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Final Post

My workload for graduate school has ramped up significantly, so I will be unable to continue writing this blog. Obviously, graduate school is much more important than keeping this material fresh. Something else finally occured to me: nobody cares what I have to say! Therefore, this is my final post. Tell them I’m through, for love of The Game.
Here are some final observations:
1) There are a lot of old-timers who now have sons in the majors. Jesse Barfield, Cecil Fielder and Tony Pena all have kids now in baseball. I’ll bet they’ve all grown up with some great stories. I can’t wait for Wade Boggs Jr. to join the majors. Maybe he’ll eat a whole turkey before each game.
2) Jeff Suppan looks better tonight than he has. This is what happens every year: he comes to camp overweight, and within a few weeks after the season’s started, he begins to pan out. I used to think that he was more worried about the post-game spread than the runner at third.
3) I never did figure out what was going on in the clubhouse of that 1992 Philadelphia Phillies team. It’s a shame.
4) Joe Randa is batting, what, .240? It looks like America’s love affair with Joe Randa is finally starting to end.
5) Jim Edmonds is hitting something like .180 with a .890 fielding percentage. Is there any question that this guy isn’t a $10 million a year guy anymore?
6) I saw last Sunday on ESPN that the Braves called a heralded product of their system up who contributed immediately. No surprise there.
7) I saw Reggie Jackson in “The Benchwarmers” a few weeks back. I also heard that guy plug some hitting system before an interview he had on ESPN the Radio. Is there anything that guy won’t do for a buck?
8) The Chicago White Sox have put it together, after a slow start. No surprise there, either.
9) The Cardinals new ballpark features $8 beer and $5 hot dogs. If ownership could figure out a way to turn install toilets that cost fifty cents a flush, they would.
10) Incidentally, have you ever noticed how chummy all of the ownership groups are? Do you know why? It’s because they all participate in a “cartel,” or, an organization that keeps prices artificially high so that all the members of the group can benefit. If it were a truly competitive business, Cardinals ownership wouldn’t be chummy with the Reds ownership, and nobody would hang out in each other’s luxury boxes. This is one area that I actually respect Billy Beane for–he seems like a truly competitive guy.
11) Speaking of Billy Beane, did I change any attitudes on Billy or moneyball? At least we all got some laughs, right? As it turns out, one of the professors at my new school is a huge Bill James fan. It took quite an effort to keep from taking some shots at him and Rob Neyer when I met them all a few weeks back.
12) Did anybody ever figure out my Mike Laga mystery?
13) The Cardinals defense ***** this year.
14) Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball. I get to watch him regularly and I’ve seen many a time how he’s single-handedly changed the course of a game. Alex Rodriguez, on the other hand, will only perform for a team that’s got a fair chance of winning already so that, you know, he’s not accountable for anything.
15) I was reading the other day that MLB is trying to squeeze money out of fantasy leagues. I’m not a fantasy guy, to be sure, but I think that it’s a shame that baseball is now trying to tax fans for being fans. Of course, this can only be bad for mlb: fantasy leagues aren’t crucial to anybody, and baseball’s reputation of being a short-sighted organization will only be compounded if they proceed with this fiasco. Maybe Selig can give Donald Fehr a call to see if they can cancel the World’s Series, while they’re at it.
16) Can there be any doubt, that the outcome of the Bonds mess can only be bad? Bonds is effectively finished as a productive major leaguer. I’m not crying for him.
17) Does anybody know how many donuts Mike Lavalliere ate over the 1987 season? I have a good bet that it’s 1,944: one dozen for every game played.
18) Thanks to people who posted comments and regularly read the blog, notably a few close friends and Reid at reid.mlblogs.com. Reid even linked to this blog from his blog. I would’ve linked to some of my favorite blogs, but there are only a handful that I checked regularly (Reid’s among them).

Cardinals Announcers

If I hear the Cardinals announcers tell me the Josh Hancock story one more time I will go mad.  They do this every year.  They pick out one guy and each announcer tells his story ad naseum until I never want to hear the story again.  Enough Already!

Update

Much has been said about the upward trend in home runs.  How about some of the amazing defense?  The best three plays I’ve seen so far this season are:

3) Scott Rolen dives to his right and throws a guy out from his knees.

2) Dontrelle Willis’ quick-reaction on the mound.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a line drive hit that hard.

1) Tadahito Iguchi making a throw while parallel to the ground.  He didn’t even start the throw until he was already airborne.  This is unreal.

Atlanta

How’s that Atlanta staff faring under Roger McDowell?  Not too good, from some of the things I’ve seen.  What, John Smoltz is the only starter with a win? 

OBP

In my softball league, I have an OBP of 1.875.  A batting eye is a batting eye, righit?  So why hasn’t Billy Beane called yet?  Is it the fact that I’m within the weight standards for my height? 

Illinois Drivers

This isn’t about baseball, but I’m going to post it anyway.  Illinois drivers are really terrible.  I saw a CNN story a while back that said out of the midwest states, Illinois ranks the worst in terms of driver knowledge of basic driving laws. 

I work in Illinois but live in St. Louis.  I have seen people driving while: 1) doing their checkbook, 2) Reading books, 3) reading notebooks, 4) fixing their make-up, and of course, 5) talking on their cell phones.  Of course, they do it all while traveling at high velocities (or very low velocities in the cases where people are reading novels) and they are in complete ignorance of everything going on around them.  Also today, a guy came up behind me doing about 90, and he was talking on his cell phone while letting his dog wander all over in the interior of the car.  If he hadn’t have braked at the very last second, there would’ve been a colossal wreck.  I know, I know: he’s real macho with the reflexes and the multi-tasking.  He’s a regular NASCAR driver in his 1988 rusted out Buick Regal.  Recently I have read of states undertaking legislation to prohibit cell phones while driving.  I am in favor of this.  Anything to keep people safer on the roads. 

Of course this won’t get the idiots off the road.  And of course, this phenomena is local to Illinois; it’s all over.

Incidentally, why do people like NASCAR?  NASCAR stinks.  What’s so great about watching a car go around a circle several times in a row?  I get to drive everyday; it’s not a huge fantasy for me.  The problem with NASCAR is not lack upper-middle class fans (like I saw they’re trying to get into New York City), it’s lack of an interesting premise.  These guys drive cars.  I get to drive cars.  The big difference is, these guys plug things like "Skoal" which makes me think "maybe this is the type of thing that won’t go over in New York City."  NASCAR is what it is: a sport for rednecks to drink beer to on a Saturday afternoon.  Don’t try to change it; it’s just not very interesting.

Jason Marquis

The more I see of Jason Marquis, the more I like.  It seems like he’s stronger this year.  He touched 97 today; and was still bringing it at 95 in the 8th. 

General Notes

I am going to start working a part-time job to complement my earnings from my full-time job so that I will save as much money as possible before I start school this fall.  This means that my postings will be less frequent than they have been.  But I have been known to go on a tear, so who knows?  I am only going to keep this going until the first week of August, anyhow.  I know you’re all sorely disappointed. 

1) I think it’s ironic that Braden Looper got the win for the Cardinals pulling it out this afternoon.  He surrendered the lead to a Rich Aurilia double in the 8th after Quinten McCracken’s homer off of Wainwright.  Why is Looper always grinning?  What’s he got to be happy about? 

2) When La Russa needed a hit today, he reached down and got Jason Marquis, who promptly stroked a single to set the stage for Pujols’ afternoon drama.  Jason "Slash" Marquis is also the guy La Russa goes to when he needs a fresh set of legs to run for a guy when they need a run. 

3) Today’s STL Post-Dispatch featured a column that mentioned the Cardinals need for an outfielder.  The "cavalry" is on the way, in Larry Bigbie!

4) I’m checking out the LA/San Fran game as we speak.  I guess Bonds has set the stage for his retirement due to complications in his elbow.  He said that if he has to have another procedure, he’s done.  But let’s be honest: It’s best for all if he retires, the sooner the better.  Before you could make the argument that the Giants benefitted from his production, but he’s not producing anymore. 

5) Let’s take a quick look around the majors…the Mets are off to a great start.  And they’re STILL the second story coming out of NY….Andruw Jones made a great catch in today’s game against the Pads…he also had a bomb.  The A’s are a game under .500.  Hardly running away with the division.  No team seems to want the AL West.  One team that could, in theory make some noise is Seattle.  They looked pretty decent when I saw them the other night.  They’ve got that hotshot pitching prospect coming up who could be pretty good.  All they need is Jarrod Washburn to pan out and to find some more pitching, both of the bullpen and starting variety.  They say that Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera are on the block.  Dollars to Donut the Mets make a major push for one of either Cabrera or Willis, or both.

6) From what I’ve seen, The Cubs look pretty good.  I like their style of play; I like Juan Pierre at the top of the order.  You can’t do better than Derek Lee at first, both as a player and as a clubhouse guy, from the things I’ve read. 

7) How is Houston in first place?  They were supposed to have nothing left in the tank after Bagwell’s arm fell off, Clemens semi-retired and Craig Biggio turned 803 years old.  One big answer: Lance Berkman.  I shouldn’t have ripped on that guy for so long.  The reason that I hated Lance Berkman, was because my impression was that he was a buffoon.  I mean, what kind of an idiot ruins his knee playing football in the offseason?  Any time I’ve ever seen an interview with him, he’s always had a blank expression on his face.  But he did go to Rice, a school of the highest caliber, so that’s good enough for me.   

The Bonds (possible) indictment

The news broke last night that a grand jury is looking into whether or not to indict  Barry Bonds for perjuring himself while testifying in the Balco probe.  If the evidence is there, indicting Barry Bonds is absolutely the right thing to do.  Why?  Let’s go back in time to those heady days, back when steroids was just a gathering cloud on the horizon.  Guys were called up on the stand to testify, and each of them faced a choice: 1) Tell the truth, 2) Tell a lie, or 3) tell something in between. 

Jason Giambi told the truth, and he suffered for it.  He’s through the dark period now, though, and assuming he’s currently legitimate, his career is on the mend.  Barry Bonds, all the evidence seems to indicate, told nothing but lies and was on the brink of having no punishment whatsoever. 

So, in effect, if Bonds were to be granted the right to lie on the stand, it looks like we punish honesty and reward deceit.  I don’t think that’s a message that federal prosecutors would like to send to potential witnesses in other cases.      

Flirting With Disaster

Isringhausen says that the key to being a good closer is to not let anything bother you.  At least we know that Izzy will sleep well tonight.

Most scribes, as they rush to defend Isringhausen, are quick to forget that Izzy also had a terrible spring.  I’d rather rush to defend Adam Wainwright, a guy who held the line while the Cardinals bats tried muster something. 

I wonder where the Cardinals were, this offseason, when clubs were giving Dan Kolb away for free.  Kolb has surrendered only a hit over 3 innings worth of work.

The Cardinals should see if Anthony Reyes can close.  He’s got great stuff, and he’s been shown to not be able to go 200 innings in a year without injury.   

La Russa made an interesting move this afternoon.  When the Cardinals came to bat after Carlos Lee unloaded on Jason Isringhausen, Aaron Miles reached on four straight balls.  So La Russa asked #3 starter Jason Marquis to go out and drop a sacrifice bunt to move Miles into scoring position.  In years past, La Russa would’ve gone down and got an Eddie Perez or a John Mabry, guys that La Russa undoubtedly feels that can give him a game-winning HR.  This year is asked a guy to drop a bunt?  Don’t get me wrong, I like the smallball.  I love the smallball.  But it’s very un-La Russa like.  Maybe he feels that he really is trying to work with nothing this year, and when the Cardinals ownership starting pinching pennies on payroll last winter in the face of unprecedented revenue streams, he was left to "fill the holes" with guys like Skip Shumaker and whoever at 2B.  No, the Cardinals as presently constituted are not a championship-caliber club.

The 1993 Phillies/Darren Daulton

Here’s a link to an article that a friend tipped me off about:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/writers/franz_lidz/02/16/darren/

It covers Darren Daulton’s insights into the universe, including a theory that everything revolves around the number 11, the strategic positioning of pyramids, the end of the world in 2011, etc.  Daulton makes Wade Boggs look sane.  Maybe Daulton and Carl Everett can have a symposium for crackpot theories.

The article also reveals that Daulton was a career .245 hitter.  I was shocked to hear that.  I thought he was closer to a .260 man. 

The article also reveals something about the nature of that Phillies club of 1993.  Those guys were into all kinds of stuff that nobody knew about, apparently.  This only begs the question I’ve been asking for a while now: What was the clubhouse dynamic like with that 1992 Phillies club, that featured these guys, and Good-Guy Dale Murphy.

The Kirk Gibson HR–1988 WS

Here’s something a friend sent me this afternoon.

I just finished watching "Beyond the Glory" on Kirk Gibson’s homerun.  It was pretty good stuff.  First off, that Gibson was okay.  They brought him to L.A. to regulate on the sissies that were a bunch of losers.  His whole philosophy was to play as hard as possible until your body broke, then get fixed and commence to breaking it again [kind of like the ‘Lather, Rinse, Repeat’ approach to baseball].  The most interesting aspect, however, involved the role scouting played in that most dramatic homerun.  A Dodger scout had watched Eckersley and realized that when he would get to a full count against a left handed hitter, he favored going to a backdoor slider.  When the count went to full, Gibson called time, stepped out, and smiled.  He was sitting on that pitch.  A fastball would have struck him out easily.  I just found it very ironic that the work of a scout proved so pivotal in that moment — and that it came against the Oakland A’s.  I’m not saying that an iBook wouldn’t have revealed that, but it does seem to be a powerful argument for the presence of scouting.

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