Thursday, May 11, 2006

Baseball Rants

  • It's bad enough that batters wear those elbow guards, and that they keep getting bigger and bigger. But then they get pissed when they get hit in the guard with a pitch! Suck it up! And if you don't think elbow guards give you an unfair advantage around a pitch, try playing third base without a cup. Protective hard plastic = confidence.

  • While we're on or near the subject, how would I pitch to Barry Bonds? I'd walk him anyways, so I might as well hit him in the elbow guard (it's hard to miss) and save myself three pitches. Yeah, I'd take the retaliation in stride.

  • Jim Thome was booed in his return to Cleveland with the White Sox. Genius manager Ozzie Guillen made up defenses of Thome's flight to Philadelphia. Ozzie came out with the old "he had to feed his family" line (cue the homeless people). In reality, Cleveland offered about $14mil to the Phillies $16mil. At the time, Thome himself said that once you get above a few million dollars, the salary is just a number. Ozzie claimed there was drama behind the scenes in Cleveland. I can't confirm or deny that, but I do know that at the time Thome's back problems were getting worse and worse. The Indians had just started to rebuild at that point, and Thome felt the Phillies gave him a better and sooner chance at a World Series ring.

  • I don't understand the Cleveland fans who want to see CC Sabathia traded away. Coming into the season, he was the winningest active pitcher under the age of 26. Sure he's inconsistent at times, and sure he loses his composure ever so slightly, but he just turned 26! Trade him away now, and six years from now you'll be complaining that Tampa Bay's new ace is taking his team deep into the playoffs year after year while Larry Dolan "still isn't spending any money." (Don't get me started on that one.)

  • I really feel for Buddy Bell. He's a great baseball mind, but he always gets stuck with the crap jobs - Colorado, Detroit, Kansas City. Fortunately, it looks like this time the blame will be put on GM Allard Baird and not Bell. I'll tell you one thing, though - Bell sure knows how to beat the good teams. He started his tenure with the Royals last year with a sweep of the Yankees, and this year his team has won 8 of 9 from the White Sox and Indians (as opposed to 2 of 15 against the rest of the league).

  • What's the deal with statheads hating Peter Gammons? For that matter, what's the deal with statheads hating anyone? They just come off as bitter nerds trying to compensate for not making their high school team. Too often they forget the human aspect of the game. The psychological side of things is not something to be ignored. Move Omar Vizquel to second because you have a young up-and-coming shortstop? Closer by committee? Hot and cold streaks don't exist? Mark Shapiro gets it. Billy Bean(e) hasn't gotten it yet. Theo Epstein won a World Series... after he scrapped pure stats and "got it."

  • On the other side of things, you can't just ignore the numbers. Like all things in life, you need to compromise and find a happy medium. When Steve Stanley retired a few weeks back, one columnist used it as another chance to scoff at the failure of Moneyball. Not so fast, my friend. Stanley was only a "Moneyballer" because he was too short by traditional measures. He didn't quit because he wasn't good enough. He quit because he realized their were more important things than baseball.

  • Delmon Young, hot prospect and younger brother of Dmitri, was recently suspended for throwing a bat at an umpire to protest a third strike call. In case you haven't heard, the regular Minor League Baseball umpires are on strike. This replacement ump was unharmed, as the relatively soft end-over-end toss hit him in the chest protector, so that wasn't the tragedy in this situation. Tragedy number one is yet another young, talented athlete who think's he's above the rules, and hasn't been told otherwise to this point. Tragedy number two is the fact that a representative of the umpire's union turned a situation with the potential for serious injury into a bargaining chip. The rep argued that Young was traditionally a pleasant person who was driven over the edge by an incompetent scab. Well, then, why was Young suspended in 2005 for bumping an umpire? And before you use this rep's attitude to argue that all unions are bad, remember that you're getting paid more in an hour than your grandpa did in a week to sit in an air conditioned office and read KankaNation all day.

  • Call it Patterson's Boner. Corey Patterson was on first with less than two outs. Fly ball to left field is caught by Kevin Mench, who collides with the wall and sits on the ground dazed for 19.3 seconds (SportsCenter clocked it). Patterson wasn't sure whether the catch was made, so what did he do?
    a) Tagged first and went to second. That way he's OK, regardless of whether the ball was caught.
    b) Tagged first, went to second, then used those 19.3 seconds and his speed to continue on to third.
    c) Ran aimlessly between first and second, touching neither base, waiting for someone to tell him whether or not the ball was caught (and likely ignoring the third base ump signaling "out" and the batter running back to the dugout), and then getting tagged out because he was standing right next to the shortstop when the ball was thrown in.
    If you guessed (c), you're right.

  • Believe it or not, there were a few years where Major League Baseball banned players from hanging batting gloves out of their back pockets. Fortunately, they're making a comeback this year.

  • Much was made of Josh Bard's troubles with Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. The Red Sox even went to the trouble of trading away Bard to reacquire Wakefield's personal catcher Doug Mirabelli. Where was Red Sox "Captain" Jason Varitek during all of this? I realize he needs days off here and there, but how about catching Wakefield once or twice? If he can do it well, great. If not, he'll show the fans how hard it is, and hopefully catch Bard a break. Or, he could have just come out to the press and talked on behalf of Bard. Oh well, too late for that now.

  • What's the deal with A-Rod's Jack Parkman sunglasses?

  • Has Derek Jeter ever turned in a spectacular defensive play? He makes a play any Major Leaguer should, and people everywhere act like he channeling Ozzie Smith. He's even gotten two Gold Gloves out of it!

  • Speaking of Jeter, Dave wanted me to throw in this rant: What's the deal with girls who wear Jeter jersey-tshirts and the guys who date them (but really want to get with Jeter)?

  • While we're on the subject, haven't Yankees fans noticed that the players don't have names on the backs of their jerseys? In other words, if you buy something with a name on the back, you're probably getting ripped off.

  • Furthermore, the Yankees colors are white and dark navy blue. They don't have yellow, or red, or baby blue, or pink jerseys or hats. Good Lord, I almost got caught up in this the other day. I spotted a white baseball cap with an orange 'B' on it. "That's a pretty nice Browns cap," I thought, until I realized it was supposed to be a Boston Red Sox hat. What?

  • Not a baseball rant, but I needed to throw this out their: Aflac, if you're looking for the perfect place to take a date, take her to a pool hall. If she can handle all the "that's what she said" jokes inherent in your average game of 8-ball, she's a keeper.