Ah, yes: the complete absence of value added

December 15th, 2006 → 12:26 am @

There’s no way you thought you were going to get through a Daisuke day without someone, somewhere, wondering what this all means for Johnny Jesus — you know, the last (big-name) guy to wear #18. (Sorry, Jason and Dustan: you two ain’t big-name.) Thank god, the AP is on the case:

“NEW YORK — Johnny Damon has his own $52 million contract and no regrets that the Boston Red Sox didn’t give him that amount last winter. Boston announced its $52 million, six-year agreement with pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka on Thursday — nearly one year after the Red Sox allowed their center fielder to switch to the New York Yankees for the exact same amount.”

Now, I get asked with some frequency whether or not sports reporters are morons. My usual answer is yes and no: there are plenty of dolts writing about baseball, but there are plenty of dolts writing about politics and international relations and the media, too. But (as commenter vapodge points out),* sports reporting might very well be one of the very few areas in which writers (commentators, whatever) seem to have a fervant desire to remain ignorant.

I’ve tried to make this clear before, but for all the AP reporters and other aggressively clueless folk out there, I’ll try one more time:


I know this won’t seem like anything except another plug for my book, but man, come on already. I’ve been talking to owners around baseball over the last several weeks (for an unrelated project); every single one of them had already read FTM, as has every MLB exec I’ve spoken with. (In fact, some of the MLB execs have recommended it to other people in baseball.) Regardless of what you think about the damn book, if you’re covering the Red Sox or the Yankees, wouldn’t it maybe make sense to read it? If only to see if there are things you might not know about? You know, to help in your, um, reporting?

* Vapodge was objecting to a segment on Dan Patrick’s ESPN show in which he apparently asked Francona about the “$2 million more per year” the Sox would have had to spend to get Damon. Technically, that’s true…except Boras told them they’d need to spend that extra $2 million per for seven straight years! Aaargh! Just read the fucking excerpt. It’s linked above. In big, bright, red, shiny caps.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Feeding the Monster Sneak Peeks & Johnny Damon & Rampaging morons & Sports Reporters

AL MVP yet another example of the stupidity of some sportswriters

November 22nd, 2006 → 11:01 am @

There are a handful of the country’s sportswriters who repeatedly demonstrate they are aren’t worth the paper their ballots for baseball’s year-end awards are printed on. (The repulsive and repulsively dishonest George King* of the New York Post is perhaps the best example of rampaging stupidity: in 1999, he left Pedro** off his ballot completely, handing the MVP to Pudge Rodriguez. King lied through his teeth and claimed he didn’t believe pitchers deserved the award despite putting Rick Helling and David Wells on his ballot the year before.)

The 2006 AL MVP Awards, as Keith Law points out in yet another one of his excellent columns (ESPN Insider only), is another example of the travesties that regularly result when a bunch of folks with very little understanding of the game have the power to decide its most prestigious honors. Law points out — correctly — that Morneau wasn’t even the most valuable Twin; Joe Mauer was. (Another reason to like Mauer: he looks enough like me that more than one person joked that I’d somehow snaked my way onto the cover of SI.) I’ll let Law handle the honors: “The reality of baseball is that a great offensive player at an up-the-middle position is substantially more valuable than a slightly better hitter at a corner position. And when that up-the-middle player is one of the best fielders at his position in baseball, there’s absolutely no comparison. Joe Mauer was more valuable than Justin Morneau this past season. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand the first thing about baseball.”

Indeed. Derek Jeter*** would likewise have been a better choice. Oh well.

* Late-morning addition: Irony of repulsive ironies: King actually has a column in today’s Post discussing the writers who didn’t put Jeter atop their ballots.

** Take another look at that season. That’s good enough to inspire an entire region’s worth of man crushes.

*** Historical footnote: the only other time Jeter received even a single first-place vote was on King’s 1999 ballot. What a fucking moron.

Post Categories: 2006 MVP Awards & Keith Law & Pedro Martinez & Rampaging morons & Sports Reporters

Not at all gold: Michael Richards discovers ethnic slurs actually remain shocking when used seriously

November 20th, 2006 → 6:03 pm @

When a friend emailed me a little while ago telling me there was video of a bizarre, racist Michael “Kramer” Richards rant from a comedy show over the weekend, I assumed I’d either be train-wreck fascinated or Borat-style anti-Semitism amused. But the actual video — Richards has some kind of freaky meltdown after being very gently heckled and starts calling black audience members “niggers” — is really upsetting, not least of all when Richards lamely tries to pass the whole thing off as some kind of social commentary (“You see, there’s still those words, those words, those words”) before walking pathetically off the stage.

Defamer (for you sports aficionados, that’s Deadspin for Hollywood) reports that Jerry himself is the first Seinfeld castmember to express regret about the whole incident. Whatever; the video is going to make it hard for Richards to pass this off as some kind of joke. (That video should also make Mel Gibson damn thankful that the cops don’t have — or haven’t released — footage of his anti-Jew rant; if that was out there for public consumption a lot more folks than just Ari “I’m Rahm’s brother” Emmanuel would be calling for a boycott.) It’s a good thing he didn’t have any kind of career after Seinfeld; if he did, it’d be over now.

Post Categories: Michael Richards & Rampaging morons & Seinfeld

Don’t you dare ever say again that nobody pays attention to bloggers

October 19th, 2006 → 3:46 pm @

Remember that unspecified threat made against NFL stadiums this Sunday? Don’t let it ruin your tailgating plans: it turns out the whole thing was a hoax perpetrated by two bloggers who were trying to outdo each other by coming up with the scariest terror threat.

Post Categories: Blogging & Rampaging morons

Look, ma, I’m on TV!

October 11th, 2006 → 3:34 pm @

At 3:23 pm, not long after live coverage of the plane crash into a 50-story apartment building on 72nd Street just east of the East River had begun, a young woman on her cellphone had strategically positioned herself behind a WABC-News reporter broadcasting from street level. Whenever he pivoted, she pivoted as well, making sure she remained in the camera shot; several times, it appeared as if whomever she was on the phone with told her she was on TV. At least I assume that’s why she was giggling and doing little mini-waves.

Less than 10 minutes later, CNN reported that NORAD had placed “combat aircraft” over “numerous U.S. cities.”

Post Categories: Rampaging morons

Boston City Councilor also swears off Cuban sandwiches, Chinese electronics

September 22nd, 2006 → 5:36 pm @

“Allston-Brighton City Councilor Jerry P. McDermott wants the Hub to fire back at Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for calling President Bush ‘the devil’ at the United Nations on Wednesday. His modest proposal: removing Kenmore Square’s famed Citgo sign, which is owned by Citgo Oil, a Venezuelan subsidiary.

“‘Given the hatred of the United States displayed by dictator Hugo Chavez, it would be more fitting to see an American flag when you drive through Kenmore Square,’ said McDermott, who yesterday filed a resolution with the city clerk to have the sign removed. ‘I think people would soon forget the Citgo sign.'”

Sign off, Hugo: Pol lights into Bush-bashing Venezuelan loudmouth
By Laura Crimaldi and Renee Nadeau
The Boston Herald
September 22, 2006

This man’s salary is paid by your tax dollars…and this is what he spends his days doing. Seriously. Think about that.

Post Categories: Rampaging morons & The Citgo Sign

It’s only because I’m in a pissy mood that I’m letting myself do this. (Or: the old Manny, Ortiz, and PEDs debate)

August 19th, 2006 → 8:10 pm @

There’s a wingnut hanging out over here who is trying to bait me into an argument about why Manny and Ortiz are roiding up. I know this is wrong, but when I’m in a particularly bad mood, a good beatdown always of cheers me up. Comments by said baiter (screen name: pepsicorp) are in itals.

Ahh, the old Ortiz always had power claim. Of course, it’s pure BS. Lifted this from an ESPN post:
Theory 1: Always had power, just couldn’t hit as well. One poster says he had a season where he hit a HR every 16ab in MN (it was actually closer to 17). But in Boston he’s hitting HRs every 10ab. Heck of an improvement from 25 yrs old to 30. Another said he never made good contact in MN although he hit 270+ 4/5 seasons.

Ortiz has always had power. In fact, it’s one of the reasons the Sox wanted him — because their scout in the Dominican couldn’t get over what a superstar he was down there. In 2001, he hit .234 but had a secondary average of .400 — a sign of a player who could be on the verge of a breakout. If you’re interested, check it out.

Theory 2: MN coaches don’t know how to coach Ortiz. Nice theory b/c the Twins clearly sucked but they did have competant coaching. TK won 2 WS and manager of the year (you had Williams and Little). Ortiz is the only player from that horrid era of Twins play that left and became a better hitter. Others, like Knoblauch, McCarthy, Cordova and Meares clearly had their best hitting seasons in MN. Obviously, the Sox did have him look at his swing differently but a 40HR improvement based on coaching? Not a chance.

First off, get your facts straight: Ortiz didn’t play for Jimy Williams. Second, Ron Gardenhire was Ortiz’s coach in 2002. And if you’re going to tell me you think Ron Gardenhire is a brilliant manager I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. Maybe you missed the 2004 ALDS? The current Twins regime is notorious for relying on speed, pitching, and defense as opposed to power — to the point where they’d discourage people from going yard in favor of moving the runner along. In fact, this is exactly what they did to Ortiz, telling him to hit the ball to the opposite field as opposed to swinging for the fences; that’s why Ortiz said the Twins wanted him to “hit like a little bitch.” (From an article on why the Twins have’t had a player hit 30 home runs in 19 years: “Boston’s David Ortiz has become one of the game’s most feared sluggers after never reaching his full potential with the Twins, a point that Ortiz has made many times by criticizing the organization’s conservative approach to teaching young hitters. Minnesota’s philosophy: Go to the opposite field and form sound fundamentals before letting it rip. ‘It’s not that anybody is against hitting home runs,’ Gardenhire said. ‘It’s just that first the process comes with learning to hit and be a hitter.'”) Third, while Knoblauch may have had his best years by average in MN, he had consecutive seasons of 17 and 18 home runs in New York…after topping out at 13 in MN. Two of Cordova’s top 3 HR years came after he left Minnesota. Pat Meares was a lifetime .258 hitter — he sucked when he played for the Twins and he sucked when he left. And I have no idea who McCarthy is. (If you’re talking about Dave McCarty…well, then you’re talking about Dave McCarty.) Finally, Ortiz’s batting average — which you seem to equate with being a good hitter — didn’t spike up after leaving the Twins; his power did. In 2000 and 2002, the only two years in MN in which he had more than 400 ABs, he hit .282 and .272, which isn’t hugely off line with what he’s done in Boston: .288, .301, .300, .284. And over the past three years, Ortiz has hit .271 on the road…which would seem to indicate that the Sox were right when they thought he would be the type of hitter who could take advantage of Fenway.

Theory 3: PEDs. Why is this hard to grasp? In MN Ortiz was an extremely well liked player known for being aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic and being injury prone.

I’ve never met someone who was extremely well liked and known for being aloof, lazy, and with a poor work ethic; that’s just asinine. If he was aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic, he wouldn’t have been well liked. Another reason the Sox wanted him — besides the power he showed in the DR — was the fact that he was both well liked and known for his ability to keep a clubhouse loose. And he was injury prone because he was a big guy with balky knees who was stuck playing first base on artificial turf. Since coming to Boston, he hasn’t played in the field, and he hasn’t had to play on turf.

The Twins, a playoff team now, let him go for nothing and Boston was the only team that gave him a chance.

Terry Ryan has said exactly that…just as he’s said that letting Ortiz go was the biggest mistake of his career. What’s more, the Yankees also wanted him — but they had a logjam at first/DH, with Giambi and Nick Johnson both on the roster.

27 yrs old and he hadn’t even hit 60HRs in his career. Why wouldn’t he try some PED to improve his then failing career? I would’ve, you would’ve.

Look, just because you’re a cheater — or a wanna-be cheater — doesn’t mean everyone is. Plenty of players have seen spikes in their power from 25 to 30. In fact, plenty have seen spikes at age 27, the year Ortiz arrived in Boston. There’s Stan Musial, who’d never hit more than 19 home runs before age 27; in his next eight years, he topped 30 six times and 35 three times. There’s Dave Winfield, who never topped 30 home runs before age 27. There’s Dwight Evans, who didn’t top 20 homers until he was 26 and didn’t top 30 until he was 30. And, since I know you heart the Twins, there’s Gary Gaetti, who hit 5 home runs in a full season at age 25 (sandwiched between a 20 and a 21 hr season) before hitting 34 when he turned 27.

Theory 4: Twin fans secretly hate Ortiz for sucking for them and becoming good for another team so it must be sour grapes.

This is the best theory I’ve heard so far.

Well, I can’t prove this one if you don’t believe it. Red Sox fans became more hated than Yank fans over the years so you have some ammo here but I don’t really care.

That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

Since Seth is so high and mighty on the integrity of the game, I’d like to know his thoughts on PEDs on the Sox. You have a former pitcher who said it was everywhere. Manny came from Clev, a team that should clearly raise eyebrows.

My beef with Giambi wasn’t so much that he juiced, but that he juiced and now is moralizing about the reporters who uncovered it. Anyway, you’re talking about Paxton Crawford, right? The guy who played in Boston two years before Ortiz got there? I’m sure there are players on the Red Sox who have used PEDs. There might still be; I have no idea. The only people we know were juicing are those who’ve been implicated by their grand jury testimony or tested positive.

As for Manny, this is his 12th year in a row of remarkable consistency. During that time, he’s never hit more than 45 home runs and he’s never hit less than 26. Assuming he makes it to 37 this year, it’ll be the eighth year in a row (not counting his injury-shortened ’02 campaign) in which he’s hit between 37 and 45 homers. Compare that to the odd, late-career spikes for the folks we can reasonably guess used PEDs:

* Sammy Sosa hadn’t hit more than 36 home runs in a season before he put up 4 straight seasons of 66, 63, 50, 64.

* Mark McGwire had never hit more than 50 before hitting 52, 58, 70, 65 in consecutive years.

* In his first four years in the bigs, Jason Giambi hit between 20 and 33 home runs. Then, according to his grand jury testimony, he starts juicing. Voila! 43, 38, 41, 41.

* After hitting more than 30 hrs exactly once before he turned 30, Rafael Palmeiro had consecutive years in which he hit 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43, 38.

* And, of course, there’s Barry Bonds. In his first 14 seasons, he topped 45 home runs once (and 40 three times). Starting at age 35, he hit 49, 73, 45, and 45.

Let’s hear Seth’s version.

My version? My version is that in the current environment, it’s hard to say for sure anyone’s 100 percent clean (although Manny is as close to a model of non-juicing consistency as is possible and there’s a whole boatload of reasons why Ortiz has blossomed). My version is also that if you want people to take you seriously, you should come up with something – anything – to back up what you’re trying to say. If not, you just sound like a moron. Correction: an aloof and lazy moron with a poor work ethic.

Ahhh…I feel better already.

3 AM SUNDAY MORNING EDIT: Not surprisingly, pepsicorp answered with another inane comment. Only slightly surprising is the fact that I again took the time to answer. It’s below. This time, it’s my responses to his comments that are italed.


Hey, nice. You answered me posts. I’m actually impressed. Still, we have issues. The main issue I have with you is that you don’t know anything but apparently hung around the team for a year. That seems like you’re lazy/aloof or willfully blind. Either you know some players are cheating or you don’t – and odds are very good that that someone on the team uses. What % of players use? I’ve heard as high as 75% or as low as 10%.

However, I can’t imagine someone who has the access you do doesn’t know more than what you’re speaking of. I’m really hoping we’re not going to be reading an article from you in a few years telling us how you’re another victim and can’t believe players were hiding this from you. Enough columnists already wrote that article.

Lazy, aloof, willfully blind — or not physically in people’s homes when they would be using. I’ve written that I think the media was (and is) too credulous; it’s not my fault you haven’t bothered to look that up. I’ve also written that the clubs themselves have no idea who is or isn’t using — in an age when players change teams constantly, and an age when contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, why, in god’s name, would players let team officials know they’re juicing? And finally, I’ve written that without a solid testing program — and the current one most definitely is not — we’ll never truly have any idea who is or isn’t clean, and because of that, everyone will be suspect. Try using a teensy, tiny amount of the time you spend writing comments on other people’s blogs actually doing some research.

Further, your defenses of Ortiz aren’t that sound. Ortiz was coached by Gardy one year, before that it was the TK era. And it was that era (94 or so to 2001) where the Twins clearly sucked. Still, no other Twin that left became a better power hitter. Knobby hit more a few more HR (best seasons in NY were 17 and 18, in MN it was 11 and 13) but only once did he even hit higher than his career slg avg. If the Twins organization was so bad you’d expect more hitters to leave MN and improve. Ortiz is the only player from that period that did. And he improved by a lot. And maybe the Sox were able to predict his future greatness but they took thier time to sign him – he was a free agent for 5 weeks. This sounds more like a defense after the fact.

In Knoblauch’s highest HR year in Minnesota, he hit about 72 percent of what he hit in NY (13 versus 18). During Ortiz’s last year in MN, he hit about 65 percent of what he hit the next year in Boston (20 versus 31) — and in Boston he was hitting in a park that rewarded his swing, with a team that encouraged power-hitting, and with protection from the best-hitting team in the history of the game.

Wait — let me guess: now you’re going to say that Ortiz went from 20 to 31 to 41 to 47. True. In 2002 (20 home runs) he had 412 ABs. In 2004 (41) he had 582 — meaning he had 1.4 about times as many chances to hit home runs. 582 ABs in MN in 2002 would have produced about 28 home runs…which means that, once you adjust for at bats, he hit about 68 percent as many home runs in 2002 as he did in 2004. By 2005, he was hitting in front of Manny Ramirez. And you can’t get better protection than that.

Finally — and I really do not know why you can’t get this through your thick head — the Twins have said they not only badly bungled that situation but that it was a defining mistake of that era.

Further, one of the reasons Ortiz hates TK was that TK thought he was soft and wouldn’t play hurt. Hence the rep.

You also state that the Twins didn’t let hitters hit HR. Not exactly true.

I’ve never in my life come close to saying the Twins didn’t let hitters hit home runs; I said they didn’t emphasize it, and they discouraged it when it came to Ortiz. The Twins have also said this. Repeatedly.

In 2000, Jones hit 19, Ortiz 10.

In 2000, 102 players hit more than 19 home runs.

In 2001, Koskie 26, Hunter 27, Ortiz 18.

In 2001, 46 players hit more than 27.

In 2002 (Gardy’s first year), Hunter 29, Jones 22, Ortiz 20. Sure, Ortiz blames MN for his failures as a hitter but remarkably NO OTHER hitter has. Amazing that Ortiz was singled out solely by the staff.

In 2002, 38 players hit more than 29. As I — and about every other media outlet in the country — have pointed out, the Twins had gone 19 years without a player hitting 30 home runs; 478 players had seasons of 30+ in that time, or about 27 players per season. The Twins haven’t had a player with an OPS of over .900 since 1996; last year, there were 27 players who had OPS’s of .900+. The Twins have been a crappy power team for years. That could be because the front office is stupid, or it could be because they’ve de-emphasized power in favor of small-ball, defense, and pitching.

You note that Winfield, Musial et al showed spikes at these ages. However, these players certainly had different career paths. There was no question about them at age 27 (Ortiz’ 1st year in Boston). They were complete players. Ortiz was a washout. A bit of a difference.

That he wasn’t able to stay healthy in his early 20s is blamed on turf? And now that he’s a DH on grass no more injuries. I suppose that makes some sense although that’s also very convinent. The big advantage, supposedly, for PEDs is much faster recovery time.

You suppose that makes sense? How is that very convenient? Perhaps you’ve heard of Occam’s razor. (Wait a minute: of course you haven’t.) It states that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer. What makes more sense: moving Ortiz off of artificial turf and not playing him in the field made him less prone to injury? Or Ortiz decided he was going to use steroids and therefore hatched a grand scheme to switch to grass and become a DH by pissing off a manager who’d left Minnesota a year earlier and then using his Jedi mind tricks to get the Twins to ask him to slap hit singles to the opposite field? Finally, if, as you say, Ortiz was “washed up,” why wouldn’t he have decided to start juicing before — say, in 2000 or 2001 or 2002. You know — the years that are now acknowledged to be the steroid era.

You mock me for making accusations with no fact. Well, since I’m not a reporter and have no access I don’t have much to go on.

Every single thing — everything — from my post and this response was based on “reporting” I did on the this new-fangled thing called the Interweb. Using high-tech, top-secret journalist tools like Google. You don’t have much to go on because a) you don’t have much to go on and b) you’re a moron.

However, we also know that the Twins organization and the Sox org have both been tied to steroids so I believe it is fair to suspect some players. If you don’t think so fine, but it does call into question your journalistic curiosity.

I’m not sure why you think you know anything about journalism, but let me give you a some quick lesson. It’s not “journalism” to go throwing around accusations in the total and complete absence of facts. That’s recklessly irresponsible. I don’t think it’s fair to call anyone into suspect in the absence of a single shred of evidence. What you’re citing isn’t evidence; it’s not even particularly suspicious, although I do realize you’d need a combination of a tiny amount of smarts and a teensy bit of curiosity to actually sit down, dig up some stats, and crunch some numbers.

But, for the record, there are lots of things I’m curious about. I’m curious about the inner workings of the Bush White House. I’m curious about Scientology. I’m curious about global warming and astronomy and the nature vs. nurture in human developement. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the resources to go out and write books about all of these subjects. I wasn’t writing a book about steroids, although if I’d somehow stumbled upon any evidence — say, a syringe sticking out of someone’s ass — I’d have done everything I could to figure out what was going on. Right now there’s an MLB-endorsed committee granted near-prosecutorial powers and run by the man who helped broker peace in Ireland, and thus far they haven’t come up with any bombshells. I don’t know why it’s surprising that I didn’t either…especially since that wasn’t what I was working on.

Wouldn’t you like to know if the best hitter since Ted Williams is cheating?

I actually know that — or am pretty sure I know that. Barry Bonds was cheating. David Ortiz doesn’t come close to being the best hitter since Ted Williams. He’s not close to the best hitter currently in baseball. He’s not even the best hitter currently on the Red Sox.

Manny has been remarkable consistant – so were Palmerio and Juan Gonzalez – the hitter he most closely resembles. Ortiz was a washed up player who couldn’t stay healthy – now he’s an MVP canidate.

The steroid cloud is going to stay over a lot of players until people know what happened. Part of that will be good reporting. You credit the Red Sox wining on money, smarts and nerve. Shouldn’t you also determine how much ‘roids played a part?

It’s fitting that your email handle is “brat” — you have that rare combo of zero intellectual sophistocation and a petulant belief that whatever dumb thought comes into your head is not only correct but deserves being shared. Most people move beyond that when they’re 12. I’m know I deserve part of the blame for indulging you. Don’t worry — it won’t happen again.

Post Categories: David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez & Paxton Crawford & Rampaging morons & Steroids