catch Ty Cobb on the last day of the 1910 season by going 8 for 8 including seven infield bunt "hits" that the St. Louis infield failed to convert for an out. The Browns manager was fired over the incident (Jack O'Conner instructed rookie third sacker Red Corriden to play back on the outfield grass-coach Harry Howell offered a bribe to the official scorer to change an error to hit for Lajoie). The much-hated Cobb won anyway, but Chalmers gave both players a car (years later it was discovered that one of Cobb's games was counted twice and that Lajoie should have won). The Chalmers award lasted until 1914.

In 1937, Charlie Gehringer won, Johnny Pesky came in third, and Vern Stephens fourth in the AL. That's the only other time that a middle infielder has won and two others have been in the top 4.

Since Ripken revolutionized the shortstop position, the highest a second middle infielder has finished is sixth: In 1991 Ripken won and Robbie Alomar finished 6th in the AL. Here's the complete list of years that a middle infielder won and another was in the top 3:

1912 NL Larry Doyle (1), Wagner (2) [Tinker (4)]
1914 NL Evers (1), Maranville (2); AL Eddie Collins (1)
1925 NL Hornsby (1); AL Peckinpaugh (1), Joe Sewell (2)
1929 NL Hornsby (1)
1931 NL Frisch (1)
1937 AL Gehringer (1), Pesky (3) [Stephens (4)]
1942 AL Gordon (1)
1944 NL Marion (1)
1948 AL Boudreau (1)
1949 NL Jackie Robinson (1)
1950 AL Phil Rizzuto (1)
1958 NL Banks (1)
1959 NL Banks (1); AL Fox (1)
1960 NL Groat (1)
1962 NL Wills (1)
1965 AL Versalles (1)
1975 NL Morgan (1)
1976 NL Morgan (1)
1977 AL [Carew as 1B but former 2B(1)]
1982 AL Yount (1)
1983 AL Ripken (1) [next Whitaker (8)]
1984 NL Sandberg (1)[next Wiggens 16]
1989 [Two former SS: NL Mitchell (1); AL Yount (1)] [highest MINF: NL Sandberg 4; AL Ripken 3]
1991 AL Ripken (1) [next R. Alomar (6), Julio Franco (15)]
1995 NL Larkin (1) [next Biggio (10)]
2000 NL Kent (1) [next Alfonzo (15)]

People seem to think that all shortstops were worthless before Ripken and that seond base was a wasteland before Alfonso Soriano. Taint true.

Mets, Dressed for Failure in
2002-10-01 13:34
by Mike Carminati

Mets, Dressed for Failure in 2003

The Mets fired Bobby Valentine today and are set to repeat as the cellar dwellers in the NL East in 2003. I have no problem with letting Bobby V go. Frankly, I find him to be overrated and self-important. Hire 'em up a good Triple-A manager and no big whoop.

But what's more important is what the Mets did not do. They did not fire GM Steve Phillips. Phillips made wholesale changes to the Mets in 2002, ones that invariably did not pan out. Phillips acquired Mo Vaughn, Robert Alomar, Roger Cedeno, Shawn Estes, and Jeremy Burnitz in the off-season increasing their already substantial payroll by $10 million, and none of them lived up to expectations. Now, whether all or some of those expectations were properly set is one issue, but Alomar was coming off of a brilliant season (4th in the AL in MVP) at least and Burnitz had been a steady run producer for the previous 4-5 years. Clearly, a good deal of bad luck came into play. But the Vaughn for Appier deal looked bad on paper and on the field.

At best, Phillips undermanned his pitching staff and created a very mature lineup. At worst, he saddled New York with an aging albotross of a team. Given that this is a veteran ballclub, firing the manager seemed the most ineffectual avenue left for the Mets. So of course they took it. During the Mets' drug-gate fiasco at the end of the season, the prevailing impression was that the Mets management was upset with Valentine for not taking the issue more seriously. I'm not sure what Valentine could hae done about it, but Wilpon seemed quite miffed at him. That perception seems to have a good deal to do with his firing, which is a shame: Valentine deserved to be fired because of his performance as a manager. But the tail that required the first and the biggest boot was Phillips and apparently he will be allowed to serve another year. And that too is fine with me: I'm a Phillies fan and I'd liked to see as many of their competitors as possible ran as shoddily as they are. I wish Phillips well.

Setting in the West Each
2002-10-01 00:17
by Mike Carminati

Setting in the West

Each of the two Western Divisions was led for most of the year by one team. Two teams from each division made it to the playoffs and in neither case was it the team that led the division for the majority of the year. Those two teams who did not make the playoffs are the Los Angels Dodgers and Seattle Mariners, as you know. In 2001 the Mariners tied the major-league record for wins with 116 and the Dodgers won a modest 87. This year the totals were much closer: 93 for Seattle, 92 for LA.

Their 2002 record represented a 23-game decline in wins or 142-point decline in winning percentage for the Mariners. I wondered how often a team had had such a large drop-off from one year to the next, so I investigated further. I found out that there have 222 teams in the history of baseball that have had a drop-off off at least 100 percentage points. There were three more this year: the Mariners 142 point, the Cubs 129, and the Indians 105. There have been 96 (including the M's) with a 142-point decline. So without further ado here are the sharpest one-year declines in baseball since Joe Charboneau:

Team         Lg Yr 1   W  L  Pct Yr 2  W   L  Pct  Pct Win 
                                                  Diff Diff
St. Louis    UA 1884  94 19 .832 1885 36  72 .333 .499 58
Philadelphia NA 1875  53 20 .726 1876 14  45 .237 .489 39
Baltimore    NA 1873  34 22 .607 1874  9  38 .191 .416 25
Cleveland    NL 1898  81 68 .544 1899 20 134 .130 .414 61
Philadelphia AL 1914  99 53 .651 1915 43 109 .283 .368 56
Brooklyn     NA 1874  22 33 .400 1875  2  42 .045 .355 20
Chicago      NL 1876  52 14 .788 1877 26  33 .441 .347 26
Buffalo      NL 1879  46 32 .590 1880 24  58 .293 .297 22
New York     AA 1884  75 32 .701 1885 44  64 .407 .294 31
Pittsburgh   NL 1889  61 71 .462 1890 23 113 .169 .293 38
Washington   NA 1871  15 15 .500 1872  2   7 .222 .278 13
Cincinnati   NL 1879  43 37 .537 1880 21  59 .263 .274 22
Louisville   AA 1890  88 44 .667 1891 55  84 .396 .271 33
Boston       NL 1934  78 73 .517 1935 38 115 .248 .269 40
Providence   NL 1884  84 28 .750 1885 53  57 .482 .268 31
Cleveland    NL 1883  55 42 .567 1884 35  77 .312 .255 20
St. Louis    AA 1891  86 52 .623 1892 56  94 .373 .250 30
Boston       NL 1884  73 38 .658 1885 46  66 .411 .247 27
Baltimore    FL 1914  84 70 .545 1915 47 107 .305 .240 37
Buffalo      NL 1884  64 47 .577 1885 38  74 .339 .238 26
St. Louis    NL 1876  45 19 .703 1877 28  32 .467 .236 17
Florida      NL 1997  92 70 .568 1998 54 108 .333 .235 38
Cincinnati   NL 1981  66 42 .611 1982 61 101 .377 .234  5
Cleveland    AL 1913  86 66 .566 1914 51 102 .333 .233 35
Brooklyn     NL 1890  86 43 .667 1891 61  76 .445 .222 25
Chicago      AL 1920  96 58 .623 1921 62  92 .403 .220 34
Baltimore    AA 1884  63 43 .594 1885 41  68 .376 .218 22
Washington   AL 1933  99 53 .651 1934 66  86 .434 .217 33
New York     NA 1874  42 23 .646 1875 30  38 .441 .205 12
Louisville   AA 1887  76 60 .559 1888 48  87 .356 .203 28
New York     NL 1942  85 67 .559 1943 55  98 .359 .200 30
Boston       AL 1905  78 74 .513 1906 49 105 .318 .195 29
Montreal     NL 1994  74 40 .649 1995 66  78 .458 .191  8
Chicago      AL 1917 100 54 .649 1918 57  67 .460 .189 43
Philadelphia AL 1949  81 73 .526 1950 52 102 .338 .188 29
St. Louis    NL 1931 101 53 .656 1932 72  82 .468 .188 29
Los Angeles  NL 1991  93 69 .574 1992 63  99 .389 .185 30
Philadelphia NL 1901  83 57 .593 1902 56  81 .409 .184 27
Pittsburgh   AA 1882  39 39 .500 1883 31  67 .316 .184  8
Cincinnati   NL 1944  89 65 .578 1945 61  93 .396 .182 28
Detroit      AL 1988  88 74 .543 1989 59 103 .364 .179 29
Philadelphia NA 1873  36 17 .679 1874 29  29 .500 .179  7
New York     NL 1889  83 43 .659 1890 63  68 .481 .178 20
Worcester    NL 1881  32 50 .390 1882 18  66 .214 .176 14
Detroit      AL 1919  80 60 .571 1920 61  93 .396 .175 19
Cincinnati   NL 1890  77 55 .583 1891 56  81 .409 .174 21
Oakland      AL 1992  96 66 .593 1993 68  94 .420 .173 28
New York     AL 1911  76 76 .500 1912 50 102 .329 .171 26
Boston       NL 1921  79 74 .516 1922 53 100 .346 .170 26
Boston       NL 1879  54 30 .643 1880 40  44 .476 .167 14
Oakland      AL 1981  64 45 .587 1982 68  94 .420 .167 -4
Washington   AL 1908  67 85 .441 1909 42 110 .276 .165 25
Boston       AL 1942  93 59 .612 1943 68  84 .447 .165 25
Boston       AL 1912 105 47 .691 1913 79  71 .527 .164 26
New York     NL 1894  88 44 .667 1895 66  65 .504 .163 22
Detroit      AL 1901  74 61 .548 1902 52  83 .385 .163 22
Philadelphia AL 1907  88 57 .607 1908 68  85 .444 .163 20
Washington   AL 1918  72 56 .562 1919 56  84 .400 .162 16
Pittsburgh   NL 1909 110 42 .724 1910 86  67 .562 .162 24
Louisville   AA 1888  48 87 .356 1889 27 111 .196 .160 21
San Fran.    NL 1993 103 59 .636 1994 55  60 .478 .158 48
Detroit      NL 1883  40 58 .408 1884 28  84 .250 .158 12
Louisville   AA 1884  68 40 .630 1885 53  59 .473 .157 15
Hartford     NL 1876  47 21 .691 1877 31  27 .534 .157 16
Houston      NL 1999  97 65 .599 2000 72  90 .444 .155 25
Philadelphia AA 1889  75 58 .564 1890 54  78 .409 .155 21
Baltimore    AA 1887  77 58 .570 1888 57  80 .416 .154 20
Chicago      AL 1983  99 63 .611 1984 74  88 .457 .154 25
Brooklyn     NL 1924  92 62 .597 1925 68  85 .444 .153 24
Cincinnati   NL 1919  96 44 .686 1920 82  71 .536 .150 14
Baltimore    AL 1901  68 65 .511 1902 50  88 .362 .149 18
Brooklyn     NL 1903  70 66 .515 1904 56  97 .366 .149 14
Cleveland    AL 1968  86 75 .534 1969 62  99 .385 .149 24
Oakland      AL 1976  87 74 .540 1977 63  98 .391 .149 24
Philadelphia AL 1918  52 76 .406 1919 36 104 .257 .149 16
Detroit      AL 1951  73 81 .474 1952 50 104 .325 .149 23
Texas        AL 1981  57 48 .543 1982 64  98 .395 .148 -7
San Diego    NL 1998  98 64 .605 1999 74  88 .457 .148 24
Texas        AL 1999  95 67 .586 2000 71  91 .438 .148 24
Boston       NL 1899  95 57 .625 1900 66  72 .478 .147 29
Brooklyn     NL 1942 104 50 .675 1943 81  72 .529 .146 23
Brooklyn     NL 1916  94 60 .610 1917 70  81 .464 .146 24
Columbus     AA 1890  79 55 .590 1891 61  76 .445 .145 18
St. Louis    NL 1917  82 70 .539 1918 51  78 .395 .144 31
St. Louis    AL 1916  79 75 .513 1917 57  97 .370 .143 22
Detroit      AL 1950  95 59 .617 1951 73  81 .474 .143 22
Pittsburgh   NL 1951  64 90 .416 1952 42 112 .273 .143 22
Cincinnati   NL 1970 102 60 .630 1971 79  83 .488 .142 23
Cleveland    AL 1986  84 78 .519 1987 61 101 .377 .142 23
California   AL 1982  93 69 .574 1983 70  92 .432 .142 23
Seattle      AL 2001 116 46 .716 2002 93  69 .574 .142 23
New York     NL 1952  92 62 .597 1953 70  84 .455 .142 22
Milwaukee    AL 1992  92 70 .568 1993 69  93 .426 .142 23
Minnesota    AL 1970  98 64 .605 1971 74  86 .463 .142 24
New York     AL 1907  70 78 .473 1908 51 103 .331 .142 19

The largest one-year downturn was recorded by the St. Louis Maroons, who switch from the moribund Union Association to the National League for a couple of years. There are a lot of famous disintegrations on that list: the 1914-15 Philadelphia Athletics that Connie Mack broke up, the 1898-99 Cleveland Spiders that became the worst team in baseball history, the 1997-98 Florida Marlins that were broken up after "buying" a World Series, the 1992-93 Oakland A's that fell from dynasty to doormat in one season, Montreal's 1995 after having their best year cut short by a strike, San Diego's fall from the 1998 World series, and recent declines in Houston (2000) and Texas (2000).

Rob Neyer doesn't seem all that concerned with the Seattle's demise and says they had a good season. Well, I guess it depends on your point of view, but what kind of season can we expect from the M's next year? Let's examine what happened to the teams in our study the next year. Maybe it can shed some light on what to expect from the somewhat mercurial Mariners team for 2003. Well, so many of the teams were from the 19th century when schedules were short, records varied greatly from year to year, and team stability was a large issue (14 of these years never had a next year-they collapsed). Besides a number of these teams were mediocre to begin with a just got downright bad. Seattle went from great to just pretty good. So I altered the study to target those teams that fell from great to good (above .600 winning percentage to above .500 with a one-year .100 decline). Here's what I found (note that the third year is compared against the first):

Team         Lg Yr 1   W  L  Pct Yr 2  W  L  Pct  Pct W  Yr 3   W   L  Pct  Pct Win 
                                                 Diff Diff                 Diff Diff 
Philadelphia NA 1873  36 17 .679 1874 29 29 .500 .179  7 1875  37  31 .544 .135 -1
Boston       AL 1912 105 47 .691 1913 79 71 .527 .164 26 1914  91  62 .595 .096 14
New York     NL 1894  88 44 .667 1895 66 65 .504 .163 22 1896  64  67 .489 .178 24
Pittsburgh   NL 1909 110 42 .724 1910 86 67 .562 .162 24 1911  85  69 .552 .172 25
Cincinnati   NL 1919  96 44 .686 1920 82 71 .536 .150 14 1921  70  83 .458 .228 26
Brooklyn     NL 1942 104 50 .675 1943 81 72 .529 .146 23 1944  63  91 .409 .266 41
Chicago      NL 1886  90 34 .726 1887 71 50 .587 .139 19 1888  77  58 .570 .156 13
Boston       AL 1946 104 50 .675 1947 83 71 .539 .136 21 1948  96  59 .619 .056  8
Philadelphia NA 1872  30 14 .682 1873 28 23 .549 .133  2 1874  33  22 .600 .082 -3
Chicago      NL 1880  67 17 .798 1881 56 28 .667 .131 11 1882  55  29 .655 .143 12
New York     AL 1939 106 45 .702 1940 88 66 .571 .131 18 1941 101  53 .656 .046  5
New York     NL 1885  85 27 .759 1886 75 44 .630 .129 10 1887  68  55 .553 .206 17
Pittsburgh   NL 1893  81 48 .628 1894 65 65 .500 .128 16 1895  71  61 .538 .090 10
New York     NL 1897  83 48 .634 1898 77 73 .513 .121  6 1899  60  90 .400 .234 23
Baltimore    AL 1971 101 57 .639 1972 80 74 .519 .120 21 1973  97  65 .599 .040  4
Detroit      AL 1984 104 58 .642 1985 84 77 .522 .120 20 1986  87  75 .537 .105 17
New York     NL 1913 101 51 .664 1914 84 70 .545 .119 17 1915  69  83 .454 .210 32
Cleveland    AL 1954 111 43 .721 1955 93 61 .604 .117 18 1956  88  66 .571 .150 23
Oakland      AL 1990 103 59 .636 1991 84 78 .519 .117 19 1992  96  66 .593 .043  7
Chicago      NL 1918  84 45 .651 1919 75 65 .536 .115  9 1920  75  79 .487 .164  9
St. Louis    NL 1949  96 58 .623 1950 78 75 .510 .113 18 1951  81  73 .526 .097 15
New York     NL 1954  97 57 .630 1955 80 74 .519 .111 17 1956  67  87 .435 .195 30
Brooklyn     NL 1892  95 59 .617 1893 65 63 .508 .109 30 1894  70  61 .534 .083 25
New York     NL 1969 100 62 .617 1970 83 79 .512 .105 17 1971  83  79 .512 .105 17
Boston       AL 1904  95 59 .617 1905 78 74 .513 .104 17 1906  49 105 .318 .299 46
Cleveland    AL 1921  94 60 .610 1922 78 76 .506 .104 16 1923  82  71 .536 .074 12
St. Louis    NL 1928  95 59 .617 1929 78 74 .513 .104 17 1930  92  62 .597 .020  3
Philadelphia AA 1883  66 32 .673 1884 61 46 .570 .103  5 1885  55  57 .491 .182 11
Boston       NA 1872  39  8 .830 1873 43 16 .729 .101 -4 1874  52  18 .743 .087 -13
Chicago      NL 1945  98 56 .636 1946 82 71 .536 .100 16 1947  69  85 .448 .188 29
Average                     .672            .546 .126 15.7            .534 .138 16
Best                                                                       .020 -13
Worst                                                                      .299 46

None of the teams returned to their first year highs (the closest was 20 percentage points). Of the 31 teams, five returned to winning percentages over .600 (97 wins in a 162-game schedule), 15 stayed over .500, and 9 stayed over .400 (65 wins today), and one sank below .400 (1904-06 Boston Pilgrims). On average they continued to decline slightly in the third year. I don't think, by any means, that this study is conclusive and that it dooms the 2003 Mariners to mediocrity, but I do think that it shows how hard it is for a team to re-establish its greatness (whatever that is) once it has lost it.

Of course, Seattle can only concern itself with issues with today's team like Jeff Cirillo's ineffectiveness and their apparent inability to rid themselves of his contract, Ichiro's and Freddy Garcia's second-half decline, Mikeameron's anomalous season, Bret Boone's return from Nirvana, the team age, etc. But it is odd that a team that seemed to establish itself among the all-time greats could fall so quick.

Now to a less apocalyptic team, the Dodgers. LA had been leading the NL West going into the All-Star break by 2.5 over the D-Backs (and 4.5 over the Giants), when the two teams opened up a four-game series in Dodgers Stadium to start off the second half. Arizona took the first three games to go up one-half game, but the Dodgers took the last behind then-staff ace Kaz Ishii to stay in the lead. At this point it seemed like those two teams would battle the rest of the year with the Giants keeping a respectful distance. Why not, the traded off for first in April ending the month in a dead heat (with the Giants one game back). The D-Backs took a 3-game lead by the end of May (the Giants 3.5 back). The Dodgers went 19-8 in June, passed the D-Backs on June 23, and took a 1.5 game lead by the end of the month-the Giants fell to 4.5 back.

It seemed like an historic battle, until the Dodgers lost 6 of 7 to complete the homestand. On July 21, Arizona stood 1.5 games up on the Dodgers, and the Dodgers had just lost 2 of 3 to the Giants, who were now suddenly just a half-game behind LA. The D-Backs won 7 of their next 8 to finish the month 5 games ahead of LA and 6 ahead of San Fran. The Dodgers and Giants played a late July series in Pac Bell, which they went into tied for second. LA won two of three this time, and a new battle for the wild card seemed to be joined.

LA seemed ready to right its ship and pull away from San Francisco in August. The Dodgers won five in a row and on August 18 sat 4 games up on the Giants, who had just lost four in a row (but still 7 behind league-leading Arizona). On June 24, the Dodgers had just won four straight including 2 from the Braves and had expanded their lead over the Giants to 4.5.

On Monday, August 26, the Dodgers opened up a three-game series at home against division-leading Arizona followed by another 3-game series early in September. After winning 9 of their last 11, the Dodgers feel that a sweep of the D-Backs can put them back in the race. In the first game the Dodgers jump out to a 3-0 lead early, but the D-Backs get two in the sixth and one in the ninth to tie it. The Dodgers got lead-off man Alex Cora on with a walk. With pinch-hitter Jolbert Cabrera at bat, Cora attempts to steal second. Cora and catcher Chad Moeller's throw arrived at second at the same time. Shortstop Tony Womack took the throw while positioning himself to tag Cora out. Cora slid headfirst and his head struck Womack's knee. He lay motionless for 12 minutes and was removed to a hospital. It was a scary moment, but Cora would return three games later. The D-Backs won 6-3 in 12. The Dodgers collected two more hits in the final 3.2 innings. The do take the last two games in the series however.

The Dodgers take seven of their next eight games and are now within four of Arizona on September 3. They have also built up a three-game lead in he wild card on San Francisco. Not only that, their rookie pitcher Kaz Ishii seemed to be settling down after seeing his ERA increase in each of the last 4 months (2.78 in May to 6.96 in August). His rotation-mate had just held Arizona scoreless for 14 innings over two games and his awful July (7.59 ERA) was now an ancient memory.

On September 8, LA started the day 4.5 behind Arizona and two in front of the Giants, who were wrapping a series against the Diamondbacks at Pac Bell with three wins in four games. The Dodgers were finishing a three-game series with Houston, who was then chasing St. Louis in the Central (5.5 back) and the Dodgers for the wild card (6.5 back). In fourth inning, with one out and two men on (both walked) and the Astros leading 2-0, Brian Hunter drove a 3-2 pitch up the middle that struck Ishii square on the forehead and ricocheted to the backstop. The Astros win 6-2 and Ishii's season-but hopefully not his career-is over.

The Dodgers proceed to lose two of three to the hot Giants and fall into a tie with them for the wild card lead at the end of their series. The Dodgers start ace Kevin Brown in game two in an act of apparent desperation. It was Brown's first start since May 26 and since back surgery in June. He replaced Andy Ashby who had a blister and a sub-fingernail infection (swear to god). Brown gave up five runs in five innings and soon returned to the DL for good. He was replaced in the rotation by sound-alike Kevin Beirne.

Meanwhile Arizona begins three series with struggling San Diego (twice) and Colorado, in which they go 7-2 and lower their magic number to 3. The Dodgers lose three of four to the Rockies to fall one game behind San Francisco in the wild card. LA misses a golden opportunity splitting four games with the Giants in Dodgers stadium with the loser in each game never being outscored by more than three runs. The Dodgers go 6-3 they rest of the season but never approach the Giants, who win their last eight straight.

I can't help but feel that the Dodgers and manager Jim Tracy deserved better, no disrespect to the Giants. With the career resurrections he has performed, I would love to see what Tracy could do with a healthy staff over an entire year. The Dodgers do have some large holes to plug: They have a collective OPS of .740 at first base, .684 OPS at second, .626 at short, and .728 at third. Those are low even for guys who play half their games at Dodgers Stadium, but if they can improve themselves in a couple of those areas, get Ishii, Brown, and Dreifort healthy by next season, they could be trouble. 2003 should present us with another great NL West race.

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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