Monday, August 21, 2006

Gibbons fights with Lilly, Blue Jays' ship has sunk

Ed McElvain

Jay Gibbons, manager of the Toronto Blue Jays got into a fight with a player on his team during a game tonight. Yeah. A physical fight. During a Major League Baseball game.

Apparently, Ted Lilly didn't like being taken out in the 3rd inning (after giving up 7 runs) or the way he was taken out and let Mgr. Gibbons know about it on the mound. Gibbons jawed back at him, as expected. Once in the tunnel, either Lilly found the magic word or Gibbons just got fed up with the verbal assault. Gibbons followed Lilly into the tunnel, to come out later with a bloody nose. A cameraman reportedly saw (but did not capture for the rest of us) Gibbons push Lilly first.

This from the man who reportedly challenged Shea Hillenbrand to a fight after Hillenbrand wrote that the Jays "ship was sinking" on the lockeroom message board. My guess is that it's sinking due to having a hotheaded 12 year old at the helm.

In the Hillenbrand situation, Jays' GM J.P. Ricciardi sided with Gibbons and immediately designated one of the team's best hitters for assignment, giving every other team in the MLB a clear sign that it was "rip off the Blue Jays" time.

Last offseason showed that Ricciardi is certainly not afraid to pull the trigger on a big move to help his club. If Jay Gibbons still has a job by the end of the week, let alone next spring, J.P. Ricciardi is an idiot. Fighting with players during a game is not the way you run a winning ball team. This is Major League Baseball...you know, the pinnacle of professional baseball.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mussina gives up pitching, becomes umpire

Dr. Uetz

Like many kids in America, I grew up playing baseball. I was lucky enough to play varsity ball in high school, spending my time catching and on the mound. I was not a great baseball player, but I always felt I had an understanding of the game and a calm demeanor that helped me overcome what my lack of tremendous talent.

When I was a freshman my dad shared a great nugget of wisdom with me that helped tremendously in my so-called career. The punchline to his story was a line from an old umpire who says, "Some pitches are strikes. Some pitches are balls. But they ain't nothing until I call 'em."

I thought of that this morning as I read the New York Times piece on the Yankees' loss last night. Here's the line that played catalyst:
"With two outs and no base runners in the sixth, Mussina gave up a double to the left-field corner by Brian Anderson, the No. 9 hitter. Mussina said he thought he had struck out Anderson before that, but (home plate ump) Miller disagreed."

Pull your head out of your ass, Mussina. You thought you had struck out Anderson before that? Really? Then why was he still in the batter's box? Why were you on the mound and not resting in the dugout? Why was the rest of your defense still on the field? You thought you had struck him out?

I get tired of reading crap like that. I'm not sure when it happened, but we sure have become a sorry bunch of excuse-makers. Personally I blame instant replay. While it's fun to watch Bartman try to catch that foul ball over and over again, it gives lazy people too many opportunities to find lame excuses for losing. "We so would have won if the ump had called him out at second. It was obvious on the replay." Yeah, well you might also have won if your team had managed more than 4 hits and 2 runs. Or in the case of the Bartman example, maybe you would have won if Gonzalez hadn't committed an error - something he over which he had total control?

Baseball, like life and everything else we know, is imperfect. Part of the beauty of the game is that unlike any other game you truly control your own destiny. Umps make mistakes. But so do pitchers, so do fielders, so do the batters. Mussina gives up a double in the sixth, but the Yankees still have nine remaining outs of their own to do some damage. And aren't they supposed to be the best team money can buy?

But I'm straying. The fact is a professional ballplayer should know better than to "think they struck out Anderson before that." When you're on the field, you are there to play the game. Leave it to the douchebags in the stands to argue with the umps. We all have a role to play, and the umpire's role is to determine ball or strike, safe or out, foul or fair. So shut up and pitch.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bud Selig hates you

Dr. Uetz

Bud Selig doesn't give a shit about you. This may not shock you, but you should be reminded.

I called Bud at home last night to get his input on online fantasy leagues. MLB has been involved in a legal battle with online fantasy companies over the rights to player names and stats and recently suffered a defeated in the eighth circuit court. It's an obvious move by the greedheads to stuff their wallets. God forbid any of us have a little fun without them profiting from it.

So I took a chance and called Bud to see how he felt about the whole thing. He answered and I introduced myself as a "true fan of the game of baseball," and asked if he had just a minute to discuss this whole online fantasy baseball deal. He put down his copy of The Prince, let go a heavy sigh, and reluctantly agreed - it didn't hurt that I had introduced myself as the new PR Director for Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio.

But to the punch-line. Three minutes into our conversation Bud gave me the nugget of truth I had been looking for. At first he discussed MLB's intentions of simply wanting to provide fans with honest and reliable facts. "Who knows baseball better than the MLB?" he asked me. Good point. Not too many people.

"Certainly not the fans," I responded. "Those shitheads are just angling for a piece of the action. My 17 year old cousin Pete just won $150 in his fantasy league; in large part due to the great year Ortiz is having. Is he sending any of his earnings to Ortiz? Hell no. But he sure used his name and stats to win cash."

"Exactly!" Bud yelled. "I hate those fucking fans. They've ruined the game of baseball. This is about the bottom line, you understand. Without rules there is no game. And we write the rules."

I'm sure Judge Medler had the laws of our country and the Constitution in mind when she ruled against the MLB. But there are people out there, the true men of baseball, that she forgot in her decision. People like my friend Bud who rely on that revenue to put food on their table and a Mercedes in their garage. What would happen if we were all allowed to have fun without considering the cost of printing "Ortiz" or "Crede" or "Bonds" in our own Excel files? What about those starving players? Think about that. I for one agree with Bud. Fuck the fans.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who should be AL MVP? He plays for the Sox, but it's not who you think.

Ed McElvain

In light of all the Big Papi and clutch hitting worship going on, I have a serious question to ask. Should a DH be MVP? Hell no, are you kidding me. Even if his offensive numbers are head and shoulders above the competition? Still no and here's why:

A DH is not a baseball player. He is a hitter. That’s half the game. To be a baseball player you have to play defense, you have to play baseball. If I go to the batting cages, I don’t tell people I’m going to play baseball. If you're not a baseball player, you can't be MVP.

In a two and a half hour game, David Ortiz spends at least two hours on the bench. While his teammates are playing the other half of the game in the field, he’s sippin’ Gatorade and eating seeds. His only impact on the game comes once every other inning.

But far be it for me to knock the hero down and not offer a replacement. I looked the numbers and I think I've found the man for the MVP job. If what we care about most is a guy who makes an impact on a contending team and who steps up big in the clutch, let’s talk about Joe Crede for MVP.

I’ll admit that his total season numbers, while excellent, are nowhere near as impressive as David Ortiz’s, but in late-inning pressure situations (LIPS) Crede’s batting average is fully 80 points higher than Ortiz, he has scored one more run, knocked the same amount of RBI with just one less homerun, and has only struckout three times to Ortiz's eight. Crede also has the third highest fielding percent in the AL for 3rd basemen who have played in at least 100 games or logged at least 800 innings at the position so far.

David Ortiz is a likeable guy and a hell of a hitter, I could never argue that. His walkoff home runs have been important to his team and certainly exciting and memorable. But Joe Crede is a baseball player who also gets it done when it counts…in all aspects of the game. For that reason Crede should be frontrunner for AL MVP.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Worst Trade In Baseball

Dr. Uetz

I was in Colorado last weekend and happened to be lucky enough to have the time to grab a beer with my old friends Mike Cubbage and Louis Freeh. Both were there for the Carbondale Mountain Fair. I was there to clear my head and do some fly fishing. I needed time away from what was happening in the world.

It didn't take long for the chatter to turn to baseball - I steered it in that direction so I could gloat about the Mets, their 13 game lead, and their pending sweep of the Braves in Atlanta. It was good and it made Mike happy. But leave it to Louis to drag us down with trade talk.

The trade deadline is a strange and twisted border that we approach with a childish curiosity every year. And for several days after we pass it by, we spend countless hours discussing who won and who lost in the world of trades. It's good fodder. Because deadlines, like ultimatum, cause us to do some stupid shit. "You're going to the Michael Bolton concert with my mother and I or there will be no more sex for a month." So you go to the Bolton concert like a dumb ass. Or you send Tom Seaver to the fucking Reds. Ouch.

Baseball and life are full of odd deadlines that cause us to suspend our disbelief and move on with sketchy decisions. The 1:00 AM bar deadline has probably been the catalyst for some of history's worst decisions. (New Year's Eve is even worse, moving decisions up to 11:30 - could be responsible for John Wilkes Booth, Robin Leach, Chris Tucker, Dr. Phil, and Keanu Reeves.)

We will see what happens with the big trades from the '06 deadline. There's no way of telling. Maddux could love the west coast air and return to the form that made him one of the greatest pitchers of the last 20 years - it certainly it won't hurt to get out of Wrigley. Sean Casey, back in a pennant race, could revisit 2004 - he certainly has the skills. The Yankees have no farm system. What? I just wanted to say it, I don't care that it doesn't fit. Eat it. One thing is for sure, Texas will still be Texas with Carlos Lee; he's not a very good pitcher.

There are no guarantees in life; and if you find yourself on the verge of greatness you might make a plunge that would otherwise seem ludicrous. You might find yourself ordering the use of constitutionally questionable tactics on nonviolent protestors. Or you might trade Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas. (Frank Robinson, by the way, could be a great result of New Year's Eve. He was born on Aug. 31. Charlie Parker was born Aug. 29)