Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Holy Trinity - Part II - Snake Oil

by SonDog

I absolutely love the NFL draft. Honestly, I'm not quite sure why, as football is my least favorite out of the three major American sports. Anyways, while in college, I summed up my feelings about the NFL draft in this story for The Orion in my weekly column, Crossing the Line.

Rather than re-hash everything I said then, I'll let you click on that link (OZ and Stapes, I'm confident you burned this story from The Orion into your memory years ago.)

I'm don't want to play arm-chair scout (as I've tried to do with basketball and baseball) but overall I'm pretty happy with the 49ers draft picks. DMo and I have already disagreed at who the Niners should have taken with the sixth pick, but last year we disagreed all season about the future of Alex Smith. Truthfully, I think those two will work together like peanut butter and jelly ("Kind of like oil and water." "Those two things don't go together, Ricky Bobby.").

Vernon Davis is a physical freak for a tight end. If Eric Johnson can get healthy, the Niners can run a lot of two-tight end sets (thereby eliminating the need to ever hear the words "Heatherington" and "in the game"). I also like the pick of Lawson later in the first round. (Side Note: BH and I were on the phone discussing the draft when the Niners selected NC State's free safety, Marcus Hudson. Based solely on the fact that the Niners drafted two defensive players from NC State, and Mario Williams was the first player selected in the draft (over Reggie Bush?!?! And Houston made that pick with a straight face?!?!), we concluded that NC State is the Nations premier IA defensive program. And that's about all I have to say about this year's draft.

Class Exercise: Quick, pick out the out-of-place numbnuts in this picture! Yup, that's the owner!

While I'm on the subject of football, it should be noted that I am in Dallas at the moment and I actually had a business meeting today across the street from the Dallas Cowboys' practice facility. I think they just converted an airplane hangar and stuck the Dallas star on the side. It was the ugliest monstrociy I have ever seen. (By the way, I hate the Cowboys.) I also had the opportunity to circle Texas Stadium for 30 minutes while trying to kill time between appointments. It took everything I had not to drive my rental car (why do they always give you a freakin' Dodge Stratus?) into the stadium just so I could stand on the star like Terrell Owens. Then I remembered that Owens IS a Cowboy now. It makes me hate that team so much more.

The craziest thing I have come across in Dallas? A high-school in Plano was having football practice this afternoon. It's May 1. I guess they do take high-school football serious down here.

The Holy Trinity - Part I - Touring the Minors

by SonDog

The last weekend of April is possibly my favorite time of the sports year. The NBA playoffs are in full swing, the baseball season has a month under its proverbial belt and the grade-A crap shoot known as the NFL draft takes place. To put it another way, the Sacramento Kings are in the midts of a playoff series with San Antonio, the San Francisco Giants are starting to figure out what type of team they have and the San Francisco 49ers are just trying not to royally screw up by blowing another top draft pick. (Side Note: While the San Jose Sharks are doing well in the playoffs, my thoughts on the NHL still reside somewhere between "whatever" and "I don't really care.")
With this in mind, I felt compelled to talk about all three teams with a wholly unscientific and ridiculously un-qualified review of the state of each's union. I'll start with the Giants
Those of you who know me well know that I thoroughly enjoy keeping an eye on the minor leagues. One of my favorite aspects of Spring Training is watching the younger players to gauge what the future may hold in the post-Bonds era. While in past years the Giants leaned towards aging veterans to fill out their roster, that tendency changed a bit last year with the emergence of home-grown talent like Lance Niekro, Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey, Scott Munter, Jeremy Accardo and Jason Ellison. Already this season we've seen the Giants turn to their farm system with Brian Wilson and Kevin Frandsen. As of Sunday, 3/4 of the Giants' infield (Niekro, Frandsen, Feliz) were raised on the Giants' farm.

Today's report hopefully will tell you one of two things: A) I absolutely need to get a life, or B) the Giants' farm system has some help on the way if needed.:

(AAA) Fresno Grizzlies: You may remember OF Adam Shabala from a brief call-up at the end of last season, but you may be surprised to hear what he's doing this season. Through the first 21 games, Shabala is hitting .420 with 15 RBI, an OBP over .500 and a SLG% near .600 at a new position... 3B. I don't know how his defense is coming along, but the left-handed hitter's game is reminiscent of Geoff Blum. With the Giants' glut of OF prospects in the minors, the 28-year-old Shabala was lost in a numbers game. But if he can take to 3B defensively, there may be opportunity, especially in light of Pedro Feliz's continued struggles at the plate. This isn't to say Shabala is a star in the making, but he might be able to help if an injury to Feliz should occur.

Former starter Merkin Valdez is the cream of the reliever's crop. The highly-touted 24-year-old (who touched 100mph in Spring Training) is taking to closing quite nicely. In 9 games (9.2 innings), Valdez has a 2.79 ERA with 9 K's. However, he has allowed 8 hits and 6 walks.

Merkin Valdez has had a successful transition to the bullpen

The other name to watch out for is Eric Threets, who has made a super comeback. Threets has been in the Giants' system for years. At 20. the lefty could throw 100mph. However, Threets battled control issues similar to Rick Ankiel's over the last three years. Here's hoping the 24-year-old has figured the problems out. In 9 games (11.2 innings), Threets has an ERA of 3.09 with 8 strikeouts. More impressive is that he's only allowed 11 baserunners in his 11.2 innings (0.94 WHIP).

(AA) Connecticut Defenders: As of May 1, Jonathan Sanchez has to be considered the top long-term prospect in the San Francisco system. Sanchez impressed everybody in Spring Training and he continues to impress so far in Connecticut. The 23-year-old lefty began the season as a starter, and did quite well (0.54 ERA in three starts). However, the Giants have shifted the hard-throwing lefty (mid-90's fastball) to the bullpen in the last two weeks, possibly as a way to expedite his path to the big leagues. It's worked well to this point and Saturday night he pitched 1.1 innings, striking out all 4 batters. In 19 innings this season, he has 31 strikeouts against only 6 walks and 10 hits. I am surprised they're moving him to the bullpen, but maybe the Giants envision him as a lefty-version of the 2002 Francisco Rodriguez (dominant after coming up from AA ball). I just hope they don't end up trading him for a loud-mouthed catcher, a la Francisco Liriano.

Jonathan Sanchez was the star of the Giants' system in April

The Giants' two best outfield prospects are off to decent starts. 22-year-olds Nate Shierholtz and Eddy Martinez-Esteve are hitting .301 and .293 respectively.

(A) San Jose Giants -- The star of the junior Giants' squad is 23-year-old Nick Pereira. In four starts (24 innings), Pereira has allowed only 13 hits and 4 walks (0.71 WHIP). His 1.13 ERA is second in the California League. With his advanced age, Pereira could soon see a promotion to AA or even AAA.

Top-5 Major League Ready Prospects as of May 1:
1) Kevin Frandsen- 2B (on MLB roster while Ray Durham sits on the DL)
2) Brian Wilson- bullpen (on MLB roster - placed on DL after first game, oblique strain)
3) Merkin Valdez - bullpen
4) Jonathan Sanchez - bullpen
5) Adam Shabala - 3B/OF

Others to watch: Fred Lewis, CF/LF, AAA (.365 AVG, .450 OBP, .596 SLG%, missed six games with hamstring injury), Pat Misch, LP, AA (24 innings, 1.13 ERA - did the same thing last year before bombing in Fresno), Chris Begg, RP, AA (34.1 innings, 2.08 ERA, only 2 walks against 22 strikeouts - 26-years-old).

Thursday, April 27, 2006


posted by BH

From today's Daily Quickie on's Page 2:

Credit Steve Nash with two MVP awards this year. There's the traditional "Most Valuable Player." And then there's this:

"Most Viciously Posterized."

Oh my goodness: Kobe dunked on Nash so nasty last night with 3 minutes to go to put the Lakers up 9, you could feel Bryant's fury:

• At having lost MVP to Nash (you just know that was in the back of his mind).

• At shooting 7-for-21 in a personally humiliating Game 1 loss to the Suns.

• At inspiring his teammates to realize that they would win this game, shocking the Suns in Phoenix and tying their series 1-1.

The Dunk was a symbol for LA's surprisingly aggressive win, holding Phoenix to 34 pct 1st-half FG shooting that the Suns never really recovered from.

The only thing The Dunk didn't do was capture Kobe's restraint during the rest of the game:

Contrary to pregame theory that his shot count would explode, he shot only 24 times (making 12) and didn't carry the team as much as lead it.

Whether you love or loathe Kobe (or perhaps have an allergy to Nash winning that 2nd MVP), the move symbolized all that can be great about Kobe: Athleticism, will and, yes, I'll concede: leadership.

How does trying to take a charge under the basket mean you have been posterized? First of all, Steve Nash was so far under Bryant, there's no way even his head makes it into the shot. Secondly, every other posterized moment I've ever seen involved the dunk actually being contested. Nash was a chair, really. This isn't John Starks flying over the outstretched arms of Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. This is Bryant dunking over a guy with both feet on the ground and both hands over his crotch. It wasn't Judas kissing Jesus. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't symbolize anything. It was two exciting points in an unexpected win. When Kobe drove the baseline and saw Nash there, he wasn't thinking about MVP's, game 1, inspiring his teammates, or leadership. It was another moment in a season in which he posterized more than one guy, none of whom were MVP's. If I'm Steve Nash, I'll take the MVP. I'll give Kobe thirty more dunks over me if it means my team takes the series. Last night, Nash scored 29, just like Bryant, yet the dunk is what people are talking about as a big "up yours" from Kobe to Nash? Seriously?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Ray of Sunshine? A Bit of Hope?

posted by BH

I had the opportunity to watch today's Giants/Mets game on the tube. It looked good, then bad, then bad,then good, then really bad, then Bonds yoked a ball to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. All I could think of was J.T. Snow, who hit a bomb off of then-Met Armando Benitez in the bottom of the ninth to tie game 2 of the 2000 NLDS. I hopped around the lobby of the Vail Village Inn like a maniac, only to see the Giants fall in 10. Today, despite the pleasure I felt after Bonds turned around a 99 mph fastball (on the ballpark gun) from Billy Wagner, I knew they were going down. When they finally did fall after 11 innings, I was looking at the good, rather than the 11-10 record the team is sporting or the fact that they've lost their last two series when the could have and maybe should have won them.

-Bonds is kind of hitting. .244 is a lot better than .172. He's hit three home runs in his last five games- all outside pitches and all to the opposite field. Maybe managers will see this and determine Bonds can, despite popular belief, get to that pitch. Maybe they won't. It's nice to know he still knows what to do with a fastball.

-Moises Alou went 3-6, and is now hitting .349 on the year. He is exactly what the Giants need behind Bonds- an RBI guy with opportunities to drive guys in. Right now, He's what the Giants thought they were getting when they signed him before last season.

-Armando Benitiez, despite some tightrope walking, threw like a stud, at time reaching 96 on the stadium gun. I wouldn't call what he had today control, necessarily. More like semi-effectively wild. The point is, he was throwing hard and did so for 46 pitches. The control will come as he gets back into a rythym.

Really, despite the loss, I'm kind of happy. The Giants held in there with what is supposed to be a lot better team.

Mind of (depressed) Kings Fans -- Playoff Edition

by SonDog

The following is an email exchange between OZ and SonDog, two die-hard Sacramento Kings fans, following the team's heartbreaking game 2 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday night.

OZ -- It stings. Bad.

Bibby, who is usually Clutchy McCluctherson, was absolutely awful all game. Wells played for a contract and Miller deserves the Peja award. The only bright spot was Martin.

SonDog -- I blame it all on Jason Hart, just because he sucks. Seriously, Bibby's defense is appalling (especially for turning his head on that final possession in regulation and letting Brent Barry stand wide open at the three point line. My commentary to Rocky went something like, "They just have to guard the three... oh, sweet Jesus... BIBBY?!?!?!?" It bears mentioning that I went into a profanity laced tirade at that point.). When Reggie Miller is on the air wondering aloud, "Why haven't the Kings made any adjustments?" you have to start asking your coaching staff some serious questions (which I'm sure the Maloof's will).

Kevin Martin and Shareef both played exceptional, but Martin still isn't a player you can exactly "go to." Most of his buckets came on fast breaks and kick-outs from double teams. Brad Miller is officially on the Houdini list. He joins Peja Stojakovic and Brandon Lloyd in the illustrious three-man group. I don't even know if Miller understands that it's the playoffs at this point.

Hi, I'm Jason Hart. I really don't contribute much to this team, and I didn't do a damned thing on Tuesday night. You'll invariably see more of me on Friday.

OZ -- Shareef was exceptional for 47:56 of the game. But missing that unbelievably wide-open jumper for the game-winner was unforgivable. He slipped back to old form for the overtime debacle. He did however get the most air I've seen since he became a King on that dunk, easily surpassing his previous mark of 2 inches.

I've been defending Bibby all morning (pun intended) as he was clearly held up by a moving screen the size of, well, Tim Duncan. The .2 seconds it takes Barry to shoot the ball was unavoidable. Not withstanding the horrible defensive effort Bibby put out all night, the Spurs are going to get their shot coming out of a full timeout with as many weapons as they had.

SonDog -- Bibby was at the elbow. Even Charles Barkley was pointing out that you absolutely cannot leave a shooter on the weak-side open for 3 ("First of all, Bibby can't leave Barry... because first of all...). Barkley!! Mike's head was staring at Ginobili driving in for 2, which was meaningless since they were up by three. It was a defensive lapse at a critical moment. YOU DON'T LEAVE A THREE-POINT SHOOTER OPEN WITH THE OTHER TEAM DOWN BY THREE!!!

I couldn't believe Reef missed that shot. He didn't seem to miss many of those all year. Sadly, you knew it wasn't going in as soon as it left his hands. That being said, it could have been the best all-around game I've seen him play this year.

OZ -- I've never seen the ball leave his hands from a jump shot, or free throw for that matter, and thought it was going in. It doesn't seem that mathematically the ball would be able to enter the cylinder when it comes to the structure in a perfectly straight line, which is why others rely on an arch trajectory to increase the probability of success. How does a person make it to the NBA without getting this into their head? Who were these coaches?

SonDog -- Decedents of Rick Adelman, who coincidentally teaches defense about as well as you could teach Taiwanese.

OZ -- If it were my profession, and I was paid miiilllions of dollars ("miiilllions of dollars" spoken in a Dr. Evil accent) I can absolutely guarantee I'd be fluent in Taiwanese.

SonDog -- At least you would know to tell your guys, "Hey, just make sure you don't leave any three point shooters open in the closing seconds with the Spurs down by three. Don't worry about double-teaming Nazr Muhammad and forget about doubling Ginobili if he drives inside. JUST DON'T LEAVE A THREE POINT SHOOTER OPEN!!!" Have I mentioned that I can't believe they left a three-point shooter open?

OZ -- I'm done. I can't talk about this anymore.


Rosenthal: Forward Thinker

posted by BH

Sondog and I, for quite a while, have enjoyed the nonsensical ravings of Ken Rosenthal, Senior Baseball Writer for and frequent contributor to the Sporting News. For some reason, I have had the feeling for the past three or so years that Rosenthal has either a) had an intern from a nearby high school ROP program write all his pieces, b) watched Sportscenter from time to time and based columns on information learned there, or c) simply ripped off other writers' ideas. In his latest offerning on the Sporting News website (which he ran on two weeks ago), Rosenthal documents the most overpaid/underpaid athletes in baseball. I'm pretty sure this piece falls into the intern written category. Maybe Rosenthal wrote it, but if so, it had to have been done on a laptop while ol' Ken was on the toilet. First of all, the subject is soooooo played. I didn't have to read it to know Chan Ho Park would be at #1 and Eric Milton would be at #2. Secondly, it's just so blah.

It's all about value for general managers as they construct their payrolls to try for maximum return on every dollar. But when judging which players are the most overpaid and most underpaid, keep a couple of things in mind.

1) Players with long-term injuries shouldn't count. Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and Braves lefthander Mike Hampton are making millions while on the disabled list, but it's not right to kick 'em when they're down.

Um, yes it is. For the purposes of this exercize, it absolutely is. Of course figuring in a player's durability goes into deciding whether or not a player should receive a big contract. Also, half your column is based on kicking guys when they're down.

2) Players with between zero and six years of service time should be excluded. The salaries of players in the zero to three category are controlled by the clubs. The salaries of three- to six-year players, though inflated by arbitration, are not determined by the open market.

I'll remember that.

Most Overpaid

Chan Ho Park, RHP, Padres, $15.3 million. Retire the trophy -- the free-agent contract the Rangers awarded Park after the 2001 season (five years, $65 million) is the worst in major league history. Park, 32, won a grand total of 26 games in the first four years of the deal. The Rangers traded him to the Padres last season.

No shit. Chan Ho Park. Well done. So far, I'm positive you're not earning your paycheck.

Eric Milton, LHP, Reds, $9.8 million. The Reds signed Milton, 30, to a three-year, $25.5 million free-agent contract the year after he allowed 43 homers for the Phillies. Surprise! Milton, moving from one hitters park to another, allowed another 40 homers last season and posted a 6.47 ERA. He looks better this season yet still allowed five homers in his first three starts.

Again, no shit.

Jason Kendall, C, A's, $11.57 million. Kendall, who turns 32 in June, posted the lowest on-base plus slugging percentage of any American League player last season and threw out the lowest percentage of basestealers in the A.L. as well.

I was kind of shocked by this one. Yeah, his OPS was weak last year, but he was hitting out of the leadoff spot, and had an OBP of .345. Not horrid. OPS is sort of a weak stat when evaluating a leadoff guy. His goal is to not make an out, right? Yeah, the A's are paying a bit for Kendall, but I kind of get the feeling Rosenthal wanted to put him on this list, and was going to find any number that would let him do so. Seriously. You putting together an overpaid list and you come at me with OPS? The cash concious Billy Beane is not going to bring a guy in unless he's worth the money.

Kazuo Matsui, 2B, Mets, $8.058 million. Matsui is the first high-priced Japanese position player to flop in the majors. Injuries slowed him last season, but it's his inability to adjust to the North American game that has made him a bust.

Okay, everybody. Let's go back to Ken's rule #2: "Players with between zero and six years of service time should be excluded." Still, his salary only ranks sixth on the Mets and makes up 8% of the payroll on a team whose spending ranks 5th in baseball. I don't look at it as a travesty. It's a lot to pay for a guy with a.267 BA, 10 HR's, 67 RBI's, and a .320 OBP, but they didn't really know what they were getting with this guy. With that, let's move on.

Most underpaid

These are pretty formulaic, mostly involving guys who have had big years that no one expected them to have, and evaluating them based on contracts they signed before the turned into great players. David Ortiz, Chris Carpenter, and Melvin Mora make the list and fall into such a cherrypicking category. The other two are:

Trevor Hoffman, RHP, Padres, $4.5 million. Love that San Diego discount. Hoffman, 38, is earning less than half of what his Blue Jays' counterpart, lefty B.J. Ryan, will average in his new contract. Sure, Hoffman is eight years older than Ryan, but he began the season with 436 career saves to Ryan's 42 -- and still is going strong.

It's hard to take this evaluation seriously, especially when Rosenthal has cited the hometown discount. Seems too easy.

Tony Clark, 1B, Diamondbacks, $1.034 million. OK, he lost his starting job, but that's only because the Diamondbacks are committed to Conor Jackson. Clark, who turns 34 in June, hit 30 homers last season, then re-signed for two years at a club-friendly price.

This is my favorite. At this point, the D-Backs are paying to have Tony Clark sit the bench, yet Rosenthal says he is underpaid. Um, I'm as valuable to the D-Backs as Clark at this point. Seriously, at this point, he's a bench player. And an expensive one at that. If you're going to evaluate a guy's current contract based on what he's done in the past, the Reds are getting quite a deal with Rich Aurillia. $1.3 Million for a guy who hit 37 homers just four years ago?

Mr. Rosenthal. I don't know how you got your job.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Giants Scouting Report -- by a Terrible Scout

by SonDog

DMo and I recently spent three days in Denver watching the Giants take on the Rockies. We were fortunate enough to witness Barry Bonds's first homer of the year, which was a euphoric experience. We're in the process of putting together a post discussing our weekend, and you can look forward to reading that later this week (or later next week at the pace we're going).

But today, I have a few random Giants thoughts that I have to get off my chest (Editor's Note: It's been a long couple of days at work and I'm cranky because my favorite young pitcher was just put on the DL. I'm sorry if this sounds like griping, but I'm in a griping mood. As always, I have no expertise when it comes to scouting players, so take all that is written below with the knowledge that I am nothing more than a frustrated fan. And probably an idiot.):

-- I told everybody who would listen (like my dog Rocky, for example) for the last 14 days that the Giants should call up Brian Wilson from AAA. The 24-year-old LSU product had a phenomenal season last year in the minors. He started 2005 in low-A and progressed through Fresno, then he continued his success into Spring Training 2006. In Fresno this year, Wilson was pitching better than anybody in the Giants' 'pen and was ready for a shot. Tyler Walker simply didn't have anything left in his proverbial tank (presumably because it was all in his literal gut) as it was a foregone conclusion that he would be shown the door sooner rather than later. In fact, it was so predictable that I even predicted it on March 2 in The Indispensables -- Part 1 when I wrote, "Walker, at this point, is trade bait. He will probably make the team out of spring training at the expense of one of the Giants' younger, stronger arms (i.e. Jeremy Accardo, Brian Wilson or Kevin Correia), but I see him as utterly expendable. I have nothing else to say here." Of course, I also wrote that the bullpen was a team strength, so what the hell do I know. At any rate, Wilson was called up on Saturday night and promptly blew the Rockies away for two innings on Sunday. From our seats behind home plate, his slider looked like it was straight from hell and his fastball was clocked regularly at 95. The Rockies didn't know what hit them. Naturally, Wilson was placed on the disabled list on Monday with a strained oblique, similar to the injury that continues to sideline Noah Lowry. For some reason, Wilson's injury sounds about par for the course.

-- Can Pedro Feliz lay off a slider in the dirt? Just once? The guy has grounded into what seems like 230 double plays this year from trying to pull pitches that are a good two feet off the plate and in the dirt. I'm amazed he makes contact half the time (other times he brings back wicked flashbacks of Glenallen Hill, who Giants fans might remember as the guy who would swing at a pitch even if it was rolled towards home plate). It's pretty clear by this point that Feliz can diferentiate a fastball from a slider about as well as my color-blind brother-in-law can differentiate between blue and yellow. In fact, I don't think he's seen a fastball in three weeks because teams know they can get him to strike out or weakly ground out on a slider. After hitting in the low .200 range in the second half of last season (teams finally adjusted to him) and starting the 2006 season with a .176 average (despite having the most at bats on the team), he's running out of time to prove himself as a viable, consistent hitter. How this guy once batted third regularly in the lineup boggles my mind. And Darrell, I hope he turns it around, for both of our sakes.

Feliz, finding a ball that he can actually hit... just not with his bat

-- I'm tired of waiting for Jason Schmidt to return to the form that made him such a stud in 2003 and 2004. It's just not going to happen. He only threw one pitch on Friday night that registered above 91 on the Coors Field radar gun, and that was a 93 mph heater at Jason Jennings's knees. He's just not the same pitcher anymore and, in turn, I don't think you can classify him as this team's ace. If I had to pick one Giant to start a crucial game today, I would pick Matt Morris. My second choice would be Noah Lowry (even though he's injured). My third choice would be Matt Cain.

-- I don't know what else Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey and Jeremy Accardo have to do to stick on this team. When Noah Lowry comes back, it would be an absolute travesty if any of the above pitchers were demoted. Felipe Alou admitted that he didn't know what else Hennessey had to do to stay on the big club, and Correia has proven his worth as a long reliever and spot starter. Accardo just needs to pitch a little more regular than every three weeks. If I have to see Jeff Fassero pitch in one more game for this team, I may have a projectile vomiting session all over my TV (mental image.... DELETED!). Honestly, the 2006 version of Eddie Harris has done an admirable job to this point, but he simply is taking the roster spot of a more talented and younger replacement (of course, the same can be said for Tim Worrell, so I'll just shut up now).

Fassero's arm may come flying off one of these days

-- All that said, the Giants are in first place in the National League West. Granted, it's a pathetically bad division, but I have no idea how this team is three games above .500 at this point. The hitting has been horrible. The bullpen is in shambles. The starters have been mediocre at best. My nerves are at their wits end. And I love being a Giants fan.

From the 'I'm A Caveman/Fake Apology Department'

posted by BH

During Sunday's Mets/Padres game in San Diego, Mets color guy and former first baseman Keith Hernandez noticed something interesting. He saw a woman in the Padre dugout giving Mike Piazza a high five after a Piazza home run. What did Hernandez say?

"I won't say that women belong in the kitchen, but they don't belong in the dugout. " He then laughed and said, "You know I am only teasing. I love you gals out there -- always have."

Oh, Keith. "Gals?" It turns out, the woman was Padres full-time massage therapist Kelly Calabrese. After Hernandez found out who she was, he again said she shouldn't be there. On Sunday, after being reprimanded by the Mets network, Hernandez said he was sorry if he offended anyone, but tempered that by saying that baseball only allows the head trainer and an assistant trainer in the dugout.First, let's be clear. "I'm sorry if" does not count as a) really being sorry or b) really being an apology. Remember when Derek Lowe was sorry if any of the A's were offended when he dry humped his glove in their direction in a playoff celebration? A real apology might sound like, "Hey, I'm really a buffoon. Yeah, I've been living off the fact that I was a Met during the best time to be one, and I've turned that into a nice little after-baseball career. I apologize for my buffoonery." Secondly, Keith got to his hotel on Sunday night, talked to one of his buddies, and together they remembered that only two people are allowed in the dugout. It seems like pretty classic argument shifting. Dude. You really just look like a buffoon. That's the best word I can come up with at this point. Wait. That's not true. I've got a better word. An award, in fact. Welcome back, Boofy. We're giving you to the great (cough) Keith Hernandez.

The Boofy

Of course, MLB shot back with a memo that had been sent to major league teams in which it says a member of the conditioning staff is allowed in the dugout. Oooh. Sorry Keith. Fake reason denied. So in the end, we realize that you're really just an old codger, or coot, with some prehistoric notions about women. And I totally rooted for you with Elaine.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Omar Vizquel is Neat

posted by BH

The baseball season is approximately twenty games old, which is just deep enough into the schedule to have developed insane predictions based on a pretty small sample size. As a Giants fan, I've already decided that this team scares the hell out of me.

Why does anyone pitch to Albert Pujols when the game is even close to competitive? The guy's a stud. He's Bonds three years ago. The only thing that will stop Pujols (Poo-holes) will be injury, but he doesn't look like he's got the body type that will break down, nor does he play a position that will lend itself to kicking his ass (I'm looking at you Ken Griffey, Jr.).

Um, has anyone else noticed that Jason Giambi is kind of being treated like he did nothing wrong? I'm kind of having a hard time understanding this development.

Omar Vizquel is the best player I've ever seen. I'm not even joking.

I have no idea how the Giants have a winning record at this point. The bullpen contains two guys who can get people out with any level of consistency (Scott Munter, Steve Kline), and kind of, you know, not much else. Tim Worrell looked allright until Thursday night. Armando Benitez is topping out at 90. Tyler Walker couldn't knock over bottles at the fair. Who knows what's going on with Jack Taschner. The hitting has been atrocious, with Winn (.339), Alou (.286, 4 HR's), and Vizquel (.370) being the only guys doing anything with a bat prior to a Coors Field fix-all. They do lead the league in defense, which I think has saved this team so far.

Barry Bonds starts the year hitting like Mario Mendoza, and everyone says, "Hmmmm." Manny Ramirez can't by a bomb until his 17th game, and no one bats an eye. I heard some doof on ESPN Radio Saturday coming home from Chico prior to the Giants/Rocks game, say that Bonds has looked bad at the plate, that he looks like he's breaking down. Um, stupid, you haven't actually watched any games. You see box scores or highlights from Sportscenter, which makes you think you're qualified to comment. Bonds has been hitting some rockets. He's hit at least five balls to the warning track. He's had at least six hits taken away by the Bonds shift. Yes, coming into Saturday's game, he was hitting .200 with 0 home runs, but that's 6 for 30, not actually some meaningful sample size. So I guess the lesson is, shmoe from the worldwide leader, watch a goddamn game before you comment like you know what you're talking about. He did hit his first bomb Saturday night, by the way.

Remember when the White Sox were 1-4?

Really, I could talk about the Giants and their bullpen all night in some masochitic fit. Really, I'd rather they just fix the problem by bringing up Merkin Valdez or throwing Raghetti out there for a few innings.

Here I Am

posted by BH

I would like to officially apologize for being out of the posting game for the past three weeks. I really don't know what my problem has been. Initially, I think Northern California turning into Seattle had me developing Seasonal Affectivity Disorder. After that, I got busy with taxes, school, my brother coming into town from Boulder, some crazy stomach virus...and you don't care. I guess this isn't BH' I'd like to say I've got three weeks of good ideas going on, but that would be a huge fib.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

God Save the Queen

by SonDog

My in-laws are in town from England, which is always a blast (honestly, that's not a facetious statement, I truly do have a blast when they are here). LeseDog and I picked them up on Monday evening from Denver International Airport and it's been good times ever since.

Over the course of the week, I've given my father-in-law a thorough indoctrination into the finer points of Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. (Needless to say, our game-watching experiences involve numerous samplings of Irish whiskey and fine Scotch. That being said, there will be no excuse for him not to take his new knowledge of American sports across the pond to start a baseball and basketball revolution in the Motherland.)

I-Dog and SonDog (undoubtedly discussing the sport of baseball), enjoying a beverage at the Jameson distillery in Ireland in 2005.

What I love about watching sports with I-Dog (Ian, for those who don't know. And no, I've ever come close to calling him I-Dog in person) is the unique perspective and observations he offers about my beloved teams, sports and culture. It's truly fascinating to see someone from an entirely different culture pick up on little things that players and coaches in the game itslef are seemingly oblivious to at times.

Here's a few samplings:

-- During the early stages of the second-half of the Kings' despicable collapse against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, I-Dog noted of Sacramento, "It looks as if they aren't playing as hard. You haven't won the match yet, mates." Indeed, the Kings blew a 17-point second half lead in route to a 15-point loss. Phoenix scored 72 second half points against the porous Sacramento defense.

Of note, had I done a SaoTSARE analysis during the second half of that game, scores would have been off the chart to the point that John Hollinger would have suffered an epileptic seizure. That being said, I'm blaming the loss solely on the fact that Jason Hart played for a few minutes in the first half. I don't know why Rick Adelman doesn't understand that just the simple act of inserting Hart into the game ensures the team will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I started to explain my reasoning to I-Dog when Hart was inserted with Sac up by 17 in the second quarter, but I didn't think he would follow my utter lack of logic in this particular case. Some things are just impossible to explain. All I know is that if I see Hart inserted into any game in the playoffs, I may hire a sniper take out Rick Adelman. I mean, if my English father-in-law can recognize that Hart "is a bit crap," why can't Adelman?

-- During the Dodgers - Giants game on Saturday evening, I-Dog watched first baseman Lance Niekro swing wildly on a pitch that was a good three feet off the plate and in the dirt. "What'd you swing at that for? Blooooooody Hell," I-Dog said. Predictably, the next pitch was in the same exact spot. This time Niekro laid off the pitch. However, I-Dog's, "Why don't you just go ahead and swing at that one too, you silly clown?" was a very appropriate statement. For the rest of the season, I will refer to Niekro as a "silly clown" whenever he swings wildly in his undisciplined approach to hitting.

Also during the Dodgers - Giants game, the entire family (I-Dog, LeseDog, GlenDog (mother-in-law, Glenys) and myself) got into a spirited discussion about Barry Bonds and his current status as Beelzebub of American sports. I explained to the European Union the background of how this all came about and where Bonds' legacy stands and, more importantly, what this means for his numbered playing days. Basically, I gave them a cliff-note timeline from 1993 (first year with Giants) to present day.

I-Dog and GlenDog

After GlenDog and LeseDog woke up from absolute boredom, LeseDog summed it up best for her parents by saying, "Basically, he was doing the same thing hundreds of other players were doing, but because of how good he is and the records, they are going right after him in particular."

I-Dog's response? "So, they're basically scapegoating him."

My response? "Is there anyway you can get a cameo on BBC-America to say that?"

-- Other sports-related tidbits that I-Dog has noted: 1) The inconsistency in the strike zone from not only game to game, but pitch to pitch. 2) The inconsistency of foul calls from not only game to game, but play to play in the NBA. 3) Every referee in American sports is a douchebag. (Okay, so I made that last one up, but the first two are true.) 4) The superstitions and OCD-type rituals that baseball players go through before throwing a pitch or stepping into the batter's box (thank God he didn't have to sit through Nomar Garciaparra's ridiculous shenanigans). 5) Ron Artest's tenacity and all-out effort on defense.

-- I-Dog has enjoyed baseball to such a degree that we actually pitched to one another for about an hour and a half on Sunday afternoon. Despite the fact that one of my two-seam fastballs gave him a grade-A shinburger, and one of his 12-6 curveballs ricocheted straight off my right temple, we had a fantastic time.

I-Dog and GlenDog's final baseball exam will come on Wednesday when I take the family to a Rockies - Padres game at Coors Field. Wednesday's day at the park amounts to an in-person lesson in understanding the rules and idiosyncrasies of Major League Baseball and the glory that is going to the yard to watch a game (even if it's the Rockies). In the interim, we have three more Giants' games to watch.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Grand Theft!!!!

by SonDog

In today's Daily Dime on, West Coast expert Ric Bucher writes about the MVP race.

Here's an example from the story: "MVP has a variety of meanings. For some, it's MEP, or the league's Most Excellent Player. For others, it's MVPOAWT, or Most Valuable Player on a Winning Team. Here's a popular one: MSIPOATTWBTE or Most Statistically Impressive Player on a Team That Was Better Than Expected. Generally, the easiest and safest pick is MVPOTBT: Most Valuable Player on the Best Team. This year has brought a new one to the mix: MDPDTSOATTFS, or Most Dominant Player Down the Stretch on a Team that Finished Strong. And, finally, there's MIP, or Most Indispensable Player, as in the guy whose team would absolutely fall apart without him."

For those of you who have read Mile High Ramblings for a while, you might remember a post I had back in December titled New Statistic - SaoTSARBoE - A Fan's Guide to Efficiency. I actually wrote an entire article mocking the ridiculous acronyms and statistics that sportswriters tend to invent on a daily basis. The post actually was pretty popular on this site and the FoxSports blogging contest in which I participated.

I'm not trying to toot my own horn here... but toot-toot mutha fu**a! In the vast expanse that is my mind, I believe Bucher took a peek at SaoTSARBoE to come up with the idea to use ridiculous acronyms like MDPDTSOATTFS and MVPOTBT. Or, I could just be dreaming that there are more than three people who actually read this. Regardless, I'm going with the "Bucher stole my idea" theory. I have absolutely no ground to substantiate that claim, but it's working well for me, thanks for asking. (If you can't tell by now, I'm reaching for a connection harder than Bill Walton comparing DeSagana Diop to Wilt Chamberlain.)

On a side note, I am planning on doing an SaoTSARBoE analysis during a first-round playoff game for the Kings. I'm speculating here, but I have a feeling that Bonzi Wells' propensity to turn the ball over by dribbling it off of his feet is going to lead to some SaoTSARBoe (ironic since he was the most efficient SaoTSARBoe King in my December rant). Ron-Ron Artest may get a perfect score, in part because I'm deadly afraid of ever pissing that guy off.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Indispensables - Part III

by SonDog

I can't tell you how excited I am to see how the postings on Mile High Ramblings have increased by such an exponential level with the addition of two new writers. Wait... what? If I had any sort of power to wield whatsoever, I would wield it like a wielding power-hungry wielder. Sadly, there is no such wielding that will take place. But, I will say that DMo has promised to do some posting upon his return from Mexico, so I'm looking forward to his expletive-filled rant about what it feels like to be 27 on a beach filled with 19-year-old Spring Breakers. Good times.

Also, MHR received some kudos last week from's West Coast guy, Jim Caple. In an email, Caple lamented the fact that he couldn't wear man-tights in the press box, while thanking MHR for the kind words about his excellent Bonds article. Jim, if you're reading this again, keep up the West Coast stories and quality work. It's great to hear something other than Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox, Yankees/Red Sox on a daily basis.

Speaking of things I'm sick of hearing on a daily basis... steroids. I'm so sick of it, in fact, it made me sick with a head-cold that could kill a hippopotamus on steroids. I don't want to talk about it anymore. I don't want to hear about it anymore. I don't want to read about it anymore. In fact, if I hear the word "steroids" one more time in the next hour, I will run through my office butt-naked while doing a jig straight from the 1980's classic movie, Breakin'. That's not a threat, it's a promise.

Steroids? You wanna talk about steroids? Hold me back brotha, I gotta go BREAKIN'!

On to the last installment of The Indispensables -- A countdown from the least valuable to the most valuable player on the 2006 San Francisco Giants' roster (here's Part I and Part II in case you missed it or have absolutely nothing better to do than read a post from a month ago):

8) Matt Cain - Starting Pitcher -- Pitching will be the proverbial key to the 1947 Wiley's jeep that is the 2006 San Francisco season. Management hopes Barry Bonds will play 110 - 120 games this year. Even if that wishful thinking comes true, 33% of the games will be Bondsless. As we saw last year, if this team can't pitch and they don't have Bonds, they're in trouble. 21-year-old Cain will have a bit of pressure on his shoulders in his first full major league season. However, all indications to this point (2.33 ERA in seven starts last season and a strong showing in his opener this year) show that he will handle it. That being said, you hope Felipe Alou doesn't trot him out there to throw 120 pitches every outing, a la Dusty Baker and Mark Prior/Kerry Wood. This kid has a chance to be the face of the franchise in the post-Bonds era, and his right arm is too damned good to risk. In other words, he will be important, but he's still the #4 starter, so the top-3 guys in the rotation better hold up.

7) Mike Matheney - Starting Catcher -- Matheney's defense and handling of the pitching staff are critical to the team's success. I was able to watch Matheney's pre-game stretching routine in Spring Training and I gotta tell you, no man his size should be as limber as Matheney showed in Scottsdale. With that in mind, and with J.T. Snow in Boston, Matheney becomes the heart-throb that keeps female fans interested in the Giants. And I can't believe I'm writing about this. I think Manteney's impact along with this paragraph can best be summed up by Champ Kind in Anchorman, "We need you. Hell, I need you. I'm a mess without ya. I miss you so damn much. I miss being with you. I miss being near you! I miss your laugh! I miss - I miss your scent. I miss your musk. When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together."

Or, as Brian Fantana says, "Take it easy, Champ. Why don't you stop talking for a while."

You know, desire smells like that to some people

6) Randy Winn -- Center Field -- With Bonds in left and Mo Alou in right, Winn will need to cover more ground than any outfielder in baseball. Bonds and Alou stand a good chance of turning a lot of singles into doubles this year, so it will be up to Winn to do his best impersonation of a cheetah anytime a ball is hit out of the infield. That said, Winn also will be counted on for instant offense in the leadoff spot. It's telling that Winn is one of only two Giants signed into 2009 (Noah Lowry being the other). Hopefully his legs will last that long.

5) (This story is absolutely true. I am not making this up.) Noah Lowry -- Starting Pitcher -- While scribbling down notes for this piece during the Giants' home opener last week, I wrote of Lowry, "He's shown to be very durable. The Giants can't afford an injury to either Morris, Schmidt or Lowry if they are going to contend with the best teams in the NL. Last year, he was the only Giant to take every turn in the rotation (33 starts) while leading them in innings (204.2), wins (13), and strikeouts (172). As long as he doesn't get injured, he will make his new 4-year contract look like a steal. Plus, the Giants can't afford to have two of their top-5 players hurt at the same time." Two seconds after writing that last sentence, Lowry pulled up lame while making an 0-1 pitch to Brian Jordan. I sat in a frozen state of shock for a good five minutes, similar to the time Rocky took a piss on my bed, with me in it. Lowry was put on the DL the next day (and Rocky got his ass kicked a moment later) with an oblique injury similar to the one that kept Rich Harden out of the rotation for over a month last year. I'm blaming myself. Totally taking the blame for this one. Sorry, Noah. Totally my bad.

4) Matt Morris -- Starting Pitcher -- Morris brings a co-ace (in theory) to the Giants' rotation. His first start was rock solid, and he should... rather, he needs to do the same thing for the next 32 starts or so. Other than that, there's not much pressure on him.

3) Armando Benitez -- Closer -- The Giants haven't really had a dependable closer since 2002 when Robb Nen was throwing with a shoulder held together with duct take. Seriously, it's been an incredible black hole for this team. Even when Benitez returns, I'm not going to be completely sold on him. However, if he can produce at a level similar to his 2004 season in Florida, the Giants' bullpen becomes a team strength. I really want to believe that Benitez will be a lights-out closer, but I just have some doubt that I can't shake. I think Veronica Corningstone summed it up best in her tender moment with Ron Burgandy when she said, "Oh, Ron, there are literally thousands of men that I should be with instead, but I am 72 per cent sure that I love you!"

2) Jason Schmidt -- Ace -- Schmidt admitted in a recent article that he was bothered by the whispers he heard last year about suspected steroid use. Well, when your velocity goes from a steady 98 to a steady 90 in a matter of a couple of months, without injury, that's going to happen. The fact is that 2005 Schmidt looked nothing like the guy who set the San Francisco record for strikeouts (250) in 2004. He was less intimidating in every facet of his game. I mean, maybe it wasn't the juice. Who am I to judge? I guess we could take him at his word. I mean, it's not like he's black and approaching Babe Ruth's career total for home runs, right? Regardless, Schmidt needs to once again be the ace he used to be if the Giants have a chance to go all the way this year (his 5.79 ERA through two games isn't helping matters). He's also a free agent after the season, so it's in his best financial interest as well.

1) Barry Bonds -- Left Field -- He's pretty good. There's some little controversy surrounding him this year, or so I'm told, but it doesn't seem to bother him.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm Going to Throw Up

posted by BH

It's been a while since I posted a commentary on some written piece of garbage, but there's nothing like Opening Day in Major League Baseball to bring out over-analysis and tea leaf reader in all of us. With that, I give you Jerry Crasnick's tribute to Mets baseball.

"Crasnick: An Amazin' Start."
Seriously. The Amazins thing was done thirty five years ago. Stop. Dear God stop. Ask a fourteen year-old Mets fan what "Amazin' Mets" means and he won't know what the fuck you're talking about.

NEW YORK -- New York baseball fans with a dearth of closer trivia knowledge must have noticed something odd when Billy Wagner jogged onto the Shea Stadium outfield grass Monday. Wagner leaves the bullpen to the sound of "Enter Sandman," the same heavy metal anthem that accompanies Yankees closer Mariano Rivera to the mound.
Do all New York fans have a dearth of closer trivia knowledge? One could probably assume that you mean 'New York closer trivia knowledge,' since Billy Wagner's been entering games to "Enter Sandman" for some time.

To which Wagner replies: So what? Rivera might have the history, the World Series rings and the love of a town forged through years of sustained excellence. But he doesn't have dibs on Metallica. Wagner has been doing the Sandman thing since Jeff Bagwell picked out the song for him in Houston, and he's not about to ditch it now.
Wagner didn't actually say this, and I'm not quite sure why Crasnick puts it in, since Wagner is quoted in the next sentence. Plus, I'm not sure anyone other than Yankee fans and Crasnick give a hoot. I'm already bored with this whole idea.

"I play for the Mets. Mariano plays for the Yankees. I never have to face him and he never has to face me, so there's no big competition there," Wagner said. "The earth isn't going to crumble just because two guys have it."
Is it really an issue? Someone asked him that question after the game? Wha? "Hey, you just saved your first game for the Mets. What's with your entrance song?"

With a new $43 million contract and 285 career saves, Wagner has earned the right to pick his background music. If New York is big enough for a pair of Sandmen, it should be able to accommodate two teams with postseason aspirations.
Earned the right? Again, wha? If you're going to go that way with it, then no, he hasn't earned the right to come into Rivera's city and enter to his tune. Really though, we're talking about the song a guy plays to enter a baseball game. It. doesn't. matter. at. all.

Wagner made his Mets debut by pitching a scoreless ninth inning in a 3-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday. A crowd of 54,371, the largest ever for a Mets season opener, showed up at a dreary Shea Stadium and saw general manager Omar Minaya's revamped team rely on strong bullpen work, exceptional defense, a little David Wright and enough esprit de corps to fill a St. Patrick's Day parade.
Crasnick probably should have written, "Omar Minaya's revamped version of last year's revamped team." Every year the Mets are "revamped." Mo Vaughn anyone?

For sake of comparison, the Mets couldn't help but recall last year's season opener in Cincinnati, when Pedro Martinez struck out 12 batters in six innings only to miss out on a victory when closer Braden Looper gave up ninth-inning homers to Adam Dunn and Joe Randa. The Mets proceeded to start 0-5 in Willie Randolph's first year as manager.
For sake of comparison, Mr. Crasnick, the outcome through 8 innings was the same, but the closer blew it. This year, after watching game 1 of 162, you are blowing your wad because Billy Wagner saved the game.

Now they're perfect, at least for a day, and they could attend Monday night's team function with no regrets.
Dude. They've won one game.

After spending mega-millions to bring in Wagner and Carlos Delgado over the winter, the Mets kicked off Opening Day by paying tribute to the 1986 world championship club. Gary Carter caught the ceremonial first pitch from Jesse Orosco, but couldn't muster up the energy to leap into Orosco's arms.
Oh dear God. What are you talking about? Maybe Carter couldn't muster the energy because he didn't just catch the last out of the Series. Or maybe it's because he and Orosco are 67 years old. How happy do you want them to be?

In the end, this Opening Day was about redemption. Carlos Beltran, who so disappointed Mets fans with his production last year after signing a $119 million contract, was booed by the crowd when he popped to shortstop with a runner in scoring position in the fifth inning. But Beltran sent the fans home happy when he cut down Jose Vidro trying to stretch a single into a double for the final out of the game.
Beltran redeemed the contract he couldn't justify last season by cutting down Jose Vidro at second, when Vidro had no actual business actually trying to go for two and my grandma and her 84 year-old throwing arm could have gotten him?

It was about fresh starts. Xavier Nady, who came over from San Diego in the Mike Cameron trade in December, joined Richie Hebner as the second player in Mets history to collect four hits in his debut.
Great trivia name. Richie Hebner. At one point during the game, I saw three people stand up and wave to the camera while talking on their cell phones. That's the first time I've seen that since July 27th, 2005 when I was sitting next to Phil Anker at Tips having a Guinness while discussing the ins and outs of shuffleboard. How's that for useless trivia?

It was about lofty expectations. Wright, who has been anointed the face of the franchise for the next decade, hit a solo homer off Livan Hernandez in the sixth and was serenaded with cries of "MVP! MVP!" -- much to his embarrassment.

"It's way too early for that," Wright said.
Something like three seasons too early, in fact. I'm sorry David Wright, but if you played in Kansas City, do you know who you'd be? Mike Sweeney.

It was about positive omens. By all rights, the Nationals should have tied the game in the eighth inning. Alfonso Soriano singled and came all the way around on a Ryan Zimmerman double into the left-field corner. But a Cliff Floyd-to-Jose Reyes relay made for a close play at the plate, and umpire Rick Reed failed to notice that catcher Paul Lo Duca dropped the ball after Soriano's left hand touched the plate. "We got a break," Lo Duca said.
Positive omens? Are the Mets going to rely on blown calls all season? They won a 3-2 game because the umpire crapped his pants. BUY YOUR WORLD SERIES TICKETS NOW!!

Finally, Opening Day was about a reliable old trooper gearing up to make a run at baseball history. Since Glavine came to New York as a free agent in December 2002, the experience hasn't been entirely positive. He lost two teeth in a taxi cab accident, and he's posted a 33-41 record in a New York uniform. A lack of run support and a shaky bullpen haven't helped his pursuit of 300 career victories; he's currently 24 wins short.
Oh man. The formulaic backstory. I don't know what I'm supposed to be feeling at this point. Should I feel bad for Glavine, as Crasnick wants, because he took the Mets' money and is having a tough go of it?

Atlanta general manager John Schuerholz recently revealed in his book that Glavine actually had second thoughts about coming to New York in the first place. The revelation upset Glavine, who thought their conversation never should have been made public.
John Schuerholz, the bastard. Please Jerry, tell me how this applies to today's game.

A great deal has been made of Glavine's age -- he turned 40 a week ago -- but he's never been on the disabled list and he's never shied away from competition. Given a chance to start against Washington because of Martinez's toe injury, Glavine was on his game.
You didn't want to answer the last question? Well, it didn't matter anyway. I like how you write that Glavine has "never shied away from competition." This is really good, since, you know, he's a major league baseball player and all.

It's a long season, and maybe Atlanta will exert its influence as usual and relegate the Mets to the role of wild-card threat. Maybe Martinez's toe becomes an ongoing issue, or Beltran never adapts to the big city, or Reyes' lack of patience at the plate becomes a drag on the offense at the top of the order.
Um, all that stuff is going to happen. Let's get that out of the way right now. They're not 'maybes.'

Maybe all of that occurs. But a day into the season, the Mets are talking like a team that believes it can justify the hype. When Floyd says, "We know we can win," try telling him he's wrong.
No. He's way bigger than me. Plus, the Mets spent 4 gazillion dollars actually trying to prove that he's right. And the best time to tell him he's wrong might not be after a win.

We're talking about "a day into the season." One game. Every year, every columnist in the country writes about his favorite team either winning the series or losing 162 games because of how things went on the first day. Dude, it's a long season, and your team has played one game. Before the Giants lost today, they had won four Opening Day games in a row. You know what it got them? Shit. It's doesn't mean anything other than a 1-0.

The background noise at America's loudest ballpark sure wasn't enough to obscure the pounding of all those Mets hearts on Opening Day. The celebrants ranged from rookie pitcher Brian Bannister, making his first appearance in a Mets uniform, to Julio Franco, who played alongside Bert Blyleven, Mike Hargrove and Manny Trillo in his first full season with the 1983 Indians.
America's loudest ballpark? Really? I've never heard this before. I'm not joking. Does anyone else know this? Jacob's Field was pretty loud back in the day. Fenway's loud. If I had to come up with a list of the top ten ballparks based on my admittedly limited knowledge of ballpark loudness, Shea wouldn't sniff it. And please. We all know about Julio Franco. He's old. I get it.

Then there's Wright, the reluctant MVP candidate. He needed a visit from the Sandman on Monday night just to quell the adrenaline rush.
Who is talking about this guy as MVP? I don't think I've heard his name mentioned once. He had a decent year last season, hitting .306/27/102/.388.523, but let's not wet ourselves. He's going to be a solid ballplayer, but at this point he is totally over-hyped.

There's this thing Sondog and I talk about from time to time. I think it's called the "East Coast bias" or something like that.


posted by BH

During today's Nats/Mets game, Chris Berman said about David Wright, "Big expectations can be two of the worst words a player might hear." Hmm. Those, or inoperable tumor, disabled list, killer tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, knee problem, strike three, or waiver wire, off the top of my head.


posted by BH

Take a look at Jim Caple's latest piece on It should be on the front page. It asks many of the questions the media, aside from Caple, seemingly refuse to discuss in favor of an intellectually dishonest shaping of the Barry Bonds steroid debate.