Friday, August 25, 2006


Since I just posted another article from a mainstream sportswriter, I decided to Google the two most popular, Paul Ladewski and Mike Vaccaro.



As you can see, my post shows up on the first page. Since it's well known that everyone Googles their own name from time to time, I'm pretty sure that these authors have read or will read these articles. Makes me kinda happy.

Ken Fidlin Doesn't Watch Baseball

I'm going to have to ask that you click the link and read this article in it's entirety. Go ahead, it won't hurt. It's actually not that long, probably because Ken Fidlin ran out of inane, unsubstantiated arguments. It's right here. I'll wait for you.

The Last Word
by Ken Fidlin, as printed in the Toronto Sun

You can pick at the scabs of this Blue Jays season all you want, but no amount of introspection will solve the real dilemma that keeps this team perennially out of the playoffs.

As I see it, J.P. Ricciardi is the problem and anyone who thinks he has done a good job is in denial. Or is still swooning over Moneyball. Just a thought.

[MORE]The true concern has nothing to do with the John Gibbons’ propensity to get in his players’ faces. It has nothing to do with the offence or the defence or the bullpen or anything else related to actual baseball issues.

As I've done more and more of this style of writing, the theme has moved from generally shitty sportswriting to sportswriters who suck because they obviously don't watch the games. Here we have Ken Fidlin, and he basically admits that he doesn't watch the games. Allow me to add the perspective of someone who watches almost 1,500 innings of baseball a year. The team doesn't make the playoffs because (when they play games) they score less runs than their pitchers allow, at a greater rate than two other teams in their division. I shouldn't have to explain this to a sports columnist.

To take it even further, what ails the Blue Jays is not just Toronto’s problem, but baseball’s problem.

Uh oh. I had a feeling this was coming. Better erect a dam, because here comes the river of tears.

The Jays jacked up their payroll by nearly 40% this year, from $50 million US to more than $71 million. It was a big step up for this team’s ownership, which has lost a ton of money over the years. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of competitive balance within the American League East, that increased spending by Toronto is only a drop in the bucket.

Kudos to the Blue Jays management for that payroll increase. They're receiving revenue sharing dollars, and it appears that money is being put back into the team, which is more than can be said for many small market teams. But 15 teams still spend more than them. So if you're going with the argument that a better record is attainable through more spending, you're shooting yourself in the foot. If dollars equaled wins, the Blue Jays would be even further out of contention.

This is a division in which the two biggest spenders in baseball — the Yankees and the Red Sox — reside and, until Major League Baseball is able to figure out a way to put a punitive muzzle on the free-spending ways of those two rich franchises, the other teams that exist in the AL East have no real possibility of rewarding or growing their fan base. And any team that has no way of rewarding its fans, even occasionally, is courting disaster.

How long have you been waiting to break out the phrase, “punitive muzzle?” Did it come to you in a glorious epiphany? But that's beyond the point.

I have a simple counter-argument to Fidlin's assertion that other teams in the AL East “have no real possibility of rewarding or growing their fan base.” If you spend that $70 million like a sane person, you might just be able to field a competitive team. Look at the Twins ($64 million) and the A's ($62 million). They both have better records than the Blue Jays, and face similar financial limitations. But your GM spends money like a psychopath determined to dive into every high-risk situation the market affords.

Since 1994, when baseball split up into three divisions (creating a playoff structure of three division champs and one wild-card), the Yankees have made the playoffs every year for the past 11. Nine times they have won the AL East and twice they have made it as the wild card.

In that same 11-year span, the Red Sox have made the playoffs six times — five as the wild card, once as division champ.

Thanks for the facts, Ken. Now what does it all mean?

During that period, no team has come even close to spending as much as the Yankees on an annual basis.

True, but should they be so harshly criticized for putting money into their team? I'll get into this later, because Fidlin comes back with a monster of an observation.

Teams in the AL Central and Western divisions at least have the opportunity to compete, more or less, against teams in their own economic strata for the division titles. That’s how teams such as the Angels, the A’s, the Twins and the White Sox have been able to create some excitement in their own markets by making the playoffs.

No snarkiness, just tables:
AL WestPayrollRecord
Oakland$62 million72-55
Anaheim$103.5 million67-60
Texas$68 million65-63
Seattle$88 million57-69

What it proves: Uh, payroll doesn't mean as much as you make it out. Not at all. The A's are pretty much at their spending cap (read: over $30 million less than the Angels), and are firmly ahead in the division. So they're competing with a financial juggernaut and winning.

AL CentralPayrollRecord
Detroit$82.6 million81-46
Chicago$102.7 million74-52
Minnesota$63.4 million73-52
Cleveland$56 million57-68
Kansas City$47 million46-82

Once again, there is much disparity in the AL Central payrolls. The Twins aren't even close to the White Sox in payroll, but trail them in the standings by a half game. Notice, too, that the two $100 million teams in these divisions aren't even leading. The two successful teams with the low payrolls, Minnesota and Oakland, prove that you don't need to spend a lot to win; you just need to spend wisely. The Blue Jays are not spending wisely. That's the problem. Is it clear yet?

In the cases of the White Sox and Angels, they’ve even been able to win a World Series.

Chicago's $75 million payroll in 2005 ranked 13th in baseball. The Angels $61 million payroll in 2002 ranked 15th.

Occasionally, as it looks like it might this year, one of the also-rans from those divisions even gets a shot at the wild-card.

You mean the also-ran White Sox, now with the fourth highest payroll in baseball?

In baseball’s 2002 labour agreement, a luxury tax was instituted to penalize teams whose player payrolls exceeded a defined threshold. For the 2006 season, the Yankees, with a payroll of about $200 million, will pay a tax calculated at 40% of their total player salaries that exceed $136.5 million.

That's roughly $30 million in the pockets of smaller market teams. You should be grateful, because that money is being distributed to the Blue Jays.

It didn’t even make the Yankees blink. They earn revenues in excess of $300 million a year and that doesn’t even include all the money they earn from their local TV package, reputed to be the best in baseball.

Well, when you earn revenues like that, it's smart to put that money back into the business. And the Yankees do earn more money from their local TV package than any team in baseball, mainly because George Steinbrenner is smart and decided to create the station himself. There aren't rules against that; the Blue Jays could up and do that tomorrow if they so desired.

NOTE: I've been informed by a beautiful lady that the Jays may not be able to create their own regional sports network. This is only because they play in Canada, and if Canadian law prevents such an endeavor (not familiar with Canadian law), I have little sympathy.

Yes, it’s complicated, but all you need to understand is that, whatever the penalty is, it’s not large enough to deter the Yankees from spending whatever it takes to not only put the best team on the field, but to fill in the mid-season gaps when players are injured or fail to produce.

Yes, it's complicated, but you need to understand plenty more than what Fidlin purports. This is a tool used by the newspaper columnist to make themselves feel important when, in fact, they have nothing interesting to say. I mean, there's obviously more to understand than Fidlin has presented, since he's presenting a ludicrous side of a multifaceted argument.

What it all boils down to is that baseball needs a hard salary cap and it needs to share more of its revenue if it wants to build and maintain a healthy competitive balance.

Every year, the same shit. Where were you in 1994, when Donald Fehr strong-armed the owners and made a salary cap an impossibility? Why make such a statement when it's never going to happen so long as the MLB Players Association stays in tact? It's a topic revisited year after year by columnists who are frustrated that their team sucks.

I'm kind of torn on the revenue sharing issue, though. While I think it would help baseball for the Yankees to include their revenues from YES in their shared dollars, I don't feel Steinbrenner should be obligated to just hand over money from the behemoth that he created. I guess that while I don't have a clue as to how revenue should be shared, I do agree that the current system needs an overhaul. However, no matter what argument you present, I will never agree that merchandise sales should be shared. If you spend money on good players and field a good team, people will buy your merchandise, and that's money you shouldn't have to hand back to the fledgling Royals.

The Jays have a decent team and a lot of folks wonder why more fans don’t show up. Well, it’s simple. Fans aren’t stupid. How can you make an investment, both emotional and financial, in a team that begins every season with only a vague chance?

Keyword: decent team. The hype was all about the Blue Jays having a team good enough to compete with the Yankees and the Red Sox, but anyone with a modicum of baseball knowledge knew that hype wouldn't hold up.

I have an answer for Fidlin's ostensibly rhetorical query. You invest emotionally and financially in a baseball team because you have a passion for baseball, not because they're winning. They have a term for people who only stand behind their team when they're winning: front runners. We don't want no stinkin' front runners, Ken, so please don't encourage them. If you love baseball, you'll stick by your team in the best of times and blurst of times.

Last year’s NHL labour impasse was a wrenching ordeal for everybody involved. But, in the long run, there are indications that the entire game will be healthier and more stable as a result.

Or it will be stuck with record low attendances for the next decade, as precedented by the baseball strike. And what are these “indications” you speak of, Ken? Are they indications, or is that just you making stuff up to fill space in your column? The NHL stuck on OLN, a channel most people can't find on their dial. Healthy is not exactly the way I'd describe the league now, or how it projects 10 years down the road. I'll even go out on a limb and predict that the NHL will fold before it reaches the level of prosperity it was at before the strike.

In the NFL, where many revenues are shared equally, the small centres such as Green Bay and Minneapolis, can compete on a level playing field.

NFL teams play once a week and their games are televised on a national basis. Thus, it is much more conceivable to share that revenue rather than appropriate it to larger market teams. Baseball plays 162 games a year, only a handful of which are nationally televised. This just isn't a fair comparison.

When their teams fail, fans in every NFL city and every NHL city can legitimately criticize their team’s management, coaching and talent evaluation and hope that things get better next year.

You can do that in baseball, too. In fact, I just did when I said that J.P. Ricciardi is a nutjob who duped people into thinking he can run a successful baseball team. The Blue Jays have one of the worst minor league systems in the game and have a disproportionate amount of their payroll committed to guys like A.J. Burnett (4.46 ERA).

In baseball, and especially in places like Toronto, the playing field is so badly tilted that it’s not even a real issue.

Wait, what? Not even a real issue? Then why the fuck did you just write that article? Man, I love the pages of my local paper filled with stories about issues that aren't really issues. It is an issue, and it's going to take a more creative solution than, “hard cap, more revenue sharing,” to get it done.

It’s baseball’s obligation to make it an issue.

Too bad that train left the station 12 years ago.

When watching sports with a big group of guys, there's always one guy there who doesn't have a clue, but wants to fit in and seem smart about sports. So he goes and makes some wacky statement, hoping to spark debate. And when he's lambasted by his more sports-privy compadres, he spouts off nothings in a vain attempt to defend himself. I've seen this, you've seen this, and hopefully you've never been that guy. Fidlin is that guy. Fidlin is like the guy I trouned in Madden two years ago, who was “so psyched to used the Chargers because they signed Drew Brees to a long-term contract.”

Or, more accurately, he was the guy in April who was singing doomsday songs for the Yankees while thinking that his Blue Jays were the next big thing. Not that he actually did that in his columns (having a hard time finding his archives), but he's the kind of guy that would have. And then complained endlessly in August when the Blue Jays performed like, well, most reasonable people expected.

Now how about watching some of those games, Ken? I hear there's some interesting stuff to see.

Ah, Crap. Lost A Series To A Cellar Team.

Late inning comebacks are the stuff of inspired and/or well rested teams. For the series in Seattle, the Yankees were neither, and it resulted in dropping two of three. Normally, the mantra is to feed on the weak teams, but on the heels of the Boston series, I don't think it matters much that the Yanks lost this series. Sure, you'd like to take at least two of three from a last place team, but under the circumstances this is forgivable.

Despite the four runs he allowed over the first three innings, Randy Johnson gets the game ball for last night. After the third, he started to look like a more serviceable starter than he had in the first three frames, sitting down the Mariners while facing just two more than the minimum for the rest of the game. There is the key, folks: the rest of the game. Randy's perseverance gave everyone in the bullpen the day off, so there was something to gain by this game, despite the loss.

Now the bullpen will be rested, and the team will be inspired heading into Anaheim, a place where the Yanks can't seem to win consistently. Having a well rested bullpen is certainly one of the keys to this series, as the Yankees are trotting out Jaret Wright and Jeff Karstens for two out of the three games, and Cory Lidle – and you can't really expect anything from him – in the other.

Worrying my more than the pitching situation are the bats. We're entering the final three games of the 20-day, 21-game stretch, and the position players have to be reeling. This does not bode well for the series, since it's unlikely the Yanks and Angels will be mired in any pitching duels.

So, to recap:

  • Randy: awesome for finishing the game and giving the bullpen a day off.

  • Bats: worrisome because the pressure will be on them this weekend.

  • Karstens and Wright starting in the same series: frightening.

  • Day off on Monday: priceless.

I've got something up my sleeve for later today. Another idiot has written an article about how it's not fair that the Yankees spend a lot of money. So I'll have my commentary on that.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Yanks 9, Ms 2

Some of you may be familiar with the piece I wrote a week and a half ago on Chien-Ming Wang's workload, and how a few bad starts in a row could be blamed on that factor. His start after that article was the Friday game against Boston, which – despite the win – still left me unconvinced that he would be reliable down the stretch. Wang was good against Boston, but not to the level that he demonstrated earlier in the year. But last night had to prove something, right?

I'm actually labeling the results inconclusive. Many of you probably think I'm insane, and I don't blame you. By all appearances, Wang was dominant last night, even racking up five strikeouts, a sure rarity. But you have to consider the team he was facing before you analyze the results. It's no coincidence that Wang has a history of dominating the Mariners; he's an extreme groundball pitcher that relies on his opponents hacking at low pitches and beating them into the dirt. And – surprise, surprise – Seattle is sitting on a team .320 OBP, good for 13th in the American League, ahead of only Tampa Bay.

To clarify, so I don't get angry comments, I'm not saying Wang pitched badly, not by any stretch. Rather, I'm just pointing out that he faced an ideal team at a time when fatigue may be catching up with him. His ability to pitch down the stretch will become more evident next week, when he faces the Tigers. I'm not sure how the pitchers will line up, but I would be ecstatic to see Wang-Verlander. I will also be ecstatic if we get to face Kenny Rogers. But that's all for next week.

What I enjoyed most about the game was that the Yankees managed nine runs on zero home runs. We all love the longball, but to rely on it is to exit the playoffs early. The manufacturing of runs is more impressive when you consider the pitcher, Felix Hernandez, who attains the bulk of his outs via the groundball and the strikeout (an ideal pitcher, in theory). Instead of looking to whale low, sinking pitches over the fence, the Yankees worked with what they were dealt and slapped singles and doubles all over the park. The only downfall of the lack of a longball: 12 men left on base, which has become pretty much commonplace for the Yanks, win or lose.

When you're hitting a stretch like this there's not much to analyze. It's much easier to sit down and write a diatribe after a loss than an article of praise following a win. I'm sure Randy will give us plenty to talk about tonight, though.

Still looking for a columnist to rip this week, so if anyone has read anything that would suggest the author doesn't watch the games, send it my way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Could Have Told You That Three Weeks Ago

I'm coming up on some good stuff in my quest to find a shitty column to rip. From Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald:

Let’s be honest, Sox followers: The Javy Lopez acquisition has been a disaster. Dealt an unfortunate blow with the loss of Jason Varitek, Sox officials acquired Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles on Aug. 4. Lopez has since batted .238 with no home runs and has done little to shed a questionable reputation behind the plate.

Yeah, and Theo Epstein is the personnel genius?

Manny Ramirez is a Great Baseball Player

But do you really want him on your team? From the insufferable Dan Shaughnessy:

This time, we have a juicy conspiracy theory, which holds that Ramírez is annoyed because of an official scorer's decision in Friday night's loss to the Yankees. Manny, who was absolutely scalding the baseball throughout the Yankee series (8 for 11 with nine walks), lost a base hit when a hard hopper clanged off the backhand glove of Derek Jeter in the fifth inning of the second game. In yesterday's Providence Journal, Sean McAdam wrote, "Ramírez was enraged by the call, and was so angry about it the next day that he had to be talked into playing the Saturday afternoon game."

Yeah, that's the attitude of a winner. Say what you will about Alex Rodriguez and his psychological problems, I still hold him in a higher regard than Manny, who routinely chooses to turn it off over the course of a season.

OK, it's Manny being Manny and everything is always forgiven by fanboys and sycophants because the numbers are there at the end of the year. For sure, none of Manny's teammates will call him out now because, like Francona, they know there's no upside to challenging Ramírez. But you can be pretty sure they're wondering what is going on with the savant slugger as he rests his hamstring while the team is freefalling.

Just ridiculous.

Got Greed?

I guess I answered my question from yesterday. For those curious, it feels just as bad as losing the games to the White Sox two weeks ago, but a little worse because the Mariners are no Pale Hose. It was a 100 percent winnable game in which the Yankees just couldn't score the guys on the basepaths. And as I've said before, that's going to happen to teams built like the Yankees. Let's hope that kind of luck doesn't spill over into tonight.

Since I'm sick of leading these stories with Alex, I'm going to jump right to Jeff Karstens. He looked a little shaky – all right, a lot shaky. His 61-30 strikes to balls ratio wasn't bad, but just about everything else was. This includes his two home runs surrendered (Sexson and Beltre, which irks me just a bit), six total hits in five and a third innings, and his “eh” two walks to two strikeouts. Jeff at Lookout Landing has a take on that situation:

You see, Karstens was born without a lower jaw, and he's exploited this feature to his advantage by adopting a deceptive and distracting presence on the mound that keeps hitters off balance. It's been the key to his entire professional career, because he certainly doesn't have the kind of raw stuff on which he can survive alone. That became abundantly clear very early, when he flashed a straight fastball around 91mph, a slider with practically zero speed difference, and a curve that was more eephus than legitimate Major League weapon. Oh, and he threw them all with spotty location, routinely forcing Posada to move his glove a considerable distance to receive the pitch. After walking Chris Snelling, Karstens threw an absolutely godawful fastball to Adrian Beltre that would've crossed the middle of the plate at the belt had Beltre not crapped all over the ball and sent it beyond the left-center fence. Just like that, the Mariners had a 2-0 lead. Richie Sexson followed that with a deep fly out, Raul Ibanez followed that with a double, and Karstens' fate became clear - if he didn't start directing these balls in play towards his teammates instead of the wall, he'd be gone so fast his ghoulish head would spin, and he'd never get another chance in the big leagues again.

So, naturally, he settled down, aided by some unfortunately-textbook terrible approaches at the plate by Mariner hitters.
Karstens was surviving by the skin of the upper row of his teeth, and he knew it. Against any other lineup in any other stadium, he'd have been gone by the third, getting ready to take his Pony League repertoire back to AAA where he'd collect a smaller paycheck and get into arguments over why he has to pay his dentist a full bill for doing half the work. But no, not in Safeco, not against Seattle - in that environment, he was one out away from a quality start in his Major League debut in front of his disgustingly obese and unattractive family.

One could guess that Karstens would learn a bit from his first Major League outing and apply it when he faces a much tougher Angels lineup on Sunday. But after reading Jeff's assessment, I'm not so confident in that anymore. He may not be a professional, but Jeff often provides excellent insights into the nuances of pitching. It makes me want to go back and watch the game with a finer eye, but since I have this shitty job, that's not going to be possible. Though, I have to say, watching the game with the intention of nitpicking Karstens's performance isn't any less productive than what I get done at work.

Wanting to punch a hole in the TV: Alex Rodriguez striking out in his first two at bats.
Wide-eyed and cheering like a madman: Alex Rodriguez plastering one way into the upper deck.
Out at PC Richards, buying a new TV: Alex Rodriguez strikes out again in the ninth.

He had the chance to be a hero, in front of one of the three crowds in baseball that most detests him, against a terrible reliever (Julio Mateo – 27 strikeouts to 20 walks, 1.69 WHIP, 4.82 ERA). After taking the first three pitches and falling behind 1-2, he got beat with some high heat, leaving Jeter and Guiel on the base paths. If anything, this dispelled the notion brought up following his home run off rookie O'Flaherty that he only whales on shitty pitching. Because it doesn't get much shittier than Mateo.

Ron Villone didn't waste any time, though that home run is a bit confounding. It came on the fourth pitch of the at bat, on the heels of two swinging strikes. Normally, I'd blame a performances like this on the fatigue incurred by the Yankees pitchers over the weekend, but it seems that this was simply a misplaced pitch. The good news: he didn't work too hard, so if you give him the day off today he should be back to full strength tomorrow. And since we know Torre is wont to use Villone and Proctor as much as humanly possible, Wang absolutely needs to go deep into this game. I'm talking at least seven, hopefully eight innings, and we're desperately hoping for a 5-plus run lead, since Mo could use another day off as well. I can't envision a situation more appealing than Wang going eight followed by Dotel in the ninth. Of course, I also can't envision a situation more appealing than going 162-0, so yeah, just to put that in perspective.

So, what did we learn last night?

1)It still sucks balls to lose winnable games, even after you beat the second place team in your division five straight.
2)Alex Rodriguez needs to go to Baseball Analysts and read that breakdown of his swing, because there's obviously something wrong.
3)Jeff Karstens, while not very good, may very well be better than Jaret Wright
4)I can't believe I'm saying this, but...we could really use Carl Pavano right now. Hey, at least the guy is/was a Major League pitcher.
5)If your team rattles off a five-game winning streak amidst a 14-day, 15-game stretch, chances are you're going to lose the 16th game.

And we'll take these thoughts into tonight, as the Yankees second-year phenom faces the Mariners second-year phenom. Wang vs. Felix. It should be the best game of the series.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

DH for MVP?

John over at Pinstripe Alley has penned a few paragraphs beautifully describing why a DH should not win the MVP award:

Francona said Loretta was getting treatment all Sunday night to be ready for Monday's game. You can be sure the Yankee players were just as tired. Manny leaves in the fourth because of cramps. Crisp bangs his hand in the outfield trying to snare Giambi's game winning blast. Melvin Mora leaves a game after stabbing a Posada liner last week at third. David Ortiz never has to face this situation.

It's definitely the best argument I've heard to date because it doesn't home in on the value of defense, but rather the long-term difference between a full-time player and a DH. If Ortiz played first base daily, it's doubtful he would put up such gawdy numbers.

What Does It Feel Like To Lose?

Click on the smaller image to pull up the full statistics table from the Yanks/Sox series. Those offensive numbers...they're just insane. I'm just wondering how we're all going to react when they drastically drop off over the next few days.

I'll admit that I'm kind of scared about the next six games. The Yankees put it all on the line this weekend against Boston, and they were able to thwart their most looming threat. But now they're headed out west to face a couple of teams that will have little bearing on their postseason fate. And considering one of those teams is the Angles, I'd be ecstatic to go 3-3 through Sunday.

Tonight's bout is one that, while yielding some potential, could end unfavorably for the Yankees. But I implore everyone to not judge the team or Mr. Jeffrey Karstens on the ultimate outcome of the game. He's a 23-year-old righty who has seemingly found his stuff over the course of the season. He's being given a tryout start here because, well, Sidney Ponson can't hack it as a Major League pitcher. As such, it's important to remember that he's going to walk a few guys, and he's going to toss some hittable pitches. If he makes it through five innings (that's all I envision him going) and gives up four or less runs, consider it a success.

For some more info on Karstens, check out this assessment by Mike A., formerly of In George We Trust, currently of Baby Bombers:

Karstens seems destined to start 2006 at Triple-A Columbus after winning 12 games and posting a remarkable K/BB ratio of 3.5 (147/42) at Double-A. He's got the look and stuff of a solid back-of-rotation starter, where his impeccable command would be a welcome addition. With the Yankees crowded rotation, he could fit in as a Tanyon Sturtze type swingman, where his bullpen experience would be a plus. If he continues to improve and has a good year at Triple-A, it's possible he could earn a big league call-up come September. If not, he should see some major league action during the 2007 campaign.

With rest being doled out by Torre, you can expect the Yankees will score only about three runs tonight, so a loss may be in the cards. But after gaining five games in the AL East in the last four days, the Yankees can afford to gamble with the kid here. This allows Jaret Wright to slide back into Mike Mussina's spot, giving both men extra rest between starts. If Karstens can hold his own, he can be used to spell Wang in September. That's also where our boy Carl Pavano comes into the picture. He threw nearly 80 pitches in his last rehab outing, and plans to top that mark Friday for Columbus. Even if everything goes exactly to plan (which it never does), Pavano likely won't be back until the rosters expand. Even then, he can be a huge help, adding a sixth (or seventh, if Karstens inspires optimism) arm to the rotation, which will help the Yanks prepare for the playoffs.

Another important factor in this series will be Octavio Dotel. He's been used in limited spurts since his return from the DL, and has been yanked at the first sign of trouble. That makes sense, considering the gravity of the series the Yanks just completed. However, one would expect Dotel to pitch a full inning in two out of the three games in Seattle. This is not to disrespect the Mariners, but more that they aren't a contending team and the Yankees can afford to take a few risks.

It's a 10:00 start tonight for you east coast folk, meaning it's best to curl up on the couch with the alarm clock set for whatever time it is you get up for work. Then again, these games shouldn't go too much longer than those in the Boston series.

Numbers from Baseball Musings

Monday, August 21, 2006

Woke Up This Morning, Got Myself Some Schadenfreude

I'm...I'm having trouble beginning my column for the day. You see, I never expected to sit down at my keyboard this morning having to talk about the Yankees tallying four straight wins against the Red Sox. Honestly, I was prepared for a splitsville piece, with some Wells-bashing for good measure. But right now, David Wells is the furthest thought from my mind. Instead, I keep replaying the bottom of the 9th and the top of the 10th in my head, awestruck as to how the Yanks even sent the game to extras. I'd like to thank Eric Hinske for playing like Eric Hinske and sending a crisp breeze through Fenway Park with his contact-less bat.

There is but one word in my mind right now: Schadenfreude. So it seems like the most appropriate thing to do is quote sorrowful Boston columnists and bask in their agony.'s the right thing to do.

Boby Ryan in the Boston Globe:

It really doesn't matter what David Wells does today. The humiliation is complete. The Red Sox are now six games behind the Yankees in the loss column, so you can forget about the American League East. And if you're thinking wild card, be advised that the Red Sox are three behind the Twins and four behind the White Sox in that same loss column.
The sorry summation of the story is that right now the Yankees simply do not know how to lose to the Red Sox. They take whatever Boston dishes out and they trump it. If you want to go all historical and compare this to the debacle in 1978, I won't be the one to stop you. But that Red Sox team got back in the race. This Red Sox team has one starting pitcher who engenders any confidence at all, and he has lost two well-pitched games in five days.
And please don't embarrass yourself by referencing 2004, either. Just don't.

Ryan's colleague, Nick Cafardo, has a piece on Theo Epstein's excuse for getting slaughtered by the Yanks.

"Yeah, conceivably that's an example where we didn't have the resources to take on his salary this year or next year, but we have tremendous resources, don't get me wrong," Epstein said. ``We have fantastic resources; that's just not something we can do with a [luxury tax hit] of $20 million-plus dollars. That's not something we can do. To upgrade in right field is not worth it to us because we have to spread that money around to execute our plan and build the '07 team."
Before you feel too sorry for Boston, consider the A's probably couldn't have picked up either Eric Hinske or Javy Lopez had Jason Kendall or Jay Payton been lost to injury. But the difference is the Red Sox are spending $74 million less than their biggest rival.
"We're not going to change our approach and all of a sudden try to build an uberteam, and all of a sudden win now at the expense of the future. That's not an excuse. (emphasis mine) I'm not trying to throw some sort of a cloak over the clear holes that are on this team by sort of talking instantly about the future. I'm not. Our goals are now and our goals are to put ourselves in a position to win every single year."

First off, it sounds like an excuse to me. Second off, if you're going to give a press conference essentially conceding the 2006 season, why not come out and say it? I'm not saying that saving and building for the future is a bad plan. But when you have a fanbase expecting playoffs and when you have a team with parts integral to the “win now” mantra, you have to do your team justice. Theo had better hope the 2006-2007 off-season goes better than his trading deadline, or he could be in deep shit next year. I don't think the Nation will appreciate the same message at this time next year.

Tony Massarotti of the Boston Herald apologizes for Theo:

Obviously, the last two seasons have been quite a time for the GM of the Red Sox. After winning a World Series in 2004, Epstein was needlessly forced to wait for a contract extension. Then came last offseason’s soap opera in which Epstein resigned and returned. In his absence, the majority of roster moves were made.

At times yesterday, while fielding questions from reporters, Epstein looked like his head might explode. He scowled. He clenched his jaw. And though he answered every question without raising his voice, it is in those moments the competitor in him tries to fight through the layers of skin.

Those are the moments, too, where you cannot help but respect him.

“Anytime you don’t win, the criticism is fair,” Epstein said. “Our job as an organization is to win. The criticism is always fair. We’re extremely critical of ourselves and I’m critical of myself.”

But not critical enough, apparently.

Michael Silverman has a piece in the Herald, in which he reveals David Ortiz's quote of the year:

“It’s not fair, man, these guys aren’t playing around,” Ortiz said. “They should have let us win that game to make the series interesting.”

To what degree he's kidding is unknown. But even to jokingly make that quip after dropping four straight to the first-place team in your division is Bush League. Another Ortiz gem:

“We had our best pitching and they still beat us,” Ortiz said.

Reason No. 1 why the Sox won't make the playoffs: their best pitching was on display this weekend. One serviceable starter, no bullpen before Papelbon. I hope that's an off-white flag you're waving, Papi, because I don't think you're fit for a pure one.

Of course, the fine folks at Boston Dirt Dogs have a few self-deprecating remarks.

Finally, Boston Globe beat reporter Gorden Edes has this to say about Boston's situation in the bottom of the ninth:

Mariano Rivera pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth and the teams went into extras.

Funny, I figured there would be something in there about the Sox shitting the bed. Don't worry, Gordon, we all know it's not fair that the Red Sox couldn't muster a run with a man on third with less than two outs.

Another day game today, and since there are a grand total of four people in the office, I think I'll be watching it. Thank MLB Advanced Media for not blacking out ESPN day games.

Oh, and if you have any particularly interesting Boston reactions, e-mail them or leave them in the comments.