Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I'd Like To Thank Truth, Beauty, Jack Bauer

The second annual

Primarily Baseball

award for

Excellence in Sportswriting Excellence

for the pursuit and achievement of excellence in sportswriting excellence

in the year of our Fucking God Damn Lord 2008

goes to Primarily Baseball.

This site, in its first full year of existence, brought trenchant analysis and unparalleled wit to baseball fans the world over. It gave no quarter to irrationality, intellectual dishonesty, and poor taste, and has them on the run, everywhere. It made the surge work and Sarah Palin lose. It kept the gravitational constants constant, so that mankind could live. Thank you, Primarily Baseball. Because if he can claim to have liberated 50 million people, you can claim them all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Coincidence

From Roch Kubatko:

"If anyone has taken the tour of Camden Yards, you've heard the story from the press box about Rosenthal's laptop being destroyed by a Cal Ripken foul ball. Rosenthal had written a column the night before suggesting that Ripken end The Streak. The screaming line drive that sent his laptop crashing to the floor was a delicious irony . . . . Ripken had no idea what happened until after the game, when former PR director John Maroon rushed to his locker with the news. Ripken's response went something like this: 'Cool.'"

Friday, December 5, 2008

A little math goes a long way

Over here, Colin Wyers, who is generally a smart guy, studies whether a run saved is just as valuable as a run scored.  He takes it to be an implication of the Pythagorean winning percentage formula (Win% = (RS^2/(RS^2+RA^2)) that this is indeed the case.  However, looking at teams with matched run differentials but widely differing total runs (so, for instance, a team with RS/RA allowed of 900/800 gets matched with a 750/650) he finds that the lower scoring teams do slightly, but statistically significantly better.  He takes this to imply some slight deficiency in the Pythagorean formula.

The problem is that he is completely wrong in his interpretation of the Pythagorean formula.  In fact, as I showed in one of my first posts here, according to the Pythagorean formula a run saved is more valuable when the team is an above average team, and a run scored more valuable when it is below average.  Thus, if there are more teams above .500 in his sample than below--which, if you look at the article, is indeed the case--the Pythagorean formula would predict that that the run saved is better than the run scored.  In other words, completely contrary to the article's claim, the Pythagorean formula correctly predicts the data!

To be fair, Colin does later present some additional evidence that Pythagorean estimators are less accurate for the low scoring teams.  That, however, does not make up for the earlier error.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When You Lie

It's sometimes better not to be high:

"But on the way to the exam, Ramirez, according to sources, couldn't remember which knee was sore. So the Red Sox had both of his knees examined. The MRIs revealed no damage in either."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

TekWatch: Oh No You Didn't

Regarding Red Sox contract negotiations with Jason Varitek:

"Epstein and Scott Boras are far apart on Jason Varitek's monetary value. Boras is looking for a Jorge Posada-type deal (4 years, $52 million). The Sox are . . . "

. . . wondering whether Scott Boras is out of his fucking mind. A Jorge Posada-type deal? Not even Jorge Posada is worth that money. Varitek will be lucky to get 2 years, $16 million, in my view. Well, he would be. Because even to enter negotiations peddling such an insane fantasy is an insult to Theo Epstein, the Red Sox organization, Red Sox nation, unborn future fans, freedom, rationality, and global fucking god damn justice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

TekWatch: Working Class Hero Scott Boras Speaks Out

Jason Varitek's agent Scott Boras has begun to lay out the case that Tek is a valuable catcher. Pull up a chair, preferably with a solid back, and feel the bullshit seep into your pores:

"If you think about his physical conditioning, he's got many more years to play in this game," Boras said. "When he's out there, this club is decisively different. You're really talking about a guy that is inherently valuable. In this day and time, what is a player like that worth?"

Let's take these claims in turn.

If you think about his physical conditioning, he's got many more years to play in this game.

If I think about Curt Schilling's or Cecil Fielder's physical conditioning, those players should never have played the game. If I think about Barry Bonds's physical conditioning, Bonds should be DH'ing right now in the World Series. If, however, I think about actual baseball ability -- the, you know, important thing -- Jason Varitek's not looking so hot. After posting OPS+ numbers around 120 from 2003 to 2005, Tek sunk to 83 in 2006, 103 in 2007, and a miserable 73 this year, at age 36. That's good evidence he's on a serious and irreversable decline.

When he's out there, this club is decisively different.

Unprovable, but here's the evidence the Globe presented: "Over the past three seasons, including playoffs, the Red Sox have a .596 winning percentage in games in which Varitek has appeared and a .508 winning percentage when he did not. This season, the Red Sox went 78-53 with him in the regular season, 17-14 without him." Tek doesn't catch Tim Wakefield, who is the fourth or fifth starter on the Sox. And the catcher who replaces Tek is the backup, who ought to be worse than the alternative everyday player a team could get on the market. Demonstrated Tek effect: 0.

You're really talking about a guy that is inherently valuable.

Unclear what Boras has in mind that's not completely trivial. Jason Varitek, by virtue of being human, is endowed with instrinsic value? Maybe, but you'd have to square his entitlement to human rights with his lone hit in the ALCS, or his frequent swinging strikeouts in which bat and ball are separated by enough space to fit families of cattle from the Argentine pampas.

In this day and time, what is a player like that worth?

Put it this way: I'd start auctioning Tek's beard-clippings on eBay.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sums up the election

A squabble about World Series loyalty sums up the presidential election. Obama acts perfectly reasonably and with a sense of proportion; McCain distorts Obama's position and reveals his own narrowmindedness; sensible people roll eyes.

Says McCain: “It’s pretty simple really. When [Obama's] campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he’s campaigning in Tampa Bay, he shows love to the Rays. It’s kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he’s elected."


1. Obama said he's rooting for the Phillies and not the Rays, which eliminated his hometown White Sox. He just expressed appreciation for the Rays at a rally with several Rays players. He also made light of the fact that baseball is just a game.

2. It's kind of invalid to cite events that might happen in the future as though they've happened already.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Fucker

No one serious can say it, so I will: Joe the Plumber is a fucking piece of shit.

First he said Barack Obama tap danced "almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr." Today he said: "Vote for a real American, John McCain."

Jack the Blogger has a message for you, Joe, from one real American to another: your asscrack is your most appealing feature. Stick to plumbing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Is Hank Steinbrenner Ever Wrong?

Not yet. He backed the acquisition of Santana, only to lose out to the "cooler heads" of Cashman and Hal. Now he writes that the multi-division setup isn't fair because bad teams go to the playoffs and good teams don't. He is, as always, transparently self-serving. But he is, as what is looking more and more like always, absolutely right.

Little Stein writes:

The biggest problem is the divisional setup in Major League Baseball. I didn't like it in the 1970s, and I hate it now. Baseball went to a multi-division setup to create more races, rivalries and excitement. But it isn't fair.

You see it this season, with plenty of people in the media pointing out that Joe Torre and the Dodgers are going to the playoffs while we're not. This is by no means a knock on Torre -- let me make that clear -- but look at the division they're in. If L.A. were in the AL East, it wouldn't be in the playoff discussion. The AL East is never weak.

St. Louis winning the World Series -- that was ridiculous. The Cardinals won their division with 83 wins -- two fewer than the Phillies, who missed the postseason. People will say the Cardinals were the best team because they won the World Series. Well, no, they weren't. They just got hot at the right time. They didn't even belong in the playoffs. And neither does a team from the NL West this season.

He also calls revenue sharing a "socialist system" that's un-American. Hank for President? How about Hank for King.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Schilling divided against itself has no problem standing, eating, talking

Curt Schilling courageously speaks out on Curt Schilling: "The thing about it for me, is, I haven't thrown a freakin' pitch all year, I've been the biggest waste of space, I've been robbing payroll for the entire season, no one feels worse about not contributing than me."

If you're so wracked by guilt, Curt, I'm pretty sure the Red Sox would accept a refund of the $8 million they paid you this year. Action, Curt. Not just words. Try it, just to screw with the natural order of things.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Assman Cometh, Fieldeth

Bartolo Colon returned yesterday and made this play (click on "Colon backhands"), which might be among my picks for play of the century if I didn't think it resulted from pure luck.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dear Francisco Rodriguez

Hey, man. Congrats on the saves record. That's pretty cool, capturing the record while performing no better than the fifth best closer in the league, figuring generously.

Allow me to make a suggestion. Your post-save celebrations are kind of a little bit much. That is: they're batshit insane, morally abhorrent, and unbecoming high-order, or even middling order, forms of life. They cause hives to break out on my soul.

Please curtail the arms-to-sky madness, before terrorists weave images of your displays into a recruitment video depicting the wicked permissiveness of American society. Stop it now.

Thanks. I really appreciate it. Keep lodging those saves. You'd totally be my MVP vote if I were under the influence of large quantities of alcohol and larger sums of money.


J. Klompus

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I guess that's where he practiced his pitching face...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, Papelbon.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Crime against humanity

John Sterling just called Ivan Rodriguez "the pudge-a-roo." If the Hague court ever adopts the death penalty, I'm funding Sterling's European vacation.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lowrie > Lugo

When Julio Lugo soon gets healthy, we'll find out the mettle of Terry Francona and the Red Sox front office. Because there's no way they should play their $9 million per year stinkfest over his rookie fill-in, Jed Lowrie.

Lowrie, as of yesterday, is sporting a .357 OBP and .451 SLG, good for a 110 OPS+. Lately he's been a doubles machine albeit with help from horrendous Rangers pitching. Lowrie's at-bats are still few, at 122, and if league pitching adjusts and sends him into a deep slump, Lugo's return as starting shortstop could be justified. But Lugo's 88 OPS+ this year, after a 65 mark last year, makes better offense more likely to come from Lowrie for the foreseeable future. Defensively, both players seem below average, but I'd be less surprised to see caches of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction than good evidence that Lowrie's fielding significantly outreeks Lugo's. In short, Lowrie seems quite promising, while Earl Weaver would have justly deemed Lugo "lucky to be in fucking baseball, for Christ's sake."

So we appear to have a perfect test-case: do the Red Sox value objective baseball performance over the avoidance of egg on face?

(Of course, they could also sign Barry Bonds, for the league minimum, and at the least acquire the best ever pinch hitter ever, and also piss off all of New England. Yes: there's no downside.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marvin Gaye Joins Earl Weaver in Godness

You may have heard Marvin Gaye's 1983 rendition of the national anthem in recent Olympic ads, but Jesus H. Christ.* If anything bears repeating, it's this. Read a little about it here.

*What does the H. stand for? Humphrey? Humbolt? Did God decide the appellation or did Mary? Or both together? God: "I'll tell you what would be absolute perfection . . . " Mary: "You blew my chance to have hot unprotected sex, and there's no way you're now getting naming rights, pal."

I'll say this for the United States of America: its national anthem is a good song, which an inspired performance can make brilliant. I can't say as much for any other country. The pompous, soulless, and silly Chinese national anthem, for instance, makes me want to lobotomize myself and stick my brain up my own ass.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Redundant stats: the lowest of the low

Those who seek to think clearly about the game of baseball can not only develop good ways of evaluating performance but also figure out how to treat the old, inferior ways.

Stat savants know, for example, that batting average and RBI are worse metrics than OBP and SLG. But they are more than just worse. They are redundant. They belong to a class of redundant stats: completely useless when better and equally simple stats are at hand, they deserve no place whatever in any kind of analysis.

Flawed stats are not necessarily redundant. Stolen bases is a flawed stat when it's deployed, as so often, to show a player's contributions to offense via the steal; stolen base percentage is vital to include because getting caught stealing hurts offensive production. Yet stolen bases is still a useful stat. It's raw data, for one, and together with caught stealing shows the magnitude of the baserunner's addition or subtraction to offense. Similarly, runs allowed per nine innings has long been seen as a flawed depiction of pitching performance because it punishes pitchers for fielding errors that lead to runs. Thus the "earned run" was invented and with it ERA, which exclude such run-causing errors. This was progress -- I suspect ERA is usually truer than RA. Still, runs allowed is worth attending to because better pitchers will record outs after errors instead of getting shelled. And so on: ERA is flawed for reasons that ERA+ addresses, but ERA remains somewhat useful (if only for being simpler). Any stat becomes a "flawed stat" when unjustified conclusions are drawn from it.

A few stats, however, are not only flawed but redundant, so bad they have no reason to exist. The ones that come to my mind happen to be the stats most often used to measure offensive production: batting average and RBI.

Batting average sort of, kind of, sometimes, hints at the thing OBP states precisely: how often a hitter gets on base instead of making outs. Now if walks, which batting average treats as non-events, were wholly the doing of the pitcher without regard to the batter's presence and actions, then batting average would be a fine stat. But walks are obviously the work of hitters too. Most hitters maintain stable walk rates over many years. That's because walking results from certain skills: the ability to tell balls from strikes, the ability to make contact to foul off close pitches, and the ability to hit for power, causing pitchers to nibble. If walks flowed solely from pitchers' mistakes, the difference between OBP and batting average would over time equalize for everyone, so it wouldn't much matter which stat is used. But some hitters consistently have large differentials between OBP and batting average, and others small.

Point is, batting average is redundant. If you want to know on-base ability, OBP is the stat to use. If you want to tell how often contact yields a hit, use batting average on balls hit in play. I can't see any purpose to which batting average should be put -- unless you're the agent of a hitter whose high contact rate produces a batting average more impressive than his OBP.

The redundancy of RBI is more obvious and less interesting. I'm not exactly sure which dimensions of offensive production RBI are supposed to show -- maybe clutchyish hitting plus slugging plus the crucial ability to hit a sac fly and exchange high-fives for making an out. At any rate, all those dimensions can be measured more effectively and still simply, without falling prey to RBI's glaring deficiency, its dependence on teammates getting on base. On the Big Red Machine, I might have had decent RBI totals, though only because I'm short enough to draw the occasional bases-loaded walk and humble enough about my baseball skills to know to kidnap members of the opposing pitcher's family, Jack Bauer style, in order to get pitches to hit. In retrospect, RBI is somewhat problematic as a redundant stat, since it's hard to tell what RBI even purports to signify and therefore which stats should replace it. In that way, stupidity is the RBI's own best defense. I hate the RBI.

Are there other redundant stats? I hereby put this question to Primarily Baseball's horde(s) of fans.* One important quality of redundant stats is that they can't be too much simpler to calculate than the stats that replace them. Otherwise very complex stats, like runs created, could be argued to render almost every offensive stat redundant, and furthermore there's value in simplicity.

*According to the OED, one fan can comprise a horde, if he maintains facial hair and habitually walks around wielding a hand-whittled club. So: stop shaving and start whittling. It's probably not a terrible tradeoff if you whittle fast.

P.S. Suzyn Waldman, August 9, 12:20 a.m., announcing a Yankees pitching chage: "And here comes Joe Torre . . ." She corrected herself after the commercial break, saying, "I'm a dope" and "I knew I would do that at least once this year." I agree with the former and share in the latter, but nice recovery, Suzyn.

P.P.S. I can't permit myself to type the name "Suzyn" without forswearing any intent to approve of the spelling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Colon sees light at end of tunnel"

I'll bet you $1,000,000,000 trillion dollars, and the lives of all my relatives, distant as well as close, but especially close, that that MLB.com headline writer, having experienced (no less than generated) an effusion of creative genius equaled in music only by late-period Beethoven and in literature only by post-prison Dostoyevsky, thought up that cutie months ago and has since had it ready to deploy, quivering in its fully taut bow, awaiting the first sign of healing by the prostrate lower back of the Red Sox' fat backup plan. I mean, god damn, if my job were to think up headlines for Bartolo Colon news (if only!), I'd be prepped for every scenario short of alien invasion. Aliens Probe Colon. Make that, every scenario, without exception.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

David Simon Doesn't Suffer Fools Gladly And In Fact Kicks Fools' Asses

It's good to see a person you like affirm the value of a thing you love and revile someone you hate. To wit: this interview with David Simon, co-creator of The Wire, in which Simon expresses a great passion for and knowledge of baseball and a fantastic loathing of toad-like commissioner-extraordinaire Bud "Exposing My Penis Would Actually Be More Merciful Than Making You Look At My Face" Selig. (My nickname, not Simon's, though perhaps I should be going for maximum ambiguity on this.) I bring you the fantastic-hatred part:

"But let me say this about the official side of Major League Baseball: They can kiss my pale, white ass. Seriously. Although that sequence reflected in no negative way on baseball itself -- a reporter was making up a story about a handicapped fan for his own benefit -- MLB considered our request to film on stadium property and use MLB logos and then denied the request. Unless our drama pretty much exalts baseball as the greatest game ever played by the greatest bunch of people ever to play a game, MLB will not allow the use of its logos or facilities in any act of storytelling. I find this cowardly and venal and offensive. A game that claims to be the national pastime should be confident enough and respectful enough of independent storytelling to allow itself to be seen within the context of ordinary American life. The script that we showed to MLB said nothing at all negative about the game itself; it showed a reporter being dishonest. But even that dynamic was too scary for the gutless, lawyerly humps who surround the commissioner's office. Apparently, baseball can only be depicted as a part of American life when it is glorified or marketed in the most wholesome manner. Pro football is just as bad by the way, but I somehow expect more integrity of baseball in such matters, given that it seeks to hold such an elemental claim on the American experience. So we shot the sequence anyway, just off the stadium grounds on Conway Street. And, lo and behold, those interviewed by the reporter -- in the revised shooting script anyway -- trashed Bud Selig for the steroid scandals and other foibles. And later in the run, during one of the newspaper's budget meetings, the steroid mess is revised with another dollop of disrespect for the commissioner's inaction heaped on top. Did MLB do better or worse for its wimpery? Hey, when you try to control everything, you control nothing."

When Idiots Attack II

On a serious note, this is awful. A New England man suspected a guy with New York license plates of being a Yankees fan, so, naturally, he beat him with a metal baseball bat. The victim is now being hospitalized (and for the record doesn't like baseball that much). The incident follows a Sox-Yanks altercation in May in which a 43-year-old Yankees fan ran her car into taunting Sox fans, leaving one dead, another injured, and herself charged with second-degree murder.

These perpetrators were probably drunk, but assaulting fans of a rival baseball team shouldn't even be a drunk urge. I mean, there's a reasonable case to be made -- unpersuasive to me, but reasonable -- that it's pathetic to care as much as I do about teams composed of players I don't personally know, to whom I have no attachment beyond the mere coincidence that I live where they play. To physically attack someone for being a Yankees fan or a Sox fan, or for owning license plates from a neighboring state, home to the largest city in the world, is total fuck madness. Both organizations should consider addressing the issue.

Whew. Okay. That was no fun. Let's see. Hmm. Curt Schilling is rotund like a state capitol.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Under the Knife: Better than Will Carroll's Version

PECOTA projects a 90 percent chance that Curt Schilling was talking all through surgery.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

TekWatch: If 1 + 1 Is A Positive Integer, David Ortiz Is More Valuable Than Jason Varitek

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, today, on David Ortiz's injury: "Will the Sox miss a massive force like Ortiz? Of course. He and Ramírez are the top power hitters in the lineup. But the player who has proven toughest to lose from the lineup is Jason Varitek."

Cafardo's would-be reasoning is that Varitek is a good pitch-caller. Cafardo declines to provide evidence of this pitch-calling skill or to clarify how such skill would make one the most difficult to lose from a lineup, especially when one is nearly the worst hitter on that lineup, which contains one of the best hitters ever and -- oh yes -- David Ortiz, who frequently gets more total bases in a game than Jason Varitek got throughout high school (both senses).

The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo Sr., August 1945, on the war: "Will the Japanese miss Nagasaki? Sure. It and Hiroshima are two populous cities. But the thing that would be toughest to lose is the emperor's favorite midget eunuch trapeze artist, Taki the No-Testes Clown, whose determined labors and trimmed beard unite the working classes in fealty to the empire."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TekWatch: No Hittahs

Following Jon Lestah's no-no, commentators have lauded Jason Varitek for being first to catch four no-hitters. It's TekWatch's responsibility to make two points:

1. How far is Jason Varitek responsible for a no-hit performance? Depite the furor over Curt Schilling's waving off Varitek before giving up the single that broke up his no-hit bid last year, Lester said he waved off Varitek several times in the ninth inning alone. That said, Varitek has a photographic memory and studies hard, the New York Times reports, although part of the Times's evidence is ostensible sarcasm from Johnny Damon: "I always thought Varitek was amazing — the way he calls a game, the way he prepares, the way he carries around the luggage."

2. Varitek ruined Schilling's no-hit bid last year, tipping pitches to the Athletics' Shannon Stewart, who landed the A's only hit with two out in the ninth. Why? The proof and the motive are one and the same. After every no-hitter he catches, Tek hoists the pitcher high into the air, holding him there so all can see the face of triumph. But, Tek obviously realized, attempting to hoist Curt Schilling, with his marshmallow midsection, could end in embarrassing failure and career-ending injury, if not total paralysis. In tipping off Stewart, Varitek did the only thing he in good conscience could. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how rumors get started.

From everyone at TekWatch, congrats, Jason. You'll always be our Working Class Hero.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Blustering Hank

"I still consider myself the home-run king," Henry Aaron said Saturday.

Well. As long as it's cool to make claims that are objectively wrong, I'd like to inform Mr. Aaron: I consider myself the home-run king. Stolen-base champ, too. I am the world's greatest pitcher of all time everywhere.

From Hank Aaron's autobiography: "I was so frustrated that at one point [in the 1968 season] I tried using a pep pill -- a greenie -- that one of my teammates gave me. When that thing took hold, I thought I was having a heart attack." Would Aaron have continued to use amphetamines if they 'd gone down smoother? (That's if he stopped. We'll never know. Baseball didn't have a drug-testing policy then. Unlike in 2004, when Bonds passed his steroids test and hit 45 home runs and was otherwise utterly awesome. Yes, Bonds very likely juiced before then, but let's apply the same standards to everyone and view Bonds's wrongdoing in context.)

Never thought I'd say this, but: Please shut up, Hank Aaron.

Friday, May 16, 2008

BushChat: Evidence of Mental Activity Disturbingly Ample

Remember George W. Bush? He's the U.S. President. Known for his quick thinking – so quick it can be mistaken for the total absence of thinking – Bush invaded Iraq because, apparently, God told him to and his gut told him to, which kind of means George W. Bush believes the all-powerful Creator of the Universe resides in his digestive organs.

Bush, you will recall, gained the experience necessary to be Governor of Texas by owning the Texas Rangers. He's not doing much these days, so he was interviewed partly about baseball. Wait, just wait, till you read all his wild claims, his faulty premises, his God-gut thinking on the game of baseball:

Q: Mr. President, you're a Major League Baseball team owner again. Everyone is a free agent. You have a Yankees-like wallet. Who is your first position player? Who's your pitcher?

THE PRESIDENT: That's a great question. I like [Chase Utley] from the Philadelphia Phillies. He's a middle infielder, which is always – you know, they say you have strength up the middle – there's nothing better than having a good person up the middle that can hit. And Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays is a great pitcher. He's a steady guy, he burns up innings. And I'm sure I'm leaving some other good ones out, but those –

Okay, there's a folksy-sounding phrase about having strength up the middle, and Halladay's injuries in 2004 and 2005 make me project him as less steady than, say, Johan Santana. But Bush's are good picks backed by sound reasoning. Good-hitting middle infielders are rare and therefore particularly valuable if you're picking only one position player, because replacement-level corner basemen hit better than their middle-infielder counterparts. Utley, in particular, is awesome. Halladay wouldn't be my first choice of pitcher, but he's in the discussion. Bush is right that Halladay eats up innings, pitching seven complete games in 2007.

In sum: George W. Bush's brain is awake, and it's eating our President.

Indeed the interviewer, hitherto treated to Bush’s incoherent ravings on politics, was taken aback by the sudden lucidity:

Q: We thought you were going to go A-Rod, Josh Beckett.

THE PRESIDENT: Josh Beckett is good, yes, he's real good, too. I mean, look, that's a tough question to answer on the fly like this, Michael.

That's a tough question to answer on the fly, Bush said. Bush admitted that his knowledge and judgment have limits. He implied he would have to scrutinize evidence, weigh competing arguments, think carefully, in order to make a decision in which he could be confident.

Clearly, this is not George W. Bush. The White House has outfitted an intern with a Bush mask to grant interviews while the real Bush naps wistfully beside his two dogs. "Laugh at your own jokes," they told the intern. "Don't think; just speak. Say freedom a lot."

Alas, on the topic of baseball, the intern’s common sense finally shone through.

(Shamless joke theft: Could this intern be the famous Bill Fremp of Edgewood, KY? Just as Fremp was fired from JoeChat duties at ESPN, Bush suddenly started making sense after eight years of spewing piffle. The coincidence is just too great. Or is Fremp's younger brother Skip expanding the family business? Skip Fremp. Also of Edgewood, KY. Known as the "dumb brother," he didn't attend college. So while Bill landed a job at ESPN, Skip went into politics.)

Q: Now, Mr. President, I wonder if you think that Major League Baseball is doing enough to combat steroids use, and specifically, would you favor a blood test to check for human growth hormone. As you know the players union says it's an unwarranted

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, look, I think what they need to do is to come to an agreement and to assure fans like me that the sport is clean. I mean, I –

Q: But what would that take?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I haven't studied all the particulars and all the testing.

Again. George W. Bush recognizes the need to study particulars. This from the man who, when warned by Colin Powell as to what could go wrong in an invasion of Iraq, responded: "You know what I just realized – your name is Colin. And your last name rhymes with bowel. You're nearly Colon Bowel! That's so assy." Then he scratched himself and left the room.

But I do know they need to get this era behind them quickly. Baseball is a fabulous sport. I used to say it's a sport played by normal-sized people. It turns out some of these normal-sized people are obviously very strong and very quick, but nevertheless, normal-size – you don't have to be a huge guy to play baseball. And it's a great family sport, and it needs to be cleaned up.

This is starting to sound like the rambly Dubya we know and mock. The main issue reminded him of something else, "normal-sized people," which he began to rant about without reference to the main issue. Anyway, although you don't have to be a huge guy to play good baseball, you certainly can be huge; bulk helps in hitting home runs.

And he never answers the question. Then again, it's a stupid question that's not his business to answer. So bravo, kind of.

Q: And there haven't been enough normal-sized people.

Way to subtly prod him into criticizing baseball for steroid usage. Will the "President" bite?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, there's – yes, there are a lot of normal-sized people. I mean, there's a lot of little dudes who can play the game and play it well.

Nothing doing! Bush/Fremp evades the journalist's gambit, masterfully deploying broken grammar and odd colloquialism to distract us from the thrust of the question!

George W. Bush, Bill or Skip Fremp – whoever you are, you don't fool this citizen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Forget 500 Homers -- This Is Better

Moments ago, Manny Ramirez made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch to rob the Orioles of a two-run extra-base hit, climbed the outfield wall and high-fived a Red Sox fan, and threw the ball into the infield to complete a double play. In that order. Let me repeat: he high-fived a fan in the middle of making a double play. That is so incredibly awesomely cool.


"That's how you get your All-Star vote," Manny said. "I'm pretty sure that guy is going to vote for me. You get your votes one at a time. It's something that came out. I went hard into the wall and I decided not to try to stop before the wall. It was fun. I loved it."

Said center fielder Jonathan Van Every: "I don't think that's ever happened before, and I don't think it will ever happen again."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Failure Is Harder When You Suck

It wasn’t nice when the middle school bullies made fun of the retarded kids, so it may be unfair of me to pick apart a column by Kevin Millar. And yet.

The thing that separates the Major League player from your collegiate guys or the ones that are still in the Minor Leagues is how we deal with struggles and deal with getting out on a daily basis. If you get 500 at-bats in a season and you get out 350 times, you need to deal with failure 350 times. That could be a lineout, a robbed home run or a strikeout.

Kevin Millar, your facial hair is cute, as is the fact that you bat cleanup at age 590, albeit on a terrible lineup. But you are bum-fuck backwards here. Major leaguers are major leaguers because they are the most talented players. They actually need to be less good at dealing with failure than minor leaguers, because they fail less. And when they do fail, life looks less bad. Which situation is more conducive to level-headedness:

A. Major leaguer: I struck out. Still, I’m making $4 million per year to play baseball, and my hot wife will fuck me tonight.
B. Minor leaguer: I struck out. I’m making $25 a year. My girlfriend just left me for a plumber. And she was ugly. Minor leaguers need to be outrageously good at failing.

I truly believe that this game is 70 percent mental. We all can throw and we all can hit at this level. What separates the great players from the common players is the mental side of it and the ability to not deviate from your plan on a daily basis.

So the way to be Barry Bonds is to think: I will hit home runs. I will hit home runs. And not deviate from this plan when anyone reminds you, you’re Julio Lugo and you’re lucky you're in fucking baseball. Or when they fire you for striking out in 95 percent of your at bats.

The great players stay in the batter’s box after third strikes so they can keep swinging; they don’t let some self-proclaimed umpire tell them their plan didn’t work.

Seriously: Why not note that major league success is significantly a function of natural talent? What’s the hangup with acknowledging the pretty obvious truth?

Personally, when I go through struggles, I know there are more eyes on me…I try to run harder on popups, because I think it looks 10 times worse when a guy is struggling and he starts to dog it. When a guy's struggling and giving you 100 percent, you can't really say anything.

When a guy’s struggling and giving 100 percent, one can justly say a variety of things, such as: You suck. You’re benched. You’re fired.

Hey, you don’t think Millar, having said that success in the major leagues results mostly from all-out effort, will do something nutty and say effort can hurt you and never explain the difference between effective effort and ineffective effort? Nah, me neither. Until:

But sometimes, all that extra effort even works against you. You can try too hard, and then it snowballs on you. You're trying harder, then you look up at the scoreboard and you've gotten two hits in a week. Guys go through struggles where they haven't hit a home run in 100 at-bats, but they're trying to hit five home runs in one game.

Okay then. Players, in Millar’s view, need to moderate their effort level to suit their talent level, so that they’re not trying to hit home runs when it’s unrealistic to expect such an outcome. Natural talent sneaks in Millar’s framework. Julio Lugo is fucked.

I snapped in high school. I threw stuff. I used to tear my helmet and my batting gloves off. But when I got to the big league level, I used to watch teammates of mine, like Jim Eisenreich and Gary Sheffield, handle themselves like professionals. When they struck out, the batting gloves came off and the helmet went back in the box. They never threw anything.

Gary Sheffield? Professional?

Gary Sheffield? Professional?

- September '92 on his days in Milwaukee: "The Brewers brought out the hate in me. I was a crazy man. . . . I hated everything about the place. If the official scorer gave me an error, I didn't think was an error, I'd say, 'OK, here's a real error,' and I'd throw the next ball into the stands on purpose.'"
- July '05 after punching a fan in the right-field stands at Fenway: “What did I do to be a villain?" Sheffield listened patiently as someone recounted the reasoning. "Well, I mean you can't look at it that way. I didn't initiate it. It's a situation where I showed restraint, and I moved on from there."
- On his having two kids with two women by age 17: "That was part of my plan. I didn't want to be the typical athlete who's single all his career. I wanted the all-American family, and I did it the wrong way."
- There is so much more.

One of the two guys to whom Millar points as a paragon of professionalism punched a fan. He punched the fan at Fenway, when Millar was on the Red Sox!

Here's a logic puzzle:

Premise 1: Sheffield punched a fan at Fenway in 2005.
Premise 2: Millar was on the Red Sox in 2005.
Premise 3: The Red Sox play at Fenway.
Premise 4: Okay, Millar definitely played in the game in which Sheff swiped at the fan.

Conclusion: What the fuck, dude?

[Orioles Manager] Dave Trembley's done a great job of understanding that April is just the first month of a six-month season. He understands that April's not a fun month on the East Coast anyway. You can count on three fingers how many games we've played in 80 degrees, and Dave Trembley's done a great job of showing confidence in players through their struggles.

Millar is obviously talking about his own struggles and Trembley’s dubious decision to keep Millar in the cleanup hole while Millar gets to first base less often than Bill Gates in high school.

The Orioles played remarkably well in April, with a W-L of 15-11. At that pace, they’d win 93 games and be the biggest surprise possibly ever. Of course, they won’t maintain such a pace. It’s either because they don’t have the talent or because they don’t think of ponies and rainbows when they come to bat. Not sure which. Let’s take a vote:

Me: talent.
Millar: ponies et al.

I win.

You just keep fighting, and overall, this club has really handled itself great through its struggles.

Millar, you have struggled. The Orioles have done incredibly well. Why do I get the sense you go home after every game only to cry, masturbate, and cry more?

Millar’s musings continue in like fashion. I’m hungry, and willing food to appear on my desk isn’t working.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Minor Correction...

Buried near the back of this otherwise fine article is the following sentence:

"Congratulations to Greg Maddux, who got his 350 victories the old fashioned way. As opposed to Roger Clemens."

Now, by the "old fashioned way" I assume he means without steroids. If so, then he in fact could not be more wrong.

Friday, May 9, 2008

This Can't Happen

John Sterling, the "voice of the Yankees," announcing the Yankees-Tigers game on May 9, 2008, at 7:29 p.m., after recounting the Tigers' immense pitching woes, stated: "And they're not hitting; that's why they have the [dismal] record they have."

At that moment, the Tigers were third in the American League in runs scored, second in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging, and, in case you want to take Sterling very literally, fourth in hits. Out of 14 teams. Here's MLB.com's chart of AL offense, captured a few minutes after Sterling spoke.

Perhaps the Tigers' lineup is so stacked that it has somewhat underperformed relative to talent. But clearly, Sterling is dead wrong. The Tigers have a bad record despite their effective offense.

Does it matter? In a world where genocide rages, a billion people live on less than $1 a day, and other things happen that Angelia Jolie is working indefatigably to correct, one is tempted to say: let John Sterling's goofy ass emit what it wants. At the same time, truth is inseparable. Seeking and telling the truth about one thing is no different from seeking and telling the truth about something else, because truth is, or so I think, valuable for its own sake rather than for any byproducts it may bring.

The baseball announcer's responsibility is to transmit accurate, insightful information about baseball games. Sterling said the Tigers are hitting poorly, which is false by any standard. He's more likely bullshitting than lying, failing to check whether his utterances are true. Checking being an easy, ten-second endeavor, the inescapable conclusion is that Sterling doesn't much care about the truth and doesn't take his responsibilities seriously. That can't be good for baseball. That can't be good in any other realm. At the least, such untruths insult fans and should embarrass if not Sterling himself then the Yankees organization to whom he is supposed to be accountable.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Alex Rodriguez Is A Fearsome, Hulking Pussy

While news of A-Rod's fainting during the delivery of his child has united Yankees and Red Sox fans in mockery, another juicy nugget has gone less noticed. Here's how A-Rod describes meeting his future robo-wife Cynthia, at a Miami gym: "I scouted her out for a month....I wanted to see her routine, and I wanted to see what time she came in, see how consistent she was. And sure enough, she was like a machine. She would come in right after work and get on the treadmill and do her abs. And finally, I build enough courage after about 3 1/2 weeks. And I said, 'I know you are going to go do some abs after, and do you mind if I join you?'"

In 1996, the year he met Cynthia, A-Rod finished second in MVP voting, OPSing 1.045. He barely had the balls just to approach this Godzilla woman. I'm an 80-year-old fictional TV character and I'll hit on any 23-year-old chick my nearsighted eyes allow me to spot. My prostate is the size of a grapefruit. I don't know I've urinated until my feet feel wet. A-Rod, by contrast, was a drippingly virile 20 years of age, poised to earn hundreds of millions of dollars. American dollars. A-Rod has no game whatsoever.

In the time it takes A-Rod to introduce himself to a woman, Derek Jeter would fuck her and her hot friends, give them all herpes, and obtain a restraining order against them, not because they were stalking him but just because he didn't want to accidentally run into them and re-fuck them when he could plow so many new fine pieces of ass.

Even when he's moving on two women at once, A-Rod looks like he's hoping to impress them enough so they will agree to see his collection of model trains.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Curt Schilling: Profiles in Laziness

So lazy is Curt Schilling qua blogger that in praising Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan -- "The McGowen (sp?) kid has as electric an arm as any young pitcher in the game" -- Schilling decided to leave things at "(sp?)" rather than look the name up. Schilling knew he didn't know how to spell the guy's name. This lack of knowledge bothered Schilling. But instead of finding the correct spelling by, say, searching for "McGowen Jays," a feat that Google performs in exactly .55 seconds, Schilling decided to proclaim to the world "(sp?) -- I feel it's incumbent upon me, as a responsible blogger, to admit I don't know something yet not incumbent upon me to expend the one half-second of effort needed to acquire that knowledge."

Most people would act to correct their misspelling as soon as the misspelling became known to them. Curt Schilling is one of the few people in the world for whom a middle ground of acknowledging but not correcting such minor inaccuracies even exists. When he passes on, Curt Schilling's brain should be flown to Switzerland under military escort so teams of doctors can study its every nook.

"Fritz, it turns out there's a gene for sanctimony."

(Also, random commenter "rachelciprotti" corrects Schilling's spelling of the name of his own teammate: "FYI: It’s Jon Lester, not John =).")

Monday, April 28, 2008

Fuck You Tom Verducci, Redux

Sorry, but I couldn't resist: I can't ever remember Bonds being close to this much of a dick towards his teammates. This isn't the first time Wagner has been an insufferable ass, and it doubtlessly won't be the last. I am patiently waiting the first sportswriter to call for the release of this clubhouse cancer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Look, John Smoltz is a great pitcher, probably one of the top 40-50 in baseball history, and reaching 3000 K's is a pretty impressive accomplishment, even if strikeout numbers have been historically high over Smoltz's career. Still. isn't this headline a bit much? I mean, surely no one thinks Smoltz is "greater" than this guy or this guy or this guy, right?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Doug Mirabelli, Don't Think You're Special, Because You Suck

As the Red Sox were going through introductions, they wen[t] through the catchers, finishing with Doug Mirabelli. Mirabelli, wearing a black shirt and dark coat, rather than the uniforms worn by the rest, got a big ovation, turned and saluted the crowd. He then got his ring, and walked back into the dugout, instead of going to stand in the infield with the other members of the current Red Sox. (Boston Globe)

Doug Mirabelli, you stink. Bad. Your OBP last year, .278, would have been merely decent as a batting average. No one whose opinion is worth caring about cares about you. So spare us further demonstrations, retreat to Back Bay or wherever the fuck, and see if you can't use your shiny new World Series ringwhich you got because you wound up on the same team as David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Josh Beckettto seduce skeezie middle-aged women for whom orthodonture is something they heard of, once, but don't remember what it means.

Red Sox Roundup

Headline: "Colon to be examined tomorrow."

Curt Schilling lists his own charity website as being http://www.curt'spitch.org/ even though websites can't have apostrophes.

Girls in pink Red Sox hats but are also pretty saneif you exist, you don't want to read this. Jacoby Ellsbury was raised a Mormon. Primarily Baseball will enshrine in its illustrious Hall of Fame the first fan who proves whether Ellsbury dons Mormon underwear but whothis is crucialdoesn't tell us how the proof was obtained.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Sox Shop Tokyo

From Tokyo, Kevin Youkilis reports: "We just tried to look for stuff, but we really didn't buy much because we found out it's very expensive. We saw a lot of stuff that we can get in the States for cheaper. Hopefully we'll get a chance to get some Japanese culture stuff later on in the trip."

It's the Boston Red Sox and they can't afford to buy anything in Japan? Did anyone tell Kevin Youkilis that the $40,000 stipend each player (and coach) got for this trip is equal to like 1.5 billion trillion bazillion yen? And that the prices of things, while large in number, are also in yen? Meaning that things really aren't so much? And affordable on a $40-fucking-god-damn-000 week's stipend, on top of their preexisting fucking tremendous salary? What are the Red Sox shopping for?

Youkilis: Manny, we've got to get this. A beautiful geisha, with a Blu-Ray player coming out of her vagina.

Ramirez: Naw, man, we can get that shit for cheap back home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Sox are Screwed

After all, you can't lose the best baseball player ever and still expect to succeed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Manny Ramirez, Possibly Not Very Intellectual

Not since Germany last invaded Poland has the news been so troubling. MLB reports that Manny Ramirez has changed. This year he is eating vegetables, meditating, and reading The Secret, a New Age motivational book that renders Ramirez one notch away from the final descent into Scientology:

"I like it. I don't need to read a whole book to know what it's about. It's about this," he said, pointing to his head. "It's about what you want. If I come to you and tell you I want to take you to my house and cook you a steak, then you'll know. Because what it is is if you think positive stuff, all the positive stuff is going to come to you. Making things happen for yourself. Hey, that's what it's all about. If you said to yourself, 'Oh, I'm tired today, brother.' Then you're going to be tired all day. That's it. That's what it's all about."

Manny goes on to affirm that all he does is read while, at the same time, not reading: "That's all I do is read, read, read, read, read . . . I love it. I haven't finished [the book yet], but I don't need to. I love it. I already know what it's all about."

The Boston Red Sox will finish in last place.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Greg Mankiw Flaunts His Douchebaggery For Us All

From Greg Mankiw's blog: "The best sentence . . . I have read so far today is from Brian Hollar: 'I was talking with a professor here at GMU and another PhD student recently and all three of us agreed that after earning all the advanced degrees, nearly everything you ultimately use in economics, you learn in Mankiw.'"

I was talking with some of my ex-girlfriends recently and all of them agreed that after fucking a number of other men, they realized that fucking me was the only real sexual experience they've ever had, thanks to my massive cock and expert technique, and from now on they never need to fuck again, only to think of me pounding them in every orifice.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Red Sox Statement on Schilling

From MLB.com, with liberties:

"Curt Schilling was examined by Red Sox doctors in January after he reported feeling right shoulder discomfort. Curt has started a program of rest, rehabilitation and shoulder strengthening in an attempt to return to pitching. He's a huge fucking stubborn fat asshole who won't get surgery and void his contract, so come season's end we will pay him $8 million shit-covered dollars. If you have prior experience dipping dollars in shit, please contact the Boston Red Sox."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

This Just, Deliciously, In

Curt Schilling has added bylines to each entry on his blog. Yes, his blog, the one that reads "Curt Schilling’s Official Blog" at the top because only Curt Schilling posts on it. It also has a photo of Schilling pitching, with Schilling's signature. Also, it is named "38 Pitches;" Schilling wears number 38 and is a pitcher.

Maybe I'm being unfair. When a recent post ended its title with just one exclamation point rather than five--without changing fonts in the middle of a single sentence--I did for a moment doubt the identity of the author.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hold On, Twins!

Before you, Twins, sign on the dotted line--trading probably the best pitcher in baseball for an outfielder and three pitching prospects, the centerpiece being 18 years old, an age at which he might become a quite fine ballplayer or might instead run off with his girlfriend of three months to live out the rest of his days amongst the Bushmen of the Kalahari--please consider my offer.

For Johan Santana, I will deliver a you "grab bag" of eight young, male Cuban refugees. There's a decent chance a few of them could go on to play ball.

I'm not sure how I'll get them in the country. And I don't yet have a baseball team. For Johan Santana, I can figure out the details. As long as you're giving away Santana for youths brimming with verve--though perhaps not facial hair--you've got to like my offer over the Mets' mere four-prospect deal. For every Met, you would get two fresh Cubans. If you drive a hard bargain, I'll make sure they really look like ballplayers.