Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
With lefties Chris Narveson and Manny Parra pitching in the exhibition game against the Angels, Macha said right-hander Jeff Suppan would stay behind in Maryvale to throw a 90-pitch simulated game under the supervision of pitching coach Rick Peterson.
Macha said Suppan has been bothered periodically in camp with a neck problem and would give that a good test in the simulated game. Suppan has been taking treatment for that problem.
Macha was vague yesterday about what Suppan might do today because of that neck issue. He wanted to hear first from Suppan this morning if he felt OK to pitch before scheduling the simulated game.
Macha said Suppan remains a candidate for the No. 5 starting spot. But, when asked if Suppan might go on the DL, Macha added, "That's a possibility, too."
Monday, March 29, 2010
Field of Dreams is meant to be a tribute to the game, but I see it as leeching rather than enhancing. And I think you can do “baseball fantasy” right. I’m not against fantasy or “magical realism” in general. Mark Helprin’s “Winter’s Tale” is one of my favorite novels, and Michael Chabon’s Summerland isn’t a half bad attempt at a baseball fantasy novel.
So what specifically is wrong with Field of Dreams?
1. At one point in Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe jokes that they didn’t let Ty Cobb play because he was such a bastard in life. There is a certain irony in Joe Jackson willfully excluding someone else from baseball heaven, even if he was a bastard.
2. Where are the Negro League players? If Joe Jackson is allowed into baseball heaven because of an allegedly unfair exclusion from the game, perhaps Josh Gibson should be allowed in as well? Does Jackie Robinson have to break the Heaven color barrier first?
3. Kevin Costner is apparently riverdancing on this promotional poster. We may never know why.
4. The idea of sacrifice. I dislike sacrificing based on sabrmetric principles. But I also disdain sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice. Sacrifice can be noble if it saves a life or makes the world a better place, but sacrifice for no reason is pointless. Ray acts like a crazy person in the movie, endures Job-like trials, puts his family into financial hardship, all because he hears voices in his cornfield. His faith (and don’t get me started on faith) pays off, but what was the point in putting him and his family though hardship to get a mystical baseball field? God couldn’t have provided some land? I here he does that occasionally. There wasn’t a barren parcel around? There wasn’t some soil with a messed up PH level around that could have been turned into a field? Or maybe a Superfund site? Why was this so hard for Ray and his family? What was gained? If Ray had been familiar with Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” would this story have happened?
Also, Moonlight Graham is a young ghost when he’s on the field, but when he steps off the field he ages into an elderly doctor and becomes visible to unbelievers. The theological questions are mind-boggling. Do ghosts age? Or do they age only if they let themselves be observed by unbelievers? And what’s bad about being an old ghost? Can you die again? Do you feel pain in your non-body? If Joe Jackson stepped off the field would he become an aged liquor store owner ghost?
5. The belittling of miracles. When the comic book character Superman first came about before the advent of Super Villains, Superman spent most of his time preventing petty theft in Metropolis. He did this even though he was basically invincible and apparently very efficient at converting sunlight into energy. Superman probably would have been put to better use running on a giant hamster wheel and generating electricity, or plowing fields in poor nations or doing any of million other things that would be more valuable than fighting petty crime in what appears to be a fairly well-off city.
Field of Dreams falls into a similar trap. Let’s think about the implications of a baseball field where the spirits of dead baseball players continue to play baseball. What does this tell us about the world? There is an afterlife, apparently. Is there a God? Do the players know? If we plow under an office on Wall Street will the spirits of legendary floor traders start posthumously investing for all to see? What other breaches of the laws of nature are possible with this knowledge? Is creationism actually true? And does God really care so much about baseball that his first recorded miracle in 2000 years involves a haunted baseball field?
And why is no one suitably impressed? Terrence Mann tells Kevin Costner that “people will come” to watch the players. That’s the extent of his vision? You know who else will come? Physicists, priests, photographers, the New York Times, Fox News, and ESPN4 – The All Ghost Sports Channel. And Terrence, I think they’ll plunk down more than a 20 for the privilege. Instead we get “Ray’s farm is saved because he can charge admission for his ghost baseball field! Hopefully we can compete with the Wonder Spot down the road.”
6. “Have a catch”. I’m from the Midwest, and it may very well be that most of the rest of the country asks their dad to “have a catch.” If it is, please feel free to correct me. I have never heard anyone say “have a catch” outside of this movie. Kevin asks at one point, “Can you imagine that? An American boy refusing to have a catch with his father?” There’s only one activity that people routinely “have” and it has little to do with baseball.
7. Assuming that Terrence Mann was allowed to leave the corn again, wouldn’t his subsequent writing on the subject be the most important thing ever in the history of the universe?
8. While much of my analysis has been spiritual so far, is it possible that time travel is involved? Since Joe Jackson reveals the mysterious voice to be Kevin Costner’s own, it is logical to assume that there is super-cool technology in the future. It also seems likely that Costner has caused some type of rift in the space-time continuum which allows these ballplayers to play again. Moreover, it seems likely that this rift will endanger the existence of the universe. There’s probably a good sci-fi horror tale out there about Kevin Costner accidentally destroying the universe in an attempt to “have a catch” with his dead father.
9. The concessions at the Field of Dreams appear to be lacking. Couldn’t he plow under some of his soy bean crop to create the ghosts of dead concession employees and beer vendors?
10. Who are the umpires? I think that an unnamed, undead umpire is a terrifying concept. Especially as he appears to be crooked. Shouldn’t an undead umpire be at least as good as PitchFx?
11. Is there a soccer Field of Dreams out there? Soccer is a bigger sport than baseball worldwide, complete with passionate fans and everything. Or does God just love America and baseball. Perhaps this supports the time travel theory? And do minor sports get their own fields? Is there a plowed under Blockbuster Video somewhere where the ghosts of the greatest badminton players of all time still beat the shuttlecock?
Field of Dream is an ill-conceived mess. Some suspension of disbelief is always involved in the fantasy genre, but this movie seems to be about a complete change in civilization so Kevin Costner and his dad can make up. That, after all, is the conclusion. If the movie is intended as a paean to baseball, shouldn’t the conclusion focus on baseball instead of using baseball and inter-dimensional time-travel as a means to solve Costner’s longstanding familial issues?
Major League gets closer to the spirit of baseball for me. It’s ostensibly a brainless comedy, but it’s far more real, and more evocative than anything in Field of Dreams. As far as I’m concerned Kevin Costner and Roy Hobbes’s son can go and have a catch together and never besmirch baseball again.
Also, Shoeless Joe did it.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
There will likely be another player move today after the game against Cleveland and Macha said it could be the kind that upsets a player.
“There’s probably going to be a lot of people not happy with me,” Macha said.
As we saw yesterday in my introductory post, there is really is no point in wasting time and resources trying to enter the season with five starters earmarked for 25+ starts. No. 5 starters, in the traditional sense, just don’t exist. The best bet is to focus on securing four starters that can make 24 starts or more. In the fifth spot in the rotation, a three-man job-share could then be developed and it would break down like this:
1. A long reliever who would serve as the seventh arm in the ‘pen and be expected to make eight to 10 starts on the year. Ideally, this would be a proven veteran who could stick at the MLB level all season.
2. A pitching prospect that projects to be a fringe No. 3 or 4 with two or three minor league options remaining. He would be introduced to the Majors in this low-pressure role over the next two to three seasons before officially (hopefully) graduating to the role of a reliable third or fourth starter. In this role, the pitcher would need to make about 10 starts at the MLB level each season.
3. A minor league “veteran” pitcher (somewhere in the 25-30 year old range) who has been unable to stick in the Majors – and still has at least one minor league option left – and can be relied on to make at least five starts on the season.
Friday, March 19, 2010
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"If Suppan continues to struggle during spring training, you have to wonder if the Brewers will try to find some way to part with him despite his $12.5 million salary and a $2 million buyout of an option for 2011. Without question, the Brewers would like to get something productive for that money but would they do it at the cost of losing another candidate for the rotation who has pitched better?
"That is the $14.5 million question."
This absolute lack of understanding as to the value of Jeff Suppan us infuriating. Jeff Suppan is not worth $14.5 million just because that's what the Brewers are paying him ($12.5 million in salary and a $2 million buyout for next season). That $14.5 million is GONE. IT IS GONE. It's a Sunk Cost. No more. It has nothing to do with the future of the Brewers' rotation. The Brewers need to think about who the best pitchers on their roster are, which easily leaves Suppan out of the rotation and off the team. But they also have to think of prospective costs. Unlike sunk costs, prospective costs matter in your decision making. Deciding whether or not Suppan makes the Brewers' rotation is not a $14.5 million question, it's a control-over-Chris-Narveson-or-Dave-Bush-dollar question. And it has a really really simple and obvious answer.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wisconsin - I like Wisconsin to go far with 3 caveats:
1. Cornell is a perimeter and Wisconsin has poor perimeter defense (really their only weakness). I'd rather face Temple in round 2.
2. Wisconsin sometimes goes ice cold. How far they go will largely be a result of how long they can not have this happen.
3. For Wisconsin, I think officiating is a huge deal. I don't mean to suggest that refs treat Wisconsin unfairly, but Wisconsin plays a "physical without fouling" style. If they run into a conservative official, it will hurt them.
Marquette - They're short, but that's nothing new.
I'm counting on the general shittiness of the Pac-10 to get Marquette into round two, but this seems like a tough matchup to me. If they can get out of the weekend they can do serious damage, as you know West Virginia wants no part of the Golden Eagles after their narrow 1-point victory over Marquette in WV earlier this year.
That's all I got.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
What are the odds of that?
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
99.3%? I know they've been hot since acquiring John Salmons, but that's pretty good. Now I can't help wondering if they can catch the Celtics. I realize that they're much closer to being out of the playoffs than they are 4th place, but it seems possible to me.
I really don't follow the Bucks closely, but I've been happily surprised at the season they've had as my expectations were very low.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
As we all know, baseball is a solemn, funerary pursuit. It’s less a game, and more a religious ritual along the lines of lighting ceremonial candles or taking a pilgrimage to Mecca, or sitting cross-legged and pondering the nothingness of existence.
Celebrations and gamesmanship in baseball have always been subdued. You’ll never see champagne or beer sprayed all over for a big win. You’ll never see a closer enter the game to the tune of raucous heavy metal meant to fire up fans or intimidate the other team. And you’ll never, ever see fireworks after the home team hits a home run. Or a guy slide down a slide and wave a flag. That just doesn’t happen in this highly respected, Glass Bead Game-level contest that we call baseball.
At least, that’s the case in National-Sportswriter-Pundit-Land, which is coincidentally the most depressing place on earth. Cliff Saunders is the Precept of the NSPL. Take a look at this garbage:
Barry Zito is 31-43 since he signed that $126M contract with the San Francisco Giants a few years ago. The fans in San Fran didn’t have a lot of patience with him. At one point the team thought about putting their $18M a year pitcher into the bullpen. His contract was an example of how not to blow millions of dollars if you’re a Major League Baseball team. However, he finally earned his keep yesterday.
In the preseason? Barry earned his $126 mill in the preseason? Did he find gold under the mound or invent some clean, cheap renewable energy or something?
All it took was one pitch.
Did that pitch collide with a hydrogen atom resulting in cold fusion?
One pitch that drilled Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder directly in the middle of his back. That’s all it took for Zito to be my new hero.
Oh. It’s worth a $126 mill sunk cost to watch a guy (who doesn’t throw hard) plunk Milwaukee’s hefty first baseman? I’ll sell you any of the sports memorabilia on my desk for $140 mill right now. You can pick from my Ross Verba autographed mini helmet, my Lyle Overbay bobble head, or my Eric Young autographed baseball. You can’t have the puck I caught though. Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll give you the whole batch. I mean that stuff has to be worth more than watching a fairly weak pitcher hit a guy in a pre-season game, right?
I’m exaggerating, obviously. But if Zito were with me right now, I’d offer to buy him a beer.
Maybe even two.
Ah. Well, I’ll still offer up the EY baseball.
Don’t mistake that as me being anti-Prince Fielder. I’m not.
Oh, see, cause I thought that since you wanted to see him get hit with a hard object traveling at 85 MPH that you might be…
I covered the guy for about five seasons. He’s a tremendous player. He might not be the best sound byte out there, but he’s good in the locker room. He’s a doting father.
And surely people have wronged you worse than this, so I was just wondering if you advocate random people getting drilled by baseballs for minor slights, even if they’re good people and doting fathers. So, well, what’s your standard?
The only problem is that he’s a bit of a showboat.
Ah. So if you’re playing golf and you duff one into the woods and your buddies give you guff for it, you take a 9-iron to their back. Got it…
Cardinals fans are all too familiar with Fielder’s tactics.
Wait, what did the Brewers do to the Cardinals?
Cardinals fans saw firsthand how the Brewers acted after victories.
Oh, right, the Brewers beat the Cardinals.
Teams all around baseball took offense to Milwaukee un-tucking their jerseys after games.
Wait…what are you,…are you loosening your belt…is that a shirt tail…what are you…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Though it was meant to pay honor to former Brewer Mike Cameron’s father, opponents (the Cardinals especially) had a big problem with it.
I continue to believe that this is a rip against the Cardinals and not the Brewers. If you are offended by someone untucking their shirt, you are a gigantic pussy.
Or maybe the Cardinals were all beaten by their fathers or something. Who knows?
My colleague Bernie Miklasz wrote a scathing column a couple of years ago taking the entire ballclub to task.
I’ll outsource this to the defunct Chuckie Hacks (RIP). In said column, Bernie compares untucking your shirt to the actions of Ron Artest. Bernie is a stupid man.
It was a column that I totally agreed with – and I was working in Milwaukee at the time! It didn’t necessarily make me Mr. Popular there, but what’s right is right. Bernie was right, and the Brewers were wrong.
Remember when the shirt untucking resulted in fans throwing beer at the players and Prince Fielder running into the stands and fighting with fans while Stephen Jackson punched players on the court? No? Remember when the Cardinals manager fell asleep while drinking and driving and their first baseman took every PED known to man? Yeah, that I remember.
It didn’t stop the Brewers, though. They continued to celebrate victories by un-tucking their jerseys.
You mean a demented column from very stupid man did not convince the Brewers to change their behavior? Even though you agreed with it?
They did that even though their manager (Ken Macha) and future Hall of Fame closer (Trevor Hoffman) refused to do it. Both felt it disrespected the game. They were right.
Trevor Hoffman – Untucking is disrespectful. Now if you’ll excuse me, I don’t think the sound board guy is playing my WWE-style entrance music loud enough.
The Brewers didn’t stop, though. The worst example of their showboating came after Prince Fielder hit a walk-off home run against the Giants at Miller Park on September 6th. The entire roster met Fielder at home plate, at which point Fielder and his mates did their little ‘bowling pin’ celebration. He braced for contact. They all fell backwards.
It was awesome. Good fun. Everyone loved it. Big moment, big win, fun celebration. It’s nice to see something more creative than the standard hopping up and down with your teammates after a walk-off HR for once.
The fans at the ball park loved it.
I wasn’t there, but I’m sure it was a great moment.
No one else did.
I just said I wasn’t there, and I loved it. You know who else loved it? Baseball fans, ESPN, local sports broadcasts all over the country, and people who like to see the Giants lose.
Giants’ fans probably didn’t like it, but that’s because they lost. And crusty sportswriters probably didn’t like it, because they’re humorless jerks. And the Giants themselves probably didn’t like it because they were on the receiving end of the celebration.
Of course, you can sympathize with Giants’ fans because they never supported a showboating power-hitter who cheated baseball, collected several ill-gotten hitting records, led their team to an undeserved 2002 World Series appearance and had a giant, steroid infused head. No way. Those guys always respect the game.
I spoke with GM Doug Melvin the following day on 101 ESPN.
I wonder what Doug had to say over the radio…
He told me that he didn’t have a problem with it considering the struggles the Brewers had been through all season.
Ah, no problem with it. That’s good to see. You wouldn’t want your GM mucking with team chemistry…
I think it was more of a political answer than anything else.
Uhm, OK. So you’re a radio psychic too?
Melvin’s an old-school baseball guy at heart (even though he embraces new school baseball trends). My gut tells me what he said and what he really felt probably were two different things. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.
Just so everyone knows, in Cliff Saunders’ head, Doug Melvin doesn’t like it when people untuck their shirts. Even though Doug said he had no problem with it. Because, you see, Doug is an old-school baseball guy, even though he likes the newfangled stats. But hey, he has his gut. And as we know, if you are paid to write or speak on the radio, your gut is way better than actual information that was told to you by the actual person in question.
The Giants took Fielder’s actions more harshly than anyone else. There had been talk from the moment that game in September ended that there would be ‘consequences.’ So, it should not have been a surprise that the reaction came on the first pitch of Fielder’s first at bat of the spring.
It’s not surprising, it’s just moronic. I understand a pitcher plunking a guy in retaliation for the opposing teams’ pitcher plunking a guy, but I was always told that it wasn’t ok to physically assault someone just because they called you a name. If you don’t want to watch the other team celebrate, beat them.
It wasn’t a pitch meant to hurt him (Zito’s not a flame thrower). It was a message pitch. The message was simple. Respect the game. Respect those who play the game.
What a bunch of bullshit. Here’s a post Cliff Saunders wrote about Pete Rose. Here’ Cliff on steroid users.
Here’s a list of things that are more disrespectful to baseball than untucking your shirt, or performing a choreographed HR celebration:
1. Ryan Braun’s fashion line.
2. Barry Bonds
3. Gambling on baseball/Pete Rose
4. Low OBPs
5. The HHH Metrodome
6. Kevin Costner
7. The way that Roy Hobbes’s son throws
8. Mark McGwire
9. Gaylord Perry
10. Bad sports writing
I don’t know if the message Zito sent will sink in. I covered the Brewers for five years. They have a bit of a swagger to them. Fielder’s a big part of that. So is Ryan Braun – who has a bit of the ‘U’ in him (he went to Miami if you didn’t know).
Thugs! All of them!
The problem is the Brewers – with the exception of 2008, when they scrambled to get into the playoffs – have not won. It’s one thing to have that swagger when you are winning and reaching the post-season. It’s another thing to do it when you are losing the way they did a year ago.
So Barry Zito hit Prince Fielder because they celebrated after a win in a season where they were mediocre. Got it. If you're going to be a dick, you'd better be a perennial playoff team.
This terrible sentence also ignores the fact that coming into 2009 the Brewers had back to back winning seasons and were actually a pretty good team even if 2009 was disappointing. In 2007 they finished 2nd in the central with an 83-79. They then built on that season with their playoff run. I suspect that they believe themselves to be a pretty good team, which they probably still are.
Whether you believe in political correctness or not, there are unwritten rules in the game of baseball.
I do not understand this sentence and I don’t think Cliff Saunders knows what political correctness is.
Unwritten rules are stupid. If you want it to be a rule, write it down.
Football players don’t get it. Neither do basketball players or hockey players. But there’s a code in baseball. You break that code, you pay for it at some point.
My understanding is that in hockey if you hit a team’s star player they will send a big lug to kill one of your players. This is very similar to the unwritten rule of retaliation in baseball. It is also my understanding that hockey players do not beat people up for untucking their shirts.
Fielder broke that code last September. He was reminded of that code yesterday.
He doesn’t care about the code. Neither should you. Because you’re an adult, and adults think for themselves and don’t adhere to arbitrary bullshit simply to give radio personalities something to talk about.
Thanks, Barry – so what are you drinking? It’s on me.
And Cliff, if I run into you at a bar I’ll be happy to pick up the tab for your Amaretto Sour.
I shouldn’t have said that. He might try to throw a baseball at me.