Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Bucks Continue To Be An Absurdly Likeable Pleasant Surprise

This Bucks team (probably) isn't going to win a championship this year and it's entirely possible that Atlanta comes back and wins the series, but never in a million years did I expect this Bucks team to:

1. Have a winning record,

2. Make the playoffs,

3. Make the playoffs without Andrew Bogut (and to a lesser extent, Michael Redd, who just isn't the same player anymore),

4. Make the playoffs with a team that featured Jerry Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas (though I've always been a Kurt Thomas fan),

5. Be on the verge of getting out of the first round,

6. Win a game in Atlanta, ending their 14 game home winning streak, and coming back from a 9 point deficit with only 4 minutes to go.

Brandon Jennings appears to be an absolute star. If he can develop a reliable jumper, the sky is the limit. Everyone on the team is a niche contributor in some way. John Hammond may very well be the best GM in the NBA.

Between an excellent basketball season, the mascot doing crazy dunks, Squad 6, and the shockingly catchy "Fear The Deer" slogan, this may be one of the most fun seasons of basketball that Milwaukee has ever seen.

If they can close out the series at home on Friday, so much the better.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Last Chance For A Uecker Fix

Here's your day game open thread. You should probably listen on the radio.

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
3B Casey McGehee
C Gregg Zaun
RF Corey Hart
SS Alcides Escobar
LHP Chris Narveson

Hopefully we won't be subjected to Purgatory's Bells today.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Trevor Hoffman is Unusable

It's tough to watch a great pitcher lose it. It's even tougher when it seemingly comes all at once (even if it was fairly predictable). Watching tonights outing it's blatantly obvious that Hoffman has absolutely nothing left to give out there. He has minimal velocity difference between his two pitches and the 2-0 pitch for the granny was right over the heart of the plate, showing perhaps the most prolific closer in the games history has lost his.

You can't be pissed at him for going out there when called upon, but after awhile when it becomes this clear you can start to get upset that he makes himself available at all. Trevor Hoffman needs to call it a career on his own terms, tonight. I really hope he doesn't make his last season in baseball one of complete embarrassment.

The Brewers staff now have two pitchers who are wholly unusable in anything resembling a baseball game. Their combined salary? $20 million.

Trevor Hoffman Is Awful

That is all.

Uecker To Have Heart Surgery

He'll miss 10-12 weeks.

Get well soon Ueck.

An Interesting Take On Howard

From BP's Matt Swartz:

This deal actually makes a lot of sense when you consider the fact that the Phillies probably have a lot of inside information about Howard’s likely aging pattern. Teams have shown that they do a very good job of re-signing only the players who will age gracefully. If Howard can at least be an above average player for the majority of this contract and salaries inflate like they have in other expansions, this deal will probably come out looking fair. I still think it’s probably a little on the high end, given the opportunity cost of two draft picks that they could have received in 2012, but this is hardly a contract that is sure to debilitate the franchise for years to come.

Note To Self

When August rolls around and the Brewers are 5 games under .500 and I look at their Pythagorean Record and they're severely underperforming, would someone remind me about the Pirates games back in April?

I mean, they are off-the-map terrible. Here be dragons, and Pirates.

Brewers v. Pirates - 4-0, RS = 53, RA = 4.

Brewers v. Everyone Else - 5-10, RS = 65, RA = 100

The Brewers have scored 53 runs in 4 games against the Pirates. The Houston Astros have scored 60 runs all year. The Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles have scored 62 runs all year. The Pirates themselves have scored only 12 more runs on the season than they have given up to the Brewers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Stupid Phillies May Make Prince Unsignable

Ryan Howard is 30. He can’t hit lefties at all. He’s not an asset on defense. He has old player skills. And he just signed an extension that doesn’t even kick in for two years, and pays him obscene amounts of money.

This will not end well.

Fangraphs’ Matthew Carruth had this to say:

In other words, Howard will need six seasons that were better than his 2009 season, except over his 32-37 years. I’m not sure I would lay even money on him achieving even half of that. This contract is both incredibly risky and unnecessary since Howard was already signed through 2011. Say hello to baseball’s newest worst contract.

Keith Law:

"This is one of the worst extension of its kind -- it's an overpay in both years and dollars. Howard is one of the last guys in the middle of the lineup I'd give that kind of money, too. He's 30, has a bad body, is not a good defender, and has struggled to make contact to versus lefties -- he's gone backwards in that area over the past couple of years. If you were locking him up through age 31, it's not so bad. How happy are if you're Albert Pujols? If Howard is worth $25 million, Pujols is worth $50 million a year."

Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory runs Howard through ZiPS and comes to this conclusion:

This deal appears risky for the Phils. The home runs numbers look pretty good, as do the RBIs. But the latter is mostly a function of Howard's hitting in the middle of a great lineup. And those on-base percentage and slugging numbers begin declining steadily in 2013. Paying more than $20 million per season for a first baseman with a sub-.350 OBP just isn't good business. Large, hulking sluggers aren't known for aging particularly well, and Howard will be 32 before the new contract even goes into effect. And let's say Howard hadn't signed this deal and hit the market after the 2011 season. It's hard to imagine he would get a contract worth $125 million.

Rob Neyer:

Ryan Howard's new contract is a testament the enduring power of the Are-Bee-Eye. It's also a testament to old-school ignorance: ignorance of aging patterns, ignorance of position scarcity, ignorance of opportunity costs ... hey, take your pick. The Phillies have done a lot of things right over the last few years. But this is a big bowl of wrong.

Moreover, this may make Prince Fielder unsignable as it may set the baseline for hefty first baseman too high for a small market. What were the Phillies thinking?

Maybe he'll decline very fast and actually tank the market, but probably not.

The Philadelphia Enquirer's Rich Hoffman loves the contract:

What I see now is a guy who is physically in better shape than he was 3 years ago. That is about work ethic, and trying to get better.

What I see now is a guy who is three times the defensive player he was when he first arrived in the big leagues. That is about high-level instruction on the Phillies' part and it is about a willingness on Howard's part to identify a deficiency and deal with it professionally.

Howard has already made a ton a cash. His response to every bump in salary has been to work at his game even more.

Again, there are no guarantees. But in baseball's big casino, this one really does make sense.

Rich Hoffman, I would like to play poker with you sometime.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

PFR Packers Draft Recap

1.23 (23) Bryan Bulaga (OT-Iowa) 6'5"-314
2.24 (56) Mike Neal (DT-Purdue) 6'3"-294
3.7 (71) Morgan Burnett (SS-Georgia Tech) 6'1"-209
5.23 (154) Andrew Quarless (TE-Penn State) 6'4"-254
5.38 (169) Marshall Newhouse (OT-TCU) 6'4"-319
6.24 (193) James Starks (RB-Buffalo) 6'2"-218
7.23 (230) C.J. Wilson (DE-East Carolina) 6'3"-290

The Packers wildest dreams were fulfilled when Bulaga fell to them at the 23rd spot in the draft. Many viewed Bulaga as a top 10 pick, and he fills the Packers biggest need. He'll step in immediately at either right tackle or at guard. Neal will help bolster the defensive line, and projects as a defensive end in the Green Bay's 3-4 scheme. Along with last year's first round pick B.J. Raji, the Packers defensive line continues its transformation under their new system. Burnett raised eyebrows with a 4.42 40-time and a 39.5 inch vertical leap; he'll provide depth to a secondary that was exposed as thin by the Cardinals in the playoffs. Quarless was a very productive tight end at Penn State, and is a strong receiver; he also has a long history of off the field issues and is a classic boom or bust pick. Newhouse can play guard or tackle, and impressed scouts by running the 40 in just five seconds flat. Green Bay didn't find an outside linebacker in this draft, but may go after one now in free agency to replace Aaron Kampman (Jacksonville)


Packers did everything I could have wanted. They took the best value (which also happened to be the biggest need) in the first. I'm with Paul in that I generally prefer the Belicheat model of accumulating second rounders, but Bulaga is an irresistible talent at 23. Picking up a run first defensive end will free up Capers to blitz backers if he pans out. The rest of the picks fill needs well. I was a little disappointed that the Packers didn't "reach" for Bruce Campbell in the third (I thought they would take him in the 1st!) or trade up to get him in the 4th, but Gil Brandt loved the Morgan Burnett pick and that is definitely good enough for me. The Packers then took best available based on their board, can't ask for more than that. Boom or bust picks are great in the 5th, terrible in the 1st (especially when they are brain dead as Dez Bryant).

I kind of hope the Packers pick up a running back in free agency. Brian Westbrook would be a solid addition for a low, low price and used properly (as a receiver). I was concerned about the lack of OLB's until I read Thompson's comments saying basically, don't worry yet. I'm thinking he might dip his toe into the FA pool or work something out here before camp starts.

Detroit had a fantastic draft, Seattle had one of the greatest draft weekends I can remember, San Fran knocked it out of the park and who the hell was picking for Tampa and Oakland? Since when are they respectable.

Tim Tebow might not have a great career, but based on the contract he is likely to sign I am guessing it will be longer than Josh McD's. TT is a fantastic human being but all that charity work won't stop him from being a coach killer. Chicago was piss poor with what little chances they had and I will not pile on Jax, They know what they did.

I was driving all week so I missed all the TV coverage. Let me tell you, it was the best draft experience I have ever had (sans the moment I was drunk off my gord when the Packers drafted Rodgers. I was so thrilled I ran out of The Harp, took my shirt off and danced in the draft ever). Gil Brandt is, quite literally, the best football talent evaluator I have ever listened to in my entire life. He had brilliant insights on the tip of his brain (his tongue didn't always cooperate with that speed) and even had hilarious nuggets like "Bulaga wins the most attractive girlfriend at the draft competition." Do yourself a favor next year; find out where he is broadcasting from and listen. This year was the NFL Radio channel on Sirius.

All in all I am happy, but as always we'll see around December if the last few months of painstakingly detailed analysis was worth a damn minute.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bulaga Pick

Where do you fall?  Hate the arms because they are 3/4" shorter than average or the small hands?  Love the perceived value of a top 10 falling to 23 (what up Mr. Rodgers)? 

Personally I am a huge fan.  Zone blocker, young, immediate left tackle, intelligent, supposedly tenacious.  I love it.  My only concern is O'Brien making him look silly.  Hopefully it was just a bad game or Peppers and Redneck are going to run wild on Aaron.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Crazy Pirates Series

Brewers Pythagorean Record, Pre-Pirates - 5-7

Brewers Pythagorean Record, Post-Pirates - 9-6

The Brewers currently lead all of baseball in runs scored. It is likely that no one will catch them today, except perhaps the Dodgers. Before today they were 7th.

Day Game Open Thread!

Sorry we're late. It's been busy. Now to relax with some nice afternoon baseball.

Fangraphs on the Zambrano Demotion

I completely agree:

Carlos Zambrano is simply a better pitcher than Carlos Silva. Carlos Zambrano is simply a more durable pitcher than Carlos Silva. Instead of getting 180-200 innings out of one of his top pitchers, Lou Piniella is instead opting for about 40 to 50 innings from him and then 100 to 150 out of a pitcher who projected as average at best coming into the season. The Cubs’ chances at the division were low coming into the season. If Piniella’s rash and irrational decision stays in place, they become virtually nil.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The New Cubs' Starting Rotation

Ted Lilly
Ryan Dempster
Randy Wells
Tom Gorzelanny
Carlos Silva

Notice anything missing?

Jay Mariotti Has The Hots For Tim Tebow

I’m not going to go through this whole thing. You can read it yourself and instantly know that it’s a piece of utter dreck. That said, there are a few choice moments that I feel are worth highlighting. For instance:

Antidote to NFL Crime: Tebow in First Round

Apparently if Tim Tebow had just been around to preach his message of abstinence and chastity, BenRo wouldn’t be (allegedly) assaulting women in restaurants.

If I ran an NFL franchise, I'd draft Tim Tebow in the first round and, for now, put him in a mascot suit. He's the perfect anti-toxin for what ails the NFL, the annual roll call of bad actors that now focuses on Ben Roethlisberger and what should be a four-game suspension, or much longer if the raw, creepy details of what happened that night in a Georgia bathroom stall are remotely accurate.

See! Jay wants the Rams to draft Tebow and dress him up like Sexual Harassment Panda. I knew it!

That’s enough of that. Mariotti is seriously arguing that he’s worth 1st round money just because he’s a good guy (allegedly). That’s a stupid idea and it’s not worth my time to beat it to death. But Jay ups the stupid a bit when we get to this:

The Vikings, drafting 30th in the first round, need help on defense. But with Favre in his gray-bearded twilight, why wouldn't an innovator such as coach Brad Childress bring Tebow into the fold as a weapon to augment Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, former Florida teammate Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian and Visanthe Shiancoe?

The italics are mine. An innovator such as Brad Childress? Brad Childress is some kind of football genius now? Will he teach Tim Tebow how to fart away timeouts and call ineffective running plays at inappropriate times? How to waste time at the end of games and have too many men on the field when you’re in field goal range?

Do you think that Jay Mariotti actually watches any sports?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brewers/Bucs and Hawks/Bucks open thread.

Kind of getting a late start, but the Brewers are up 8-0 on the Pirates in the 5th and the Bucks are trailing the Hawks by like 20 in the 3rd. Anyone watching? That's the beauty of the interweb, ya know? I can follow both games and watch LOST at the same time. Go Brewers/Bucks/Hugo.

Does Jay Mariotti Like Anything?

If you are like me, you’ve probably heard that baseball is too slow. Sure it’s not really slower than it has been in the last decade, but suddenly it’s an issue. This is partially due to umpire Joe West’s outburst and partially due to the fact that it’s an easy topic and saves Mike and Mike from having to watch any actual sports for another day. Jay Mariotti, ostensibly a sports columnist who has been known to cover baseball occasionally decided to latch on to this complaint because he longs for the good old days of spitballs and gambling on baseball, and oddly, he tries to frame himself as the young, hip, cool guy. It doesn’t work:

But when the buzz from those weekend events faded Monday, we awakened to a sport beset by more troubling issues than ever, a national past-its-time that continues as steady a decline as a dial-up server in a 4G world.

See how hip I am? 4g! No 3g for me daddio, LOL. I’m hifi with wifi, 23 skiddoo!

Now, what are these issues that are more troubling than rampant steroid use or throwing World Series?

Not until Saturday night did I even know the regular season had started -- what with Duke vs. Butler, the Tiger Woods debacle, Phil Loves Amy, the beginning of the NBA and NHL playoffs and this week's primetime debut of the NFL Draft.

There’s this thing called opening day. All of the sports reporters in the world attend it. All of the radio personalities do remote broadcasts from it. All local media covers it to death. It was on April 5th. Maybe since you cover sports for a living you pay a little more attention. I here they even mentioned it on 4g.

I swear, it could be weeks before the masses pay much attention to baseball, as evidenced by stunning sections of empty seats in one-time hotbeds with formerly packed parks -- Baltimore, Cleveland, Toronto -- and equally shocking apathy at Citi Field, the second-year home of New York's non-championship team.

This is a good time to mention that is an amazing free resource and that everyone involved with it does a fantastic job. Why, you can even see attendance figures! In fact, you can look at the sum total of all 193 games played so far as compared to last year and learn that across baseball the average game has had 334 fewer people than it did last year. Considering the economy, weather in certain areas, and a bunch of other variable, that doesn’t seem too bad to me.

And perhaps Camden Yards is empty because the Orioles are a hopeless franchise that recently told Cal Ripken to screw off. And perhaps Toronto is empty because they gave away their best pitcher and are in rebuilding mode, and everyone knows it. And perhaps people in Cleveland are currently more concerned with Lebron and Co. And perhaps Mets fans are disgusted by incompetent management and a last place start.

The first weekend of Fox's game coverage was down 16 percent from last year's ratings and down 27 percent from 2008. If not for the usual high demand in stadiums where the home team either is adored (Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium, Citizens Bank Park) or breaking in a new crib (Target Field in Minnesota), baseball would be a niche attraction. Face it, your grandfather's sport and your father's sport is not your sport.

This is admittedly disconcerting, but it is also a problem for television in general. MLB has an excellent online presence and many diehards watch and listen online.

Now let’s talk about some other teams besides these “adored home teams” and “new stadia”. Attendance in Atlanta is up over 7000 people per game so far. It’s up almost 4,000 per game in Cincinnati. For some reason it’s up almost 3,000 per game in Kansas City. Milwaukee has also drawn almost 3,000 more people per game than last season. Pittsburgh, Washington, and St. Louis are both up 1500 per game. Finally, the Texas Rangers are drawing 6,000 more people per game than in 2009. I wonder why Jay didn’t mention this. It’s almost as if he’s done no research at all.

"It's definitely different. I was here in the glory years, or whatever you want to call it, when it was packed every night. It's kind of a shame to see it the way it is now," mourned Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who now sees crowds of four figures at Rogers Centre in hockey-mad Toronto.

For the game to resonate in the future, the fuddy-duddies in charge must recognize the importance of making the product faster, younger, sexier and more streamlined.

You see, the Blue Jays aren’t sexy enough. Maybe a name change is in order. Mounties, maybe? That’s a sexy name. Perhaps they should just replace all the players with supermodels. Anyway, I’m sure their struggles have nothing to do with the fact that they’re in a rebuilding year in a division with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.

They simply don’t do stirrup socks well. That must be it.

"I didn't hear anything -- just quiet," Orioles third baseman Miguel Tejada told reporters last week in Baltimore after a game attended by an announced 9,129 fans, the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history. "It's weird, because it's the big leagues, a major league game. I thought people would like to see it and see good players."

They probably would like to see good players, which is why they are avoiding Camden Yards. The Orioles are 2-12 and have been outscored by 30 runs. They’ve been this way for over a decade now. They are basically the Pittsburgh Pirates of the AL East. Oh, and recently when Oriole legend Cal Ripken expressed interest in joining the front office, the front office said this:

“According to his report, Angelos squashed the idea because he didn't want Ripken getting too much credit when the team started winning again.”

I can’t imagine why no one is going to Oriole games.

A dozen years ago, fans loved to see good players and returned to baseball in droves, wooed by the almighty home run. It turned out to be a fraudulent period, of course, and there's little doubt the Steroids Era turned off millions. Why waste money in a recession on a game that bilked and backstabbed the masses?

First of all, while the steroid era is a black mark, it did not boost baseball to new heights of popularity. It merely brought people back to pre-strike levels. Remember the strike, Jay? Have you been paying attention to the NFL and NBA labor negotiations? You might want to do that before you declare baseball dead. Just saying.

It's a good thing much of the season is played in the summer sun with beer taps aflow in fan-friendly destinations, or baseball could be on a death watch.

It’s a good thing they play basketball in big urban arenas and not in poorly lit mold encrusted warehouses, otherwise the game would be on a death watch.

For the game to resonate in the future, the fuddy-duddies in charge must recognize the importance of making the product faster, younger, sexier and more streamlined. Football, more popular than ever, doesn't have those problems. Basketball, now the No. 2 sport nationally, doesn't have those problems. Even hockey is on an upswing in this country.

Maybe basketball is the #2 sport nationally. I don’t know how you compare between different season lengths and different seasons and weather, and different TV deals. I grant that it’s possible. And if basketball has cut into baseball, it’s probably because the NBA is in one of their most star-heavy eras of all time with Kobe and Lebron and Wade and Melo and Durant and Nash and Bosh and Nowitski and a bunch of other guys who I don’t really follow.

But basketball has a bunch of problems too. At least one of their former refs fixed games, and claims that this practice is widespread. And even casual fans hate NBA officiating. A bunch of small market teams hemorrhaged cash this year. Seattle actually lost their team. And most importantly, there is labor strife on the horizon. Let’s not whitewash the other sports if we're going to pick on baseball.

Baseball is in a crisis period.

Long games! This is terrible. They’re…long. They take long. They’re longier than ever. Longerer.

And until someone other than Bud Selig (who turns 76 in July) is commissioner and influential owners like Jerry Reinsdorf (who turned 74 in February) aren't telling him what to do, I'm afraid the game has no chance to turn a corner into the 21st Century.

It wouldn’t be Jay Mariotti if he didn’t get in a dig at a Chicago team. Is Jerry Reinsford influential? Why would the White Sox owner be influential? I mean, I live in Chicago so I hear about him a lot, but he’s not even the most influential owner here. Also his team recently won a World Series. Just sayin’.

And individual teams do far more in terms of marketing the game than the league office.

Selling the Great American Home Run as a video-game offshoot no longer can work. Nor are the powers-that-be investing their time in the right places when they pull stunts such as banning the hoodie of a rare character, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, because the pullover sweatshirt he wore last weekend in cold, rainy Boston wasn't OK'd by the league.

Managers wearing uniforms is stupid, but no one cares about Joe Maddon’s hoodie. I doubt that this is distracting people from turning around baseball. Really.

"I have no idea why this is happening. For me, it's just a comfortable thing. I've always worn hoodies," Maddon said. "Go back to your collegiate days. I did a lot of football -- I don't know if they think it looks too football-ish. I have no idea. All I know is that it's a comfortable piece of clothing; I think it's attractive. If you're looking for younger fans, I think those are the people that really are attracted to something like that, too. Listen, I will state my case because I think I can, but I will follow the rules, too."

Young fans will not be drawn in by Joe Maddon’s hoodie. Moreover, the NFL are absolute Nazis about this type of thing. They didn’t even let Peyton Manning wear Johnny Unitas’s shoes as a tribute to Unitas. They’re complete assholes. And they seem to have plenty of time to market their sport.

Keep wearing the hoodie, Joe. Let them come and tear it off you. It'll be the most fun we've seen in baseball this month.

There was a no-hitter, and the Brewers blew like 37 games in the 8th inning and there are a bunch of good rookies in the league and on opening day Mark Buehrle made this awesome between-the-legs play. But no, you’re right. Joe Maddon’s hoodie. Awesome. Maybe the NFL owes all of its success to Bill Belichik’s hoodie.

Meanwhile, too many games still run much too long. That's why I applauded Joe West, the veteran umpire, when he trashed the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox for turning what should be baseball's best ongoing attraction into unwatchable TV. While Selig and the boys have made a conscious effort to quicken the pace -- the average length last season was a tolerable 2 hours and 55 minutes -- the two behemoths insist on dragging the game into a fourth hour and often a fifth. Last year, their games averaged 3:40, with 11 of the 18 games exceeding 3:20, one nine-inning game going 4:21 and only one completed in less than three hours. In two of their first three games this year, they played in 3:46 and 3:48. For a decade, the Yankees and Red Sox have been right at the top each season in longest games played. Nothing has changed. And nothing will change.

This is because the Yankees and Red Sox do not create outs as frequently as most teams, because they are good at baseball.

"They're the two clubs that don't try to pick up the pace," West said. "They're two of the best teams in baseball. Why are they playing the slowest? It's pathetic and embarrassing. They take too long to play.

I would argue that they are “slow” because they are good. And by the way, measuring “slowness” by the length of a game seems stupid to me. If they combine for like 30 hits and the game goes 4 hours, that’s not necessarily slow. Those hits take time, after all. I’d like to see batters/minute. Does anyone have that stat?

"The commissioner of baseball says he wants the pace picked up. We try. All of baseball looks to these two clubs to pick up the pace. The players aren't working with us. This is embarrassing, a disgrace to baseball."

Disgraces these days sure aren’t what they used to be.

The players say the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry demands that a pitcher wait longer to calculate his pitch, or that a hitter step out of the box as part of his strategy. Naturally, rather than acknowledge that West might be right about dragging games into a molasses pace, some ripped him. "To call the Yankees and Red Sox, two of the best teams in baseball, 'pathetic' and 'embarrassing,' that's just ridiculous," Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia said. "If he doesn't want to do Red Sox and Yankees games, he should tell the umpires' union. Then when we're in the World Series, he'll be out of that assignment, too. ... What he doesn't understand is that when we don't do well in these games against the Yankees, we get killed [by fans and media]. So if I'm going to take a deep breath and focus before I get in the box, I'm going to do it. There are a lot of good hitters on both teams, a lot of pitches thrown. That's just the way these games are played."

Seems like a reasonable answer.

"It's incredible. If he has places to go, let him do something else," the normally non-controversial Mariano Rivera, legendary Yankees reliever, told the New York Post. "What does he want us to do, swing at balls? He has a job to do. He should do his job. We don't want to play four-hour games, but that's what it takes. We respect and love the fans and do what we have to do and that's play our game."

Then there was Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, maybe the guiltiest party as a serial dawdler. "It is what it is, man," he said. "Can't please everybody. There's a life lesson for you."

Once again, a fine explanation.

Naturally, Selig toes the line, refusing to order the sport's two most powerful teams to quicken their act. "It isn't the time of the game, it's the pace of the game," he said.

Exactly! Entertaining games can go on for hours and hours. You want to avoid a 1-0 3.5 hour game, sure, but I'm not sure that's what we're talking about.

The best executive order would be to make umpires consistently enforce the pitch/hit count that already is in place -- if a pitcher or hitter violates the rules, he is penalized with a ball or strike. Alas, Selig doesn't have the gumption to enforce that solution, either.

And forget about the grandest idea of all: shortening the regular season to 140 games. That's 22 games in lost revenue per team. The owners are in it for greed, remember, not to satisfy the paying customers.

How on earth would eliminating games help? As if shortening the season is the same as shortening games? What would the point be? If you like baseball, why would you want less of it?

The fast start of the Yankees suggests a repeat championship in the Bronx, not a healthy happening for those -- namely, Selig -- who think the game has competitive balance. The Steinbrenners are subsidizing too many teams as it is in a revenue-sharing climate, and when the Yankees keep winning titles in spite of it, it almost causes a plantation effect that doesn't inspire hope in the vast majority of cities. The Yankees, at $206 million, again have the top payroll. The Red Sox, at $162 million, are second. No one else is close. Heck, the collective salary of the Yankees' infield -- Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano -- is $85.2 million, slightly more than the median payroll. Rodriguez alone will make almost as much, $33 million, than the 25-man payroll of the Pittsburgh Pirates. "I get it that the Yankees are good for baseball," Mark Attanasio, owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, told USA Today. "And they've done a great job getting new revenues with their ballpark. But we have to make sure the playing field is level, and it's not. The gap is getting bigger and bigger. How would you like to be Tampa Bay and have New York and Boston in your division? How do you compete with that?

Here’s a neat paper that suggests that baseball is the most competitive sport:

In summary, we propose a single quantity, q, the frequency of upsets, as an index for quantifying the predictability, and hence the competitiveness of sports games. We demonstrated the utility of this measure via a comparative analysis that shows that soccer (FA) and baseball (MLB) are the most competitive sports. Trends in this measure may reflect the gradual evolution of the teams in response to competitive pressure [7], as well as changes in game strategy or rules [8].

Most people think that because they have a salary cap, the NFL is more competitive than baseball. That thinking is backward. MLB has been the more competitive sport for the entire salary cap era.

"We're struggling to sign [Prince] Fielder, and the Yankees infield is making more than our team."

The Yankees weren't amused. "I'm sorry that my friend Mark continues to whine about his running the Brewers," Yankees executive Randy Levine told "We play by all the rules and there doesn't seem to be any complaints when teams such as the Brewers receive hundreds of millions of dollars that they get from us in revenue sharing the last few years. Take some of that money that you get from us and use that to sign your players. The question that should be asked is: Where have the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue sharing gone?"

For the Brewers, it’s gone back into the team. Sometimes unwisely, but generally, back into the team. And the fans have rewarded ownership by showing up in droves.

And when we aren't lamenting lopsided economics, slow games, nose-diving attendance and low TV ratings, there is the issue of race. The best young, black athletes aren't playing baseball anymore, which makes Jackie Robinson Day a bittersweet experience and leads some African-American players to publicly ask if franchises are participating in racism by not signing black players in the twilight of their careers, such as Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield. The most important player for the sport's future, it can be argued, is Jason Heyward (right), the Atlanta Braves rookie slugger who looks like the next great player and has embraced trying to promote baseball in the inner city.

Really? Ugh. Not true. Read. Here. Once again, Jay undercuts his own point with Heyward, a player who is actually attempting to sell baseball to the inner city.

Yet, for as dynamic as Heyward is, does America know anything about him? Baseball has no marketing arm, either.

I do. But he’s a rookie. If he’s as good as I think he is, everyone will know him soon enough.

The game's biggest name continues to be Rodriguez, he of the steroids scandal and irritating persona.

A-Rod isn’t even the biggest name on his own team. Ever hear of a guy named Jeter?

So every time I hear about a no-hitter or a spectacular game, it's only a temporary salve for the monumental problems that ail baseball. The season will plod along, ebb and flow as always into October, but by then, the only people who will care are fans of the teams still playing. Be sure one will be the Yankees, and that their games will extend close to four hours and well past midnight.

But, hey, at least Joe Maddon isn't allowed to wear that darned hoodie anymore.

By adding the wild card (Bud Selig) more fanbases follow the sport for a longer period of time than ever before. If you don’t like Yankee games going on forever, may I suggest a different team? There are 29 of them. And you can watch all of them on TV and on your 4g internet connection, and if one is boring you, you can flip to another! It’s very 21st century. For some reason football hasn’t caught on yet. You can only see their games through a cable monopoly that many people can’t even get. Baseball has and an Iphone/Ipad app, and the MLB package, and a deal with Roku…

Monday, April 19, 2010

Doug Davis Will Get Better, I Promise

Doug Davis career BABIP: .312

Doug Davis 2010 BABIP: .502

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Baseball: Surely We Can Beat Marquis

12th new lineup today in 12 games. May as well, not like the Brewers have played an excellent game first to last.


I had a crazy dream about dinosaurs attempting to get on my land last night. My anti-taxman turrets gunned these rampaging reptiles down, however their diversion allowed g-men into the woods on the back five acres and set up an Ed & Elain Brown style crackdown on my property. Obviously this was a dream about the Brewers, as such I predict the following: Fielder will go yard today, Doug Davis will pitch at least 6 innings, Carlos Gomez will make a spectacular play in the field.

It could also mean that booze, Jurassic Park, property taxes and salmon don't mix.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Lanan outpitches Gallardo.

Brewers are atrocious on the base paths.

Hawkins proves the Cubs meltdown wasn't a fluke.

Fielder makes a non-credited error (the best kind).

Brewers piss away another one.

It's always an adventure. Tune in tomorrow afternoon, not a chance they can screw up Wolf v. Livan Hernandez, is there? IS THERE??

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What Is The Worst Line Of “Go Cubs Go”?

Please vote in the comments.

A. “Well you better get ready for a brand new day.”

It’s super-generic and seemingly chosen only to rhyme with the equally generic “Baseball season’s underway”.

B. “Well this is the year and Cubs are real, So come on down to Wrigley Field”

Cubs are in fact real, however, I think you meant “and the Cubs are for real” and poetic license only gets you so far. “And Cubs are real” is a strange thing to say. Also, real and field don’t rhyme.

C. “Baseball time is here again, You can catch it all on WGN”

Pandering to the Cubs and their broadcast network in one simple terrible line. Plus I thought that baseball season was already underway! I was getting ready for a brand new day!

D. "So stamp your feet and clap your hands, Chicago Cubs got the greatest fans.

No, no they don’t.

Update: If you'd like to learn more about Steve Goodman, buy this.

Open Thread - If Only Suppan's Towel-Pillow Had Been A Little Harder

Sup faces Big Z. This is not a good matchup, though Zambrano has melted down once already this year, so who knows. Here's your lineup:

2B Weeks
CF Edmonds
LF Braun
1B Fielder
3B McGehee
RF Gerut
C Zaun
SS Escobar
RHP Suppan

Oddly, Gerut is playing in the corner for Hart while Edmonds takes center.

Let's avoid the sweep!

(Did that sound forced? It did, didn't it. Doesn't it feel like it should be Friday today?)

No Country For The Houston Astros

Houston is off to a terrible start this year. Like, really, really terrible. This isn’t a huge surprise because while Houston is not completely bereft of talent (Lee, Oswalt, Pence, Wandy, the injured Lance Berkman), they’ve been trading on their old men for a long time with nary a prospect (save Pence) panning out. There’s also not much in the pipeline for the future.

The old guys are finally starting to run out of gas. Lance Berkman, by far the biggest part of the Houston Offense, appears to have a serious injury that will keep him out until at least May, and probably sporadically thereafter. Carlos Lee is currently slugging .097. Pedro Feliz, an above average defensive third baseman who can’t hit a lick, has been seeing time at first base, which is just idiotic.
So how bad have the Astros been?

Record – 0-8

Team splits - .214/.239/.282

Total number of home runs hit – 2 (One by Pence, and the other by backup CF Jason Michaels)

Total Runs Scored – 14

Strike Outs by batters – 54

Walks – 8

Shut-outs suffered – 3

The Brewers, who lurk just above the Astros in the NL Central are hitting .264/.343/.438. They have 8 HRs. They’ve struck out 58 times, but also drawn 28 walks.
But it’s even sadder than it looks. Here is a run-by-run breakdown of all 14 of the Houston runs scored this year. Don’t worry, it won’t take very long.

Game 1 – Opening Day in Houston, Oswalt v. Lincecum

Lincecum pitched 7 innings of 4-hit, shutout ball. The Giants had a 5-0 lead and summoned journeyman Brandon Medders from the pen to pitch some 9th inning garbage time. The Astros, behind doubles from Geoff Blum and JR Towles manage to score 2 runs (2/14), at which point Brian Wilson came on to shut the door. The Astros never seriously threatened

Game 2 – No Runs

Game 3 – Cain v. Myers

In the 4th inning, Hunter Pence managed to reach on a throwing error by Pablo Sandoval, ending up on second. After a Carlos Lee strikeout he reached 3rd on a groundout by Geoff Blum, at which point a clutch double by Pedro Feliz drove him in (3/14). Jeff Keppinger then struck out to end the inning.

Down 4-1 in the 7th, Houston actually managed to tie it up. Blum and Keppinger both singled and scored on a triple by Corey Sullivan, a backup outfielder. (This remains his only hit of the year.) Sullivan would score on an infield single from Michael Bourn (6/14) before Kaz Matsui grounded out to end the inning. San Francisco would score 6 runs in the final two innings to turn this one into a 10-4 laugher. Of the four Astro runs, one was the direct result of a throwing error, and another scored on an infield hit.

Game 4 – No runs in an 8-0 loss to the Phils.

Game 5 – Moyer v. Paulino

The Astros have a veritable offensive explosion in the 3rd off of the ancient Jamie Moyer, touching him up for 5 runs, and they did it all with 2 outs and no one on base. The pitcher started off the rally with a double, followed by a Jason Michaels HR. Jeff Keppinger then walked and was driven in on a Hunter Pence HR. That’s right, both Astro home runs this year were hit in the same inning. Off of Jamie Moyer. They would get one more run on 4 consecutive singles from Lee, Feliz, Johnson, and Manzella before Humberto Quintero, who made the second out of the inning, also made the third. After all of that the Astros led by 1 run. They would relinquish that lead in the 7th as the Phils would take a 7-5 lead. The Phils would tack on 2 more in the 9th to go up 9-5. The Astros would get one back in the 9th, but never seriously threaten. Michael Bourn led off the inning with a double and would move to third on a groundout by Corey Sullivan. Jason Michaels then hit an RBI single (12/14) to end the scoring. Even though the Astros put up 6 runs, they never really threatened after the 7th. They would record 42% of their offense for the season in this game, including 100% of their HRs. It also required a double from the pitcher.

Game 6 – Oswalt v. Halladay

Say what you want about Oswalt, he’s had some really tough early season matchups. Roy Halladay did what Roy Halladay does, pitching a complete game 7-hitter while allowing a single run. That run came in the 6th inning when Chris Johnson, pinch-hitting for Oswalt, singled to start the inning. Michael Bourn followed with a bunt single putting two on for Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger grounded back to the pitcher, but Halladay threw it late (or away, it’s unclear) loading the bases with no one out. At this point, Cory Sullivan grounded into a double play, plating one run, (13/14) and allowing Halladay to escape with minimal damage when Carlos Lee popped out to end the inning. Philly never trailed in the game and went on to win 2-1. Note that all the Astros could manage was a run-scoring double-play following an error or a bad fielder’s choice.

Game 7 – No runs

Game 8 – Myers v. Penny

Michael Bourn singled to lead off the game. With Kaz Matsui batting, Yadier Molina attempted to pick Bourn off of first, but threw it into the outfield allowing him to reach second. He moved to third on a groundout, and scored on a sac fly by Pedro Feliz. (14/14) And that’s all she wrote. This very easily could have been shut-out number four as Houston would only manage 3 more hits the entire game, and Bourn probably doesn’t score without the error on Molina.

To sum up, their first two runs were scored in garbage time off the back of the Giant bullpen. Run three involved a throwing error. Runs 4-5 scored on a backup outfielder’s only hit of the year so far. Run 6 scored on an infield single. Runs 7-11 all scored with 2 outs in the 3rd against Jamie Moyer, and involved the Astros only HRs of the year as well as a double by the pitcher. Run 12 scored in the 9th of the same game when they were down 9-5, though it did involve some actual good hitting. Run 13 scored on a double play ground out after a throwing error of some kind, and run 14 scored because of a throwing error by Yadier Molina.

The Brewers have had a pretty tough start, but just keep in mind that it could be worse.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stetter Down, Consternation Totally Pointless

I don't think anyone will really argue that this makes the Brewers better, but it does give them "more innings." That was the rationale for calling Suppan "effective" back when Melvin and Milwaukee radio retards were still defending the washed up piece of trash.

In something of a surprise move, the Brewers will option left-handed relief specialist Mitch Stetter to Triple-A Nashville on Thursday so Jeff Suppan can return from the disabled list to start against the Cubs.

Stetter was one of three left-handers in the bullpen but the others -- Chris Narveson and Manny Parra -- are starting pitchers who were beat out by Suppan in the race for the fifth starter's spot. Stetter was the team's top late-inning option against left-handed hitters, coming off a 2009 season in which he made 71 appearances and limited lefties to a .178 batting average.

The club's decision was complicated by the fact that so few Brewers players have Minor League options. Narveson and Parra are both out, so the Brewers would risk losing either player on waivers if they tried to send them down. Likewise, fifth outfielder Jody Gerut and backup infielder Joe Inglett are out of options.

The only relievers with options were Stetter and right-hander Carlos Villanueva.

"There were only two choices," said general manager Doug Melvin, who informed Stetter of the move following Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the Cubs. "Nothing against Mitch, it's not that he hasn't done the job, but we feel that Carlos can give us some more innings.

"It was a tough call. We went back and forth on it. Obviously, we're taking a little bit of a chance."

To be honest, the decision doesn't really bother me. Sure Narveson showed that Stetter is the only reliable lefty reliever in the pen (Narveson earned a rotation spot, so I'm not really knocking the guy) and having three lefties was a nice luxury, but Stetter won't be available to mop up the 3-6 innings after Suppan and Davis fail to work through the second.

Villanueva is only important to this team as a "holy shit we are f'd" option. Going into this season, Villanueva really was only going to get important innings if Hoffman, Hawkins and Coffey were unavailable. Early results are in...Villy may have just gotten important. The problem comes in when you look at just how important he is. Having a 4th right handed option in the bullpen is the hallmark of a team with a mediocre-to-shitty bullpen. Having a LOOGY is indicative of an extremely strong pen with versatile and dependable arms. Keeping a player who at best will pitch an out or two per game and can face a minority of opposing batters is a huge luxury. Lets face it, the Brewers don't have that luxury.

The Brewers find themselves in a spot where they need guys who can sop up innings when 40% of the rotation is hopelessly worthless. Villanueva fits that role perfectly.

To me this is confirmation that the Brewers aren't playing for the playoffs, they are playing the 2010 season to avoid humiliation.

Brewers-Cubs Game 2 Open Thread

I'm stuck in Pittsburgh but I do have internet access, so how about an open thread? It's Bush versus Wells. The lineup looks pretty solid through 5 and... not so much after that.

For your Milwaukee Brewers:
Rickie Weeks 2B
Corey Hart RF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Gregg Zaun C
Carlos Gomez CF
Alcides Escobar SS
Dave Bush P

For the Cubs:
Theriot SS
Fukudome RF
Ramirez 3B
Byrd CF
Nady 1B
Soriano LF
Fontenot 2B
Soto C
Wells P

Go Crew!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Opening Day, Part 2

I'll be at the Brewers-Cubs game today in the bleachers. That guy who catches the Prince Fielder home run and doesn't throw it back? That's going to be me.

I actually have a twitter account @badgernoonan. Perhaps I will do some in-game tweeting.

Heck's Bells

In this young season opponents are hitting .368/.400/1.053 against Trevor Hoffman. It's obviously a small sample size, but when you don't throw hard you can go downhill pretty fast. Most troubling it that the gap between his fastball and change seems to be getting smaller despite the fact that he has picked up 1-2 mph on his fastball.

Last night his fastball was clocking in at 86, give or take a mph, and his change was consistently at 81, and sometimes jumped up to 82. I've always been told that you want something in the neighborhood of a 7 mph difference between the two, and I would assume that this becomes more important if you're not a fireballer.

Hoffman only threw his change a few times last night and relied primarily on his fastball. That's not going to work. If his changeup is off he probably shouldn't pitch.

Friday, April 9, 2010

That Loud, Stupid, Profane Man Sure Plays Some Dumb Smallball

I think the Chicago White Sox have the potential for high comedy this year. To get everyone up to speed, the White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, likes his teams to hit a bunch of home runs since they play in a small park and won a World Series by hitting a ton of home runs just a few years ago. Manager Ozzie Guillen, on the other hand, would rather play “small ball” and Kenny Williams begrudgingly obliged him this year by swapping out Jim Thome and his base-clogging ways for everyone’s favorite spark plug, Juan Pierre. Ozzie has also decided that he will be more aggressive in terms of stolen bases and order more sac bunts. As we all know, this is stupid.

Last night the White Sox dropped a 5-3 extra inning game to the Cleveland Indians, but that’s not nearly as interesting as how they did it. Gordon Beckham is an up-and-coming star for the White Sox. He’s already a good player and has the potential to be great. In just 103 games last year (his rookie year) he hit 14 HRs and 28 doubles, and can play at both 2nd and 3rd. He typically hits 2nd in the Sox lineup behind Juan Pierre. He makes good contact and has good power. He singled in his second at-bat last night, but was stranded.

Let’s pick things up in the 7th with the White Sox trailing 2-1. Juan Pierre, against all odds, walks to start the inning. At this point, Guillen decides to take the bat out of Beckham’s hands and orders a sac bunt. Now, this is stupid for several reasons. Beckham is a good hitter. Pierre, if you really want him on second, is capable of swiping a base. But even that would be stupid because Beckham, Carlos Quentin, and Paul Konerko are all fairly likely to get an extra-base hit of some kind, and are all due up. But Beckham bunts and gets Pierre to second.

I’m sure you know what happened next. Carlos Quentin came up and crushed a 2-run home run to give the Sox a brief 3-2 lead. The Sox, having given up a meaningless out from one of their most productive hitters, then went quietly. The Indians would tie it up in the 8th.

We move to the bottom of the 9th with the score tied. Juan Pierre leads off with a single. What do you think Ozzie did? Yup. Another sac bunt from Gordon Beckham moving Pierre to 2nd. With the dangerous Carlos Quentin up and first base open in the bottom of the 9th with the Sox needing only 1 run to win, the Indians, of course, walked him. They then managed to retire Konerko and Andruw Jones. Basically, Beckham gave up his at bat so that Andruw Jones could hit instead with an additional out. Brilliant.

The Sox would go on to lose in the 11th, having pissed away the potential for several big innings.

To sum up:

Runs scored by small ball – 0
Runs scored by home runs – 2
Runs scored by bases loaded walks – 1

Their AL Central Rivals, the Minnesota Twins, were simultaneously beating the Angels behind a double and a home run from…

Jim Thome.

Frozen Four Day One Thoughts

Thoughts on yesterdays games:

RIT was a fucking disgrace. They are nowhere near as abyssmal as they played yesterday, but they just decided to not show up. The Badgers were able to thoroughly dominate with almost zero effort (which may hurt them tomorrow). We were sitting right in front of Barry Melrose (got my picture with him, woo hoo) and he was disgusted with RIT's effort. I have absolutely no clue how a solid, tough team like Denver lost to them.

BC is super, super fast but they are not 6 goals better than Miami. Miamis goalies simple failed.

BC is all transition hockey, and I think a crisp badger team can wreck them. Sadly, after that RIT debacle it will probably take a period for the Badgers to remember how fast actual division 1 hockey is.

Lastly, the ncaa really fucked this up. Playing college hockey games in 70000 seat football stadiums, when there is an NHL rink a few blocks away is fucking retarded. There were supposedly nearly 40000 people there yesterday but honestly, it felt like 4000. Absolutely zero atmosphere. Just awful and stupid and a real shame.

This Post Was Written On My Magic Computer, WonderDell

Yeah, and I got my enchanted jock strap!

- Carl Carlson, in response to Homer Simpson’s claims of owning a magic bat.

Perhaps the worst thing about The Natural, the 1984 Robert Redford vehicle, is the sports-talk radio nonsense that it seems to support. In the world of The Natural, striking out isn’t just bad luck or a lack of talent; it’s a moral failing. This is how far too many fans view their local baseball players, and it’s as idiotic in real life as it is on film.

The Natural has a lot in common with your typical misogynistic 80s horror movie in which only the chaste have any hope of surviving. Roy Hobbs is gunned down in the opening scene of the movie for having the temerity to pick up an attractive young lady. Moreover, this incident apparently haunts him for almost two decades as Hobbs both blames himself for being shot (which is idiotic) and feels embarrassed about the situation (which allows him to be blackmailed. “Hey, Hobbs, throw the game or I’ll show the pictures of how you were shot 30 years ago.” Uhm, Ok.). It is no small irony that besting a thinly veiled Babe Ruth figure known as The Whammer, a man who never met a drink or a floozy he didn’t like with apparently no impact on his quality of play, led to this allegedly embarrassing situation.

We will return to the role of women in The Natural in a moment, but first we should discuss magic. There is a place for magic in movies, and even in sports movies, but it helps if there is some internal logic to that magic. Roy makes a magic bat out of a tree that was struck by lightning. This tree has special significance as Roy’s father died underneath it. The story of the bat (known as Wonderboy) is one of the movie's strong points, but that strength is undercut later when other forms of magic seem to trump the magic of lightning and dead fathers. (Wonderboy also inspires the immortal line, “I boned it so it wouldn’t chip.”)

The magic of the bat is apparently shareable, as the team adds lightning-bolt patches to their jerseys which inspire a long winning streak, and the bat itself allows Hobbs to shatter the clock in the scoreboard at Wrigley Field. The New York Knights should have been unstoppable; however, it turns out the magic bat only works if you’re not hanging around with harlots.

One would think that after being shot by a crazy hot chick at the age of 19 that Hobbs would show some skepticism towards being seduced by another one, but he quickly falls for Memo, the coach’s niece despite ol’ Pops warning him that she's “bad luck.” And boy, is she ever. Memo is set up with Roy when Roy won’t take a bribe from “The Judge”, the team’s evil owner. You can tell he’s evil because he sits in an unlit office all day in the dark probably strangling puppies. The Judge wants Roy to throw games so that he can force out Pops the manager, and providing Roy with easy tail was apparently his best idea. It’s probably a good thing he’s not an owner anymore.

The only cure to Memo's curse is Glenn Close who shows up wearing white and being lit by the sunlight in an angelic manner, and takes Roy to the Soda Shop to reconnect. It’s all very symbolic. It’s also a little strange as it turns out they have a son together. (Interestingly, in the book version (at least according to Wikipedia), Roy rebuffs Iris (the Glenn Close character) because she is a grandmother, going so far as to discard a letter from her without reading it because it mentions that she is a grandmother. What a jerk.)

The whole movie is basically a series of slumps and hot streaks based on who Roy is currently hooking up with, scenes of threats from the judge, and Roy looking all stoic and noble.

Eventually he’s poisoned by a donut with makes his old bullet wound start to bleed through his stomach. If that sounded crazy to you, well, just pretend that the poison donut was baked by a guy using sugar from the burned sugar cane field where his father died. That’s what I do.

You’ve certainly seen the final game before along with the iconic scene where the lights explode. Before all of that happens, Roy breaks his bat. In the book version Roy is acting like a dick before the game and when his bat breaks he strikes out. He then goes on a bit of a rampage and (sort of) admits to throwing the game a la Shoeless Joe. In the movie version he breaks his magic bat which – remember – is imbued with the power of both lightning and his dead father, and instead switches to a bat made by the batboy in his spare time. This apparently imbues bats with a similar magical force as Roy crushes an enormous home run even though his poisoned donut bullet hole is profusely bleeding in an entirely non-Christ-like way.

The Natural is not without redeeming features. The soundtrack is pretty solid. Just like Major League, it involves both Randy Newman and an owner who wants to lose on purpose, and you can’t go wrong with Major League. Though hokey, the ending has become a classic cinema moment as has Bump Bailey’s untimely death.

However, all of the good will you may from the feel-good ending, the overcoming of adversity, the dumping of slutty blonds, and the turning down of bribes, will be lost when you get a look at The Natural’s kid throwing a baseball. If Roy Hobbs is The Natural, I think this kid's throwing motion puts paternity into serious doubt.

I mean, where did they find this kid? This makes Kathy Ireland’s field goal kicking in Necessary Roughness seem completely plausible. In the world where the son of the greatest baseball player ever throws like this, the Mighty Ducks trick formations all work, C. Thomas Howell and the guy from 30-Something really can beat the entire 1984 US Olympic Volleyball Team, Rocky doesn’t need to block, and Cole Trickle can really pass like 50 cars in one lap. It’s just terrible.

“The Natural” tries too hard in every respect. It beats you over the head like an old western. Good guys wear white, bad guys wear black, screwing people will get you shot or take away your feel for the curveball, umpires are routinely against the team you’re rooting for, as is the media, and the only reason you ever fail is because you didn’t have the fire or the passion or any of the other nonsense that meatballs complain about on the radio.

That said, there are some good things about The Natural:

1. I think it’s filmed well. There are a ton of memorable shots in The Natural.

2. Tearing the cover off the ball, and throwing it so hard that it gets stuck in the netting.

3. Bump Bailey’s untimely demise.

4. The last scene, if you ignore the stupid bat boy.

5. The fact that Roy succeeds without his magic bat, perhaps implies that there was no magic bat after all.

6. The New York Knights logos and uniforms are actually pretty sweet.

7. Roy hits the reporter during his secret batting practice.

The "Human Element" In Umpiring

Guess what. The strike zone changes depending on the count:

It's as clear as day: These umpires are a bunch of softies. They see a pitcher struggling to put the ball over and they go all Gandhi on us, giving the pitcher an an extra chunk of strike zone to work with when the count reaches 3-0.

And when the batter becomes the underdog, when the count goes to 0-2? Why, the hearts of our merciful arbiters simply turn to mush: They can't help pulling for the poor batter as he chokes up on the bat, hoping to make some kind of contact. Who knew the umps were such empathetic characters?

Can we just use Pitch-FX to call balls and strikes now?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frozen Four

The Badgers are playing RIT right now. You can listen here.

The Yo Deal

Via Adam McCalvy:

The Associated Press reported that Gallardo is guaranteed $30.1 million in the deal and could earn $42.5 million including an option for a sixth season in 2015.

Tweeting Major League

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders is currently watching the end of Major League. So far:

Yankees just brought in their closer, Duke Simpson, who leads lg in saves, K/9, and HBP. Also has pitched 118.0 IP with a 1.37 ERA!!!


In typical fashion, the Yankees waited until there was two outs in the ninth to bring him in instead of letting him pitch to Cerrano.

But I must applaud the Yankees' manager's usage pattern for Simpson. 118 IP out of your closer's a pretty solid job.

Scoreboard lists him with 147/48 K/BB in 118 IP, with 41 H. Yeesh.

For the sake of comparison, last year in only 66.1 innings, Mariano Rivera had a 72/12 K/BB ratio and allowed 48 hits.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It Gets Worse (Suppan is the third starter)

Suppan is not going to be the #5 pitcher. Jeff Suppan is going to be the #3 pitcher according to dumb and dumber in the Brewers booth. The stated goal is to split up the lefties Wolf and Davis. The unstated goal is clearly to lose baseball games and give me an ulcer.

To explain, Suppan will pitch next Wednesday in Chicago. He will then pitch after Wolf, thus making him the #3 starter and should that remain he will end up with a significant number more starts than the new #5, Dave Bush.

Doug Melvin Needs A Pay Raise (and a pink slip)

Many of us praised Melvin's brilliant medical work in diagnosing the imaginary neck injury to one (choose your own insult) Jeff Suppan. Personally I assumed it was the first move in an attempt to finally DFA the worst value in Major League Baseball. Sadly, I was wrong.

At the very least, I had hoped Macha's many assertions that Spring Training was an actual competition and that Suppan's spot in the rotation was really up for grabs was the truth. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, refrain from calling him a bald faced liar and assume that his comments were truthful.

Giving him that, however, also means reevaluating his role with the team. Macha has never really managed a baseball team before. He played dress up for Oakland while GM Billy Beane reportedly made all decisions from personnel to pitching changes. Macha was content to go along for the ride. Beane cut the puppet strings in 2006 and Macha disappeared until last season. He was offered two high profile jobs with Seattle in the interim but refused. Perhaps the Mariners expected him to make decisions on his own?

Last year Macha stubbornly refused to go away from Suppan, refused to give Mike Rivera more playing time and gave Bill Hall 234 at-bats despite a complete and utter lack of production. What do these AA caliber players do to earn their playing time? Each were given huge contracts by Doug Melvin. Now we hear today that the Brewers will be giving Suppan yet another chance to cost them ballgames.

Like I said, lets assume Macha really meant it when he said spring performance mattered. The only conclusion we can make is that this was not his decision. It is impossible to claim Suppan was the fifth best starter this spring. There is not one thing you can point to to make that claim. Therefore, unless Macha is simply a liar, this was absolutely NOT his decision.

Macha has resumed his role as the GM's uniformed surrogate and is not (has never been?) making decisions regarding the rotation and God knows what else. Therefore, as the title suggests, Doug Melvin needs a raise. He is filling two roles with the organization, manager and GM, and deserves to be compensated as such.

I'd also like him to publicly take up the managerial role, as it is infinitely easier to fire a manager than a GM.

Game 3 Open Thread

It's game 3, and a triumphant return to the day game. Doug Davis will face Aaron Cook, and we'll get a look at everyone's favorite player, the backup catcher:

2B Rickie Weeks
CF Carlos Gomez
LF Ryan Braun
1B Prince Fielder
RF Jim Edmonds
3B Casey McGehee
C George Kottaras
SS Alcides Escobar
LHP Doug Davis

Go Crew!

The Return of Soup

He's back.

And by the way, the reason you have to know some advanced stats is so managers can't peddle this tripe:

Macha noted that many of Suppan's statistics were similar last year to Braden Looper, who won 14 games despite a 5.22 ERA. Suppan was 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA.

I guess that's why they re-signed Looper. Oh, wait...

Congratulations To The Milwaukee Bucks

There's a lot to like about your current Milwaukee Bucks. They play tough defense, they seem very team oriented, they're young, and their coach seems pretty bright.

It's a shame that they lost Andrew Bogut for the year as I think they could have done some real damage in the playoffs, but they should be celebrated for locking up a playoff spot last night against the floundering Chicago Bulls, and for not throwing in the towel upon the loss of their best player. And who knows, if they avoid the Cavs in the first round they still might be able to surprise someone.

So congrats to the Bucks. I had extremely low expectations before the season started and this has really been a pleasant surprise. They haven't been this likable in a long time.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Randy Wolf Era Open Thread

We only have a few more days to enjoy a Suppan-free team (McCalvy reporting Suppan likely to be the fifth starter next week), so we're going to need to rack up a fair number of wins over the next ten days or so.


No Daytime Baseball?

This is terrible. Why is there no daytime baseball today?

Opening Day

I've been sunburned before on opening day, but that's because I have the unique ability to burn in 45 degree overcast weather. This, however, was the first legitimate sun burn I've ever gotten on April 5th.

They opened the lots at 9:10 this year, which provided ample time for grilling our grass fed burgers and brats, and perhaps it was just the parking lot we ended up in, but bathrooms were not in short supply for once. The guys next to us who brought their own toilet didn't even have much demand. Last year the going rate (heh) was ten bucks.

And really, it wasn't a terrible game. Good defense by the Rockies snuffed out a few potential rallies, but we saw good contact, an excellent game from Carlos Gomez, and really, would it be opening day if Rickie Weeks didn't get plunked?

Gallardo struggled with control a bit, and his strikeout pitch didn't seem to be there, but he pitched well enough.

Opening day is always a blast. A win would have capped things off nicely, but it's hard to spoil a 72 degree sunny day in early April.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Because it's Friday...

here's a video of a dog playing basketball:

Carlos Gomez is Terrible

The problem isn't necessarily Gomez leading off, its Gomez playing at all in this lineup. That said, his career .292 OBP is laughable and should be enough to keep him out of the lead off spot. His 24% k-rate should be enough to keep him out of the 2 hole and the fact that his gb/fb ratio is more similar to Prince Fielder than Juan Pierre is enough to make me scoff at the offensive benefits of his speed. The guy is a bum plain and simple.

The problem is though, he's our starting CF bum, likely for the entire season. So...where do you put him in the lineup? Obviously he absolutely should not lead off since he doesn't get on base. He isn't a "traditional" number two because he strikes out "too much," has poor plate discipline and would never be mistaken for a "professional hitter" *gag*.

Obviously he isn't a 3/4/5 since he has no pop whatsoever and the Brewers have real alternatives for the three and four spots (next question, who hits after Prince?).

9th is the pitcher, the Brewers don't have one leadoff hitter much less two so the LaRussa solution is pointless.

That leaves 6, 7, 8. At that point does it matter? The only known quantities are 3rd, 4th and 9th. I would imagine McGehee will get the first opportunity to lose the 5th spot with Edmonds/Hart 6th (or reversed, either way it will change more than once throughout the year).

So my question is who do you want in the top of the lineup and on what basis? I guess I would like to see Escobar lead off since his last two season he has gotten on base at a .350+ clip and has yet to fail in the Bigs. The lineup would shake out thusly:


When Hart is in the lineup I'd shift him to 7th and move everyone else up a spot.

It's definitely not pretty but it's the best I can come up with right now.

sorry Paul, started as a comment but got too big

Carlos Gomez Is A Terrible Lead-Off Hitter

If you lead off, your job is clear. You need to get on base. If you are on the Brewers and you get on base, it’s quite likely that you will be driven in by either Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder.

Want to see some scary numbers?

2009 - .287
2008 - .296
2007 - .288

Those are the OBPs of Carlos Gomez in the majors. A leadoff man should be close to .400. In a perfect world Carlos Gomez would be in a hot race against Yovanni Gallardo over who gets to hit 8th on opening day. Under no circumstances should he ever lead off anything.

And I thought we were past the point where we value steals at the top of the order. Steals are all well and good, but stealing a base in front of Ryan Braun or Prince Fielder is almost pointless. Both are very likely to get an extra-base hit, and for most of those being on first is as good as being on second, especially if you are fast enough to steal a base in the first place. You want to steal in front of singles hitters. You also want to make it when you attempt to steal.

Much has been made of Gomez’s success rate in the spring. That’s all fine and good, but when faced with Big League catching, Gomez is 59/80 or 73%. That’s basically the break-even point for stolen bases, though at the top of the lineup you are probably costing your team runs at that rate.

It’s actually hard to think of a worse lead-off hitter than Carlos Gomez. We like to make fun of Juan Pierre around here, but Juan’s career OBP of .348 makes him look like Derek Jeter compared to Gomez.

According to Anthony Witrado, Ken Macha thinks this might be a good plan. It’s a bad plan. A terrible plan. It’s managerial malpractice. Gomez is a high-ceiling guy who might develop into something worthwhile someday. He should do that developing at the back of the lineup where he belongs.

Jeff Suppan should follow Javon Walker's lead

Javon Walker: I offered to give the Raiders their money back

"Everybody knows how Al Davis is. What people and fans don't realize is when I did sign that contract, I offered to give it back. So that's the thing people need to realize and need to hear is that I don't take money just to take it. [...] When I was in Oakland, I offered to give that money back, and they said 'no.' "

Sign Jermaine Dye Now

I firmly believe that Corey Hart will never be useful in a Brewer uniform again. I think tall lanky guys have short shelf lives in general (see: Sexson, Richie) and that even though Corey is still relatively young, people have adjusted to him and he hasn't adjusted back.

Last year Corey hit .260/.335/.418. The year before that he was worse. He's not a worthless player, and if you're stuck with Corey it's not a disaster, but I like the alternative a lot more.

I live in Chicago and I've seen a fair amount of Jermaine Dye. He has historically been one of the most underrated players in baseball, as well as one of the best. Outside of an injury-plagued 2003 season, Dye has produced an OPS+ in excess of 100 in every year since - get this - 1999. Usually he's been well above that. He put up a 135 in 2000, and an incredible 151 in 2006.

Dye is getting older and he is not the player he used to be. His defense has slipped of late and there is some evidence that he now wears down towards the end of the season. This makes the Brewers an ideal fit for him. On the short end of a platoon with Edmonds plus the occasional spot start while Edmonds plays center, you can probably coax an All-Star level of offense out of Dye for another year or two.

In 2008 Edmonds mashed righties to the tune of .250/.362/.521. He had a bad 2007, but crushed his opposites just as well in 2006. Jermaine Dye crushed everyone last year until August hit. he put up a monster sOPS+ of 172 in June last year. After that nagging injuries to his legs turned him into a disaster, but when healthy he hit as well as ever, and killed lefties hitting .292/.387/.508.

Both of these guys are older. Edmonds is 40, Dye is 36, and it's entirely possible that both will end up hurt or suffer a decline in performance. That said, given that Hart is the alternative, it's a risk I'm willing to take. As an added bonus, it will allow Edmonds to take more time away from Carlos Gomez.

If the Brewers can swing this deal (which I hear still might be in play despite reports to the contrary), they should do so. Right now. This is a no-brainer.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Keith Law on Chris Narveson

Via Twitter:

For a AAA team, sure. RT @Justink8996: @keithlaw what is your Outlook on Naverson? Is he a legit 4-5?

Juan Pierre Continues To Lead The League In Dumb Things Written About Him

From ESPNChicago White Sox beat reporter Bruce Levine:

The top of the White Sox order will be fun to watch. The consistent Juan Pierre brings his small ball game to the American League, which fits perfectly with Guillen's run-and-gun offensive mentality. Pierre could score as much as 120 runs with Gordon Beckham, Quentin and Konerko hitting behind him. The designated hitter combination of Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay brings a diverse element of power and contact hitting.

Number of times Juan Pierre has scored 120 runs in a season: 0

Most runs ever scored by Juan Pierre in a season: 108

OBP that year: .378, his career high, in 2001 in Colorado.

People Who Have Hit Behind Juan Pierre in the past: Miguel Cabrera, Derrek Lee (a bunch of times), Aramis Ramirez, a steroidy Mike Lowell, a still-in-his-prime Todd Helton, a still-good Larry Walker, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez.

Chances of Juan Pierre approaching 120 runs this year: 0.00%

That Juan Pierre Kool-Aid must be awesome stuff.

2010 Light It Up Light It Up!

The Bucks The Bucks!!