March 21st, 2007 → 3:52 pm @ Seth Mnookin
The good folks at Baseball Think Factory have started a thread about my thoughts on the Times “Keeping Score” piece and (author Dan Rosenhack’s thoughts on my thoughts). I think it’s fair to say I come out holding the shit end of the stick. (To wit: I’m a “Boston sportswriter…in the bad way,” I have a “particular blind spot with regard to Ortiz,” I’m a “front office mouthpiece,” my analysis is “simple-minded, fan-boy tripe” (that’s actually in reference to something on Joe Posnanski’s site), I’m “unwilling to entertain reasonable analysis,” my post was a “crap” “hatchet job,” and my follow-up posts don’t “help my argument” or “make me look very good.”)
On the positive side of the ledger, I’ve been elevated to Gammons’s echelon — which truly is an honor — and as far as supposed Sox mouthpieces go, I’m apparently the “updated, cooler, albeit non-rock star, version, since he writes for Slate and Salon, and, according to Posnanski ‘wears black and swears a lot.’”
Awesome. (Er, I mean, fucking awesome.)
Anyway. In the interests of fairness, or impartiality, or something, I wanted to put this out there. It seems as if both sides of this, um, discussion, have stopped listening to the other, and rather then get into a point-by-point refutation of various and sundry quibbles and counter-quibbles, I’ll respectfully bow out at this point…although, trust me, it’s hard to resist on some counts.* And, in all sincerity, I’m glad there’s apparently a goodly amount of interest in what I have to say. It’s always gratifying to know you have a passionate audience. Even if they passionately hate you.
So. This really will be my last post on the topic; I’m sure some of my two-dozen readers are getting bored, and, since this isn’t my job**, I really should get back to work…
*Ok, make that impossible. One of the BTF posters says, “I’ve spoken directly with a guy at Stats Inc, and he claimed that they had guys double checking all the field reports on video. So unless he was lying, I don’t think Seth has all the info….despite his claim to have ‘spent a fair amount of time speaking with those Stats Inc. observers.’” I’ll avoid being snarky and instead just say that that double checking is exactly what I was referring to when I said that “one crucial part of the equation that I left out of my post â€šÃ„Ã® probably stupidly â€šÃ„Ã® is that the hired-gun defensive scorers are actually fined (or docked pay) when their assessments vary too much from other assessments.” That’s why their reports are double checked.
** But writing Feeding the Monster was, at one point, anyway, my job, and even though I will never see a penny in royalties (that, sadly, really is true), I still want you to read it. It’s good! (Don’t take my word for it; read some excerpts and decide for yourself. Or just check out some of the reviews. Those of you who think I’m a talentless hack should get it too; that way you’ll have more ammo to help hone your disgust to a diamond-fine point.) Anyway, it’s available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!) and, as always, free, signed, personalized bookplates are still available. (Virtual) operates are standing by!
March 21st, 2007 → 11:33 am @ Seth Mnookin
I’ve been deficient in time spent on Sons of Sam Horn, and quick trip over there this morning turned up an interesting and informative thread on the whole Manny/defense/overall worth debate. Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of good stuff in there. (Most of it supports my arguments. I rule!)
Other good discussions: a February ’06 SoSH thread that specifically addresses Manny’s fielding; a March ’06 Inside the Book piece titled “What Is Manny Really Worth?“; and the resulting SoSH thread of the same name. More recently — as in last week — Baseball Think Factory ran an analysis of the Sox’s defense.
There. That should take up most of your work day. Enjoy.
March 21st, 2007 → 11:00 am @ Seth Mnookin
On Sunday, I took issue with a New York Times “Keeping Score” article on the extent to which Manny Ramirez defensive deficiencies detracted from his overall value. Specifically, I called the piece “boneheaded,” “stupid,” and “embarrassing.”
Dan Rosenheck, the author of said piece, took issue with my criticisms, and in at least two situations, he’s totally right, First, it was stupid and boneheaded for me to call his piece stupid and boneheaded. (Ed: But isn’t the Interweb supposed to be about baseless accusations and unwarranted vitriol? Yes, but if the Interweb was jumping off a bridge, does that mean I should do it too?) (Ed: Aren’t you blatantly ripping the whole “Ed:” gimmick from Kausfiles, Mickey Kaus’s mostly political blog? Yes, except he usually has the editor assume the voice of reason. Which, you know, makes more sense.) Another good point Dan makes: from my post, it sounds as if I’m arguing that the problems with defensive metrics mean they’d (potentially) take a +30 player and make him a -30 player and that therefore PBP* stats are totally useless. I’m not arguing that…but you should read the back and forths below, starting with Dan’s initial e-mail, my response, and his response to my response. And then weigh in with your comments. There are certainly holes to be poked in my arguments. Although I’m still right…
On using defensive metrics to evaluate Manny’s worth:
DR: I just have to ask: Are you actually familiar with the output of PBP systems? If the raw data they are based on were as haphazard as you suggest, the results would be inscrutableâ€šÃ„Ã®youâ€šÃ„Ã´d have guys going from +30 to -30 from one year to the next, guys who are clearly superlative defenders coming out poorly, and guys who are clearly horrific coming out well. Instead, the PBP systems pass every conceivable â€šÃ„Ãºsmell test.â€šÃ„Ã¹ They show year-to-year consistency, with a clearly distinguishable aging pattern: playersâ€šÃ„Ã´ defense tends to improve until they are about 24, decline slowly until around 30, and then fall off a cliff. By and large, they square with anecdotal evidence: Gold Glove winner Orlando Hudson is indeed a great second baseman; the universally panned Alfonso Soriano was indeed a terrible one. And, perhaps most tellingly, they line up with each other. There are two different companies that each send observers to games, STATS Inc. and Baseball Info Solutions (BIS). Despite being based on entirely different data sets compiled by entirely different groups of observers, the PBP metrics based on STATSâ€šÃ„Ã´ data show an exceedingly high correlation to those based on BISâ€šÃ„Ã´ results. None of this would be the case if the systems were half as unreliable as you suggest they are.
SM: The year-to-year consistency only shows consistency on the part of the individual scorers in each park. I can predict a counter-argument: but what about when players are traded, etc? Well, one crucial part of the equation that I left out of my post — probably stupidly — is that the hired-gun defensive scorers are actually fined (or docked pay) when their assessments vary too much from other assessments. That, combined with the fact that the training of the people who compile the PBP stats is so haphazard and varied means you get a huge amount of self-perpetuation. Finally, I know you know that I’m not arguing that a player would go from +30 to -30; I’m arguing a player could really be a -10 and, because of a combination of factors (including calcified notions of that person’s fielding), he’d consistently get rated a -20.
DR: That still doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t account for the agreement between BISâ€šÃ„Ã´ and STATSâ€šÃ„Ã´ data sets, which are compiled independently by entirely different people and seems to me to be the biggest feather in the PBP systemsâ€šÃ„Ã´ cap. I certainly did *not* know that you were not arguing that a player would be from +30 to -30â€šÃ„Ã®I had nothing to go on but your blog post, which made it sound like PBP systems were completely worthless.
That said, I think youâ€šÃ„Ã´re only slightly underrating the systemsâ€šÃ„Ã´ accuracy in your email. The consensus I was given in my interviews is that the 95% confidence interval is probably about 7 runs, meaning that if somebody is rated a -20 thereâ€šÃ„Ã´s a 95% chance heâ€šÃ„Ã´s â€šÃ„Ãºtrulyâ€šÃ„Ã¹ between a -13 and a -27. So it seems to me highly (less than 5%) unlikely that â€šÃ„Ãºa player could really be a -10 and, because of a combination of factors (including calcified notions of that personâ€šÃ„Ã´s fielding), heâ€šÃ„Ã´d consistently get rated a -20.â€šÃ„Ã¹ But if you changed your estimate to â€šÃ„Ãºcould really be a -13,â€šÃ„Ã¹ or that a player who was rated -10 could consistently get rated a -17, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d buy that. PBP metrics are not yet a fine-toothed combâ€šÃ„Ã®the main factors we are missing are positioning (extremely important!) and lots of sample sizeâ€šÃ„Ã®but itâ€šÃ„Ã´s more than precise enough to make the kind of estimates I did in my story (if the best guess we have is that Ramâˆšâ‰ rez is about a -18, heâ€šÃ„Ã´ll probably be about as valuable as Nick Swisher). I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t think I overstated the case for the PBP statsâ€šÃ„Ã´ reliability, either, since I made clear that the disagreement between systems was as big as 19 runs on Manny in 2006!
On moving Ortiz to first and Manny to DH:
DR: As for my proposal that the Red Sox move David Ortiz to first: Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m sure he is â€šÃ„Ãºmore comfortable as a full-time DH.â€šÃ„Ã¹ But I find it hard to believe that from the teamâ€šÃ„Ã´s perspective, his â€šÃ„Ãºcomfortâ€šÃ„Ã¹ level is really worth 15 runs/1.5 wins/ $4 million per season. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m not sure what â€šÃ„Ãºactual evidenceâ€šÃ„Ã¹ youâ€šÃ„Ã´re referring to when you suggest that â€šÃ„Ãºpart of Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s prodigious offense results from the time he spends in the clubhouse between at-bats, when he studies previous at-bats against the opposing pitcher and reviews what might lead to success.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Have you done a controlled study in which you deny Ortiz his precious clubhouse time for 3,000 at-bats and give it to him for another 3,000, and then compare the results? If not, Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m not exactly sure how youâ€šÃ„Ã´d go about supporting that hypothesis. I acknowledge myself that he might be more vulnerable to injury if he played the field. The question is, how much more? Is it 5% more likely, 10%, 15%? And how much time would he miss if he were hurt? The team needs to come up with its best estimate for a dollar cost of the added injury risk to Ortiz, and compare that to the dollar cost of leaving Ramâˆšâ‰ rez in left field. If the former is greater, then the Soxâ€šÃ„Ã´ current alignment is the correct one (although they would be well-advised to explore a trade, since Ramâˆšâ‰ rez would be more valuable to a team without a DH than he is to them). But if it isnâ€šÃ„Ã´t, then they really should consider making a switch.
SM: As for Ortiz, I have lots of evidence to support that. I’ve spoken with him. I’ve looked at his stats from when he was in Minnesota (and playing first base more regularly), both in terms of time on the DL and offensive numbers. I’ve spoken with the people who work with him on the team’s baseball operations crew. When Ortiz strikes out, goes back into the clubhouse, studies the pitcher, and comes back and hits a walk-off home run, a couple of things could have been happening, and one of them certainly could be that he’s convinced himself this clubhouse time helps his actual batting skill more than it does…but the psychological component of the game is enormous. And this is a situation where it clearly makes no sense to try and determine whether Ortiz is 10% more likely to get injured, determine a dollar amount to correlate to that figure, and determine a dollar amount to leaving Manny in left. What you’d actually need to do is figure out the extent to which Ortiz, who is one of the people who helps keep a stressed out and often disgruntled clubhouse relatively loose (and is also a remarkably underpaid player on a team full of overpaid prima donnas), would be bothered by a move to first. Then you’d need to put a dollar amount on that. Then you’d need to put a dollar amount on the impact of his unhappiness on the other players on the team. Then you’d to put a dollar amount on the impact of Ortiz’s impact on fans. Then you’d need to put a dollar amount on the impact of a disgruntled fan base on a team playing in the most over-oxygenated city in the country. Etc.
DR: Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s stats in Minnesota suggest he hits *better* not worse, as a 1B. From 1998-2002, he had a 120 OPS+ (a combined on-base and slugging percentage 20% higher than the park-adjusted league average) as a 1B, and just a 109 OPS+ as a DH. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s even more striking given that players usually hit worse when they DH, since they are often playing with a minor nagging injury that prevents them from playing the field. I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t know how you could use his Minnesota splits to argue *against* his playing first base.
Do you have any actual evidence that his being â€šÃ„Ãºbotheredâ€šÃ„Ã¹ by a move to first would actually make him hit worse? If not, then the dollar cost of the move is 0. Look, Craig Biggio didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t want to move to 2B, and his hitting didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t suffer with the switch. Youâ€šÃ„Ã´d have to have a pretty low opinion of Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s character to think he would intentionally sabotage his hitting just to protest a position swap. Do you have any actual evidence that his being unhappy would make the *other* players on the team play worse? Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s an even less credible, and completely unsupported, assumption. These guys may not be robots, but they are professionals, and they know that their paychecks are tied to their performance. Plenty of successful teams have fought with each otherâ€šÃ„Ã®the 77-78 Yankees leap to mind. Winning creates chemistry, and winning attracts fansâ€šÃ„Ã®not the other way around. I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t see any more reason to take it on faith that Boston would actually win fewer games as a result of Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s displeasure at being moved to first base than I do to believe that Derek Jeter raises his game in clutch situations, or that non-knuckleball pitchers â€šÃ„Ãºinduceâ€šÃ„Ã¹ weak contact to a large degree, or that only a special club of psychologically superior relievers can pitch in the 9th inning of close games. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m willing to be convinced of any and all these things, but youâ€šÃ„Ã´ll have to show me something more concrete than vague comments about a â€šÃ„Ãºcomfort level.â€šÃ„Ã¹ And you know what? If Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s OPS suddenly dropped 150 points while playing first, they could always just switch him back. Seems to me like itâ€šÃ„Ã´s worth a try, no?
At this point, it seemed clear Dan and I were talking past each other, although at least we were doing it civilly. Since this is my blog, I’ll sum up my points in the next post…and Dan, goshdarnit, if you still wanna rumble — and lord knows I’m fully capable of going overboard when I decide to get into it — let’s do it in the comments section.
* There are some relatively esoteric terms in here (for example: PBP, which stands for play-by-play, and connotes precisely that: the effort to examine every defensive play and then find a way to systematically examine that information. Baseball Prospectus has a decent glossary of sabermetric terms, although you won’t find PBP in there.)
March 21st, 2007 → 10:57 am @ Seth Mnookin
Right. So: here’s part 3 of this whole imbroglio. I’ll sum up my position as follows: stats are enormously useful, and the intelligent use and analysis of statistical information has revolutionized the appreciation of and understanding of baseball, just as it’s revolutionized the way smart front offices put together their on-field teams. As Murray Chass knows, I think people who argue to the contrary are, to put it bluntly, Neanderthals.
But we should be as careful in our use of (and as wary of our over-reliance on) statistics as we should be about old-fashioned scouting. The statistical analysis of baseball is most effective when it’s one part of an integrated-arsenal, and that arsenal includes scouting, player relations, and a healthy dose of skepticism. Ergo: when the very people compiling the raw data for defensive stats tell me there are situations in which it’s all but useless, I’ll be skeptical.
And we should also take care to consider the human element of the game. There are plenty of times when a player’s comfort level/happiness can effect his play and/or the general mood around the team (see: Garciaparra, Nomar). Ortiz has been vocal enough about what he sees as the advantages of DHing and the disadvantages of his playing in the field that I think that option is pretty much a non-starter.
Does that mean, as I likely implied, it hasn’t been considered? Absolutely not. But I think it’s been discarded as a serious option. And if it hasn’t, I think it should be.
March 18th, 2007 → 9:30 am @ Seth Mnookin
Only the most dyed-in-the-wool fanboys would ever claim that Manny Ramirez is a good outfielder; those folks that claim that he ouwits opponents by goading them into running on his (at best) average arm are as bad as folks that argue that Bush actually has a plan for getting out of Iraq. But his outfield play is not responsible for the Red Sox’s woes over the past six years, as some would argue.
Like, for instance, today’s “Keeping Score” column in the Times, which, in its own way, is just as dumb as Murray Chass’s “I refuse to learn anything about statistics because I’m a lazy toad, er, it would ruin my enjoyment of the game” gem. In today’s piece, Dan Rosenheck tries to smokescreen the reader with lots of impressive sounding, supposed truisms to argue that Manny’s defense is so bad it basically brings him down to the level of a mid-level All-Star. His central argument is this: “Accurate numerical evaluations of defense only became possible in 1987, when Stats Inc. began sending observers to every game to record the location and speed of every batted ball. This play-by-play (P.B.P.) information made it possible to measure fielding ability much more precisely, by comparing the rates that players at the same position fielded various types of balls…”
I’ve spent a fair amount of time speaking with those Stats Inc. “observers.” They are, for the most part, college kids who are given little training and are paid poorly to sit in the stands and carve up the field into zones belonging to each defensive position. The problem is, those zones are about as reliable as Mel Gibson once he’s gotten a few drinks in him. (Right, Leary?) To give Stats Inc’s P-B-P info this much weight is as dumb as, say, giving Derek Jeter the Gold Glove because you think he looks good in the field. Smart observers — and smart teams — make every effort to create their own defensive metrics, and those same observers have made cogent arguments as to why their work should not, on the whole, be considering overly reliable.
Rosenheck solidifies his Chassness with the following, completely asinine suggestion:
“The other solution would be to move Ramâˆšâ‰ rez to designated hitter. That would require switching the incumbent D.H., David Ortiz, to first base. Ortiz is even less mobile than Ramâˆšâ‰ rez, and given his corpulence, the demands of playing the field may substantially increase his risk of injury.”
To which I can only say: Wow. Ortiz has said clearly he’s more comfortable as a full-time DH; there’s also plenty of evidence (anecdotal and actual) that at least part of Ortiz’s prodigious offense results from the time he spends in the clubhouse between at-bats, when he studies previous at-bats against the opposing pitcher and reviews what might lead to success. What’s more — what’s more important, in fact — is the evidence that Ortiz’s well-chronicled injury history resulted from the pounding he took in the field. And bad knees plus first base is a bad combo. Right, Buckner?
Finally, “corpulence”? That’s a fancy way of saying someone’s fat. “Given his size,” maybe. “Given his history of knee injuries and attendant immobility,” maybe. But fat? David Wells is fat. I’ve seen David Ortiz with his shirt off. He’s a big man. But he’s not fat. And I bet Rosenheck is glad he’s not ever going to risk saying that to Papi’s face.
“Keeping Score” is often one of the Times‘s most interesting sports columns, especially when David Leonhardt is weighing in. Today’s is embarrassing. At the end of the day, Manny’s play in the field undoubtedly hurts the Sox. It’d be interesting to find out just what the cumulative effect of this is. We’re not going to learn that from the Times.
March 15th, 2007 → 11:50 am @ Seth Mnookin
As previously noted, this is not the first time that an opt-out clause in A-Rod’s contract has garnered attention: it was that very clause that ended up being, in a roundabout way, the sticking point in the Sox-Rangers deal that would have moved A-Rod to Boston and Manny to Texas. Obviously, it’s way too late to be running sneak peeks from Feeding the Monster (although if you missed them, there are lots of interesting ones, as well as other excerpts from the book, over here. And don’t forget, FTM is available from Amazon for only $17.16 (cheap!) and, as always, free, signed, personalized bookplates are still available. (Virtual) operates are standing by!). So what should we call this. A post-peak? Whatever it is, here’s a section of the book detailing the breakdown of those ’03-’04 talks.
That period is especially interesting in retrospect. As you’ll see below, players union head Gene Orza rejected the Sox’s offer of those opt-outs in return for shaving about $4 mil/year off of A-Rod’s salary because Orza thought that offer was essentially worthless; after all no one had signed a $20 million deal since those crazy days of 2000-2001. Well, folks, crazy days are here again, and with Gary Matthews getting $50 million deals, who out there doesn’t think A-Rod could add to his bottom line should he actually end up doing a whole new deal after this season? What’s more, it was these negotiations that started the breakdown in Theo’s and Larry’s relationship. Good times! (And: an interesting footnote to all this: Jon Lester was the pitching prospect who was going to be thrown into the deal.) Without further throat-clearing:
“By mid December, newspapers around the country were reporting that a Rangers-Red Sox deal was all but completed. Boston would send Manny Ramirez (as well as some cash to help pay out the $98 million still owed him) and minor league pitcher Jon Lester to the Rangers. The Rangers would send Rodriguez to the Sox, and Rodriguez, in return for getting the chance to play for a contender, would reduce the annual value of the years left on his deal. A corollary deal would send Garciaparra to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Magglio Ordonez.
And that was supposed to be that. Garciaparraâ€šÃ„Ã´s teammates readied themselves for a new shortstop, a prospect that they were frankly looking forward to. ‘When youâ€šÃ„Ã´re talking about a guy whoâ€šÃ„Ã´s going to be a leader and be the face of the organization, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s Alex Rodriguez,’ Kevin Millar said on December 16th on ESPN. ‘Manny leads in the batterâ€šÃ„Ã´s box and Nomar prepares himself to play hard everyday but youâ€šÃ„Ã´re talking about a leader in Alex Rodriguezâ€šÃ„Â¶. I mean, A-Rodâ€šÃ„Ã´s the best in the game.’
Because of the high profiles of the players and the enormous sums of money involved, officials at Major League Baseball and the Playerâ€šÃ„Ã´s Association, the union for professional baseball players, had joined in the discussions even before a deal had been finalized. Gene Orza, a top union official, had given Rodriguez the requisite permission needed for Rodriguez to discuss a restructuring of his contract with the Red Sox. According to an article by The Boston Globeâ€šÃ„Ã´s Gordon Edes, Orza also called a top official in Major League Baseballâ€šÃ„Ã´s central office and said, ‘I want you to get word to Larry [Lucchino] that weâ€šÃ„Ã´ll do everything within our power to get this thing doneâ€šÃ„Ã®itâ€šÃ„Ã´s great for baseball and we love Alexâ€šÃ„Ã®but I hope Larry doesnâ€šÃ„Ã´t abuse the process, as he is wont to do.’ Soon after, Lucchino and Orza had a conversation in which Orza reminded Lucchino that any reduction in the average annual value in a playerâ€šÃ„Ã´s contract needed to be offset by some other ‘added benefit’ which the player received.
The Red Sox and Rodriguez ended up working out a deal in which Rodriguez would cut approximately $4 million a year off the last seven years of his deal in return for some licensing rights and the ability to declare free agency at different points during the remaining years of his contract (emphasis added for the purpose of this post). When the two sides presented the deal to Orza, he was dumbfounded. No one had signed a contract for as much as $20 million in years, Orza said. The made the offer of free agency essentially worthlessâ€šÃ„Ã®there was no way Rodriguez would ever sign a more lucrative contract again. Orza made a counter-proposal he said the union would be able to accept, in which the Red Sox would save a total of about $12 million instead of $28 million. The Red Sox initially rejected Orzaâ€šÃ„Ã´s figure, but both sides assumed theyâ€šÃ„Ã´d keep working towards a compromise.
Then, on the same night in which Orza had presented his proposal, Larry Lucchino issued a statement. ‘It is a sad day when the Players Association thwarts the will of its members,’ Lucchino said. ‘The Players Association asserts that it supports individual negotiations, freedom of choice, and player mobility. However, in this high-profile instance, their action contradicts this and is contrary to the desires of the player. We appreciate the flexibility and determination Alex and Cynthia Rodriguez have shown in their effort to move to Boston and the Red Sox.’
The move was typical of Lucchinoâ€šÃ„Ã´s career. Despite his unprecedented record as a CEO and despite the high esteem in which his many admirers held him, Lucchino had a hair-trigger sense of being slighted and often seemed to be spoiling for a fight. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´d been a union adversary for years. If Orza was being difficult to spite him, Lucchino wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t going to back down. But by trying to create the impression of a rift between the union and Rodriguez, baseballâ€šÃ„Ã´s highest paid player, Lucchino actually made it less likely Rodriguez would make a stand about the issue. And now, not only was Orza angry, but Rodriguez, according to people close to him, was upset, both that Lucchino would give the impression he was speaking for Rodriguez and that Lucchino would draw Rodriguezâ€šÃ„Ã´s wife Cynthia into the picture. Rangersâ€šÃ„Ã´ owner Tom Hicks was annoyed as well, and within days, the Boston newspapers were reporting that Lucchino had been pulled off of the A-Rod negotiations and that Tom Werner had taken over.
Lucchino characterizes what happened differently. ‘I was frustrated,’ he says, talking both about the union negotiations and his efforts to get Hicks to reduce the amount of money he was asking for to augment Manny Ramirezâ€šÃ„Ã´s salary. ‘At one point, I was talking to Tom and John and I said, ‘One of you guys should try to talk to [Hicks], maybe youâ€šÃ„Ã´ll have better luck.’ And Tom said, â€šÃ„Ã²Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ll call him.” John Henry agrees with Lucchinoâ€šÃ„Ã´s assessment. ‘Larry went for Christmas to see his mother in Pittsburgh,’ Henry says. ‘We didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t send him out of town. Tom still tried to get the deal going, but it wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t like weâ€šÃ„Ã´d lost faith in Larry.’ In the coming weeks, there would be various attempts to resurrect a dealâ€šÃ„Ã®all to no avail. By January, the Rangers and the Red Sox had ceased discussions.”
February 26th, 2007 → 4:34 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Hey, guess what: Manny arrived at the Sox spring training site in Ft. Myers. Here’s proof.
And here’s proof that Boston is, without a doubt, the city most in need of some perspective of the relative importance of baseball. Since this morning, the Globe and the Herald have combined for 12, count em, 12 blog posts on the situation down in Florida.
Here are a rundown of the Globe‘s entries:
Ramirez Ready for Work
Manny in the Cages
“10 bucks for a haircut”
Q&A with Manny’s agent
Manny vs. Dice K
And the Herald‘s:
Manny’s in the Fort
Manny’s agent, not Manny, speaks
Contrast that to the three dailies in New York. The Times* insofar as I can tell, doesn’t have a Yankees blog. The Daily News has posted eight Yankees blog entries in the past week, and that’s a week that’s included Mo’s talk of leaving New York, the Bernie Williams situation, and the A-Rod/Jeter clearing of the air. The two Post blogs total 11 entries in the past week: seven in Joel Sherman’s spring training diary and another four in the tabloid’s catch-all Bombers blog.
It’s a suffocating situation. Just ask David Wells, who recently told the Globe‘s Nick Cafardo:
“‘It was the worst. You go to a mall with your kids and you have people always wanting to take pictures. They should call it ‘Picturetown’ not ‘Beantown.’ … Listen, I know the people are Red Sox-friendly. They love the Red Sox. I understand that. They have to understand that when we’re not at the ballpark, we’re not subject to autographs and pictures and we need to be able to enjoy ourselves. I don’t think they see that and don’t get it.’
New York, where Wells spent four seasons, ‘is a cakewalk compared to Boston,’ he said. “But you know what? Boston is a great town. When I was playing against them, it was great coming in. Great stuff in that town. Great restaurants and nightlife. Historical stuff.
‘But you have to be able to deal with it. That’s why Manny [Ramâˆšâ‰ rez] is always a little loopy — because he can’t do stuff. If you want to be subject to that kind of stuff, God bless you. But as you get older, you want to relax.’”
Relax? As a member of the Red Sox? Dude…get a grip.
* And, as reader TPIRman points out…I’m wrong about the lack of a Times baseball blog. (Shoot, it’s not like I’ve written a book about the Times or anything.) “Bats,” the Times blog, has two-dozen posts up from the past week; that covers the Mets, the Yankees, and the rest of MLB (including everything from Ichiro to Bonds). And, naturally, there are three posts dedicated to the Red Sox included in there.