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Thursday, February 05, 2009
I sometimes have a hard time saying "no." Example: despite the fact that I am the worst fantasy baseball player in creation, I have somehow found myself with teams in three leagues. I'm starting my second season in a Diamondmind league that Dayn Perry put together, my first season in a Scoresheet league populated by guys who do nothing but think about baseball all day such as Neyer, King Kaufman, and Will Leitch, and now I've joined a straightforward Yahoo! rotisserie league put together by MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes, and populated by nothing but baseball bloggers.
Over my head factor: High
Time to devote to these leagues: Approaching zero and surpassing it once I'm actually, you know, working again.
Likelihood that, of all the things that could suffer as a result of these commitments, I will choose to neglect the important ones: Off the charts.
I realize that there is nothing more boring than hearing about someone else's fantasy teams, but there is nothing more interesting than hearing about someone's personal life imploding. Between now and October I fully expect my career, marriage, and relationship with my children to be on life support, and I'll be sure to let you know when major developments along those lines occur.
In yesterday's People in my Neighborhood post I mentioned Jorge Says No!'s piece about the early signers getting better deals this offseason. Sam Miller at the OC Register's Angels Blog takes issue:
Josh at the excellent Jorge Says No has begun running down winners and losers among off-season free agents, and spots a trend that others are picking up on: The free agents who signed early got the best deals . . . Problem is, that’s not really true.
After some fancy-schmancy number crunching, Miller concludes:
Once our impressions get set on something, those impressions tend to persist. The impression of 2008-09 is that it is a terrible market for free agents, and it’s getting worse as the season approaches. It’s true, it is a terrible off-season for free agents — something that the very first signing of the winter already pointed to. The only evidence it’s getting worse is in the leaked rumors about the crazy-low figures some players might have to settle for. But those contracts aren’t signed yet, and those rumors could be complete fiction. Shoot, Oliver Perez just got a pretty sweet deal for a mediocre pitcher who hasn’t been worth $10 million since 2004. As far as the players who have actually signed, the downward spiral has yet to kick in.
As Rob likes to say, I link, you decide.
Because I planned on, you know, having a regular job and everything by now, I hadn't pitched anyone on the idea of sending me out to California in March to cover the Barry Bonds trial. Now that I still have free time, however, it seems like a splendid idea. Because more people read these posts than any emails I send out, I'll just make the proposal public:
Who: a lawyer/baseball expert who knows his way around the steroid debate and can write a little
What: to cover the Barry Bonds perjury trial with irreverent yet informed verbiage
Where: for your major media outlet and/or website
Compensation: plane ticket, lodging, sandwich money, and whatever else you think is fair
Why: Because I'm really, really bored, really, really tired of winter, and would like to get out to California for a while. Also, as I mentioned, I can write a little.
I suppose that's a bit obvious and desperate, but at least it's honest. Please direct all inquiries to the secretary I imagine having from time to time.
Allen Barra -- with the help of J.C. Bradbury, David Ezra, and even Bob Costas -- explains why, whatever we may think of Roger Clemens, there is no denying that he was a Hall of Famer before his alleged PED use:
The numbers support both Ezra and Bradbury. McNamee claims that Clemens' use of HGH began in 1998, a season in which he won the American League Cy Young award with a 20-6 record, a 2.65 ERA, and led the league with 271 strikeouts. The problem is that Clemens was even better the year before, when McNamee doesn't claim to have supplied him with HGH. In 1997, Clemens was 21-7 with a 2.05 ERA; he actually had more strikeouts, 292 to 271, and pitched 30 more innings, 264 to 234.7, in 1997 than in 1998.
I can't argue with any of that. I do, however, take slight issue with the headline/framing of the piece as one distinguishing Clemens' career pattern from that of Barry Bonds. True, Bonds' PED spike was far more dramatic than that of Clemens (or anyone else for that matter). But is there any denying that Bonds was a Hall of Famer even before his PED use is alleged to have begun in 1999? By the close of 1998 he had already won three MVP awards, had hit over 400 home runs, had stolen 445 bases, had won eight gold gloves, and was being credited with saving baseball in San Francisco. And he was still only in his mid-30s! Maybe that doesn't put him in Ruth-Williams territory, but even a Dale Murphyesque decline beginning in 1999 wouldn't have kept him out of Cooperstown.
Not that I think the Hall of Fame voters will give him credit for it when he comes eligible.
They're trying to build a publicly-financed ballpark/development in Richmond, and woe be unto those who oppose it:
The debate over a ballpark in Shockoe Bottom is getting louder, especially at 15th and East Main streets. A large, bright yellow sign, exclaiming "No Stadium in Shockoe," hangs from the side of the building above the neon-lit Club Velvet strip club.
Clearly this police action against free speech rights is legal based on the well-known exception to the First Amendment which denies expression rights to those people we find unsavory and whose views are unpopular.
In any event, how much you wanna bet that a pro-ballpark sign wouldn't have led to a citation? Let's make it a parlay: how much you wanna bet that if the ballpark is built, its backers will (a) immediately begin a campaign of their own against the existence of strip clubs in their nice family-friendly ballpark-filled neighborhood; and (b) won't be subject to any sign-size limitations.
The man who started the whole Radomski-McNamee wing of the steroids business has been outed by The Smoking Gun:
The snitch recorded his phone calls with ballplayers, wore a wire to meetings with FBI targets, and ordered steroids and human growth hormone at the direction of federal agents. For a year, he expertly gathered information that would spawn grand jury investigations, government raids, the Mitchell Report, Radomski's felony conviction, and the ongoing criminal probe of Clemens. With brio, he dimed out acquaintances who were unaware that their pal was a convicted felon who, in a bid to avoid a five-year maximum prison sentence, had turned FBI informant and was assiduously working the street . . .
First, great gumshoeing by the Smoking Gun.
Second, one of my criticisms of the Mitchell Report was that it seemed to focus so much on Radomski clients without much of an effort, it seemed, to explore or even allude to the fact that there was probably a whole different world of steroid suppliers and users out there. Now it seems clear that Mitchell was simply handed Radomski because the feds were simply handed Radomski.
I imagine that if anyone was interested in going beyond the low-hanging fruit like this, we could one day have half a clue as to the scope of baseball's PED problem. Since that's unlikely to ever happen, the George Mitchell All-Stars will forever be the poster boys.
It's interesting to see politicians and media people excoriating Citigroup for the Mets' naming rights deal while folks who, you know, actually know stuff about business and sports are defending it. This from Darren Rovell:
It is not rational to think the contract can just be dissolved, so if we want to talk breakup fee, let's get started. Given the fact that the Mets likely can't get $150 million for the same deal today, you'd have to think that Citi would have to pay at least $150 million to terminate the deal. Is that what people want? That instead of getting something for $400 million, they get nothing for $150 million? That's a bigger waste than the deal that exists now.
He has four other good points as well, and I agree with all of them.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the heads up)
We've come across this guy before, but here's more on Carl Yastrzemski's grandson, who will soon be playing for Vanderbilt.
I find the scouts' comments the most interesting. Maybe Keith Law is more qualified to parse their assessments, but they sort of sound guarded, like the way you sound when someone gives you a clunker of a birthday present or something. "It's, um, interesting."
Which makes sense, of course, because no one wants to be the negative nellie in a story about a Yastrzemski in a Boston paper. One hopes, however, that whenever a legacy case like Yastrzemski III comes up that the scouts treat them honestly in their reports back to headquarters. But I wonder if they don't. Or if, alternatively, they do but the team ignores the bad reports because they see the possibility of increased attendance and media interest as a result of familiar name. Pete Rose Jr., Dale Berra, and Lance Niekro could maybe tell us about that.
For those interested -- especially fellow shysters with a PACER login and password -- here's the mother lode of US v. Barry Bonds documents, pleadings, etc. I haven't had a chance to really go over them in any detail, but my cursory review of it confirms what has been obvious for some time: the government is in deep doo-doo if it can't somehow compel Anderson to testify, because it needs Anderson to authenticate almost all of the documentary evidence that implicates Bonds. Without it, they are relying on considerable amounts of hearsay. The government has argued that the hearsay is admissible due to several exceptions in the rules, but for reasons that will be boring to anyone who isn't a lawyer (and most of us who are) I find their arguments to this effect to be less-than-compelling.
Obviously the judge may disagree, and however she comes down on the issue is going to, obviously, go a long way towards determining the outcome of the case. If I had to handicap it at this point, however, I still say: Advantage Bonds.
Things to read while thinking about how long you have to be unemployed before you can start putting down "blogger" as your occupation on official forms . . .