Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: July 2003


News Flash!-Managers Overly Conservative
2003-07-31 18:38
by Mike Carminati

The once-vaunted New York Times reports that there is a study -surprise!-"that managers, coaches and players are often far too cautious for their own good 'Teams are averse to going for all or none.'" In a related story, researchers are investigating claims that professional football are actually larger than the average American male and that the average heterosexual male is attracted to Anna Kournikova. Imagine that!

And you thought our government was the only ones getting a nice boondoggle on someone else's dime. Professors get to watch a ton of sports, call it research, and report findings of the obvious. This all goes back to Bill James, the man of whom the academics are said in the article to be jealous. James in-I believe-the 1983 Abstract proposed his law of competitive balance that found that winning teams and losing teams develop separate and distinct strategies that favor the losing teams. Winning teams try to hold on to what they've got. Losing teams take risks.

So how is that analogous? Replace "winning teams" with "employed managers". If a manger is employed, the most important thing is retain that cushy salary, which means not going so far out on a limb that Bobby V. and Harold Reynolds roast your managerial peccadilloes. Managers bunted when bunting was in vogue. They played small ball when the book was to play small ball. Slowly as offenses went berserk managers climbed out of the primordial sludge and walked upright-that is, they changed the strategy and were successful.

Mangers walk Bonds so that they don't "Let him beat us". They'd rather have Benito Santiago or J.T. Snow beat them. Bless them. But at least everyone will nod in ascent when you pitch around Bonds, and the manger can accept the loss with honor. Like Nuke LaLoosh the manager has studied and knows his cliches-i.e., cliched approaches-well. They're his friends. As the story illustrates with the story of Yankee third base coach Mike Ferraro, who lost his assignment because he sent a runner home on a close play in the 1980 ALCS, going out on a limb can be ill-advised career-wise (though Ferraro did end up managing within two years).

Jose, I Can't See
by Mike Carminati

Tonight the A's picked up Jose Guillen from the Reds for Aaron Harang and a couple of minor-leaguers. On paper it seems like a great trade. The A's need outfielders and Guillen is batting .337 with 23 dingers and only makes half a mil a season. The Reds need young pitching and Harang was not going to be used by the A's.

However, given the A's proclivity towards players with high on-base percentages, I can't see why they would try a player with a lifetime .315 OBP. I guess it boils down to which you think the real Jose Guillen is: The player who couldn't make it with the D-Rays two years ago and in 2002 had an OBP almost 100 points lower than this year's and had an OPS that was only 25 points higher than his slugging percentage this year or the best offensive player on the Cincinnati club.

If I were Billy Beane I would be concerned that a rebuilding team like the Reds would jettison a 27-year-old that only makes $500 K. You could argue that they have three outfielders already. Or that they need pitching more. Or that Guillen's constant grousing tied their hands. Or that they know Guillen will cost them more in arbitration.

But then again, Ken Griffey hasn't played a full season in three years, so an extra outfielder couldn't hurt. And that Harang is by no means the next Mark Prior. And grousing shmousing--his OPS is over 1.000! And arbitration is a half a year away.

I think that Beane is trying to capture lightning in a jar. The needed at least one outfielder. They chased after Brian Giles but couldn't figure out a way to take on Jason Kendall's ill-advised long-term contract, a condition that the Pirates insisted upon (Giles is now said to be heading to the Padres). Guillen was the best he could get. Maybe, given that he's 27, Guillen's having his career year and he can help the A's upend the M's for the division title.

I guess it's worth a shot given the A's apparent distaste for Harang, the overabundance of quality young pitching, their need for an outfielder, and Guillen's low salary. They really can't lose even if Guillen stink: It's a fair but that he'll do better than Terrence Long's .579 OPS and Jermaine Dye's .709 (i.e., the two men who have patrolled right field for the A's this season).

It could be pointed out that Guillen never had an OPS over .750 in the American League. But then again, he never had an OPS over .750 in he majors before this year. This is all uncharted territory.

A Mueller's Tale
2003-07-30 00:50
by Mike Carminati

Tonight Bill Mueller became the first player in major-league history to hit a grand slam from each side of the plate in the same game.

Mojo Jo-Joe Morgan Chat Day
2003-07-29 01:37
by Mike Carminati

Overture, curtain, lights.
This is it, the night of nights.

No more rehearsing and nursing our part.
We know every part by heart.

Overture, curtain, lights.
This is it, we'll hit the heights.

And oh what heights we'll hit.
On with the show this is it.

-Bugs Bunny and Friends

Time once was that I would wake up at the crack of dawn and scurry down to the living room to watch those great Saturday morning cartoons. Yeah, college was great. Anyway, Saturday morning was the highlight of a kid's busy TV watching week. Heck, they would devote prime time specials starring teen pop sensations and other Republicans to the new lineup up of kiddy programies.

The first thing I would do on Saturday mornings was flick the switch and check out the shows. Sid and Marty Krofft ruled the airwaves when I was kid, purveying mind-bending, Hunter S. Thompson-esque glimpses of magical worlds.

The one hole in the lineup was Tom & Jerry. Somehow this antediluvian bit of nostalgia, replete with some sort of minstrel Mammy patrolling the kitchen, survived coelacanth-like while the rest of its ilk perished in the face of viewers actually expecting their entertainment to entertain. Tom & Jerry once danced with Gene Kelly and did have some odd beatnik-inspired, funky period, but by the time I was a kid they made the Three Stooges seem intellectual. All they had left to contribute to society was being the inspiration for the gloriously self-aware Itchy and Scratchy ("They fight and fight and fight and fight and fight..."

Actually, this self-aware, "works on many levels" type of cartoon started with the original Ren and Stimpy (and don't forgot the Simpsons, "You EE-diot!"). Now the technique pervades almost every cartoon that you can find. Watching the Powerpuff Girl Movie with my four-and-one-half-year-old, I found myself laughing at things that went completely over her head ("I am no longer Jo-Jo. I am Mojo Jo-Jo", well maybe that wasn't over her head).

While I love seeing Space Ghost being recast as a talk show host and I have probably seen every Spongebob in creation-even the lost episode-, I can't help but notice that when I went back to Ohio, my city was gone. Only in this case "Ohio" was Saturday morning cartoons and "my city" was a Holden Caulfield-like innocence. Letting the self-referential, tongue-in-cheek cartoons run rampant was like a Pandora's box from which the Archies, Josie and the Pussycats, and Marine Boy never returned ("Zoinks!").

So again you wonder what this has to do with Joe Morgan. Times once were when Joe's homespun idiocy was routinely swallowed whole cloth while we were a-whittling by the pot-belly stove ("Patooie"). Now, we sabermetrically-minded (or, for Ralph Wiley, sabtramatiracall-minded) have all sort of whizbangery to put such hokum to the litmus test. And yet I can't help to think that we've lost something.

My friend Murray reminds me that even though Joe is oh-so nonsensical, there's always worse. Rick Sutcliffe took over the reins as town idiot for last weekend's Sunday Night Baseball:

Oh, here's the best one. They were talking about playing winter ball, and Sutcliffe mentioned that although he played winter ball, he took French in high school, which wasn't so helpful. Miller of course, wondered aloud why maybe there wasn't any Winter League team in Martinique, and Sutcliffe said, "Well, there's probably a weather problem."

Thank goodness there's Joe. He retains the innocence of our youth while the touches of unintended irony double our pleasure, double our fun. He's baseball's equivalent to Ren and Stimpy in one package. And like Old Faithful he blows on schedule once a week for chat day. So on with the Joe: this is it.

The Good

Buhdda (New York, NY): Mr. Morgan, I just read that Andy Pettite ha sbecome the 1st pitcher in 75 years to win 12 or more games in his 1st 9 seaons. Do you think this is because he is a hall of fame type pitcher or that he has just benefitted from being a decent pitcher on a great team? Thanks for your time.

I think he has benefitted but he has also pitched well under pressure, when the Yankees had to win. He has done a great job there. Obviously if you have played for the Yankees for the past 9 years, you are going to benefit. I can't say he's a HOFer yet but he is an expectional pitcher.

[Mike: A) Pettitte only has 140 career wins. B) His ERA is a hair under 4.00 (though it is 18% better than the park-adjusted league average). He has won 20 games once and finished second in the Cy Young vote once, that same year (and was in the top-10 three times).

He's a good pitcher on a good team. If he performs like this for another 10 years, then we can start talking about the Hall of Fame. Right now, unless you are Pedro Martinez it's very hard to make a case for the Hall of Fame for a pitcher in his early thirties. At thirty, Black Jack McDowell was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Soon he was out of baseball and now he is largely forgotten. He is the most similar to Pettitte through age 30 by the way.]

The Bad

Goatse ( How does Felipe Alou do it? His offense (except for left field) is playing below their ability, their top closer is out, and their starting pitching isn't the best, yet they're on a huge tear. I'm left to assume this is Felipe's work, so how does he do it?

I have to say he deserves all the credit. Bonds and Schmidt have helped, and Worrell, but it's mostly Alou. This team has OVER achieved greatly. That credit always has to go to the manager. He has pushed the right buttons at the right time. Bonds is his only really consistent player. It's amazing.

[Mike: "The credit always has to go to the manager"? Really? How many at-bats does he have? How many innings pitched?

Bonds and Schmidt have helped? They have been lights out: Schmidt is arguably the best pitcher in the NL and Bonds continues to be the best player in baseball. Worrell has been as good if not better than Nen was last year. Youngster Jerome Williams has been very impressive so far. By the way, Joe lauded him last week and now gives him no credit. Their bullpen has been very good (6th in ERA in baseball) and even though their starters have had a few rough spots, they are 8th in ERA in baseball. They also have a team ERA of 2.00 since the break.

The Giants are 13th in the majors in runs scored and just 9th in OPS. But they have had a solid core of good-hitting players led by Bonds (1.249 OPS, which leads the majors), Grissom (.831), Snow (.812) and Galarraga (.881) at first, Durham (.811), Cruz (.806), and Santiago (.785). Aurilia is basically a push (.727, slightly better than last year but below his career average). Offseason pickup Edgardo Alfonzo has been the only real hole on offense (.660).

These are veteran players, a number of whom were acquired in the offseason by Brian Sabean. What does Alou have to do with their performance?

The one affect that I see Alou having on the offense is his desire to get the dreadful Neifi Perez in the lineup. Alou has lavished 221 empty at-bats on Perez (.662 OPS).

By the way, the Giants offense is 60 points better in OPS than the opposition on the year and 160 points better than the opposition since the break.

The Giants are outperforming expectations by 6 games, but I would credit the deep bullpen or would chalk it up to luck before giving Alou the credit. It's not that he hasn't done a good job. It's just that a manager does not have that much control over such matters.]

Aaron, Potomac Md: Hi Mr. Morgan, I am a huge fan of yours and love listening to you give commentary on games. I am a huge red sox fan and I am wondering if you think that with the latest trade of sauerback that they now have all the pieces they would need to reach the world series?

If you are thinking he is the difference, the answer is no. To get to the WS, the players like Pedro and Derrick Lowe will have to be the difference.

[Mike: Yeah, that's true, but it's not the question. They already had those pieces on the team.

To answer Aaron's actual question, the Red Sox have severe holes in the pitching staff. Unfortunately, they are filled by the Red Sox' actual pitchers. Aside from Pedro and a short, interrupted stint by Kim, the Sox starters have been uniformly bad. It's a good thing that they didn't part with Casey Fossum, eh? They could use at least two starting pitchers. Their bullpen has been even worse, but it does seem that they have all the necessary parts. On Offense, they have been busy just getting ABs for everybody or to quote the unctuous Frank Rizzo in Scarface"All you have to worry about is what to do with all the f'ing cash."]

Jason, Chambersburg, Pa: Good morning, Joe! I've got a hypothetical question for you. If the playoffs started today, the NL would be Braves, Astros, Giants, and Phils. I like the Phils chances because of how their starting pitching matches up. Who do you like? Thanks.

You still have to hit. The Phillies' hitting is always suspect. In this situation, I would put the Braves first and the Giants second. The Giants have Bonds and the Braves have Lopez, Jones, just a lot of weapons.

[Mike: Well, no. The Phils offense had problems at the beginning of the year. They are fifth in OPS in the majors since the break (.823). Their pitching is 18th in ERA (4.65) since the break by the way.

The Phils have had three holes on offense consistently this year: shortstop with Jimmy Rollins, left field with Pat Burrell, and third base with David Bell. Bell and Burrell are signed to big contracts, so the Phils have given them every opportunity and then some to right themselves. Rollins is a very popular player and once had a "future star" tag so until he ticks off Bill Conlin, he's going to eat a hole in their lineup. Actually the Phils offense improved greatly once Rollins and his .319 OBP were dropped from the leadoff spot in favor of the ever-improving Marlon Byrd.

That said, clearly the two best teams in the NL have been San Fran and Hotlanta. Who would a short series between the two? Your guess is as good as mine. However, the Braves' deficiency (starting pitching) becomes less of an issue when you only need 3-4 starters. I'm still waiting for the bottom to drop out of Cinderella season for Furcal, Giles, Castilla, and Lopez. But it has not happened yet.]

Brandon Henderson (Independence, MO): Should Major League Baseball mandate that the Metrodome's roof be changed to a color that isn't white? (such as skyblue) Do you think the roof is unfair for fielders?

Well, I guess the only thing to say is they haven't changed it in how many years? It's been that way for the life of the Metrodome so I don't see them changing it now. They should have changed it 20 years ago. Maybe there is a reason they kept it that way that we don't know.

[Mike: What, the Twins don't have to play D there or something? So an odd Rocco Baldelli loses a ball or two in the roof glare. At least the thing hasn't collapsed in over twenty years. So there's an upside.]

Jay(Cleveland): Hey Joe. How will the Reds ever be able to put a legit contender on the field when they won't raise payroll? Dunn, Boone and Kearns will be due for big-time raises over the next 1-3 years. I can't stand the thought of those three or Junior putting up huge numbers elsewhere. But they seem to be the only appealing trade bait on the squad.

It's pretty simple. They will have to make a choice. Do they want to stay a medicore team or take a step forward? Looking at their history the last few years, they will probably not put a great team on the field. What I find interesting, the last time they won something was when Marge Schott ran the team. She spent on payroll.

[Mike: Yeah, Schott was a player's dream owner. Just ask Eric Davis about having to pay for his own flight home after injuring himself in the 1990 World Series.

The Reds do spend money, just not wisely. The Reds outspend successful teams like the Royals, the Jays, the Marlins, the Expos, and the A's. Their 2003 salary is slightly more than the Twins. That's below average, but clearly other teams have been successful for less. Also, their salary went up about $8 M since last season, about a 15% increase.

The Reds problem is trusting in wins to judge their pitchers' performance. Now, who advocates that again? Is it Satan? No, not his schtick. It must be you, Joe.]

Joey, Nj: Is Ken Griffey Jr still a hall of famer even if he does not reach 500 home runs?

That will be a difficult call. I think he will reach 500. Probably 600. He is mentally tough. He is still young. I saw this with Bonds. 4-5 years ago, he wasn't even mentioned as a top player. But I knew he would bounce back. I think Griffey will do the same thing. When you are a great player and they stop talking about you, it's a real motivator.

So yes, I think he will make the Hall of Fame.

[Mike: Joey, how you doin'?

That's not a difficult call at all. Griffey is a Hall of Fame-caliber player, period. His career OPS is 44% better than the league average. Who cares if he falls a handful of home runs short of 500? Gehrig, DiMaggio, Musial, Kaline, Kiner, Snider, Bench, Ripken, Mize, Berra, and Greenberg never collected 500 home runs either.]

Ray Stinger,Jr.(Pittsburgh,Pa): Hi Mr.Morgan! I'm a Pirates fan(that's right!)and would like your opinion on the "rebuilding" of the Pirates (AGAIN!!) Will the Bucs in 2004 be better than the 2003 Tigers?

I think the key word is rebuilding again. They started rebuilding and should have stuck with it but instead they got a couple veterans and made a run for it. They have to do it all the way .. you can't rebuild halfway.

[Mike: Ray, what are you Subliminal Man or something?

The Pirates were far from rebuilding. They overspend on Jason Kendall, Derek Bell, Pat Meares, Aramis Ramirez, and Kevin Young and went through pitching talent like it was going out of style. They were supposed to be a low-budget version of the Indians locking up players for blocks of years. It's just that they did a poor job of evaluating those players.

Then last offseason they picked up some bargain-basement veterans like Kenny Lofton and Reggie Sanders. They traded Ramirez, Lofton, Williams, and Sauerbeck and in each case picked up prospects. If you don't have a good minor-league system, that's the only way to do it. They're trying to do the same with Giles and especially Kendall. That is rebuilding. It remains to be seen if they picked up decent prospects.]

Greg, Pa: Can Pat Burrell ever turn this around? Should he be playing out of this? Or do the Phils look somewhere else in left field?

Burrell had a good year last year. He has not been able to hit well this year. He has had spurts. This late into the season I'm not sure he can turn it around. He can still be a help towards but a pennant but I don't think he can lead them there.

[Mike: A good year? Burrell has a tremendous season. He had an OPS (.920) that was 49% better than the league average. He was 25 years old and had looked solid from the start and just kept getting better. His Charboneau-ing is completely unexpected.

The Phillies signed him to a huge six-year, $50 M contract before 2003. Here's how that contract grows over the years (thanks to MLB Contracts):

2003: $1.0M (+$1.5M signing bonus)
2004: $4.0M
2005: $7.0M
2006: $9.5M
2007: $13.0M
2008: $14.0M

The Phillies have a big investment in Burrell. They want to get a return on that investment. Getting a new left fielder won't help them in this matter.

But his season has been awful as my friend Murray points out:

Pat Burrell went 0-for-4 yesterday to fall back under .200.

Burrell is hitting .199, but what is more amazing is how awful he's been against lefties. In 69 at-bats against southpaws this year, Burrell is hitting .188-0-1. One RBI. He'll face Kaz Ishii tonight and Odalis Perez on Thursday in an effort to add to that grand total.

Wow. That's world-historic bad.

Burrell has a .563 OPS and is slugging .246 against lefties. Burrell is a right-handed batter who had clobbered lefties in his career (1.034 OPS and .619 slugging). So this may the oddest development for Burrell.

Either you give up on this season and allow Burrell to regain his confidence by only facing right-handers against whom he has been respectable this season (.743 OPS) and send righty Jason Michaels out against left-handers OR you hope that the lefties that he has coming up will help him shake this season-long funk. Neither option is enviable though.]

James Howlett: Is Barry Bonds kidding me with his remarks about Babe Ruth ? while Bonds is definitly in the top 5 players of all time, has he forgotten that Babe Ruth did all of that in less games played, in bigger ballparks, and he was a pitcher !! what are your thoughta on that Joe ?

I can't tell you what Bonds thinks. I was as shocked as you were that he would make the statements that were attributed to him. Anytime you do not respect Babe Ruth in this game and what he accomplished, I have a problem with you. Babe Ruth is still Babe Ruth. He brought this game back to prominence.

[Mike: Yes, James, he's kidding YOU. It was all a practical joke orchestrated by Bonds to get you. Surprise!

Who cares what Bonds has to say? He's entitled to his opinion though I don't agree with it. Are your opinions so shaky that a few offhanded remarks by Bonds will affect them? If not, why is it an issue? Oh, because there was a reporter there to catch it. Perhaps he could have said in a more diplomatic fashion. But, in summation, who cares?]

The Ugly

Jerry(Salt Lake City, UT): You once said that the Reds teams you played on understood what it took to win games, which set them apart from other teams that had a lot of talent. Which team this year is the most like that?

The Yankees of three years ago, when they won 100 games, they reminded me of the Reds. What I actually said was every player knew his role and what he was supposed to do. The team always came first. I saw that in the Yankees during that stretch. As of today, I would say most teams are not as stable as the Yankees were in those years. Most teams are still searching.

[Mike: The guy lobs in a pitch and Joe totally whiffs on it. Joe, he didn't ask about three years ago. He asked about "this year".

If it were the end of 2002 Joe would have answered the Angels. Let's wait until the Series and then Joe will pry the winning team into the Big Red Mold-though of course the modern team will be far inferior.

Anyway, "every player [knowing] his role and what he was supposed to do" is what makes you win? How about talent?

Pure tripe.]

Brad New York, NY: "Some Mets fans are also Yankees fans" - completely incorrect; you can't be both...

I don't mean they are both (laughing). What I meant was if the the Mets are playing the Yankees I'm still a Mets fan .. but if the Yankees are playing the Red Sox, I'm probably pulling for the Yankees.

But I do understand your point! Maybe I overstated it.

[Mike: I thought you were a Reds fan, Joe.

Besides I know plenty of Mets fans who jump on that Yankee bandwagon around playoff time.

Anyway, this is a reference to Joe's weekly article. So let's take a looky-see at that:]

Owned by Major League Baseball -- basically, MLB saved the franchise last year -- the Expos already have baseball's lowest payroll. But they can't add more salary.

[Mike: Actually, Loria ran the team into the ground on MLB's watch and then they let him dump the team, screw his fellow investors, and buy the Marlins. That's not exactly saving the franchise.

By the way, the Expos did not have the lowest payroll in 2002 or so far in 2003. That honor falls to the D-Rays. The Expos are 24th of 30 teams.]

Minaya and Robinson tread a difficult trade road.

[Mike: True, because Minaya is a moron more concerned with pleasing his handlers in the commissioner's office than in building a good team.

By the way, Minaya acquired and traded Colon, Floyd, Herges, Chen, Truby, et al. None of them lasted a year. And just about every time a player was traded the Expos ended up bleeding prospects.

By the way, I think it's odd that a man who claimed he wasn't well-informed to discuss trades last week is ready to assess the Expos trade possibilities.]

Matt (VA): Hey Joe. I was reading this article the other day where it had this poll on the greatest player ever to play at each respective position. At left-field, almost everyone put down Ted Williams. Not to say he wasnt a great great player, but wouldnt you say Hank Aaron was better? He gets overlooked to much in my opinion.

Hank played right mostly. If you are asking me to choose.. Hank was better defensively. Ted was a better hitter. But with power and RBIs and everything included, I would take Aaron. That's hard for me to say because I grew up idolizing Williams. But I played against Aaron and saw what he could do.

[Mike: Joe, why are even fielding this question? The premise makes no sense. Aaron only played 313 games in left of his over 2700 in the outfield. He does not enter into the question of who was the best left fielder ever.

If that's the question, then you are both off-base. Did you ever hear of Barry Bonds? The man gets no respect just because he disses the Babe.

If the question is who was better Williams or Aaron, I agree with Joe. It's Aaron. But Ruth was a better right fielder than Aaron.

Actually Ruth is split between left (1057 games) and right (1131). "I did not know that." So you could stick him in either spot.]

Brian Boston: Hey Joe! what do you think the demand for players like Guerrero and Tejada will be at the end of the season? Do you think either will get $20 mil or has that time past? Tejada is a better player than Jeter who makes that much but is vastly overpaid. Is this or his poor season going to affect his next contract? And if Guerrero takes a discount to stay in Montreal how will that effect players the next year (Nomar and Pedro for instance)?

I think the super player is still going to get paid. Guerrero is a super player. He will get paid. Tejada is a little different. He has not been as consistent. Guerrero will get super money but I'm not sure about Tejada. I think Guerrero is the last of that kind of breed where everyone will want him and he can get the big big money.

[Mike: Faster than a speeding Frank Bolick... Look, up in the sky. It's Paul Byrd. It's a Phil Plantier. No, it's Super Player!

So Guerrero is super but Tejada is just nearly super. Ah, poor Miggie!

Like John Winger, Guerrero is "the last of a dying breed". Huh? Guerrero is a great player, but there are other very good young players out there. Why is he the last? Tell me that Albert Pujols is not going to command "Real money, Amigo money" (Yes, that is a Three Amigos reference).

By the way, I am not Derek Jeter's biggest fan, nor do I think he's "dreamy", but Jeter has been a better player over his career than Tejada. There's no question. Tejada was better in 2002, and may be better over the course of their careers, but Jeter has been a clear-cut Hall-of-Famer yet far. The same cannot be said of Tejada.]

Chris-KC: Good morning Joe Will the Royals have any chance of keeping their young talent for seasons to come or will Baird cut them all lose at the end of the season to save $$?

Remember the fact that salaries will probably continue to go down. Only Guerrero will get super money among the FA's. It will be easier to keep players in the coming years. FA's will not be able to command the big numbers. It's a decision they have to make. I think teams will be able to keep more players in the future.

[Mike: Joe, are those players or super players?

Super Money!?! Do they have any Super Players on the Royals as well?

Salaries have not gone down. They increased about 2.25% over last year. The increase is smaller than usual but still an increase.

Also, the Royals' team payroll went down about $11 M in 2003. They should have the cash for at least one big-name player if not more with the added revenue of fielding a winner.]

Steve (Los Angeles): Mr. Morgan, A friend and I feel that there are far too many "gift" double plays, where the umpire concedes the out of the runner going to second, but it seems the 2nd baseman or shortstop tag the base before they receive the ball, or the play is out of sync in some way. What are your thoughts?

What has happened, a lot of fundamentals in the game have broken down. Base running, situational hitting, etc. Guys could always cheat a little but it wasn't obvious. Now it is obvious. I think MLB will probably address that over the winter. Maybe they will start demanding they touch the bag. But I think you will see a difference in the coming years.

[Mike: Joe, what position did you play again?

This is pure revisionist history. Tell me that Joe never took a gift double play.

Here's what I said when Jayson Stark got uppity on the topic as part of his 25 Things Wrong with Baseball ordeal:

Here we go again:

Any runner is out when_ (a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from a direct line between bases to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball;

b) He intentionally interferes with a thrown ball; or hinders a fielder attempting to make a play on a batted ball; A runner who is adjudged to have hindered a fielder who is attempting to make a play on a batted ball is out whether it was intentional or not. If, however, the runner has contact with a legally occupied base when he hinders the fielder, he shall not be called out unless, in the umpire's judgment, such hindrance, whether it occurs on fair or foul territory, is intentional. If the umpire declares the hindrance intentional, the following penalty shall apply: With less than two out, the umpire shall declare both the runner and batter out.

Call the batter out when a runner at second goes two feet to the right of second to interfere with the relay throw and you'll get rid of the so-called "phantom" tag.

Boulder, CO: Hi, Joe. I grew up in Dayton, OH in the 70's. You were an example of not only a great player but a team leader who had the intangibles. Why do think so many players lack the intangibles these days? Thanks, Jim

Well, intangibles have gone the way of fundamentals. Hitting is all that is important these days. Everyone works more on hitting and power hitting than other parts of the game. Without fundamentals, you can't have the intangibles it takes to make the difference in close games.

[Mike: Intangibles have gone the way of fundamentals. And the ethereals have gone the way of the essentials. And the knee bones connected to the ankle bone.

Which came first, the fundamentals or the intangibles? According to Joe, it's the egg, er, the fundamentals.

Of course, a team must be fundamental sound to succeed. But how can you measure or even evaluate that? Intangibles are even worse since you can't tange them, let alone measure them. I'll leave the hokum to Joe and stick to good old reliable facts.

Without facts, you can't have the tangibles intangibles it takes to make the difference in close chat sessions.]

GG- St. Louis, MO: Mr. Morgan, What is your take on Tony La Russa's management style? He takes a lot of heat here in St. Louis for his approach. Does he go overboard in in style? Thanks

I've always felt he was one of the top managers in the game. There was an earlier question about Alou. I did two books, Baseball for Dummies, I picked Top 10 players, managers, etc. I had Alou No. 1, Baker No. 2 and La Russa No. 3. I still think he is a top manager. He knows how to deal with players. I don't know exactly what people are questioning about him. He is a good manager.

[Mike: OK, I'm not even going to touch the "Baseball for Dummies" reference. There's no need to say something like Joe is the most eminently qualified individual on the planet to write just such a book.

However, "I did two books, Baseball for Dummies"-what, was it an unfinished trilogy? "Baseball for Dummies At Rest" is due out any day now.

Now to the content: he picked the top-10 managers for what period? All time or just the current time? I can't believe that Joe McCarthy John McGraw, Earl Weaver, Connie Mack, and their ilk could be beaten out in anyone's book by Alou. So let's assume he refers to the top-10 active managers.

First, that's not much of a list. You have 30 active managers plus maybe an old inactive Davey Johnson or two. Who cares about the tenth guy on that list?

Second, how can he rank Alou, who entered the year under .500 as a manager for his career (691-717 for a .491 winning percentage) and whose teams had never made the playoffs, higher than Bobby Cox, who has won nearly three times as many games (1805 to start the year), whose career winning percentage is .562, and whose teams have finished first 12 times? Or higher than Lou Piniella, who has won about twice as many games and whose teams have won a world series and four division crowns. Or higher than Joe Torre-twice as many games won, four World Series, and 7 division titles. Or Davey Johnson or Baker or LaRussa? Frankly I cannot comprehend how Alou even made the top-10.

Yes, LaRussa is a good manager, but his team is underperforming and he has to take some flak. The manager gets the credit when the team wins. He should take some blame when they fail. Maybe that will be in "Baseball for Dummies, Part Eight".]

Firings a Boone for Reds
2003-07-28 12:31
by Mike Carminati

The Reds fired GM Jim Bowden and manager Bob Boone today. Triple-A manager Dave Miley (who lived across the street from me when I was a kid, and whom I once hit with an apple--probably not the same guy) takes over for the rest of the year for Boone. Bowden will be replaced by a small patch of brown liquid. Upon hearing the news, Bowden immediately fired Tony Perez.

Mojo Jo-Joe Morgan Chat Day
2003-07-28 08:45
by Mike Carminati

Coming soon!

Minnesota's Little Helper
2003-07-27 01:01
by Mike Carminati

A former Metrodome superintendent claims to have attempted to aid the Twins in close, late-inning games by, to quote Trading Places, giving them "the winds something awful." Says said ex-Schneider disciple Dick Ericson:

"If they (the Twins) were down two runs and you're still hoping for them to have the advantage, you'd want to be blowing all the air out and up as much as you can."

One such wind-aided dinger was Kirby Puckett's game-winner in the eleventh inning of the sixth game of the 1991 World Series. But he calls his machinations "your home-field advantage. Every stadium has got one." Yeah, maybe in the Cold-War era Soviet Union. At least he claims to have done it on his own without any instructions from the Twins.

Like everything that has transpired in baseball since Abner Doubleday apocryphally invented the game, Bobby Valentine, the famous Bobby V, know about it years ago: "I became very suspicious, maybe paranoid. They had such an uncanny way of winning." Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean people aren't against you (Frank Burns).

A professor of fluid dynamics had previously run two separate tests in the Metrodome. One found that balls traveled an average of three feet farther when aided by antics like Ericson's. Then the second found no effect. So your guess is as good as his and you didn't have to take any Quantum Physics classes to formulate yours.

I consulted the Bible, Robert K. Adair's The Physics of Baseball, and found that Adair (p. 17) indicates that a batted ball with an initial velocity of 110 miles per hour will travel something like 20-30 feet farther if aided by a 10 MPH wind. Adair goes on to discuss the effects of wind on the pitcher, something not tested by the fluid dynamics professor. Adair found that fastball pitchers were not affected by wind in the faces but curveball pitchers will find their ball approaching the plate more slowly (though Adair says that it's negligible except for slower curves, p. 43).

I guess there's not much that MLB can do about the past, but they can ensure that it is not happening today. It seems to fly in the face of fair play. Consider the following rule:

The manager of the home team shall present to the umpire in chief and the opposing manager any ground rules he thinks necessary covering the overflow of spectators upon the playing field, batted or thrown balls into such overflow, or any other contingencies. If these rules are acceptable to the opposing manager they shall be legal. If these rules are unacceptable to the opposing manager, the umpire in chief shall make and enforce any special ground rules he thinks are made necessary by ground conditions, which shall not conflict with the official playing rules.

"Our ground rule is that we get help in the late innings of a close ballgame by having our long flies blown over the wall for a round-tripper, OK?" I don't think it would fly.

Then again the Mets have done so much sucking of late but they have yet to be reprimanded.

Joy in Mudville
2003-07-25 13:09
by Mike Carminati

The Mudville Magazine has a great article on The Baseball Reliquary. The Reliquary is a wonderful organization that views baseball with the same childlike awe that we all had when we kids learning the game's folklore. It reminds me of the Strange But True Baseball Stories books that I read as a kid, but a bit funkier.

Here are two of their exhibits:

The Babe Ruth hot dog from the famous "Bellyache Heard 'Round the World"...

And good ol' number 1/8 Eddie Gaedel's jock:

Check them out for more incredible momentos that you'll never see in Cooperstown.

The Gap of Luxury
2003-07-25 01:01
by Mike Carminati

Weep on! and as thy sorrows flow,
I 'll taste the luxury of woe.

-Sir Thomas "Jo-Jo" Moore

Baseball released its payroll numbers for luxury taxes and-surprise!-the Yankees are the only ones who pass the $117 M threshold.

I did a little research though and found that salaries remained relatively flat over the last year. I took the payrolls from an October 11, 2002 AP article that I found at Doug Pappas' Business of Baseball site. However, these numbers are based on 25-man rosters and the ESPN report is based on 40-man rosters. Therefore, I added 15 spots to each team with each spot receiving the league minimum $200K. Also, I added $7,552,271 for health benefits and so that the Yankees don't have to lay off more office staff. I also calculated luxury taxes for 2002, had they then existed.

Here's what I got:

Team2002 Payroll (Proj)2003 PayrollDifference2002 Tax (Proj)2003 Tax
New York Yankees$143,981,846$180,322,403$36,340,557$4,586,914$10,764,809
Los Angeles$112,057,160$109,248,680-$2,808,480$0$0
New York Mets$104,947,846$116,253,927$11,306,081$0$0
San Francisco$88,978,843$100,061,211$11,082,368$0$0
St. Louis$86,780,072$101,825,848$15,045,776$0$0
Chicago Cubs$85,502,814$86,576,763$1,073,949$0$0
Chicago White Sox$65,086,355$71,336,029$6,249,674$0$0
Kansas City$59,914,980$48,475,322-$11,439,658$0$0
San Diego$52,343,441$57,871,722$5,528,281$0$0
Tampa Bay$45,280,811$31,660,602-$13,620,209$0$0

Salaries are a lot flatter apparently this year. But are they equally flat for all teams? Let's take a look.

First, I calculated the difference between the 2003 and 2002 salary per team. Then I represented that as a percentage of each team's 2002 payroll. Next the teams were grouped based on 2002 payrolls. The Yankees were in a class by themselves and then the rest were group at about a half-dozen at a time whenever an appropriately large gap presented itself. Then the payroll differences and percent increase/decrease were calculated per group:

TeamDifferenceAvg Diff%IncreaseAvg Inc
New York Yankees$36,340,557$46,892,82825.24%25.24%
Los Angeles-$2,808,480-2.51%
New York Mets$11,306,08110.77%
San Francisco$11,082,36812.46%
St. Louis$15,045,77617.34%
Chicago Cubs$1,073,9491.26%
Chicago White Sox$6,249,6749.60%
Kansas City-$11,439,658-19.09%
San Diego$5,528,28110.56%
Tampa Bay-$13,620,209$3,129,072-30.08%5.34%

Note the largest dropoff was in the highest salaried teams (aside from the Yankees). The next group stayed about the same and then the next two groups grew at 5-6%.

What this means is that the Yankees' payroll increase looks even sharper when compared to the other high-salaried teams. Let's take a look at team payrolls based on 2002 and 2003 "Yankee dollars", meaning using the Yankees' payroll each year as the standard (i.e., $1.00) and representing the other payrolls as percentages of that:

Team2002 Yankee $2003 Yankee $
New York Yankees$1.00$1.00
Los Angeles$0.78$0.61
New York Mets$0.73$0.64
San Francisco$0.62$0.55
St. Louis$0.60$0.56
Chicago Cubs$0.59$0.48
Chicago White Sox$0.45$0.40
Kansas City$0.42$0.27
San Diego$0.36$0.32
Tampa Bay$0.31$0.18

That's quite a change. Consider that Minnesota increased its payroll by the fourth largest amount in the majors ($13 M, behind the Yankees, Phils, and Cards) but had exactly the same value for Yankee Dollars each year. The Phils were the only team to see their Yankee Dollars increase in 2003. The highest 2003 value (i.e., the Mets') was twenty Yankee Cents less than the highest in 2002 (Boston's) and the lowest was 13 Yankee Cents less (Tampa Bay for both).

One interesting side note, the Astros seem to have the finger on the pulse of whatever is afoot here. They are the closest to average in just about every category so far. The 'Stros took on Jeff Kent's contract but just had a small increase in payroll.

So what does it all mean? Are the highest-salaried teams (aside from the Yanks) just attempting to avoid the luxury tax? Are the lower-salaried teams spending more in anticipation of actual Yankee dollars stuffing their coffers? Who invented liquid soap and why?

Of course, each team has its own set of issues and is to a degree working independent of the rest. But the market does help dictate salary trends. To help make sense of it all, let's look at the necessary salary costs incurred in winning. Here is a table of team wins for 2002 and what each win cost that team in 2002 payroll:

Team2002 W$/W 2002
New York Yankees103$1,295,432.77
New York Mets75$1,258,607.67
Chicago Cubs67$1,118,664.82
Los Angeles92$1,103,314.01
San Francisco95$825,542.86
Kansas City62$796,172.73
St. Louis97$785,853.62
Chicago White Sox81$673,260.30
San Diego66$633,199.55
Tampa Bay55$631,428.00

The Yankees are not first and are only about 50% higher than the average. Also note that playoff calliber teams are scattered throughout with the A's-surprise!-getting the best bang for their buck.

Now let's look at the numbers based on 2003 projected wins and the ESPN payroll numbers:

TeamProj W$/W 2003
New York Yankees100$1,803,224.03
New York Mets67$1,735,133.24
Los Angeles85$1,285,278.59
St. Louis83$1,226,817.45
Chicago Cubs80$1,082,209.54
San Francisco103$971,468.07
San Diego61$948,716.75
Chicago White Sox83$859,470.23
Tampa Bay58$545,872.45
Kansas City89$544,666.54

If the season ended today teams that are numbers 1, 7, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19, and 30 in payroll per win would make the playoffs. In 2002, teams number 2, 7, 10, 15, 17, 23, 29, and 30 made it. So much for the Blue Ribbon Panel's postseason research by payroll quartile. That translates into an average payroll position of 13.875 for 2003 playoff teams and 16.625 for 2002 playoff teams. This is an extremely small sample, but it is possible that teams spending more money are now more likely to make the playoffs. Also the standard deviations for the two year's playoff team positions have shrunk (10.18 in 2002 to 8.66 in 2003) meaning that the playoff teams are clustering nearer to the average.

It should be noted that the standard deviation for payroll dollars per win overall increased significantly, from $266 K in 2002 to $317 K in 2003. Even if you remove the anomalous Yankees from the equation, there is still a large increase ($257 K to $283 K). So if you are expecting the Billy Beane revolution to take hold throughout the game, you may have to wait a bit.

If you look at the standard deviation for team payrolls it increased overall from last year to this year, ($25,692,726 to $29,124,676). However, again ignoring the Yankees returns a slight decrease ($22,925,727 to $22,512,263), meaning that the team payrolls outside of the Bronx may be converging.

So what do I think it all means? Way back in the negotiating process for last year's CBA, the owners started bandying around ideas that sounded pretty close to a salary cap. Even in the final agreement, there were many, including yours truly, who called the new system a de facto cap.

I think that given the indicators above there is some validity in that claim. Payrolls aside from the Yankees have grown much more slowly and they are tending to converge. However, the approach taken varies per team. Therefore, what teams are paying per win has diverged.

So if anyone is concerned with the homogenization of baseball that a cap would engender, it doesn't appear to be an issue. Teams like the A's and Jays who spend wisely will still win for less money and teams like the Rangers and Mets (at least in Steve Phillips' day) who overspend for marginal talent will still get a bad return on their investment.

Wiley's Sotto Voce, Super Genius...Not! IV
2003-07-25 00:48
by Mike Carminati

I just wanted to make a couple of points regarding Sailer's article, which is a good summation en toto.

First, I agree that a good number of Latin players, especially Dominicans, are free swingers who follow the adage that one cannot "walk off the island". As Sailer points out this may change as future players tailor their game to match organizations needs. It should also be pointed out that the go-between in evaluating these players are the major-league scouts. Sailer refers to Moneyball, Michael Lewis' homage to Billy Beane, and in the book one finds that Beane is still heavily reliant on his scouts for information. Even though they do end up drafting a Jeremy Brown or five based mostly on statistical evidence, they do consult with the scouts to get a feel for the player's personality and adaptability to profession ball. And that's for the players in college ball where their statistical record is easily accessible. I would doubt that the stats for every Latin player are as easy to find. Therefore, for these players more reliance on the scouting system is required. Therefore, Latins are selected based on the more archaic of baseball measuring sticks, the scout, who is still looking for the type of player that Billy Beane was throughout his highly anticipated yet highly unsuccessful career. Also, GMs may ignore Latin players if all they have to go on is a "Good Body" scouting report.

I have a few other minor issues: The explanation as to how the reliance on stolen bases and ignorance of on-base percentage for leadoff hitters let to the dearth of hitting in the Sixties and Seventies is a bit facile. I'm sure it was a factor but to say that Maury Wills caused the statistical averages for all hitters to drop significantly is an overstatement.

Sailer also states that:

Sabermetricians have done less to revolutionize thinking about pitching, however, because baseball already possessed an excellent statistic in the earned run average.

I beg to differ. Sure, ERA is a much better tool than batting average, but if Voros McCracken's research and development of the DIPS (Defense-Independent Pitching Stats) are not revolutionary, I don't know what is.

Wiley's Sotto Voce, Super Genius...Not! III
2003-07-24 08:58
by Mike Carminati

Steve Sailer has a good look a sabermetricians and their perceived racism.

Also, Eric McErlain has an overview of articles that have cropped up in response to Wiley.

I have comments--don't I always?--but have to go to meeting right now.

Wiley's Sotto Voce, Super Genius...Not! II
2003-07-24 00:38
by Mike Carminati

Here's a little slice of delusion from Ralph Wiley's chat and love-in session earlier today:

jeff, boston ma: Ralph, I thought it was shameful the way you implied Bill James and other sabermetricians de-vaule the SB because they have racist leanings. James thinks Rickey is one of the greatest players of all time.

Ralph Wiley: OK, before we get to Kobe, this one deserves mention, more than one person has mentioned it; I spoke with another big fan of Bill James, Page 2 editor David Schoenfield, last week via e-mail; he also told me, informed me, really, that James was supposedly a big fan of Rick's, and think Rick is one of the top 15 players all time; the tone within that section of the piece did imply that, I think now, but I am not as fine as I like to be sometimes. Writing is like pitching. (or hitting). You are not going to always put the ball exactly where you want, but I'll say this. It was still the right velocity. Actually it was a systemic thing James just happened to be part of; SI asked him to right a piece about the effect, meaning of the stolen base in 1982, as RIck was stealing 130 bags. James does not care for the stolen base. Or, should I say, the unsuccessful stolen base. So, let's just call it a rather unhappy coincidence, Unhappy because I came with Rick, see? I was a rookie on the beat when he was a rookie in the Show, and I've seen him do some things. I meant no harm to Bill James.

OK, first it's not "Rick"; it's "Rickey". Rickey refers to Rickey so many times in the third person, how can your forget Rickey's name? Second, SI did not ask him to "right" a piece. They asked him to write it. What was the piece off course and needed a sure pilot like James to right it? Or was the piece wronged by some roue and it needed the masked avenger, James, to right the wrongs done to it? Wiley is a grate righter tho, Eye reed hymn awl the thyme.

Contrast this response to Wiley's original statement:

It is usually the American-born blacks' records and place that are resented instead of celebrated. For example, it's the stolen base that is denigrated as a weapon by baseball sabermaticians [sic] like Bill James, at precisely the time when a Rickey Henderson steals 130 bases in a season. There are sour grapes when a baseball man uses stats to tell you a stolen base isn't important. Any time a baseball manager will give up an out for a base, as with a sac bunt or groundball to the right side, any time a base is so precious, then it goes without saying that the stolen base must be important. Not the CS, the caught stealing, or stats of success rates, but the stolen base itself.

"James was supposedly a big fan of Rick's... the tone within that section of the piece did imply that, I think now'? I think Wiley's referring to his own piece (piece of what?) here, not James' article on Henderson.

The reason I say that is is that he goes on to, "[B]ut I am not as fine as I like to be sometimes. Writing is like pitching. (or hitting). You are not going to always put the ball exactly where you want, but I'll say this. It was still the right velocity."

So to paraphrase, "I screwed up but it was an honest mistake." James is characterized as a man with an agenda using stats to "denigrate as a weapon" an individual because he holds an "American-born blacks' record". But one email from an editor gets Wiley to rehabilitate James to the point that the problem now is a "systemic thing James just happened to be part of" and that he "meant no harm to Bill James." I'm schizophrenic, and so am I.

By the way, why didn't the editor point this out before ESPN published Wiley's tripe to begin with? I'm sorry, I used to work for a publisher whose editors actually edited, but I probably just don't get ESPN's paradigm. Oh, and sorry for trying to inject logic into the situation.

Maybe the systemic thing is the problem of allowing hacks with an axe to grind a forum in which to bloviate on topics, on which they have not even a pedestrian understanding. Heck, you can't even get away with that in the blogging world.

After reading Wiley's chat response I have even less respect for him. He was a just hack righter before, but at least he had convictions. James was a racist hiding under the cloak of "sabermetrics". Now, he wants to just pretend he didn't say it? It's like the old Gilda Radner character Emily Latella spouting off on topics that she mishears: "What's all this I hear about banning violins in school?"

How can anything that he says from this point forward have any credibility? Oh, you say it never did?

"Never mind."

[By the way the headline was a reference to "Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius". I bit of a stretch, eh?]

Once There Was a Man Named Jesse
2003-07-23 11:09
by Mike Carminati

The Yankees and Red Sox unsured that there would be no lefty-gap yesterday when both clubs picked up a left-hander for their bullpen. The Sox got Scott Sauerbeck for one-time embattled close Brandon Lyons (they also swapped minor-leaguers) as Boston continues their year-long tinkering with the bullpen. When Sauerbeck pitches in a Red Sox uniform for the first time, he will be the 21st man used out of the Boston bullpen. He'll also be the sixth man in that pen to have pitched for another club besides Boston this year (Lyons will make seven). And he is a very intelligent looking man...

The Yanks followed up by getting the old man of the hill, 46-year-old Jesse Orosco. If you look Orosco up in Baseball Reference, you'll see that that two most similar pitches to him at his age are two Hall-of-Famers (with similarity scores):

Hoyt Wilhelm (782)
Satchel Paige (621)

That's pretty impressive until you realize that there have only been twenty pitchers who have pitched in their 45th year and very few were predominantly relievers:

Nick Altrock
Red Faber
Clark Griffith
Joe Heving
Charlie Hough
Tommy John
Fred Johnson
Jim Kaat
Hod Lisenbee
Dolf Luque
Ted Lyons
Bobo Newsom
Phil Niekro
Jesse Orosco
Satchel Paige
Gaylord Perry
Jack Quinn
Nolan Ryan
Hoyt Wilhelm
Kaiser Wilhelm

Another thing to consider about Orosco is that he is now on the club with the best record in the AL and given that club's history, recent or otherwise, he has a good shot of winning another World Series. It has been 17 years since his last World Series win with some other New York team. Then...

And Now...

Orosco has aged well since then. Then again, he appeared well-aged at 30.

Anyway, this got me thinking if that would be the largest gap for a player between World Series victories. I did a query and found that there were four names that had at least 17 years between their first and last Series:

Name# WSFirst YearLast YearDiff
Ernie Johnson21923195734
Pedro Borbon31975199520
Babe Ruth71915193217
Jim Palmer31966198317

The only thing is that there were two Ernie Johnsons (one on the 1923 Giants and one on 1957 Braves) and two Pedro Borbons (1975-76 Reds--of Airplane! fame--and Jr. on '95 Braves) who spanned those years.

That leaves the Babe and Palmer--I think there was only one of each of them. They both had a 17-year span between their first and last World Series win. However, both won Series in the intervening years: Palmer one in 1970 and Ruth, another 5.

So if the Yankees win the World Series and if Orosco is still part of the team at that time, he'll be the first to have a 17-year wait between World Series parades. Then again, at his age almost anything he does will be a first in the majors.

Also, both Palmer and Ruth were twenty years old and were embarking on their first complete season in the bigs when they won their first World Series. Orosco was nine years older and had already recorded 7 seasons in the majors.

Filling Cubbie Holes
2003-07-23 00:13
by Mike Carminati

The much-rumored trade between the Cubs and the Pirates finally went through today. The Cubs get third baseman Aramis Ramirez and center fielder Kenny Lofton for shortstop-cum-third baseman Jose Hernandez and a couple of minor-leaguers.

The two moves fill the holes that were created when center fielder Corey Patterson went down with a season-ending injury and third baseman Mark Bellhorn had a 200-point slugging and 225-point OPS dropoff earlier this year. Hernandez replaced Bellhorn and then decided to channel him, batting .188 with a .570 OPS (both had two home runs for the Cubs in their short stints).

Ramirez is 9 years younger than Hernandez. He is having a good year (.786 OPS) but has been succeptable to power outages as well (especially in 2002). His three years as a starter have ranged from awful to very good, so who knows what the Cub can expect? The good news is that he is just 25; the bad news is that he will make $3 M this year and will make $6M in 2004 (there's no mention if the Pirates will take on any of that salary--I think not though).

Chicago also rents two months and change of 36-year-old Kenny Lofton's career. He has been a consistently above-average player at the end of his career. He carries a respectable .773 OPS and his home run total projects to 15 on the year, which would match his career high. Unfortunately, his .334 OPS represents a career-low and even though he has 18 stolen bases, those numbers don't speak well of a leadoff hitter, but that's is probably where the Cubbies will insert him in the lineup (except against lefties probably). Ramirez pushes Alex Gonzalez down to seventh in the order (again probably), giving the Cubs three right-handed bats at the bottom of their order--seven when Karros spells Choi (preceded by Alou, Sosa, and Grudzielanek, in reverse order).

Chicago finally got the deal it wanted. Now we'll just have to see if it was the right deal.

The Joe Morgan Chat Day The Music Died
2003-07-21 10:13
by Mike Carminati

Marty DiBergi: Do you feel that playing rock 'n' roll music keeps you a child? That is, keeps you in a state of arrested development?

Derek Smalls: No. No. No. I feel it's like, it's more like going, going to a, a national park or something. And there's, you know, they preserve the moose. And that's, that's my childhood up there on stage. That moose, you know.

Marty DiBergi: So when you're playing you feel like a preserved moose on stage?

Derek Smalls: Yeah.

- From This Is Spinal Tap

We here at Mike's Baseball Rants love the Joe Morgan but we love the Joe Morgan Chat Days even more. But then again, who couldn't after last week's sublimely ridiculous offering? Joe's handlers must have adjusted his medication this week though-for the first time in recent memory I have nothing to put in "The Ugly" category, But don't fret gentle reader, there is always plenty to enjoy in a Joe chat (as opposed to a Joe Pa).

This week I have come to the conclusion that, just like Album-Oriented Rock (or AOR) cum Classic Rock, Joe is Derek Smalls' "preserved moose". Open the music section of your local paper and you will see that bands that you thought had broken up years ago are still touring like mad. My musical youth is still paraded up on stage by performers who are reluctant to pass the dutchy to the under-40 whippersnappers.

There were always those Spinal Tap-inspired "Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi"-type bands, that is with only one surviving member going for the cash. Somewhere the Temptations are still performing. This reminds me of a story that juggler/comic Michael Davis used to tell before juggling an axe. "This axe once belonged to George Washington," he began. "I replaced the head and the handle. But it occupies the same space."

But now reunion tours abound as well. "Welcome back to the Age of Jive". The Eagles have had more farewells than Barbra Steisand. You can hear "Mr. Roboto" performed by some semblance of Styx. Styx lead singer and pianist Dennis DeYoung actually wrote a song for the All-Star game that either did not make the broadcast or I blinked and missed it (or more likely I winced after the fiasco that was the "League of Extraordinary Gentleman" opening and the woodenly mannequin Jeannie So-at-last-go, or whatever her name is).

The Who continue to play as some sort of tontine with the last surviving member inheriting their empire. So much for "I hope I die before I get old." Oddly and in sharp contrast to the Who, the Stones, remain intact though Keith Richards' desiccated mug would give Freddy Krueger nightmares. I recently caught a performance by them on HBO and couldn't help thinking of the skeleton band in that Grateful Dead video. And boy is it depressing to think that I can remember when Stevie Nicks was a sultry belladonna.

So too is Joe resting on his MOR laurels as a broadcaster. Joe was once the greatest second baseman of the latter half of the twentieth century. Well, he is still is, but it's hard to tell by the tripe he dishes out on a regular basis during his game broadcasts and in his propagandistic pontifications on ESPN online. Joe has even taking to denying his misstatements of late proving that no one could accept such pap when presented impersonally. Now, watch me paste this pathetic palooka with a powerful pachydermous pitch.

The Good

Utek (LA): Hi Joe. I've got a question about second basemen for you. Traditionally, the only position on the infield that left-handed throwers are allowed to play (besides pitcher) is first base. But I contend that a left-handed throwing second baseman would be an asset, because arguably a second baseman's most important throw---and the one he has to get off the quickest---is to second base, on double plays and force outs. A lefty wouldn't have to pivot to make these throws. So Joe, as a left-handed hitting Hall of Fame second baseman yourself, do you think we'll ever see a left-handed throwing second baseman in the major leagues?

No, because you throw more throws to first base than second base. No, you will not see a left-handed second baseman in major league baseball.

[Mike: Joe knows second basemen. Playing a lefty at second became untenable by the late 1870s. The last left-hander to play more than one or two games at second was Prince Hal Chase in 1916, regularly a first baseman. Chase played 35 at second in his career (he also played three at short and one at third!). The last left-hander to play even a game at second was first sacker Don Mattingly in 1983, his rookie year, though nothing was hit his way (Mattingly also played three games at third). The last left-handed starting second baseman was Bill Greenwood for the American Association Rochester Broncos in 1890 (123 games at second in their 126-game season).

Here is a chart of the years in which a left-hander played second and the resulting stats compared to the overall stats for second basemen in the year:


You'll notice that the most enticing thing was that relay to second for a force out or to start a double play. The A PCT% indicates this. It is based on the ratio of assists to total chances for lefties as a percentage of all second basemen. They remain very high, mostly higher than the average second baseman (i.e., over 100%-it is hard to tell though as the sample size shrinks). Double Play percentages are likewise pretty good: given that a lefty second baseman's relay to first would be slowed greatly, the fact that the DP% numbers are as high as they are represents a big advantage with second basemen starting a double play.

So managers still tinkered with lefty second basemen to get the advantage of the throw to the shortstop/third baseman to get a lead runner or to start a double play. However Hal Chase seemed to spell the death knell. Even though he handled many more chances per game than an average second baseman-he was known as very good fielder at first-and his fielding percentage was respectable, he started fewer double plays and doled out fewer assists. Maybe the thinking was if a good fielder like Chase could no longer give you the advantage of a throw to the left side of the diamond, then there's really no point in trying a left-hander at second.

I would think this is just part of the evolution of the position. Right-handed second basemen improved the technique to the point that being able to throw more easily to the left side of the infield as a lefty was no longer a real advantage. But whatever the case, I agree with Joe that the left-handed second baseman as a viable option is deader than a doornail (though like Charles Dickens I agree that a coffin nail would be a more apropos metaphor).]

The Bad

Lyle Goleta, Ca: Pete Rose was great, but he never was extremely great. Do you think he is even good enough to really be thought of as one of the elite baseball players of all time and one of the neccesitites to be in the hall of fame?

Yes, I think that Pete Rose's numbers and everything else he did on the field puts him in an elite class of baseball players and his numbers are good enough for the Hall of Fame.

[Mike: A) The Hall aint that elite-thanks, Frankie Frisch! B) Give the man his due. I wouldn't rank him up with Ruth, Mays, and Bonds, but Rose is the all-time Hit King after all. The man has the apparel to prove-like the ubiquitous script-L's on Laverne Difozio's blouses, the man embroiders Hit King into every piece of clothing he owns. Besides what does "extremely great" even mean? ]

John Currie, Minnesota: Exactly how good will the Twins be for the rest of the season and do they have enough to make it to the playoffs.

Well they basically have the same team they had last year and they made the playoffs. I think other teams improved. They have a chance, but it's going to be very difficult for them to make the playoffs.

[Mike: Make the playoffs? How about breaking .500. They looked good this past week in sweeping the A's, but this team did go from 31-20 to 44-49.

But, Joe, this is not basically the same team as last year. Gone are David Ortiz, perhaps their best power hitter, and Bobby Kielty, who looked like one of their best young players last year, to be replaced by Shannon Stewart, who brings speed to a lineup that already features Luis Rivas, Torii Hunter, and Cristian Guzman. Also, I don't anyone would agree that Kenny Rogers replacing Eric Milton has been a smooth transition.

Besides, last year's team played well over its head if their expected record from the Pythagorean formula is any indication. One would have expected the Twins to be eight games worse in 2002 based on the runs that they scored and they allowed. This was a team with a five-year plan when Gardenhire took over. They got a bit lucky in year one with a weak division and a team that gelled quickly. A slight return to earth is not unexpected. The one concern may be that in their rush to duplicate 2002, they may give up on the five-year plan and start to Shannon Stewart their future away.]

Josh Calgary Alberta: We all saw Wells Delgado and Halladay represent Toronto in the allstar game. I feel its a team with a lot of young talent and want to know who else you see as becoming allstars from that system.

Well it's hard to predict what young players will do. If players continue to improve they obviously have a chance at being an All-Star, but players have to continue to improve to reach their full potential before they become All-Stars.

[Mike: To quote Billy Ray Valentine, "Thanks, you've been halpful."

The Blue Jays have a bunch of young position players that showed promise in 2002 and appeared to be knocking on the doorstep of the All-Star game, to mix metaphors. That includes Orlando Hudson, Chris Woodward, Eric Hinske, and Josh Phelps, all of whom have taken a step back so far in 2003. They picked up a similarly underachieving youngster in Bobby Kielty. They all looked capable of being future All-Stars last year. We'll have to see if they bounce back.

It is remarkable that the Jays are in a pennant race, at least as wild card, and a number of their young players are underperforming and their staff is a wasteland behind Roy Halladay. Carlos Delgado may deserve the MVP on that statement alone.]

John (Branford, CT): Joe three ?'s about the Yanks for you, first how will Benitez handle the setup role for MO, Will Soriano reach 40/40 this year and lastly will Clemens get any votes for AL Cy Young

I think that Benitez will handle the set-up role perfectly because it will take a lot of pressure off of him in New York from being a closer. Soriano has an excellent chance of reaching the 40/40 club, last year he came up one short and he seems to be on track this year. And you can't predict the amount of votes a person gets until you see how many wins he ends up with.

[Mike: People forget that Benitez was a setup man in Baltimore for years. He allowed only 49 hits and struck out 106 in 73.1 innings in 1997. He was also the setup up man in his first half-year with the Metsgoes until John Franco went down. He is a highly-talented head case who walks too many and gives up the gopher ball. That's why he is a much more effective setup man than closer. I don't think it has anything to do with pressure. He just doesn't have the specific talents (few walks and fewer home runs allowed) to be a closer. He's much more effective pitching more innings, in which his minor peccadilloes are mitigated and his strikeouts pile up with the innings.

Soriano is projected to be a 40-40-40 man, exactly 40 HRs, 42 stolen bases, and 43 walks. However, his numbers did drop off considerably in 2002 so it's by no means a lock.

Last year, the top four starters in each league received Cy Young votes. Clemens is fourteenth in the AL in wins, fifteenth in ERA, and first in strikeouts. He may be third in line on his own team. If he continues this way for the year, the only votes he will get will be sympathy ones.]

Steve, Watford, UK: Joe - A few months ago I asked you about the lack of African-American pitchers then on cue Dontrelle Willis and Jerome Williams emerged (we only get Sunday & Wednesday baseball so I've only seen Williams). Do you see these guys having long careers as they are pretty young for ML pitchers and if so could they possibly become role models?

Well I think they are already role models because other African-American kids see them. Automatically when they see them in the big leagues, they become role models to everyone, not just African-Americans when you see them pitching in the major leagues. As far as injuries, they are like all the other pitchers, they have to stay healthy. If they are healthy they will be good pitchers for a long period of time.

[Mike: I don't know, Steve. Are they good Christian boys? I personally agree with Sir Charles Barkley who said that he is not a role model; parents are role models.

That said, Both have great minor league numbers. Actually I like Williams' a little better. But you never know what will happen with young pitchers even without a major injury. From Steve Stone to Esteben Loaiza, you can't predict a pitcher's performance. Let's allow them to pitch to a few teams a couple of times and they'll we'll know if the hitters adjust to them. Willis did get rocked his second time in two weeks against the Cubbies.]

Matt (Cheshire, CT): Hello Mr. Morgan. As a Dodger fan, I am happy that the team aquired Jeromy Burnitz, and somewhat happy that they went after Henderson. However, I am afraid that those additions will not be nearly enough to push the Dodgers into the playoffs. Do you agree that the only way for the Dodgers to catch the Giants and Diamondbacks is if Shawn Green starts hitting like Shawn Green?

I agree that the Dodgers needed to do something to improve their offense. I think Rickey and Burnitz were good additions. But for them to catch the Giants, players that are already there will have to perform better and that included Shawn Green.

[Mike: The main problem with acquiring both Burnitz and Henderson is that they will play the same position, left field. Neither plays center well enough, Bobby V's opinions notwithstanding, to warrant playing them there on a low-scoring team, and Shawn Green is a fixture in right.

Besides Green is having a down year, but he has not been awful and has always been a streaky hitter. The Dodgers' problem is that they don't have the talent. Dave Roberts, Adrian Beltre, Alex Cora, and especially Cesar Izturis don't hit nearly enough to merit being major-league starters and they have not hit well in recent memory (Beltre was pretty good in 2000 and Cora did well in limited service last year). Cora and Izturis are third and fourth last in the majors in OPS among batters who qualify for the batting title. Ouch!]

Matt (Woodside, DE): Joe..What do you think of Marlon Byrd?

I think he's a good player, but like all young players, needs to continue to improve.

[Mike: Yeah, Joe's standard answer for young ballplayers. He would even answer that way for Albert Pujols.

What do I think? First, he's a good role model. Second, he's performed much better of late especially as the leadoff man. In the minors he has a good understanding of the strike zone, decent power, and decent speed. He hasn't walked much this year but still has a .370 OBP. He has only three dingers and a slugging average slightly over .400 this year. So you could say that he has room for improvement. He should be a pretty good center fielder. We'll have to see.]

Chris (Raleigh): What pitchers do you think will really start to catch fire in the second half?

Schilling and Johnson have thrown fewer innings, so they should be fresher. But I think pitchers who have had a good frist half should have a good second half.

[Mike: Great answer, Joe! But no fair cheating.

OK, if course you have Schilling and Johnson. I like Rich Harden in Oakland. Pitchers are impossible to predict, so let's see who is having a big July and has been overlooked of late.

San Diego's Adam Eaton is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA in July. Jose Lima and Darrell May both won four with sub 2.00 ERAs for the Royals. Others: Kevin Jarvis in San Diego, Pirate Jeff Suppan, Expo Livan Hernandez, O's Sidney Ponson, the Giants Jim Brower, Buehrle, Pineiero, Myers, Jerome Williams, Simontacchi, and Brandon Webb.

For relievers, Rod Beck in San Diego, Jason Isringhausen in St. Louis, and Kim in Boston have been strong of late.]

Doug ( Detroit): Do u think the Tigers have the beginning of a good young staff?

I think they have the beginning of a good young staff because they show a lot of mental toughness to be able to battle through a lot of losses and continue to pitch well.

[Mike: I guess it all depends on your definition of "beginnings". The Tigers starters are not terrible at least. They rank 22nd in the majors in ERA in the majors, 19th in WHIP, 19th in opposition's OPS, thirteenth in home runs allowed per nine innings, last in strikeouts per nine innings (4.34), and 26th in strikeouts-to-walks ratio. They could be in the chrysalis phase like the Braves around 1990, but then again they might not have a decent pitcher in the lot.]

jared (st. louis): Hey Joe, I recently heard Tim McCarver on FOX say he thought Scott Rolen was the best defensive 3rd baseman he had ever seen. Who would you say deserves that recognition? Schmidt?

Maybe when McCarver saw Rolen, he may have been the best he ever saw, but the best I have ever seen are Mike Schmidt or Brooks Robinson.

[Mike: Hey Jared, how's that Subway gig going?

Bill James in Win Shares gives Rolen a B+ defensive rating as a third baseman. This only covers up until 2000, and looking at Rolen's range factor since, I looks like he may have gotten even better. In 2002 he had a 3.10 range factor, his highest total yet far. He was also involved in 41 double plays, again a career high. Two of his four Gold Gloves came after 2000. So let's assume he has improved to, say, A-.

James lists the following third basemen with an A+ rating by era:

Early 3B: Jimmy Collins, Lave Cross, Art Devlin, Tommy Leach, and Lee Tannehill
Depression Era 3B: None (Billl Werber is the highest-rated with an A-)
Post-War 3B: Clete Boyer

In post-war period, there are just two other men who register an A rating, Schmidt and Tim Wallach. Robinson scores an A- (one of 10, the others: Buddy Bell, Scott Brosius, Billy Cox, Darrell Evans, Gary Gaetti, Wayne Garrett, Graig Nettles, Terry Pendleton, and Robin Ventura-not a bad group)

I saw both Schmidt and Rolen play and even though it's hard to compare players who were ten years apart, I still think Schmidt was better. I also thought Schmidt was better than Brooks Robinson, though Robinson gets all the press. I never saw Clete Boyer play though and am willing to accept that he was better than Schmidt (he had a 3.26 range factor, Schmidt 3.00, Rolen 2.83, and Robinson 3.10-of course those are different eras).]

Andrew (NYC): WIth Randy Johnson coming back and Curt Shilling back and pitching like he did last night, can they overtake the Giants for the N.L west lead?

With Randy and Curt, they do have a chance of overtaking the Giants. We haven't seen Randy pitch yet, he got knocked around in the minor leagues the other day.

[Mike: Good Joe, so they are not yet mathematically eliminated.

With Schilling and Johnson heading a staff that includes Brandon Webb (2.45 ERA) and Miguel Batista (2.77) and Jose Valverde heading a good bullpen, the D-Backs look like a solid pick to capsize the Giants in the second half.

However, when you look at the way that they have overachieved on offense, it makes you wonder. Veterans (Moeller, Counsell, Baerga, Hillenbrand-1.048 OPS since joining the D-Backs-, etc.) and youngsters (Alex Cintron, Matt Kata, and Robby Hammock) alike have exceeded expectations. Throw in the fact that the D-Backs have overhauled three fourths of their infield this year (all but Junior Spivey at second), and an offensive comeuppance may be due.

Then again the Giants are playing five games better than expected and the D-Backs, one game worse. So instead of being seven games back, one would expect from their run differentials that Arizona would only be one game back. This is a lot closer than people realize.]

John ,Toledo,Oh: Hi Joe,if Rose gets in the HOF,should Shoeless Joe get in also?

I think you have to take each case one at a time.

[Mike: The answer is an emphatic no. A) Joe Jackson was accused of throwing ballgames. No one accuses Rose of ever throwing a game nor betting against the Reds. B) Those ballgames were in the World Series. C) Joe Jackson signed an admission to having thrown games. Rose claims never to have bet on a baseball game, let alone a game he was a part of. D) Jackson violated rule 21(a), not 21(f) like Rose.

Rule 21 (a) MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL. Any player or person connected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.

Rule 21 (f) OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.

It's odd that everyone uses Rule 21 (d) for all of the banned players but it does not apply to either man here:

Rule 21 (d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.


Brad (Seattle): What does Seattle need to put themselves over the top in the A.L.?

I think Seattle just needs to continue to play well, they have a good offense, a great pitching staff, and a great defense, so they just have to continue to perform.

[Mike: Brad, check the standings. The Mariners are four games up on the A's.

However, the M's could only improve if they could divest themselves of Jeff Cirillo, his salary, and his .570 OPS. Transitioning time from Dan Wilson to Ben Davis should help as well.]

matt (d.c.): Hi Joe! I dont know if you get to see the Cardinals all that much or not, but we really need a starting pitcher! Do you know of anyone out there that would be a good fit? Thanks!

The problem is that a lot of teams need starting pitching, but knowing who is available is key and I'm not sure who is available.

[Mike: How about Chuck Finley? I hear he's free? Just kidding of course. Though he pitched pretty well for them in the second half last year. Besides him you have Sidney Ponson (if the O's can't get him signed), the Pirates' Jeff Suppan, the Expos' Livan Hernandez (when and if they fall out of contention), and the Padres' Kevin Jarvis, to name a few.

Nolan Bas, New Jersey: Do you really think the Cubs are a contender in the National League Central? What are their chances of trading for Lofton and Ramirez from Pittsburgh?

The Cubs are contenders because they have a good pitching staff, but they need offense. Ramirez and Loften would both help them, but I don't know what their chances of getting them are.

[Mike: No, the Cubs are contenders because they are in a weak division. The Cubs are only 3.5 games out and could win the division, though a wild card run seems unlikely.

They just lost Prior and have Patterson out. Jose Hernandez has been a bust so far at third. The same goes for the catcher Miller and Tom Goodwin, filling in in center. Also Choi has been atrocious since his unfortunate injury. Lofton would probably be a decent fill-in for Patterson and Ramirez is probably a better long-term solution at third if that's what they are looking for. But this team is springing more holes than the Titanic. If Prior is out for an extended period, I doubt Wood and Zmbrano can carry the staff alone.]

Gerard (North Brunswick): Joe, Does ANYONE outside of Queens and Boston think the Benitez deal was a good one? Just wait until the first time Torre brings in Mariano with no out in the 8th because Benitez walked the bases loaded. I take Jason Anderson pitching LEFT-handed over Clubhouse Poison.

The Yankees usually make the decisions and I think they made a good one this time as well.

[Mike: Lots of teams "make the decisions", but this, as I showed before, was a good one. Gerard, stop listening to Mike and the Mad Dog and take at the man's stats. There are weaknesses (the walks and home runs), but Benitez is a talented pitcher who should be able to help someone. Besides if Benitez falters in the eighth, don't you think that the Yankees will go to Hammond, Osuna, or Micelli rather than disrupt their closer's routine?

Oh, and Jason Anderson had a 4.79 ERA when the Yankees traded him. Benitez has a 3.04 ERA for his career and hasn't had an ERA as high as Anderson's since his rookie year. As a Mets fan, you certainly would take Anderson over Benitez. That's why your Mets are where they are. Anderson was shuttled through th Yankees organization that it's hard to tell how good he is. He started the year in 2002 at Single-A and his 4.07 ERA was ignored because of his high strikeout total, so onward and upward. Then again, if you owned the Mets, why not take a shot at Anderson who has the velocity and had good strikeout-to-walks and strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratios in the minors. According to their old co-owner, the Mets are no better than a Double-A team anyway. However, if the Mets were in a pennant race, there's no way they would consider the deal.]

Get On the Mic, Mike
2003-07-20 13:09
by Mike Carminati

This morning the Phillies acquired struggling closer Mike Williams for a mid-level prospect plus cash. Williams will be the setup man for Jose Mesa. He should be able to improve on his 6.27 ERA. Though in his first go-round with the Phils, he had an ERA above 5.00 in four of five years.

I was kind of surprised that the Phils, whose offense has been so suspect all year, decided to improve their relieving given that their bullpen has a 2.99 ERA. It may be for Jose Mesa insurance as the mercurial Mesa has a 4.67 ERA and three blown saves. I trust that Joe Kerrigan knows what he is doing with that staff, and that he had some doing in acquiring Williams.

A Rosy Nose?
2003-07-18 10:04
by Mike Carminati

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.

-William "Author" Shakespeare

Big Blue Meanie: Arise! Arouse! A rose! A rose!
Jeremy Hillary Boob: A rosy nose?

-Yellow Submarine

I have not watched the entire Rose mock trial as yet. What I did see reminded me more of the People's Court than Law & Order. The jury voted 8-4 that Rose should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. They then responded 11-1 to a poll by prosecuting attorney Alan Dershowitz that they believed Rose bet on baseball. Unfortunately, he did not poll them as to whether they felt Rose bet on any Reds games in which he managed (though I suppose that was the implication). That is the offense that carries the lifetime ban. Betting on baseball itself carries a one-year ban (ask The Lip), which Rose has more than served.

Rule 21 section d:

(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year. Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

So why is betting on baseball even an issue? Did he bet on the Reds? That's the only question that matters.

Having reviewed the Dowd report and the rules involved, I can't agree with the jury's thought process even though I agree with their "verdict". If they believed there was evidence that Rose gambled on the game and on the Reds specifically, then how can they pronounce him innocent.

Well, the old cliches that he had suffered enough-as if not being in the Hall is a torture-, that other sordid characters have their plaques at Cooperstown, etc. were tramped out by the jurors as each explained his or her stance. Many added that they think he should be Hall but should not be allowed to act as manager again, which is akin to saying if found guilty in the impeachment proceedings, Bill Clinton should have remained president but been restricted from serving as dog catcher in every American municipality. Only one juror mentioned the evidence.

I'm going to take a look at the "trial" this weekend and comments should ensue.

Wiley's Sotto Voce, Super Genius...Not!
2003-07-17 16:30
by Mike Carminati

We're about to discuss "race", Ralph Wiley, and writing.

So bring a snack of some sort. And a beverage in case you get thirsty. Also, please remember to bus your table and to floss afterwards.

First, for such a well-known sports journalist, Wiley makes Peter Gammons seem concise and cogent. This article is so scattershot that it's difficult to determine who or what is at the root of the problem.

Is it Bill James for dissing the African-American stat, stolen bases? Is it Alvin Dark who evidently, like Nigel Tufnel, would have chosen haberdashery for an alternate career path? Is it the media for hounding Barry Bonds because of his race? Is it the All-Star voters for ignoring African-Americans? Is it Webster's for not defining "African-American" so as to exclude Latins of African decent from the rubric? Is it the Chicago sports writers for goading Dusty Baker into saying ill-informed racial statements? Is it the Little League coaches? Is it the unnamed writer from 25 years ago who hazarded to point out that African-Americans were a shrinking population in Major League Baseball, even though that is the thrust of Wiley's article? Is it his editor, who apparently does not even scan his laborious screed? Is it ESPN for paying him to document his mental felo-de-se? Or maybe as Wiley indicates, "this dogged resentment comes from blacks the notion that doing well in school is 'acting white.'"

The only problem is that Wiley seems to name most of the culprits in the list above and like Oliver Stone's JFK makes them all part of some sort of worldwide conspiracy.

One thing is for sure in Wiley's tendentious universe, though "he is no anthropologist" and he may need "to think a little more before he speaks", it's not Dusty Baker's fault:

[B]ecause Italians often comment and joke about Italian stereotypes or predilections or history -- likewise the Irish, or whomever [sic]-- but when you say blacks and minority people can take the heat better, because that's what black people were specifically brought over here for, it allows bigots room.

Ironic, because something else was going on there, I felt. I felt Dusty's comments were a reaction to a perceived threat... I do know Dusty knows baseball exceedingly well, and something of the historical role of black players in baseball; after all, he was on the Braves team when Hank Aaron...was chasing the Babe's home run record.

I also know going from managing in northern California to managing on the north side of Chicago is a quantum leap backward sociologically... [w]e didn't hear what all was said to Dusty, or about Dusty, leading up to his out-of-the-blue statement that sounded to me like a man trying to back people saying, "Back up off me, now."

That's just my gut feeling.

First, how racist is it to characterize Italians as people who "joke about Italian stereotypes"? Didn't Wiley hear how upset some Italian-Americans were with the stereotypes on The Sopranos?

There's a nice shot at Chicago and its writers for goading Baker into the ill-advised remarks. However, here is what Baker said from the ESPN article:

"It's easier for most Latin guys and it's easier for most minority people because most of us come from heat. You don't find too many brothers in New Hampshire and Maine and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Right?" he said with a chuckle.
"We were brought over here for the heat, right? Isn't that history? Weren't we brought over because we could take the heat?"
"Your skin color is more conducive to heat than it is to the lighter-skinned people. I don't see brothers running around burnt," Baker said before the Cubs beat St. Louis at Wrigley. "That's a fact. I'm not making this up. I'm not seeing some brothers walking around with some white stuff on their ears and noses."

Here is a man at home with the writers, joking and expounding. Where's the "Back up off me, now"-ness? Baker seems far from threatened. The only person who seems threatened is Wiley and he projects that onto Baker. That's just my gut feeling.

Lastly, how does playing with Hank Aaron make one an expert in African-American baseball history? There had been over a hundred years of such history that preceded Aaron's historic run at the HR record. Then again, Wiley seems a novice when it comes to African-American baseball history:

Rube Foster's Chicago American Giants of the original Negro National League [was] formed because blacks were said to be unfit for duty in the bigs. Couldn't handle pressure.

Foster happens to be a hero of mine and I have read most that has been written about or by-he had a semi-regular gig with the Chicago Defender-him. Not only was his league NOT "formed because blacks were said to be unfit for duty in the bigs", Foster wanted to develop a league that would excel on its own and potentially subsume the majors. His letterhead read, "We are the ship, all else the sea", and he meant it. I'm sure that he preferred his disciplined and well-coached brand of baseball to the majors at the time.

Besides, when African-Americans were originally barred from organized baseball it had nothing to do with their abilities or inability to "handle pressure". It was because some white players couldn't countenance playing alongside or against them. This evolved viewpoint predates professional baseball as the African-American Pythian club from Philadelphia was denied entrance into the amateur grandfather to the National League, the National Association of Base Ball Players, in 1867. Since some felt strongly on both sides of the issue, it was speciously resolved that barring the club was the only fair solution so that no one would be offended.

Nineteenth-century African-American stars George Stovey, Fleet Walker, Frank Grant, and Bud Fowler were not viewed as inferior ballplayers. Stovey still holds the International League record with 34 wins. And the antics of Cap Anson employed in removing African-American players from games with his Chicago club demonstrate that he didn't want a valuable weapon such as Stovey available on the opposing club. These men excelled in their various leagues as baseball worked to restrict African-Americans from the organized game. The fact that they excelled appears to have precipitated their exile.

Not only does Wiley lack a basic understanding of the issues of race in baseball from an historical viewpoint. He has difficulty grabbling with the current issues. He prattles on about All-Star rosters without realizing that they are such a small sample that it's difficult to say that their racial makeup has any meaning. He mentions that there are a number of international players in baseball, but still maintains that there is an underlying problem:

The beauty of the game of baseball is this egalitarian inevitability, with everything else being equal.

Which, of course, everything else never is.

Another beauty of baseball is that it is played out of time, which can be both a bad thing...or a good thing...

Baseball has a Problem, a deeply rooted Problem, but it is not the pace of the game, or the performance or interest level of any human sub-grouping; no, it is baseball's uneasy truce with the social construct called race.

Well, I agree with the last statement, but I don't agree with how he got there. Aside from the appallingly poor writing style ("Another beauty of baseball...", "Which, of course, everything else never is", etc.), Wiley takes the egalitarianism of baseball and somehow twists it into another form of established "ways and mores" which evince racism. Is the NBA racist for employing Dikembe Mutumbo and other international players? Why does he single out baseball for similarly going more international?

My main problem with race in baseball is with the lack of managerial and general manager positions filled by African-Americans and Latins, when clearly there are qualified candidates who go under-employed (Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss come to mind). Also, the majors hiring strategy only serves to pay lip service to any notion of equal opportunity in these positions. Of course, Wiley sees this differently:

Unfortunately, the people who run baseball on all levels below the big-league level are not the most egalitarian sort (although it must be said that I think Bud Selig is) and big-league baseball has come a long way in terms of the field manager position, and a good way in the front-office positions of the structure of MLB itself, and some piece of a short way -- OK, right into a solid brick wall on all sides and a steel ceiling above -- in the front-office positions of the individual teams.

It seems that Wiley's main beef in this whole piece is that his son Cole, "an 'American-born black'" was dissuaded from playing high-school ball because "after playing for four years, and contributing in the state semifinal title game of his senior year, he got sat down for a junior whose dad had made more concrete fiscal contributions to the team than my lowly 250 bucks." Well, if that was the reason, how many games did he lose? Maybe one, the state final title game. And Wiley devotes about two printed pages to the injustice apparent in the high school ranks. Witness this passage as dense as a snippet from Finnegan's Wake:

[B]ut before it was over, I wanted him to have the experience of playing ball in Oakland, so that he could just play, and not worry about all these other ramifications of who wanted him to play well, who was threatened by him playing well, being the only black kid on the bus going to play, being judged by the standard of Willie Mays, etc.

Sheez, talk about an overbearing father, transplanting his kid from one coast to the other to fulfill his, the father's, dream to play ball in a more racially stimulating environment. That must have cost more than "250 bucks".

Before Wiley is through he trounces the self-purportedly egalitarian sabermetricians, whom he identifies as "sabermatricians, and their Grand Wizard, Bill James. Apparently, James and his coterie are using statistics in a biased and racist manner:

It is usually the American-born blacks' records and place that are resented instead of celebrated. For example, it's the stolen base that is denigrated as a weapon by baseball sabermaticians [sic] like Bill James, at precisely the time when a Rickey Henderson steals 130 bases in a season. There are sour grapes when a baseball man uses stats to tell you a stolen base isn't important. Any time a baseball manager will give up an out for a base, as with a sac bunt or groundball to the right side, any time a base is so precious, then it goes without saying that the stolen base must be important. Not the CS, the caught stealing, or stats of success rates, but the stolen base itself.

So Rickey Henderson becomes, in the media and our oral history of the day, a bad guy, "this guy," who did something meaningless, and refers to himself in the third person and, oh yeah (with a decidedly sour look), maybe the best leadoff hitter ever, whatever that means. Barry Bonds becomes somebody who is excoriated for the limitations of his personality, even though we do not know him as a late-night talk-show host, but as a big-league baseball player. That skill set is all that should matter. But anything to keep from judging him on those merits. Look at the personalities of most timeless baseball stars; Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio -- none of them was a day at the beach.

But not being a day at the beach becomes Bonds' full metal straitjacket.

So Bonds is "acting white" and that's why the media doesn't like him...huh?

My friend Murray started a little email trail on this confounding passage. Chris DeRosa had the article to which Wiley alluded, from his old magazine SI:

Yes, I have the Sept. 6, 1982 article from SI. It is entitled "So What's All the Fuss?"
It's typically enlightening. It starts with a history of the steal coming and going throughout baseball histroy, pointing out along the way that steals came back in the late 50s, not in '62 with Wills. He theorizes that in the 50s, teams cheated too far in loading up on catchers who could hit but not throw, and therefore, you had a tipping point where steals suddenly came cheap. He also writes about the steal as a stylistic import from the Negro leagues, noting that since 1953, every major league steals leader was black or Latino; and the impact of the pitcher's era and artificial turf. He credits Lou Brock with pioneering the rolling start (the modern technique), an improvement on Wills's emphasis on getting a big lead. In short, he displays a deeper grasp of the mechanics of a stolen base than Ralph Wiley does on Page 2.
To the Henderson comments: "... Henderson is an amazing ballplayer. As an offensive force, he's greater than either Wills or Brock--incomparably greater than any other leadoff man of this century." No sour faced admission, he goes on about this for a page, talking about how Rickey had a chance to break Earle Combs's AL record for runs scored by a leadoff man, despite playing for the 1982 A's rather than the 1927 Yankees; and the likelihood of his annexing a variety of stealing records.
Only then does he turn to the thesis: "Yet for all the fame they're bringing him, Henderson's stolen base exploits this year have done virtually nothing to help his team from a dismal fate." Then he gives what is now a standard sabermetric corrective to the exaggerated value of the stolen base then current.

Chris also points out that "James ranks Henderson the #4 left fielder of all time, and the #26 player of all time, right between Turkey Steanes and Pop Lloyd" (two old Negro Leaguers, by the way). So James is not being biased against African-Americans in general or Henderson specifically. He is simply biased against stolen bases from a pure perspective of economy of outs. Wiley's invocation of the sac bunt a manager-preferred style to rehabilitate and legitimize the stolen base statistic only evokes peals of laughter from the sabermetric crowd.

By the way, Peter Dizikes also alertly points out that Wiley "does not even reference the recent lengthy Sports Illustrated piece on the decline in the numbers of African-American players, which is the main reason he can say, "the question is now being asked anew: 'Why have American-born blacks disengaged from baseball?'" Ralph Wiley's typical day: read his old magazine, get idea for piece, fail to reference it in dot-com column."

So what are we left with? I can only advise Wiley that his problems-at least his perceived problems-are not in the stars but in his own self. Aside from denigrating those Chico Marx-inspired, jovially self-mocking Italians, he maligns the apparently white kid who spelled his son for the state title game: "we lost because the extra-base hit from what was his spot, to deliver the runner from first base with two ours in the last inning, did not come" (don't ask me to explain his grammar/sentence structure/full intended meaning though). He feels that the entire system is endemically racist:

[I]f you wait for the structure of the game itself below the big-league level to welcome you, good luck. It probably won't happen. This may be out of self-interest -- white guys who become coaches because they have sons who are playing also have benefactors contributing dollars to their leagues who have sons, and those sons have friends, mostly who are like them, so their spots in the game are respected and protected. Which may drive out the black kid who shows up solo with a glove and a paper bag lunch and gets sneered at.

Wow, he paints a sort of racist Rockwellian picture of America. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist at this level but how does having a son in high school ball make him an expert on the entire system?

College ball is even more racist in Wiley's estimation:

[I]f you look at college baseball, you see few schools recruit blacks, and it may be just as well, since as Richard Lapchick's latest study shows, college baseball graduation rates are almost nonexistent, not only worse than football or basketball grad rates, but worse by far. College baseball is just another form of minor-league baseball, developing possible talent for the major leagues, and very few young black players are recruited into it.

So not only does he see college ball as racist, perhaps because it is predominately white (I do not have any data on this, one way or the other, just his evidence). He feels compelled to point out that those ballplayers have a lower graduation rate than football and basketball programs, which, as it so happens, are predominately peopled with African-American players. It attempts to chalk it up to college ball being a "form of minor-league baseball", but that is far truer in the other sports, which do not have a strong minor-league system. Isn't this a thinly veiled attack on the intellect of these allegedly predominately white baseball programs?

Look, there are real problems of race in baseball. Rube Foster's efforts helped to establish that a sport owned and managed predominately by African-Americans can be a successful undertaking. Major League baseball, though it extremely belatedly embraced African-American players, has yet to embrace the race completely in the managerial and ownership ranks. Also, to this day Foster is the only owner, executive, or manager of a Negro League team to have been elected to the Hall of Fame and his playing career more than warranted enshrinement. (I have a soft spot for his American Giant successor "Gentleman" Dave Malarcher for one.)

There are plenty of axes to grind in the sport as far as race is concerned. There's no reason to invent ones based on old journalistic grudges and personal slights (or personal slights to one's son). It's alarming that Wiley would rather grind his personal axes than to contribute to a worthwhile dialog on the issue when he so fervently cares about the issue.

Minnie Methuselah
2003-07-17 12:15
by Mike Carminati

Eighty-year-old Minnie Minoso was activated by the independent St. Paul Saints in order to become the first player to play in seven different decades. He DH'ed and walked as part of St. Paul's annual Negro League tribute. It should also be pointed out that Minoso did not appear in a major-league game until almost 27 and is one of the best ballplayers ever, no matter how you look at it, after the age 30 (James has extensive research on this).

On June 30, 1993, he DH'ed for St. Paul and grounded out to become the first six-decade player. Two years earlier commissioner Fay Vincent had barred Minoso from playing in a Single-A Florida State League game to set the mark. The then-independent Miami Miracle had wanted to sign him for a game on April 13.

I have to think that Minoso is a borderline Hall-of-Fame candidate but his great career has been eclipsed with this avuncular image. It can't help buttress his legitimacy for the Hall. Also, the article says that he is 77, but his official birth date is November 29, 1922. However, the assumption may be that Latin players' ages are shaved by three years automatically.

Besides, the man whose "record" he broke, Nick Altrock, who played five decades, did so more as an on-field mascot than as a legitimate player. Altrock had been an ace pitcher for three years (1904-06-62 wins) but blew out his arm and became a coach. He would appear in games from time to time: he pitched a couple of innings in 1924, he played right field for the last game of the season in 1929 (along with old-timers Jimmie Austin and Johnny Evers), and he pinch-hit at the end of 1933. He had a clown-coach act with "The Clown Prince of Baseball" Al Schacht until Schact left the Senators.

By the way, Minoso will be 87 in 2010. Will there be any team willing to allow him one AB to extend his record? Will anyone care? Read the book!

Mock On
2003-07-17 00:46
by Mike Carminati

ESPN is conducting a mock trial of Pete Rose tomorrow night.

I conducted my own defense of Rose last fall using the Dowd report as the case for the state. Of course, it had a rather farcical bend, well maybe not as farcical as having Alan Dershowitz and Johnnie Cochrane as the attorneys. No, check that, I did have Cochrane asone of the attorneys. Oh well. I did, however, review and refute every piece of hard evidence in the case. I didn't fave Bill James as one of the witnesses though.

Son of Joe
2003-07-16 16:11
by Mike Carminati

Thanks to Tangotiger over at Baseball Primer for linking to my last Joe Morgan Chat Day review. I got just under a thousand hits thanks mostly to the link. That's in my top three.

Anyway, Primer has a discussion trail with some interesting comments (and some that make Joe seem erudite):

(#1) - Joe Morgan
I never said that.

[Mike: Good one!]

(#18) - Fuel on the Fire
From the Rant:

"There are some players (Ichiro for one) who make it on reputation."

BS. Ichiro is first in the league in hits, first in the league in batting average, tied for first in SBs, 6th in runs scored, and still pays the field well. Oh, but he is not an OPS all-star, and all the fans only look at OPS before voting.

Oh and could somebody explain this:

However, their pitches per game started have been cut almost in half (196 to 104)

Was that intended to be sarcasm, or have the A's pitchers turned into deadball pitching specialists?

(#24) - Mike

I meant Ichiro was voted to start based on his reputation.

He is having a fine season. However, Ichiro is 59th in the majors in OPS , but then again he is among the top three outfielders in Win Shares, probably due to his defense . So maybe I'm beating a dead horse here.

I would have voted for Byrnes, Anderson, Wells, Bradley, or Mora before him. But then again I voted for Mondale.

(#25) - Mike (e-mail) (homepage)

By the way, the pitches-per-game is an ESPN stat. I believe that it projected the pitches-per-innings-pitched to nine innings. That's why they were so high.

The numbers quoted are their numbers for the first half [of] last year averaged.

What Next, No OJ Blvd?
2003-07-16 15:21
by Mike Carminati

What Next, No OJ Blvd?

Jose Canseco Street may be renamed soon due to Canseco's various peccadilloes. Actually, they are attempting to bar any street being eponymous with any convicted felons.

In a related story, 72% of the streets in Miami will be renamed soon.

No word yet, on Ozzie Canseco Overpass' status.

[Thanks to my friend Mike for the link.]

2003-07-16 14:16
by Mike Carminati

Lee Sinins reports:

The BlueJays traded LF Shannon Stewart and a player to be named later to the Twins for OF Bobby Kielty.

My first question is why? They are not that dissimilar: bith have OPSs in the .790s. Stewart once was a speedy baserunner but has only one stolen base this year. He is only 29 but has been declining steadily since 2000.

Kielty is three years younger and showed a lot of promise last year though he hasn;t fulfilled it this year. He also makes a fraction of what Stewart makes ($325K to $6.2 M) and Stewart is only signed for one year.

I see this as a win-win for the Blue Jays. It looks like an act of desparation on the Twins' part.

"Bigger Than Jesus Christ"?
2003-07-16 13:05
by Mike Carminati

Barry Bonds is said to be taking aim at Babe Ruth:

"Willie's number is always the one that I've strived for," Bonds said before Tuesday's All-Star Game.

"And if it does happen, the only number I care about is Babe Ruth's. Because as a left-handed hitter, I wiped him out. That's it. And in the baseball world, Babe Ruth's everything, right? I got his slugging percentage and I'll take his home runs and that's it. Don't talk about him no more."

Wow, I wonder what Ruth did to so tick off Barry. Maybe it was debt that went unpaid. Or maybe that time he held Barry out of a moving train. Bonds really keeps a grudge.

Playing First Base Bugs Bunny. Second Base Bugs Bunny....
2003-07-16 12:24
by Mike Carminati

An actual email I received. Isn't this the kind of thing that almost got Satchel Paige killed once?:

Dear sir/madam,

I am duely assigned to inform you that your baseball club has been officially invited to participate at the 2nd annual NIP baseball championship which is organized annualy by the NIGERIAN INTERNATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION inc Holland.

Date-3rd November-10th November 2003.


Conditions of participation-

1,The company(being the organizers)provides flight tickets and hotel accommodation for each participating player from each club.

2,provides insurance and medical care.

3,provides 3 full square meals per day for each participant.

4,provides visa fees for each participant.

Note-Registration fee for each club is $1000us dollars.





Then other clubs go home with different kinds of prizes.

Please contact me for your registration form and other information's soonest.

Sincerely yours,



All-Star Game Notes That Count Randomly
2003-07-16 01:31
by Mike Carminati

- "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"? That's how they really are opening the show? What a venal, pointless, and ordinary promotion

- It's good to see Gary Carter and Luis Aparicio in uniform. It's interesting to see Carter in an Expos uni. Did he pick it?

- Posada let his kid run out as him when they were announcing the lineups. Cute, but now everyone will be lugging their kids onto the field before, during, and after the game.

- Nice tribute to Larry Doby, But what's the deal with the reverb? "Now batting for Pedro Borbon, Manny Mota...Mota...Mota."

- Vanessa Carlton lip-synched (lipsank?) the National Anthem-pathetic? Besides she is trying desperately to look like a Fast Times-era Phoebe Cates.

- First inning: It looks like A-Rod is wearing a mike at short.

- Baker calls Renteria, "The smartest player in the NL." High praise indeed.

- There's no first base coach for the NL until the second batter. But remember, it counts!

- Bonds jut misses one. Had to shorten up his swing on an apparent ball, inside and high. Odd for him.

- Second: Nice play by Delgado going into the stands to get a Sheffield pop-up.

- Martinez is hit in the head and we have to view the play with the stupid catcher cam, a remnant of NBC-era Letterman's Late Night show. He's OK, but his helmet is cracked.

- Third: I still don't buy Clemens is retiring (he's interviewed by Kevin Kennedy). MJ retired too and it didn't take. If you were his wife, would you want Rocket hanging around the house?

- Delgado RBI on a curve ball that flattened out after a he missed a big loopy one.

- Fourth: Official sponsors are Bad Boys and SWAT. Enough with the movie promos!

- Ichiro: Nice catch, nice jump, nice run, nice leap. Very nice.

- Wood throws an unhittable rising fastball past Glaus for the second strike.

- Fifth: Helton hits what looks like a high, hanging change out.

- Hasegawa: half his runs were scored directly by the long ball this year (2 HR and 4 runs allowed).

- Andruw Jones hits what's ruled a ground rule double on fan interference. Furcal, runner at first, awarded home even though not yet at third when ball is interfered with.

Joe Buck disagrees with the call, but isn't it just a judgment call by the umps? I hope those bums get thrown out of the game. It's reassuring to see the managers argue the call-it does "count".

[By the way, Buck was wrong. Here are the rules/definitions regarding fan interference. As for me, I think that it would have taken a very good throw/relay to get Furcal at home. It's something that Anderson is more than capable of delivering, but I would have to agree with the ump's judgment-if it takes a very good throw to get the runner especially when it's the "away" team's runner, I would give him home on a fan interference call. Maybe if Anderson hadn't dogged it to get to the ball, the ump would have given him the benefit of the doubt:


(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.

When there is spectator interference with any thrown or batted ball, the ball shall be dead at the moment of interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference...There is a difference between a ball which has been thrown or batted into the stands, touching a spectator thereby being out of play even though it rebounds onto the field and a spectator going onto the field or reaching over, under or through a barrier and touching a ball in play or touching or otherwise interfering with a player. In the latter case it is clearly intentional and shall be dealt with as intentional interference as in Rule 3.15.

...In case of unintentional interference with play by any person herein authorized to be on the playing field (except members of the offensive team participating in the game, or a coach in the coach's box, or an umpire) the ball is alive and in play. If the interference is intentional, the ball shall be dead at the moment of the interference and the umpire shall impose such penalties as in his opinion will nullify the act of interference.


- The interference call is academic after Pujols' hit.

- Sixth: Furcal almost hits teammate Marcus Giles with errant throw. Should have eaten it.

- McCarver and Buck are assessing Anderson's "cool" factor. He's Mojo Jojo in their book.

- Seventh: Jones hits a little poke homer on outside curve. Actually, on the replay it is low and over the middle of the plate. McCarver was fooled, too.

- Stretch: Amy Grant still is cute after all these years but has man hands and was drowned out by what sounded like my daughter's toy keyboard on "synth" mode. Also, does a good Nigel Tufnel imitation with her finger in her ear to harmonize apparently with herself.

- Giambi clocks a high fastball off of Wagner.

- Buck says that Wagner has the highest strikeout-per-innings-pitched ratio all time-is that true?

[It is true for any player with more than a handful of innings. Here are the men ahead of Wagner (through 2002):

Mark Whiten27.001.0
Ricky Pickett27.000.7
Chuck Nieson22.502.0
George Wright21.605.0
Francisco Rodriguez20.655.7
Larry Biittner20.251.3
Dick Wantz18.001.0
Don Leshnock18.001.0
Jim Garry18.001.0
Joe Bernard18.001.0
Mark Loretta18.001.0
Mike Anderson18.001.0
Dick Bates16.201.7
Greg Gross16.201.7
Jason Pearson16.201.7
Ed Kelly15.432.3
Neil Weber15.432.3
Harry Kirsch15.003.0
Dan Collins14.7311.0
Eric Eckenstahler14.638.0
John Hatfield14.638.0
Benito Baez13.509.3
Carl Schutz13.503.3
Fernando Hernandez13.501.3
Jerry McCormick13.502.0
Jesse Hudson13.502.0
John Leroy13.502.0
John Papa13.502.0
Loyd Colson13.502.0
Mal Mallette13.501.3
Marshall Renfroe13.502.0
Matt Franco13.501.3
Matty Alou13.502.0
Mike Bovee13.503.3
Stu Tate13.502.7
Bruce Egloff12.715.7
Billy Wagner12.67418.3

- Eighth: So much for Wagner-to-Gagne-to-Smoltz being "lights out" after the sixth.

- Blalock hits a flat change, which McCarver called. Monster shot.

- Ninth: Game ends with Furcal drive to the wall, which is caught (appropriately) by Magglio Ordonez.

- Great end. Good game. Then again I liked last year's.

- Anderson gets the MVP. The Tedy Ballgame award finally goes to someone. It should have gone to Blalock though. It must be all those online voters voting in the third inning.

- In the post-game interview, Scioscia calls Smoltz, "Schmolz". Was that a veiled "chicken" reference?

2003-07-16 01:01
by Mike Carminati

The Japanese All-Stars played to a tie today. I guess they haven't learned how to "make the game count" yet.

Smell-A-Vision Replaces Television And Other Announcements
2003-07-16 01:00
by Mike Carminati

Rich Lederer continues his series on the Quad. I'm not talking about Butcher-Speakman; I mean leaders in on-base, slugging, times on base, and total bases.

The Illuminated Donkey has a look at the importance of home-field in the Series.

They Say It's Your Birth-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day! Happy Birth-Joe-Morgan-Chat-Day To You!
2003-07-14 01:03
by Mike Carminati

The return of my birthday, if I remember it, fills me with thoughts which it seems to be the general care of humanity to escape.

- Doctor "K" Samuel Johnson

We here at Mike's Baseball Rants just celebrated our one-year "birthday" on Friday, coincidentally the day of Joe Morgan's last chat session. Well, maybe not so coincidentally.

Joe Morgan's baseball career has been like a birthday: When you are younger, there is so much to look forward to. Life is so full of promise. You start to fulfill that promise-Joe was the greatest second baseman of the last half-century after all-and then around your mid-30s, you anticipate those birthdays less and less, but they seem to come quicker and quicker. Joe was an every-day player for two decades, but he now seems to be ubiquitous with a telecast or two a week and an odd (very odd) article or chat each week.

By forty (I hear), you dread your next birthday, your youth-and baseball career-are done, and you become an embittered, calcified, persnickety person who not only knows things were better when he was young; he must tell the world that it's so.

In other words...

I am here and ready to go!

The Good

Mark (Kansas City): Is Dusty right? Do black players play better in the hot summer months than white players?

I'm not a scientist. I haven't kept any stats. I have no idea.

[Mike: Joe, that's the most intelligent thing you've said all year. You are a baseball analyst and at least know enough to contain your comments to baseball-related issues. You are not a geneticist.

Dusty Baker thinks he is one when he does not know enough to keep his three-year-old son away from home plate when he is about to get pummeled.

By the way Scott Gray points out:

That's a superb typo (missing word, whatever)! My new favorite insult: You are a baseball!
"You are a baseball and at least know enough to contain your comments to baseball-related issues."

My bad. That should have been "baseball analyst".]

Gerard (NYC): Joe, Don't you think Randall Simon has suffered enough? I mean, he plays for the Pirates. If I were him, I would have switched the uniform for the costume and run off.

(Laughing) It just wasn't a smart thing to do! There wasn't any violent intent or anything. But it wasn't a smart thing to do.

[Mike: I have to defer to Joe here: he's an expert in this area.]

The Bad

Geoff (Copper Canyon, TX): Why has Randall Simon tapping a sausage gotten more attention than a fan throwing an M-80 out of the upper deck in Oakland?

It's because Randall is a celebrity and the guy that threw the firecracker isn't. The media pays more attention to what a player does. We love negative things though. Anytime a player is involved, it just makes it more exciting to the media.

[Mike: No, because it was high-larious, especially the appalling Brewers management being appalled by the incident.]

Tommy (NY): Hey Joe, Do you think Pujols has a realistic shot at .400 or the Triple Crown?

He doesn't have a shot at .400. That would be almost impossible for a right-hander. I don't think we will ever see that again. Also I don't think we will see a 56-game hit streak. Everyone wants to hit HRs now. It's hard to hit .400 while hitting HRs. Also with so many pitching changes, hitting in 56 in a row would be almost impossible. Especially for a right hander, there are too many dominant right handed pitchers.

As for the Triple Crown, will Barry Bonds quit in the middle of the season? If he keeps playing, it will be tough for Pujols. It's so difficult, that's why you only see it every 50 years or so.

[Mike: First, you don't see a triple crown every fifty years. There had been 7 in the NL by 1937 and none since. There have been 9 in the AL, none since 1967 (Yaz), but one the year before (Frank Robinson). It's not a "one per" type of situation. It just stopped. One could blame expanded player pools with more men in the chase for various statistical titles, but that doesn't explain why the last was thirty years earlier in the NL.

Stephen Jay Gould discusses the death of the .400 hitter in Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin. As the average talent within the baseball world improves, the extremes (e.g., .400 hitters, triple crowns) start to disappear. This seems the best theory.

However, back to Pujols. He is batting .368 and his batting average has improved an average of 26 points in the second half throughout his career. That would put him, in theory, at .394 for the second half and around .381 for the year. To hit .400, he would have to hit around .432 for the second half. That seems highly improbable, left-hander or right-hander.

As far as the Triple Crown, not only will Barry Bonds refuse to "quit in the middle of the season", Pujols trails Bonds, Edmonds, and Lowell in home runs and Preston Wilson in RBI (by 5). He leads Todd Helton by almost 20 in batting, but Helton does have the Coors home-field advantage.

As far as 56-game hitting streaks, I have no idea where Joe got that issue. It was not in the original question, and for a man who never answers the questions posed to him, it's odd that Joe feels compelled to add to his burden. Well, I guess it's so that he can plant acorns like "Everyone wants to hit HRs now" in his chats.]

eddie, atlanta: How can Dusty Baker get away with such racial comments without getting much media scrutiny, while if a white person or any other race would not be allowed to get away with making such statements in this "politically correct" society.

I thought he did get some scrutiny. He did take some heat for it. Otherwise you wouldn't know about it.

[Mike: He got far less scrutiny than Randall Simon did for being a goofball. Why? Because the mostly white media is afraid of calling an African-American a racist. I know I am, and if you notice I didn't say it just now.]

Koby (Boca, FL.): Mr. Morgan, who do you think the NL MVP is for the first half of the season?

Very difficult choice. Albert Pujols would be the logical choice but the Cardinals are struggling around .500. Sheffield and the Braves have the best record I believe. I think it's between those two. It's up to your philosophy as to who you would give it to.

[Mike: Brilliant! Without Pujols the Cardinals would be sharing fourth place with the Pirates. Without Sheffiled, the Braves would be only 5 games up on the Phils. Why not just rename it the PPTWBS (Player on a Playoff Team with the Best Stats) and be done with it?]

Scott (KC): What do you see as the most likely scenario for the Royals and Beltran as the trade deadline approaches?

I have no idea about K.C. I hear they want to add players and then I also hear they don't. We really just have to wait and see.

[Mike: Well of course-you're not the Great Kreskin. You can't tell the future. You're an analyst. So analyze already.

If the Royals trade Beltran before the trade deadline, the Royals fans should desert them en masse. Even if the Royals fade, they should still be in the race by the waiver deadline. So unless the Royals are moving to a new home or wish to emulate the mid-Nineties Expos, they have to keep Beltran. And Bud Selig should not allow them to trade Beltran or any other key member of that team a la Bowie Kuhn barring the A's from gutting their team in 1976.]

tim(chicago, il): i take my hat off to pedro for pitching both jeter and soriano inside the other day. Soriano's left elbow is over the plate!!!!!!no one talks about this. why dont mroe pitchers throw inside against him?

Both Jeter and Soriano stand close to the plate. Jeter dives into the plate. The reason more pitchers don't do it, it may appear they are throwing at guys and they don't want to get kicked out of the game. The game has changed that way. A lot of guys pitched inside years ago. Only a few do it now. The hitting styles have changed as well. A lot of hitters are diving into the plate .. going outside to get the ball.

[Mike: Actually, I've shown in the past that this is pure malarkey: pitchers hit more batters today than ever. The problem was that the strike zone flattened and moved to the outside corner. If you a pitcher and could get a call six inches off the outside corner, would you ever come inside? Batters seized upon this and destroyed the batter's box in order to stand on top of home to get the outside pitches. Mistakes on inside pitches, when they are thrown, tended to find players bodies, or at least body armor, more often.

Baseball is trying to re-establish the rulebook strike zone. It must now establish the rulebook batter's box. They go hand in hand. With batters still standing on home and a new strike zone being called, it's no wonder that there have been so many brawls after a hit batsman this year.

As far as why other pitchers don't throw inside to Soriano, it's probably a) the now-ingrained "pitch outside not inside" approach, b) pitchers are human and don't want to plunk anyone when they can avoid it, and c) if you hit him, it's as good as a single or maybe even a double if he steals second.

By the way, how effective was Pedro-Soriano swung at the ball that hit him. It sounds that it was more a matter of Soriano swinging at anything he can or cannot reach. And throwing pitches where Soriano can't hurt you but where he can't lay off is not a new notion. The man is a tremendous bad ball hitter. I guess no one can do much with a ball that hits you on the hands, however.]

Joe (Pittsburgh): What are your thoughts on the Pirates' chances of making a run in the NL Central? They seem to be heating up, and have managed to stay within striking distance in the standings. They have also played some descent ball against the 'Stros and Cardianals. Thanks Joe!

Their manager Lloyd McLendon said a while back they are a good team that just needs to play together. They have done that at times but they need to be more consistent. To pass other NL Central teams, they need 3 consistent weeks in a row.

[Mike: "Three consistent weeks"? They are nine games under .500. Three consistent weeks gets them to .500, maybe. They need three great weeks and for the rest of the league to go belly up.]

Brice (Ducktown, TN): What can the Expos do to stay in the wild card race?

They tried to get another bat with Guerrero out for so long but they can't get anyone to come to Montreal. They are in a tough situation. It will be hard to add a good hitter without adding payroll. I'm just not sure where they will find the hitter they need.

[Mike: What can they do? How about win?

I'm sick and tired of Joe bemoaning the Expos' loss of Gonzalez. He was the exception, not the rule. Last year, they got Cliff Floyd and Bartolo Colon mid-year.

Besides for the past year teams have been eating most if not all of the contract of players they are trading just to rid themselves of the players' presence. So I'm not sure payroll will be that large an issue.

Their problem is not the loss of Guerrero so much as the presence of Endy Chavez. Calloway and Macias are playing acceptably for fill-ins, but with Chavez' offense (plus that of Fernando Tatis for much of the year) the Expos have too many holes.]

Greg, NYC: Where is Pujols long term position? If he were in the AL would he just be a DH?

I think he has too much to offer to be a DH. He has made great plays at all his positions but I think 1B is his best position and would allow his maturation as a hitter.

[Mike: I don't think it's a matter of blocking his maturation as a hitter, the fact is that the Cardinals have Scott Rolen at third and Tino Martinez at first. That means he plays left field. He has a better than average range at third, but he's no Rolen. The same goes with Martinez at first. Unless the Cardinals are prepared to start Orlando Palmeiro in left, that's where Pujols should and will play.]

e chicago,il: where have the fundementials gone?

I agree 100 percent. A lot of it has to do with players coming in too early. They don't learn to run the bases properly, where to throw the ball, etc. If you don't have the fundamentals, it shows. We have seen some horrible baserunning this year, guys otherthrowing cut off men, etc. We are force feeding guys into MLB before they are ready.

[Mike: The "fundementials"? They died along with your spelling skills.

By the way, the notion that players are younger and more inexperienced today is pure hogwash. There have been numerous studies on this topic. Here's a quicky table with the average debut age per decade:

DecadeDebut Age

Players debut later today than any decade since the Forties and that may be skewed due to the war-time player shortages. By the way, the Sixties, when Joe debuted, was the quickest to promote since the 1880s.

He could argue that training is worse than decades ago, but I would think he wouldn't be able to back it up. Why do the "fundementials" appear worse today? Maybe because every gaffe is viewed ad nauseum on SportsCenter, not to mention jumbo-tron at the game in between innings.]

Abhay (Ephrata, PA): Hey Joe, I noticed that teams are pitching more and more to Barry rather than walking him. What's your take on this? Thanks

A lot of times what you are seeing is Barry getting pitches when the Giants are way behind. I agree he is getting more pitches to hit, but it's usually when the pitchers HAVE to pitch to him.

[Mike: The Giants have a better record 57-37 (by three games) than they did through 94 games last year. How often have they been way behind?

The problem is that Barry Bonds has been predominantly batting fourth with Rich Aurilia (.276 OBP as #3 hitter) or Marquis Grissom (.312) in front of him. Pitchers don't have to be as careful with Bonds when there is no one on base in front of him. They walked him a lot in the same situation last year, but not in 2003. It's not that they HAVE to pitch to him: it's that they don't have to pitch around him.

By the way, even with the fewer walks, Bonds on pace for 146 on the year. That would tie him with Mantle for the 17th most in a season all-time. So it's not like he's Alfonso Soriano all of a sudden.]

Andrew (NYC): Have you heard anymore about Piazza moving to first base and what do you think about this move if it does happen?

I think that is still in the gameplan. How soon I don't know. He is close to a record for HRs by a catcher. I'm sure he wants to break that record. In my opinion, he might be the best hitting catcher every. He may do a little of both before he moves there full time.

[Mike: And I thought I was a stat-head! Who cares if Piazza is set to break the all-time catcher home run record? If his team needs him at first, that's where he should play when he comes back.]

John (Philly): Why don't you ever appear on Baseball Tonight?

They do Baseball Tonight from Bristol, CT and I live in Calfornia. To be blunt, I have a lot of other obligations with, broadcasting games, writing columns. Traveling to Bristol would be a little too much.

[Mike: John, don't we get enough of Joe already?]

Martin (Dunsmuir, CA): Hi Joe. Thanks for taking my question. I don't know how much of Barry Zito you've seen this year, but he seems to get burned a lot on two-strike pitches. He got outs last year, batters get hits this year in those situations. Is he too predictable, or does this just show how fine a line it is between being a good pitcher and a great pitcher?

Somebody critcized me when I said they were not as strong this year as last year. That is what I was referring to. They are not as dominate. It's all of them, not just Zito. They are having trouble finishing off hitters. I'm not sure exactly what the problem is with Barry, but they have time to fix it and let's hope they do.

[Mike: Uh, that was me, Joe. They don't strike out as many men but they are more dominant. As of the All-Star game in 2002, they were collectively 26-15. This year they are 27-15. They averaged 7 strikeouts per nine innings in 2002 and 5.4 in 2003. However, their pitches per game started have been cut almost in half (196 to 104) and their WHIP (1.277 to 1.149) and ERA (3.61 to 3.00) are both down considerably.]

The Ugly

[Mike: "The Ugly" section will be devoted entirely to Joe's All-Star game comments and his likeminded and oft-referenced article on the All-Star game. That's why I am using Mike Williams mug for ugly, an ugly All-Star selection, Matsui for a bad one, and Pujols, who almost did not start for the NL, for a good one.]

Will (Arizona): "Apparently, long and meritorious service is overlooked" Joe- We have the Hall of Fame to honor that, the All-Star game is about this season, thus far. Not the World Series teams from the previous season or the record holders or players in the last year. Nostalgia is nice, but let the guys who might have their only good year play in front of the best.

That tells me you don't understand what an All-Star is. An All-Star is not a guy that has 3 good months. An All-Star is a person that is best at his position or best in his league. It's not just about 3 months.

[Mike: I have to agree with Joe here though I have issues with his All-Star article.

Really balance is the best solution. You don't want to see a superannuated Cal Ripken undeservedly starting at the All-Star game, but established Hall-of-Famers who are having years in line with their careers should be no-brainers. Players like Clemens, Sosa, and Thomas come to mind. When there was a league president to oversee the All-Star roster, leaving such players off the roster would never have occurred. However, Bud doesn't want to get involved unless Fox demands it.

Speaking of which, you probably read that Clemens was added to the roster today to replace Barry Zito since Zito pitched eight innings on Sunday. Zito was prepared to pitch and the deal was apparently brokered by the Oakland management and the commissioner. Zito found out while interviewing for the game; he claims that he met with league officials but that it was not explained to him. Apparently, it's not too popular a decision:

Look, I agree that I would rather see Roger Clemens than Lance Carter, but to remove the reigning Cy Young winner to accede to the network's wishes, that's pretty low.

I got an email from Frank Gill, who posits the following theory:

I thought it was interesting that Billy Beane was involved in the decision. I figure he held out until Bud granted him some of the Expos draft picks for next season.

Whether a deal was brokered or not, it's just another black mark next on baseball's already besmirched reputation. (My bet is that in George Bush I's words "There was no quid pro quo." However, Beane is smart enough to have Don Corleoned a future favor away from the commish.

Besides, what is all this about 2003 being Clemens last year? Did I miss something? I know he is mulling over retirement, but did he announce it and did I just miss it. To quote David St. Hubbins (loosely), "Somebody check me on this: Am I losing my mind." With the year Clemens is having, why would he quit?

Oh, back to the question, this year Glaus, Rolen, and Ichiro got there more on reputation than on their superior performance.

Here's the excerpt from Joe's original article:]

If long and meritorious service doesn't count for something, then I have a problem with the process. Roger Clemens is a classic example. How can a future Hall of Famer like Clemens not be on the All-Star team in the very season he won his 300th game? Besides, Clemens is having a solid season (3.75 ERA, 8-6 record). Apparently, long and meritorious service is overlooked.

With the Boston Red Sox, Roger Clemens was MVP of the 1986 All-Star Game.
Overall contributions to the game also should be considered when making All-Star roster decisions.

Sammy Sosa is a perfect example of this. Sosa has made tremendous contributions to the game of baseball. He and Mark McGwire helped save baseball, which was still reeling from the 1994 strike, with their home-run race for the ages in '98.

By Sosa's standards, his numbers are down this year, but they're still good (.292-15 HR-45 RBI). Plus, he was beaned by a pitch and he spent time on the disabled list.

Those missed games should factor less than his contributions to the game. Sosa's All-Star track record should count for something, too. If he gets hot in the second half, he could end up with 50 home runs.

[Mike: Wait a sec. I've got to get my wading boots for this one.

"Long and meritorious service" is not "overlooked". It's just that the All-Star rosters are now less about stars and more about a numbers game, combinatorics with catchers and permutations with pitchers. There are some players (Ichiro for one) who make it on reputation. The Baseball Tonight gang theorized that there will be a spot created for "long and meritorious service" men. I think that's a mistake. Just get rid of the one-rep-per-team rule. If a player is deserving of a spot then take him. You'll end up with a team of stars and the fans can feel proud knowing the players taken actually deserved it. Pittsburgh is a great example: if the one-rep rule did not exist, Mike Williams would not be going, but Brian Giles probably would be. Who would the Pirates fans rather see in the game?

Now then, "[i]f [Sosa] gets hot in the second half, he could end up with 50 home runs"? Sure, anything could happen and he is certainly capable, but you can't base All-Star roster decisions on would've/could've. Sosa is among the best outfielders in the league even with his sub-par (for him) season, but baseball is not going to extend itself to him like it has for Clemens because of the corked-bat incident. Sammy has to forego the All-Star game as punishment. That's that.

As far as Sammy and McGwire saving baseball, I have to admit it was actually me. I saw baseball on a bridge overlooking an icy river obviously contemplating his demise. Just as he jumped in the river, I jumped in as well knowing he would save me. I finally got the simpering fool to admit that he wanted to live again (and Zuzu's petals), after showing him what the world be like with only NFL Europe and the WNBA to watch in the summer time. That's how I got my wings.]

Jon (NYC): Joe, I don't see the point in not letting hitters vote for pitchers. First, I'm sure that Yankee pitchers are just as unwilling to vote for Pedro as the hitters are. Also, who knows a pitcher better than someone who faced them. While I'm sure that pitchers pay attention to other pitchers, hitters are the only one's with first hand knowledge of how filthy their stuff actually is.

Not true. Pitchers observe other pitchers better than hitters do in most cases. They want to know what makes them succcesful. If you don't believe there is antimosity when the voting comes .. the battle between pitchers and hitters becomes very adversarial at times. I'm sure there is someone in your workplace that you wouldn't vote for in a popularity contest. That is the point.

[Mike: "Antimosity"? "Auntie Mosity"? Whatever.

No, Joe, the point is it's not a popularity contest. The players should vote for the best players regardless (or irregardless) of their personal feelings towards those individuals. If they can't, they don't deserve the vote. That goes for batter and pitchers.

A batter facing a given pitcher will form an informed opinion regarding that pitcher. It's debatable as to whether that opinion is more valid than a pitcher's after watching another pitcher face live batters. Whatever, these are the best players in the world and they should be able to determine who is the best of their membership is.

For you completists, here's the excerpt from Joe's original article:]

Position Players Shouldn't Vote For Pitchers
In a new twist introduced this year, players voted for the All-Star team reserves (in years past, managers chose the reserves). Fans still picked the starters, as usual.

But I see a problem with player voting -- especially when position players vote for pitchers. Clemens is not popular with many of the batters he faces. A batter who has been plunked or brushed back by Clemens isn't likely to vote for him. Bob Gibson wasn't popular in his day, either. You can be sure hitters wouldn't have voted for him!

In fact, I don't think you could ever get batters to vote for Clemens. He has been an intimidator throughout his career, and that's part of what makes him a great pitcher. Pedro Martinez is similar. After he hit Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano recently, do you think any Yankee would vote for him?

I do think that players should have a vote, but only pitchers can vote fairly for other pitchers. Otherwise, leave the selection of pitchers in the hands of the managers. Too much animosity can build up over time in the competition between hitters and pitchers. I could tell you about lots of pitchers I didn't like (but I won't). It's only human nature that this would influence one's judgment in an All-Star voting process.

[Mike: Whatever the reason, the players did a bad job. Junk the whole system and let Fox pick their own players. That's what it comes down to in the end anyway.

And Jon's right that if there is animosity on a team, it will permeate the pitching staff as well.

Oh, by the way, Joe spelled "animosity" correctly here.

Also, Pedro hit those two players after the All-Star game voting.]

David (Myrtle Beach, SC): Joe, do you think baseball would be wise to eliminate the "Every team must have one representative" rule? Football and Basketball don't have it.

Basketball there isn't as many players. Baseball has expanded from 25 players to 32. Every team should be represented. Fans support the Tampa Bay Devil Rays just like they do the Yankees. You are fans of a team, not always just players. The team you support all year should be represented so you will have someone to root for. It shouldn't be compared to other sports.

[Mike: Yeah, Joe, but football carries 50-odd players and they are not required to have an Arizona Cardinal among their midst.

The problem is not that the best D-Ray is not All-Star worthy. The problem is that the manager, especially with the extra player voting, is required to fill out a roster under these constraints. That's how you get Lance Carter not Aubrey Huff and Mike Williams not Brian Giles.]

Justin (York, PA): In your most recent column, you mentioned that the best way to determine home-field advantage for the World Series was the alternating advantage each year. Is this REALLY any more fair than any other method, especially best record? As we've seen in the past, home-field advantage can be truly an advantage in the Series. Is it something worth just randomizing? I think best record is the best way to determine home-field, because, even with unbalanced schedules, it's the fairest way to decide the advantage.

It's the tradition of the game. We are always trying to change the traditions for some reason. How can best record be fair when they are not playing the same schedules?

[Mike: Joe, that's the best argument that I have heard against interleague play in some time. Alternate home field or give it to the team with the better record (even with unbalanced schedules). It doesn't really matter. I prefer the dibs method. The team that calls "dibs" first, gets home-field.

However, to take an exhibition game in which the likes of Williams and Carter are required participants is a much sillier system. But who really cares?

Is it fair? "What's fair? Is it fair that you were born this way?" (John Winger to Dewey Oxburger in Stripes).

By the way, Justin, alternating home field is by no means random. Oh, from the article:]

As far as the winning league getting home-field advantage in the World Series, it's a gimmick that I hope doesn't last beyond the planned two-year experiment. Nor should home-field advantage in the Series be determined by best overall record -- unbalanced schedules make this an unfair solution. The best approach, it seems to me, is to go back to alternating years. For more details, see my recent column on this topic.

[Mike: Rock-paper-scissors comes to mind.]

Thad Cox (Somerville, MA): Hi Joe, I was thinking it might be a fun idea for MLB to take a page from the NHL or NBA and not only have the home-run derby, but also a skills competition. Events could include: 1) A race around the bases (Ichiro, Soriano, Furcal, Renteria, Pierre, Dave Roberts) 2) Throwing a ball from the outfield into a bucket at home plate, ala Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video (Ichiro, Sheffield, Guerrero, Mondesi, Gonzalez) 3) Pitchers competing to knock the most cans off a wall with 10 baseballs (Maddux, Moyer, Martinez, Mulder, Zito) 4) Pitchers seeing who could throw a ball the hardest, ala the NHL's Hardest Shot Competition (MacDougal, Gagne, Prior, Wood, Schmidt, Smoltz, Wagner) I'm sure they could come up with some more fun events, and I think it would really entertain the fans.

They did that before. They had skills competitions and a couple guys got hurt. But that's when it started to become more of an exhibition than a competition. It was taking away from the game. But they have done those kinds of things in the past.

[Mike: Huh, when was this? I don't remember that.

However, we can't get franchises to let their pitchers throw a couple of innings in an exhibition. Who's going to let Barry Zito knock down cans and let Kerry Wood throw his arm out? Besides don't they have to pitch in the All-Star game the next day?

Thad, they have something called batting practice. You should check it out. You've just been watching too much of "The Whammer" versus "The Natural". It Malamuddies the water.]

John (Stillwater, MN): What's your take on Bond's childish remarks about being a "grown man and not having to be in the Home Run Derby"?

Barry has a right to decide what is right for him. At this point, he has competed in several HR derby's. He doesn't have to compete in all of them. Barry decided that Michael Jordan and Julius Erving didn't compete in the slam dunk competition all the time. He has done it enough in his opinion.

[Mike: "Childish remarks"? John, let me guess your opinion.

Joe's right: Bonds is by no means required to go to the HR derby. It would make the competition more interesting, but do real fans even watch that thing? Bonds could have expressed himself more diplomatically, but that's Barry, love him or hate him.

By the way Dr. J, retired when the slam-dunk contest was three years old and he competed in the first two.]

John W. (Aurora, IL): Hey Joe. I was wondering what your opinion is regarding Frank Thomas's absence from the All-Star team. He has the highest OPS of anybody not on the team, and if you ask me, OPS is the best indication of a hitter's productivity. Plus, the game is in Chicago, and he (and Ordonez) truly represent our Sox.

I agree with you 100 percent. I thought he should have been on the team. I don't understand Mike Sweeney being selected. Thomas has played almost every day, he has great numbers, and the game is in Chicago. I'm at a loss also.

[Mike: Sweeney's not the issue. He's got the credentials. It's Matsui, Ichiro, and Glaus that did Thomas in. Them and the fact that he doesn't play a defensive position.

Oh, and Joe agrees 100% that "OPS is the best indication of a hitter's productivity"? Great!]

Joseph (San Jose, CA): hey joe, whats your take on the dontrelle willis situation? Although he was largely unproven until this year(some might say he still needs a full season to prove himself) he's been arguably the best pitcher in the first half of the season. do you think he deserves to be an all star?

Normally with players I think they need a year to prove themselves. But sometimes young players, like Willis or Kerry Wood, prove themselves quicker. Pitchers are a little different than everyday players in that regard. I was hoping he would be on the team. I was also hoping Roger Clemens would be on the team.

[Mike: "Largely unproven"? He's a first-year rookie.

Joe, maybe young players are not proving themselves quicker. Maybe they are just having their career year first. Ask Kevin Maas and Joe Charboneau.

From the Joe-Files:]

To me, if you choose your roster based only on the first half of the season, that isn't a true All-Star team. Half of a season gets you media attention, but it doesn't make you an All-Star. An All-Star is a player who performs well for full seasons over the course of a career, not just one-half of a particular season. The main exception I would make is for rookies and other younger players who haven't had the opportunity to establish themselves as proven performers. For them, the first half should count more.

Pitcher Dontrelle Willis fits into this category -- and he should be an NL All-Star. The Florida Marlins rookie sensation is 8-1 with a 1.98 ERA! He's an exciting young star, and Major League Baseball needs to showcase up-and-coming players. I don't understand why he's been overlooked.

[Mike: So a solid veteran having a career year, bad, but an unproven rookie, good? You astound me, Joe.]

Aaron(Scottsdale, AZ): I've been seeing a lot of attention around Dontrelle Willis, yet not a single word about D-Back Brandon Webb. While Webb doesn't have the cooky itching style the media loves, he has more innigns, less walks per nine innings and a lower BAA. I'm not saying he's necessarily better the Willis, since I'vre never seen him pitch, but I do think Webb is comparably good young pitcher. Why is Webb universally ignored everywhere outside of Arizona?

That's usually what happens during a season. Someone becomes a media darling and the blue collar guys kind of get overlooked. It will always be that way.

[Mike: What's a "cooky itching" style? Does it have to do with the Sesame Street character?

I don't know why Webb is a "blue collar guy". He has pitched well. Maybe the fact that there are a few deserving rookie pitchers is a good argument against taking unproven rookies in the first place.]

Marcus (Dallas): Mr. Morgan, how do you feel about "us", the fans, getting to pick the MVP of the All Star Game?

I don't know. (Laughing). The one problem I have with all the changes is you only make changes when you feel something is wrong with the game. TV can't make this game exciting. Only the players can. The fact that the ads for the game is "Now it really counts." To me, that is a slap in the face to Ted Williams, Willie Mays, all the great players. They already played the game like it counted.

[Mike: Huh? I have no idea what Joe is prattling on about. However, why not just do as Marcus suggests but just change the name to Most Valuable Red Sox.

By the way, I just received the following email from MLB:

2003 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Pepsi


Beginning in the 3rd inning

Exclusively on

Heaven help us--the third inning?]

For those of you who read my column about the All-Star game, there has never been a perfect system. Mine is not perfect either. I do believe a guy like Roger Clemens who is in his final year of playing should be there. A guy like Sammy Sosa who has contributed so much to the game should be on the team. Those are strong feelings I have about what the game should be about. The fans would be excited to see those two players. I still believe we will look back and guys that had a good first half will not all be All-Stars at the end of the year. In fact, in my last column I will take a look at the All-Stars and see how they ended the season.

[Mike: And the article...]

The criteria for the All-Star selection process must be reevaluated, because I don't understand some of the roster decisions made for this year's game...

The All-Star selection process never has been perfect, and with these added features it's still an imperfect system. I can't devise a perfect system, but this one definitely can be improved.

Give Priority To Players From World Series Teams
Having every major-league team represented on the All-Star rosters is a matter of much debate, but I like it. Since rosters have been expanded over time -- from 25 originally to the current 32-man team -- this shouldn't be an issue. Fans in San Diego and Milwaukee and Detroit and Tampa have supported the game of baseball, and they deserve to see one of their own in the Midsummer Classic.

While every team should be represented, I believe that deserving players from the World Series teams should be given priority. The All-Star Game now is all about honoring individual accomplishment, but team accomplishment should also be factored in. And the players from the best teams -- the reigning world champions and the runners-up -- should be given more weight in All-Star selections.

In other words, in a close roster contest between two players, the one from the World Series champion ought to get the nod.

Furthermore, when it comes to selecting All-Star pitchers, starters should be given priority over relievers. The starter logs the big innings, while the closer gets in the game only if his team is ahead. This year's AL roster has six starters and six relievers, and you can make a case that Yankees starters David Wells (11-3, 3.76 ERA) or Mike Mussina (10-5, 3.14 ERA) deserve a spot. The NL roster has a better distribution, with eight starters and five relievers...

Ultimately, regardless of all the bells and whistles MLB adds to the All-Star Game -- World Series home-field, players voting, fan Internet voting for the final two spots, etc. -- we need to always remember one thing: The game is about the players. And what the players do on the field is what will make the game memorable.

[Mike: First, "The criteria for the All-Star selection process must be reevaluated, because I don't understand some of the roster decisions made for this year's game". If we changed the game so that Joe understood, we would have a lot of changes to make indeed.

"Priority to World Series teams": This is ludicrous. They have a big enough advantage with their managers apparently single-handedly picking the rosters. "[I]n a close roster contest between two players, the one from the World Series champion ought to get the nod." Doesn't he think they do get the nod already?

Besides, good teams should have good players, who should be selected on their own merits.

Starting vs. relief pitching: Joe is right to a degree. The problem is that the AL latched onto this middle relief All-Star concept and the NL has yet to do so. Therefore they have as many relievers as starters this year. Besides, in an extra inning game, starters will eat more innings, thereby avoiding another tie. But that won't happen again because now it's for real. Besides with Carter and Williams coming out of the pen in the 11th, scoring should abound.]

Yankees and Ex-Yankees: Going to the Mattresses?
2003-07-13 02:39
by Mike Carminati

It seems that the Yankees management is back to ticking off players. The Players Association has now joined the fray in the Bubba Trammell custody suit. The Yankees placed Trammell on the restricted list after he went AWOL over a week ago. Trammell is upset because he does not get paid while on the restricted list but would if he were on the DL. So like a blue-collar workman's comp case, Trammell taking a trip to his local GP.

Meanwhile, the disaster that was Juan Acevedo is ripping into Steinbrenner and the Yankees:

"The first thing I did was to grow my stuff back," Acevedo said. "Maybe George should let guys grow facial hair. Is it because he can't grow it? Is that it?"

Steinbrenner responded with, "I'm rubber. You're glue..." Slapping ensued.

Almonte Recalled By Both New York Teams--Homeless Man in Penn Station Subway Station Clears Up Mess
2003-07-13 02:28
by Mike Carminati

I completely missed the fact that the New York Mets and the New york Yankees both recalled from the minors a player named Almonte on Monday. Erick Almonte replaced the fielding-challenged Juan Rivera on the Yankees' roster. While at Seven Train Stadium, the Metsgoes recalled Edwin Almonte to replace the injured Al Leiter.

To complicate things further, Hector Almonte was signed by the Expos on Thursday. By the way, these are the only three players ever in the majors with the last name Almonte. Meanwhile Monty Capuletti celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Rodney Dangerfield-Joe Pesci opus Easy Money.

All-Star A-Go-Go
2003-07-13 02:15
by Mike Carminati

With all the quibbling over the All-Star rosters, myself included, the last couple of days have seen a revolving door of roster changes. And yet Frank Thomas is still not on the team.

Here are the changes since the rosters were set:

AL: Jason Giambi replaces the injured Mike Sweeney.

NL: Dontrelle Willis replaces injured Kevin Browne.

AL: Magglio Ordonez replaces injured Manny Ramirez

NL: Marcus Giles and Mark Prior collided yesterday and both may miss the All-Star game though Prior seems probable.

The ertswhile New York Times reports that the Bud Selig is trying to manipulate the AL roster to get Roger Clemens on the team:

A person close to baseball's internal discussions said Commissioner Bud Selig was trying to figure out a way to place Clemens on the American League team. Selig had been talking with Sandy Alderson, the executive vice president for baseball operations, and other officials about how Willis and Clemens could have been overlooked and how baseball could include them, the person said...

Selig could invoke the best interests of baseball clause and add Clemens to the team, but he is apparently hesitant to do so because it could be viewed as a criticism of Anaheim Manager Mike Scioscia's selections. Ed Goren, the president of Fox, which will televise the game, had suggested that Selig do that earlier this week.

Well, if Fox wants it, consider it a done deal. For all the grousing in the media about Clemens' absence the Once-Upon-A-Times reports that the Rocket would prefer a day off. I say let him go in Roy Halladay's spot and everyone's happy.

An in the future, just let Fox pick the rosters, the rules of the game, the uniforms, and which teams will play on the World Series.

The Morass Expos
2003-07-13 02:00
by Mike Carminati

ESPN reports that baseball will not make a decision on the Expos until at least Labor Day with the season finale being the "drop-dead date'' du jour. Baseball had targeted the forthcoming All-Star break for a final decision, but for a league that was reportedly set to contract a team even as spring training began, apparently they cannot agree on a future home the beleaguered franchise. Or maybe they like laundering players through Montreal, Juan Gonzalez notwithstanding. Suiters from at least two of the groups were converging on Chicago for wining and dining of the Bud and the boys.

Baseball appears in hurry to solve a clearly untenable position though options abound. Keeping Montrel in purgatory until 2006, when contraction because a unilateral decision on the owners' part, seems to be one option they want to keep open. Again Bud micromanages every aspect of the All-Star game (new voting procedures, the winning league gets home-field advantage in the Series, the Italian Sausage will sing the national anthem, etc.), but does not even attempt to cure baseball's current biggest problem.

Urbina Development
2003-07-12 01:57
by Mike Carminati

Ugueth Urbina has been traded by the Rangers to the Jeffrey Loria-led Marlins for three Double-AA prospects, one of which was the number one all around pick in 2000.

The Rangers continue to dump older players and salary for prospects. The Marlins feel that they can compete and that with Dontrelle Willis, they can draw fans. They also plan to use Urbina as a setup man, so I don't see why he's worth the three prospects, but that's what Loria's leadership does to teams. The Marlins are only three games over .500, have three teams ahead of them in the NL East standings, and have five teams ahead of them in the wild card. Is an extra setup guy going to push them over the top?

By the way, the Marlins fan--and you know who you are-- can rejoice because Dontrelle Willis will be replacing the continually injured Kevin Browne on the NL All-Star roster.

Simple Simon Suspended for Silly Sausage Swing
2003-07-12 01:37
by Mike Carminati

Randall Simon was suspended three games in the latest round of baseball taking itself too seriously. Meanwhile Dusty Baker is spouting "Jimmy the Greek"-inspired genealogy and doesn't even get MLB's attention.

Sutt Up, All Over Again
2003-07-11 00:19
by Mike Carminati

It seems that ESPN noticed the errors made by Rick Sutcliffe that I pointed out from his chat the other day. They have removed the question and Sutcliffe's response. That's the kind of journalism that made the New York Times so famous that they are now as infamous as El Guapo.

To witness Sutcliffe's true idiocy--he pronounces the Phils dead in the NL East race but thinks that Travis Lee and someone named Burrough, not Burrell, play for them--you have to come to Mike's Baseball Rants.

Keepin' it real for an entire year now.

Sausage-Gate Closed
2003-07-10 15:59
by Mike Carminati

Randall Simon, who proved that he will swing at anything after clubbing the Italian Sausage in the Brewers' inane sausage race, has been assessed a $432 fine for his offense (his defense is worth even less).

Now the handwringing begins:

Simon was remorseful, cooperative and apologetic following the incident and...he wanted to apologize to the victims. The Pirates did so in a statement released before Thursday's game between the Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers.

"The Pirates do not condone Randall Simon's behavior during last night's Pirates-Brewers game," it read. "The Pirates will address this issue internally. The Pittsburgh Pirates apologize to the Milwaukee Brewers organization and the Brewers' fans for the unfortunate incident."

There, however, was no apology forthcoming from the Brewers for having the sausage race in the first place.

Oh, the humanity!

Simon Kosher?
2003-07-10 10:52
by Mike Carminati

"Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"

- Simon, Bible: New Testament, Luke 5:8.

Simple Simon met a sausage
During the baseball game:
Said Simple Simon to the sausage:
"Let me take my aim."
Said the sausage to Simple Simon:
"Go take a walk, you ninny!"
Said Simple Simon to the sausage:
"Indeed I have not many!"


Randall Simon, the man who was once termed a "fat monkey" by intolerant ex-teammate John Rocker, hit a 20-year-old woman who portrays the Italian Sausage in Milwaukee's Miller Park sausage races with his bat from the visitors' dugout. Judging from Simon's dimensions, one would expect him to be rather friendly with the Italian Sausage.

The force caused the woman to fall and took out the Hot Dog as well. Simon was booked for misdemeanor battery and later released. The incident was captured on video, because what's the sense of having a stupid promotion if you can't blow it up on a jumbo screen for all to see. I haven't seen the video so I'm sure if that was the desired comical effect on Simon's part or if he was unaware that he was captured on Candid Camera.

The taciturn Bernie Brewer was unavailable for comment, but made the following obscene gesture...

Simon's teammate Reggie Sanders had this to say:

Pirates outfielder Reggie Sanders said he thought the weight of the head on the sausage costume contributed to the fall.

"It maybe made it look worse than it was,'' Sanders said. "It was an unfortunate situation and, hopefully, it gets resolved.''

"It was very strange,'' he said.

Thanks Reggie: we were unclear on the degree of strangeness of the incident. The game was so strange it earned Brooks "Double Duty" Kieschnick his first victory in the 12th. By the way, Kieschnick has four homers and a .977 OPS in 44 at-bats as well. Also, in the strange department, the two teams wore 1978 uniforms, though there were no reports of any Larry Hisle-type afro wigs being adorned.

Anyway, back to Simon: Look, I had money riding on the Bratwurst too, but I would never sully the spirit of the sausage race by Tonya Harding-ing the competition. The Sausage Commissioner should look into his gambling history and bar him from the sport for life-from the sport of Sausage Racing, not baseball.

The Pirates play one more at Milwaukee today. There's no word as yet if Brewers' starter Matt Ford will retaliate for the incident Pedro-like by taking out the entire Pirates lineup. However, Simon is fortunate that he did not attack a sausage at Fenway when he played in the AL. He would have been shot on sight for such sacrilege there.

[By the way, ESPN has is running the following poll:

Of course! As a fellow Italian-American, I would choose the Italian Sausage to "have" my back. "Excuse me while I speak Italian to my friend the Sausage here."]

Roy to Take All-Star Halladay?
2003-07-10 01:08
by Mike Carminati

Carlos Tosca is asking Al All-Star manager Mike Scioscia to give AL win-leader Roy Halladay the night off next Tuesday in Comiskey.

Toronto faces the Red Sox Yankees the series before the break (Saurday on three days' rest) and the Red Sox in the first game of the series right after the break, and Halladay is scheduled to pitch in both series.

"It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is,'' [Toronto manager] Tosca said.

Well, no, not really. It's that way because you want it that way. Fine, the Blue jays are in a pennant race and don't want to miss a start from their best pitcher. But pennant contenders Seattle, Oakland (2), and Chicago also have starting pitchers going in the game. What if they all said no to their pitchers being used? Is C.C. Sabathia supposed to pitch a complete game?

The AL is already in the hole since Scioscia took six relievers, non of whom would he dare to use more than an inning unless he was down to his last pitcher. Starting pitchers seem to only go 2 innings. Scioscia has five remaining of those.

At max, they can pitch 16 innings. However, that's assuming that Scioscia uses every pitcher to his fullest (every starter for two innings and every reliever for one), and that has not been done lately in the All-Star game. I think that the threat of running out of pitchers around the 12 is again a real one this year.

The AL should grant the Blue Jays wish and drop Halladay from the active roster. Let him come out and wave to the fans during the intros-that's fine. Then they should grab Roger Clemens, Tim Hudson, Gil Meche, or Mike Mussina. It doesn't really matter who.

One thing is clear: Bud Selig's master plan to ensure that the game "means something" and therefore does not end in a tie is not working. At least it's not working north of the border.

No Ohka No-No, II
2003-07-10 00:41
by Mike Carminati

The Phils-Expos game ended as a three-hitter for both sides. Unfortunately for Ohka, one was an Abreu homer and the Phils won 2-0.

No Ohka No-No (The Chorus to Elvira?)
2003-07-09 21:24
by Mike Carminati

Tomo Ohka just lost a no-hitter to Placido Polanco to lead off the seventh inning.

Polanco first lost his game bat to a fan who refused to trade it for an autographed model. On the next pitch he then dribbled a ball halfway down the third base line that was dropped by third baseman Edwards "At least I'm not Fernando Tatis" Guzman as he transitioned it to his throwing hand. Guzman may have had Polanco if he fielded and threw the ball cleanly. It was ruled a hit though the rules indicate that the first hit to break up a no-hitter should be a clean one.

Bobby Abreu made the point moot, hitting a two-run home run to give the Phils a 2-0 lead. No stranger to no-hitters, Kevin Millwood is still pitching a 1-hit shutout himself.

Beisbol Rants Del Microfono
2003-07-09 19:12
by Mike Carminati

I just found this referrer to my site: Mike's Baseball Rants in Spanish. Es verdad.

It's easier than hitting SAP on your remote.

Sutt Up
2003-07-09 14:03
by Mike Carminati

From today's Rick Sutcliffe chat session:

Ethan GA: two questions, the phillies made a run at the braves and cut the lead and then lost a few in a row, can they win the division and do you see them trading for anyone?

I don't think they can win the division. I do think they can win the wild card. That's a tremendous rotation .. the bullpen is good enough. You have to figure that Burrough will contribute before all is said and done. Right now, they are right there tied for the wildcard. That is without anything for Lee or Burrough. They should play much better the second half of the year. Their 3B coach has been their MVP. He has kept Bowa under wraps and is one of the most respected coaches in all of baseball, esp. in that clubhouse.

[Mike:"Burrough"?!? Did he really say that...twice? A) The player in question is obviously Pat Burrell, pronounced "Burl" as in "burly". B) There has never been a player with the last name "Burrough: to even play major league baseball. Sean Burroughs plays for the Pod People.

OK, maybe that was a typo...twice. However, "That is without anything for Lee or Burrough." "Lee"?!? Who, Lee Elia? The Phillies had Travis Lee last year. Derrek plays for the Marlins and Carlos Lee for the Chisox, but neither plays or has ever played for the Phillies. The Phillies have gotten nothing from Lee since he no longer plays from them. They also got nothing from Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Chris Short, Jim Bunning, Ed Delahanty, Chuck Klein, Richie Ashburn, and Del Ennis. They have a new first baseman, a kid by the name of Thome. You may have heard of him, Rick.

By the way, Sutcliffe is correct that John Vukovich is the brains behind Bowa's, uh, lack of brains. He has been a coach or player for the Phils since their 1980 championship.

Straw, the Walrus?
2003-07-09 09:59
by Mike Carminati

"I'm not dead yet!...I feel happy! I feel happy!"

The rumors of Darryl Strawberry's death have been greatly exagerrated apparently, at least according to the once-venerable NY Times.

"Everything is fine," [Strawberry's lawyer and other brother Darryl] Rouson said in a telephone interview. Rouson said he had spoken with Ron Dock, a drug abuse counselor with the Yankees who acts as Strawberry's sponsor. "He assured me that he's spoken to Darryl and he's alive."

So I guess Rouson has to point out that Dock is not a clairvoyant. I could see if he had said John Edwards or Miracle Max (a.k.a. Billy Crystal) in The Princess Bride had spoken to Strawberry; then Rouson would have to indicate that he was still alive. But isn't it superfluous here?

They Call It The Streak
2003-07-09 01:07
by Mike Carminati

(Or my infallibility already put to the test)

There was an interesting query circulating on the SABR online newsletter do-hickey. It reads as follows:

Subject: Hitting Streak Probabilities

I need some math help. I understand that to compute the chance of an n-game hitting streak you take the probability of a player getting a hit in a game (p) and raise it to the power of the streak you are interested in (n).

So how would you figure out the probability of a player having an n-game streak during a given season (and wouldn't that be a useful number to know)? Would it be by multiplying the chance of an n-game streak by the number of n-game stretches there are in a season?

For example, there are 99 56-game stretches in a 154-game season (games 1-56 through games 99-154), 119 44-game stretches in a 162-game season, and 162 1-game stretches in a 162-game season.

I understand enough to know that the probability of a player getting a Hit in a game is not the same as the number of hits per game a player averages. A player who plays 162 games and gets 162 hits averages 1 hit per game, but that doesn't mean the probability of him getting a hit in a given game is 1. Unfortunately, I don't understand enough to figure out the probability of a player getting a hit in a given game.

But I do know that even a player going 1/500 has a greater-than-zero probability of getting a hit in a given game (doesn't he?), and squaring this (for a two-game streak) is still greater than zero, and multiplying this by 161 (the number of two-game stretches in a season) is still greater than zero.

But for this player, wouldn't a 2-game streak need to have a probability of 0 for the formula to work in the "real world" (rather than theoretically)? And wouldn't having a 1-game streak somewhere in a season need to be the same probability (1) for a player who gets 1 hit in a season and player who gets 257? And don't these points contradict the idea that to get the probability of a player putting together an n-game streak in a season you multiply the chance of an n-game streak by the number of n-game stretches there are in a season?

So do we need to define the season formula so that you are not allowed to have an n when n is greater than the number of hits a player actually had? Or add something about the probability of a given hit-distribution of h-hits over n-games (there is zero probability of distributing one hit over two games)? Or what?

Please forgive any mathematical errors in the above. I was an English major.

Well I thought I'd try my hand and here's what I whipped up:

I was a Math major, so let's see if I can be of assistance.

Let's start from scratch: Assume H is the number of hits for a player in a year, and PA is the number of plate appearances in a year for the same player. The probability that a player gets a hit in a given plate appearance will be represented as P(A) and is defined as P(A) = H/PA.

We will assume that the sample space is defined by the probabilities based on the player's stats for a given year. This is preferable to a player's entire career stats since it directly related to the player's ability at that point in time. It is also preferable to a day or a week's stats since they would be too small to represent the player's probabilities precisely.

Also, we base the probability on plate appearance not at-bat since the player could walk, get hit by a pitch, etc. A player who walks three times and gets a single in his one official at-bat had the same opportunity to record a hit as a player who went 1-for-4.

So the probability of a player getting a hit in a given game, which we will call P(B), is defined P(B) = 1 - (1 - P(A))^pa), where "pa" is the number of plate appearance in a game (and "^" is the only way I can represent "to the power of" in an email). Basically, P(B) is derived by calculating the probability that player does not get a hit (i.e., P(not B)) and subtracting it from 1 (which is the total number of outcomes--100%). Since P(A) is the probability that the player gets a hit in a given at-bat, 1 - P(A) is the probability that he will NOT get a hit in a given plate appearance. Given that there are pa number of plate appearances for a player in a given game, (1 -P(A))^pa) is the probability that player does NOT get a hit in a given game (P(not B)). And P(B) = 1 -P(not B) or 1 - (1 - P(A))^pa).

For example a player who gets a base hit in .250 of his plate appearances (not who has a .250 batting average) and who is at the plate four times has the following probability of for getting a hit in that game:

P(B) = 1 - (1 - .25)^4
= 1 - (.75)^4
= 1 - 0.31640625
= 0.68359375 or 68.4%

So the player would be expected to get a hit in the game 68.4% of the time.

Let's plug in DiMaggio's 1941 numbers to see what we get. He had 193 hits in 139 games and 572 plate appearances. That means that he averaged 4.12 plate appearances per game. So in an average game:

P(B) = 1 - (1 - (193/572))^(572/139) = 0.81617846 or 81.62%

Now, in X consecutive games, what is the probability that the player will get a hit in each game? Let's call that P(C) which is P(B) ^ X. That is, the probability that he will get a hit in a given game raised to the number of games.

To illustrate why, let's use a coin toss. What are the odds that three coin tosses in a row will result in three heads (H)? Let's define the sample space. Here are the possible results:


There are eight possibilities but only one with three heads, HHH. So the answer is one out of eight. But how did we get eight anyway? Given that a coin toss is 50-50, the possible results for each coin toss is two (H or T). There are three tosses, so (1/2)^3 = 1/8. P(HHH) = P(H) ^ 3.

So the probably that DiMaggio would get a hit in 56 straight games in 1941 was P(B)^56. From above P(B) = 0.81617846.

So the answer is 0.81617846 ^56 = 0.0000114806697177021 or .0011% or one in almost 87,103.

But that is based on any 56 games. The 1941 season was 154 games long, but DiMaggio only played 139 and since this is a personal stat he would not break the streak if he sat out a game.

If we wanted to know what the likelihood of his hitting in 56 of those games, we would use combinatorics. But we want to know how many discrete 56-game streaks are possible so we are left to fancy ciphering as Jethro would say. As you indicated in your email, there are 99 possible 56-game chunks for a 56-game hitting streak in a 156 game schedule. This is derived by 154 - 56 + 1 (total games - streak games + 1). For example, the number of nine-game streaks in a ten-game period is two:

(where N = no hit and H = hit).

In DiMaggio's case, he only played 139 games so the possible 56-game chunks one may derive is 139 - 56 + 1 = 84. So P(D) is the probability that DiMaggio will have a 56-game hit streak in 1941. P(D) = P(C) * 84 given that the probability that at least one of two events occurs equals the probability of one plus the probability of the other.

So the probability of DiMaggio getting a 56-game hit streak in 1941 was 0.000964376 or 0.0964376% or about 1 in 1037.

I thought it sounded pretty good. I got numbers and everything. But Carroll Zahn wrote me the following:

Unfortunately, Michael Freiman in the most recent Baseball Research Journal says that Dimaggio had only a 1 in 9545 chance of a 56 game streak in 1941. He has the math and lots of specific examples. Take a look. I[t] did not go through your analysis so I do not know where you differ from Freiman. Good luck.

The bastard! I checked out the article and Freiman starts with hits per plate appearance as the basis but instead of using fractional at-bats, he calculates the odds in 4 at-bats and 5 at-bats and prorates them. I have a couple of issues with his approach but they will have to wait for another day.

Nines to the Nines
2003-07-09 00:28
by Mike Carminati

My friend Mike (via Rob Neyer) just directed me to this online baseball uniform database. It basically takes the Mark Okkonen tome Baseball Uniforms of the Twentieth Century, which is about 10 years out of date, and fills in the intervening years. I have added it to my reference section to the left.

(By the way, that's the 1916 New York Giants above in case you thought silly uniforms started with the A's and Astros in the Seventies.)

Infallibility by Proxy
2003-07-08 16:19
by Mike Carminati

You mention Larry Christenson injuring his knee in the charity bike-a-thon. He actually broke his collarbone, and it was his right elbow that he had the most problems with, undergoing numerous surgeries. I don't believe he ever had any knee injuries.

Christenson also suffered from a back (disc) problem since childhood and this caused him a lot of problems too, having to leave quite a few games with muscle spasms. But you are right, had it not been for the injuries he'd have been one of the best. I once read that the last pitch he ever threw in 1983, bad elbow and all, was clocked at 92 MPH.

Linda from NJ

Hi Linda from NJ,

You are absolutely correct. I had a brain cloud that made me forget "the thigh bone is connected to the..." song, thereby causing me to lose all connection to human anatomy. Going to the bathroom became extremely difficult and sometimes painful.

Anyway, thank you for pointing out this error from October. I had the Pope absolve me of all future errors at the end of October via papal bull--he's full of papal bull. And this was the first verification of its validity.

Take care,

"So I got that going for me, which is nice." (Caddyshack)

The All-Snub Team, IV
2003-07-08 00:26
by Mike Carminati

Corey Patterson has gone on th DL with a torn ligament in his knee. He will miss the remainder of the season. So Patterson's name has been removed from contention in the 32nd Almost-Star Dude contest and puppet show. And a Pirate outfielder has been selected to replace him.

So Brian Giles finally gets his due, you say? Nope, the Buc outfielder is none other than Kenny Lofton. Lofton' OPS (.774) is 115th in the majors. He is an even worse choice than Molina, not to mention that he perpetuates the Dusty connection conspiracy theories about the selection process. I don't know how much say Baker had, but Lofton must have some revealing pictures of someone in the All-Star process since he has not one stat that would recommend him to represent the NL in the pre-World Series Bowl.

The NL now has only one player in the top 80 qualified batters in OPS. That's Geoff Jenkins who sits at #37. Lofton is 29th among outfielders in OPS (Giles is 5th, Jenkins 12th). Luis Castillo is 7th in OPS among second basemen. Cabrerra is 4th among shortstops. Santiago is fourth among catchers but only 7 catchers qualify.

Basically the NL's Final Guy features mostly average players. This is perhaps the biggest outrage since the silly "every team must be represented" rule has already been satisfied. So why not pick the five best players?

In a related note, Jurgen Maas rightly points out that Brendon Webb has bettered rookie fave Dontrelle Willis in the more important pitching stats:

Why is the omission of Willis such a big controversy? He's not even the best rookie pitcher out there. (Paging Mr. Webb.) Is flair worth that much?

Honestly, I think the snubbing of Nomo and Wood and Dotel in the NL (and Hudson, Mussina and Pedro in the AL) is much more outrageous. (Although I guess Wood's
going for Cachon--but still.)

Here is a table of young (25 and under) pitchers who do not qualify for the ERA title currently but like Willis are having impressive seasons and were left off the All-Star team:

B. Webb, Ari131284.02.046.862.781.01
D. Willis, Fla111171.22.138.543.241.16
T. Armas, Mon5531.02.616.682.881.06
R. Hernandez, KC9958.02.794.811.411.10
C. Vargas, Mon141383.02.824.771.761.18
J. Santana, Min30366.02.8610.503.351.15
R. Oswalt, Hou121279.22.948.363.521.22

Is Willis really that much better than all that many of these guys? Willis strikes out a bunch, but no more than the underused Santana. Besides his ERA and WHIP are higher than Webb's. He is a very interesting pitcher to watch and may be used to salvage that franchise's season, but is that reason enough to put him on the All-Star team?

I guess what this illustrates is that you can't tell all that much on a handful of starts by a good young pitcher. Certainly any of these guys is more qualified than Mike Williams, but the universal outrage over the Willis snubbing is a bit overplayed.

File Under Necessities
2003-07-07 15:59
by Mike Carminati

Dusty Baker channels Al Campanis. No further comment.

The All-Snub Team, III
2003-07-07 13:49
by Mike Carminati

According to the current Win Share standings (from Major League Baseball Graphs-Thanks Murray), here is what the All-Star teams should look like (with Win Shares in parentheses):

American League


Jorge Posada, C (12.78)
Carlos Delgado, 1B (20.80)
Bret Boone, 2B (16.49)
Nomar Garciaparra, SS (15.79)
Corey Koskie, 3B (14.28)
Manny Ramirez, LF (14.18)
Mikeameron, CF (14.65)
Ichiro Suzuki, RF (14.47)
Edgar Martinez, DH (11.24)
Esteben Loaiza, P (15.55)

(All players with 12 or more WS or 2nd in WS at their position, except DH, which is not a position)

A.J. Pierzynski, C (10.74)
Jason Giambi, 1B (16.23)
Mike Sweeney, 1B (11.74)
Alfonso Soriano, 2B (15.31)
Alex Rodriguez, SS (12.03)
Bill Mueller, 3B (9.94)
Eric Byrnes, OF (13.97)
Vernon Wells, OF (13.77)
G Anderson, OF (13.58)
Melvin Mora, (13.28)
Milton Bradley, OF (12.44)
Carlos Beltran, OF (11.70)
Mark Mulder, P (10.94)
Tim Hudson, P (10.84)
Roy Halladay, P (10.04)
Jamie Moyer, P (9.82)
Keith Foulke, P (9.72)
David Wells, P (9.60)
Barry Zito, P (9.49)
Mike Mussina, P (9.33)
Gil Meche, P (9.31)
Roger Clemens, P (8.94)

National League


Javy Lopez, C (13.65)
Todd Helton, 1B (14.38)
Jose Vidro, 2B (13.28)
Rafael Furcal, SS (13.43)
Mike Lowell, 3B (15.30)
Albert Pujols, OF (18.92)
Barry Bonds , OF (18.26)
Gary Sheffield, OF (16.65)
Austin Kearns, DH (14.41)
Kevin Brown, P (13.55)

(All players with 13 or more WS or 2nd in WS at their position, except DH, which is not a position)

Ivan Rodriguez, C (13.50)
Jim Thome, 1B (14.04)
Marcus Giles, 2B (12.06)
Alex Gonzalez, SS (FLA: 12.23)
Scot Rolen, 3B (12.88)
Aaron Boone, 3B (12.33)
Bobby Abreu, OF (14.07)
Andruw Jones, OF (13.93)
Luis Gonzalez, OF (13.53)
Jose Guillen, OF (13.17)
Jim Edmonds, OF (13.15)
Corey Patterson, OF (12.98)
Jason Schmidt, P (12.61)
Hideo Nomo, P (12.14)
Eric Gagne, P (11.86)
John Smoltz, P (11.60)
Mark Prior, P (10.31)
Russ Ortiz, P (10.25)
Kerry Wood, P (10.00)
Woody Williams, P (9.47)
Randy Wolf, P (9.00)
Shawn Chacon, P (8.90)

I'm not crazy about a number of those choices, but at least it's impartial.

The All-Snub Team, II
2003-07-07 10:01
by Mike Carminati

My friend Murray disagrees with my Most-Stars screed. He writes:

Initial reaction: I can't believe you're hammering the fans. The fans' team is acceptable, if not perfect. Once you open the voting to the internet and campaign in Japan, what do you expect to happen? Whatever. But Jesus, Mike, Dusty took Kerry Wood and Russ Ortiz and left Dontrelle Willis and said it was because he hadn't seen Willis pitch this season (hey, Dusty, get cable!). He took Mike Williams. The players think Carl Everett and Shawn Chacon belongs on the All-Star team.
So the fans elected Troy Glaus and Marcus Giles? Big deal. It's no crime that Corie Koskie and Jose Vidro didn't get elected to the All-Star Game. Matsui is the best Japanese player of the last 25 years. Did you think Japanese voters were going to conclude that they should vote for Vernon Wells--whose career consists of one good half season and one half-good season--instead of Godzilla? It's a crime when real stars don't make it. It's a crime that Brian Giles isn't going to make it. It's a crime that Jason Giambi isn't going to make it. It's a crime that Pedro and Mike Mussina aren't going to be there. That's the real damage. And because the managers think it's their job to make everybody happy rather than win the game, they're going to play these schmucks.

I wrote back:

I didn't mean to take the fans to task. They did do a poor job, but I just meant the system is screwed up and it's a "for the want of a nail" thing that starts with the fans' vote. They pick Ichiro and ignore Frank Thomas. That's fine if we have 40-man rosters to cover their mistakes, but that's impractical. So why not take it away from the fans?

I'm a rabid fan, and I yet didn't even vote this year. I considered it at the Yankees game but thought I was not knowledgeable enough at that point. And then apathy set in. The cause was the fact that my one well-considered vote would be lost in a sea of face-painted stadium stack voters and online hackers submitting Pat Paulson for starting DH. If the reason we still keep the fan vote is to have a vote based on popular opinion, then well, to quote Austin Powers, that plane has sailed. It's like having Ross Youngs in the Hall of Fame and leaving Ron Santo off, which is something we both know could never happen except in bizaroo world.

I was trying to say that the Gileses and the Aubrey Huffs are the ones that get screwed because a warm body is taken from the poorer teams, not necessarily the best player. Giles has languished in Pittsburgh and though he is arguably the second-best player in the NL over the last 5-6 years, he has only gone to two All-Star games!?! In 5-1/2 seasons as the Pirates closer Mike Williams has had an ERA under 3.00 once and he will be going to his second All-Star game next week. It's ludicrous. Williams is the Johnny Bravo of the All-Star team: he fits the suit--that's it.

I did overlook Willis since he did not qualify for the ERA title. He should be on the team. Apparently, he was left off the "final vote" because only position players qualify. Though I do not see why it should be that way.

I like Matsui but there's no way he should be going to the All-Star game, let alone start, with the talent being left off the roster. If the Japanese fans love him so much, vote him onto the Japanese All-Star team.

Oh, and the list I had didn't delineate the players selections from the Scioscia/Baker ones. So I guess I tended to lump them together and blame the managers.

I also received an email from your friendly, neighborhood MLB extolling the virtues of the final vote. "Cast your All-Star Final Vote for the 32nd man" it advised. Upon closer inspection, I found that I have the final say as to who will be the last man on each roster. That was as promising as the dozen or so times that I won the Publishers' Clearing House Sweepstakes, as long as my name was the same as the winner's. Heck, I would change my name for that much money, but it didn't work.

Anyway, here's the email:

etopps 2003 All-Star Final Vote -- You have the final say!

This season's All-Star Game online voting soared to new
heights with more than 4.6 million ballots cast and over
60 million total votes tallied. You and millions of other
fans made your selections carefully and voted often.

Now, you can do it again.

The 2003 MLB All-Star rosters are nearly complete. There
are just 2 final spots left. Who didn't make the team that
should have?

YOU determine the final two players to go to Chicago for the
74th Midsummer Classic, with the etopps All-Star Final Vote.

Voting ends on Wednesday, July 9th at 6 p.m. ET.
>> YOU GET THE FINAL VOTE. Vote for the 32nd player on each team.

>> VOTE NOW! >>

AL Nominees Eric Byrnes -- Outfield, Oakland Athletics Jason Giambi -- First Base, New York Yankees Bengie Molina -- Catcher, Anaheim Angels Frank Thomas -- First Base, Chicago White Sox Jason Varitek -- Catcher, Boston Red Sox

NL Nominees Orlando Cabrera -- Shortstop, Montreal Expos Luis Castillo -- Second Base, Florida Marlins Geoff Jenkins -- Outfield, Milwaukee Brewers Corey Patterson -- Outfield, Chicago Cubs Benito Santiago -- Catcher, San Francisco Giants

>> VOTE NOW! >>

See who has already made the 2003 All-Star team. >> AL Roster: >> NL Roster:

Sheez, do you think they want me to vote for the "Final Vote"? DO IT TODAY!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, Benjie Molina? Luis Castillo? Is that the fans are clamoring for in their final selection? Thomas and Giambi: OK. Why not Pedro, Willis, Mussina, and Clemens? OK, so they don't want fans to vote on any pitchers because not even Joe Morgan can figure out those tricky ERAs. It takes a real baseball scientist like Dusty Baker to figure out Mike Williams is superior to Dontrelle Willis. So why no Sammy, Thome, Walker or at least Bill Mueller and Milton Bradley (he has name recognition)? Here is where the ten choices fall in the major-league OPS standings:

  8 Frank Thomas, Chi WS
 17 Jason Giambi, NYY
 22 Jason Varitek, Bos 
 32 Eric Byrnes, Oak
 37 Geoff Jenkins, Milw
 68 Corey Patterson, Chi C
 82 Orlando Cabrera, Mon
 96 Benito Santiago, SF
102 Luis Castillo, Fla
112 Bengie Molina, Ana

The AL selections are good besides Molina, but you would have done just as well to pick names out of a hat to get the NL Almost-Stars. But then again the majors would stop living the dream if they got the "Final Vote" Nearly-Stars right.

The All-Snub Team The All-Star
2003-07-07 01:36
by Mike Carminati

The All-Snub Team

The All-Star rosters were announced today, and as usual there is plenty of grist for the "my favorite player got snubbed" mill.

Many argue that rosters are large enough and that expanding the rosters will only serve to make the game even more of a rotating door with managers rushing to employ as many players as possible. Also, some will say that no matter how large the rosters become there will always be borderline players that got overlooked.

Those are all valid arguments. However, the rosters don't have to be expanded and borderline players do not need to be included.

"Hey, what gives, Mike? No additional players and fewer Oil Can Boyd-erline arguments? How do I sign up?" you ask, my inquisitive friend? The answer is first to take the privilege of voting for the starting lineups out of the fans' hands. They have fouled things up for far to long and no longer deserve such an important role in determining the World Series home field possessor. Let them continue to vote for the last man on each roster. That minimizes the number of screw-ups they can execute to one per team per year.

Next, get rid of the "each team must have a rep" nonsense. What ends up happening is that on poor teams the best player is not even sent. A player is instead chosen to fill a role. Witness Brian Giles snubbing this year so that Buc teammate Mike Williams of the 6.29 ERA (!) can represent the city of Pittsburgh and the National League.

I know that these are not original suggestions. However, they have always been offered as the pro-roster expansion argument and have always been defeated by the con-roster expansion arguments above. I'm saying that both sets of arguments are valid and are far from mutually exclusive. Rather, they could be used together to get us to a happier, shinier All-Star world-Budtopia?

Anyway, here are the players that were overlooked from the All-Stars who deserve consideration. First, the batters ranked by major-league OPS standings. There are approx. 20 batters per team. I have listed the players in the top 50 in OPS:

 8 Frank Thomas, Chi WS
10 Milton Bradley, Clev
11 Brian Giles, Pitt
13 Trot Nixon, Bos
16 Bill Mueller, Bos
17 Jason Giambi, NYY
20 Larry Walker, Col
21 Richard Hidalgo, Hou
22 Jason Varitek, Bos (But Posada #39 and Hernandez 118 do go)
27 Sammy Sosa, Chi C
31 Jim Thome, Phil
32 Eric Byrnes, Oak
33 Steve Finley, Az
34 Aubrey Huff, TB (The D-Rays have a valid All-Star and yet Lance Carter, 4.17 ERA,  represents the team)
37 Geoff Jenkins, Milw (#47 Sexson represents the team)
38 Chipper Jones, Atl
41 Corey Koskie, Minn
42 Kevin Millar, Bos
43 Jeff Kent, Hou
44 Brad Wilkerson, Mon
46 Lance Berkman, Hou
48 Cliff Floyd, NYM
50 Adam Dunn, Cin
53 Ryan Klesko, SD (#79 fellow Padre Rondell White is going, however)

Here are the players outside of the top 40 in OPS who will be at th All-Star game:

47 Richie Sexson, Milw
49 Alfonso Soriano, NYY (Starts)
55 Edgar Renteria, StL (starts)
59 Ichiro Suzuki, Sea (Starts)
61 Troy Glaus, Ana (starts)
64 Rafael Furcal, Atl
69 Hideki Matsui, NYY (Starts-methinks the Japanese fans are heavily into online voting too much)
79 Rondell White, SD
84 Marcus Giles, Atl (starts)
103 Paul Lo Duca, LA
118 Ramon Hernandez

You might notice that the fans did a horrendous job, especially in the AL, in picking the starting team. This puts the managers at a distinct disadvantage. However, they perpetuated the screw-up.

The pitching staffs fully illustrate how. Here are the starting pitchers in the top 25 in ERA in the majors who were left off the All-Star teams:

4 Pedro Martinez, Bos (no Pedro, but we get to see Lance Carter? Yippee!)
6 Hideo Nomo, LA
7 Kazuhisa Ishii, LA
8 Miguel Batista, Az
9 Mark Redman, Fla
10 Tim Hudson, Oak (His ERA is ahead of teammates Mulder (#13) and Zito (#14), who both made the team)
16 Mike Mussina, NYY
17  Jae Weong Seo, NYM
18 Gil Meche, Sea
20 Carlos Zambrano, ChiC
22 Joel Pineiro, Sea
23 Kip Wells, Pitt
25 Brett Myers, Phil

However, Roy Halladay (#26 but 12 wins) and Shawn Chacon (#50, but 11 wins and having to pitch at Coors) were included.

The relief pitchers were far worse. They took most of the save leaders (except Ugueth Urbina (tied 3rd) and Rocky Biddle (tied 6th)). But saves tell only part of the story. Mike Williams goes to Chicago even with a 6.29 ERA (I am still shocked!). And Lance Carter goes even though he has a 4.17 ERA and is 22nd in the majors in saves.

And again only the AL acknowledges the contribution of middle relief. They chose two deserving setup men (Donnelly and Hasegawa) to bring their relief corps to 6 men. However, the NL chose 5 relievers, all closers. Worthy Octavio Dotel (1.99 ERA and 56 K in 49.2 IP) was ignored. Meanwhile in the AL, selecting Tampa's Al Levine (1.67 ERA in 43 IP) would have been a superior choice to the embattled Carter.

So what's to be done? Something must give if we are now to take the All-Star game seriously. Either the rosters must expand to cover the fans eccentric choices or the vote must be taken away from the fans. The AL and NL have to use like procedures to pick their staffs, particularly closers. And finally, and most importantly, chuck the "at least one player per each team" rule. If you're a Pittsburgh fan how can you rejoice in being represented by a player who will most likely lose his job before the end of the year?

But Are They Better? III
2003-07-03 16:06
by Mike Carminati

According to the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox have offered many of their top picks as part of the pool from which Texas can pick in the Carl Everett exchange.

That's gonna leave a scar.

But Are They Better? II
2003-07-03 12:41
by Mike Carminati

Joe Posnanski, who just keeps churning out interesting articles, writes that the Sox may not have secured the division with their one-day trade binge:

Of course, you never know. This just might be the move that puts the White Sox over the top. The "Baseball Tonight" people seemed to love it. Alomar and Everett are two former All-Stars. Everett may be motivated to get a contract, and he has not bumped an umpire in months. Meanwhile, Alomar, reunited with his brother Sandy, may decide to come out of his coma.

Still, this is exactly the kind of panicked, overhyped, unimaginative, money-driven, fantasy-baseball move that usually blows up.

He also points out that the pick-up of Curt Leskanic for two marginal prospects may end up helping the Royals more:

[T]his is exactly the kind of subtle move that makes teams better. The Royals had to improve their bullpen. So they traded a couple of guys who didn't fit in their future, spent a little extra money and got a guy who might make a big difference in that bullpen.

It's a more logical move by a team that has defied logic by playing better when its stars are out (Beltran earlier in the year and Sweeney now). I still think that the White Sox are going to win the division, but I don't think that these two trades will be the reason for it. A reasonable second half by Paul Konerko and some reasonable offense from third (which they still need) and center should be enough.

But Are They Better?
2003-07-03 01:18
by Mike Carminati

The White Sox added big names in Robby Alomar and Carl Everett within 24 hours. All the analysts seem very excited and are stating unequivocally that Alomar will bounce back in the AL. Frank Thomas hits a dramatic home run to win tonight's game (his second on the night) and sweep the Twins, and the Baseball Tonight crew is ready to hand Chicago the division even though they just reached .500 and are three games back in third place. I, however, am left to wonder if they actually improved with te high-profile deals.

Alomar replaces underachieving D'Angelo Jimenez who was reassigned and whom the Sox will try to move. Alomar has a pretty good shot of going into the Hall of Fame while Jimenez's biggest claim to fame is being picked by Rob Neyer as the better player over Alfonso Soriano a couple of years back. So it seems like a no brainer, right?

Well, Jimenez is 25; Alomar, 35. Even though Alomar's batting average is six points higher (.261 to .255), Jimenez has an OPS that is over 40 points higher than Alomar's. Jimenez was given exactly 100 games to prove himself in Chitown. His offensive numbers were respectable (a .791 OPS in 27 games in 2002, 9% better than league average and .724 OPS so far this year, which is 120 point better than infield-mate Joe Crede).

It seems that GM Ken Williams was upset by his baserunning and defense ( I had a quote to that effect but cannot find it now). Jimenez is just 4-for-7 in stolen bases and apparently has been picked off on occasion. It is surprising that a player with such innate speed is not an outstanding baserunner. Also, Jimenez is a converted shortstop, so his defense should be an asset. Looking at his stats from last year, his range was better than average at second and third base and far better than average at short. This year his range dropped severely at second (5.43 to 4.51 in range factor) and he has had seven errors so far. However, with Alomar's legendary defense, his range has not been much better in 2003 (4.75 RF) and was much worse last year (4.42 RF).

Given the age difference, Alomar's one and a half year slump, the amount of Alomar's contract, and the fact that he will be a free agent this offseason, I would prefer to hang onto Jimenez. Moreover, if the Sox want to improve, why not shift Jimenez to third, a position he has played well, and bench the deplorable Joe Crede (.226 BA, .266 OBP, .610 OPS, 13 walks in 279 ABs)? Or bench Jimenez for the remainder of the year and let him try to win back the job after Alomar leaves?

It seems that Kenny Williams had high expectations for Jimenez and when he did not fulfill them, he was jettisoned. Jimenez may have a lot of decent baseball left in him; Alomar may be out of the game after one more bad half-season.

Meanwhile, Carl Everett takes over apparently for Aaron Rowand in center. The 25-year-old Rowand was a poor offensive player last year and has been even worse in 2003 (.279 OBP, .633 OPS), and there is little indication that he will even hit enough to start in the major leagues. So here's another no-brainer, right?

Well, Everett is somewhat damaged goods himself. He is 32 and is in his third organization n three years. He is a free agent at the end of the year. He is coming off two subpar years in a row. Even though he started out as hot as anyone in the game, he has cooled considerably. His stats for June (.211 batting average, .273 on-base percentage, .389 slugging, and .662 OPS) are probably worse than Rowand's numbers above. Besides he is a well-known cancer in the clubhouse. Though I would expect Everett to better Rowand's numbers over the course of the season.

It makes me wonder if they would have been better off shifting Magglio Ordonez to center and starting Brian Daubach in right. Though sacrificing so much defense for offense may be nuts.

So are they better? I would say not much if at all. At worst, Everett adds some depth to the outfield. Well maybe there is worse: the two are a bust and the Sox lose a top closer as early as next year (in Ring) while Billy Koch continues to struggle. However, if I were a White Sox fan, I would be loving it. The team is finally buying instead of selling talent before the trade deadline. They did get big name players with potential up sides should they capture lightning in a jar. They don't have any long commitments to these wizened players. Their in a pennant race and appear to have the division champs on the ropes. Life is good on the south side.

Vet Viewings
2003-07-03 00:08
by Mike Carminati

I have added a link for Phillies tickets on the left.

Go see the venerable and moribund Vet while you can.

I Wonder If Epstein's Mother Will Sign It
2003-07-02 23:54
by Mike Carminati

Red Sox Nation has its own report card on the Saux. Fry yourself up a sausage and wicked check it out.

[By the way, the headline is a reference to the "Welcome Back, Kotter" gag rather than Theo's age.]

Where's Ed Kranepool When You Need Him?
2003-07-02 13:48
by Mike Carminati

The Mets may no longer have the venerable Ed but there is the Eddie Kranepool Society, who have prepared a report card for the team. And I thought I was harsh on the Metsgoes! ("Meet the Mets. Walk right up and beat the Mets.")

It seems that Art Howe should take a close look at the signatures of Shinjo's, Cedeno's, and Leiter's mothers when their cards come back. Cliff Floyd and Jeromy Burnitz must have brought apples because they're the teacher's pets.

It's a Wide World After All
2003-07-02 13:13
by Mike Carminati

Mark Simons continues his series on ESPN's Living Legends broadcasters. This week it's Keith Jackson for a great M's/A's game on the Deuce. And there is a New Orleans Pelicans sighting in the article ("Manny, look at the pelican," to quote Tony Montana).

Blogged Up Real Good
2003-07-02 12:30
by Mike Carminati

I have to apologize for the appearance of my blog. Apparently, the new and improved Blogger does not support posts over about a page in length. That is why my Joe Morgan Chat review had to be split into eight separate posts.

However, not to worry: soon Blogger will remedy the situation and in the process create several more. Thanks for your pateince.

I Wonder If Pete Seeger Will Show Up
2003-07-02 00:20
by Mike Carminati

I received an interesting email the other day about a protest to be held (or not) at the All-Star game. The protest is to reinstate Buck Weaver, one of the so-called Black Sox, as the game is to be held at the new Comiskey.

Protesting will be held from 4pm to 7pm at the old 3rd base at Comiskey Park. More details to follow.

Here's a brochure on their cause.

Here's a letter from Bud Selig saying, basically, "Thanks but no thanks," when it comes to a meeting with the protestors.

And here's a letter from the Sox telling them to stay out of the parking lot.

Be forewarned that their literature is full of good ol' fashioned hokum like, "Weaver was an All-Star before there was such a thing. Called a 'natural ball player of natural ball players' by the Saturday Evening Post..."

I'm not much for open protests myself, but given the anecdotal evidence I have heard (mainly from John Cusack's portrayal of Weaver in Eight Men Out), it seems that Weaver was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Throwing ballgames was apparently not uncommon around the turn of the century. Hal Chase made a cottage industry out of it, and greats Tris Speaker and Ty Cobb were tarnished by it.

Weaver knew about the fix, did nothing, and was held responsible by commissioner Landis. Was that morally correct? Probably not, since many knew of Chase's indescretions and were not punished for having the knowledge. If the incident happened today, Weaver would most certainly by banned. The Black Sox were the tipping point, however. I'm not sure what becomes of Weaver.

If I were commissioner-heck, if I were commissioner, I'd replace Sandy Alderson with Morganna the Kissing Bandit. Anyway, if I were commissioner, I would have some flunky investigate and if the story checked out, I would go ahead and remove his name from the banned list. The man is dead. It just clears his name anyway. And besides, it doesn't send a bad message to the current players.

And maybe that's what Bud Selig would do after he stops monkeying with All-Star game. However, there's one bowl-coiffed problem, Peter Edward Rose. As Weaver goes so must Rose, some will argue, the logical-impaired masses that is. Selig won't touch Weaver with a ten-foot pole until Rose's de-excommunication is complete. And he's in no hurry to even address that. So I'm afraid Buck is going to have to wait another decade or so.

(By the way, the headline is a reference to the seminal folk band the Weavers... And comedy ensued.)

Everett to ChiSox?
2003-07-01 23:41
by Mike Carminati

From Lee Sinins:

According to Peter Gammons, the Whitesox have acquired Carl Everett from the Rangers.

I don't have any other details yet.

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! VIII
2003-07-01 23:06
by Mike Carminati

Burr (NYC): Joe- Thanks for spending such a long time with us this morning! You're the best!

Your welcome .. I enjoy it. Contrarty to what people believe, I like it when people question what I say. I don't know everything, but I have an opinion about everything.

[Mike: "Joe, I don't have any question! I just want to kiss your feet!" Joe: "I enjoy it!"

Joe, you have an opinion on lots of things but you don't answer the questions people pose. ]

Matt (Illinois): Joe, how much of KC's success is due to Tony Pena? Having been a Royals fan for several BAD years it seems incredible what he's done. Did you expect him to do so well as a manager?

I can't say I expected it, but I did think he would be good. I didn't know he had both the fire and ability to light a fire under that team. It all starts with attitude on a losing team. If you stay in a losing situation for a long time, you've accepted that losing attitude. I just didn't know he would be able to turn that attitude around so quickly.

I think this goes back to what Lou Piniella did with Ben Grieve. He didn't want that losing attitude on his team.

[Mike: " I think Lou is saying the team is not aggressive enough. That is something I do agree with it, but not necessarily the way he did it." So Piniella's fire is bad ("Fire bad!") but Pena's is good. Or is Piniella's now good as well. Are you contradicting yourself or is that why you qualify everything you say to CYA?

By the way, the little picture next to Jayson Stark is a dandy of two comic giants: Carrot Top and Paulie Shore.

Good night and god bless!]

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! VII
2003-07-01 22:56
by Mike Carminati

Bryan (St. Louis MO): Joe, sticking with my NL Central theme and speaking of "lost arts" (mentioned in previous post), what is your take on "small ball". I grew up watching the "Runnin Redbirds" of the 80's, and the style of management with Whitey Herzog. Do you think that baseball would be better if it were back to the way it was in the 80s, or is the long ball here to stay? Maybe raising the mound back up would help a bit?

I'm not sure it would be better to go back to that style. I find it more interesting myself but the long ball is here to stay. Chicks dig the long ball. The ballparks are smaller and the ball is livlier. The era you are talking about, they had larger ballparks. The Cardinals stadium was really big and there were lots like that in the NL. Those have all been replaced with parks where the ball really flies.

[Mike: Oh no, Bryan again! "Welease Bwyan!"

"Do you think that baseball would be better if it were back to the way it was in the 80s, or is the long ball here to stay?" Those are two separate questions. My answers are yes and yes.

I don't think we will see the likes of Willie McGee again but baseball is coming down from its home run-induced high.

The long ball has been "here to stay" since Babe Ruth popularized the tater. "Chicks dig the long ball"-haven't they said "Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, singles hitters drive Fords" for decades (I think it was Ralph Kiner)? We just have had two extremes in the past 30 years which seems to be too close a juxtaposition for the wee baseball minds to grasp.

By the way, Joe, the Cardinals have played in the same stadium since 1967. So how did it get smaller?]

Ed Wahlgren: Dear Mr. Morgan, I got looking at Rickey Henderson's #'s from Newark and I appears to me he as been blackballed. I know there has to be a few teams who can use his services. How do you feel about this?

I can't predict. My personal thought is that I wish he would have retired. But no one can tell a player when to retire. I just wished he would have retired with all those great numbers he attained. But he says he still loves the game so if he wants to play, let him play.

[Mike: Joe, get off Rickey's back. I have heard you say he should have retired seemingly dozens of times. It's his career and besides, that's not the question.

"I can't predict."-huh? We know, you can't even answer a question, but what does that have to do with anything?

The question, which you again avoided-"ATFQ: Answer the f'ing question"-is whether or not Rickey is being blackballed, which is patently ridiculous. Why now? Why not 5 years ago after his peak?

Rickey was being considered by the Yankees last week before they acquired Karim Garcia. Rickey is a 44-year-old, well known trouble maker, or that's how he's perceived. He probably could help a bunch of teams in a specialized role, but the impression is that he will not accept a reduced role. So he languishes. And it's a shame.]

Eric Roseberry: With the obvious surplus of outfielders on the Reds and the recent grumblings of Adam Dunn and Jose Guillen do you see them dealing an outfielder, possibly for some starting pitching?

I think they should but they have to make sure they are dealing the right one. They have to decide who that is. Dunn hits HRs but he strikes out a lot.

[Mike: Are you out of your mind! Who cares how many times Dunn strikes out? What matters is what he does when he connects. His .210 batting average is poor but his 23 home runs, .356 on-base percentage, .519 slugging, and .875 OPS are not bad. Besides he is only 23 and should continue to improve.

Jose Guillen is only 27 but has never come close to equally his offensive production so far this year in any of his previous 6 seasons. He has already established a career high in home runs (15). But Guillen has never been close to a league-average hitter; his best year was 12% worse than average. At 27, this could be his career year, which the Reds could ride to victory, or it could be a two-month fluke. Given his history, I'm inclined to pick the latter.

Besides 30 years ago, Mike Schmidt hit .196 and struck out 136 times at the age of 23. Would you have recommended to the Phils to keep the then 32-year-old Cesar Tovar instead of the future Hall-of-Famer? The Reds should dupe some unsuspecting rube GM into taking the grousing Guillen off their hands for a decent starting pitcher and thank their lucky stars that they got the production that they did out of him.

If he trades away Dunn in favor of Guillen, Jim Bowden should be shot, not fired, on the spot.]

Dave (New York, NY): Hey Joe, I loved watching you play, and I love your analysis and Sunday Night games almost as much. I am a Mets fan, and I was wondering, do you think Jose Reyes can soon (next year) be a legitimate top-of-the-order hitter? Also, do you think the Mets are going to show interest in acquiring Carlos Beltran or Kevin Millwood during the offseason with the large amount of salary space they will have? Thanks for taking the question Joe.

[Mike: Or not.

Joe? Joe? Are you out there?

Joe, we're used to you not answering questions directly, but a complete dis?

Look, Reyes is batting .205 with an on-base percentage of .211. He's walked once in 73 at-bats. Could he lead off for the Mets? Sure. Could he be a legitimate leadoff hitter? It's doubtful by next year.

Let the kid establish himself and hit more than Mo Vaughn's weight before you have him lead off. So far he is not making anyone forget Rey Ordonez.]

Will the Mets have "salary space"? Vaughn is still owed at least another $17 M. Burnitz' and Alomar's $20M are free. If they have the money, young players stars like Beltran and Millwood would be the way to rebuild quickly and wisely. So that leaves the Mets out.]

To be continued...

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! VI
2003-07-01 22:13
by Mike Carminati

The Ugly

Bryan (St. Louis MO): Joe, what's your take on the NL Central? The Cards have a potent lineup but only two reliable SP, the Cubs have just the opposite with the great SP but mediocre hitting, and the Stros have about the same as the Cards, with a better bullpen. What's it going to take for one of these three teams to emerge as the leader?

I'm not sure anyone will put out front. If you have good hitting and all of a sudden you get some good hitting, you have a better chance to pull away. It's kind of a catch 22. All those teams have weaknesses. Whoever can fill that need the quickest will pull away. It's going to be a close race most of the way.

[Mike: Can anyone "put out front"? I think that Mickey told Rocky that that sort of behavior was bad for the legs in Rocky I.

This sentence defies logic: "If you have good hitting and all of a sudden you get some good hitting, you have a better chance to pull away." To quote Buckaroo Banzai (for the first time right here on our big shoe, ladies and gentlemen), "Whenever you turn around, there you are." (And you thought I was going to quote John Lithgow's character from that movie by saying, "Laugh while you can, monkey boy!")

It's not a catch-22 by the way. Here's Merriam Webster Online's definition for the term:

1 : a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule [the show-business catch-22--no work unless you have an agent, no agent unless you've worked -- Mary Murphy]; also : the circumstance or rule that denies a solution
2 a : an illogical, unreasonable, or senseless situation b : a measure or policy whose effect is the opposite of what was intended c : a situation presenting two equally undesirable alternatives
3 : a hidden difficulty or means of entrapment : CATCH

Their situations are by no means Gordian knots that are insoluble by definition. They just need a couple of players to pick it up or to pick up a couple of players.

Anyway, here's the perfect Joe prediction that has enough disclaimers to cover not only his, but the entire Big Red Machine's behind. Whoever fills their "need" and plays best, wins. Great! So who's that going to be? The Magic Eight Ball would give you a better prediction.

Who do I think will win it? I'm leaning towards the Cards. Their record is actually a little worse than expected:

St. Louis	43	38	46	35
Houston	42	39	45	36
Chicago 	42	39	43	38

The Cardinals have by far the best offense and the Cubs have the best pitching.

The Cardinals starting pitching should improve, but any time that Kiko Calero is your best reliever, you have problems. Their bullpen has been atrocious (5.04 ERA) and probably won't improve much without reinforcements. Oh, and Morris injury situation will be very important.

The Cubs offense should improve in the second half with healthy at-bats from Sammy Sosa and Hee Seop Choi. And Jose Hernandez should help. But with Grudzielanek, Miller, and Gonzalez getting plenty of ABs, they will still have holes (and Hernandez has been a sink hole so far this year).

The Astros will suffer while Kent is out. There doesn't seem much chance of their players having a bigger second half than first (maybe Bagwell). Their starting pitching (4.57 ERA) has been suspect behind Oswalt. Miller should improve but Redding is starting to tank. And there is not much but unproven Triple-A tripe behind them. The 'Stros do have a good, deep bullpen (3:38 ERA with Wagner, Dotel, Lidge, Munro, Stone, and maybe Saarlos).

These teams are pretty even overall, but I just think the Cardinals will pull it out. Oh, sorry, "put out front".]

Derek ( WV ): Joe, as always it's a pleasure to hear what you think about all the happenings in baseball. On to the question. Some people say that when you ask who is the best player in baseball it is easy to just say Bonds, or A-Rod....while in other sports like football its harder to pick one solid star. Do you think that's a positive for baseball, or do you think it shows that maybe the league needs to find new ways to promote stars in the league. I know it's a team game, but with the unfortunate drop in popularity of baseball, don't you think only having a few players as the face of the league to most people is not the way to go.

I think it's always good to be able to identify the best in any sport because it creates interest in people to declare who those players are.

[Mike: Or to quote Frank Burns, "It's nice to be nice to the nice."
Again Joe is channeling Coach from Cheers. Whatever he is trying to say is lost one me. Is it that identifying the best leads to declaring who's best? Or is that the better you identify a sport, the more creative the interest people will declare? Or "Albania, Albania, you border on the Adriatic..."? Your guess is as good as mine.

But on to Derek, do you think basketball suffered when it was ruled by Michael Jordan? Having one or a few players who play exceptionally well and "having a few players as the face of the league to most people" are mutually exclusive. The NBA is a great example. They promoted many players while MJ was universally acclaimed the best, and they were very popular with the fans. Baseball just does not bother to promote its stars. It would rather devalue the players and promote retro uniforms, bobble heads, and home field in the World Series determined by an exhibition.

By the way, "it's a pleasure to hear what you think"-you had better oil the wheel for the hamster before you go non compus mentus.

To be continued...

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! VI
2003-07-01 20:56
by Mike Carminati

Scott (annapolis): Speaking of positive stories, what about Barry Bonds 500th steal? To me that is the most remarkable thing done in a long time. I remember Jose Canseco and A-rod getting a lot of attention when they were 40-40, and there was a lot of attention on Soriano and Guerrero last year for nearly doing it. But it seems that Barry's 40-40 season is forgotten about.

500 HRs and 500 steals shows power and speed. That's impressive. Henderson stole over 1,000 bases but he didn't have the power. Hank Aaron hit over 700 HRs but didn't have the speed. It's remarkable one guy could do that. But 73 HRs is more remarkable to me. I still can't believe that.

[Mike: Of course, that's a bit of a simplistic look at things. Henderson hit 20 home runs in four different years and has a career high of 28. And Hank Aaron was a 30-30 (actually 44-31) man in 1963 and had 240 for his career. Aaron was in the top ten in steals on eight separate occasions. People just didn't steal much back then.

Bonds 500-500 is to some degree a product of his era. He played in an era that still promoted steals in the late-Eighties/early Nineties. And then he played in the latest long ball era, the last 11 seasons.]

Jim (Townsville, WI): Regarding the disappearance of "small ball" and the tiny ballparks now, do you think there's any chance that clubs will make an effort to move back their fences? Cincinnati's new park is really small, and their pitching seems to have really suffered compared to last year. And Milwaukee's dimensions are small too, and it really seems to be hurting a guy like Ben Sheets, who leads the league in HR allowed, but is otherwise having a fine season.

In most cases, teams CAN'T move the fences back. I agree, Cincy's park is a real launching pad. All the new parks are built that way. It does hurt pitching, no doubt. But that is how the game has progressed. It's more a HR hitting contest. And the fans seem to like it. A lot of fans are showing up at the new parks. Pitchers are going to continue to be second class citizens so to speak.

[Mike: Why not? They don't need those bullpen do-hickeys anyway.

By the way, pitching for the Brewers even in Dodger Stadium would be bad for Ben Sheets.

By the way, not "all the new parks are built that way." Comerica Park, Safeco Field, and Turner Field are pitcher's parks (or are at least more so then the stadiums they replaced).

"It's more a HR hitting contest. And the fans seem to like it." Sure fans show up at the new parks to check them out, but the attraction wears thin fast. If fans are so enamored of today's style why is attendance down so far?]

Michael (Boston, MA): I watch Nomar Garciaparra almost every night and he is as good a bad-ball hitter as I have ever seen. I don't get to see the rest of the league nearly as much as you, so I must ask: is there a better bad-ball hitter than Nomar in either league?

I'm not sure! A lot of strong guys are able to go out of the strike zone better than guys who aren't as physically strong.

[Mike: I am barely a sentient life force!!!

Offer an opinion, Joe. To quote John Blutasky, "It don't cost nothin'."

As for me, I can't imagine a better bad ball hitter than Soriano. He hits some out of ear and we all know how much that hurts. ]

To be continued...

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! V
2003-07-01 15:28
by Mike Carminati

Derek ( WV ): Joe, what in your opinion is the best story so far in this MLB season thats not a story of controversy? Basically, what's your favorite positive story so far this year? Something that promotes the good things this game brings, instead of focusing on all the bad as we all seem to do.

I'm glad you don't focus on the negative .. THAT'S not good for the game. There are a lot of good stories. The Royals have been at the bottom for so long and they are now fighting for the AL Central. They have bounced back after losing some games and they look strong. Also, the Cubs. They have been down for so long and now there is some real excitement around that club with Dusty Baker. To me, Roger Clemens getting his 300th win, we may never see that again.

[Mike: "Oh, dear, we don't like any of that controversy. Oh, yah."

As a Phils fan, I say f' the Royals being down for so long. They won a World Series in 1985.

The Cubs have been down? They made the playoffs in 1998, thereby justifying the ridiculous MVP snubbing of Mark McGwire. Also, they were in the hunt in 2001 though they finished third, 5 games back.

So always look on the bright side of death!
Just before you draw your terminal breath.
Life's a piece of sh*t,
When you look at it.]

Rob (NC): Mr. Morgan: You just said: "I'm glad you don't focus on the negative .. THAT'S not good for the game." I couldn't agree more, and we need more people in and around baseball thinking this way. Incidentally, I think you misinterpreted the Juan Gonzalez question. Justin was asking if Gonzalez VETOING the trade is bad for the game. I don't think it is, but that's what he was asking.

Players do have no-trade contacts. That's part of their contract. In the past, guys got sent to places as punishment. That's why agents came up with that part of a contract. There is a 10/5 rule, if you are in the league for 10 years, five years consecutive with the same team, you can veto. I don't think it's bad for the game because everyone has adjusted to it and realize it's in the contract. Sometimes you get to a city and all of a sudden you have to uproot your family and move 2,000 miles. I'm not sure that's fair.

[Mike: "In the past, guys got sent to places as punishment." Yeah, that was under commissioner Stalin.

I believe that the 10-5 rule was something that the players collectively bargained for according to Marvin Miller's autobiography. The agents had little to do with it.

Actually, I just Doug Pappas' site and 10-5 contracts were added in 1973.

"Sometimes you get to a city and all of a sudden you have to uproot your family and move 2,000 miles. I'm not sure that's fair." If you are a 10-5 player, how did you just "get to a city"?]

Justin (Oklahoma City): Sorry for the confusion Joe. What I meant when I said it doesn't seem good for the game is that when a small-market team like Montreal is in a pennant race and is turned down when trying to bolster their lineup,it is disappointing. I guess what is not good for the game is these people that ask for and receive no trade clauses. Texas gets no pitching prospects, Montreal doesn't get the slugger it needs for its pennant run. Now you see what I am saying? Thanks Joe. You are the best.

I understand your dilemma now. I would like for Montreal to get him as well. This is one of the problems with a small market. Again, I can't go against the rules of the game. The rules say he can veto. The team that give him the no-trade contract are the problem. The players can use that as leverage. I'm sure Juan wants a new contract before he goes anywhere and he doesn't have that contract right now. I do see what you are saying and I wish they could get him as well.

I'm glad to see you are concerned about small markets. Most people only care about the big markets.

[Mike: Cleveland didn't give him the no-trade contract. He earned it as a 10-5 player.

Again, don't cry for Montreal, Argentina. He wouldn't last there longer than Cliff Floyd's 15 games with 'Spos in 2002.]

Bryan (St. Louis): Joe, I beg to differ on your opinion about players uprooting their families. I am in the military and have to "uproot" my family every 3 or 4 years so that I can serve my country in another location, yet I make about 25K a year. These guys get paid 25K an at bat, and it's not fair for THEM to have to move?

There is a big difference between serving your country and playing baseball. I do see your point. Uprooting a family is not good whether it's in baseball or everyday life. Having to move to a new area is not always good. I've been through it and it's just not always great for family life. But it's part of the price you play whether you play baseball or are in the military. But at some point, you should earn the right to not be moved against your will.

[Mike: "Pick up service. Pick up challlenge. Set yourself apart"? For 25K? Ouch! Bryan, speaking for all red-blooded, draft-age American males, I thank you.

Maybe their talents are a bit more in demand than yours. Therefore, they can demand that their family not be uprooted under some circumstances. Don't be bitter.

By the way, after the 2002 season there were fewer than 50 10-5 men. A great deal of them have been released or left as free agents since 2002. I would post them if Blogger would not cough on them but you'll have to trust me on this.]

Alomar Reunion
2003-07-01 15:17
by Mike Carminati

From Lee Sinins:

The Mets traded 2B Roberto Alomar to the Whitesox for minor leaguers
INF Andrew Salvo and Ps Royce Ring and Edwin Almonte.

All-Bud Bowl
2003-07-01 14:37
by Mike Carminati

From MLB:

Topps 2003 All-Star Game Online Vote powered by Nexl



Several too-close-to-call races are hanging in the
balance and will be decided by online votes like yours.
Will it be Javy or Pudge? Godzilla, Manny or Torii?

Click to vote >>

AL Outfield Suzuki, I. 1,618,015 Matsui, H. 1,038,784 Ramirez, M. 808,529 Hunter, T. 702,475

AL Third Base Glaus, T. 627,189 Chavez, E. 469,324 Ventura, R. 449,549

NL Outfield Bonds, B. 1,157,384 Sosa, S. 894,156 Sheffield, G. 811,239 Pujols, A. 793,109

NL Second Base Giles, M. 587,648 Kent, J. 572,768

NL Catcher Lopez, J. 606,688 Rodriguez, I. 584,123

NL Shortstop Renteria, E 771,386 Furcal, R. 728,970

Make sure your voice is heard by using all 25 of your allotted votes before balloting closes.

The Topps 2003 All-Star Online Ballot, powered by Nexl ends on Wednesday, July 2, 2003 at 11:59 PM ET.

Click to vote >>


Watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Selection Show - Sunday, July 6 on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.


After you've elected the starters, prepare to pick the 32nd man on each roster in the etopps All-Star Final Vote, July 6-9.

Then on July 15, for the first time ever, vote online for the All-Star MVP, presented by Pepsi as the 74th All-Star Game unfolds before your eyes.


Enter to win an All-Star Game Experience >>


THIS TIME IT COUNTS Watch the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. July 15th on FOX @ 8 p.m. ET

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! IV
2003-07-01 14:20
by Mike Carminati

St. Louis, MO: Hey Joe. I was wondering what you thought about Bo Hart. Is this a mirage or is the kid this good. I know he won't stay hitting .500, but could he stay around .300. How good is he really?

No one knows. A lot of guys are late bloomers. He could be one of those guys who took some time in the minors to really find himself. I am happy for him and pulling for him to do well. I'm fond of second basemen ; )

[Mike: Ah, Mo St. Louis, the greatest sports fan in the country. It's a pleasure.

Look Hart isn't Jim Morris for goodness sake. He's 26. That's certainly not young, but it's far from old.

Hart was batting .301 in Memphis and Baseball Prospectus says that's equivalent to .285. If the Cards get that out of him until Cairo returns, they will be happy.

By the way, his full name according to ESPN is Bodhi J. Hart Hart. That's cool cool.]

Matt, Philadelphia, PA: Hi Mr. Morgan... What do you think of the Phillies chances in the East? Sure, I'm a biased fan, but I personally think the Phillies could win it. They have the best overall pitching in the division; if only their bats would wake up (I think they will, eventually). The Braves current method of winning (hit the tar off the ball) doesn't ensure long-term success, the Phillies have handled them well so far, and there's still a ton of the season left. Your thoughts? Thanks much!

I don't know if anyone can ever complain about the Braves. They are still the team to beat. The Phils problem is still on the offensive side. Burrell was a stud last year but isn't putting up the same numbers. You say they will hit .. but I'm not sure. It's a different story if you don't hit in April or May but it's almost July. They will have to deal with that problem quickly. If you don't score runs you will not win. You can't just rely on pitching everyday.

[Mike: The Phillies have a great chance to get the wild card. I thought that they would win the division, but they are not convincing me. I also thought the Braves were playing way over their heads but if they are, they are still playing over their heads.

"[T]he Phillies have handled them well so far": So if the Phillies get to play the Braves exclusively, the division is theirs!

Their biggest problems are on the left side: at third, short, left, and center. Jimmy Rollins is a crowd pleaser. David Bell and {at Burrell have hefty contracts. So Marlon Byrd will probably be replaced by Kenny Lofton or some such. They should package Rollins to the Marlins for Mike Lowell and shift Bell to second and Polanco to short, their original positions. But they won't, and everyone will say I'm off my byrd for suggesting it.

"I don't know if anyone can ever complain about the Braves"? Who's complaining? What does this mean?

"You can't just rely on pitching everyday." Isn't that how the Braves won the division for the last couple of seasons?

Also, Joe should have addressed the comment, "The Braves current method of winning (hit the tar off the ball) doesn't ensure long-term success." It sure worked for the Yankees in the Thirties.]

Brent (Arlington, VA): Joe: I just got married on Saturday so please post my message! What do you think about Lou Piniella getting mad at Ben Grieve for not arguing a strike call in yesterday's game against the Yankees? Don't you think that getting on a player for something like that can be counter-productive?

I saw Piniella on SportsCenter yelling at Grieve but I wasn't sure why. IF that is the case, then I think Lou is saying the team is not aggressive enough. That is something I do agree with it, but not necessarily the way he did it. You have to fight for everything. He was probably just trying to get them to be a little more aggressive against the Yankees.

[Mike: The MBBR players present a scene from Bull Durham:

Crash Davis: They're kids. Scare 'em.

Skip: You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!

Larry: Lollygaggers!

Skip: Lollygaggers. (shaking head in shame)

He's got a young ballclub that he wants to keep focused. Lou has never been a reserved man. That has served him well so far. Why stop now?

And now here's a chain of foolishness.]

Justin ( Oklahoma City): Joe, What can you say about Juan Gonzalez' potential veto of is trade to Montreal? It doesn't seem good for the game and may end up hurting him in the long run. Do you agree?

I don't understand what you mean about it not being good for the game. It would give Montreal a good chance to get to the playoffs. But I'm interested in who they would have to give up. My understanding is they can't take on a lot of salary. I think it would be good for Montreal and Juan and good for the game. Texas is not going to the playoffs but the Expos could with Juan.

[Mike: The MBBR players now present a scene from Cheers:

[Phone rings]
Coach: [Answering phone] Cheers! Ok, wait a minute, I'll check.

[To bar]Is there an Ernie Pantusso here?

Sam: That's you, Coach.

Coach [into phone]: Speaking.

Good Coach impersonation, Joe.

The proposed trade would have been for prospects (if there are any left) and Texas would eat his salary. Of course, Gonzalez would have been airlifted out of Montreal, a la Cliff Floyd, by the trade deadline anyway.]

To be continued...

Byrne-ing Up
2003-07-01 10:43
by Mike Carminati

The Elephants in Oakland boys are miffed at Skip Clue-, er, Bayless because of his inane anti-Eric Byrnes stance. Go check them out.

2003-07-01 10:03
by Mike Carminati

Christian Ruzich, the Cub Reporter, is back from his brief hiatus. Go check him out. Just don't ask him how his fantasy team is doing.

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! III
2003-07-01 01:25
by Mike Carminati

Matt (Cheshire, CT): Hi Joe. The White Sox have won 12 of their last 20, and it seems that Mark Beurle might be turning his season around. Even with their horrible start, they are sitting only 5.5 games out of first place. Do you think they have a legitimate shot at turning things around and winning the weak AL Central division? Or will they give up and start dumping salaries?

Their problem is also their offense. It's very inconsistent. Paul Konerko was a leading offensive guy last season and he's hitting around .200. Buehrle can turn it around but they still need more offense. They have lost lots of 2-1 and 3-2 games. They just aren't scoring enough runs.

[Mike: Their offense has been consistent, consistently bad. They are 24th in runs in the majors. They have been getting nothing from Joe Crede and Paul Konerko. However, the Sox are 12-14 in one-run games. So it's not as if the close games are killing them as much as Joe says.]

Jay (Holmdel, NJ): Hi Joe! Big Fan. I want to talk about Derek Jeter. Before the season he was really healthy and focused. Many people including myself and your colleauge Harold Reynolds, thought that he was going to have a 1999 repeat season offensively then his shoulder ended those thoughts. Do you think he will return to his near MVP form of 1999 ever again in the near future and if so when, next year, 2005, or later. Thank You.

When you are injured, especially shoulders, it takes awhile to get that rhythem back. You always start to swing before you are 100 percent and that can create bad habits. Jeter has had some good games but he hasn't been as consistent as he has been in the past. Once you get that consistency back, your confidence grows.

[Mike: Anything is possible, but Jeter has never come close to equally his 1999 brilliance. It's popular to say that he has been sliding since then, but really his 2000-01 seasons were very close to his 1998 season. Last year he was slightly better than his first few years. The concern is that he is just 29 and should be peaking now whereas his peak appears to have happened at the age of 25.

He's still having a Hall-of-Fame type career. However, his main concern should be to re-establish his 1998, 2000-01 excellence and not worry about matching his possible watershed year. Unfortunately, his stats so far this year appear to lend credence to the sliding theory. We'll have to wait until later this year/next year to determine if it's still related to the injury or to an actual decline.]

Steve(NYC): Hey Joe, what do you think about Mike Mussina's chances this year of finally winning 20 games in a season? Also, what about his chances at 300, he's got 191 and he's 34. Do you think he has a shot at it since he's on the Yankees and will have a great chance to win ball games?

You have to remember everyone can't be as effective at 40 as Roger Clemens. It takes a special guy to be able to do that.

[Mike: It takes a special guy to be as successful as Mussina. It takes a special guy to even get to the majors. Mussina got brass in pocket-he's special. Is he special enough on the special-o-meter though?

As far as 300, he averages 17 wins a season. So he would need at least 6 healthy seasons at the same level to get close. It's possible but probably not a great bet.

By the way, Joe, you ignored the 20-win question. By the All-Star game, he'll have at least 10 wins on a team that should remain successful. You do the math.

To be continued...

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah! II
2003-07-01 01:24
by Mike Carminati

The Bad

Mitch Cumstein (Chicago, IL): Mr. Morgan, I've examined Larry Doby's numbers up and down and I can't see how the heck he got in. Doesn't letting players with such mediocre numbers cheapen the Hall and gives a disservice to the players who were actually good enough to be in?

A lot of times in my opinion it's not just about numbers. It's about contributions to the game. That's what the Hall of Fame is about. It's not just stats. If you examine everyone's numbers, there are many that are weaker than Larry. I won't mention names. And they didn't make the same contributions Larry made. We will never know how good Larry and Jackie Robinson really were because they were playing in fear of their life. It was tougher to play the game for them.

[Mike: No, for most the contribution should be apparent from the numbers. We don't need more Morgan Bulkely and Candy Cummings in the Hall.

So what were Doby's accomplishments? His lifetim OPS is 36% better than the park-adjusted league average. His career slugging average was about a hundred points better than league average and his on-base percentage, 40 points better. He hit 253 home runs in eleven seasons and parts of three more. He is a seven-time All-Star. Bill James ranks him 11th among center fielders all-time; every player ahead of him, aside from Jimmy Wynn, is in the Hall if he is eligible (and the only ineligible one is Ken Griffey, who will almost certainly go in). Doby is aheadof Dale Murphy, Earl Averill, Edd Roush, Whitey Ashburn, and a number of proffered Hall-of-Fame candidates.

Doby's career was short, but he was a Hall-of-Fame caliber player in that time. He wasn't the best center fielder ever, but he far from cheapens the Hall. Besides that was done years ago.]

Joe, Brooklyn, NY: Dear Mr. Morgan: I was very moved by what you wrote on Thursday concerning Larry Doby. Unfortunately, his story was not one that has been as widely told in the past. One point that you made that intrigued me concerned what Doby or Jackie Robinson would have accomplished without all of the terrible pressure that was placed on them. I've always found it interesting that Robinson rarely, if ever batted at the top of the order for the Dodgers. They felt that he was needed more in the middle of the lineup. Today, someone with his talent, speed, drive, courage, and intelligence (and not necessarily in that order would probably be batting leadoff, and be the most dynamic force in baseball. Do you agree?

Yes, I agree. There aren't that many dynamic forces at the top of lineups. There are a few but not many. It's a lost art now. There is not doubt in my mind Larry and Jackie's numbers would have been even better in today's environment where they could relax.

[Mike: That depends on the team. Batting orders are not as important as we think, but Robinson not only got on base and ran the bases well; he usually was among the team leaders in slugging percentage. The Dodgers wanted him to drive in runs which he did (led team with 124 RBI and .528 slugging in 1949 and that was it).

Joe Morgan Chat Day Tripper, Yeah!
2003-07-01 01:23
by Mike Carminati

When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin..."What's happened to me?" he thought. It was no dream..."Oh God," he thought, "what a grueling job I've picked. Day in, day out on the road (as a traveling salesman)...To the devil with it all!"

-From Franz Kafka's "burlesque" The Metamorphosis (Bantam's 2002 translation, which is not the best).

Anyone who cannot come to terms with his life while he is alive needs one hand to ward off a little his despair over his fate ... but with his other hand he can note down what he sees among the ruins.

-From the "Hunger Artist" Frank Kafka's published diaries

In the days of my youth, the daily newspapers would publish only the box scores from the games completed by the previous night's Mannix episode. West coast games were the stuff of legends-you were luck if they reprinted the box scores from local team's late-night games two days later. You were lucky to get the league leaders in Sunday editions.

I was told to be a man (to continue the Led Zep motif) from the pages of The Sporting News, which have every box score, every stat. I would pour over the box scores that were that I missed and these were still the bare-bone affairs (i.e., no batting average or ERA or anything). TSN was monolithic in those days: Baseball Digest was nice, the glossy magazines had great pictures but little else. For the inside look at the game, there was just TSN. They had the weekly stats, the weekly team blurbs, and the annual register, guide, dope book, and record book. That's how it had always been and that's how it would always be and by cracky, we liked it.

Well, then again there was Big Mac. My first Official Baseball Encyclopedia (paperback ninth edition from 1977 with Dave Concepcion on the cover) actually predated the MacMillan appellation-it was published by Doubleday. This was also before pitchers and batters were split out and, when viewed today, contained scant information. Here's Babe Ruth's entry from the above edition:

D. AUG 16, 1948 NEW YORK, N.Y.

 YR    CL  LEA  POS  GP      G    REC
1914  BOS  A    P    4      5    2-1
1915  BOS  A    P    32    42   18-6
1934  NY   A    O         125    .288
1935  BOS  N    O          28    .181
           BLTL     163  2503    93-44

That's it.

Soon, however, Bill James would start to self-publish his abstracts (though most of us were unaware of him until the mid-Eighties) and then we got naked and started the revolution. TSN took a backseat to the USA Today, which had the same box scores and blurbs but on a daily basis. It's bastard child, Baseball Weekly quickly unseated TSN as the weekly baseball record. Then came around and gave you box scores and notes in real time. BW since has become Sports Weekly to attract football fans who can actually read. Aside from "Matt at Bat" and Paul White's "Leading Off", BW is a shadow of its former self. Their front cover last week read "Double Threats: second base thrives with glove men who can drive the ball" accompanied by a photo of the no-range, stone-mitted Alfonso Soriano. Meanwhile, TSN fired baseball staff two weeks ago and will go with all newswire stories.

Total Baseball quickly stole MacMillan's steam and became the official encyclopedia, but it has not been published in a few years. So our only up-to-date encyclopedia is Neft and Cohen's chintzy paperback one. No analysis in there.

Meanwhile James became embittered with the world he had help work and gave up the abstracts. He still wrote his excellent books and helped form STATS, which published their Major League Handbooks until they were bought out by TSN and dismantled.

We now have WHIP and DIPS whereas once we just had "The Lip". And so where are we? Baseball analysts are now the prop comics of the sports journalism world led by the Carrot Top-inspired Jayson Stark. They use stats inappropriately-"He's batting .400 against Pedro Matinez!" Of course, he's 2-for-5 with two dink singles and three K's, but they cite it like he owns Pedro. They use statistics to shock and amaze us-" If you count the 2000 World Series, it means that every year that the Yankees and Mets have met, at least one game has been decided in one team's final at-bat." (an actual Jayson Stark todbit).

Then there are the neo-Luddites with their leader and my hero, Joe Morgan, a man who questions the validity of ERA and on-base percentage. So even after our metamorphosis what have we wrought? Let's witness:

The Good

Aaron (Cleveland): Joe, what's your opinion about sliding into first base head first?

The only time you should slide into first is to avoid a tag. You don't do it to beat a throw. Running from home to first, you get their fast by running through the bag. I don't believe in diving into first. But sometimes your momentum just takes you that way. We've all done it. I never did it intentionally though.

[Mike: Yep, that's the only one.]

This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
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