December 10, 2013
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Monday, March 09, 2009
A's owner Lew Wolff defends Bud Selig from attacks that he looked the other way on steroids:
"There's one thing I don't think enough people realize about Bud," Wolff said. "He knows that baseball is the players. Whether he reacted soon enough to the steroid situation or not, once he did react, it was still a fight with the union. And it shouldn't have been a fight. If there's anybody who puts baseball first, it's Bud. And I don't say this just because I went to school with him."
He's right. He's also saying it because he's probably going to ask Bud to strong-arm the Giants out of San Jose in the next couple of months too!
Willie Mays makes Giants' players feel at home during spring training:
When Willie Mays sits down at his customary card table in the Giants' spring clubhouse, he immediately lets out a high-pitched yell and demands to know [Fred] Lewis' whereabouts. The "Say Hey Kid" has found himself a surrogate godson. They go back and forth on every subject from hitting left-handers to money management to butchering hogs. And Saturday, Lewis received the dinner invitation of his life . . .
I can't think of many things I'd rather do than go have dinner at Willie Mays' house. In other news Fred Lewis is delusional:
Not only did the foot injury prematurely end Lewis' first full season, but it also robbed him of a milestone: He finished with 11 triples, one short of the San Francisco-era record shared by Mays and Steve Finley. Lewis plans to break that record and keep on running. He wants to match Mays' career high of 20 triples, set in 1957, the club's last season at New York's Polo Grounds.
Who's going to show Lewis a picture of the Polo Grounds' outfield?
Forbes' Tom Van Riper wonders whether the razor will sap the strength of the mighty CC Sabathia:
In order to join the Yankees, Sabathia will be required to shave off the beard he sported during his 2007 Cy Young Award season in Cleveland and his 2008 second-half surge in Milwaukee, when he carried the Brewers to the post season with an 11-2 record down the stretch. The Yankees should be hoping his pitching prowess doesn't go with it.
You laugh, but if it wasn't for their rule against sideburns, Don Mattingly would probably be the Yankees' manager this very day.
This is almost a week old, but it's new to me:
Omar Vizquel's baseball career was on decline the last few seasons in San Francisco. But life in the Bay Area rejuvenated him in other ways.
I'm guessing most ballplayers wouldn't be able to say "Odd Nerdrum" without chuckling. Hell, I hardly can.
Dave Zirin places the prosecution of Barry Bonds squarely within the policies of the Bush Administration justice department:
The Justice Department wins 95 percent of the cases it brings to trial, and make no mistake: this case was about to become part of the other 5 percent. The only thing the Justice Department had in its favor is what it always has, unlimited time and funds, so it's rolling the dice in hopes that a three-judge panel rules against Illston. It wants the wiretaps, the illegal search and seizures and the acts of intimidation against Anderson's family all to stand legally. This is frightening, but prosecutors will likely find themselves very disappointed. The page appears to be turning on the entire Bush era of outlaw justice, and Barry Bonds will likely benefit. The case started when Attorney General John Ashcroft, the great champion of the Patriot Act, held a press conference in 2004 to announce that the investigation of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative was officially underway. Having the Attorney General convene a grand jury to look into steroid use was extreme overkill, but as commentators remarked at the time, it was a shot across the bow at Bonds.
I don't buy Zirin's frequently-repeated charge that the Bonds prosecution is a racial thing. That's mostly because I haven't seen a shred of evidence -- or a shred of convincing argument from Zirin or anyone else -- that race is, in fact, a factor as opposed to Bonds' sheer stature and his general unlikeability, neither of which are traits on which any one race has a monopoly.
The larger point, however -- that the Justice Department has been up to some scary things over the past eight years -- is a good one. No, I don't consider Barry Bonds' prosecution to represent anything approaching its worst excesses, but I likewise don't believe such a prosecution would have spun out of a Justice Department whose priorities were straight to begin with.
(thanks to Pete Toms)
I'm beginning my second season in a Diamondmind simulation league that Fox's Dayn Perry runs. We had our draft on Saturday. It's all Chicago people except for me, so the other 11 owners met up at someone's apartment, while I joined in remotely via Google chat and a shared spreadsheet. Disadvantage: they all got to drink beer and taunt each other as the draft proceeded. Advantage: I got to spread out about 50 pieces of paper and have five windows up obsessing on each pick without being made fun of. Oh, I guess I just blew that. Oh well. Anyway, here's the 2009 Matewan Massacre (note: I plan to use that name in every fantasy league I ever enter; at some point someone will catch the reference):
C: Geovany Soto
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Dan Uggla
3B: Aramis Ramirez
SS: Yunel Escobar
RF: Shin Soo-Choo
CF: Rick Ankiel
LF: Carlos Lee
DH: David Ortiz
Bench: Mike Fontenot
Bench: Hank Blalock
Bench: Pablo Sandoval
Bench: Seth Smith
Bench Ryan Spilborghs
SP1: Cliff Lee
SP2: Francisco Liriano
SP3: Ryan Dempster
SP4: Jair Jurrjens
SP5: Clayton Kershaw
BP: Joey Devine
BP: Francisco Cordero
BP: Chad Qualls
BP: Edwar Ramirez
BP: Craig Breslow
BP: Juan Cruz
Inactive Reserve: Travis Snider, Scott Baker, Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, Lars Anderson
The inactive guys can be shuffled in to the active, so I have Baker around in case a starter goes down. Snider was going to be my starting right fielder, but this is a sim league not a straight fantasy league, and his projections aren't looking that fabulous for 2009, so he may need another year (it's a 10-player keeper league, and I grabbed him last year). The others are plays for 2010. I'm not totally set on right field either. Choo's Zips projection isn't stellar. I may try to run some platoon with Smith and Spilborghs. That and defense up the middle are my weak points, no doubt. I also have no idea how that bullpen will shake out. Last year I tried to make a pen that looked like real life and it was positively the worst part of my team. I figured this year I'd just take the best reliever available at any given point and hope for the best. Edwar Ramirez is a stretch, I guess, but I'm a sucker for K/9.
I'm pretty happy with this team, actually. Last year I finished roughly .500 with what I thought to be a worse team. I mean, I had Barry Zito for cryin' out loud. This year I like my chances to move up. At least I hope I do, because there may or may not be money on the line this time around.
With that draft down, I still have a straight fantasy league draft in Tim Dierkes' blogger league, which I'm sure I'll mess up. I'm also on what seems like week 12,289 in an online Scoresheet League draft. Guys get 12 hour windows to pick, and round-wise we're somewhere deep in the 20s. It's a pretty full league too, so the pickings are impossibly thin at this point. I need a reliver and a backup corner infielder still, and there's no one worth a damn left on the board. Probably doesn't matter as (a) the rest of my team doesn't look too good; and (b) the rest of the league is full of full time baseball writers and analysts who are going to clean my clock anyway. I do have two centerfielders, though, so maybe I can trade for something.
I know there is nothing more boring than someone talking about their fantasy team, but some people care about this stuff, and between getting to bed late last night and the time change, I'm dragging today, so cut me some slack.
The New York Times, like all papers, is suffering from serious business woes these days. Apparently one of their responses to that problem is to ape the sports coverage of the brain dead tabloids. Just look at Harvey Araton's piece from Saturday. First he joins in with the notion that the Yankees may be better off without their inner-circle Hall of Fame third baseman, as if it were moxy and pep as opposed to supremely talented ballplayers which won four World Series titles in five years:
For the Yankees, a vacation from A-Rod may be just what the proverbial doctor ordered. If only temporarily, the face of the team will again belong to Derek Jeter, not Rodriguez, whom we have come to recognize in a variety of poses as the deer caught in the limelight.
The Yankees begin their schedule this season with six games against Baltimore and Kansas City, two teams they should have no trouble with even without Rodriguez. You think things are bad now? Wait until they start 5-1 and see how much hate is shoveled on Rodriguez. Not that he won't somehow be blamed if they start 1-5.
But the real purpose of this column is so that, as writers for the Post, Newsday, and Daily News so often do, Araton can get down on his knees and worship at the altar of Jeter:
Many people would argue the public genius of Jeter is really just a strict policy of avoiding incendiary issues. Some members of the news media have extrapolated on that to call him boring. But boring is in the eye or ear of the beholder. To me, Jeter is not boring. When it comes to quotations, he just isn’t obsequious, or self-destructively dense.
Ignoring, of course, that the majority of the A-Rod "scandals" have been blown out of proportion by the media itself, and that, if it were so inclined, the media could similarly sensationalize Jeter's personal foibles too. They won't, however, because the narrative of "Jeter: Hero, Rodriguez: Fool" was set in stone years ago, and no one really feels like challenging it.
The New York Times recently let Bill Kristol go because he was prone to the lazy regurgitation of easy opinion. Apparently that's just fine on the sports pages.
(thanks to Ethan Stock for the heads up)
My mom is great. If she's ever out shopping and sees a random baseball book of any kind, she buys it for me. Not so much books of prose -- she knows I'm critical of a lot of authors and worries that she might get me something I wouldn't like -- but if there's a big photo book or a reference book or a book about memorabilia or something, she throws it in the cart.
Yesterday she was out at the grocery store of all places and picked up book called Major League Baseball Hometown Heroes. It's primarily a photo book put out by MLB itself a couple of years ago. It was tied in to some promotion the league was doing with the DHL at the time. It purports to set forth "the most outstanding players in baseball history, club by club." It's got a lot of neat photos I haven't seen before, and for that reason alone I am happy mom picked it up for me.
The book/promotion limited itself to four or five players per team, so there are some obvious exclusions. No room for Eddie Matthews on the Braves, no post-Mantle Yankees, no post-Koufax Dodgers. Hey, you gotta make choices. But one team's entry has me scratching my head: The Expos/Nationals, which are lumped together. Here are that team's "hometown heroes":
That's right: three nondescript Nationals players got billing over Raines and Dawson in a contest to name "the most outstanding players in baseball history." I'm sure someone complained about that when the nominees were listed three years ago, but allow me to add a belated "Oy!"
You know, one day it's going to occur to MLB that there was some damn fine baseball played in Montreal for more than 35 years, and that maybe, just maybe, that history should be remembered.
Jorge Costales and I may disagree about the Marlins Stadium deal, but unlike me, he doesn't just sit back and lazily rely on his philosophical disposition to make his case. He actually, you know, knows what the hell he's talking about. Great evidence of that can be found in this post from Friday, when he eviscerates the Miami Herald for misleading its readers into believing that the Marlins' proposed deal is way worse than that given to the Yankees and Mets.
Costales isn't deluded into thinking that the Marlins deal is fantabulous for Miami taxpayers, and understands that the Mets and Yankees have a much better shot of making investments in their stadiums worth their while, but he is rightfully tired of the apples and oranges comparisons stadium detractors are employing. My view: any significantly visible expenditure of public money is going to lead to these kinds of shell games, both pro and con, so let's be critical of whatever anyone is saying about the money.
(thanks to Pete Toms)
Sleepy this morning because I went to the late showing of "Watchmen" last night. Loved it, of course. My only quibbles were minor ones:
1. Malin Akerman, who played Laurie/Silk Spectre II, was perfect when she kicked people's asses and did sexy things. When she spoke, eh, kind of reminded me of Sofia Coppola in Godfather III. Thankfully, the ass-kicking/sexy to speaking ratio stayed within acceptable parameters;
2. I don't think the casting was right for Veidt, as Matthew Goode kind of came off as a petulant schoolboy. Based on the book, I kind of expected someone a bit older and weathered. Maybe someone with a tan, rested and ready vibe. I know the fanboys wanted Ralph Fiennes for that role for years, but I have to admit, he would have been perfect.
That was pretty much it. Other thoughts:
Even though all of you should have read the book by now and if you haven't you're dead to me, I won't give away any spoilers. That said, if you've read any of the pre-release publicity, you know that the ending plot point is somewhat different than the book (i.e. the giant squid thing isn't in the movie). Good move, and I really liked the new ending. It's so good that I have this feeling that Alan Moore went into a darkened theater incognito to watch the movie this weekend and left kicking himself that his original ending wasn't as elegant and as simple as the film's.
So yes, I highly recommend it. It's not going to sneak into my top 5 all time list or anything, but it stands on equal footing with "The Dark Knight" and "Spiderman II" among top comic book/geek entertainments. Final word on it: I can't imagine that people who haven't read the book got nearly as much out of the movie as those of us who have read it, so if you have any interest in this film at all and somehow haven't read "Watchmen" yet, please, do yourself a favor, take a day off work this week and read the damn thing before going to the multiplex. You'll be glad you did.
Now, on to matters slightly less geeky:
You don't understand. I'm not locked in here with you! You're locked in here with ME!