Tag Archives: Baseball

Obama Learns A Lesson! Never Say You’re A Fan Unless You Actually Can Name A Player On Your Favorite Team!

8 Apr

I love this video.  You get at least three things out of it.  First, the president may prove to be a better president than his predecessor, but clearly he’s NOT the better pitcher.

Second, President Obama learns a key lesson.  If you’re going to represent yourself as a “southside kid” and a Chicago White Sox fan, good to have your staff brief you on some names of actually Sox players first!

Finally, I like the president, but this video proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he’s in fact a politician.  Look no further than him wearing a Nationals jacket, but putting on a White Sox hat.  You know, the team that’s his favorite, but he can’t remember any players…   Typical politician, trying to have it both ways.

A Tribute To Baseball’s Crankiest Pitcher – Randy Johnson!

6 Jan

Randy Johnson announced his retirement yesterday after 303 wins and so many other milestones and memorable moments.

Here’s a link to a post we wrote as he approached 300 wins at an age where other pitchers where resting comfortably at the old timer’s retirement home:

https://fullcontactsports.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/randy-johnsons-crazy-journey-to-300/

Congrats on a great and cranky career, Mr. Johnson!

Shocker #2! Mets Make Smart Deal! Land Bay!

30 Dec

No Contract Talks for Bay thumbnail

As a Mets and Red Sox fan, today is an interesting day for me to say the least.  Jason Bay, it’s being reported, has accepted an offer to join the Mets.  Pending passing a physical, Bay will be playing in Queens next year.

I know the Mets track record in free agency isn’t the greatest.  And that’s an understatement.

After all, I remember being a child and so excited that George Foster was leaving the Big Red Machine to join the Mets that I could barely sleep.  This was followed by many sleepless nights learning the true meaning of disappointment when Foster failed to play big (or red for that matter) for the Metropolitans.

Despite all of that, this signing will turn out fine.  The two biggest hitters of the off season this year are Bay and Matt Holliday.  There’s been a lot of debate over who’s a better choice. 

Here’s what it boils down to.  Bay has played mostly in Pittsburgh and Boston.  He’s played well in both places.  He’s played well in both leagues.

Holliday has played in Colorado (mostly), which makes his hitting stats highly suspicious to begin with.  He’s played in Oakland, where his stats dropped way off his Colorado standards.

Hmmmmmmm….

And then, he really put his career back together in half a season with the Cardinals, a lineup that featured Albert Pujols only the best hitter in the game.

So, to review…  Bay has played well everywhere he’s played.

Holliday did really well in Colorado and didn’t hit anywhere near as well in the American League until being rescued by Albert Pujols.  Plus, he made a key error in this year’s playoffs despite being a supposedly much better fielder than Bay.

All in all, I think the Mets made the right choice.  And unless he has a David Wright-like power fade from playing in Citi Field next year, I think the Mets 2010 season just got a lot brighter.  Now they need to address their lack of pitching.

As for the Red Sox, I think they long ago started to prepare for life after Bay and so I’m not too worried about.

PS – I completely reserve the right to flip on the whole Bay/Holliday issue when the Red Sox sign Holliday in the next few weeks. 

Stay tuned….

Shocker! When Baseball Legends Have to Beg!

30 Dec

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting process sucks.  We all know that.

Somehow Alan Trammell will never get a sniff of Cooperstown while Ozzie Smith makes it in on the first ballot.  Yet, for a good part of their careers, many a GM would’ve gladly traded light hitting Ozzie for a shortstop like Trammell who (for his time) was a slugger at the position and not a horrible fielder.

I’ve always wondered why athletes tend to avoid talking up their own hall of fame-worthiness beyond clichés like “I know what I did” or “if God wants me in” or “my numbers stack up against my contemporaries”.  And now I know why.

Bert Blyleven, who I’ve been back and forth on myself until recently, is now an online columnist for NBC Sports.  Either he or his employers decided it would be a good idea for him to do a column touting his worthiness.

Here’s the link:
http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/34599423/ns/sports-baseball

Bert did a good job trying to stay classy and he makes some good points, but somehow it just feels like a wrong move.  An understandable one given the idiotic way baseball voters evaluate who is or isn’t a Hall of Famer, but still wrong.

What Blyleven should have done was let others do his dirty work.  Here’s a link to a recent Joe Posnanski column that convinced me once and for all that Blyleven is in fact a Hall of Famer:
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/joe_posnanski/12/22/bert.blyleven/index.html

If I were Blyleven, I’d have my fan club president print out the Posnanski column, laminate it (do people still do that?) and send it off to every Hall of Fame voter along with a nice gift.

Read Posnanski’s column and I dare you to make a compelling case that Bert doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

Besides, he’s my second favorite Burt/Bert of the 70s.  He’s just below Burt Reynolds and just above the Baltimore Colts’ Bert Jones.  

See full size image

For that, he surely deserves to be forgiven for not getting 13 more wins to make his Cooperstown case air tight.

Update! Why Colin Cowherd Is A Genius!

23 Dec

Colin Cowherd of ESPN is a genius.  Why do a say this?

Because I am a genius.  At certain things anyway.  And geniuses think alike.

I posted this morning that I couldn’t believe how exited Yankee fans and New York sports talk show hosts (who should know better) were over the recent Yankee trade that brought the Yankees the mediocrity that is Javier Vazquez.

It’s not that it wasn’t a good trade.  It’s just that everyone seemed to be reacting like it was the biggest deal ever and ignoring the hard truth that pitching in the AL is way tougher than pitching in the NL like Vazquez did last year when he had his career year.  (Sorry for the super long sentence)

I noted in my morning post that none of the so-called experts had bothered to temper their callers excitement by suggesting that Vazquez might not be an ace in the AL East.

This morning, I tuned into Colin Cowherd on 1050 AM and he restored some of my faith in sports talk radio.  There was Colin making all the same points as me.

Good trade.  Not cause for celebration.  He won 14 games last year in a career year feasting on the Pirates and Nationals.  Now he’ll be facing the Sox and Rays.

Good luck, Javier.

Two men of genius think you’re gonna need it…

What The Yankees Forgot When They Made The Javier Vazquez Trade & Why It Will Come Back To Haunt Them!

23 Dec

Yesterday, the Yankees “stole” Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves.  At least, that’s what every sports radio talk show host and Yankee fan callers were saying. 

As I was listening to all the celebration, I was shocked at one key fact that EVERYONE overlooked.  And here it is.

Javier Vazquez, who is coming off a career year at 32, put together his one great season in the National League.  Things will be different in the American League.  There simply is a HUGE difference between pitching in the NL and AL. 

Vazquez isn’t posting a sub 3.o0 ERA next year.  Not saying he’ll be a disaster, but he’s not going to challenge anyone for anything beyond the fourth spot in the Bombers’ rotation. 

It’s not that it wasn’t a decent trade. But, what I’m warning against is believing it’s going to make a huge difference.  Vazquez simply won’t be that good in the American League.

Don’t believe me?

Fine.  Than, check out this excellent post at Baseball Evolution, which more than makes the case.  Turns out there’s a very good reason Roger Clemens pitched 3 of his last 4 years in the NL.

He was no dummy…

http://baseballevolution.com/asher/00052.html

HUGE Pitching News and it’s all about REVENGE! Halladay a Phil! Cliff Lee Not! Lackey Moving Too!

14 Dec

FINALLY!  After the most boring winter meetings EVAH (unless you’re a Yankee fan or president of the Curtis Granderson Fan Club),  we’ve finally got some legitimate hot stove action.  And it’s all about pitching!

John Lackey (according to ESPN.com) has signed with the Red Sox further strengthening a strong rotation.  Perhaps more importantly weakening the Angels of Los Angeles or Anaheim or where ever…  Point is losing Lackey helps the Sox get better all while damaging the team that eliminated them in this year’s playoffs.  You gotta love revenge!

The bigger news though is a three team trade that has Roy Halladay going to the Phillies of all places.  And Cliff Lee leaving the Phils for Seattle.  Toronto, I heard, is getting prospects.

Has anyone ever been better in a short try out and then traded way quicker than Cliff Lee.  What happened?  His contract was reasonable and he’s just about as good as Roy Halliday, who I’m hearing is negotiating a long-term deal with the Phillies.  Maybe Lee embarrassed himself at the company holiday party??  Just a guess.

You’ve got to give the Phillies props for testicular fortitude, but it seems to me that Lee was already pretty good and much cheaper.  But, maybe this trade is about revenge, much like the Sox signing John Lackey.  The Phillies managed to snag the off season’s biggest pitching prize and in doing so kept both Halladay & Cliff Lee away from the Yanks. 

If it does come back down to the Phillies and Yankees next year, it will be interesting to see if Halladay can top what Lee was able to do in his first start against the Yanks.

As a Mets’ and Red Sox fan and the new president of the John Lackey Fan Club, hear’s hoping we don’t find out!

When It Comes To The Playoffs, Manny Is All Wet!

21 Oct

I just heard on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike In The Morning that while the Dodgers were blowing game four against Philly, Manny Ramirez was busy contributing to the effort by taking a warm shower.  Manny had been removed early in the game and as is his custom when he’s pulled from games early, he headed straight for a nice wash.  Ramirez, the Dodgers’ most important player, missed all the lowlights as the Phillies came back to beat LA. 

Now, that’s a team player for you.

Here’s a guy getting paid on a game by game basis more in nine innings than many of us will make in a year and he can’t even be bothered to stick around to the bitter end.  And this is in the playoffs. 

I can see how during baseball’s endless regular season death march one missed end of game adds up to not too much, but with the season on the line you’d like to believe Manny would care a bit more…

Only Manny could make Rickey Henderson playing cards as the Mets bit the dust years ago in the playoffs look good.

Now, that’s a talent!

Is This The Last Great Season For Derek Jeter?

19 Sep

Derek Jeter

Enjoy it now, Yankee fans.  This will be Derek Jeter’s last great season.

Growing up a non-Yankee fan in the New York area, nothing has grated at me more over the years than the intensity of the man crush that typical Yankee fans have on Derek Jeter.  It reminds me of those old SNL skits about the Chicago Bears fans who think that  “Da Bears” and Mike Dikta can do anything.  

Jeter can do no wrong in the eyes of love struck Yankee fans.  And the annoying thing to a Yankee hater like me is that on or off the field, it often seems true although to be fair he has at times failed in the clutch.

I’m a bit of a contrarian and nothing scares me more than group think, so I’ve had a hard time accepting the fact that Jeter is a such a special player to begin with.  For years I thought that he was an OK fielding, good hitting shortstop who won the career lottery by being able to play in New York.  And for years, I’ve patiently waited for Jeter’s inevitable decline.

Yes, Yankee fans, even Derek Jeter will tail off due to the passage of time.  He can’t play (at least at a high level) forever.

This season, Jeter is 35 and having a terrific year.  Annoyed by this, the only course of action available  to me was to tell myself that this HAD to be his last great year.

So, I started by taking a look at Hall of Fame shortstops.  It was then that I realized that there simply weren’t many who were comparable to Jeter, at least as a hitter.  For many years, baseball simply didn’t demand offense from the position.  Sure, you have Honus Wagner and some other all time greats from the very early days of the game who have huge offensive stats, but I didn’t feel like that was a fair comparison.

The three relatively modern players who seemed closest to Jeter as hitters were Ernie Banks, Robin Yount, and Cal Ripken.  Banks hit over 500 homers and clearly had way more power than Jeter or the rest.  Yount won two MVPs compared to none so far for Jeter.  And Ripken, we’ll it’s the streak that printed his ticket to Cooperstown, of course.

Feeling that Banks might not be the fairest of comparisons, I also decided to take a look at Barry Larkin.   Larkin played short as a fixture for the Reds for many years and has career numbers within shouting distance of Jeter.  Larkin may even end up in the Hall some day keeping Ripken and co company.

So let’s take a look at Jeter’s possible future by seeing what Banks, Yount, Ripken and Larkin managed to do at bat after hitting the age of 35.

As I noted earlier, Banks isn’t the best comparison.  For one, he had way more power than Jeter, but more significantly he stopped playing shortstop at 30.  From ages 33-36, Ernie Banks was still pretty much Ernie Banks as a hitter.  But at 37, he hit a wall.  He still had his power.  Hitting 32 homers as a 37 year old and 23 the next year, but his batting average took a dive.  His highest average from age 37 on was .253, which is about 20 points lower than his career average.  Banks finished out his career in 1971 getting in only 39 games as a 40 year old.  The year before, he’d played in 72 games.

Moving on to Yount, who I initially thought might be a better comparison to Jeter than Banks.  Only, it turns out Robin Yount was done at shortstop at age 28 despite winning an MVP at the position in 1982.  What jumped out at me about Yount, is that the two time MVP was out of the game at 37.  Jeter’s just two years from being 37.  For Yount, 1989 was his last great year.  He was 33 and it was the last of four straight .300 seasons.  At 34, Robin Yount dipped to .247 and never hit higher than .264 afterwards.

So what about Ripken?  The iron man’s last great season came in 1996 at the age of 35, which was also his last year at short.  Ripken hit 26 home runs while driving in 102 and batting .278.  Those may not seem like amazing numbers now, but from a historical prospective that’s a lot of offense from a presumably steroid-free shortstop.  In the next two years that followed, the games played streak went on, but in Ripken’s last three years he couldn’t stay on the field.  From age 38 to 40, he played 86, 53 and 128 games in each season.  Clearly, Ripken’s age had broken down the iron man.

Finally, we go to Barry Larkin.  Larkin may be the fairest comparison of all.  Larkin played only shortstop, like Jeter.  And like Derek Jeter presumable, Larkin only played for one club his entire career, the Cincinnati Reds.  Larkin’s last truly great year was in 2000 at the age of 36.  He batted .313 in the 102 games he played in.  The next year he played in 45 games.  At the age of 38 he played in 145.  In the final two years of his career while his batting average was within shouting distance of his career average, he played in only 70 and 111 games.  He was done at 40.

So, what conclusions can we draw?  A few, I think. 

First, Derek Jeter is a pretty unique guy.  Not even some of the contemporary greats like Banks, Yount and Ripken managed to last at shortstop as long as he has.  Derek Jeter belongs in the Hall of Fame. 

Second, Barry Larkin is way more like Derek Jeter than I realized.  Imagine if he’d played in New York…

Third, as you get older it gets tougher to stay on the field.  Yount was done at 37.  The others all went on way beyond that.  Banks, Ripken and Larkin were able to post respectable numbers into their late thirties.  But, all three of them missed significant time.

So, here’s the conclusion.  Each year that goes by, it gets tougher for Derek Jeter to produce another great year.  His numbers  might not decline, but he may find that he’s not able to stay on the field.

I’m not wishing ill on Derek Jeter.  I’ve come to respect him for his accomplishments on the field and (now that I’m a dad) for being a role model off the field.  But, the simple truth is this is very likely Derek Jeter’s last great season.  So, whether you’re a Yankee fan or not, take time to enjoy Jeter now.

Jamie Moyer Is Wrong To Feel Tricked!

13 Aug

It’s not often that a division leading baseball team sends its winningest pitcher to the bullpen.  Then again, it’s rare that a staff “ace” has an ERA approaching six.

Jamie Moyer, the “ace” in question is 46 years old, leads the Phils with 10 wins and has one of the worst ERAs among baseball’s starting pitchers.  This week it all came to a head and the Phillies decided that Moyer would be the guy moving to the bullpen to make room for the return of fellow oldster Pedro Martinez.

Understandably, Moyer was upset by the move.  What wasn’t so understandable was his logic.  Moyer, from what I’m reading in online reports, feels the Phillies deceived him this past winter.  Allegedly, when Moyer was negotiating his return to the Phillies this off season, the scenario of being moved to the bullpen came up.  According to reports, Moyer was given assurances he wouldn’t be tagged with bullpen duty.

If all of the above is true, I still don’t think Jamie Moyer has a 46 year old leg to stand on.  The Phillies are looking to repeat as world champions.  Moyer just has not been cutting it this season.  It’s not like they surprised him with a demotion a couple of weeks into the season.  It’s mid-August and there’s less than a third of the season to go.

Moyer had over 100 games to prove worthy of staying in the starting rotation.  The cold truth is he failed to do that.  He’s been consistently poor this year.

Moyer’s performance fully earned him the trip to the bullpen where tonight he watched Pedro Martinez pitch OK in his first game back in the majors.

I admire the way Moyer turned his career around so late  in his pitching life and his longevity.  If the Phillies are lucky, he’ll channel his anger into helping sure up what has been a shakey bullpen this year.  Knowing all that Moyer’s overcome, I’m not betting against him.